This 1742 translation is a collaborative work by Francis Hutcheson and
a colleague at Glasgow University, the classicist James Moor. Although
Hutcheson was secretive about the extent of his work on the book, he was
clearly the leading spirit of the project.
This influential classical work offered a vision of a universe governed
by a natural law that obliges us to love mankind and to govern our lives
in accordance with the natural order of things. In their account of the life
of the emperor, prefaced to their translation from the Greek, Hutcheson
and Moor celebrated the Stoic ideal of an orderly universe governed by a
benevolent God. They contrasted the serenity recommended and
practiced by Marcus Aurelius with the divisive sectarianism then exhibited
by their fellow Presbyterians in Scotland and elsewhere. They urged their
readers and fellow citizens to set aside their narrow prejudices.
In many ways, Hutcheson and Moor’s The Meditations of the
Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus is a companion volume to
Hutcheson’s Latin work on ethics, released in the same year, Philosophiae
Moralis Institutio Compendiaria. In the latter volume, which is also available
from Liberty Fund, Hutcheson continues a theme that proffered his ethics
as a modern and, not least, Christianized version of Stoicism.
Knud Haakonssen is Professor of Intellectual History and Director of the Centre for Intellectual History at the University of