Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius ruled from 161-180 AD. You most likely know him from the Gladiator movie, as played by Richard Harris. It wasn’t historically accurate (it wasn’t meant to be) but it hinted at the wisdom of this particular ruler.

One of Aurelius’ legacies was the interesting philosophical book The Emperor’s Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations. It’s a collection of thoughts that offer insights to the time and age. It’s a bit like the book of Proverbs, though not as poetic and sometimes the insights are a few pages long rather than a few lines. But it was probably viewed in the same way as Proverbs at the time because it reflected the collected wisdom of an esteemed ruler.

Some of what you will read in Meditations is profound, some is (in my opinion) nonsense. But it all offers a window into a worldview that was so important in the shaping of our world today. The echo of the Roman Empire is still heard, not to mention the impact of the early Christian Church. Understanding that world helps us to understand how history has evolved.