The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Narrated by: Walter Covell
Length: 5 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (358 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 C.E. to his death in 180 C.E. He was destined to be a leader, having beeen born into a prominent family - one related by blood and marriage to rulers and bankers. During his era, Romans who inherited power and vast fortunes were expected to set an example.

Marcus shouldered his responsibilities with a clear sense of honor. He was history's first ombudsman, and if his role as a legislator or conqueror was not great, he did set high standards for emulation. Written in the form of confessions, his meditations provide a window into his insights on duty, virtue, and humility. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the most important stoic philosophers.

The Meditations, written on campaign between 170 and 180 C.E., is still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty, and it has been praised for its "exquisite accent and its infinite tenderness". In fact, John Stuart Mill, in his Utility of Religion, compared The Meditations to the "Sermon on the Mount".

Public Domain (P)1986 Jimcin Recordings

What listeners say about The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

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Practical Philosophy

The Meditations are a personal notebook, written by Marcus to himself and for his own use. This is an incredibly powerful book.

"In this flowing stream then, on which there is no abiding, what is there of the things which hurry by on which a man would set a high price? It would be just as if a man should fall in love with one of the sparrows which fly by, but it has already passed out of sight." [Meditations 6:15]

Some may find this recording “monotone and lifeless”. But, remember: Marcus Aurelius had a manly stoic character. He was not a tragic hero.

“Everything which happens either happens in such wise as thou art formed by nature to bear it, or as thou art not formed by nature to bear it. If, then, it happens to thee in such way as thou art formed by nature to bear it, do not complain, but bear it as thou art formed by nature to bear it. But if it happens in such wise as thou art not formed by nature to bear it, do not complain, for it will perish after it has consumed thee.” [Meditations 10:3]

Walter Covell’s interpretation provides a fascinating picture of a would-be Stoic sage at work on himself. In some parts, his intonation is just perfect. If you heard it multiple times, you will start noticing it. Listen to the book IV for instance. There is no way to improve it.

“From Rusticus I received the impression that my character required improvement and discipline and from him I learned (…) to read carefully, and not to be satisfied with a superficial understanding of a book” [Meditations 1:7]

If you are looking for an introduction to stoicism, here are some suggestions: listen to the Epictetus’ Enchiridion at librivox dot org and search for “James Stockdale”.

Further Reading: The Fourth Book of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus at archive dot org -- a commentary by H. Crossley.

25 people found this helpful

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A Decent, Stately Reading

Would you listen to The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius again? Why?

Yes, there are so many sentences that make great epigrams. It would be good to catch them all now that I've heard it once. On the other hand, that's what texts are for . . .

What did you like best about this story?

It is a philosophic classic, and a seminal text in any study of stoicism.

Did Walter Covell do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

He caught a good, stately presence for the emperor. He read it levelly, but there were a few places where he put some amusement into Marcus Aurelius's voice that was a welcome change.

If you could give The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius a new subtitle, what would it be?

Stoic's Bible

5 people found this helpful

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Easy to understand

No wonder this book is still around. It is easy to follow and to understand. Usually, primary sources for philosophy are too complex for me to understand, but not this one. Marcus Aurelius has a core set of beliefs and explains them for the non student of philosophy. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning about stoicism. I only wish modern writers of philosophy would read this book before they write their books. The reader knew how to read and keep me interested.

10 people found this helpful

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Submission to Nature

I was fascinated by points of contact and divergence from Christian teaching regarding natural law.

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It's a bucket list item

Was short enough to handle in a week commuting. One of those books that has a few tidbits that will stay with you.

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My favorite of the Romans/Greeks

Marcus Aurelius' style is so clear and precise, it's amazing. His ideas are more nuanced and self-aware than most old writing I've read. In the end though, I do disagree with him. That's really why I'm bumping it down to 4 stars in the "story".

I recommend this as the one of the clearest explanations of stoicism, and even Buddhist-style "un-attachment" that I've seen. But I'd suggest you question his conclusions. He'd have you think that because life includes suffering, there's no reason to prefer pleasure to pain. He thinks a thing's existence justifies its continuance. Maybe an enlightened person can accept their own pain, be we can't accept the pain of others for them. That's cruelty, not enlightenment. This guy was the ruler of the world, and shrugged off slavery because "that's just some people's lot in life." Easy for him to say. But I guess he was inconsistent, like we all are.

Overall, it's a great book to wrestle with. Just, don't accept it all without question

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awesome

very good book. easy to follow. interesting ideas. i would definately suggest it required listening for all.

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It's up to you!

This is so relevant in our current state as a nation and members of the global community. It helps you understand what is important to you as an individual and what role is as a member of whatever your community is.

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I found it difficult to pick which copy to purchase.

I do believe this is the best narration of this amazing piece of life’s work. The life’s work of history’s greatest man.

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One of the most encouraging books

This describes very deep subjects of our lives and how to improve our behavior. It helps us get motivated to meditate. Love it. Read it 5 times already. :)

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  • Ed
  • 05-04-14

Wise and fascinating

If you could sum up The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in three words, what would they be?

Long lost wisdom

Any additional comments?

A personal creed from this stoic emperor who reigned when Christianity was taking hold across the empire. A fascinating and gripping book

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-17-19

Not for everyone

This audiobook was not for me. Audio quality is sub par and the content is a bit too complicated for casual listening during transit.

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  • Patryk
  • 03-09-16

Absolute must

The emperor's meditations are still valid today as they give credit to the notion of unchangeability of human spirit. We may use his helpful knowledge to plough through a difficult day or in a wider sense as an inspiration for self improvement and pursuit of our own happiness. Read it, listen to it you shall not regret it.

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  • Alex.D
  • 09-25-15

This is like the bible to a happy mind

A fantastic book with allot if not all value. A very hard book to digest and not recommended for people not ready for bible like writing. The narrator struggles but who wouldn't when voice acting this fantastic piece.