Saturday, May 23, 2009

Meditation on Bodily Functions - The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. X.19

Meditation X.19 - Meditation on Bodily Functions - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil

Consider what human beings are when they are eating, sleeping, generating, easing themselves and so forth. Then what kind of persons they are when they are imperious and arrogant, or angry and scolding from their elevated place.1 But a short time ago to how many they were slaves and for what things; and after a little time consider in what a condition they will be.2


(1) The meditation focuses on pride and the self-importance and arrogance that ignorance fosters. Marcus reminds us that such men and women are - like all men and women - animal creatures who slobber, fornicate, defecate and break wind. This slightly crude reminder of the animal side of human nature is designed to take the stuffing out of pomposity.

(2) The arrogant and proud men and women who behave in these ways achieved their notoriety by bowing and scraping. Not long ago they were slaves - yes-men and yes-women - ever ready to prostitute themselves for personal gain. Like the rest of us these people too will soon be 'ashes and smoke (please also see Meditation XII.33).'

Russell McNeil, PhD, is the author of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained by Skylight Paths Publishing. The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book. The published selections are referenced in this Blog by page number and section.

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