The American philosopher Brand Blanshard would write this wonderful passage about Marcus Aurelius and in it so eloquently captures why we study him and his Meditations here at DailyStoic.com:
“Few care now about the marches and counter marches of the Roman commanders. What the centuries have clung to is a notebook of thoughts by a man whose real life was largely unknown who put down in the midnight dimness of not the events of the day or the plans of the morrow, but something of far more permanent interest, the ideals and aspirations that a rare spirit lived by.”
That’s what we are all pursuing here, not just in our journaling, but in our study. To find the essences of that rare spirit of a man—a man who held absolute power and was made better for it, a man who wished to be a philosopher but found himself a king—and to try to incorporate it in our own lives. For the same reason we study Epictetus—a man who endured unimaginable suffering as a slave, as an exile but was strong and hopeful—and Seneca and Cato and the other Stoics. So that we can be made better, as they were made better.
If you want to talk about passing on a legacy, that’s the best you can do. Not money. Not some staggering work of genius. But to live life by a rare spirit.
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