MEDITATIONS: The Annotated Edition | Marcus Aurelius, trans by Robin Waterfield, Basic Books, p384.
For the last 26 January's, I’ve read a translation of Mediations. And I imagine my character challenges require it for the next 26. No one reads the same book twice, just as no stone is thrown in the same river twice. Each reading of this seminal work is an exercise in conviction - not unlike the experience of reading any sacred text. It’s an exhortation towards better.
Waterfield’s translation is a delightful edition, adding unique insights in its heavily annotated footnotes that enliven and enlighten.
His translation is a leap forward in accessibility. It’s akin to switching from the biblical King James to the NIV. Compared to the Hays translation, it sometimes lacks punch but is more modern in prose. This is particularly helpful when Aurelius meanders reflecting on his ancient understanding of physics (which is often esoteric).
A late Stoic, Aurelius writes not for publication but in his private journal. As Emperor, his time is spent at the battlefront against Germanic tribes or domestically administering the empire amidst a plague. He’s a man of action - a public leader - leading a life of tremendous introspection.
Most of the Meditations fall into four reoccurring themes: Death, fame, anger, and how to treat others. The timeless truths of controlling ourselves and our internal reactions as requisite for virtue and a happy life remain an enduring conversation. Highly recommended to all.