What’s in the book and how to decide if it’s appropriate reading
Our graphic novel, Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, was written for adults but an increasing number of people have told me their children have been reading it. They told me that their kids saw the cover, were intrigued by the artwork, and “stole” their copy. Some teachers have also approached me, interested in purchasing copies for their classes. They think it would make a useful teaching aid.
With Christmas approaching, I’ve been asked about its suitability as a gift for young people. In this post, I’ll try to give a comprehensive answer, inspired by the review site Common Sense Media, which I think does a great job of helping adults decide for themselves what’s appropriate for their children. The short answer is that I would rate this book PG-13 but I’ll explain below the aspects of which parents and teachers should be aware, in order to decide for themselves.
We’re delighted to announce that our new graphic novel Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius is currently among Amazon’s top-rated books in the Ancient Roman History category, with an average rating of 4.8 stars from nearly 100 reviewers.
On its release, Verissimus was chosen as an Amazon Editor’s Pick for Best History Book.
See our publisher, MacMillan’s website for more information and links to other booksellers. Verissimus is available in both hardback and ebook format from all good bookstores.
“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
“Whether you’re new to Marcus Aurelius or already know him as a friend and guide, this graphic novel will open your eyes… Author and artist have found… a brilliant combination of entertainment and education.” – Robin Waterfield, translator of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus
“Verissimus represents the vanguard of the next phase of the ongoing Stoic renaissance.” – William B. Irvine, author of A Guide to the Good Life
“A remarkable work that is awesome in its conception and execution.” – Karen Duffy, author of Backbone and Wise Up
“This is a wonderful and engaging introduction to the life and thought of Marcus Aurelius… It’s the perfect book for anyone who wants to learn more about the man behind the Meditations.” – John Sellars, author of Lessons in Stoicism
“Donald Robertson continues to be my teacher when it comes to the depth of Stoicism… Invaluable!”– Mo Gawdat, author of Solve for Happy
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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…