I am confused by the first part in the statement made by Marcus Aurelius in his book meditations (Book II, Verse VI)

Do wrong to thyself, do wrong to thyself, my soul; but thou wilt no longer have the opportunity of honouring thyself. Every man’s life is sufficient. But thine is nearly finished, though thy soul reverences not itself but places thy felicity in the souls of others.

He is asking his soul to “do wrong to thyself” but I’m not sure what it means to do that. Does he mean that he should look to others’ happiness? And is that doing wrong to his soul? Why would that be, since the betterment of the self in the service of virtue is something the Stoics believe in?

2 Answers 2


The first sentence

Do wrong to thyself, do wrong to thyself, my soul

is not to be taken serious: Marcus Aurelius addresses himself in a sarcastic manner. He means:

Now, nearly at the end of your life, care for your own soul, not only for the happiness of others.


More or less the same meaning as in the bibles, "Take the board out of your own eye, before trying to take the splinter of others".

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