Continuing M. Aurelius

Today is Day Two of reading Book 1 of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. It’s off to a great start.  The students are learning how to read a dense text of a kind they haven’t read before.

Today, we read only five paragraphs.  Even so, in a class of twelve (including me) everyone spoke.  We decided we would least like to be Fronto:

From Fronto I learned to observe waht envy, and duplicity, and hypocrisy are in a tyrant, and that those among us who are called Patricians are rather deficient in paternal affection.

And we thought that the lesson of Alexander the Platonic was also useful to a ruler:

not frequently nor without necessity to say to any one, or to write in a letter, that I have no leisure; nor continually to excuse the neglect of duties required by our relation to those with whom we live, by alleging urgent occupations.

After this, I told the story of my own father’s career, which called him from the house long before I woke in the morning, and brought him home long after I had gone to sleep, for most of my childhood.  All of my students looked startled at that, and it seems that I struck a nerve with many of them.  The truth is, if you can afford to send your kids to a school like mine, you probably make a lot of money, and you probably work very hard to keep it.

Yet here was a world leader writing a reminder to himself to spend time with his family and to take time for leisure despite the cares and urgent duties of his life.

Homework: Pick five sentences, and the five pieces of advice that you feel are most important.  Write two sentences responding to this idea: why you think it’s important or why it’s worthy of inclusion.

For a variety of reasons, I forgot to collect the homework.  I’m building the routine at the start of my class, and I forgot to do that part of it.  Monday, I’ll have to remember.

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