Oct 21

Guides for the Perplexed: Marcus Aurelius on Stoicism - Keep Calm and Philosophize On

Robert Zaretsky

You may not have heard of Marcus Aurelius, but if you have seen the Hollywood blockbuster “Gladiator,” you have met him. Played by the English actor Richard Harris, we first see this Roman emperor hunkered over a table, scribbling furiously onto a sheaf of parchment all the while ignoring—and stealing the movie from—Russell Crowe, who plays the Roman general Maximus. What Marcus Aurelius is writing, at least to those in the know, is his Meditations. These are the private notes that Marcus Aurelius wrote—and never meant to be published—to remind him of the lessons of Stoicism. The book has since become a perennial bestseller. (In fact, since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Penguin Books reports that sales for its edition of the Meditations have increased over 300 percent.) Marcus is a fascinating figure, first of all, because he was the last of the “good” Roman emperors, but also because, like us, he lived in interesting times. The Roman Empire had reached its greatest size and, as a result, had to contend with the invasion not just of “barbarian” tribes, but also the invasion of a plague—in this case, smallpox—that threatened the empire. The great question we will take up is whether one can be both a good ruler and a good philosopher.

Live Zoom Webinar with Q&A.

Other classes with Robert Zaretsky you might enjoy:
Guides for the Perplexed: Michel de Montaigne on Skepticism: What Do I Know? on October 28.



Class Tuition

Price is per student. Class tuition is non-refundable.