In this episode, I read an exclusive excerpt from my latest book, Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor, published by Yale University Press, as part of the Ancient Lives Series. The book is a philosophical biography of the Roman emperor, which contains many references to the Meditations and how his philosophy shaped his life. You can help it reach a wider audience by pre-ordering now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any other bookseller.
Marcus Aurelius did not have a heart of stone. When the news was brought to him that one of his most beloved tutors had died, the young Caesar was distraught, and tears poured down his cheeks—he may perhaps have started to beat his chest and tear his clothes in grief. Palace servants, afraid his reputation would be harmed by such a public display of raw emotion, rushed to his side, trying to restrain him. His adoptive father, the emperor Antoninus Pius, a thoughtful and gentle man, gestured for them to step aside. He whispered, “Let him be only a man for once; for neither philosophy nor empire takes away natural feeling.”
Praise from other Authors
“Few historical figures are as fascinating as Marcus Aurelius, the emperor-philosopher. And few writers have been so effective at bringing his complex life and character to the attention of modern readers as Donald Robertson.”—Massimo Pigliucci, author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life
“Robertson has written a very thorough and very readable account of Marcus’s life and the events and people that shaped him. Anyone who wants to understand the author of Meditations should read this book.”—Robin Waterfield, author of Marcus Aurelius, Meditations: The Annotated Edition
“Donald Robertson guides us into the world of a philosopher-emperor whose humility and Stoic teachings fill the pages. We are indebted to Robertson for this wonderful account of the emperor who penned notes to himself while in battle that would be later known as the Meditations and read by millions for philosophical inspiration. Simply spellbinding.”—Nancy Sherman, author of Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience
“This highly readable biography is the perfect place to begin for anyone who wants to learn more about the man behind the Meditations.”—John Sellars, author of The Pocket Stoic
“Robertson’s biography provides a compelling narrative of Marcus’ life, carefully based on the primary sources. He brings out very clearly the life-long significance of Stoicism for Marcus and the interplay between philosophy, politics, and warfare.”—Christopher Gill, author of Learning to Live Naturally: Stoic Ethics and Its Modern Significance
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