Front Page Titles (by Subject) MAXIMS OF THE STOICS - The Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
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MAXIMS OF THE STOICS - Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, The Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 
The Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, trans. Francis Hutcheson and James Moor, edited and with an Introduction by James Moore and Michael Silverthorne (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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MAXIMS OF THE STOICS
As Gataker, in the prefatory discourse to his excellent edition and commentary onAntoninus, has given a very justSummary of the chief maxims of the Stoic philosophy, taken mostly from these Meditations; we thought it proper to translate it here; and give the references to the places he quotes; and the passages from some others, with a few additions.
Of GOD, Providence, and* the Love of GOD.
“The Divine Providencea. takes care of human affairs; and not of the universe only, in general; but, of each single man, and each single matter: Is present in all the affairs of men; andb. aids mankind, not only in those things which are their true good and happiness, but in the external conveniencies and supports of life.
“God is, therefore,c above all to be worshipped;d in all undertakings to be invoked;e at all times to be remembered, and present to our thoughts; f in all things to be acknowledged, andg his conduct approved;h. for all things to be praised, and celebrated.i To Him alone, we ought, in single-ness of heart, to yield a willing obedience in all we do.k. From Him whatever comes to us, we ought to receive, and embrace, with a ready and hearty accord: and thinkl nothing better,m nothing more convenient,n more advantageous,o more fortunate, or more seasonable, than that, whatever it be, which He has willed.p Wherever He thinks fit to lead us, there we ought to follow;q without turning our back, or murmuring.r Whatever place, or station, He has assigned us; that we ought strenuously to keep, and with all our might maintain; were we, even, by that, to meet a thousand deaths.”
Of Man; and the social duties and affection to men, as, by nature, our kinsmen.
“Mankind we oughta. from the heart to love,b. have a tender care of,c. and bear with their weakness;d. abstain from all kind of injury,e. that being even impiety:f. do them all the good we can;g. and not believe, we are born, and to live, for ourselves alone;h. but let all behold us dedicate ourselves, to the utmost of our strength and abilities, for the public good;i. and kindly beneficent to all men.
k “We ought to live satisfied with acting our part well, and with the inward consciousness of having done so:l without concern for the reputation of it;m. without witnesses;n. without hope of reward;o. without any view at all of our own advantage.p But go on from one good deed to another;q. and never be weary of doing good;r. esteeming it the true fruit of living, to make life one uninterrupted series of good actions, so closely linked to one another,s. that, thro’ the whole, there be not found thet. least break or interval:u. deeming it our own good that we have done good to others;x. and, that we have served ourselves, if we have been useful to any man:y. and all, without catching at, or wishing for any external praise, or glory, among mankind.
z “The culture of our own heart deserves, of all other, the greatest and most reverential care.”
a “To love the moral charm, to act the fair, the lovely, the honourable part, are, of all pursuits, the most excellent, the most precious.
b “From that which we are conscious is our duty, c. no desires, neither of life, nor of any thing whatever, shou’d we allow to draw us away; no fears of death, or torture, much less of loss or harm, to deterr us.”
These (says Gataker,) are themaximsandpreceptsof theStoics;perfectly agreeable to their principles: allholy, righteous, strict, andmanly:all breathingpiety, affection, humanity, andgreatness of soul.
[* ] Tho’ the Stoics have not used the term Love, for expressing our pious affections to God; yet, ’tis plain, they meant all that can be implied in that word, as used since with regard to the Deity. They seem to have abstained from this term, out of reverence: Φιλειν, and Φιλια, with them, carry a notion of equality.
[a. ] II. 3, 11. and VI. 44. See also the Dissert: of Epictet. I. 12. 14. 16.
[b. ] I. 14. and IX. 27.
[c ] V. 33.
[d ] VI. 23. III. 13. See also IX. 40. and the note.
[e ] VI. 7.
[f ] III. 13.
[g ] VI. 18. “In all these things will I vindicate Thee before men.” Epictetus cited at VII. 45.
[h. ] “If I was subject formerly to the same weakness, and am not now, ’tis to God I give the praise.” Epictetus cited at X. 30.
“In every event which happens in the universe, it is an easy thing to praise providence, if one has these two things within him: a power to comprehend and understand what happens to every one; and, a grateful heart.” Epictetus I. 6.
“What words are sufficient to praise or declare these works of God as they deserve? Had we understanding, what else ought we to do, both in public and private, but sing hymns to God, and bless him, and pour out our thanks before him? Ought we not, while either digging, ploughing, or feeding, to sing this hymn to God: great is God! that he has given us hands, and organs for swallowing and digesting: That he makes us grow up insensibly; and breathe even while asleep. For each of these things we ought thus to bless him. But, of all to sing the greatest and most divine hymn, for his giving us the power of attaining the knowledge of these things, and the method of using them. What, then? Since you, the multitude, are blind, ought there not to be some one to perform this duty in your place; and pay this hymn to God for you all? For, what else can I do, a lame old man, but sing a hymn to God? Were I a nightingale, I would do the business of a nightingale. Were I a swan, I would do that of a swan. Now, that I am a rational creature, I ought to hymn the Deity. This is my business: this I perform. This is my post: while I am allowed I will never leave it. And you I will exhort to join with me in this my song.” Epictetus I. 16.
These sentiments, says Gataker, and others of the same kind in Epictetus, are not unworthy of the best Christian: had he but, only, to the subject of his hymn, added God’s gift of Christ to mankind.
[i ] “—I know to whom I owe subjection and obedience: it is to God.” Epictetus IV. 34.
[k. ] IV. 34. 25. III. 4.
“In fine, will nothing but that which God wills.” Epictetus II. 17.
“To God I have subjected all my desires. What he wills, I will also. What he wills not, neither do I will.” Epictetus III. 26. IV. 27.
[l ] “For I deem that better which God wills than that which I will.” Epictetus, ibid.
[m ] VII. 57.
[n ] X. 20.
[o ] X. 20.
[p ] XII. 27.
“I adhere to him, as a servant, and attendant. His purpose, his desire, and, in a word, his will, is mine also.” Epictetus as cited at X. 21.O Jove! and thou, O destiny! [by himEstablish’d thorough nature,] lead me onWhere e’er you have appointed me; and IWill follow unreluctant.—The prayer of Cleanthes frequently quoted by Epictetus.1
[a. ] VIII. 13. IX. 27.
[b. ] IX. 3.
[c. ] V. 33.
[d. ] V. 33.
[e. ] IX. 1.
[f. ] V. 33.
[h. ] VIII. 7.
[i. ] III. 4.
[k. ] IX. 6. & VII. 28.
[o. ] IX. at the end.
[p. ] VI. 7. V. 6.
[q. ] VII. 74.
[r. ] XII. 29.
[s. ] XII. 29.
[t. ] IX. 23.
[u. ] IX. at the end.
[x. ] VII. 74.
[y. ] VII. 73.
[z. ] V. 21. II. 13.
[a. ] III. 6. VI. 16.
[b. ] VI. 22. VII. 15. VIII. 5.
[c. ] VII. 44.
[1.] Cleanthes (331–232 bc) was the second head of the Stoic school. A translation of his Hymn to Zeus may be found in The Hellenistic Philosophers, ed. Long and Sedley, vol. 1, pp. 53–54.
[2.] Seneca, Epistulae morales, letter 107, sec. 9 (Loeb ed., vol. III, pp. 226–29).
[3.] Plato, Apology, 28d–e (Loeb ed., pp. 74–77).
[4.] “to believe that he was born to serve the whole world and not himself” (of Cato). Lucan, bk. II, line 383, in Lucan, The Civil War (Loeb ed., pp. 84– 85).
[5.] This does not appear to be a correct reference.
[6.] Cf. Cicero, De finibus, bk. II, chap. 15, secs. 49–50 in Loeb ed., pp. 136– 39.
[7.] Plutarch, “On Affection for Offspring,” in Plutarch’s Moralia, trans. Humbold (Loeb ed., vol. VI, pp. 342–43).