Marcus Aurelius on the Topic of Death

The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) belongs to those few people who have left a unique treasure of wisdom for their posterity. He was one of the great Stoic philosophers and humanists, and currently my favorite “tutor” – day and night. If you’re interested in the ideas of Stoicism, I can highly recommend the insightful and instructive mailings of the “Daily Stoic“.

Now, even though Marcus Aurelius’ last words, at least in his personal diary “Meditationes”, deal with the theme of death, they are first and foremost an ode to the beauty of life really.

Here you go:

You’ve lived as a citizen in a great city. Five years or a hundred
– what’s the difference? The laws make no distinction.

And to be sent away from it, not by a tyrant or a dishonest judge, but by Nature, who first invited you in – why is that so terrible?

Like the impresario ringing down the curtain on an actor:

“But I’ve only gotten through three acts ...!”

Yes. This will be a drama in three acts, the length fixed by the power that directed your creation, and now directs your dissolution. Neither was yours to determine.

So make your exit with grace — the same grace shown to you.




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