4

Marcus Aurelius says "But cast away the thirst after books, that thou mayest not die murmuring, but cheerfully, truly, and from thy heart thankful to the gods" in the end of the third paragraph of his meditations. Why do you suppose he says this, and does he want us to thirst to read his book?

http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.2.two.html

  • It is funny how often this sentiment arises among the obviously overeducated: All the way back to Ecclesiastes' Preacher -- "Be admonished, in the making of too many books there is no end" advice from someone with a glorious sense of writing, who had obviously made a more than a few books before this one. – user9166 Sep 4 '15 at 15:58
2

Why do you suppose he says this, and does he want us to thirst to read his book?

Answering the second part first, no, he doesn't want us to thirst to read his book. The Meditations weren't written as a book for others; they were Marcus Aurelius writing for himself. The fact that they were published and are still being read today was not, I think, any intention of Marcus Aurelius's.

As to why he reminds himself about not doing too much reading, I don't think that's perfectly clear. But as Mozibur points out, Marcus Aurelius is not alone in doing so. I guess it's a matter for the individual reader. My own view is, similar to what Ron suggests, that reading can become a crutch that avoids us learning to think for ourselves. There comes a point, in making any kind of decision, when one has all the information one is ever going to get on what others think about the matter, and at that point one must decide, own the decision, and take the consequences. And in today's Internet-connected world, where we regularly drink from a firehose of information, the ability to resist spending too much time reading, is even more desirable.

Of course, as with all things, even moderation, moderation is a virtue.

| improve this answer | |
1

He is encouraging the reader to embrace philosophy and to be skeptical of the spoken or written words of other men as they are, at best, explanations of nature. He would prefer you to thirst for learning rather than thirst for answers provided by others.

What then is that which is able to conduct a man? One thing and only one, philosophy. But this consists in keeping the daemon within a man free from violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, doing nothing without purpose, nor yet falsely and with hypocrisy, not feeling the need of another man's doing or not doing anything; and besides, accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, as coming from thence, wherever it is, from whence he himself came; and, finally, waiting for death with a cheerful mind, as being nothing else than a dissolution of the elements of which every living being is compounded. But if there is no harm to the elements themselves in each continually changing into another, why should a man have any apprehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements? For it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is according to nature.

| improve this answer | |
1

'But cast away the thirst after books, that thou mayest not die murmuring, but cheerfully, truly, and from thy heart thankful to the gods'

its at the end of the third paragraph of his meditations. Why do you suppose he says this,

I think this will be similar to what Pascal mentions at the beginning of his Pensees; where he contrasts ignorance and idle curiosity which pursues knowledge to no end.

and does he want us to thirst to read his book?

Why are you supposing this? Shakespeare wrote in order to be heard and for posterity (it's there in his sonnets) - but Marcus was not writing for posterity (do you have a quote in the meditations to bear out this?) ; he is writing in the way that Foucault mentions in his essay On the technology of souls where he addresses how writing was considered a technique in Stoicism/Christianity in order to still the passions; and in order to understand himself.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.