The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations
BEAR IN MIND THAT THE MEASURE OF A MAN IS THE WORTH OF THE THINGS HE CARES ABOUT. IF IT IS GOOD TO SAY OR DO SOMETHING, THEN IT IS EVEN BETTER TO BE CRITICIZED FOR HAVING SAID OR DONE IT. ARE MY GUIDING PRINCIPLES HEALTHY AND ROBUST? ON THIS HANGS EVERYTHING. Essayist Matthew Arnold described the man who wrote these words as "the most beautiful figure in history." Possibly so, but he was certainly more than that. Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire at its height, yet he remained untainted by the incalculable wealth and absolute power that had corrupted many of his predecessors. Marcus knew the secret of how to live the good life amid trying and often catastrophic circumstances, of how to find happiness and peace when surrounded by misery and turmoil, and of how to choose the harder right over the easier wrong without apparent regard for self-interest. The historian Michael Grant praises Marcus's book as "the best ever written by a major ruler," and Josiah Bunting, superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute, calls it "the essential book on character, leadership, duty." Never intended for publication, the Meditations contains the practical and inspiring wisdom by which this remarkable emperor lived the life not of a saintly recluse, but of a general, administrator, legislator, spouse, parent, and judge besieged on all sides. The Emperor's Handbook offers a vivid and fresh translation of this important piece of ancient literature. It brings Marcus's words to life and shows his wisdom to be as relevant today as it was in the second century. This book belongs on the desk and in the briefcase of every business executive, political leader, and military officer. It speaks to the soul of anyone who has ever exercised authority or faced adversity or believed in a better day.
The best translation available!
By Ingalls - November 6, 2002
The Hicks brothers have produced a handsome volume of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius that is also the best translation available. The old Penguin edition translation was servicable. George Long's translation was incomprehensible in many parts. The Gregory Hays translation does very well but is not as transparently clear and as elegant as this one. I got this book the first week that it came out and it will be my preferred edition for many years to come. Highly recommended.
A Question of Tone
By Warren Keith Wright - October 15, 2005
This translation of the Greek writings that the author called "To Himself" is smooth, deft, and self-assured; the book sits well in the hand; the subject index is thorough. For generations Marcus Aurelius has proven not only a welcome counselor, but a worthy opponent to measure oneself against. Why does this version leave one feeling not refreshed but harangued?
In an earnest attempt to reach modern readers, something has gone wrong with the tone. The pages are peppered with the imperative contraction "Don't," and the "You" being addressed is not a man conferring with his soul, but a smug preacher hectoring us with his own perfection. Yet consider how often Marcus returns to certain themes---that you should not mind what other people think of you; that you should cease to assign blame, or feel resentment for ill-treatment; that since life is but breath you should not care whether yours is long or short. The very repetition shows how hard it was for him to attain... read more
A Masterful Translation of a Masterpiece
By James R. Reiff - June 2, 2003
The Hicks brothers' collaboration has produced a masterful translation of a masterpiece. "The Emperor's Handbook" captures the sublime essence and ancient character of "The Meditations" but never strays into the arcane terminology of the ancient Stoics. The Hicks brothers also avoid the forced and complex grammatical constructs found in other translations. This translation could easily be understood by a sixth grade child yet it sacrifices none of the profound meaning or prosaic beauty of the original. Most refreshing is the absence of any effort to turn the work into some New-Age mystical revelation.Having read about nine translations I must say, this one is, by far, the best contemporary English translation available. There are other fine ones such as the work by Hard and Gill or even the Loeb Classics version but they are better suited for people already familiar with Marcus Aurelius and Stoic philosophy.My warmest thanks go out to David and Scot Hicks for a work that I... read more