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What activists can learn from Marcus Aurelius

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Marcus Aurelius - the man, the myth, the legend

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Best known for stoic philosophy, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace, calmness and stability for the Roman Empire lasting from 27 BC to 180 AD.

What is Stocisim?

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Stoicism is a philosophy that originated in ancient Greece and was later adopted by the Romans. The philosophy emphasises rationality, self-control, and living in harmony with nature. One of the most famous Stoics is Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor who ruled from 161 to 180 AD. Aurelius was not only known for his political beliefs but also for his writings, which have become some of the most influential works of Stoicism.

Marcus Aurelius’s Political Beliefs

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Marcus Aurelius believed in the importance of justice, honesty, and equality. He saw the role of the emperor as being responsible for the well-being of the people and believed that leaders should rule with wisdom and virtue. His political beliefs were heavily influenced by his Stoic philosophy, which emphasized the importance of living in accordance with nature and treating others with kindness and respect.

Aurelius’s Most Well-Known Quotes

One of Aurelius’s most famous quotes is “The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.” This quote emphasizes the importance of staying true to oneself and not letting others’ negative actions dictate one’s behavior. In essence, it encourages individuals to rise above the negativity and hate of others and to respond with kindness and compassion.

Another one of Aurelius’s famous quotes is “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” This quote emphasizes the importance of self-control and the ability to control one’s thoughts and emotions. It encourages individuals to focus on what they can control and to let go of things that are outside of their control.

Significance for the Activist Movement


“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy” is a quote that has significant relevance for the activist movement. It emphasises the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs while remaining true to one’s values. It encourages activists to respond to hate and oppression with love and compassion rather than with more hate and violence. This quote serves as a reminder that the most effective way to bring about change is through kindness and understanding, not through anger and aggression.

Stoicism and Marcus Aurelius’s teachings have had a significant impact on philosophy and continue to be relevant today. Aurelius’s political beliefs emphasized the importance of justice, honesty, and equality. His famous quotes, such as “The best revenge is not to be like your enemy,” encourage individuals to rise above negativity and hate and respond with kindness and compassion. This quote is especially relevant for the activist movement, reminding activists that the most effective way to bring about change is through understanding and compassion.

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