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The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  465 ratings  ·  37 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…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: Dont 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 years
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. Marcuss stoic
Euan Semple
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This thorough, detailed, rigourous, but eminently readable exploration of Marcus Aurlius's Meditations offers a fascinating insight into the themes and patterns of the 12 books. Backed up by descriptions of the history of the manuscripts and other academic writings about them, Hadots enthusiasm and admiration of the man he is writing about comes across. I was left with the impression that very little has changed in the concerns and worries of mankind over 2000 years and enjoyed reading about how ...more
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
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
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.).
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 ...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.
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.
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, youd probably come away with the feeling that the text is random, disorganized, and without structure. Since the Meditations were never intended for publication, Marcus didnt 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 few
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
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.
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.
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.
Juan Tirendi Sr.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
A remarkable perspective offered herein.
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rich and clear introduction to Marc-Aurèle and Stoicism in general.
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"
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
Adam Piercey
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing guide into the deeper meanings and background of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, this book should be the next book the aspiring Stoic picks up after reading the original, main authors of this practice.
I invite lunch
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book is very good and interesting
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A tedious read. The level of academic depth that this book goes into makes staying awake difficult. But aside from that, it does a fairly good job of providing insights into what Marcus meant in his Meditations.
Du Nguyen
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
The Inner Citadel by Pierre Hadot is an analysis of The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. In The Inner Citadel, Hadot strives to organize the writings of Aurelius into stoic themes and provide a perspective of Aurelius, his context and his writings.

The book is excellent in explaining a lot of the stoic concepts. It starts providing a picture of who Aurelius was. The chapter on his upbringing is especially interesting and provides a view into his philosophical education. The background information
Nick Short
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2014
A marvel. True scholarship.

With precise seriousness and full of the kindest of feelings for his readers, Pierre Hadot offers his authority on perhaps the most remarkable book in existance, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus's Meditations.
Kalle Nordenstorm
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
I see myself as a stoic, loved Epictetus and thoroughly enjoyed Seneca and Rufus, but Marcus Aurelius - nope. He is boring. There is nothing provoking about his writings, nothing that makes you want to argue with him, nothing that is fun. Another thing: Aurelius is very heavy on stoic jargon. He does not write in plain words.
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
An excellent companion to The Meditations- largely free of redundancy, and rich in biographical, lexical, and historiographical context. This seems accessible to a lay audience, though perhaps with a bit of difficulty on their part, but generally seems best suited to those with a background in the classics or academic philosophy who want a bit of lighter material on the side. Recommended.
Ismail Elshareef
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a book that Ive revisited time and again. It has the keys to may sanity as our world, and at times, our lives, become increasingly hectic and lacking purpose. This book is like a therapist on the go, offering lessons and advice that have stood the test of time for many many centuries. Highly recommended. ...more
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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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“In the first place, sensation (aisthesis) is a corporeal process which we have in common with animals, and in which the impression of an exterior object is transmitted to the soul. By means of this process, an image (phantasia) of the object is produced in the soul, or more precisely in the guiding part (hegemonikon) of the soul” 2 likes
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