Marcus Aurelius, from Exhortations to Himself

Think about the times of Vespasian (emperor 69-79 CE). People married, raised children, got sick, died, fought wars, feasted, traveled from here to there, farmed, flattered, acted arrogantly, got suspicious, plotted, wished others dead, grumbled at the state of things, loved, accumulated stuff, sought power. All that is gone! 

Think back to Trajan (emperor 98-117 CE). Again, it’s the same—all those lives gone. Think of every time and place. Think of all the effort that merely resolved into the elements. 

Think of all the people you have known who distracted themselves with meaningless things, neglecting to do what it is right for human beings to do and never finding contentment. We must remind ourselves that everything has its proper value and proportion. When we do what we can do to the best of our abilities, then we are satisfied. (Book IV. 32)

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