Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius – Meditations
Penguin Books – 2006

The best revenge is not to be like your enemy. – Book VI, N 6 (p. 46)


Be like the rocky headland on which the waves constantly break.  It stands firm, and round it the seething waters are laid to rest.

‘It is my bad luck that this has happened to me.’  No, you should rather say: ‘It is my good luck that, although this has happened to me, I can bear it without pain, neither crushed by the present nor fearful of the future.’

Because such a thing could have happened to any man, but not every man could have borne it without pain.  So why see more misfortune in the event than good fortune in your ability to bear it?

Or in general would you call anything a misfortune for a man which is not a deviation from man’s nature?  Or anything a deviation from man’s nature which is not contrary to the purpose of his nature? 

Well, then.  You have learnt what that purpose is.

Can there be anything, then, in this happening which prevents you bring just, high-minded, self-controlled, intelligent, judicious, truthful, honorable and free – or any other of those attributes whose combination is the fulfillment of man’s proper nature?

So in all future events which might induce sadness remember to call on this principle: ‘This is no misfortune, but to bear it true to yourself is good fortune.’ – Book IV, N 49 (p. 33)


The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in that it stands ready for what comes and is not thrown by the unforeseen.  – Book VII, N 61 (p. 67)