Translated by George Long
Search The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
14. To her who gives and takes back all, to nature, the man who is
instructed and modest says, Give what thou wilt; take back what thou wilt.
And he says this not proudly, but obediently and well pleased with
15. Short is the little which remains to thee of life. Live as on a
mountain. For it makes no difference whether a man lives there or here,
if he lives everywhere in the world as in a state (political community).
Let men see, let them know a real man who lives according to nature. If
they cannot endure him, let them kill him. For that is better than to live
thus as men do.
19. Consider what men are when they are eating, sleeping, generating,
easing themselves and so forth. Then what kind of men they are when they
are imperious and arrogant, or angry and scolding from their elevated place.
But a short time ago to how many they were slaves and for what things;
and after a little time consider in what a condition they will
21. "The earth loves the shower"; and "the solemn aether loves": and
the universe loves to make whatever is about to be. I say then to the universe,
that I love as thou lovest. And is not this too said, that "this or that
loves (is wont) to be produced"?
22. Either thou livest here and hast already accustomed thyself to
it, or thou art going away, and this was thy own will; or thou art dying
and hast discharged thy duty. But besides these things there is nothing.
Be of good cheer, then.
23. Let this always be plain to thee, that this piece of land is like
any other; and that all things here are the same with things on top of
a mountain,m or on the sea-shore, or wherever thou choosest to be. For thou
wilt find just what Plato says, Dwelling within the walls of a city as
in a shepherd's fold on a mountain.
24. What is my ruling faculty now to me? And of what nature am I now
making it? And for what purpose am I now using it? Is it void of understanding?
Is it loosed and rent asunder from social life? Is it melted into and mixed
with the poor flesh so as to move together with it?
25. He who flies from his master is a runaway; but the law is master,
and he who breaks the law is a runaway. And he also who is grieved or angry
or afraid, is dissatisfied because something has been or is or shall be
of the things which are appointed by him who rules all things, and he is
Law, and assigns to every man what is fit. He then who fears or is grieved
or is angry is a runaway.
26. A man deposits seed in a womb and goes away, and then another cause takes it, and labours on it and makes a child. What a thing from such a material! Again, the child passes food down through the throat, and then another cause takes it and makes perception and motion, and in fine life and strength and other things; how many and how strange
27. Constantly consider how all things such as they now are, in time
past also were; and consider that they will be the same again. And place
before thy eyes entire dramas and stages of the same form, whatever thou
hast learned from thy experience or from older history; for example, the
whole court of Hadrian, and the whole court of Antoninus, and the whole
court of Philip, Alexander, Croesus; for all those were such dramas as
we see now, only with different actors.
28. Imagine every man who is grieved at anything or discontented to
be like a pig which is sacrificed and kicks and screams.
30. When thou art offended at any man's fault, forthwith turn to thyself
and reflect in what like manner thou dost err thyself; for example, in
thinking that money is a good thing, or pleasure, or a bit of reputation,
and the like. For by attending to this thou wilt quickly forget thy anger,
if this consideration also is added, that the man is compelled: for what
else could he do? or, if thou art able, take away from him the
31. When thou hast seen Satyron the Socratic, think of either Eutyches or Hymen, and when thou hast seen Euphrates, think of Eutychion or Silvanus, and when thou hast seen Alciphron think of Tropaeophorus, and when thou hast seen Xenophon think of Crito or Severus, and when thou hast looked on thyself, think of any other Caesar, and in the case of every one do in like manner. Then let this thought be in thy mind, Where then are those men? Nowhere, or nobody knows where. For thus continuously thou wilt look at human things as smoke and nothing at all; especially if thou reflectest at the same time that what has once changed will never exist again in the infinite duration of time. But thou, in what a brief space of time is thy existence? And why art thou not content to pass through this short time in an orderly way?
What matter and opportunity for thy activity art thou
avoiding? For what else are all these things, except exercises for the
reason, when it has viewed carefully and by examination into their nature
the things which happen in life? Persevere then until thou shalt have made
these things thy own, as the stomach which is strengthened makes all things
its own, as the blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything
that is thrown into it.
32. Let it not be in any man's power to say truly of thee that thou
art not simple or that thou are not good; but let him be a liar whoever
shall think anything of this kind about thee; and this is altogether in
thy power. For who is he that shall hinder thee from being good and simple?
Do thou only determine to live no longer, unless thou shalt be such. For
neither does reason allow thee to live, if thou art not
33.  What is that which as to this material (our life) can be done or said in the way most conformable to reason. For whatever this may be, it is in thy power to do it or to say it, and do not make excuses that thou art hindered. Thou wilt not cease to lament till thy mind is in such a condition that, what luxury is to those who enjoy pleasure, such shall be to thee, in the matter which is subjected and presented to thee, the doing of the things which are conformable to man's constitution; for a man ought to consider as an enjoyment everything which it is in his power to do according to his own nature. And it is in his power everywhere.
 Now, it is not given to a cylinder to move everywhere by its own motion, nor yet to water nor to fire, nor to anything else which is governed by nature or an irrational soul, for the things which check them and stand in the way are many. But intelligence and reason are able to go through everything that opposes them, and in such manner as they are formed by nature and as they choose.
 Place before thy eyes this facility with which the reason will be carried through all things, as fire upwards, as a stone downwards, as a cylinder down an inclined surface, and seek for nothing further. For all other obstacles either affect the body only which is a dead thing; or, except through opinion and the yielding of the reason itself, they do not crush nor do any harm of any kind;
 for if they did, he who felt
it would immediately become bad. Now, in the case of all things which have
a certain constitution, whatever harm may happen to any of them, that which
is so affected becomes consequently worse; but in the like case, a man
becomes both better, if one may say so, and more worthy of praise by making
a right use of these accidents. And finally remember that nothing harms
him who is really a citizen, which does not harm the state; nor yet does
anything harm the state, which does not harm law (order); and of these
things which are called misfortunes not one harms law. What then does not
harm law does not harm either state or citizen.
34. To him who is penetrated by true principles even the briefest precept
is sufficient, and any common precept, to remind him that he should be
free from grief and fear. For example-
35. The healthy eye ought to see all visible things and not to say,
I wish for green things; for this is the condition of a diseased eye. And
the healthy hearing and smelling ought to be ready to perceive all that
can be heard and smelled. And the healthy stomach ought to be with respect
to all food just as the mill with respect to all things which it is formed
to grind. And accordingly the healthy understanding ought to be prepared
for everything which happens; but that which says, Let my dear children
live, and let all men praise whatever I may do, is an eye which seeks for
green things, or teeth which seek for soft things.
36. There is no man so fortunate that there shall not be by him when he is dying some who are pleased with what is going to happen. Suppose that he was a good and wise man, will there not be at last some one to say to himself, Let us at last breathe freely being relieved from this schoolmaster? It is true that he was harsh to none of us, but I perceived that he tacitly condemns us.- This is what is said of a good man. But in our own case how many other things are there for which there are many who wish to get rid of us. Thou wilt consider this then when thou art dying, and thou wilt depart more contentedly by reflecting thus: I am going away from such a life, in which even my associates in behalf of whom I have striven so much, prayed, and cared, themselves wish me to depart, hoping perchance to get some little advantage by it. Why then should a man cling to a longer stay here?
Do not however for this reason go away less kindly
disposed to them, but preserving thy own character, and friendly and benevolent
and mild, and on the other hand not as if thou wast torn away; but as when
a man dies a quiet death, the poor soul is easily separated from the body,
such also ought thy departure from men to be, for nature united thee to
them and associated thee. But does she now dissolve the union? Well, I
am separated as from kinsmen, not however dragged resisting, but without
compulsion; for this too is one of the things according to
37. Accustom thyself as much as possible on the occasion of anything
being done by any person to inquire with thyself, For what object is this
man doing this? But begin with thyself, and examine thyself
38. Remember that this which pulls the strings is the thing which is hidden within: this is the power of persuasion, this is life, this, if one may so say, is man. In contemplating thyself never include the vessel which surrounds thee and these instruments which are attached about it. For they are like to an axe, differing only in this that they grow to the body. For indeed there is no more use in these parts without the cause which moves and checks them than in the weaver's shuttle, and the writer's pen and the driver's whip.