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Penguin Great Ideas : Meditations: Marcus Aurelius

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9780141018829: Penguin Great Ideas : Meditations: Marcus Aurelius
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Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization, and helped make us who we are.

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Written in the mid second century by the philosopher Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Meditations presents a noble approach to life. Schooled in the classic tradition, Marcus Aurelius reflects the mature harvest of the Stoic school of philosophy. His philosophy is best summed up by the saying "Do not be too concerned, for tomorrow you die". Lest this sounds too bleak, the awareness of mortality motivates a good, noble and upright life. Since we all die, the best thing is to live nobly and honestly. This is not only the way to live well, but also the way to avoid suffering. Meditations is composed of aphorisms and insights from Marcus Aurelius that allow his philosophy to be lived out.

The translator, Gregory Hays, is assistant professor of classics at the University of Virginia. Hays provides a clearly written introduction in which he explains the philosophical influences on Marcus Aurelius as well as the political and familial pressures he experienced. The translation itself is crisp and lucid. The result is a handsome collection of short exhortations and aphorisms that encourage a noble, if stoical approach to life. Marcus Aurelius always sheds light on life, but that light is always dappled with shadow. There is no hope and little humour in Marcus Aurelius. In the end, his outlook is pessimistic, and he makes one realise how refreshing and unique the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity really are. Nevertheless, Meditations is a cornerstone of the practical philosophy genre and this new translation will make up a vital part of a classic bookshelf. --Dwight Longenecker

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Lots of good feedback on this wonderful book, including calls from Andrew Roberts and AC Grayling to say how much they are enjoying it. This is translating very well in to coverage. With radio features including FRONT ROW (BBC RADIO 4) on Wednesday 5 April which included not only a clip from the film Gladiator but also from the lovely Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs who wasa fan. And the producer says this generated the most calls they've had for along time, asking for further details of the book. THE VERB (BBC RADIO 3) included an interview with the translator Gregory Hays. "See the movie, read the book. Hard on the heels of Richard Harris's portrayal of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator comes a new translation of that ruler's celebrated Meditations." JOAN SMITH, THE INDEPENDENT "Sparky and slangily readable, and for those who know Marcus only as the Richard Harris character in Ridley Scott's Gladiator, this is a chance to become better aquainted" BLAKE MORRISON, THE GUARDIAN We are expecting good review and thinkpieces including THE EVENING STANDARD, and THE OBSERVER with a feature in the DAILY MAIL tbc.

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