MY INTERVIEW WITH MARCUS AURELIUS (Roman Emperor, 161-180 AD).
Number 7 in the celebrity interview series
ME: Mi displace, Imperatore. I’m interviewing Bertie Wooster next and I was thinking of Empress, the prize-winning pig at Blandings Castle.
M.A: Mamma Mia. Now you call me a prize-winning pig?
ME: No, sorry – again – you’re a legend. I try to live each day following your beautifully written meditations.
M.A: Grazie. I had the very best teacher.
ME: You were known as The Philosopher-King. Didn’t you like all the orgies and other pleasures, like drinking, gambling, box sets, cinder toffee ice cream and swanking about?
M.A: Pleasure feels good but sex or applause is momentary. What lasts longer is nicer – a great soul, freedom, honesty, kindness and wisdom.
ME: It sounds like #happipreneurship.
M.A: What’s that?
ME: A philosophy for enterprising people. What you say is true and virtue brings happiness.
M.A: Si. Robbers, perverts, killers and tyrants – gather for your inspection their so-called pleasures.
M.A: Grazie. Life is short – the fruit of this life is a good character and acts for the common good.
ME: Ooh – ‘eck.
M.A: What is this “Ooh – ‘eck”?
ME: It’s Yorkshire for “Mamma Mia”. What did you mean by “That which isn’t good for the hive, isn’t good for the bee”?
M.A: That which doesn’t harm the community can’t harm the individual.
ME: Try telling that to Government Ministers and Hedge Fund Managers. They profit from others’ failures. As the richest person in the world and with absolute power why weren’t you gloriously selfish like other emperors?
M.A: Take a good hard look at people’s ruling principle, especially of the wise, what they run away from and what they seek out.
ME: Ooh ‘eck – more, please.
M.A: There’s nothing worse than a wolf befriending sheep. Kindness is invincible. Joy for human beings lies in proper human work – acts of kindness.
ME: You’re not a bundle of laughs, Imperatore, but you’re #rocking it.
M.A: So what #rocks you about Stoicism?
ME: Acceptance, approaching each task as if it were your last and your bit about wrestling – my eldest son and I love wrestling.
M.A: Ah. Si.
M.A: The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing because an artful life requires being prepared to meet and withstand sudden and unexpected attacks.
ME: You had to deal with two major wars and millions of deaths due to the plague yet you were known as a kind, good, honest and just emperor. In one sentence what guided your leadership?
M.A. Let each thing you would do, say or intend be like that of a dying person.