DIRECTIONS:Read the passage “Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations,” and answer the questions.
Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations Marcus Aurelius wrote his Meditations for himself while he was leading his army between 170 and 180 C.E. The most powerful man in the western world sat in his tent after battles and described his thoughts on how to find inner peace in the midst of conflict by following nature and reason. The following are selections from his meditations. 1 Everyone dreams of the perfect vacation – in the country, by the sea, or in the mountains. You too yearn to get away and find that idyllic spot, yet how foolish…when at any time you are capable of finding that perfect vacation in yourself. Nowhere is there a more idyllic spot, a vacation home more private and peaceful, than in one’s own mind, especially when it is furnished in such a way that the merest inward glance brings about ease (and by ease, I mean the effects of an orderly and well-appointed mind, neither luxurious or crude). Take this vacation as often as you like, and so charge your spirit. But do not prolong these meditative moments beyond what is necessary to send you back to your work free of anxiety and full of energy and good cheer.
2 What makes you so anxious anyway? The wrong of others? Well, consider the following: reasonable men and women are made for one another; patience is a part of justice; and no one willingly does wrong. Think of all those who filled their days with anger, suspicion, hatred, and fighting -- and are now dust. Think on them and what has become of their wrongdoing. This ought to calm you down.
3 Or is it your lot in life that makes you anxious? Then it’s time to remind yourself of the need to choose between an all-seeing Providence and blind atoms. Remember to the extent to which the universe is like a well-ordered and well-governed city.
4 Or are you in some sort of physical pain or distress? Recall that the mind, once it withdraws into itself and becomes aware of its own awesome powers, is not tossed about by the turbulent currents of the body.
5 Or are you tormented by what others may think of you? Look then on how soon everything is forgotten, and gaze into the abyss of eternal time. Hear the hollowness of the applause, and ponder the fickleness of those who are applauding you while you consider the narrowness of the stage on which you pant after their compliments. The entire earth is but a piece of dust blowing through the firmament, and the inhabited part of the earth a small fraction thereof. So in such a grand space, how many do you think will think of you, and what will their thoughts be worth?
6 Then, remember to take those little vacations into yourself. Whatever you do, don’t be troubled or anxious, but be free and look at things like a human being, a citizen, a part of the creation that must die. First among the thoughts close at hand, keep these two: first, that nothing outside the mind can disturb it – trouble comes from the mind’s opinion of what lies outside it; and second, that everything you now see will change in a moment and soon be no more. Can you even begin to count the changes you have already witnessed?
7 Be like a rocky cliff against which the restless surf continually pounds; it stands fast while the churning sea is lulled to sleep at its feet. I hear you say, “How unlucky that this event happen to me!” Not at all! Say instead, “How lucky that I am not broken by what has happened and am not afraid of what is about to happen. The same blow might have struck anyone, but not many would have absorbed it without capitulation or complaint.”
8 After all, why do we speak of good luck and back luck, anyway? Would you call something that is not contrary to human nature a piece of bad luck? And can something be contrary to human nature that nature wills? Well, you perfectly know well what nature wills. Do the waves that crash upon you prevent you in any way from being just, forgiving, moderate, discerning, truthful, loyal, free-spirited, and in possession of all the other noble qualities that nature wills for the well-being of people? The next time you are tempted to complain of your bad luck, remember this maxim: “Bad luck borne nobly is good luck.”
9 Other members of the human race are my nearest relations in this respect only – I am obligated to do them good and to be patient with them. But if they prevent me from doing what I know is right, then they become as distant and indifferent to me as the sun, the wind, or a wild beast. Although others may at times hinder me from acting, they cannot control or block my spirit and my will. Reserving its judgments and adapting to change, my mind bypasses or displaces any obstacle in its way. It uses whatever opposes it to achieve its own ends; it turns roadblocks into roads.
Marcus Aurelius recommends that one should consider the bigger picture in order to achieve inner peace. Which of the following quotes best supports this idea?
“Nowhere is there a more idyllic spot, a vacation home more private and peaceful, than one’s own mind…” (Paragraph 1)
“The entire earth is but a piece of dust blowing through the firmament, and the inhabited part of the earth a small fraction thereof." (Paragraph 5)
“The next time you are tempted to complain of your bad luck, remember to apply this maxim: ‘Bad luck borne nobly is good luck.” (Paragraph 8)
“Although others may at times hinder me from acting, they cannot control or impede my spirit and my will.” (Paragraph 9)
Choose the word that means the same as idyllic, a word the author uses twice in paragraph 1 of “Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations”?
In paragraph 3 the author contrasts “all-seeing Providence” and “blind atoms.” Blind atoms have a similar meaning to which of the following?
In Paragraph 4, the word turbulent means the same as the word:
In Paragraph 7, Marcus Aurelius writes: “Be like a rocky cliff against which the restless surf continually pounds;”
What does the “rocky cliff” represent in this sentence?
Wild and aggressive animal
High and challenging friend
Patient and thoughtful mind
Strong and resilient person
What does “surf” represent in the sentence from Part A?
Based upon its use in paragraph 7, what can you infer that the word capitulation means?
In Paragraph 8, Marcus Aurelius states that “Bad luck borne nobly is good luck.” Which of the two following quotes most effectively supports his point?
“Look then on how soon everything is forgotten, and gaze into the abyss of infinite time.” (Paragraph 5)
“…Be free and look at things like a human being, a citizen, a part of the creation that must die.” (Paragraph 6)
“So in such a grand space, how many do you think will think of you, and what will their thoughts be worth?” (Paragraph 5)
“The same blow might have struck anyone, but not many would have absorbed it without capitulation…” (Paragraph 7)
“[The mind] uses whatever opposes it to achieve its own ends; it turns roadblocks into roads.” (Paragraph 9)
A rhetorical question is a question used only for a colorful effect and not expected to be answered.
Based on “Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations,” what can the reader infer is the purpose behind the author’s continuous use of rhetorical questions?
Example: “What makes you so anxious anyway?”
To wonder aloud about something
To keep himself focused on a task
To explore both sides of the question
To introduce the point he wants to make
Using context clues, what does the word maxim most likely mean at the end of Paragraph 8?
In “Marcus Aurelius’ Mediations,” one of the author’s claims is that peace can be found by looking inward.
List two quotes from paragraphs 2-5 that support this claim and explain in two sentences how each quote does so.
This quote supports the claim because:
Marcus Aurelius talks about the extent to which other people should affect one’s well-being. He goes on to describe one’s obligation to others.
Looking at paragraphs 2, 5, and 9, how does the passage develop the idea of one’s relationship to others? Write one idea from each paragraph in the graphic organizer. Then summarize the ideas into a one sentence summary.
Ideas from Paragraph 2
Ideas from Paragraph 5
Ideas from Paragraph 9
Concluding summary about one’s relationships with others
DIRECTIONS: Read the passage “Stoic Philosophers: Warriors of Virtue,” and answer the questions.
Stoic Philosophers: Warriors of Virtue Who were the Stoics?
1 The founder of the Stoic school of philosophy was Zeno of Citium in ancient Greece, who lived and taught in Athens in around 300 BC. They were named the Stoics because he and his students discussed philosophy under the Stoa Poikile, (or “painted row of columns”) in the Athenian market-place. Ancient Rome conquered Greece and adopted much of their culture. Stoicism became very popular among the Roman ruling class, and most of the surviving Stoic books were written by Roman Stoics.
What did the Stoics believe?
2 Stoicism originally emerged when Greece was being conquered and reconquered by foreign empires. It was a terrible time of war and chaos. Stoicism taught an indifference to outside events which cannot be controlled. The Stoics believed that economy, weather, and world events can’t be controlled. What other people say and do is also beyond one’s control, and the world is a rough and unpredictable environment that is constantly changing. Stoic philosophy states that the only thing that can really be controlled are one’s own thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs. If we remind ourselves of that, according to the Stoics, we can focus our energy and attention on our own thoughts and then we can learn to deal wisely with whatever is thrown at us.
What are some examples of Stoicism in modern life?
3 Viktor Frankl was a prisoner in the concentration camp at Auschwitz during World War II. He faced one of the darkest and most horrible experiences imaginable. Yet even amid that frightening situation, he knew that he still had power over his own beliefs and attitudes. He refused to let the situation break him, and instead asserted his moral freedom. As he wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
4 James Stockdale, an American fighter pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam, became a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. In Courage under Fire: Testing Epictetus's Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior (1993), Stockdale credits the Stoic Philosopher, Epictetus, with helping him endure seven and a half years in a North Vietnamese military prison including torture and four years in solitary confinement.
Who were some notable Stoic Philosophers?
Seneca (4 BCE – CE 65)
He was born in what is now Cordoba, Spain, and raised in Rome as a young boy where he was trained in debate and philosophy.
Seneca offered important insights and perspectives on emotions and their role in our lives. Seneca wrote of the damaging effect of uncontrolled anger. He showed subtlety and richness in his thoughts about politics, education, and ideals of global citizenship.
Quotations from Seneca:
Be silent as to services you have provided, but speak of favors you have received.
Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.
Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.
I do not distinguish by the eye, but by the mind, which is the proper judge.
If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favorable to him.
It better befits a man to laugh than to cry over misfortune.
Many things have fallen only to rise higher.
Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.
Epictetus (B.C.E c. 55 – 135)
Epictetus was born a slave in Phrygia but was taken to Rome. Eventually he won his freedom from his abusive master and left Rome.
As a Stoic, Epictetus thought man should be concerned solely with will, which alone he can control. External events are beyond man’s control.
Quotations from Epictetus:
Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.
The good or ill of a man lies within his own will.
First, say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.
Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.
Only the educated are free.
A wise man is he who does not grieve for the thing, which he has not, but rejoices for those, which he has.
Marcus Aurelius (C.E. 121- 180)
Marcus Aurelius was the last of the five Roman “good emperors,” which is appropriate for a leader who tried to live with virtue. Marcus Aurelius is more famous for Stoic philosophical writing, his Meditations, than his accomplishments as a Roman emperor.
In the Meditations Marcus engages in a series of personal philosophical reflections to “dye his soul” and mold his behavior and his entire way of life. By reflecting upon philosophical ideas and, perhaps more importantly, writing them down, Marcus talks to himself to habituate his mind into a new way of thinking.
Quotations from Marcus Aurelius:
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.
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts, therefore guard accordingly; and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue, and reasonable nature.
If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgment of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now.
The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it!
In paragraph 2 of “Stoic Philosophers,” what action or feeling is the author implying when he states, “Stoicism taught an indifference to outside events which cannot be controlled.”
If someone does one wrong, then one should help them anyway.
If one is unlucky, then one should work to change one’s luck.
If one is sad, then one should choose a better attitude.
Why did the author most likely include a short biography before including Epictetus’ quotations?
To provide an effective argument in favor of stoicism
To show that stoic philosophers were not all great leaders
To include the author’s own opinion about Epictetus
To show what may have influenced Epictetus’ thinking
The Stoics believed that one should focus on the things within one’s control and ignore those beyond one’s control. Select two of the following statements from the Stoic philosopher Seneca that support this idea.
“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.”
“Many things have fallen only to rise higher.”
“If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favorable to him.”
“It better befits a man to laugh than to lament over misfortune.”
“Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.”
Marcus Aurelius engages in a series of personal philosophical reflections to “dye his soul” and mold his behavior and his entire way of life.
What is the meaning of “dye his soul” as it is used in the Marcus Aurelius section of “Stoic Philosophers?”
Push his limits
Change his character
Based on how it is used in the “Marcus Aurelius” section, the word habituate most likely means:
The author most likely includes the story of James Stockdale to show:
the relevance of stoicism in recent times.
counterarguments against stoic philosophy.
how one should appreciate one’s good fortune.
that stoics are still writing books today.
Viktor Frankl’s philosophy:
Write one similarity between Frankl and Epictetus:
Viktor Frankl and Epictetus lived in different time periods but shared some similarities in their philosophy on life. Compare and contrast the two historical figures described in the text using the graphic organizer below. Write one sentence that describes each man’s unique philosophy. Then write one similarity in their philosophies.