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The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  619 ratings  ·  48 reviews
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are treasured today - as they have been over the centuries - as an inexhaustible source of wisdom. And as one of the three most important expressions of Stoicism, this is an essential text for everyone interested in ancient religion and philosophy. Yet the clarity and ease of the work's style are deceptive. Pierre Hadot, eminent historian ...more
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published August 25th 1998 by Harvard University Press (first published 1992)
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Christopher Porzenheim Because so far as you were aware a female hadn't yet reviewed this book at the time you asked this question. It'll happen eventually if it hasn't alre…moreBecause so far as you were aware a female hadn't yet reviewed this book at the time you asked this question. It'll happen eventually if it hasn't already. It's not as if Marcus Aurelius, Stoicism, etc are male only subjects. (less)

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Note to Self: Don’t Be a Dick

I find a comparison of the conversion experience of Marcus Aurelius with those of St. Paul and St. Augustine irresistible. Nothing shows more plainly the effect of Christianity on Western culture. More specifically, Christianity created a cult of language which the world has been trying to overcome ever since. Marcus Aurelius has left a legacy in his Meditations of what the world is like without that cult.

Saul of Tarsus was knocked from his horse, spent several year
Timothy Kestrel
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If my house was on fire and I had time to grab just one thing before I rushed out, it would be this book.
Christopher Porzenheim
Has your life ever been changed by a book? The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius changed mine. Books that do this are necessarily rare. But even rarer than books that change your life are the books that change the way you understand life changing books. The Inner Citadel by Pierre Hadot is this rarest of book, it has fundamentally changed the way I understand the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius for the better.

If you want to better understand Marcus Aurelius, you want to read this book. Marcus’s stoi
Ryan Boissonneault
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you were to pick up the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and read it without any kind of background or context, you’d probably come away with the feeling that the text is random, disorganized, and without structure. Since the Meditations were never intended for publication, Marcus didn’t go out of his way to explain the underlying principles he was reflecting on.

Despite appearances, however, the Meditations are, in fact, a cohesive set of philosophical exercises used to ensure adherence to a f
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have not read The Meditations but I have learned much about Stoicism and the thought and aims of Marcus Aurelius by reading this book. And the book has stimulated me to learn more. Pierre Hadot's writing and the translation by Michael Chase are both clear and well-organized.

The book is full of abstract concepts with few, if any, concrete examples (even ones taken from life in the second century). Also, the tripartite structure of the philosophy is great the way it all hangs together and also e
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Aurelius' Meditations is one of my favorite works, I try to re-read it at the start of every year, this book added a layer to how I understand and think about the book. Recommended to those who find value in Meditations, and perhaps stoicism more generally (Hadot does extensively quote from Aurelius' work, so you might not need to have read it to benefit from this book.). ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
made an interesting point about the difference between Platonic and Stoic conceptions of reason. In short, Platonist's divide the soul into good and bad parts; reason is good, passion, impulse, everything irrational is bad. For Stoics, however, there is no division within the soul, rather a soul becomes bad, or deluded, because of the judgments it makes based on false understandings. I like this. it means there is no interminable battle between good and evil inside us, rather a plethora of diffe ...more
Jared Abbott
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is such a wonderful book! I have a feeling this will be a book I read more than once.

Marcus Aurelius's Meditations are a classic, but Hadot has skillfully mined its depths, refuted its critics, and corrected common misconceptions in The Inner Citadel. He's done this so well, in fact, that I think it could be said that this is necessary reading to properly understand the Meditations.

His emphasis on practicing philosophy as a way of life, rather than a merely hypothetical, untested (perhaps u
Michael Baranowski
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Of the three major Stoic writers - Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius - I've always been an Epictetus guy. But Hadot's amazing book has cause me to, if not move Epictetus out of first place, certainly to elevate Marcus Aurelius. Erudite, engaging, and hugely informative - it's one of the first books I'd recommend to anyone with a serious interest in Stoicism. ...more
Clem Paulsen
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it

I was looking for a general introduction, but there doesn't seem to be one -- if there is one, this isn't it These things are written by scholars and therefore, er, scholarly.

There was for me in the introductory 100 pages or so. If you're coming from a background in the subject, well good for you.

Still looking for my intro as the amateur I am.
Ross Cohen
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In "The Inner Citadel," Hadot reveals the system behind Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations," with clarity, sensitivity, and grace. He presents a fully-formed image of the world's most powerful man working on making himself a better man. Essential reading. ...more
Obviously Incognito
If you struggle with interpreting some passages in Marcus' Meditations - This is for you. The book enabled me to see the different parts of stoic philosophy more refined, so I could extract whatever resonated with me, and disregard what I felt was outdated. ...more
Jay Nichols
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius posits that nothing really matters because in a thousand years we'll be dead and forgotten. But Marcus Aurelius has been dead for more than a thousand years and he's remembered, so I don't know what to make of all of this. ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
There's been a resurgence of interest in stoicism in the last few years. Many people I know have been reading either Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, or other books that attempted to popularize their thinking for the modern age. I've tried those books, but they left me wanting, largely because they're written by well-meaning people, but not historians or philosophers who can credibly place the work into a broader context.

The book is an excellent companion to Marcus' Meditations, going far beyond what h
Darko Doko
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Great book but poorly written. Too academic
Domagoj Bodlaj
Impressive examination of Meditations supported by historical, cultural and philosophical context. However, it was at times (necessarily) boring. This shouldn't and doesn't stand in the way of the Hadot's accomplishment which was to educate the reader on Marcus Aurelius and his journal ...more
Taylor Grayson
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Boring. So much jargon and metaphysics. This is why nerds bore people at parties.
Henry Manampiring
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is serious exposition on Meditations by Pierre Hadot. It is quite heavy and recommended for those wanting to learn Marcus Aurelius' take on Stoicism beyond beginner's level. ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I must say that I am not the target audience for this book. I never took philosophy in school. I had never ready about stoicism before and this book was not the best first introduction to the concepts. Rather this book felt as though Hadot was writing within the context of a well developed dialogue that I am unfamiliar with.

What Hadot did well was present explanations of specific concepts within Aurelius’ writings. Many of these explanations put me in mind of Buddhist concepts that constitut
Martin Brochhaus
Apr 05, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-next-five
This book is ultra dense and ultra repetitive.

The beginning is quite interesting, putting Stoicism into the greater context of history.

Also, learning how utterly difficult it is to interpret such an old text, is quite interesting: Language barriers. Different customs, phrases, idioms. Lost passages. Mistakes from translations and re-prints.

However, after 50% I gave up and skimmed the pages all the way to the end. The author truly puts every little detail and passage under the microscope and b
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A comprehensive introduction to stoicism via the meditations. It is a scholary work and as such, it is a challenging read for poeple new to the subject (like myslef). However, if one is prepared to put effort into it then it is definitely worthwhile. My advice is to read it first, read the meditations and re-read it again. Hence, 4 out of 5.
Jack Greenman
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant explication of the philosophical practices and world view of the Stoics - particularly Marcus Aurelius. If you are already fairly familiar with the basics of Stoicism and are ready to explore it's broader implications and applications, this is an essential text. ...more
Christopher Hellstrom
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
A strong scholarly analysis of this classic of Stoic thought. Made me reread and further appreciate "The Meditations" ...more
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rich and clear introduction to Marc-Aurèle and Stoicism in general.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Must read for the beginning points on stoicism, I'd recommend it as the subsequent read after first or second reading of the meditations or together with meditations ...more
Juan Tirendi Sr.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
A remarkable perspective offered herein.
Aaron Pincus
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was both challenging and enlightening. Reading it certainly advanced my understanding and practice of Stoicism. Not for the beginner.
Alex Dantec
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the best introduction to the work of Marcus Aurelius.
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Awesome and comprehensive introduction, overview, and analysis of stoicism. A great book.
Maria Luisa Grossi
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Love the book, great philosophy lessons and remind me of buddhist meditation teachings.
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Pierre Hadot (né à Paris, le 21 février 1922 - mort à Orsay, le 25 avril 2010) est un philosophe, historien et philologue français, spécialiste de l'antiquité, profond connaisseur de la période hellénistique et en particulier du néoplatonisme et de Plotin. Pierre Hadot est l'auteur d'une œuvre développée notamment autour de la notion d'exercice spirituel et de philosophie comme manière de vivre.


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