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Summary

The Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius (b. 121–d. 180) wrote a series of philosophical reflections that are best known in the English-speaking world under the title Meditations. In the Meditations Marcus reflects on a range of philosophical topics as well as challenges in his own life. The book is unlike any other philosophical text that has come down to us from Antiquity, taking the form of a collection of notebook jottings that were probably never intended for wider circulation. With the exception of Book 1, which reflects on Marcus’s debts to various people that have been important in his life, the remaining eleven books of philosophical and personal reflections are in no particular order and display no obvious structure. Many of the philosophical positions that Marcus holds, and the arguments underpinning them, remain unstated but various remarks in the text and elsewhere (especially Marcus’s correspondence with his rhetoric tutor Fronto) make it clear that Marcus was committed to Stoicism. The Meditations contains numerous examples of someone trying to respond to problems in everyday life in the light of not just Stoic ethics but also Stoic physics and Stoic logic.

Key works Marcus's Meditations has been edited and translated numerous times. The first half is translated with commentary in Gill 2013.
Introductions

For a brief but informative introduction to Marcus Aurelius see Kamtekar 2010. An older and slightly longer introduction, highly recommended, can be found in Brunt 1974. Hadot et al 1998 offers an important and philosophically rich reading of the Meditations. Giavatto 2008 and van Ackeren 2011 both offer thorough scholarly studies, in Italian and German respectively. The collection of studies in van Ackeren 2012 covers many important topics and is accessible. For an annotated guide to further work on Marcus see Sellars 2015.

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  1. The Plasticity of the Present Moment in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.Georgia Mouroutsou - 2020 - Ancient Philosophy 40 (2):411-434.
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  2. Marcus Aurelius.John Sellars - 2020 - Abingdon: Routledge.
    In this new study, John Sellars offers a fresh examination of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations as a work of philosophy by placing it against the background of the tradition of Stoic philosophy to which Marcus was committed. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is a perennial bestseller, attracting countless readers drawn to its unique mix of philosophical reflection and practical advice. The emperor is usually placed alongside Seneca and Epictetus as one of three great Roman Stoic authors, but he wears his philosophy (...)
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  3. How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, by Donald Robertson. [REVIEW]William O. Stephens - 2020 - Ancient Philosophy 40 (2):516-519.
    A review of Donald Robertson, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius. St. Martin's Press, 2019.
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  4. Disjunctions and Natural Philosophy in Marcus Aurelius.Benjamin Harriman - 2019 - Classical Quarterly 69 (2):858-879.
    In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius repeatedly presents a disjunction between two conceptions of the natural world. Either the universe is ruled by providence or there are atoms. At 4.3, we find perhaps its most succinct statement: ἀνανεωσάμενος τὸ διεζευγμένον τό⋅ ἤτοι πρόνοια ἢ ἄτομοι. The formulation of the disjunction differs; at 7.32, being composed of atoms is contrasted with a stronger sort of unity that may survive death. In 10.6 and 11.18 Marcus simply offers φύσις in opposition. On the surface, (...)
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  5. Toward a New Conception of Socially-Just Peace.Joshua M. Hall - 2017 - In Fuat Gursozlu (ed.), Peace, Culture, and Violence. Leiden, Netherlands: pp. 248-272.
    In this chapter, I approach the subject of peace by way of Andrew Fiala’s pioneering, synthetic work on “practical pacifism.” One of Fiala’s articles on the subject of peace is entitled “Radical Forgiveness and Human Justice”—and if one were to replace “Radical Forgiveness” with “Peace,” this would be a fair title for my chapter. In fact, Fiala himself explicitly makes a connection in the article between radical forgiveness and peace. Also in support of my project, Fiala’s article names four of (...)
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  6. The Stoics on Fate and Freedom.Tim O'Keefe - 2016 - In Meghan Griffith, Neil Levy & Kevin Timpe (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Free Will. Routledge. pp. 236-246.
    Overview of the Stoic position. Looks at the roots of their determinism in their theology, their response to the 'lazy argument' that believing that all things are fated makes action pointless, their analysis of human action and how it allows actions to be 'up to us,' their rejection of the Principle of Alternate Possibilities, their rejection of anger and other negative reactive attitudes, and their contention that submission to god's will brings true freedom.
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  7. Stoicism at War: From Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius to James Stockdale.Konrad Banicki - 2015 - In Tadeusz Marian Ostrowski, Iwona Sikorska & Krzysztof Gerc (eds.), Resilience and Health in a Fast-Changing World. Jagiellonian University Press. pp. 47-58.
    The chapter is devoted to the analysis of ancient Stoic philosophy as a source of resilience for soldiers. At first, some historical cases are investigated, from a Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to more recent instances from Vietnam and Iraq. Secondly, in turn, the Epictetus' distinction between the controllable and the uncontrollable is introduced with the focus on the prescription to assign value only to the former as the Stoic source of resilience. Finally, some further questions are briefly addressed including the (...)
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  8. The Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Stoicism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Existentialism.Kim Diaz & Edward Murguia - 2015 - Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies 15 (1):39-52.
    In this study, we examine the philosophical bases of one of the leading clinical psychological methods of therapy for anxiety, anger, and depression, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). We trace this method back to its philosophical roots in the Stoic, Buddhist, Taoist, and Existentialist philosophical traditions. We start by discussing the tenets of CBT, and then we expand on the philosophical traditions that ground this approach. Given that CBT has had a clinically measured positive effect on the psychological well-being of individuals, (...)
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  9. Marcus Aurelius.John Sellars - 2015 - Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy.
    An annotated bibliographical guide to work on the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
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  10. Star Trek’s Stoics: The Vulcans.Steven Umbrello - 2015 - Philosophy Now 106:29.
    In 1966 Gene Roddenberry, then a relatively unknown TV writer, created what was to become a cultural sensation. From cell phones and tablets, to MRI machines and medical jet injectors, Star Trek has undoubtedly anticipated much of the technology that we take for granted today. Moreover, the disagreements, fights and jokes between Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Dr Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy) were expertly crafted for dramatic impact. But I’m not writing this to confess to (...)
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  11. Marcus Aurelius. A Guide for the Perplexed, by William O. Stephens.Andrew Fiala - 2014 - Ancient Philosophy 34 (2):458-462.
  12. The Life of Marcus Aurelius - Adams Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond. Pp. X + 333, Figs. Lanham, Md. And Plymouth: Lexington Books, 2013. Cased, £49.95, Us$80. Isbn: 978-0-7391-7638-2. [REVIEW]J. S. Ward - 2014 - The Classical Review 64 (1):159-161.
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  13. Companion to Marcus Aurelius - M. Van Ackeren a Companion to Marcus Aurelius. Pp. XX + 560, Ills. Malden, Ma and Oxford: Wiley–Blackwell, 2012. Cased, £110, €129.90, Us$199.95. Isbn: 978-1-4051-9285-9. [REVIEW]Will Desmond - 2013 - The Classical Review 63 (2):546-548.
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  14. Marcus Aurelius: Meditations, Books 1-6.Christopher Gill (ed.) - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    Christopher Gill provides a new translation and commentary on the first half of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, and a full introduction to this unique and remarkable work: a reflective diary or notebook by a Roman emperor, whose content is based on Stoic philosophy but presented in a highly distinctive way.
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  15. Marcus Aurelius - M. Van Ackeren Die Philosophie Marc Aurels. Band 1: Textform – Stilmerkmale – Selbstdialog. Band 2: Themen – Begriffe – Argumente. Pp. XIV + VIII + 763. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2011. Cased, €129.95, Us$195. Isbn: 978-3-11-025542-3. [REVIEW]Laetitia Monteils-Laeng - 2013 - The Classical Review 63 (2):392-394.
  16. Marcus Aurelius - R. Hard Marcus Aurelius: Meditations, with Selected Correspondence. With an Introduction and Notes by Christopher Gill. Pp. XXXII + 176. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Paper, £7.99, Us$9.95. Isbn: 978-0-19-957320-2. [REVIEW]Richard Rawls - 2013 - The Classical Review 63 (1):92-93.
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  17. Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond.Geoff W. Adams - 2012 - Lexington Books.
    This book will be of interest to any person, whether an interested party, student, or scholar of the Roman Empire. It highlights the way in which we should consider ancient figures—be they good or bad.
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  18. Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond.Geoff W. Adams - 2012 - Lexington Books.
    This book will be of interest to any person, whether an interested party, student, or scholar of the Roman Empire. It highlights the way in which we should consider ancient figures—be they good or bad.
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  19. The Meditations and the Ancient Art of Living.John Sellars - 2012 - In Marcel van Ackeren (ed.), A Companion to Marcus Aurelius. Oxford, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 453-464.
    This chapter contains sections titled: Marcus' Project Socrates and the Stoic Art of Living Types of Philosophical Text Assimilation and Digestion Writing the Self Further Reading References.
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  20. Marcus Aurelius in Contemporary Philosophy.John Sellars - 2012 - In Marcel van Ackeren (ed.), A Companion to Marcus Aurelius. Wiley-Blackwell.
    Chapter synopsis: This chapter contains sections titled: Modern Readers of the Meditations The 19th Century The 20th Century Rehabilitating Marcus Further Reading References.
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  21. A Companion to Marcus Aurelius.Marcel van Ackeren (ed.) - 2012
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  22. Meditations: With Selected Correspondence.Marcus Aurelius - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    Marcus Aurelius' Meditations is a private notebook of philosophical reflections with universal significance. Drawing on Stoic philosophy, Marcus confronts challenges that affect us all in our struggle to live meaningful lives. This edition includes a selection of Marcus' correspondence with his tutor Fronto which complements the Meditations.
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  23. The Archpoet and the Emperor.Peter Godman - 2011 - Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 74 (1):31-58.
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  24. Meditations: With Selected Correspondence.Robin Hard (ed.) - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    Marcus Aurelius' Meditations is a private notebook of philosophical reflections with universal significance. Drawing on Stoic philosophy, Marcus confronts challenges that affect us all in our struggle to live meaningful lives. This edition includes a selection of Marcus' correspondence with his tutor Fronto which complements the Meditations.
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  25. Zu Marcus Aurelius Vi, 30 Und Senecas Apocolocyntosis.Christoph Begass - 2010 - Hermes 138 (3):337-351.
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  26. The Puppet and the Sage: Images of the Self in Marcus Aurelius.Sylvia Berryman - 2010 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 38:187-209.
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  27. The IDEA Method: Stoic Counsel.W. Ferraiolo - 2010 - Philosophical Practice 5 (2):627-633.
    The condition and characteristic of a philosopher is that he looks to himself for all help or harm.– Epictetus [Enchiridion, 48]Make your rules of life brief, yet so as to embrace the fundamentals; recurrence to them will then suffice to remove all vexation, and send you back without fretting to the duties to which you must return. – Marcus Aurelius [Meditations, Book Four, 3]Epictetus was born a slave. Marcus Aurelius became an emperor. Both were Stoics, and adhered to the same (...)
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  28. Marcus Aurelius.Rachana Kamtekar - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  29. Index Verborum in Opus Quod Inscribitur Ta Eis Heauton: Tableaux Et Releves Statistiques ; Listes Generales de Frequences.Georges Rigo (ed.) - 2010 - Olms-Weidmann.
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  30. Roman Philosophy and the Good Life.Raymond Angelo Belliotti - 2009 - Lexington Books.
    Raymond Angelo Belliotti's Roman Philosophy and the Good Life provides an accessible picture of these major philosophical influences in Rome and details the crucial role they played during times of major social upheaval. Belliotti demonstrates the contemporary relevance of some of the philosophical issues faced by the Romans, and offers ways in which today's society can learn from the Romans in our attempt to create meaningful lives.
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  31. CHAPTER 13. Moral Theory and Moral Improvement: Marcus Aurelius.John M. Cooper - 2009 - In Knowledge, Nature, and the Good: Essays on Ancient Philosophy. Princeton University Press. pp. 335-368.
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  32. Self-Talk in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations:: A Lesson for Philosophical Practice1.Ran Lahav - 2009 - Philosophical Practice 4 (3):486-491.
    For anyone who wishes to make philosophy relevant to our everyday life, the Meditations by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius is a fascinating text. It is fascinating because it not only presents a deep conception about life, but also mentions practical ways of applying this conception to everyday life.The Meditations is a Stoic text which contains some central ideas already found in earlier Stoic writings and develops them in an engaging way. Several prominent historians of philosophy, notably Pierre Hadot2 and (...)
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  33. The Roman Stoics: Self, Responsibility, and Affection (Review). [REVIEW]Eric Brown - 2007 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (3):490-491.
    Review of Gretchen Reydams-Schils, The Roman Stoics: Self, Responsibility, and Affection. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005.
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  34. Tempo dell'uomo e tempo del filosofo nel Ta eis heauton di Marco Aurelio.Ugo di Toro - 2007 - In Leo Marchetti & Paola Evangelista (eds.), La musica delle stagioni. Fenomenologia del tempo nelle letterature inglese e italiana. Liguori. pp. 131-150.
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  35. Marcus Aurelius'meditations: How Stoic and How Platonic?'.Christopher Gill - 2007 - In Mauro Bonazzi & Christoph Helmig (eds.), Platonic Stoicism, Stoic Platonism: The Dialogue Between Platonism and Stoicism in Antiquity. Leuven University Press. pp. 39--189.
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  36. Stoic Practical Philosophy in the Imperial Period.John Sellars - 2007 - Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies:115-40.
    An attempt to show the way in which the idea of 'philosophical exercise 'played an important role in the understanding of philosophy in Roman Stoicism.
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  37. Review of Gretchen Reydams-Schils, The Roman Stoics: Self, Responsibility, and Affection[REVIEW]Charles Brittain - 2006 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2006 (7).
  38. Stoic Realpolitik.Firmin Debranander - 2006 - International Philosophical Quarterly 46 (3):277-292.
    Thanks to its doctrines of natural right and moral egalitarianism and to its prominent historical role in defying totalitarian government, Stoicism is often cited as a touchstone for liberal democracy. Less well known, however, is an alternate lineage, culminating in a Stoic Realpolitik that emerges in Justus Lipsius’s political writings. The foundation of this Realpolitik becomes increasingly clear in the progression of Stoic thought through Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius. Tracing this lineage reveals that the subject of politics isfundamentally problematic (...)
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  39. Antropologia Ed Etica Negli Scritti a Se Stesso di Marco Aurelio.Eva Di Stefano - 2006 - Cuecm.
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  40. The Roman Stoics: Self, Responsibility, and Affection.Gretchen J. Reydams-Schils - 2005 - University of Chicago Press.
    Roman Stoic thinkers in the imperial period adapted Greek doctrine to create a model of the self that served to connect philosophical ideals with traditional societal values. The Roman Stoics-the most prominent being Marcus Aurelius-engaged in rigorous self-examination that enabled them to integrate philosophy into the practice of living. Gretchen Reydams-Schils's innovative new book shows how these Romans applied their distinct brand of social ethics to everyday relations and responsibilities. The Roman Stoics reexamines the philosophical basis that instructed social practice (...)
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  41. Marcus Aurelius.William O. Stephens - 2005 - In Patricia F. O'Grady (ed.), Meet the philosophers of Ancient Greece: everything you always wanted to know about ancient Greek philosophy but didn't know who to ask. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate. pp. 211-213.
    How putrid is the matter which underlies everything. Water, dust, bones, stench. Again, fine marbles are calluses of the earth; gold and silver, its sediments; our clothes, animal-hair; their purple, blood from a shellfish. Our very breath is something similar and changes from this to that. Meditations, 9 36).
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  42. Parallels Between the Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and Christianity.F. Abel - 2004 - Filozofia 59 (9):675-680.
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  43. Marcus Aurelius: Ethics and its Background.Julia Annas - 2004 - Rhizai. A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science 2:103-119.
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  44. Marcus Aurelius and Religion C. Motschmann: Die Religionspolitik Marc Aurels . ( Hermes Einzelschriften 88.) Pp. 296. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2002. Paper, €74. Isbn: 3-515-08166-. [REVIEW]A. R. Birley - 2004 - The Classical Review 54 (02):495-.
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  45. Review: Die Religionspolitik Marc Aurels. [REVIEW]A. R. Birley - 2004 - The Classical Review 54 (2):495-496.
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  46. Stoic Tolerance.Andrew Fiala - 2003 - Res Publica 9 (2):149-168.
    This article considers the virtue of tolerance as it is found in Epictetus and MarcusAurelius. It defines the virtue of tolerance and links it to the Stoic idea of proper control of the passions in pursuit of both self-sufficiency and justice. It argues that Stoic tolerance is neither complete in difference nor a species of relativism. Finally, it discusses connections between the moral virtue of Stoic tolerance and the idea of political toleration found in modern liberalism.
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  47. Review of Mark Morford, The Roman Philosophers: From the Time of Cato the Censor to the Death of Marcus Aurelius[REVIEW]Wolfgang Mann - 2003 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2003 (11).
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  48. Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker.Bryan D. Palmer - 2003 - Historical Materialism 11.4 11 (4):373-394.
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  49. The Art of Living: The Stoics on the Nature and Function of Philosophy.John Sellars - 2003 - Ashgate.
    Questioning the premise that philosophy can only be conceived as a rational discourse, Sellars presents it instead as an art (techne) that combines both 'logos' ...
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  50. The Roman Philosophers: From the Time of Cato the Censor to the Death of Marcus Aurelius.Mark P. O. Morford - 2002 - Routledge.
    Mark Morford provides a lively, succinct, and comprehensive survey of the philosophers of the Roman World, from Cato the Censor in 155 BCE to the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 CE. These men were asking philosophical questions whose answers had practical effects on people's lives in antiquity--and still do today--yet this is an era of philosophy somewhat neglected in recent decades. Morford puts this right by discussing the writings and ideas of numerous famous and lesser-known figures. Using extensive and (...)
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1 — 50 / 199