Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Quote of the Day (Marcus Aurelius, on ‘The Only Rewards of Our Existence’)

"Make sure you remain straightforward, upright, reverent, serious, unadorned, an ally of justice, pious, kind, affectionate, and doing your duty with a will. Fight to be the person philosophy tried to make you. Revere the gods; watch over human beings. Our lives are short. The only rewards of our existence here are an unstained character and unselfish acts." —Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD), Meditations: A New Translation, translated by Gregory Hays (The Modern Library, New York, 2003)

The image accompanying this post shows Richard Harris as Marcus Aurelius—as good an example as you can have of a “philosopher-king”—in the Oscar-winning epic Gladiator. I have no idea what Aurelius looked like, let alone whether Harris resembled him physically.

But then again, I doubt whether the statues of Aurelius that I have seen in photos were created from life, either. And at least with Harris, we can behold a face not still and lifeless, but filled with the kind of emotions that made this emperor’s attempt to control and master them all the more poignant.

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