Wednesday, March 02, 2005
This is what I've been reading the last week or so. I read once several years ago that the Stoic philosophers are a good antidote to some aspects of our age. I am inclined to agree with that sort of sentiment. We live in an age which is obsessed by the desire for fame and for material wealth, things which are fleeting and meaningless in Meditations (here Marcus and the author of Ecclesiastes are in agreement). Now as I say this, I also hasten to add that I am no daydreamer with delusions that things were all great circa AD 167 when Marcus wrote his Meditations, and that we should just reinstate the classical Roman values of his day. No. That is idiotic. I am also aware of the irony of an Emperor calling fame and fortune worthless. What I take from this text is Marcus' call to be aware of how short our time here is and how fleeting fame and fortune really are (see Ozymandias for further confirmation of that). Knowing that we cannot change the past and that our future is not assured (at least not our earthly one); and knowing that we all will one day be forgotten, how then shall we live? That is the question that Marcus Aurelius poses to us.