Marcus Aurelius Meditations

This is a heavily abridged amalgamation of the many translations of this Stoic masterpiece. Please enjoy and share and read the full version too!


  1. From my grandfather, I learned good morals and the government of my temper. 
  2. From my father, modesty and a strong character.
  3. From my mother, piety and beneficence, abstinence and simplicity. Abstinence not only from evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts. Simplicity in my way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich. 
  4. From my great-grandfather, not to have frequented public schools, and to have had good tutors at home, and to know that on such things a man should spend liberally. 
  5. From my governor, to not take trivial sides in trivial things and to endure labour, and to want little, and to work with my own hands, and not to meddle with other people’s affairs, and not to be ready to listen to slander. 
  6. From Diognetus, not to busy myself about trifling things, and to endure freedom of speech; and to have become intimate with philosophy.
  7. From Rusticus I received the understanding that my character required improvement and discipline. That I had much work to do on myself. 
  8. From Apollonius I learned freedom of will and undeviating steadiness of purpose.
  9. From Sextus, The idea of living conformably to nature and seriousness without affectation, and to look carefully after the interests of friends, and to tolerate ignorant persons, and those who form opinions without consideration.
  10. From Alexander the grammarian, to refrain from fault-finding and nitpicking.
  11. From Maximus I learned self-government. Not to be distracted by things. Cheerfulness in all circumstances, as well as in illness. A just combination in the moral characters of sweetness and dignity. To do what was set before me without complaining.
  12. In my adopted father I observed mildness of temper. And unchangeable resolution in the doing something one is committed to. Avoiding vainglory in those things which men call honours. And a love of labour and perseverance. A readiness to listen to those who had anything to propose for the common good. An undeviating firmness in giving to every man according to his deserts. A knowledge derived from experience of the occasions for vigorous action and for relaxation.


  1. Begin the morning by saying to yourself: I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, the arrogant, the deceitful, the envious and the unsocial.
  2. Whatever this is that I am, it is a little flesh and breath and consciousness.
  3. Remember how long you have been putting off these things, and how often you have received an opportunity and yet do not use it. 
  4. Do every act of your life as if it was the last.
  5. Do the things external which fall upon you distract you? Give yourself time and space to learn something new and good. Cease to be whirled around or wandering lost. Avoid being carried about the other way: do not become dead to life. 
  6. If you do not observe the movements of your own mind, then you will be unhappy.
  7. Since it is possible that you may leave life at this very moment, master every act and thought accordingly.
  8. Death and life, honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure, all these things equally happen to good men and bad. They are things which make us neither better nor worse. Therefore they are neither good nor evil.
  9. How quickly all things disappear.
  10. It matters not if a man lives ten thousand years, he will lose no other life than this which he now lives. The longest and shortest lives are thus brought to the same. For the present is the same to all, though that which perishes is not the same; and so that which is lost appears to be a mere moment. For a man cannot lose either the past or the future: For what a man has not, how can anyone take this from him? These two things you must bear in mind: All things have been the same kind of things for eternity. The longest lived and he who will die soonest lose just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived. And a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not. 
  11. Keep your conscience unharmed and  free from violence.
  12. Master pains and pleasures. 
  13. Doing nothing without purpose, truth and integrity. 
  14. Accept all that happens. 
  15. Live in accordance with Nature.


  1. We ought to consider, daily, that our life is wasting away. Every moment a smaller part of it is left.
  2. Do not waste the remainder of your life in thoughts about others. For you lose the opportunity of doing something else when have such thoughts as these: What is such a person doing, and why, and what is he saying, and what is he thinking of, and what is he contriving, and whatever else of the kind makes us wander away from the observation of our own ruling power.
  3.  You must stand erect, not be kept erect by others. 
  4. If you find in your life anything better than justice, truth, temperance and fortitude then turn to that with all your focus and enjoy that which you have found to be the best.
  5. Never value anything as profitable which will compel you to break your promise, to lose your self-respect, to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite or to desire anything which needs walls and curtains.
  6. Short is the time which every man lives. Small the nook of the earth where he lives.
  7. Short too is the longest posthumous fame. And even this fame is only continued only by a succession of poor human beings. And each of these will very soon die. And most do not know themselves, let alone those who died long ago. 
  8. Work hard at that which is before you. Follow righteous reason seriously, vigorously and calmly. Do not allow anything else to distract you. Keep your essence pure, as if you might have to give it back at any moment.
  9. If you hold onto these: expect nothing, fear nothing, be satisfied with your present activity according to nature and be heroic with the truth in every word and sound which you say, you will live happily. And there is no person who is able to prevent this.
  10. Body, soul, intelligence: to the body belong sensations, to the soul appetites, to the intelligence principles. 


  1. Let no act be done without a purpose.
  2. Let no act be done without according to the perfect principles of art.
  3. People seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains. We all, on occasion, have desired such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most vulgar sort of people. For it is in your power, whenever you want, to choose to retire into yourself. Constantly strive to go to this retreat. Renew yourself.
  4. Let your principles be brief and fundamental.
  5. Why are you discontented?
  6. Take away your opinion, and then there is taken away the complaint, “I have been harmed.” Take away the complaint, “I have been harmed,” and the harm is taken away. 
  7. That which does not make a man worse than he was, also does not make his life worse, nor does it harm him either, from without or from within. A man should always have these rules in readiness: To do only whatever noble reason directs is best for the common good. To change your opinion if evidence shows you it should be changed.
  8. You have existed as a part. You will disappear back to the whole.
  9. Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you are alive, while it is in your power, be good.
  10. He who has a desire for lasting fame does not consider that every one of those who remember him will himself also die very soon: As will those who come after them. And those who come after them. Until the whole remembrance is vanished as it is transmitted through men who foolishly admire and then perish.
  11. Everything which is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself, and terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself.
  12. Neither worse than nor better than is a thing made by being praised.
  13. Occupy yourself with few things. 
  14. Be tranquil. Do what is necessary and whatever the natural and social reason requires. Most of what we say and do is unnecessary, take this away and you will have more leisure and less uneasiness. On every occasion ask yourself, is this one of the unnecessary things? You should take away not only unnecessary acts, but also, unnecessary thoughts, this will greatly reduce considering unnecessary acts.
  15. Try and see how the life of the good man suits you. Satisfied with his portion out of the whole. Satisfied with his own just acts and benevolent disposition. 
  16. Do not disturb yourself. 
  17. Make yourself simple. 
  18. Does anyone do wrong? It is to himself that he does the wrong. 
  19. Has anything happened to you?
  20. Your life is short. You must turn to profit the present by the aid of reason and justice. 
  21. Be sober in your relaxation.
  22. Either this Universe is well conceived or a chaos huddled together, it is still this universe.
  23.  Love the art you have learned, poor as it may be, and be content with it.
  24. Making yourself neither the tyrant nor the slave of any man. 
  25. Everything is only for a day, both that which remembers and that which is remembered. 
  26.  You will soon die but you are not yet skilled: You are not free from uneasiness. You are not without suspicion of being hurt by external things. You are not kindly disposed towards all. You are not yet convinced that acting justly is the only wisdom.
  27. Examine men’s ruling principles, even those of the wise. What kind of things do they avoid or pursue?
  28. You are a little soul travelling about in a corpse, as Epictetus used to say. 
  29.  Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and it is a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too. 
  30.  If any god told you that you might die tomorrow, or certainly on the day after tomorrow, then you would not care much which day of the two days it was. How small is the difference? So think it no great thing to die after as many years as you can name, rather than tomorrow. 
  31. Be like the headland against which the waves continually break. It stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it.


  1. In the morning, when you unwillingly rise, let this thought be present: I am rising to the work of a human being. 
  2. Why am I dissatisfied if I am going to do the things for which I exist, for which I was brought into the world? 
  3. Have I been made for this bed? To lie in the bed-clothes and keep myself warm? But this is more pleasant. Do you exist to be comfortable or for action or exertion? Do you not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their several parts of the universe? Are you unwilling to do the work of a human being? 
  4. It is natural and necessary to rest. But nature has fixed bounds to this, as she has fixed bounds both to eating and drinking. And yet you go beyond these bounds, beyond what is sufficient.
  5. How easy it is to repel and to wipe away every impression which is troublesome or unsuitable, and immediately to be in all tranquility?
  6. Judge every word and deed to check if they are naturally fit for you. Do not be diverted by the blame which follows from any people, nor by their words. But if a thing is good to be done or said, do not consider it unworthy of you.
  7.  If you do not succeed in doing everything according to right principles, then do not be disgusted, nor discouraged, nor dissatisfied. When you fail, return back again, and embrace this to which you have returned.
  8. About what am I now employing my mind? On every occasion I must ask myself this question, and inquire, what have I now in this part of me which they call the ruling principle? 
  9. Reason and the reasoning art (philosophy) are powers which are sufficient for themselves and for their own works. They move from a first principle which is their own, and they make their way to the end which comes from them by reason; and this is the reason why such acts are named right acts.
  10. The character of your mind is formed by the habits of the thoughts you have.
  11. The mind is dyed by the thoughts it has.
  12. To seek what is impossible is madness. It is impossible that the bad should not be bad.
  13. Nothing happens to any man which he is not formed by nature to bear. 
  14. Soon, very soon, you will be ashes, or a skeleton, and either a name or not even a name. And remember, a name is just sound and echo. 
  15. Do not be carried along by the appearance of things
  16. Give help to all according to your ability and their fitness.If they should have sustained loss in matters which are indifferent, do not imagine this to be a damage. For this is a bad habit.
  17. Fortunate means that a man has assigned to himself a good fortune. A good fortune is good disposition of the soul, good emotions, good actions. 


  1. The substance of the universe is obedient and compliant. The forces which govern it has no reason for doing evil. It has no malice. Nor does it do evil to anything. Nor is anything harmed by it. All things are made and perfected according to this reason. 
  2. Let it make no difference to you whether you are, cold or warm, drowsy or satisfied with sleep, ill-spoken of or praised, dying or doing something else. For it is one of the acts of life, this act by which we die. We should do it well, like all things.
  3. Look within. Let neither the peculiar quality of anything, nor its value, escape you. 
  4. All existing things soon change. They will either be reduced to nothingness or they will be dispersed. 
  5. The best way of avenging is not to become like the person who has wronged you. 
  6. The universe is either a confusion, a happenstance of things in dispersion, or it is unity and order and providence. 
  7. When you have been compelled by circumstances to become negative then quickly recenter yourself. Do not continue out of tune longer than the compulsion lasts. You will gain mastery over this by continually practicing it.
  8. Some things are hurrying into existence, and others are hurrying out of it; and of that which is coming into existence, part is already extinguished. 
  9. If any man is able to convince me and show me that I do not think or act right, I will gladly change.
  10. I seek the truth by which no man was ever injured. People are injured when they abide in error and ignorance. 
  11. All things are little, changeable, perishable. 
  12. Frequently consider the connexion of all things in the universe and their relation to one another. For in a manner all things are implicated with one another. 
  13. Adapt thyself to the things to which your lot has been cast.
  14. He who loves fame considers another man’s activity to be his own good. 
  15. It is in our power to have no opinion about a thing, to not be disturbed; for things themselves have no natural power to form our judgements. 
  16. Train yourself to attend carefully to what is said by another and, as much as it is possible, be in the speaker’s mind. 
  17. That which is not good for the hive, neither is it good for the bee. 


  1. What is badness? You know it when you see it and you have seen it often. 
  2. There is nothing new: all things are both familiar and short-lived. 
  3. Your principles are living things. How can our principles become dead, unless the thoughts which correspond to them are extinguished? But it is in your power, continuously, to fan these principled thoughts into a flame.
  4.  I can choose to have the opinion I ought to have, about anything. So why do I disturb myself?
  5. All that is external to myself is not myself.  Understand this, and stand upright.
  6. To recover your life is in your power. Look at things again as you used to look at them, in this is the recovery of your life. 
  7. How many, after being celebrated by fame, have been given up to oblivion? How many who have celebrated the fame of others have long been dead?
  8. Do not be ashamed to be helped; for it is your business to do your duty like a soldier in the assault on a town. If you are injured there is no other way to climb the battlements than without the help of others.
  9. Do not let future things disturb you, for you will come to them, if it shall be necessary, having within you the same reason which you now use for present things. 
  10. Everything material soon disappears in the substance of the universe; and every reason is very soon taken back into the universal reason; and the memory of everything is very soon buried by eternity. 
  11. Happiness is a good state of being.
  12. Is any man afraid of change? Why? What can take place without change? 
  13. Near is your forgetfulness of all things; and near the forgetfulness of you by all. 
  14. When someone does you wrong you should immediately consider the mistaken judgement they made to do you wrong. When you see this, you will wilt pity them, rather than being surprised or angry. 
  15. Retire into thyself. The rational mind is naturally content with right action, this secures tranquility.
  16. Wipe out speculation. Stop the puppet strings of impulse. Confine yourself to the present. Understand well what happens either to you or to another. Divide and distribute every object into the causal and the material. Think of thy last hour. Let the wrong which is done by a man stay there where the wrong was done. 
  17. Direct your attention to what is said. Let your understanding focus on the things that are doing and on the things which do them. 
  18. Adorn thyself with simplicity and modesty and with indifference towards the things which lie between virtue and vice. 
  19. Love mankind. Seek.
  20. About death: Whether it is a dispersion, or a resolution into atoms, or annihilation, it is either extinction or change. 
  21. It is not right to vex ourselves about things, for they care nothing about it. 
  22. Life must be reaped like the ripe ears of corn: One man is born; another dies. 
  23. Do not look around to discover other men’s ruling principles, but look straight to yourself, to what nature leads you.
  24. Consider yourself to be dead. You have completed your life up to the present time. Now live the remainder of your life as you should, according to nature of things.
  25. Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will bubble up, if you will only dig. 
  26. The art of life is more like the wrestling than ballet dancing. One must always try to stand stand ready and firm, to meet the onslaughts which are sudden and unexpected. 
  27. Take care not to feel towards the haters as they feel towards others. 
  28. The perfection of moral character consists in this: In passing every day as the last. In being neither violently excited nor torpid nor playing the hypocrite. 
  29. When you have done a good act and another has received it, why do you look for a third thing besides these? Such as gaining reputation of having done a good act or to obtain a some kind of extra benefit? This is what fools do.


  1. On the occasion of every act ask if you are respecting yourself with it and if you will you regret it.
  2. This is the chief thing: Be not perturbed, for all things are according to the nature of the universe; and in a little time you wilt be nobody and nowhere.
  3. Let no man any longer hear you finding fault with external life or with your own. 
  4. Whoever you meet immediately say to yourself: Is this a moral person? 
  5. Short-lived are both the praiser and the praised, and the rememberer and the remembered: and all this in a nook of this part of the world; and not even here do all agree, no, not any one with himself: and the whole earth too is but a point. 
  6. Do not disturb yourself by thinking of the whole of your life.
  7. If you are troubled by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgement now. 
  8. He who does not know what the world is, does not know where he is. And he who does not know for what purpose the world exists, does not know who he is, nor what the world is.
  9. Dost you wish to be praised by a man who curses himself thrice every hour? Wouldst thou wish to please a man who does not please himself? Does a man please himself who repents of nearly everything that he does? 
  10. Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them this, or, bear with them. 


  1. Do not despise death, but be content with it, since this too is one of those things which nature wills. For such as it is to be young and to grow old, and to increase and to reach maturity, and to have teeth and beard and grey hairs, and to beget, and to be pregnant and to bring forth, and all the other natural operations which the seasons of your life bring, such also is death. 
  2. He who does wrong does wrong against himself. He who acts unjustly acts unjustly to himself. He makes himself bad. 
  3. One can act unjustly by inaction equally as well as by action.
  4. Wipe out speculation. Control desire. Extinguish appetite. Master your mind.
  5. If you can then correct, by teaching, those who do wrong.
  6. To-day I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions. 
  7. All things are changing: and you yourself are in continuous mutation and, in a manner, in continuous destruction, and the whole universe too. 
  8. It is thy duty to leave another man’s wrongful act there, where it is. 


  1. If a man is mistaken, instruct him kindly and show him his error. 
  2. Inquire of thyself as soon as thou wakest from sleep, whether it will make any difference to thee, if another does what is just and right. It will make no difference. 
  3. No longer talk at all about the kind of man that a good man ought to be, but be such. 
  4. Imagine every man who is grieved at anything or discontented to be like a pig which is sacrificed and kicks and screams. 


  1. These are the properties of the rational soul: It examines itself. It shapes itself. It makes itself however it wishes to be.
  2. Have I done something for the common good? Then I have benefited. 
    1. Let this realisation always be present to your mind and never stop doing such good. 
  3. What is your art? To be good. This can only come about by establishing your governing principles. Some about the nature of the universe. Others about the constitution of man. 
  4. Suppose someone despises me. That is their concern. I will be concerned just with acting or saying nothing that deserves contempt.
  5. Suppose someone will despise me. That is their concern. I will be mild and benevolent towards everyone. If I have to show them their mistake then I will not show disappointment nor make a show of what I have put up with. I will have genuine good will, nobly and honesty. 
  6. Men despise one another and flatter one another.
  7. Men wish to raise themselves above one another and to crouch before one another. 
  8. As to living in the best way, this power is in your mind, if it be indifferent to things which are indifferent. 
  9. There are four principal disruptions of your superiour mind which you should be constantly on thy guard. As soon as you detect them, you should wipe them out. They are: Unnecessary thoughts. Thoughts that destroy social union. These words you say are not reflecting your thoughts. The noble part of you gives in to the bestial.
  10.  No man can rob us of our free will.


  1. Consider in what condition both in body and soul a man should be when he is overtaken by death. 
  2. Consider the shortness of life and the boundless abyss of time past and future.
  3. Consider the the feebleness of all matter. 
  4. Contemplate the formative principles of things in themselves, bare of their coverings; the purposes of actions; consider what pain is, what pleasure is, and death, and fame; who is to himself the cause of his uneasiness; how no man is hindered by another; that everything is opinion. 
  5. See what things are in themselves, dividing them into matter, form and purpose. 
  6. How ridiculous, and what a stranger he is, who is surprised at anything which happens in life. 
  7. If it is not right, do not do it: if it is not true, do not say it.
  8. Consider that everything is opinion, and opinion is in your power. 
  9. Cast away opinion: you are saved. Who hinders you from casting it away?