How Robust Was Marcus Aurelius, the Father of Stoicism?

Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor. Picture Credit score: Deposit Pictures

Marcus Aurelius: A Nearer Look

Marcus Aurelius is extensively thought to be the daddy of Stoicism. He was a thinker and Roman emperor whose quotes are practically unavoidable on social media. Stoicism relies on the concept advantage and honor needs to be pursued whilst you endure the pains and hardships of life with little to no grievance. In a time of pandemics and financial hardships, it’s little marvel why Stoicism has made an enormous comeback in trendy occasions.

Historical past remembers Marcus Aurelius as a philosophical powerhouse. But, in actuality, Marcus Aurelius is simply one of many well-known classical philosophers who adopted the beliefs of Stoicism. He actually outlined what it means to be mentally powerful, however how powerful was he?

Would Marcus Aurelius be capable to soak up modern-day troubles with the identical stoic spirit that he did whereas he was emperor of Rome?

Was he bodily powerful, mentally powerful, or simply somebody who wrote about it in his journal?

Let’s take a better have a look at the life and classes of Marcus Aurelius.

Bodily Toughness

You’ve in all probability seen a bodybuilding submit on social media with a quote from Marcus Aurelius. His stoicism quotes are sometimes used to assist encourage individuals to push themselves additional within the gymnasium. One of the crucial well-liked exercise quotes is that this one: “Reject your sense of damage and the damage itself disappears.” – Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations.

You may’ve additionally seen somebody posting about their tireless exercise routine with the caption: “You have got energy over your thoughts – not outdoors occasions. Notice this, and you can find power.”

From his well-known quotes, you’d suppose that Marcus Aurelius may completely squash a tricky exercise routine, however was he a bodily imposing man in his actual life? Properly, as a army man, Marcus Aurelius wasn’t precisely a tricky soldier like Valerian or Maximinus Thrax. The reign of Marcus Aurelius was troubled with rebellions and international uprisings from the Parthians and Germans. There isn’t any surviving document of Aurelius himself doing any of the preventing, however he led a vigorous army marketing campaign to reassert the dominance of Roman rule.

In accordance with , Marcus Aurelius wasn’t a person of sturdy bodily well being. A few of his well being issues included chest and abdomen pains, poor urge for food, and issues sleeping. He had to deal with a continual ulcer and each day drugs.

So, it’s protected to say that Aurelius’ bodily well being didn’t maintain with the trendy picture of a tricky man. Though he wasn’t an imposing fighter or army determine, his struggles to retain good well being definitely benefitted from the beliefs of Stoicism. He may face up to bodily punishment and he continually handled the idea of his personal mortality.

“Whenever you come up within the morning consider what a privilege it’s to be alive, to suppose, to get pleasure from, to like …” – Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations.

“Consider your self as useless. You have got lived your life. Now, take what’s left and dwell it correctly. What doesn’t transmit gentle creates its personal darkness.” – Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations.

“Don’t act as for those who had been going to dwell ten thousand years. Loss of life hangs over you. When you dwell, whereas it’s in your energy, be good.” – Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations.

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Psychological Toughness

In case you’re combating troublesome individuals in your life or troublesome conditions, then Marcus Aurelius quotes can actually be useful. He usually spoke about ignoring negativity from others and focusing by yourself sense of vanity. Aurelius was a proponent of internalizing problematic conditions and focusing your consideration on issues that you would be able to change by ignoring issues that you would be able to’t change.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor in the course of the Golden Age of Rome. He got here from a distinguished political household; practically everybody held some kind of excessive workplace earlier than or after Aurelius got here to energy. His transition to energy was peaceable and he was well-liked among the many individuals he dominated over. So, why all of the brooding stoicism quotes from his writings?


Marcus Aurelius confronted daunting diplomatic challenges. His writings in The Meditations might be thought to be notes to self. He wasn’t a lot as the daddy of Stoicism as he was the scholar of the philosophy. All his well-known quotes about being mentally powerful had been his manner of cultivating these habits inside himself.

“When one other blames you or hates you, or individuals voice comparable criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what kind of individuals they’re. You’ll understand that there isn’t a should be racked with nervousness that they need to maintain any explicit opinion about you.” – Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations.

“Little or no is required to make a contented life; it’s all inside your self in your mind-set.” – Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations.

The Hyperlink Between CBT and Marcus Aurelius

Some would argue that with out Marcus Aurelius we wouldn’t have Cognitive Behavioural Remedy or CBT. It’s a kind of remedy that has been confirmed efficient towards melancholy, nervousness, phobias, and suicidality. In CBT, there’s an underlying idea that your ideas, actions, and emotions are all linked. CBT implores you to problem damaging perception programs and ideas to create a brand new actuality for your self. CBT focuses in your present state of affairs, not a lot your previous, and the method of growing methods to interrupt out of damaging patterns.


Donald Robertson, the creator of Methods to Assume Like a Roman Emperor, has made an in depth examine on the lifetime of Marcus Aurelius. He praises Marcus Aurelius for his contribution to philosophy, psychotherapy, and the idea of psychological toughness. He additionally acknowledges the connection between the Stoics and trendy Cognitive Behavioural Therapists.

In an interview with , Robertson famous that, “Greek and Roman Stoicism impressed cognitive remedy, as we’ve seen, which is definitely identified to be an efficient strategy to dealing with ache. The Stoics clearly distinguish the sensations of ache and discomfort, which they view with neutrality and indifference, from our emotional misery in response to ache, which they view as, at the very least partially, beneath our voluntary management and value bettering.  Most individuals really feel pissed off with ache, deal with it, and battle with it emotionally, and even by way of their behaviour. The Stoics educate a radical acceptance of ache, which is definitely according to trendy evidence-based psychotherapy.”

Psychological Toughness is within the thoughts. Picture Credit score: Pexels

Emotional Toughness

One of many prevailing elements of Stoicism is anger administration. The truth is, Marcus Aurelius himself struggled to regulate his anger. There may be a complete part of his work, The Meditations, which offers completely with anger administration. So, this e-book was a self-help journal for Aurelius.

“From Rusticus, I gained the concept I used to be in want of correction and remedy for my character,” he wrote.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor, and that top workplace would definitely have moments that challenged his capacity to regulate his emotional resilience. Stoicism was a terrific manner for him to redirect his vitality to issues that mattered probably the most. As an alternative of rising up in anger, he may problem the ideas and emotions to see in the event that they rang true.

“Every time you might be about to seek out fault with somebody, ask your self the next query: What fault of mine most practically resembles the one I’m about to criticize?”

And right here’s one other:

“The very best revenge is to not be like your enemy.”

Marcus Aurelius clearly needed to domesticate a way of emotional toughness in himself. It’s one thing that he struggled with in his personal life. The widespread publication of his struggles with emotional toughness makes him worthy of the accolades bestowed to him by later historians.

So, How Robust Was Marcus Aurelius?

Though Marcus Aurelius will get many of the credit score for being the daddy of Stoicism, he wasn’t the originator of the idea. Aurelius realized Stoicism from Epictetus, Plato, Zeno, Sextus of Chaeronea, and different philosophers that got here earlier than him. But, he excelled at advertising it to the remainder of the world as a result of he was a Roman emperor.

Marcus Aurelius benefitted from residing within the time of Roman greatness referred to as the Golden Period. He wasn’t a very exemplary statesman or army commander. His philosophy is well-liked now, nevertheless it borrowed closely from the philosophers that got here earlier than him. Marcus Aurelius’ stoicism is all about conquering anger, overcoming self-doubt, reigning in dangerous habits, and coming nose to nose with one’s personal mortality.

These are internal demons that males grapple with every day. So, the phrases of Marcus Aurelius have plenty of worth for the trendy man despite the fact that Aurelius wasn’t the powerful man that historical past paints him to be. He was resilient and handled private adversities in a really public manner. That alone makes him a mannequin for contemporary males to comply with.

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