Philosophy of Death According to Marcus Aurelius Essay

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Marcus Aurelius' book Meditations gives a clear and concise view of what death is and how man should cope with it. There are many factors that Marcus must take into account when he is pondering about death. There is death on a physical plane of existence and there is death on a supernatural plane of existence. How man is related to both of these concepts can differ drastically but both are equally important concepts in man's view of death. The way that man approaches death and how he should view it in life are other factors that also play an important role in Marcus' philosophy of death.

On the physical plane, Marcus is straightforward in the way that he speaks of death. He does not try to soften the image of death with flowery imagery or try to hide what actually occurs. Marcus describes a man's body as "prey of worms" (2:17). We are nothing more than atoms that are going to be dispersed when we die (6:27). These terms used to describe death are quite harsh. They are harsh because present corpses are treated with such admiration and grace. They are put into wonderfully carved coffins with silk pillows and expensive wood, and are dressed in the finest of clothing. Believing that the only thing that will happen to them and their beautiful resting place is decomposition seems exceedingly callous. Marcus knows that it is undeniable that corpses behave in this way so there is no use refuting that it occurs. Marcus believes that man should not try to hide what happens to people when they die. When people try to hide the truth the truth becomes fearful.

Most people view death as an evil force set out against all of humanity. In fact, in our present culture, the personification of death, the grim reaper, is one ...

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...n terms of worms and dissolving flesh (2:17). Marcus knows that if the truth about how people die has more weight put on it than the supernatural side there will be less fear underneath it. There is no reason to fear death when you understand it entirely and understand that it is all part of nature's plan.

Marcus' philosophy of death is not complicated but must be known to understand life. Marcus believes death to be molecules dissolving to the Earth on a physical plane. All people should understand this, and when they do they will not fear death because they will understand the process. Marcus understands that man should not fear death because it is natural and "only children are scared by a natural process" (2:12). If man does not fear death then they will live their lives without fear. If man lives without fear then their lives will, in turn, be ideal.

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