06.09.2018: One Chapter of Nonfiction

Today’s soundtrack is Crosby, Stills & Nash: Crosby, Stills, & Nash.

This afternoon, I’m reading Book 1 of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, a stoic.

In this little book, Marcus Aurelius lists the things that he learned from seventeen people in his life, those he is thankful to:

  1. Verus (grandfather): morality and control of temper

  2. Father (deceased): modesty and manliness

  3. Mother: religion, generosity, living simply, and abstinence from immoral acts and thoughts

  4. Great-grandfather: the value of a private education and tutors

  5. Governor: impartiality, how to work long and hard, identify needs vs wants, stay out of others’ business, and avoid gossip

  6. Diognetus: don’t worry about the little things, ignore the sayings of those who talk with spirits and demons, don’t make animals fight each other for sport and don’t hold an interest in this kind of sport, allow people to say what they will, become wise in the ways of philosophy, and write down what you learn, and hold to the ancient disciplines

  7. Rusticus: a man’s character must be controlled and consciously improved, the Sophists should be ignored, man should write about what he knows, don’t give little speeches that try to persuade people to do something, don’t show off how well-disciplined and generous you are, avoid relying on rhetoric and verse and flowery language to make a point, don’t wear an outdoor uniform during the indoor day-to-day activities, write with simple words, reconcile with those who are ready to reconcile, grasp the deep meanings of books that you read, and don’t agree too readily with chatterboxes

  8. Apollonius: maintain a free will, know your purpose and don’t be distracted from it, rely on reason and logic, maintain steadiness of emotion and character, be both firm and flexible, give instructions without anger, and neither ignore nor be belittled by the generosity of others

  9. Sextus: graciousness, how to be a good father, live with the flow of nature instead of at odds with it, be serious without trying to be impressively so, consider the needs of your friends, don’t shut out people less knowledgeable than yourself, be free from excitability, and be smart without showing off

  10. Alexander the grammarian: look not for the bad but the good in people, give gentle correction rather than scolding, and do so not by making an overt correction, but include the correct term in your answer or discussion

  11. Fronto: tyrants can harbour jealousy, deceitfulness, and hypocrisy; the ruling class can have difficulty in being good parents

  12. Alexander the Platonic: don’t make a show about how busy you are

  13. Catulus: don’t ignore a friend who corrects you, talk well of your teacher, and love your children

  14. Severus (brother): love your family, “love truth, and [...] love justice” (p. 3), hold everyone to the same law, give ”equal rights and equal freedom of speech” (p. 3) to all, hold the populace’s freedom in the highest regard, continually learn and hold to philosophy, build a desire to do good into your character, be generous, enjoy dreams of good things, “believe that [you] are loved by [your] friends” (p. 3), and make it clear to those you like and those who you don’t what it is that you feel about them

  15. Maximus: be in control of yourself, be steadily cheerful “in all circumstances” (p. 3), do not complain about your duties, think about what you say, do all things with good intentions, don’t be easily surprised, plan well so that you don’t have to hurry, don’t procrastinate, don’t let setbacks disappoint you, don’t disguise anger with laughter, help others, forgive readily, tell the truth, look not just to improve later but be good today, don’t look down upon others, don’t idolize others, and let your humour be pleasant to those around you

  16. Father (adoptive): keep control of your temper, stick to your resolution once you have thought through an issue and made a decision, do not seek the honour of men, work hard and work long, listen to those with good ideas who consider the common good, give justice to all, learn by doing, don’t have relationships with children, don’t look down on those with a lower title, don’t demand the generosity of others when you visit them, look deep into matters before making a decision, keep your friends without getting tired of their company or flattering them, be satisfied with what you have, use your foresight, don’t make a big show of your generosity, nip flattery in the bud, manage well what you have, accept blame for your perceived mistakes, do not be superstitious, do not try to win favour by bribery or flattery, be sober and firm, be kind, do not love material things, nor should you be ashamed of what things you have earned, learn to distinguish between true philosophers and those who say that they are philosophers, hold pleasant conversations without putting on an act, take care of your body - not like the bodybuilders do, but stay in good health so that you don’t have to visit the doctor often; recognize when those around you have skills that you do not and let them freely use their talents and help them when you can, follow the laws of the country without being showy about it, find a good routine and stick to it, consider what should be done rather than what will make you look good, don’t be short-tempered or violent, take your time to think through things in a logical way, and enjoy all things in moderation

  17. The gods: Marcus Aurelius thanks them for a good family and for good friends, and for giving him favourable circumstances that prevented him from offending them.