Monday, December 12, 2005

the meditations of marcus aurelius

an empty pageant; a stage play; flocks of sheep; herds of cattle; a tussle of spearmen; a bone flung among a pack of curs; a crumb tossed in to a pond of fish; ants, loaded and laboring; mice, scared and scampering; puppets, jerking on their strings - that is life. in the midst of all you must take your stand, good-temperedly and without disdain, yet always aware that a man's worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.
book vii; 3.
meditations of marcus aurelius
translated by maxwell staniforth


marcus aurelius was roman emperor from a.d.161 to 180 . he was the last of the so called five good emperors also called adoptive emperors bc they adopted a suitable person as their successor usually a distant relative but sometimes going outside the family altogether.
edward gibbon writing the decline and fall of roman empire said 'period in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous' was the reign of those emperors.

be that as it may be, what i am writing about is the meditations or random thoughts or exercises left by marcus aurelius probably without any intention of publication. i originally read them long time ago but did not get them then, maybe i was put off by the thanksgiving passages in the first book. anyway as is my wont i did not finish it, last weekend i read the whole thing through.

it confirm to his stoic philosophy. one might describe stoicism as buddhism without any supernatural beliefs like karma. anyway it is a pure philosophy not a religion disguised as a philosophy which is what buddhism is imo.stoics thought that there was a deity/natural law/universal reason operating in the universe and that one's soul is a portion of that divinity. they emphasized the use of reason to achieve truth and a life in harmony with the universe. though i do not subscribe to this and think the whole world is essentially meaningless chaos i can certainly understand the attraction of such a system.

more so when one reads this book. one is at once stuck by the relevance of the thoughts and the clear headed intelligence of the author, respect for whom grows with each passage. in the end i decided to write a post about it.
initially i thought i should limit myself to quotations with barest of biographical notes but it seem i haven't achieved that kind of self discipline yet. :-)

remind yourself constantly of all the physicians, now dead, who used to knit their brows over their ailing patients; of all the astrologers who so solemnly predicted their clients doom; the philosophers who expatiated so endlessly on death and immortality; the great commanders who slew their thousands; the despots who wielded powers of life and death with such terrible arrogance, as if themselves were gods who could never die; whole cities which have perished completely, helice , pompeii, herculaneum, and other without number. after that recall one by one each of your own acquaintances; how one buried the another, only to be laid low himself and buried in turn by a third, all in so brief a space of time. observe in short how transient and trivial is all mortal life; yesterday a drop of semen, tomorrow a handful of spice and ashes. spend therefore, these fleeting moments on earth as nature would have you spend them, and then go to your rest with good grace, as an olive falls in its' season, with the blessing for the earth that bore it and a thanksgiving to the tree that gave it life .
book iv;48


in all your action let there be a willing promptitude, yet a regard for common interest; due deliberation, yet no irresolution; and in your sentiments no pretentious over refinement. avoid talkativeness, avoid officiousness. the god within you should preside over a being who is virile and mature, a statesman, a roman, and a ruler; one who has held his ground, like a soldier waiting for the signal to retire from th life's battlefield and ready to welcome his relief; a man whose credit need neither be sworn to by himself nor avouched by others. therein is the secret of cheerfulness, of depending on no help from without and needing to crave from no man the boon of tranquility. we have to stand upright overselves, not be set up.
book iii:5


you can download the book from project gutenberg. translation there is differant from above.

ps.
it is perhaps ironic that it is marcus aurelius who broke the tradition and named his son commodus as his successor, commodus was a disaster.
btw the old emperor played by richard harris in the film the gladiator is supposed to be marcus aurelius. the film however is a complete fantasy and has no relation to historical fact except in the flimsiest level.

24 comments:

Keshi said...

Hey Sittingnut wow thanks for the introduction to "meditations of marcus aurelius"...I was stoked at the sentiments on life that he expresses...it's just too good!


**yesterday a drop of semen, tomorrow a handful of spice and ashes.

I love those words...so true to the core..


**as an olive falls in its' season, with the blessing for the earth that bore it and a thanksgiving to the tree that gave it life

this is too beautiful a comparison! Just by reading this line, Im intrigued abt this more than anything else now...

I'll make sure I get a copy of it...thanks to u!

Keshi.

Keshi said...

Hey me again!

Sorry mate this is not relevant to ur latest post...but I wanted to ask u a question :)

I just blog-hopped to Null's blog and found a post abt SL Women. I dun u'stand why he was cribbing abt SL women so sadly, but I dunno him much, so I dun care. But Sittingnut my dearest friend u said something like

"generally ugly they maybe, but that is not the same thing"

lol how come u said that mate?

No offense or anything....just that I wanted to point out that SL women r NOT generally ugly...goshhh SL women r very pretty and seductive...most Westerners dream of our skin color and features.


I think Null's life is null of real SL women. Sittingnut u cant say that SL women r generally ugly - lol no way!

Ashanthi might have some very interesting input to this...

Thanks!
Keshi.

sittingnut said...

ooops!
hey mate!
glad you like the post above. marcus aurelius is great.

as for my comment in null's blog, :-(
hmmmm .... hummmm....,.
well, they are not exactly beautiful in the classical sense.~it's alway good to have vaguely defined concepts to put blame on :-) ~

besides, don' take anything i say with word 'generally' seriously, i normally object to all generalizations and consider that we should consider every case in whatever subject in the individual level. one of the main reasons i am a libertarian and object to 'big' government is bc it's tendency to deal with problems generally forgetting the individual.
~hope that statement will put every body off the discussion by it's pomposity haha ~

seriously speaking, i was objecting to null's statement that they are 'rather boring an(d) un-erotic ' which is not the case. they are in fact very sensual and not at all boring.

while as you say most Westerners dream of our skin color and features - take my word i dream of nothing but sri lankan women.

really my dear, do you seriously think i would live in a place that had only ugly women?

marcus aurelius may not have said this in his book but he should have:
we, men are in this world but to sing praises of women continuously, like the sunflowers that pay homage to the sun continuously, that is the nature's law.
:-)

am i forgiven? please do..

--
my apologies to shades of aurelius. :-)

ashanthi said...

Right - SITTINGNUT - you had better start explaining BIG TIME.

ACTUALLY I'M GOING TO WRITE THIS POST TOTALLY IN CAPS - THAT'S JUST THE START OF YOU'RE PUNISHMENT

WHAT A THING TO SAY -

HMMMM - BIG BIG BIG TROUBLE ....& WHAT SORT OF COMPANY ARE YOU KEEPING - WHO'S THIS NULL NING NONG & PRAY TELL US - WHAT SORT OF WOMEN IF AT ALL DO YOU LIKE ...

OHHHH - SOO LUCKY YOU ARE MILES AWAY - CHEEKY IS NOT THE WORD@#$%$%@#@#$%

ps - thanks keshi - i never ming marcus i reckon we have a plain & simple dark horse on our hands...

Keshi said...

lol Sittingnut...u r forgiven only cos u havent seen me yet ;-) and Im a Sri Lankan woman...:)

And wth - u have seen someone as gorgeous looking and adorable as Ashanthi and u said something like that abt SL women? naughty naughty hehehe...


Ashanthi let's get together and punish Mr.Sittingnut...what would be the ideal payback act for him? :) lol yeah he's VERY lucky he's far away from me too or else I'll be punishing him in real...real real so real lol!


Ashanthi, following is the link for that Pathola guy's blog and that post...

http://pathola.blogspot.com/2005/12/sri-lanka-sex-girl.html

duh!

Keshi.

sittingnut said...

hey mate!

thank you! you are kind beyond words. :-)

and Im a Sri Lankan woman... - and an angel so beautiful that i can't even imagine you :-)

gorgeous looking and adorable as Ashanthi :-) yes, but i have heard her shoutin,,,,,. ~ gets run over by ashanthi's gorgeous red car~ :-)
actually, she is a very gracious princess. :-)
---
SOO LUCKY YOU ARE MILES AWAY..........he's VERY lucky he's far away from me too or else I'll be punishing him in real...real - how very unlucky rather. ah, to be punished by an angel and a princess :-)

WHO'S THIS NULL NING NONG ..........Ashanthi, following is the link - ashanthi, you knows him (neo/null/pathola) his blog even has a link to you and only to you. :-)

:-) ~thinks he has gotten off lightly but is not sure ~ :-(

Keshi said...

lol Sittingnut u feel unlucky to be so far away...I dun think u will think so if u knew what the punishment would be :)


Keshi.

ashanthi said...

you deserve all the SHOUTINGS & scolding you get from me & Keshi... cheeky so & so

I think a suitable punishment Keshi should be that s/nut shows us a photo of himself - ie posts one to his blog & we then decide whether he is

classically beautiful or not??!!

Yes - sounds fair

sittingnut said...

keshi:
~trembling ~ errr what is the punishment?

i know i deserve to punished by an angel. :-)

ashanthi:
a photo? no way ! why? err.... we do not have cameras here in sri lanka! :-)
besides only ugly ppl have the right to call others ugly.:-)

Keshi said...

Ashanthi lollllz I love ya gal...what a beautiful deserving punishment! U r one smart and beautiful Sri Lankan babe ;-)


**...posts one to his blog & we then decide whether he is classically beautiful or not??!!

yep Sittingnut we 2 angels request ur photo now...c'mon out with it :)


Keshi.

sittingnut said...

who ever said i am classically beautiful?
i am not, i am ugly so have a perfect right to pass judgment on individual beauty of others.
on the other hand two beautiful angels like you definitely do not have any such right bc that would be grossly unfair. so no photo.

now i am in real trouble. :-(

ashanthi said...

I ain't backing down Mister & I got Keshi on ma side - so post or else - fair warning has been given to s/nut

show they self ye scoundrel cheeky so & so ....

besides - don't forget we are fair but firm so we will consider your inner qualities too ... (hmmm :-)

Keshi said...

**show they self ye scoundrel cheeky

ROFL Ashanthi!

yeah yeah we r fair angels but very firm with our decisiosn too :) Show ur handsome face or face angel arrows...lol!

Keshi.

sittingnut said...

ashathi and keshi:
no way ! :-)
it's not handsome at all in fact it is so ugly like the medusa's face that it turns all those who look at it into stone. so i would be left with two statues instead of two angels. i am doing a public service by not showing my face, no?

besides all your fans will murder me :-(

Keshi said...

oh c'mon u cant be that ugly...no one is ugly ok??? and if I turn into a statue after seeing ya, why dun u melt me with some charm? ;-)

hahaha...

Keshi.

ashanthi said...

hey - let it not be said we don't know how to have a laugh... just got back from a spate of xmas parties - only to find that hey man - it's a party in da house...

(oh - sorry - i'm such a goose)

now - back to the crux of the matter ...

s/nut - having offened all fair maidens of the land of Lanka thou shalt show thyself

this has hereby been decreed by two guardians - Keshi & Ashanthi

once he has passed the test of the guardians - he will be set free

sittingnut said...

keshi:
c'mon u cant be that ugly...no one is ugly ok - no! :-( i like being ugly. :-)
why dun u melt me with some charm? - and turn a dear angel into red hot lava?

ashanthi:
you wrote at null's
am i in your bad books now? Please say no - i don't think i could bear it ... feels very repentant & doesn't care anymore that s/nut thinks SL women are ... welll .. you know . lol now can i hold you to your word? :-)

ashanthi said...

s/nut - you know you can trust me with your life

Keshi said...

lollllllz Ashanthi u make me crack up crazy :):)
Well he's not showing us the pic:( wut do we do now girl?


Sittingnut I dun turn into lava...hehe I turn into a wave of cool blue water....a very soothing one lol!

Keshi.

sittingnut said...

ok ok since it seems i can't escape, i will send you both a pic as soon as i can find keshi's email( i think i saw it in your blog?)tomorrow. don't complain if you turn in to stone. :-)

ashanthi said...

awww - i'm only joking s/nut - you don't have to do that if you don't want to - sorry for being so demanding... hey please don't wish to invade you're privacy machan - please just a bit of fun ...

besides, if Keshi turn to stone she ain't going to be able to blog - now ... what will all her silly trolls do!

hmmm - anyway am very curious now ... but truly - only send picture if you are comfortable doing so ... we have no right to pry into your personal life :-(

errr - ps can you include your shoe size details with the pic too :-)) -

Keshi said...

Sittingnut lol na na no need...I wont force ya..as Ashanthi said, we have no intention to tamper with ur personal details...not a inice thing to do. We were just mucking ard with ya :) It's ok mate!




Ashanthi...

**what will all her silly trolls do

lol they will all die if I dun blog...awww...
Actually Im thinking of stopping the blog so the annonymous losers and the keshi-imposter will have a natural death...:)


**errr - ps can you include your shoe size details with the pic too

OMG Ashanthi LOLLLLLLLLZ!


Keshi.

sittingnut said...

lol, so that 's the way to get out of such a situation. :-) thanks for the lesson.
ok i will not send it since you two are afraid of seeing me in my glorious ugliness.
then again why not, i will send it anyway as soon as i get the thing out of my camera.

ashathi::
besides, if Keshi turn to stone she ain't going to be able to blog - now ... what will all her silly trolls do! speak for yourself and admit you are scared of seeing me and turning to stone
can you include your shoe size details with the pic too :-)) - :-D 10, the shoe size that is lol.

keshi:
Actually Im thinking of stopping the blog so the annonymous losers and the keshi-imposter will have a natural death...:) - please, please, don't! it's not just the losers who will die of heartbreak..:-)
seriously can't we get rid of the impostor? did you complain to blogger?


btw i saw your half a pic? :-)

ashanthi said...

well - i've seen s/nut's photo & can confirm officially - as I suspected - he's a handsome cheeky devil

what say you keshi?