The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated & Explained

As seen through the writings of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic approach to life is surprisingly rich, nuanced, clear-eyed and friendly. Offers startlingly modern psychological and spiritual insight from the emperor's personal journal entries.

Annotation by Russell McNeil, PhD
Translation by George Long
Revised by Russell McNeil, PhD

5½ x 8½, 288 pp | 978-1-59473-236-2

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The timeless wisdom of an ancient Stoic can become a companion for your own spiritual journey.

Stoicism is often portrayed as a cheerless, stiff-upper-lip philosophy of suffering and doom. Yet as experienced through the thoughtful and penetrating writings of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121–180 CE), the Stoic approach to life is surprisingly rich, nuanced, clear-eyed and friendly.

With facing-page commentary that explains the texts for you, Russell McNeil, PhD, guides you through key passages from Aurelius’s Meditations, comprised of the emperor’s collected personal journal entries, to uncover the startlingly modern relevance his words have today. From devotion to family and duty to country, to a near-prophetic view of the natural world that aligns with modern physics, Aurelius’s words speak as potently today as they did two millennia ago.

Now you can discover the tenderness, intelligence and honesty of Aurelius’s writings with no previous background in philosophy or the classics. This SkyLight Illuminations edition offers insightful and engaging commentary that explains the historical background of Stoicism, as well as the ways this ancient philosophical system can offer psychological and spiritual insight into your contemporary life. You will be encouraged to explore and challenge Aurelius’s ideas of what makes a fulfilling life—and in so doing you may discover new ways of perceiving happiness.

“Stunningly accessible.... A competent scholarly treatment of an ancient philosophical text ... by an articulate and convincing modern Stoic.... A valuable explanation of an ancient philosophy that has lasting influences in today’s intellectual world.... [McNeil has] a profound understanding of the many dimensions of the Stoic worldview [and] is a fine writer [to] introduce the reader who has little background in the classics to one of the most temperate and consoling philosophers of all time.”


“Has much to say [about] our contentious times.... Substantive.”

Spirituality & Practice

“A stirring reinterpretation of Aurelius’s Stoicism for our time. In Russell McNeil, Marcus Aurelius has at last met the colleague he has sorely needed for almost two millennia: a sensitive and systematic editor, and a loyal and lucid commentator.”

John Black, professor of philosophy and liberal studies, Malaspina University-College

“Marcus Aurelius was one of humanity’s great inquirers…. Russell McNeil’s revised and annotated version of George Long’s classic translation of Meditations reintroduces us to the genius of Marcus Aurelius at a time when wisdom is rare and free inquiry rarer still.”

Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice

“I came to this book expecting to read something that was vaguely good for me and as dull as paint; instead I found Aurelius—at once immensely likeable and helpful—and Dr. McNeil's fine introduction to the author and comments on his Meditations. That McNeil uses prose as lucid as Aurelius recommends only added to my pleasure in reading.”

Rev. Bert Ramsey, United Church of Canada minister