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Monday, January 26, 2015

The Possession of a Good Conscience

DO all things as becometh the Disciple of Antoninus Pius. Remember his resolute constancy in things that were done by him according to reason, his equability in all things, his sanctity; the cheerfulness of his countenance, his sweetness, and how free he was from all vainglory; how careful to come to the true and exact knowledge of matters in hand, and how he would by no means give over till he did fully and plainly understand the whole state of the business; and how patiently, and without any contestation he would bear with them, that did unjustly condemn him: how he would never be overhasty in anything, nor give ear to slanders and false accusations, but examine and observe with best diligence the several actions and dispositions of men. Again, how he was no backbiter, nor easily frighted, nor suspicious, and in his language free from all affectation and curiosity: and how easily he would content himself with few things, as lodging, bedding, clothing, and ordinary nourishment, and attendance. How able to endure labour, how patient: his uniformity and constancy in matter of friendship. How he would bear with them that with all boldness and liberty opposed his opinions; and even rejoice if any man could better advise him: and lastly, how religious he was without superstition. All these things of him remember, that whensoever thy last hour shall come upon thee, it may find thee, as it did him, ready for it in the possession of a good conscience.
MARCUS AURELIUS. MEDITATIONS. Book vi. 28.

This was our reading from Words of the Ancient Wise this morning.  I tried to boil it down into a couple of sentences, a couple of phrases even, but every word seemed important and eloquent.  This is an emperor's testimony about a subject he loved, a man's testimony about a mentor, a friend's testimony about a friend.  It seemed callous and almost irreverent to take away any words so I left it as is, although it is a translation from the Greek that Musonius Aurelius wrote in for his journal.  

My wish is that I live my life that my ruler, friend and compatriot would say the same of me.  Let us all aspire to do the same.