You’ve probably heard of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher. He’s the author of The Meditations, one of the most popular self-improvement classics of all time. Even if you’ve not read that book, maybe you saw Richard Harris playing him in the first act of the Russell Crowe movie Gladiator (2000).
Did you know that Marcus was also called Verissimus, though? This name means “most true” in Latin and it seems to have caught on, in part, because it naturally fitted his reputation as a philosopher, and a lover of wisdom.
Want a sneak preview of a scene from our forthcoming graphic novel on the life, adventures, and Stoicism of Marcus Aurelius? Click the arrows to advance the Instagram slides below… (And follow our new Instagram page @verissimusgraphicnovel if you want to learn when the book’s coming out.)
Some more sample artwork from Verissimus…
The first colour printout of the pages from the book…
If thou would’st master care and pain, Unfold this book and read and read again Its blessed leaves, whereby thou soon shalt see The past, the present, and the days to be With opened eyes; and all delight, all grief, Shall be like smoke, as empty and as brief.
This epigram is found at the end of a Vatican manuscript of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, one of the most widely-read spiritual and philosophical classics of all time. Readers of The Meditations are usually aware that Marcus was a Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher. However, they often don’t realize how much more we know about him.
Marcus studied rhetoric under Fronto for many years, and learned certain techniques from him that appear to have shaped the writing of The Meditations.
In my recent book, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, I drew upon the surviving evidence to make connections between Marcus’ life and thought. We have three main contemporary biographical sources: The Historia Augusta, Cassius Dio’s Historia Romana, and Herodian’s History of the Empire from the Death of Marcus.
In addition to these, one of our most important sources is a cache of letters belonging to Marcus’ family friend and rhetoric tutor Marcus Cornelius Fronto. These were discovered in the early 19th century by the Italian scholar Angelo Mai. They give us a remarkable window into the private life of the Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher.
We learn, for instance, that Marcus was, in private, an exceptionally warm and affectionate man. He also shows evidence of being adept at diplomacy and at resolving conflicts between his friends. As we’ll see, Marcus studied rhetoric under Fronto for many years, and learned certain techniques from him that appear to have shaped the writing of The Meditations.
“It is that I learn from you to speak the truth. That matter (of speaking the truth) is precisely what is so hard for gods and men…” — Marcus
I’m very happy to announce that the latest version of my flagship course “Marcus Aurelius: Life and Philosophy” is now enrolling and will begin on Sunday 16th February. Come and join as we discuss how to apply Stoicism in daily life…
What the philosopher Marcus Aurelius believed about masculinity
Over the past few decades, there’s been a resurgence of interest in Stoicism. People often confuse stoicism (lower-case), a coping style that involves suppressing or concealing emotions, also called having a “stiff upper-lip,” with Stoicism (capitalized), the ancient Graeco-Roman school of philosophy. Some crudely equate “manliness” with being tough and unemotional (lower-case “stoicism”). I think there’s a more nuanced way to understand how Stoic philosophy might inform a modern man’s conception of his role in society.
I’m delighted to announce that the print quality version of the poster for my forthcoming graphic novel on the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius is now available. The artist Ze Nuno Fraga has created something you can print out and put on your wall, or you can use the web version as a background on your phone.
I get a lot of enquiries from people asking “When is your book coming out in…?” So here’s the current list of translations. There may be more coming, though, this list is just how things stand at the moment.