This reflective and solitary work was written by one of the best of the "good" Roman emperors, Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121-180), during the course of his military campaigns against barbarian hordes who were threatening the borders of his empire. His Meditations are among the noblest expressions of the principles of Stoic philosophy, which stressed the virtues of reason, thoughtful deliberation, and moderation as guides to right conduct in an uncertain world.
About the Author
EVAN MARCUS is a Senior Systems Engineer at VERITAS Software Corporation and co-designed a key piece of the first commercial Sun-based software for High Availability. He has been the companys consultant for successful implementations of VERITAS High Availability Products around the world.
HAL STERN is a Distinguished Systems Engineer at Sun Microsystems. He has led reliability and improvement teams for several financial services clients and focuses on performance, reliability, and networked system architecture. He is also the author of Managing NFS and NIS.
Epictetus (AD 55 - AD 135) was a Greek sage and Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia (present day Pamukkale, Turkey), and lived in Rome until banishment when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece where he lived the rest of his life. His teachings were noted down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses. Philosophy, Epictetus taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control, but we can accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. Individuals, however, are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As part of the universal city that is the universe, human beings have a duty to care for all fellow humans. The person who follows these precepts will achieve happiness and peace of mind.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, statesman, philosopher, advocate and man of letters, was born at Cordoba in Spain around 4 BC. He rose to prominence in Rome, pursuing a career in the courts and political life, for which he had been trained, while also acquiring celebrity as an author of tragedies and essays. Falling foul of successive emperors (Caligula in AD 39 and Claudius in AD 41), he spent eight years in exile, allegedly for an affair with Caligula's sister. Recalled in AD 49, he was made praetor and was appointed tutor to the boy who was to become, in AD 54, the emperor Nero. On Nero's succession, Seneca acted for some eight years as an unofficial chief minister. The early part of this reign was remembered as a period of sound government, for which the main credit seems due to Seneca. His control over Nero declined as enemies turned the emperor against him with representations that his popularity made him a danger, or with accusations of immorality or excessive wealth. Retiring from public life he devoted his last three years to philosophy and writing, particularly the Letters to Lucilius. In AD 65 following the discovery of a plot against the emperor, in which he was thought to be implicated, he and many others were compelled by Nero to commit suicide. His fame as an essayist and dramatist lasted until two or three centuries ago, when he passed into literary oblivion, from which the twentieth century has seen a considerable recovery.