Monday, September 29, 2008

A Political Work Ethic

"Is my understanding equal to this or no? If it is, then I use it for the work, as an instrument put in my hands by the universal nature. If it is not, either I hand over the task to a more skilled labourer,— save only when some further consideration of duty bids me persevere,— or do it as best I may, calling in the aid of one able, with the help of my reason, to effect what is at this juncture opportune and beneficial to the community. For all that I do, whether through my own unaided efforts or with the assistance of another, must tend to this one goal,— the public good and harmony."

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VII, 5. (Jackson translation)

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was Emperor of Rome, 161-180AD.

4 comments:

The Hermit said...

Plato's Philosopher King, wasn't he?

Rio Arriba said...

He was that rarest of public servants— a man who genuinely felt that it was his duty to "do right" no matter the cost to himself. And keep in mind he had absolute power if he chose to wield it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting some of his words. His "Meditations" are full of such true thoughts.

The Hermit said...

If I was Emperor, there'd be a lot of people I know who would be really sorry I was. But after I had wrecked my vengeance upon them, I'd be good. For awhile.