Written in Greek by an intellectual Roman emperor without any intention of publication, the "Meditations" of Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) offer a wide range of fascinating spiritual reflections and exercises developed, as the leader struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. Spanning from doubt and despair to conviction and exaltation, they cover such diverse topics as the question of virtue, human rationality, the nature of the gods and Aurelius's own emotions. But while the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation, in developing his beliefs Marcus also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a series of wise and practical aphorisms that have been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and ordinary readers for almost two thousand years.
Martin Hammond's translation of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, like his Iliad and Odyssey, is the work of an unusually gifted translator, and one who understands the value added by careful attention to supplementary material. He writes natural English, direct and often eloquent; the text is well supported by effective notes and a characteristically thorough and well-planned index; Diskin Clay supplies a useful introduction. This is a fine volume -- Malcolm Heath Greece & Rome Journal Marcus is well served by this new translation. Hammond has a pithy turn of phrase to match the emperor's own ... His notes abound in helpful explanation and illuminating cross-reference. Diskin Clay contributes a sparkling and sympathetic introduction. The combination of introduction, translation and notes is as good as they get -- John Taylor Journal of Classics Teaching
Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus, 121-180. was adopted by the emperor Antoninus Pius and succeeded him in 161, (as joint emperor with adoptive brother Lucius Verus). He ruled alone from 169. He spent much of his reign in putting down variou rebellions, and was a persecutor of Christians. His fame rest, above all, on his Meditations, a series of reflections, strongly influenced by Epictetus, which represent a Stoic outlook on life. He died in 180 and was succeed by his natural son, thus ending the period of the adoptive emperors. Diskin Clay is Professor of Classical Studies at Duke University and has published widely in the area of Ancient Greek Philosophy. Martin Hammond is Head Master of Tonbridge School and has translated Homer's Iliad for Penguin Classics.