Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The Emerald King - Unpublished Selections Explained, Med. VII.15
Meditation VII.15 - The Emerald King - Translated by George Long and rewritten by Russell McNeil
Whatever anyone does or says, I must be good, just as if the gold, or the emerald, or the purple were always saying this. Whatever anyone does or says, I must be emerald and keep my color.(1)
(1) Marcus is never heady around his position as the supreme leader of a mighty empire. In his Stoic view his position as Emperor was preordained by nature. He has immense power and of that he is fully aware. But with power comes responsibility. He understands that he is equipped to exercise this power, and may do so only if for the good of the world community. This is the only way that a Stoic will be at peace. Marcus is certainly aware that he is susceptible to corruption and the abuse of power. This may be why he feels it necessary to write these meditations, so as to remind himself continuously that his royal position is of no personal consequence. The wealth, and reputation, and power that he has, is meaningless in the grand scheme if these are used for self-aggrandizement. Gold, emerald and purple are the colors of his royal position. The enigmatic invocation of these symbols of royalty is used metaphorically. His position comes from nature - as do these magnificent colors. The colors represent the Law of Nature that has determined his kingly role. The colors, in whatever way they may be used in his office, remind him that he must continue to live according to the nature that placed him in the role that he has been assigned.
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 The unpublished selections presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book.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.