cover image How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

Donald Robertson. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-19662-0

This look at Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121–180) and his reign provides an illuminating study of the principles of Stoic philosophy, to which Aurelius was an adherent, within the framework of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Robertson (Stoicism and the Art of Happiness), a cognitive behavioral therapist, sees in classical Stoicism—particularly in its cardinal virtues of wisdom, justice, fortitude, and temperance—a self-help/self-improvement methodology still relevant today. Each chapter begins with a brief account of an incident or phase from Aurelius’s life, followed by an explanation of how it relates to the ideals that informed his famous Meditations—for instance, a comparison of Aurelius’s temperate leadership to his brother Lucius Verus’s indulgent dissipations illustrates how the former behaved as an exemplar of Stoic self-discipline. Robertson writes accessibly on his potentially esoteric topic, drawing the reader into a discussion of cognitive distancing, for instance, by arguing that “as an aspiring Stoic, you should begin by practicing this: deliberately describing events objectively and in less emotional terms.” His book is a fascinating history of Aurelius and his beliefs, and an insightful consideration of how they inform the practice of modern mindfulness. [em]Agent: Stephen Hanselman, LevelFiveMedia. (Apr.) [/em]