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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Marus Aurelius 121-180 John Bartlett

    This Being of mine, whatever it really is, consists of a little flesh, a little breath, and the part which governs.
          Meditations. ii. 2.
    The ways of the gods are full of providence.
          Meditations. ii. 3.
    Thou wilt find rest from vain fancies if thou doest every act in life as though it were thy last. 1
          Meditations. ii. 5.
    Thou seest how few be the things, the which if a man has at his command his life flows gently on and is divine.
          Meditations. ii. 5.
    Find time still to be learning somewhat good, and give up being desultory.
          Meditations. ii. 7.
    No state sorrier than that of the man who keeps up a continual round, and pries into “the secrets of the nether world,” as saith the poet, and is curious in conjecture of what is in his neighbour’s heart.
          Meditations. ii. 13.
    Though thou be destined to live three thousand years and as many myriads besides, yet remember that no man loseth other life than that which he liveth, nor liveth other than that which he loseth.
          Meditations. ii. 14.
    For a man can lose neither the past nor the future; for how can one take from him that which is not his? So remember these two points: first, that each thing is of like form from everlasting and comes round again in its cycle, and that it signifies not whether a man shall look upon the same things for a hundred years or two hundred, or for an infinity of time; second, that the longest lived and the shortest lived man, when they come to die, lose one and the same thing.
          Meditations. ii. 14.
    As for life, it is a battle and a sojourning in a strange land; but the fame that comes after is oblivion.
          Meditations. ii. 17.
    Waste not the remnant of thy life in those imaginations touching other folk, whereby thou contributest not to the common weal.
          Meditations. iii. 4.
    The lot assigned to every man is suited to him, and suits him to itself. 2
          Meditations. iii. 4.
    Be not unwilling in what thou doest, neither selfish nor unadvised nor obstinate; let not over-refinement deck out thy thought; be not wordy nor a busybody.
          Meditations. iii. 5.
    A man should be upright, not be kept upright.
          Meditations. iii. 5.
    Never esteem anything as of advantage to thee that shall make thee break thy word or lose thy self-respect.
          Meditations. iii. 7.
    Respect the faculty that forms thy judgments.
          Meditations. iii. 9.
    Remember that man’s life lies all within this present, as ’t were but a hair’s-breadth of time; as for the rest, the past is gone, the future yet unseen. Short, therefore, is man’s life, and narrow is the corner of the earth wherein he dwells.
          Meditations. iii. 10.
    Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life.
          Meditations. iii. 11.
    As surgeons keep their instruments and knives always at hand for cases requiring immediate treatment, so shouldst thou have thy thoughts ready to understand things divine and human, remembering in thy every act, even the smallest, how close is the bond that unites the two.
          Meditations. iii. 13.
    The ruling power within, when it is in its natural state, is so related to outer circumstances that it easily changes to accord with what can be done and what is given it to do.
          Meditations. iv. 1.
    Let no act be done at haphazard, nor otherwise than according to the finished rules that govern its kind.
          Meditations. iv. 2.
    By a tranquil mind I mean nothing else than a mind well ordered.
          Meditations. iv. 3.
    Think on this doctrine,—that reasoning beings were created for one another’s sake; that to be patient is a branch of justice, and that men sin without intending it.
          Meditations. iv. 3.
    The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
          Meditations. iv. 3.
    Nothing can come out of nothing, any more than a thing can go back to nothing.
          Meditations. iv. 4.
    Death, like generation, is a secret of Nature.
          Meditations. iv. 5.
    That which makes the man no worse than he was makes his life no worse: it has no power to harm, without or within.
          Meditations. iv. 8.
    Whatever happens at all happens as it should; thou wilt find this true, if thou shouldst watch narrowly.
          Meditations. iv. 10.
    Many the lumps of frankincense on the same altar; one falls there early and another late, but it makes no difference.
          Meditations. iv. 15.
    Be not as one that hath ten thousand years to live; death is nigh at hand: while thou livest, while thou hast time, be good.
          Meditations. iv. 17.
    How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.
          Meditations. iv. 18.
    Whatever is in any way beautiful hath its source of beauty in itself, and is complete in itself; praise forms no part of it. So it is none the worse nor the better for being praised.
          Meditations. iv. 20.
    Doth perfect beauty stand in need of praise at all? Nay; no more than law, no more than truth, no more than loving kindness, nor than modesty.
          Meditations. iv. 20.
    All that is harmony for thee, O Universe, is in harmony with me as well. Nothing that comes at the right time for thee is too early or too late for me. Everything is fruit to me that thy seasons bring, O Nature. All things come of thee, have their being in thee, and return to thee.
          Meditations. iv. 23.
    “Let thine occupations be few,” saith the sage, 3 “if thou wouldst lead a tranquil life.”
          Meditations. iv. 24.
    Love the little trade which thou hast learned, and be content therewith.
          Meditations. iv. 31.
    Remember this,—that there is a proper dignity and proportion to be observed in the performance of every act of life.
          Meditations. iv. 32.
    All is ephemeral,—fame and the famous as well.
          Meditations. iv. 35.
    Observe always that everything is the result of a change, and get used to thinking that there is nothing Nature loves so well as to change existing forms and to make new ones like them.
          Meditations. iv. 36.
    Search men’s governing principles, and consider the wise, what they shun and what they cleave to.
          Meditations. iv. 38.
    Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.
          Meditations. iv. 43.
    All that happens is as usual and familiar as the rose in spring and the crop in summer.
          Meditations. iv. 44.
    That which comes after ever conforms to that which has gone before.
          Meditations. iv. 45.
    Mark how fleeting and paltry is the estate of man,—yesterday in embryo, to-morrow a mummy or ashes. So for the hair’s-breadth of time assigned to thee live rationally, and part with life cheerfully, as drops the ripe olive, extolling the season that bore it and the tree that matured it.
          Meditations. iv. 48.
    Deem not life a thing of consequence. For look at the yawning void of the future, and at that other limitless space, the past.
          Meditations. iv. 50.
    Always take the short cut; and that is the rational one. Therefore say and do everything according to soundest reason.
          Meditations. iv. 51.
    In the morning, when thou art sluggish at rousing thee, let this thought be present; “I am rising to a man’s work.”
          Meditations. v. 1.
    A man makes no noise over a good deed, but passes on to another as a vine to bear grapes again in season.
          Meditations. v. 6.
    Flinch not, neither give up nor despair, if the achieving of every act in accordance with right principle is not always continuous with thee.
          Meditations. v. 9.
    Nothing happens to anybody which he is not fitted by nature to bear.
          Meditations. v. 18.
    Prize that which is best in the universe; and this is that which useth everything and ordereth everything.
          Meditations. v. 21.
    Live with the gods.
          Meditations. v. 27.
    Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee.
          Meditations. vi. 3.
    The controlling Intelligence understands its own nature, and what it does, and whereon it works.
          Meditations. vi. 5.
    Do not think that what is hard for thee to master is impossible for man; but if a thing is possible and proper to man, deem it attainable by thee.
          Meditations. vi. 19.
    If any man can convince me and bring home to me that I do not think or act aright, gladly will I change; for I search after truth, by which man never yet was harmed. But he is harmed who abideth on still in his deception and ignorance.
          Meditations. vi. 21.
    Death,—a stopping of impressions through the senses, and of the pulling of the cords of motion, and of the ways of thought, and of service to the flesh.
          Meditations. vi. 28.
    Suit thyself to the estate in which thy lot is cast.
          Meditations. vi. 39.
    What is not good for the swarm is not good for the bee.
          Meditations. vi. 54.
    How many, once lauded in song, are given over to the forgotten; and how many who sung their praises are clean gone long ago!
          Meditations. vii. 6.
    One Universe made up of all that is; and one God in it all, and one principle of Being, and one Law, the Reason, shared by all thinking creatures, and one Truth.
          Meditations. vii. 9.
    To a rational being it is the same thing to act according to nature and according to reason.
          Meditations. vii. 11.
    Let not thy mind run on what thou lackest as much as on what thou hast already.
          Meditations. vii. 27.
    Just as the sand-dunes, heaped one upon another, hide each the first, so in life the former deeds are quickly hidden by those that follow after.
          Meditations. vii. 34.
    The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen, and is not apt to fall.
          Meditations. vii. 61.
    Remember this,—that very little is needed to make a happy life.
          Meditations. vii. 67.
    Remember that to change thy mind and to follow him that sets thee right, is to be none the less the free agent that thou wast before.
          Meditations. viii. 16.
    Look to the essence of a thing, whether it be a point of doctrine, of practice, or of interpretation.
          Meditations. viii. 22.
    A man’s happiness,—to do the things proper to man.
          Meditations. viii. 26.
    Be not careless in deeds, nor confused in words, nor rambling in thought.
          Meditations. viii. 51.
    He that knows not what the world is, knows not where he is himself. He that knows not for what he was made, knows not what he is nor what the world is.
          Meditations. viii. 52.
    The nature of the universe is the nature of things that are. Now, things that are have kinship with things that are from the beginning. Further, this nature is styled Truth; and it is the first cause of all that is true.
          Meditations. ix. 1.
    He would be the finer gentleman that should leave the world without having tasted of lying or pretence of any sort, or of wantonness or conceit.
          Meditations. ix. 2.
    Think not disdainfully of death, but look on it with favour; for even death is one of the things that Nature wills.
          Meditations. ix. 3.
    A wrong-doer is often a man that has left something undone, not always he that has done something.
          Meditations. ix. 5.
    Blot out vain pomp; check impulse; quench appetite; keep reason under its own control.
          Meditations. ix. 7.
    Things that have a common quality ever quickly seek their kind.
          Meditations. ix. 9.
    All things are the same,—familiar in enterprise, momentary in endurance, coarse in substance. All things now are as they were in the day of those whom we have buried.
          Meditations. ix. 14.
    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.
          Meditations. ix. 16.
    Everything is in a state of metamorphosis. Thou thyself art in everlasting change and in corruption to correspond; so is the whole universe.
          Meditations. ix. 19.
    Forward, as occasion offers. Never look round to see whether any shall note it…. Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle.
          Meditations. ix. 29.
    He that dies in extreme old age will be reduced to the same state with him that is cut down untimely.
          Meditations. ix. 33.
    Whatever may befall thee, it was preordained for thee from everlasting.
          Meditations. x. 5.
    “The earth loveth the shower,” and “the holy ether knoweth what love is.” 4 The Universe, too, loves to create whatsoever is destined to be made.
          Meditations. x. 21.
    Remember that what pulls the strings is the force hidden within; there lies the power to persuade, there the life,—there, if one must speak out, the real man.
          Meditations. x. 38.
    No form of Nature is inferior to Art; for the arts merely imitate natural forms.
          Meditations. xi. 10.
    If it is not seemly, do it not; if it is not true, speak it not.
          Meditations. xii. 17.
Note 1.
See Publius Syrus, Quotation 65.

A similar saying falls from his lips at another time: “Let every act and speech and purpose be framed as though this moment thou mightest take thy leave of life.” [back]
Note 2.
The translator is in doubt about this passage. Commentators differ in regard to it, and the text may be corrupt. [back]
Note 3.
Democritus apud Senecam: De Ira, iii. 6; De Animi Tranquillitate, 13. [back]
Note 4.
Fragmenta Euripidis, apud Aristotelem, N. A. viii. 1, 6. [back]