Book I

1. From my grandfather Verus[1] a kindly disposition and sweetness of temper.

2. From what I heard of my father[2] and my memory of him, modesty and manliness.

3. From my mother, the fear of god, and generosity; and abstention not only from doing ill but even from the very thought of doing it; and furthermore to live the simple life,[3] far removed from the habits of the rich.

4. From my grandfather's father,[4] to dispense with attendance at public schools, and to enjoy good teachers at home,[5] and to recognize that on such things money should be eagerly spent.

5.From my tutor,[6] not to side with the Green Jacket or the Blue[7] - at the races, or to back the Light-Shield Champion or the Heavy-Shield in the lists; not to shirk toil,[8] and to have few wants, and to do my own work, and mind my own concerns; and to turn a deaf ear to slander.

6. From Diognetus,[9] not to be taken up with trifles; and not to give credence to the statements of miracle-mongers and wizards[10] about incantations and the exorcizing of demons,[11] and such-like marvels; and not to keep quails, nor to be excited about such things: not to resent plain speaking; and to become familiar with philosophy and be a hearer first of Baccheius, then of Tandasis and Marcianus; and to write dialogues as a boy; and to set my heart on a pallet-bed and a pelt[12] and whatever else tallied with the Greek regimen.

7. From Rusticus,[13] to become aware of the fact that I needed amendment and training for my character; and not to be led aside into an argumentative sophistry; nor compose treatises on speculative subjects, or deliver little homilies,[14] or pose ostentatiously as the moral athlete or unselfish man; and to eschew rhetoric,[15] poetry, and fine language; and not to go about the house in my robes, nor commit any such breach of good taste; and to write letters without affectation, like his own letter written to my mother from Sinuessa; to shew oneself ready to be reconciled to those who have lost their temper and trespassed against one, and ready to meet them halfway as soon as ever they seem to be willing to retrace their steps;[16] to read with minute care and not to be content with a superficial bird's-eye view; nor to be too quick in agreeing with every voluble talker; and to make the acquaintance of the Memoirs of Epictetus, which he supplied me with out of his own library.

8. From Apollonius,[17]self-reliance and an unequivocal determination not to leave anything to chance; and to look to nothing else even for a moment save Reason alone; and to remain ever the same, in the throes of pain, on the loss of a child,[18] during a lingering illness; and to see plainly from a living example that one and the same man can be very vehement and yet gentle: not to be impatient in instructing others; and to see in him a man who obviously counted as the least among his gifts his practical experience and facility in imparting philosophic truths; and to learn in accepting seeming favours from friends[19] not to give up our independence for such things nor take them callously as a matter of course.

9. From Sextus,[20] kindliness, and the example of a household patriarchally governed; and the conception of life in accordance with Nature; and dignity without affectation; and an intuitive consideration for friends; and a toleration of the unlearned and the unreasoning.

And his tactful treatment of all his friends, so that simply to be with him was more delightful than any flattery, while at the same time those who enjoyed this privilege looked up to him with the utmost reverence; and the grasp and method which he showed in discovering and marshalling the essential axioms of life.

And never to exhibit any symptom of anger or any other passion, but to be at the same time utterly impervious to all passions and full of natural affection; and to praise without noisy obtrusiveness, and to possess great learning but make no parade of it.

10. From Alexander the grammarian,[21] not to be captious; nor in a carping spirit find fault with those who import into their conversation any expression which is barbarous or ungrammatical or mispronounced, but tactfully to bring in the very expression, that ought to have been used, by way of answer, or as it were in joint support of the assertion, or as a joint consideration of the thing itself and not of the language, or by some such graceful reminder.

11. From Fronto, to note the envy, the subtlety, and the dissimulation which are habitual to a tyrant; and that, as a general rule, those amongst us who rank as patricians are somewhat wanting in natural affection.[22]

12. From Alexander the Platonist,[23] not to say to anyone often or without necessity, nor write in a letter, I am too busy, nor in this fashion constantly plead urgent affairs as an excuse for evading the obligations entailed upon us by our relations towards those around us.

13. From Catulus,[24] not to disregard a friend's expostulation even when it is unreasonable, but to try to bring him back to his usual friendliness; and to speak with whole-hearted good-will of one's teachers, as it is recorded that Domitius[25] did of Athenodotus; and to be genuinely fond of one's children.

14. From my 'brother' Severus,[26] love of family, love of truth, love of justice, and (thanks to him!) to know Thrasea, Helvidius, Cato, Dion, Brutus; and the conception of a state with one law for all, based upon individual equality and freedom of speech, and of a sovrainty which prizes above all things the liberty of the subject; and furthermore from him also to set a well-balanced and unvarying value on philosophy; and readiness to do others a kindness, and eager generosity, and optimism, and confidence in the love of friends; and perfect openness in the case of those that came in for his censure; and the absence of any need for his friends to surmise what he did or did not wish, so plain was it.

15. From Maximus,[27] self-mastery and stability of purpose; and cheeriness in sickness as well as in all other circumstances; and a character justly proportioned of sweetness and gravity; and to perform without grumbling the task that lies to one's hand.

And the confidence of every one in him that what he said was also what he thought, and that what he did was done with no ill intent. And not to show surprise, and not to be daunted; never to be hurried, or hold back, or be at a loss, or downcast, or smile a forced smile, or, again, be ill-tempered or suspicious.

And beneficence[28] and placability and veracity; and to give the impression of a man who cannot deviate from the right way rather than of one who is kept in it;[29] and that no one could have thought himself looked down upon by him, or could go so far as to imagine himself a better man than he; and to keep pleasantry within due bounds.

16. From my father,[30] mildness, and an unshakable adherence to decisions deliberately come to; and no empty vanity in respect to so-called honours; and a love of work and thoroughness; and a readiness to hear any suggestions for the common good; and an inflexible determination to give every man his due; and to know by experience when is the time to insist and when to desist; and to suppress all passion for boys.[31]

And his public spirit, and his not requiring his friends at all to sup with him or necessarily attend him abroad,[32] and their always finding him the same when any urgent affairs had kept them away; and the spirit of thorough investigation which he showed in the meetings of his Council, and his perseverance; nay his never desisting, prematurely, from an enquiry on the strength of off-hand impressions; and his faculty for keeping his friends and never being bored with them or infatuated about them; and his self-reliance in every emergency, and his good humour; and his habit of looking ahead and making provision for the smallest details without any heroics.

And his restricting in his reign public acclamations and every sort of adulation; and his unsleeping attention to the needs of the empire, and his wise stewardship of its resources, and his patient tolerance of the censure that all this entailed; and his freedom from superstition with respect to the Gods and from hunting for popularity with respect to men by pandering to their desires or by courting the mob: his soberness in all things[33] and stedfastness; and the absence in him of all vulgar tastes and any craze for novelty.

And the example that he gave of utilizing without pride, and at the same without any apology, all the lavish gifts of Fortune that contribute towards the comfort of life, so as to enjoy them when present as a matter of course, and, when absent, not to miss them: and no one could charge him with sophistry, flippancy,[34] or pedantry; but he was a man mature, complete,[35] deaf to flattery, able to preside over his own affairs and those of others.

Besides this also was his high appreciation of all true philosophers without any upbraiding of the others, and at the same time without any undue subservience to them; then again his easiness of access and his graciousness that yet had nothing fulsome about it; and his reasonable attention to his bodily requirements, not as one too fond of life, or vain of his outward appearance,[36] nor yet as one who neglected it, but so as by his own carefulness to need but very seldom the skill of the leech or medicines and outward applications.

But most of all a readiness to acknowledge with out jealousy the claims of those who were endowed with any special gift, such as eloquence or knowledge of law or ethics or any other subject, and to give them active support, that each might gain the honour to which his individual eminence entitled him; and his loyalty to constitutional precedent without any parade of the fact that it was according to precedent.

Furthermore he was not prone to change or vacillation, but attached to the same places and the same things; and after his spasms of violent headache he would come back at once to his usual employments with renewed vigour; and his secrets were not many but very few and at very rare intervals, and then only political secrets; and he showed good sense and moderation in his management of public spectacles, and in the construction of public works, and in congiaria[37] and the like, as a man who had an eye to what had to be done and not to the credit to be gained thereby.

He did not bathe at all hours; he did not build for the love building; he gave no thought to his food, or to the texture and colour of his clothes, or the comeliness of his slaves. His robe came up from Lorium, his country-seat in the plains, and Lanuvium supplied his wants for the most part. Think of how he dealt with the customs officer at Tusculum when the latter apologized, and it was a type of his usual conduct.

There was nothing rude in him, nor yet over bearing or violent nor carried, as the phrase goes, "to the sweating state"; but everything was considered separately, as by a man of ample leisure, calmly, methodically, manfully, consistently. One might apply to him what is told of Socrates,[38] that he was able to abstain from or enjoy those things that many are not strong enough to refrain from and too much inclined to enjoy. But to have the strength to persist in the one case and be abstemious in the other[39] is characteristic of a man who has a perfect and indomitable soul, as was seen in the illness of Maximus.

17. From the Gods, to have good grandfathers,[40] good parents, a good sister, good teachers, good companions, kinsmen, friends nearly all of them; and that I fell into no trespass against any of them, and yet I had a disposition that way inclined, such as might have led me into something of the sort,[41] had it so chanced; but by the grace of God there was no such coincidence of circumstances as was likely to put me to the test.

And that I was not brought up any longer with my grandfather's[42] concubine, and that I kept unstained the flower of my youth; and that I did not make trial of my manhood before the due time, but even postponed it.

That I was subordinated to a ruler and a father capable of ridding me of all conceit, and of bringing me to recognize that it is possible to live in a Court and yet do without body-guards and gorgeous garments and linkmen and statues and the like pomp; and that it is in such a man's power to reduce himself very nearly to the condition of a private individual and yet not on this account to be more paltry or more remiss in dealing with what the interests of the state require to be done in imperial fashion.

That it was my lot to have such a brother,[43] capable by his character of stimulating me to watchful care over myself, and at the same time delighting me by his deference[44] and affection: that my children have not been devoid of intelligence nor physically deformed. That I did not make more progress in rhetoric[45] and poetry[46] and my other studies, in which I should perhaps have been engrossed, had I felt myself making good way in them. That I lost no time in promoting my tutors to such posts of honour[47] as they seemed to desire, and that I did not put them off with the hope that I would do this later on since they were still young. That I got to know Apollonius, Rusticus, Maximus.

That I had clear and frequent conceptions as to the true meaning of a life according to Nature,[48] so that as far as the Gods were concerned and their blessings and assistance and intention, there was nothing to prevent me from beginning at once to live in accordance with Nature, though I still come short of this ideal by my own fault, and by not attending to the reminders, nay, almost the instructions, of the Gods.

That my body holds out so long in such a life as mine;[49] that I did not touch Benedicta or Theodotus, but that even afterwards, when I did give way to amatory passions, I was cured of them; that, though often offended with Rusticus, I never went so far as to do anything for which I should have been sorry; that my mother,[50] though she was to die young, yet spent her last years with me.

That as often as I had the inclination to help any one, who was in pecuniary distress or needing any other assistance, I was never told that there was no money available for the purpose; and that I was never under any similar need of accepting help from another. That I have been blessed with a wife so docile,[51] so affectionate, so unaffected;[52] that I had no lack of suitable tutors for my children.

That by the agency of dreams[53] I was given antidotes both of other kinds and against the spitting of blood and vertigo; and there is that response also at Caieta, "as thou shall use it." And that, when I had set my heart on philosophy, I did not fall into the hands of a sophist, nor sat down at the author's desk, or became a solver of syllogisms, nor busied myself with physical phenomena. For all the above the Gods as helpers and good fortune need.

Written among the Quadi on the Gran.[54]

<Introduction - Book II>

[1] sc. "I had an example of," "was in the way to learn." But the construction varies and sometimes a direct statement of characteristics is given. It is obvious that Marcus does not claim to possess all the good qualities enumerated.

[2] Died before 136. The grandfather of M. (§ 1) died aged nearly 90 in 138 (Capit. Vit. Mar. vi. 1; Vit. Pii iv. 2).

[3] cp. Aristides, ad Reg. 115 (Jebb), διαίτης ευτέλεια (of Marcus).

[4] Catilius Severus, praef. urbi, who hoped to succeed Hadrian (Spart. Vit. Hadr. v. 10; xxiv. 6).

[5] Capit. Vit. Mar. (ii. 3-iii. 4) gives a list of these.

[6] The name has perhaps dropped out. Capit. Vit. Pii x. 5 has an anecdote of the death of the educator of Marcus, but Aristides in his funeral oration on Alexander of Cotiaeum calls the latter not only διδάσκαλος but τροφευς to Marcus and Verus (Jebb’s Ed. § 149). But he is mentioned below § 10.

[7] Capit. Vit. Ver. vi. 2; Malalas xi. ad fin.

[8] Dio (71. 6, § 2) calls M. φιλόπονος.

[9] A Diognetus taught M. painting (Capit. iv. 9).

[10] cp. Capit. xiii. 6; Dio 71. 9, § 2 (Xiphilinus).

[11] Undoubtedly refers to the Christians, see Digest L. 13. 1, § 3, and cp. Justin, Apol. ii. 6 of Rome itself. The Christians constantly boasted of their power to exorcize: Tert. Apol. 23; Iren. ii. 6, § 2; Lact. v. 21. cp. also the legend of Abercius and his visit to Rome to cure Lucilla.

[12] Capit. Vit. Mar. ii. 6.

[13] i. 17, §§ 4, 6. cp. Digest. xlix. 1. 1, §3 "Rusticus, our friend"; Capit. iii. 3; Them. Orat. xiii. 173 c; Fronto, ad Ant. 1. 2.

[14] λόγάρια. (ratiunculae). cp. Epict. i. 29. 55.

[15] i. 17, §4. cp. Fronto, ad Ant. i. 2 (Nab. p. 96); de Eloqu. 3 (Nab. p. 150). Dio (71. 35, §1) says M. was ασκηθεις εν τοις ‘ρητορικοις λόγις.

[16] As Marcus in the case of Herodes, see Philost. Vit. Soph. ii. 12 (Kayser's ed. p. 243).

[17] cp. Fronto, ad Caes. v. 36. Capit. (Vit. Pii x. 4) and Lucian (Demonax 31) shew him in a different light, as ill-mannered and avaricious. He is mentioned as Αντωνίνου 'εταιρος by Epiphanius.

[18] See the behaviour of Marcus on the death of M. Aunius Verus, aged 7, at Praeneste in 169 (Capit. xxi. 3), and on the death of his first-born son T. Aelius Antoninus soon after birth in 147. (Corp. Inscrip. Grace. Boeckh 3176.) cp. Dio 71.34, § 5.

[19] cp. Fronto, ad Appian. (Nab. p. 246).

[20] Capit. iii. 1. He was of Chaeronea and grandson of Plutarch, cp. Suidas sub voce: "He was held in such honour by the Emperor as to act as his assessor on the bench."

[21] Of Cotiaeum, see Aristides, Oral. xii. 142 ff. (Jebb's Ed.). He lived to a great age. He was in Rome in 145 (see ibid. § 159) and resided at the palace (§§ 148, 154). See above on i. 5.

[22] See Fronto, ad Ver. ii. 7 (Naber, p. 135; cp. p. 231). Marcus acknowledges greater debts to Fronto elsewhere, e.g. ad Caes. iii. 12, Vemm dicere ex te diuco. Ea re prosum dis hominibusque ardua.

[23] See Phil. Vit. Soph. ii. 5, p.247 Kays. He was summoned by Marcus to Pannonia about 174 and made his Greek secretary.

[24] A Stoic, see Capit. iii. 2.

[25] Domitii were among the maternal ancestors of Marcus, and an Athenodotus was Fronto's teacher (ad Caes. iv. 121; Nab. p. 73).

[26] See Index II. He was father of the son-in-law of Marcus.

[27] i. 16, § 9; viii. 25. See Capit. iii. 2; Index II.

[28] Marcus raised a temple to Ευεργεσία, a new deity. See Dio 71. 34, § 3.

[29] cp. iii. 5.

[30] Here Pius, his adoptive father, is meant, not as above (i. 2) his father Verus. For a first sketch of this eulogy of Pius see below vi. 30.

[31] It is not quite clear whether this means that Pius had put away this vice from himself or others, but the active verb seems rather to favour the latter view. Capit. Vit. Pii ii. 1, calls him clarus moribus (cp. also Aur. Vict, de Caes. xv.), but Julian says he was σώφρων ου τα ες Αφροδίτην.

[32] cp. Fronto, ad Caes. iii. 20; v. 44.

[33] cp. St. Paul, Tim. ii. 4. 5.

[34] lit. that he was a "home-bred slave," i.e. impudent.

[35] Julian calls Marcus τετράγωνος "a man foursquare."

[36] Capit. (Vit. Pii xiii. 1) says he wore stays to keep himself upright in old age.

[37] lit. "distributions." cp. Capit. Vit. Pii iv. 9; viii. 11.

[38] Xen. Mem. I. 3, 15. πολλοί would here seem = οί πολλοί.

[39] The Greek may also mean "To be strong and to persist without excess in each case is characteristic," and εκατέρφ suits this better.

[40] i.e. M. Annius Verus, three times consul (Dio 69. 21, § 1) and praef. urbi (Capit. i. 2), who died 138, and P. Calvisius Tullus, cons. suft. 109. See Capit. i. 3; Fronto, ad Caes. iii. 2.

[41] cp. i. 17, § 6 ; xi. 18, § 4.

[42] cp. ix. 21. After his father's death Marcus was brought up at his grandfathers house (Capit. i. 7). Capit. (v. 3) says he migrated de maternis hortis much against his will to the imperial palace when adopted by Hadrian. It is possible but not likely that "grandfather" here means Hadrian.

[43] L. Verus, whose character was more of a warning than an example, as Lucian Nigr. 19 calls Rome for its wickedness γυμνάσιον αρετης see Epict. iii. 20, 11. Marcus seems to have been genuinely fond of him, see Fronto, ad Ver. ii. 1; ad Caes. ii. 17 ; and cp. Aristides, Paneg. in Cyz. 425(Jebb).

[44] Capit. Vit. Ver. viii. § 5.

[45] i. 7.

[46] i. 7. cp. Fronto, ad Caes. i. 8; ad Ant. i. 2 (Nab. p. 96); de Eloq. 3 (Nab. p. 150).

[47] e.g. Rusticus, cons, ii, in 162, and praef. urbi; Proculus, see Capit. ii. 5.

[48] i. 9.

[49] Dio 71. 36, § 3.

[50] Domitia Lucilla, dan. of P. Calvisius Tullus. She died in 156, aged about 50. For her see above i. 3; viii. 25; Fronto, ad Caes. iv. 6 ; Capit. vi. 9. Her head appears on a coin of Nicaea in Bithynia.

[51] cp. Fronto, ad Caes. v. 11.

[52] cp. Fronto, ad Pium 2, ad fin. for Pius opinion of his daughter. The coiffure of the younger Faustina as seen on coins is much simpler than that of her mother. She was with Marcus in Pannonia for a time at least.

[53] cp. Fronto, ad Gaes. iii. 9, and below, ix. 27. Marcus himself became a dream-giver after his death, see Capit. xviii. 7. Dreams were the recognised method by which the God of healing communicated his prescriptions. Belief in them was universal, and shared by the atheist Pliny, the sceptic Lucian, Aristides the devotee, Galen the scientist, Dio the historian and man of affairs. It is not unknown to Christians. Yet there have been found writers to gird at Marcus for his "superstitious" belief in dreams!

[54] These words may be intended either to conclude the first book or, more likely, head the second. In the former case, as Gataker points out, τάδε would have been usual, not τά.