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An Obvious State Original

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

This modern pocket-edition of “The Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius combines theme-oriented organization, careful abridgment and beautiful illustration to create a refreshing and illuminating introduction to the wisdom of Stoicism.

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A New Edition

If “absolute power corrupts absolutely” is an iron rule of governance, then Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was undoubtedly the exception. The collection of journals which we now call The Meditations contains approximately 485 passages written over the course of Aurelius’ extraordinary nineteen-year reign.

While each one is worth reading (simply because such a remarkable man saw fit to write them down), the fact that they are personal journal entries necessarily means that the content can be disjointed, sometimes redundant, and devoid of any narrative structure to assist the reader. This illustrated pocket edition of The Meditations seeks to address these issues.

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12 Thematic Chapters

To provide a clearer narrative and to help focus its concepts, the number of passages are reduced to a quarter of the original count, and the remaining passages are reorganized into twelve chapters, each focusing on an essential Stoic principle. 

The text is compiled from several translations (Long, Farquharson, Casaubon, Haines, Collier), and thoughtfully edited for better readability.

This new edition contains twelve illustrated passages, one per chapter, to better illuminate their meaning and to provide an aesthetic element to complement the work.

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It's Personal

As you read through these passages, you may find Aurelius to be unfashionably preoccupied with personal responsibility. It is helpful to remember that this was his journal, and as such, the intended target of his merciless critiques is always himself. The Meditations is not an outward-facing political treatise, but a deeply personal calling to discover what a well-disciplined mind can accomplish in the face of adversity.

If this edition helps you to find the “flow from that other world” of Stoicism, it will have achieved its goal, and I encourage you to read the complete work next, but most importantly, as Aurelius urges us, to “ever dig.”

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On Thoughts

In addition to the book we released a series of prints. "Thoughts" is our most popular print, and you can see the others here.

In this illustration, we drew inspiration from one of Notre Dame's stained glass rose windows, a fractured relic in the shape of a Roman Legionnaire's helmet. Like the stoic's ideal state of mind, stained glass is at once orderly and beautiful. Ideas radiate out from central first principles in a natural and inevitable succession of deductions and balancing forces. At the helmet's edge I added six pictograms, representing the four pillars of stoicism (Courage, Justice, Temperance and Wisdom) as well as two central stoic concepts: Memento Mori ("Remember Mortality"), and Amor Fati ("Love Fate").

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