Few are deserving of the title “philosopher-king”, but Marcus Aurelius certainly is. In stark contrast to other historical figures of power (tyrants) such as Julius Ceasar, Aurelias did not appear to consider himself more important, worthy or noble than any of the subjects who he supposedly ruled over. While many use power for personal gain or nefarious purposes, Aurelius lived a life where he continually attempted to act like he was not above the law. This is why he was considered one of the 5 great emperors of Rome.
It’s very interesting to read the diary of a man (which he wrote while out on a campaign and amidst conflict) who had much, much more power and reason to think highly of himself than every CEO or celebrity that currently exists on the planet, yet his humility and behaviour are exemplary from almost every perspective.
There is much wisdom to be found in this book, and there’s a good reason why it has been considered a staple in philosophy circles for a long time.
Two notable quotes:
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love”