Marcus Aurelius: A Guide for the Perplexed

Marcus Aurelius: A Guide for the Perplexed

Paperback Guides for the Perplexed

By (author) William O. Stephens

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  • Publisher: Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • Format: Paperback | 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 136mm x 214mm x 14mm | 299g
  • Publication date: 2 September 2012
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1441108106
  • ISBN 13: 9781441108104
  • Illustrations note: maps
  • Sales rank: 747,500

Product description

This title presents the exploration of the life and philosophical reflections of this complex Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor. This book is a clear and concise introduction to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. His one major surviving work, often titled 'meditations' but literally translated simply as 'to himself', is a series of short, sometimes enigmatic reflections divided seemingly arbitrarily into twelve books and apparently written only to be read by him. For these reasons Marcus is a particularly difficult thinker to understand. His musings, framed as 'notes to self' or 'memoranda', are the exhortations of an earnest, conscientious Stoic burdened with the onerous responsibilities of ruling an entire empire. William O. Stephens lucidly sketches Marcus Aurelius' upbringing, family relations, rise to the throne, military campaigns, and legacy, situating his philosophy amidst his life and times, explicating the factors shaping Marcus' philosophy, and clarifying key themes in the Memoranda. Specifically designed to meet the needs of students seeking a thorough understanding of this key figure and his major work, "Marcus Aurelius: A Guide for the Perplexed" is the ideal guide for understanding this Stoic author - the only philosopher who was also an emperor. "Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed" are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.

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Author information

William O. Stephens is a Professor of Philosophy and of Classical & Near Eastern Studies at Creighton University, Nebraska, USA. His publications include numerous journal articles and book chapters, a translation of Adolf Bonhoffer's The Ethics of the Stoic Epictetus (Peter Lang, 1996), The Person: Readings in Human Nature (Prentice Hall, 2006), and Stoic Ethics: Epictetus and Happiness as Freedom (Continuum, 2007).

Table of contents

1. The Man, the Emperor, the Thinker; 2. The Influence of Heraclitus and Epictetus; 3. Wholes and Parts; 4. Time, Transience, and Eternity; 5. Virtues, Vices, and Junk; 6. The Soul of a Stoic; Appendix: Marcus, Maximus, and Stoicism in Gladiator (2000); Bibliography; Index.