Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: Book Club Entry

Volunteered Simplicity. That’s what you need. Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired, recommends that we cultivate voluntary simplicity. He’s not a Catholic. He’s not a Christian. He’s a secular man who sees the virtue in simplicity.

If you’re like me, you think of simplicity through the lens of Saint Benedict or Saint Francis. Consequently, I think that I already know it and understand. So for me, it shakes my earth when I read it through fresh pagan eyes. Marcus Aurelius (the old man king in the the movie Gladiator) was an Emperor of Rome. He was also a warrior, entrepreneur, emperor, and philosopher. Yes, he was responsible for persecuting Christians. Let’s just bracket that for now.


What I like about this book is watching the gears of a Roman Emperor spin around. It’s fascinating. It reaffirms what’s best of the Catholic virtue tradition. It also reveals the shortfalls of Roman Stoicism (on which I have a secret intellectual crush).

If you like thinking of virtue as “athletics” you will jive with this book:

Great quotes from Meditations:

You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last.
II, 5.

A man should be upright, not kept upright.
III, 5.

Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.
III, 7.

Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant; all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed. Short, therefore, is man’s life, and narrow is the corner of the earth wherein he dwells.
III, 10.

Remember this— that there is a proper dignity and proportion to be observed in the performance of every act of life.
IV, 32.

Get the book now and start reading. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius at

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