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From Vol. 3, Issue 10, October 2021

The story of Marcus Aurelius [7]


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“Men and women do not get married because marriage is legal, nor do they continue living together because divorce is difficult.”

How Meditations came to be written

Every great book is an evolution: Marcus had been getting ready to write this immortal volume for nearly half a century. And now in his fifty-seventh year he found himself in the desert of Asia at the head of the army, endeavoring to put down an insurrection of various barbaric tribes.

Later, the seat of war was shifted to the north. The enemy struck and retreated, and danced around him as the Boers fought the English in South Africa. But Marcus Aurelius had time to think, and so with no books near and all memoranda far away, he began to write out his best thoughts.

At first he expressed just for his own satisfaction, but later, as the work progressed, we see that its value grew upon him, and it was his intention to put it in systematic form for posterity.

The death of Marcus Aurelius

And while working at this task, the exposures of field and camp, and the business of war, in which he had no heart, worked upon him so adversely that he sickened and died, aged fifty-nine.

His body was carried back to Rome and placed by the side of that of his beloved adopted father, Antoninus Pius. And so he sleeps, but the precious legacy of the Meditations, written during those last two years of travel, turmoil and strife, is ours.

Memorable quotes

A few quotations seem in order:

The prayers of Marcus Aurelius to the gods are for one thing only – that their will be done.

Elbert Hubbard was a renaissance man who was prominent around the early 20th Century. The Story of Marcus Aurelius is from his Little Journeys to The Homes of The Great, Vol. 8. To make it easier to read we have broken down long paragraphs into short ones and added subtitles. The text is unaltered.