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The Great Conversation: How Should We Live?

  • Abigail Adams Institute 14 Arrow Street Cambridge United States (map)

How should we live? This question lies at the core of what it means to be human. In volume I we explore the “best which has been thought and said” from the dawn of civilization through the fall of Rome. Today’s session is on Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations:

Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121-180), a Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor from 161-180. He was truly that rarest of things, a philosopher-king, the last of the Five Good Emperors. The Pax Romana came to an end with his death. The Meditations again exemplifies the synthesis of Greek and Roman. (It is the eighth of this semester's selections written in Greek.) Stoicism emerged in Athens; as a practical discipline, a Romanized Stoicism became the religions of upper-class Romans. We have before us a set of spiritual exercises to cultivate a cosmic perspective and good character, an aid to dealing with adversity and interacting with others serenely.