63 Marcus Aurelius Quotes
to give you some Perspective

Who is Marcus Aurelius?

A brief background…

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, born nearly two millennia ago (121 – 180), is a leader and example who is still talked about to this day.

Marcus Annius Verus was born in a prominent and family. That said, no one at the time would have predicted that he would one day be Emperor of the Empire.

During his teenage years, the reigning emperor, Hadrian, was nearing death and had no children. Hadrian had to pick a successor and after Lucius Ceionius (his first choice) died unexpectedly, he chose Antoninus.

Antoninus was a senator who had no children and he would have to adopt Marcus, as per Hadrian’s condition, as well as Ceionius’s son, Lucius Verus.

This is how Marcus’s name changed to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

Once Hadrian died, Marcus was next in line for the most important position in the empire. His education would become of serious concern and he would have the privilege of studying under Herodes Atticus, a rhetorician from Athens (Marcus would later write his Meditations in Greek) as well as Marcus Cornelius Fronto, his instructor in Latin whose letters of correspondence with Marcus survive to this day.

Marcus would also serve as a consul twice thus receiving a valuable and practical education.

Name

Marcus was born in Rome on 26 April 121. His name at birth was supposedly Marcus Annius Verus, but some sources assign this name to him upon his father’s death and unofficial adoption by his grandfather, upon his coming of age or at the time of his marriage.

Upon his adoption by Antoninus as heir to the throne, he was known as Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus Caesar and upon his ascension, he was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus until his death; Epiphanius of Salamis, in his chronology of the Roman emperors included in his On Weights and Measures, calls him Marcus Aurelius Verus.

 

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

63 Marcus Aurelius Quotes to give you some perspective

1. “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

2. “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

3. ““Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

4. “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

5.  “Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

6.  “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”

“Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”

7. “If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.”

8. “I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.”

9. “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”

10. “Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”

11. “Observe always that everything is the result of change, and get used to thinking that there is nothing Nature loves so well as to change existing forms and make new ones like them.”

12. “If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now.”

13. “The memory of everything is very soon overwhelmed in time.”

14. “For it is in your power to retire into yourself whenever you choose.”

15. “You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.”

“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”

16. “The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.”

17. “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

18. “The happiness of those who want to be popular depends on others; the happiness of those who seek pleasure fluctuates with moods outside their control; but the happiness of the wise grows out of their own free acts.”

19. “Confine yourself to the present.”

20. “A person’s worth is measured by the worth of what he values.”

21. “If any man despises me, that is his problem. My only concern is not doing or saying anything deserving of contempt.”

22. “Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter. Cold or warm. Tired or well-rested. Despised or honored. Dying…or busy with other assignments. Because dying, too, is one of our assignments in life. There as well: “To do what needs doing.” Look inward. Don’t let the true nature of anything elude you. Before long, all existing things will be transformed, to rise like smoke (assuming all things become one), or be dispersed in fragments…to move from one unselfish act to another with God in mind. Only there, delight and stillness…when jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don’t lose the rhythm more than you can help. You’ll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.”

“Almost nothing material is needed for a happy life, for he who has understood existence.”

23. “At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”

So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?

You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you.”

“Commit to loving yourself completely. It's the most radical thing you will do in your lifetime.”

24. “Commit to loving yourself completely. It’s the most radical thing you will do in your lifetime.”

25. “Forget everything else. Keep hold of this alone and remember it: Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. The rest has been lived already, or is impossible to see.”

26. “Does the emerald lose its beauty for lack of admiration?”

27. “Almost nothing material is needed for a happy life, for he who has understood existence.”

28. “Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?”

29. “Never value anything as profitable that compels you to break your promise, to lose your self-respect, to hate any man, to suspect, to curse, to act the hypocrite, to desire anything that needs walls and curtains:”

30. “Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do.
Self-indulgence means tying it to the things that happen to you.
Sanity means tying it to your own actions.”

“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”

31. “Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”

32. “Concentrate every minute like a Roman— like a man— on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can— if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered , irritable. You see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life? If you can manage this, that’s all even the gods can ask of you.”

33. “God give me patience, to reconcile with what I am not able to change
Give me strength to change what I can
And give me wisdom to distinguish one from another.”

34. “Loss is nothing else but change, and change is Nature’s delight.”

35.  “I was once a fortunate man but at some point fortune abandoned me.
But true good fortune is what you make for yourself. Good fortune: good character, good intentions, and good actions.”

36. “Perfection of character: to live your last day, every day, without frenzy, or sloth, or pretense.”

37. “You have the power to strip away many superfluous troubles located wholly in your judgement, and to possess a large room for yourself embracing in thought the whole cosmos, to consider everlasting time, to think of the rapid change in the parts of each thing, of how short it is from birth until dissolution, and how the void before birth and that after dissolution are equally infinite.”

38. “Do not disturb yourself by picturing your life as a whole; do not assemble in your mind the many and varied troubles which have come to you in the past and will come again in the future, but ask yourself with regard to every present difficulty: ‘What is there in this that is unbearable and beyond endurance?’ You would be ashamed to confess it! And then remind yourself that it is not the future or what has passed that afflicts you, but always the present, and the power of this is much diminished if you take it in isolation and call your mind to task if it thinks that it cannot stand up to it when taken on its own.”

“Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.”

39. “Today I escaped anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.”

40.  “The happiness and unhappiness of the rational, social animal depends not on what he feels but on what he does; just as his virtue and vice consist not in feeling but in doing.”

41. “And in the case of superior things like stars, we discover a kind of unity in separation. The higher we rise on the scale of being, the easier it is to discern a connection even among things separated by vast distances.”

42. “Whenever you want to cheer yourself up, consider the good qualities of your companions, for example, the energy of one, the modesty of another, the generosity of yet another, and some other quality of another; for nothing cheers the heart as much as the images of excellence reflected in the character of our companions, all brought before us as fully as possible. Therefore, keep these images ready at hand.”

43. “The offender needs pity, not wrath; those who must needs be corrected, should be treated with tact and gentleness; and one must be always ready to learn better. ‘The best kind of revenge is, not to become like unto them.”

44. “But death and life, success and failure, pain and pleasure, wealth and poverty, all these happen to good and bad alike, and they are neither noble or shameful—and hence neither good nor bad.”

45. “It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. Otherwise it cannot harm you—inside or out.”

46. “Think of your many years of procrastination; how the gods have repeatedly granted you further periods of grace, of which you have taken no advantage. It is time now to realise the nature of the universe to which you belong, and of that controlling Power whose offspring you are; and to understand that your time has a limit set to it. Use it, then, to advance your enlightenment; or it will be gone, and never in your power again.”

“Stop wandering about! You aren't likely to read your own notebooks, or ancient histories, or the anthologies you've collected to enjoy in your old age. Get busy with life's purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue-if you care for yourself at all-and do it while you can.”

47. “Stop wandering about! You aren’t likely to read your own notebooks, or ancient histories, or the anthologies you’ve collected to enjoy in your old age. Get busy with life’s purpose, toss aside empty hopes, get active in your own rescue-if you care for yourself at all-and do it while you can.”

48. “Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”

49. “A man’s greatness lies not in wealth and station, as the vulgar believe, not yet in his intellectual capacity, which is often associated with the meanest moral character, the most abject servility to those in high places and arrogance to the poor and lowly; but a man’s true greatness lies in the consciousness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just estimate of himself and everything else, on frequent self-examination, and a steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be right, without troubling himself, as the emperor says he should not, about what others may think or say, or whether they do or do not do that which he thinks and says and does.”

50. “fame in a world like this is worthless.”

51. “In a little while you will have forgotten everything; in a little while everything will have forgotten you.”

52. “Treat what you don’t have as nonexistent. Look at what
you have, the things you value most, and think of how much
you’d crave them if you didn’t have them. But be careful.
Don’t feel such satisfaction that you start to overvalue them

53. “Our actions may be impeded…
But there can be no impeding our intentions or our dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.
The impeding to action advances action.
What stands in the way becomes the way.”

“Everything that happens, happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.”

54. “Everything that happens, happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so.”

55. “Remember two things: i. that everything has always been the same, and keeps recurring, and it makes no difference whether you see the same things recur in a hundred years or two hundred, or in an infinite period; ii. that the longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have you cannot lose.”

56. “In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive. In your life, don’t be all about business.”

57. “To live a good life: We have the potential for it. If we can learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference. This is how we learn: by looking at each thing, both the parts and the whole. Keeping in mind that none of them can dictate how we perceive it. They don’t impose themselves on us. They hover before us, unmoving. It is we who generate the judgments—inscribing them on ourselves. And we don’t have to. We could leave the page blank—and if a mark slips through, erase it instantly. Remember how brief is the attentiveness required. And then our lives will end. And why is it so hard when things go against you? If it’s imposed by nature, accept it gladly and stop fighting it. And if not, work out what your own nature requires, and aim at that, even if it brings you no glory. None of us is forbidden to pursue our own good.”

58. “The time is at hand when you will have forgotten everything; and the time is at hand when all will have forgotten you. Always reflect that soon you will be no one, and nowhere.”

59.  “That all is as thinking makes it so – and you control your thinking. So remove your judgements whenever you wish and then there is calm – as the sailor rounding the cape finds smooth water and the welcome of a waveless bay.”

60. “How unlucky I am that this should happen to me. But not at all. Perhaps, say how lucky I am that I am not broken by what has happened, and I am not afraid of what is about to happen. For the same blow might have stricken anyone, but not many would have absorbed it without capitulation and complaint.”

“How unlucky I am that this should happen to me. But not at all. Perhaps, say how lucky I am that I am not broken by what has happened, and I am not afraid of what is about to happen. For the same blow might have stricken anyone, but not many would have absorbed it without capitulation and complaint.”

61. “Anger cannot be dishonest.”

62. “All things fade and quickly turn to myth.”

63. “When people injure you, ask yourself what good or harm they thought would come of it. If you understand that, you’ll feel sympathy rather than outrage or anger. Your sense of good and evil may be the same as theirs, or near it, in which case you have to excuse them. Or your sense of good and evil may differ from theirs. In which case they’re misguided and deserve your compassion. Is that so hard?”


Those are my 63 favorite Marcus Aurelius quotes.

Andrea Gibson does a better job or writing about hurt and love than most writers I’ve come across. In her writing she doesn’t shy away from the pain she’s felt or how its impacted her life. Instead of hiding from it she uses it to create beautiful poetry and help the rest of us know we aren’t alone in what we may be going through.

Which Marcus Aurelius quote is your favorite?

Do you have any favorite Marcus Aurelius quotes I missed?

If so, feel free to leave your favorite Marcus Aurelius quote in the comment section below!

Stay Gold.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.