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77 Marcus Aurelius Quotes + 3 Messages from “Meditations”

Marcus Aurelius was one of the Rome’s most respected Emperors, known as the last of the “Five Good Emperors”. In this article, we’ve gathered his most insightful messages below to offer you some guidance in leading a virtuous, happy life.

Marcus Aurelius is one of the most famous Stoic philosophers and led a truly fascinating life. As a student of Stoic philosophy, he made some profound insights on life and left us with a plethora of wise quotes that continue to be applicable today.

His attitude towards life continues to be influential to this day, and his writings in his book, ‘Meditations’, provides actionable advice on how the events in our lives should be viewed so that we may become the best versions of ourselves.

Quotes from Marcus Aurelius and Meditations

Quotes from Marcus Aurelius and Meditations

Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire from 161 A.D. to 180 A.D. He led Rome through a tumultuous war and ongoing battles as well as a deadly plague, and was well-respected by the Roman people.

All this experience led Aurelius to reflect on the ephemeral nature of life and draw conclusions on how best to live his life with the limited time we have on earth.

He looked to Stoicism, and as one of the most famous philosophers of this school of thought, he taught that we should use reason and logic to guide our perception of life.

His thoughts on Stoicism can be applied to our lives today in order to live virtuously.

In his book ‘Meditations,’ Aurelius’ private notes and ideas on Stoic philosophy have left us with a treasure trove of profound quotes that we can use to change our perspective and harness the power of reason.

Find here more quotes from famous authors.

Best Marcus Aurelius Quotes from Meditations

Best Marcus Aurelius Quotes from Meditations

"Meditations", by Marcus Aurelius, is a compilation of musings and Stoic exercises to incorporate into life. It was originally written as somewhat of a journal for Aurelius himself and was not intended as public advice.

It was his way of reminding himself of his values and standards as a means to incorporate these in the actions he took.

Despite not being intended for an audience, "Meditations" is rich in advice and perspectives that people all over the world have referred to for their own journeys of self-improvement for centuries.

It is full of meaningful quotes to live by, and we’ve gathered some of the best quotes from it below.

  1. If it is not right, do not do it. If it is not true, do not say it.
  2. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
  3. We all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.
  4. How easy it is to repel and to wipe away every impression which is troublesome or unsuitable, and immediately to be in all tranquility.
  5. You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.
  6. Discard your misperceptions. Stop being jerked like a puppet. Limit yourself to the present.
  7. Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do… Sanity means tying it to your own actions.
  8. The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.
  9. Try praying differently, and see what happens: Instead of asking for ‘a way to sleep with her,’ try asking for ‘a way to stop desiring to sleep with her.’ Instead of ‘a way to get rid of him,’ try asking for ‘a way to not crave his demise.’ Instead of ‘a way to not lose my child,’ try asking for ‘a way to lose my fear of it.'
  10. Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.
  11. The mind freed from passions is an impenetrable fortress—a person has no more secure place of refuge for all time.
  12. [I have learned] To read with diligence; not to rest satisfied with a light and superficial knowledge, nor quickly to assent to things commonly spoken of.

Marcus Aurelius Quotes about Stoicism

Marcus Aurelius Quotes about Stoicism

Stoicism is a school of thought that was very popular in Ancient Greece and Rome. Stoics value moral worth, rationality and continuous self-improvement.

They teach that virtue is the only good, and that our own happiness is dictated by us alone.

Marcus Aurelius was a devout Stoic and incorporated its teachings both into his personal life and into his rule as Roman Emperor.

The quotes below from Aurelius illustrate the value of Stoicism and provide advice on how to live your life according to this philosophy.

  1. Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.
  2. Our actions may be impeded… but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. 
  3. Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.
  4. Everything we hear is opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
  5. If someone can show me that what I think or do is not right, I’ll gladly change. For I seek the truth.
  6. How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.
  7. The best answer to anger is silence.
  8. No random actions, none not based on underlying principles.
  9. Whenever someone has done wrong by you, immediately consider what notion of good or evil they had in doing it. For when you see that, you’ll feel compassion, instead of astonishment or rage.
  10. The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.
  11. Wherever a person can live, there one can also live well.
  12. It isn’t manly to be enraged. Rather, gentleness and civility are more human, and therefore manlier. The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.

Are you looking for more stoic quotes? Here you’ll find them.

Best and Most Famous Quotes By Marcus Aurelius

Best and Most Famous Quotes By Marcus Aurelius

Although over a century has passed since Aurelius’ time on earth, his musings left a considerable impression behind, and his ideas continue to be studied to this day.

As such, many of his quotes have become quite famous in the interim. Below, we have compiled the top 10 most famous Marcus Aurelius quotes, some of which you may have come across before.

  1. The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.
  2. When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
  3. Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.
  4. Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.
  5. You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.
  6. The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.
  7. Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.
  8. The best revenge is to not be like your enemies.
  9. Your soul is dyed with the color of your thoughts.
  10. A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.

Quotes from Marcus Aurelius about Life

Quotes from Marcus Aurelius about Life

Despite the power and luxuries afforded to Aurelius as Emperor of Rome, his life was not without its difficulties.

His birth father died when he was just 3 years old, and he also experienced the untimely deaths of his adoptive father and brother.

His reign included its fair share of trouble, from plague to war, and his time as Emperor marks the end of the golden age of Rome.

But throughout these struggles, Aurelius kept going and continued to put in the effort, day in day out. He had a positive outlook on life and maintained that life is what you make of it. His quotes about life below illustrate his attitude to life and offer advice on how best to live your own.

  1. Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
  2. Our life is what our thoughts make it.
  3. Let men see, let them know, a real man, who lives as he was meant to live.
  4. The memory of everything is very soon overwhelmed in time.
  5. Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible.
  6. You have been formed of three parts—body, breath, and mind. Of these, the first two are yours insofar as they are only in your care. The third alone is truly yours.
  7. The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, because an artful life requires being prepared to meet and withstand sudden and unexpected attacks.
  8. Stay calm and serene regardless of what life throws at you.
  9. Life is short — the fruit of this life is a good character and acts for the common good.
  10. We live only now. Everything else is either passed or is unknown.
  11. You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.

Marcus Aurelius Quotes about Leadership

Marcus Aurelius Quotes about Leadership

As one of the most notable Roman Emperors, Marcus Aurelius certainly had plenty of wisdom to offer on the topic of leadership. He led the Roman people through the Antonine plague, the Parthian war and various other battles.

As such, his teachings can offer a lot of lessons on leadership.

If you are in a position of leadership, whether that’s as a manager, a team captain or a mentor, the Marcus Aurelius quotes about leadership below could prove to be useful to you.

  1. It is the responsibility of leadership to work intelligently with what is given, and not waste time fantasizing about a world of flawless people and perfect choices.
  2. If you have been placed in a position above others, are you automatically going to behave like a despot? Remember who you are and whom you govern – that they are kinsmen, brothers by nature, fellow descendants of Zeus.
  3. To understand the true quality of people, you must look into their minds, and examine their pursuits and aversions.
  4. Most of what we say and do is not necessary, and its omission would save both time and trouble. At every step, therefore, a man should ask himself, 'Is this one of the things that are superfluous?' Moreover, not idle actions only, but even idle impressions ought to be suppressed; for the unnecessary action will not ensue.
  5. Do not be wise in words, be wise in deeds.
  6. Even the smallest thing should be done with reference to an end.
  7. If you didn’t learn these things in order to demonstrate them in practice, what did you learn them for?
  8. It is essential for you to remember that the attention you give to any action should be in due proportion to its worth, for then you won’t tire and give up, if you aren’t busying yourself with lesser things beyond what should be allowed.
  9. Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look.
  10. You shouldn’t give circumstances the power to rouse anger, for they don’t care at all.

Quotes about Death from Marcus Aurelius

Quotes about Death from Marcus Aurelius

Death is the inevitable fate of every being on planet earth, and Marcus Aurelius lived his life in full awareness of this fact.

He used this knowledge to ensure that he always took advantage of the present moment and lived each day as though it were his last.

If you find yourself fearing death, have a read of the following quotes about death from Marcus Aurelius: they may offer you a new perspective on the matter.

  1. It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.
  2. Think of the life you have lived until now as over and, as a dead man, see what’s left as a bonus and live it according to Nature. Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting?
  3. Pass through this brief patch of time in harmony with nature, and come to your final resting place gracefully, just as a ripened olive might drop, praising the earth that nourished it and grateful to the tree that gave it growth.
  4. Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.
  5. This is the mark of perfection of character—to spend each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, laziness, or any pretending.
  6. Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.
  7. Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
  8. Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back.
  9. Death, like birth, is a secret of Nature.
  10. Can we wonder that men perish and are forgotten, when their noblest and most enduring works decay? Death comes even to monumental structures, and oblivion rests on the most illustrious names.
  11. Everything is ephemeral, both that which remembers and that which is remembered.
  12. Think not disdainfully of death, but look on it with favor; for even death is one of the things that Nature wills.

Marcus Aurelius Quotes about Change

Marcus Aurelius Quotes about Change

The only constant in life is change: the transience of life is something that Aurelius frequently returns to in his writings. He insists that change is always positive, even if it may not seem like it at first.

Accepting the transformative nature of the universe is a great way to get over a fear of change and take on the new changes in your life with ease.

The quotes below may open your eyes to how much in our lives is constantly undergoing change.

  1. Observe always that everything is the result of change, and get used to thinking that there is nothing Nature loves so well as to change existing forms and make new ones like them.
  2. Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight.
  3. Sweep me up and send me where you please. For there I will retain my spirit, tranquil and content, as long as it can feel and act in harmony with its own nature. Is a change of place enough reason for my soul to become unhappy and worn, for me to become depressed, humbled, cowering, and afraid? Can you discover any reasons for this?
  4. Keep constantly in mind in how many things you yourself have witnessed changes already. The universe is change, life is understanding.
  5. Why should anyone be afraid of change? What can take place without it? What can be more pleasing or more suitable to universal nature? Can you take your bath without the firewood undergoing a change? Can you eat without the food undergoing a change? And can anything useful be done without change? Don’t you see that for you to change is just the same, and is equally necessary for universal nature?
  6. Does a man shrink from change? Why, what can come into being save by change?
  7. Nature which governs the whole will soon change all things which you see, and out of their substance will make other things and again other things… in order that the world may be ever new.
  8. Everything’s destiny is to change, to be transformed, to perish. So that new things can be born.
  9. The universe is transformation; our life is what our thoughts make it.
  10. Reflect frequently upon the instability of things, and how very fast the scenes of nature are shifted. Matter is in perpetual flux. Change is always and everywhere at work; it strikes through causes and effects, and leaves nothing fixed and permanent.

More beautiful quotes about change.

Interesting Facts about Marcus Aurelius’ Life

Interesting Facts about Marcus Aurelius’ Life

Even if you did not know much about Marcus Aurelius before reading this article, you will certainly have learned a bit about his fascinating life as a Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher by now.

But regardless of how much you know about him, we’re sure these interesting facts about his life will surprise you.

1. Marcus was adopted into the Imperial family.

Titus Aurelius Antoninus was appointed Emperor and chose Marcus as his successor and adoptive son. Adopting both Marcus and his adoptive brother Lucius were conditions to Antoninus taking the throne.

2. He jointly ruled with his adoptive brother Lucius.

Marcus’ became co-emperor with his adoptive brother Lucius in 161 A.D. They shared power until Lucius’ demise in 169 A.D.

3. He was the last of the “Five Good Emperors”.

These rulers were known for competently ruling the Empire and dedicating themselves to its welfare. They also elected to appoint a worthy successor to the throne rather than simply allow it to pass on to their offspring.

Despite being granted this title, his reign marked the beginning of a decline for the Roman Empire.

4. Marcus introduced safety nets for tightrope walkers.

Supposedly after a boy experienced a fall from his rope, Marcus ordered mattresses to be spread underneath the ropes. This resulted in the nets that we stretch below tightropes being used today.

5. Marcus Aurelius’ reign suffered through a deadly plague.

A deadly pandemic known as the Antonine Plague struck Rome during Marcus’ reign, resulting in the death of his adoptive brother Lucius. The plague lasted 15 years, causing the deaths of at least 5 million people. Marcus himself was also personally affected by the illness.

6. Marcus Aurelius’ "Meditations" continue to be admired and studied today.

The "Meditations" have had a lasting impact and provide valuable insight into the teachings of Stoic philosophy. They continue to resonate with readers looking for wisdom and guidance on how to live a virtuous life.

Main Messages from “Meditations” By Marcus Aurelius

Main Messages from “Meditations” By Marcus Aurelius

“Meditations,” by Marcus Aurelius, is a fountain of knowledge and wisdom that has helped countless readers lead more virtuous and content lives. It is full to the brim with ideas and perspectives that make you stop and reflect.

Despite the book being a collection of writings Aurelius addressed to himself with no overarching theme, many of the same messages reoccur throughout the book. Here you will find the three main ideas depicted in Meditations.

Practice Self-discipline and Virtue

Aurelius encourage readers to strive for moral excellence and to lead a disciplined, virtuous life. We should focus on doing good with the time we are afforded on earth.

He teaches us to focus on our own actions and intentions, and that the evil others do only harms us if we do evil in response. We can always do good, even if we are surrounded by evil.

Transience of Life

Transience of Life

Aurelius considers how many people before him have come to die, and strives to constantly be aware of his own similar fate. He teaches that death should not be feared and life should not be wasted.

Life is transient, and we do not know when we will die, so we should live each day as if it is our last.

Be good, productive, and acknowledge the precious gift that is the present moment. Change, including death, is never harmful, as it is the nature of our universe.

Problems Are Created in the Mind

Problems Are Created in the Mind

Our perceptions of the events and circumstances in our life are really what create problems – if we cease to consider a circumstance as a problem, it will no longer be one.

It is not events that harm us, but our immoral reactions to them.

If we can remove emotions from the equation and view things with a logical perspective, we can accept the pain we experience and understand that everything happens for a reason.

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