Quotes – Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180. He ruled with Lucius Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Verus’ death in 169. He was the last of the Five Good Emperors and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. All the quotes provided on this page are from the book Meditations, translation by Gregory Hays. These are all my favorite quotes from Marcus Aurelius. Whenever possible I have tried to give you the full verse, but in a few instances, I have cherry picked a few sentences to include.

“Remember how long you’ve been putting this off, how many extensions the gods gave you, and you didn’t use them. At some point you have to recognize what world it is that you belong to; what power rules it and from what source you spring; that there is a limit to the time assigned you, and if you don’t use it to free yourself it will be gone and will never return.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2:4

” Concentrate every minute like a Roman-like a man-on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can-if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what you r mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable. You see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life? If you can manage this, that’s all even the gods can ask of you.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2:5

“Yes, keep on degrading yourself, soul. But soon your chance at dignity will be gone. Everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up, and instead of treating yourself with respect, you have entrusted your own happiness to the solus of others.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2:6

“Do external things distract you? Then make time for yourself to learn something worthwhile, stop letting yourself be pull in all directions. But make sure you guard against the other kind of confusion. People who labor all their lives but have no purpose to direct every thought and impulse toward are waiting their time-even when hard at work.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2:7

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think. But death and life, success and failure, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all  these happen to good and bad alike, and they are neither noble nor shameful-and hence neither good nor bad.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 2:11

“Don’t waste the rest of your time here worrying about other people-unless it affects the common good. It will keep you from doing anything useful. You’ll be to preoccupied with what so-and-so is doing, and why, and what they’re saying, and what they’re thinking, and what they’re up to, and all the other things that throw you off and keep you from focusing on your own mind. You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought: everything random, everything irrelevant. And certainly everything self-important or malicious.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 3:4

“If, at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, honesty, self-control, courage-than a mind satisfied that has succeeded in enabling you to act rationally, and satisfied to accept what’s beyond its control-if you find anything better than that, embrace it without reservations-it must be an extraordinary thing indeed-and enjoy it to the full.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 3:6

“The elements move upward, downward, in all directions. The motion of virtue is different-deeper. It moves at a steady pace on a road hard to discern, and always forward.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 6:17

“Let it happen, if it wants, to whatever it can happen to. And what’s affected can complain about it if it wants. It doesn’t hurt me unless I interpret its happening as harmful to me. I can choose not to.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 7:14

“No matter what anyone says or does, my task is to be good. Like gold or emerald or purple repeating to itself, “No matter what anyone says of does, my task is to be emerald, my color undiminished.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 7:15

“The first step: Don’t be anxious. Nature controls it all. And before long you’ll be non one, nowhere like Hadrian, like Augustus. The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitations, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 8:5

“The mind without passions is a fortress. No place is more secure. Once we take refuge there we are safe forever. Not to see this is ignorance. To see it and not seek safety means misery.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 8:48

“Do what nature demands. Get a move on if you have it in you and don’t worry whether anyone will give you credit for it. And don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic; be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 9:29

“Everything you’re trying to reach by taking the long way round you could have right now, this moment. If you’d only stop thwarting your own attempts. If you’d only let go of the past, entrust the future to Providence, and guide the present toward reverence and justice.”  Marcus Aurelius Meditations 12:1

“Your three components: body, breath, mind. Two are yours in trust: to the third alone you have clear title. Marcus Aurelius Meditations 12:3

“That before long you’ll be no one, and nowhere. Like all the things you see now. All the people living. Everything’s destiny is to change, to be transformed, to perish. So that new things can be born.” Marcus Aurelius Meditations 12:21