Marcus Aurelius and the later Stoics - PDF book by F. W. Bussell

Marcus Aurelius and the later Stoics 

Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius and the later Stoics

From the introduction:

No political system that man's ingenuity has invented can ever equal in interest for us the Roman Empire. Like the British Constitution, it was the slow growth of time. Julius and' Augustus contributed, in large measure and in answer to a tired world's demand, to this unification, this centralizing of authority in a single city and a single ruler; but they could never have dreamt of the full significance of their work. Augustus, indeed, to the very close of his life cloaked his power under a pretence of extempore expediency; and masterly though this policy was in disarming the old classical prejudice against a " tyranny," yet much of the suspicion and discord, the mutinies and bloodshed, which succeeded, was due to the singular indefiniteness and ambiguity of his new Constitution, which under the old titles and magistracies concealed a complete revolution. 

He could never have foreseen that this hasty attempt to reconcile the traditions of the past with the needs of the present, would become permanent in his own Empire, and, after it had passed away, would appear at all subsequent times of human history as the visionary Ideal towards which the aspirations of our race are directed. 

The paradoxes, but imperfectly disguised by the Imperial mantle, involved inconsistencies so absurd and so fundamental, that we wonder how the system survived for ten years the inquiry of reasonable men. Yet stability seems to have attended it, which from experience we know is denied to the paper constitution and definite formulae of modern theoretic government.

The Roman Empire was never a monarchy in the strict sense; to the very end, the word " Eespublica " took precedence of the title of the despot, who controlled and frequently enslaved it. In spite of the Imperial apotheosis (little understood, and often misappreciated), in spite of the obscure inviolability of the Tribunitian power, no special sanctity surrounded the representative of the people. 

The " nation," a vague name sometimes embodied in the Senate, sometimes in the tumultuous shouts of frontier legions, was the real and ultimate repository of all lawful power; and we marvel that in all the patient and accurate legislation of the Imperial epoch no attempt was made to define with exactness the duties, the prerogatives, the rights of succession, the dynastic claims, the methods of election, of that central point upon which this wheel of government and society revolved.

 The divinity, which to our modern eyes " doth hedge a king," the peculiar respect in speech and address, the reverence to the person of a monarch, the accumulated titles of honour, — all these were utterly lacking. We have enormously increased the prestige, the sacrosanct character of our modern sovereigns, though it may be at the cost of their prerogative.

Some Contents:


I. ," The Roman Emperor  ... 1
II. "The Stoic Philosoplier" .  .18
III. Development of Philosophy in Rome. .35
IV. "The Wise Man" ...... 51
I. Epiotetfs, or the New Cynism; Devotional Personification
of the Cosmic Order . . . . .76
A. The Religious transformation of Philosophic Dogma "TS
B. The Gift of Free Will; the Fatherhood of God; the
Divinity of Souls; the " Cosmopolis '^ ; the SpecialFunction . . . . . .82
C. Providence extending to Particulars; Discipline of the
Sons of God ...... 93
II. The Wise Man in the Two Commonwealths; Opportunism,
or the r61e of Contemplation and Passivity. .97
A. Modem Conception of Stoicism in error; the essential
The expediency of Resignation and Abstention . . 97
B. Close Restriction of the Sphere of Missionary Influence ;
Rejection of Civic or Domestic Duties by the true
Anchorites ...... 104
C. The Sage Spectator rather than Agent in the Universe 107
III. The Ultimate Problems 110
A. Death and Immortality .... 110
B. Some Minor Points; the "Pax Romana"; the
World of Conflict; the Moralistic Standpoint; the "Koeric" Life of God; Futility of mere Technical Emancipation, etc, ..... 117
C. Harmony between Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. 120
I. The Teaching of the Emperor; the Nature of Man the
Agent . . . . . .122

A. Chief Characteristics of his Meditations due to his Office and his Time, , . . .122
B. Influence of the Conception of Afiyos on Greek Thought 132
C. The Constitution and Psychology of the Individual. 136
D. Man's Function and Place in the World; Special
Ec[uipment of each being a Key to its purpose and Happiness, . . . . .147
II. Man and the World . . . . . .152
A. The two Commonwealths and the Citizen, as Agent or Quietist, . . . . .152
B. The Problem of "Conformity to Nature"; varying
the book details :
  • Author: Frederick William Bussell
  • Publication date: 1910
  • Company: Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark

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