Best Quotes by Marcus Aurelius

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This page contains a collection of philosophical quotes by Marcus Aurelius. Details about the book, chapter number, and translation are included where applicable.

On philosophy:

Philosophy . . . consists in keeping the daemon within a man free from violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, doing nothing without purpose, nor yet falsely and with hypocrisy, not feeling the need of another man’s doing or not doing anything; and besides, accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, as coming from thence, wherever it is, from whence he himself came; and, finally, waiting for death with a cheerful mind.

Meditations, II, 17, trans. George Long

On honesty:

Never value anything as profitable to thyself which shall compel thee to break thy promise, to lose thy self-respect, to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to desire anything which needs walls and curtains.

Meditations, III, 7, trans. George Long

On time:

Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too.

Meditations, IV, 43, trans. George Long

On honor:

Consider . . . the life lived by others in olden time, and the life of those who will live after thee, and the life now lived among barbarous nations, and how many know not even thy name, and how many will soon forget it, and how they who perhaps now are praising thee will very soon blame thee, and that neither a posthumous name is of any value, nor reputation, nor anything else.

Meditations, IX, 30, trans. George Long

On change:

Often think of the rapidity with which things pass by and disappear, both the things which are and the things which are produced. For substance is like a river in a continual flow, and the activities of things are in constant change, and the causes work in infinite varieties; and there is hardly anything which stands still.

Meditations, V, 23, trans. George Long

On death:

Always observe how ephemeral and worthless human things are. . . . Pass then through this little space of time conformably to nature, and end thy journey in content, just as an olive falls off when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew.

Meditations, V, 33, trans. George Long

On change:

Some things are hurrying into existence, and others are hurrying out of it; and of that which is coming into existence part is already extinguished. Motions and changes are continually renewing the world, just as the uninterrupted course of time is always renewing the infinite duration of ages. In this flowing stream then, on which there is no abiding, what is there of the things which hurry by on which a man would set a high price? It would be just as if a man should fall in love with one of the sparrows which fly by, but it has already passed out of sight.

Meditations, VI, 15, trans. George Long

On duty:

I do my duty: other things trouble me not; for they are either things without life, or things without reason, or things that have rambled and know not the way.

Meditations, VI, 22, trans. George Long

On right conduct:

One thing here is worth a great deal, to pass thy life in truth and justice, with a benevolent disposition even to liars and unjust men.

Meditations, VI, 47, trans. George Long

On change:

Is any man afraid of change? Why what can take place without change? What then is more pleasing or more suitable to the universal nature? And canst thou take a bath unless the wood undergoes a change? And canst thou be nourished, unless the food undergoes a change? And can anything else that is useful be accomplished without change? Dost thou not see then that for thyself also to change is just the same, and equally necessary for the universal nature?

Meditations, VII, 18, trans. George Long

On self-knowledge:

Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.

Meditations, VII, 59, trans. George Long

On life:

The art of life is more like the wrestler’s art than the dancer’s, in respect of this, that it should stand ready and firm to meet onsets which are sudden and unexpected.

Meditations, VII, 61, trans. George Long

On freedom:

It is in thy power to live free from all compulsion in the greatest tranquility of mind, even if all the world cry out against thee as much as they choose, and even if wild beasts tear in pieces the members of this kneaded matter which has grown around thee. For what hinders the mind in the midst of all this from maintaining itself in tranquility and in a just judgement of all surrounding things and in a ready use of the objects which are presented to it, so that the judgement may say to the thing which falls under its observation: This thou art in substance (reality), though in men’s opinion thou mayest appear to be of a different kind; and the use shall say to that which falls under the hand: Thou art the thing that I was seeking; for to me that which presents itself is always a material for virtue both rational and political, and in a word, for the exercise of art, which belongs to man or God.

Meditations, VII, 68, trans. George Long

On virtue:

The perfection of moral character consists in this, in passing every day as the last, and in being neither violently excited nor torpid nor playing the hypocrite.

Meditations, VII, 69, trans. George Long

On error:

Remember that to change thy opinion and to follow him who corrects thy error is as consistent with freedom as it is to persist in thy error.

Meditations, VIII, 16, trans. George Long

On wealth:

Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go.

Meditations, VIII, 33, trans. George Long

On badness:

It is a ridiculous thing for a man not to fly from his own badness, which is indeed possible, but to fly from another man’s badness, which is impossible.

Meditations, X, 16, trans. George Long

On humility:

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 be.

Meditations, X, 19, trans. George Long

On self-love:

I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.

Meditations, XII, 4, trans. George Long

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