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Marcus Aurelius Stoicism Verissimus

Stoicism and Anger

Ten Practical Tips from Marcus Aurelius

Artwork from Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius (2022), copyright Donald J. Robertson

What does Stoic philosophy tell us about how to control our tempers? When we began working on our graphic novel, Verissimus, the illustrator, Zé Nuno Fraga, and I decided to show how colourful and action-packed Marcus Aurelius’ life really was. We also liked the idea, however, of leaving our readers with a good amount of practical advice from Stoicism, which they could take away and use to help themselves and others.

I chose to focus on Stoic advice about anger — the royal road to self-improvement.

I chose to focus on Stoic advice about anger — the royal road to self-improvement. We know that this was a problem for Marcus because he tells us in the Meditations that he struggled, at first, to master his own temper. Later in life, Marcus had a reputation for remaining completely level-headed, even in the face of extreme provocation. So it appears that he succeeded in using Stoicism to master his natural quick temper. He did this by employing Stoic psychological practices, over and over again, on a daily basis. I can see parallels between many of these strategies and those employed in modern cognitive therapy. So I think that, with practice, they may help the rest of us cope with our feelings of anger too.

It was one of the men who provoked Marcus’ temper the most, ironically, who also taught him how to restore calm and rebuild friendships after an argument — his Stoic mentor, Junius Rusticus. We therefore speculated, in our illustrations, that it could have been Rusticus who taught Marcus the ten anger-management strategies he describes using in the Meditations (11.18). Marcus, curiously, refers to these as ten “gifts” from the god Apollo, and his nine Muses. Apollo, Lord of the Muses, was the god of the arts, including the arts of medicine and, in a sense, also philosophy. It’s perhaps fitting, therefore, that Marcus would call these therapeutic strategies, or self-help tips, gifts from the god of healing.

Draft for Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius (2022), copyright Donald J. Robertson.

Marcus describes things he should tell himself whenever he noticed he was growing annoyed with someone. I would call these cognitive (thinking) strategies for anger-management. In this article, I’ll discuss each of his ten strategies in turn, adding a few comments, here and there, from my perspective as a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist.

Read the rest of this article on Medium…

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Marcus Aurelius Podcasts Stoicism Videos

Video: Chris Williamson’s Modern Wisdom Show

Video of a recent interview I did about Stoicism for Chris Williamson’s Modern Wisdom podcast.

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Marcus Aurelius Socrates Stoicism

Marcus Aurelius on Socrates

What the Stoic Emperor Learned from the Athenian Philosopher

In 175 AD, probably for the first time in his life, in his mid-fifties, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, set foot in Athens. It was in fact a pilgrimage for him. During of the “War of Many Nations” he’d been fighting along the Danube frontier, he had taken a sacred oath that he would travel to Athens, if victorious, and be initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries. Although these rites ended with initiation at the Temple of Demeter in nearby Eleusis, they began in the centre of Athens, outside the Stoa Poikile, or painted porch, the ancient home of Stoic philosophy.

As Marcus stood upon the Stoa Poikile, he would have gazed across the Agora where Socrates once discussed philosophy, and where he was later put on trial, imprisoned, and executed. Beyond the Agora, Marcus would have seen the Temple of Athena known as the Parthenon. At that time a colossal statue of the goddess of wisdom looked down on Athens, from atop the Acropolis. Most of the drama of Socrates’ life had unfolded within the bounds of the Agora, under the gaze of Athena.

It must have been a humbling experience for Marcus to know that he was walking in Socrates’ footsteps. According to the Historia Augusta, the emperor had “ever on his lips” the saying attributed to Socrates in Plato’s Republic that “those states prospered where the philosophers were kings or the kings philosophers.”

Read the rest of this article on Medium…

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Books Comics Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

Get our Guide to Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism

Please feel free to download and share with your friends. This unique PDF guide was written by me, Donald Robertson, with stunning artwork by our award-winning illustrator Zé Nuno Fraga and graphic designer Rocio de Torres. It provides the perfect introduction to the world of Marcus Aurelius as depicted in our new graphic novel Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, which you can preorder now from all good bookstores.


People often ask for a simple introduction to the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, so we created one especially for you! This booklet draws on research conducted for several books I’ve written or edited about Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism.

  • How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius (St. Martins)
  • Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius (St. Martins)
  • Marcus Aurelius: Ancient Lives (Yale)
  • Meditations: The Philosophy Classic (Capstone)

This printable PDF document will give you a good overview of the life of Marcus Aurelius, the times in which he lived and characters who influenced him, as well as the Stoic concepts and practices that shaped his life. As well as key information on Marcus Aurelius and Stoic philosophy, it contains comic book illustrations, genealogical diagrams, study questions, important quotations, and recommended reading.

If you’re a teacher, we’re confident you’ll find this booklet useful as a classroom aid. If you’re just interested in learning more about Marcus Aurelius and Stoicism, it’s a great place to begin before starting to read the classics.

Contents

  1. The Stoic Goal of Life
  2. Three Stoic Practices
  3. Who were the Stoics?
  4. Who was Marcus Aurelius?
  5. The Imperial Succession
  6. Marcus’ Friends
  7. Marcus’ Enemies
  8. Questions, Quotes, and Reading
  9. About the Graphic Novel

If you’re completely new to Stoicism, it’s a good place to start. However, we can’t compress the whole philosophy into a few pages, it’s just a summary, so you will need to read the Stoics to gain a more complete understanding of their concepts and techniques.

If you enjoyed this free guide, please check out our forthcoming graphic novel, Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.

Verissimus Front Cover
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Books Marcus Aurelius Philosophy of CBT Stoicism

Japanese Translation of The Philosophy of CBT

I’m honoured to announce that the Japanese translation of my book The Philosophy of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy is now available from Kongo Shuppan. Shota Fuji, the translator, and his colleagues, have worked hard to create this book, under the supervision of Dr. Kaito Towhata. Another of my books, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, is currently available in Japanese, from CCC Media House.

Below is an interview I did with Echan Deravy, who was kind enough to translate the entire thing into Japanese.

The Japanese translation of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, with cover design by manga artist Mari Yamazaki (Twitter).

Japanese_Cover_Roman_Emperor
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Comics Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

Stoicism Web Comics

Below you can read three sample web comics about the Stoic philosophy of Marcus Aurelius that I created with award-winning illustrator Zé Nuno Fraga. Each one links a passage in the Meditations with one of Aesop’s Fables. (Marcus mentions the Town Mouse fable in the Meditations.)

These web comics led to a much bigger project, our graphic novel Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, available now from all good bookstores. See our publisher, St. Martin’s website for details of special offers available if you preorder.

Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

You can click on the web comic images to open them in a new window and should then be able to download them or zoom using your browser.

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Books Comics Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

Sample Pages from Verissimus

Flipping through the pages of Verissimus

These are photos of the final print version of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, our graphic novel, which is due for publication by St. Martin’s Press on 14th June in hardback and ebook formats. See the preorder promotion page for special offers if you order now.

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Books Comics Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

Verissimus, the graphic novel

A superb graphic novel that provides stunning insights into one of the most interesting figures of antiquity, as well as into the philosophy that guided him throughout his life.

Massimo Pigliucci, author of How to Be a Stoic
Verissimus Cover Lightning

More info on where to order Verissimus is available from Macmillan, the publisher’s website. Also see listings in Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Comic stores can order Verissimus from the Diamond Previews World catalogue. Follow our Verissimus Facebook and Instagram pages for updates. Please contact us for podcast interviews and media requests.

About the Author

Donald Robertson is one of my favorite writers about Stoicism.

Ryan Holiday, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of The Daily Stoic

Donald Robertson is a cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist, who lives in Canada and Greece. He is the author of six books on philosophy and psychotherapy. His bestselling self-help book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor has been translated into eighteen languages.

Zé Nuno Fraga, who created the artwork, is an award-winning illustrator from Portugal. Kasey Pierce, who advised on the content, is an award-winning author and comic book editor.

Preorder Promotion

St. Martin’s are currently running a preorder promotion that means anyone buying Verissimus may be eligible for three different prizes.

Marcus and Commodus Verissimus

Sample Articles and Interviews

Donald has appeared on over 100 podcasts.

Japanese cover for How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by award-winning manga artist Mari Yamazaki.
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Books Comics Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

Get Verissimus for 25% off at Barnes and Noble

Good news! We’re delighted to announce that from Wednesday 26th until Friday 28th January, for three days, you can get 25% off when pre-ordering either the ebook or hardback edition of our new graphic novel from Barnes and Noble, in the US. NB: Make sure you enter the special offer code PREORDER25 when ordering to claim your discount!

Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius is a philosophical epic, 2-3 years in the making, a 250pp. full-colour publication with stunning artwork from our award-winning illustrator Zé Nuno Fraga. It’s like Gladiator meets The Meditations: and combines a lot of carefully researched historical action, from the life of Marcus Aurelius, with philosophical insights from Stoicism. Go to Barnes and Noble now, and claim your discount using the code above.

We hope you enjoy the book and look forward to hearing your comments.

Regards,

Donald Robertson Signature

Donald Robertson

Categories
Books Comics Marcus Aurelius Stoicism

Win a free graphic novel about Marcus Aurelius

🎁 Win a free advance review copy of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, forthcoming graphic novel by Donald Robertson, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, with stunning artwork by award-winning illustrator, Zé Nuno Fraga. Don’t miss out! Enter your name for the Goodreads giveaway today.

35 copies available. Giveaway ends 31st Jan 2022. US and Canada only.

“Donald Robertson is one of my favorite writers about Stoicism.”
—Ryan Holiday, #1 New York Times bestselling author and founder of The Daily Stoic

“A superb graphic novel that provides stunning insights into one of the most interesting figures of antiquity, as well as into the philosophy that guided him throughout his life.”
—Massimo Pigliucci, author of How to Be a Stoic