Sunday, April 10, 2011
How Empty is Fame - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. VII.34
Meditation VII.34 - How Empty is Fame - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
About fame: Look at the minds of those who seek fame, observe what they are, and what kind of things they avoid, and what kind of things they pursue.(1) And consider that as the heaps of sand piled on one another hide the former sands, so in life the events which go before are soon covered by those which come after.(2)
(1) Marcus is exceptionally modest around his position as Emperor. He accepted his role and the responsibility he bore but it is for him in the nature of things that he was ordained to assume supreme leadership. That he is to do this, and to be in this position, is a matter of fate. It does not make him better - or worse - than any other human being. He recognizes that he is of necessity famous. But fame is nothing of importance. Fame as fame is inconsequential. Those who seek fame are self-centered and as a consequence living in opposition to nature. They revel in riches and self-indulgence and seek the adoration of the multitudes. The Stoic recognizes naturally that this behavior and these values are limited and ephemeral. Fame is fleeting.
(2) Those who acquire fame, lose fame. Their pursuit is meaningless. They build castles in the sand - only to see their carefully constructed edifices covered by the sands of time.
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 The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book.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.