Marcus Aurelius: Life and Stoicism

Learn how to build emotional resilience and develop a more meaningful life with Stoic philosophy.

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  • 4 weeks of video lessons
  • Bonus materials
  • Check-in Quizzes
  • Mobile and tablet friendly
  • Completely self-paced
  • Full lifetime access
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Teachable Best Price Guarantee™

If you find it cheaper anywhere else, we'll refund you the difference.

Your Outcome

You will learn how to build emotional resilience and develop a more meaningful life, from Marcus Aurelius, with this 4 week intro to Stoic philosophy and psychology.

This course is about the Stoicism of Marcus Aurelius, one of the good Roman emperors!

Join me as we practice tried and tested methods for applying Stoic wisdom to daily life. We'll be exploring Marcus' life and philosophy as guides for modern living, drawing on elements of modern psychology to help us make use of Stoic practices. You'll learn practical techniques for coping with challenges such as anger, fear, pain, illness and loss, using Marcus Aurelius as our guide to mastering difficult emotions. If you want to learn how to approach life like a Stoic, this is the place to start. And relax, it's risk free: you have 30 day money-back satisfaction guarantee. (See FAQ for details.)

Who is this course for? Anyone who's interested in Stoicism or Marcus Aurelius. If you're a complete newcomer this course will provide the perfect introduction to Stoicism. Even if you've read a lot of books on Stoicism, though, you'll still benefit from these new resources and by exploring a fresh perspective on the subject.

Enrollment: Enrollment is now open! Click the enroll button to register for the course. The course has already started but you will have access to recordings of webinars to complete at your own pace.

Duration: The core content requires about fifteen hours to complete on average, usually spread over five weeks or more. However, there are also many hours of additional optional content included.

Bonus: You'll also receive three free e-books for your collection, which we've carefully edited and designed for use on all devices: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, The Eulogium on Marcus Aurelius, and Marcus Aurelius in the Roman Histories. These come in EPUB, Kindle (MOBI) and PDF file formats.

Hello and thanks for taking an interest in my course.

I've been studying Stoicism for over twenty years and giving talks, writing about it, and getting in heated debates about it for almost as long. Based on that experience, I've arrived at a conclusion about the way people normally teach Stoicism... Talking about the philosophy in a slightly abstract way, like scholars tend to, just keeps running into the same old problems again and again. I've discovered that there's a much better way to learn about Stoicism. At the beginning of The Meditations, Marcus Aurelius spends a whole chapter carefully reminding himself of the most important things about the most important people in his life, his family and teachers. That's the way he introduces the subject. In particular, he meditates at length on the virtues of the emperor Antoninus Pius, his adoptive father. That's because the Stoics believed that the best way to study their philosophy is by contemplating the virtues of others, especially those we can most admire. Naturally, we don't know as much as Marcus did about the characters of Antoninus Pius and his other personal role-models. However, we do know quite a lot about Marcus himself, enough to provide us with a model of Stoic virtue to study and contemplate.

We know about his inner life as Stoic philosopher through The Meditations, his reflections and conversations with himself. And we know enough about his outer life, as Roman emperor, to fill a substantial biography. We have letters between him and his beloved rhetoric teacher Fronto, descriptions of his reign in the Roman histories, and a few other historical bits and pieces. Focusing on Marcus as our concrete example, just as he focused on Antoninus Pius and his Stoic teachers, we avoid many pitfalls by putting a human face on Stoicism. For example, whereas people sometimes assume the Stoics might be so accepting that they become overly-passive, we can see how Marcus was in fact committed to vigorous action in the service of his Stoic values, both his political life and as a military commander. Whereas people think Stoicism may be cold-hearted or unemotional, we can see how Marcus interpreted it as a philosophy of brotherly love and the emphasis he placed on interpersonal virtues like justice, kindness, and fairness to others.

Marcus is without question the most famous Stoic, in the eyes of modern students, and the one about whose life the most is known, because he was an important Roman emperor. By approaching Stoicism through the life and character of Marcus, taking him as our own Stoic example, we arrive at a much more balanced and more appealing conception of the philosophy than by studying it in a more abstract and theoretical way. He began The Meditations in that way for a reason. It's by studying real-life examples of Stoicism being applied in daily life, as an art of living, that we can best grasp the true meaning of the philosophy.

Course Content

The course consists of many audio and video recordings, audio downloads of Stoic psychological exercises, excerpts for discussion, special infographics created by our graphic designer Rocio de Torres, written articles, group discussion questions, and short interactive knowledge check questions to aid learning and retention. There are a lot of resources here that I simply wouldn't be able to put into a book. Each week focuses on a different set of core Stoic philosophical concepts, psychological exercises, and a particular problem area, such as anger management, coping with pain, overcoming worry and anxiety, and letting go of attachment.

Welcome Section

This becomes available as soon as you enrol and contains carefully selected preparatory materials to help you get up to speed and prepare for the main four weeks. Includes: videos, quotes from Marcus, recommended reading, and discussion questions, and knowledge-check quiz.

Week One: Overcoming Anger and Developing Empathy

The Education of a Stoic Emperor. This section focuses on the Stoic practice called "Contemplation of the Sage" and the role of empathy in Stoicism, particularly as a remedy for feelings of anger. It uses illustrations from the life of Marcus, such as his difficulty coping with feelings of anger toward his Stoic tutor, Junius Rusticus. Includes: Videos, reading, discussion, knowledge-check quiz. Also, for students on standard or premium plan, a webinar on Stoicism, Virtue, and Empathy.

Week Two: Conquering Worry and Anxiety

Marcus' Early Reign and the Parthian War. This section focuses on the Stoic practice called "Premeditation of Adversity" (praemeditatio malorum, sometimes called "negative visualization") and the role of acceptance in Stoicism, toward indifferent things, such as in coping with pain. It uses illustrations from the life of Marcus, such as his worry about matters of state, coping with chronic pain and illness, and his correspondence with his Latin tutor Fronto. Includes: Videos, reading, discussion, knowledge-check quiz. Also, for students on standard or premium plan, a webinar on Stoicism, Indifference, and Acceptance.

Week Three: Managing Pain and Illness

The First Marcomannic War and The Meditations. This section focuses on the Stoic practice called "The View from Above" and the role of metaphysics in Stoicism, with reference to the famous Dream of Scipio. It uses illustrations from the life of Marcus, such as the challenges of his assuming the role of military commander during the lengthy northern campaign against a huge coalition of enemy tribes led by King Ballomar of the Marcomanni. It is widely believed that Marcus wrote The Meditations during this period, and we also consider its role as a spiritual journal in relation to other Stoic writing practices. Includes: Videos, reading, discussion, knowledge-check quiz. Also, for students on standard or premium plan, a webinar on Stoicism, Nature, and the Cosmos.

Week Four: Coming to Terms with Mortality and Loss

The Civil War, and Marcus' Final Years and Legacy. This section focuses on the Stoic practice called "Contemplation of Death" and the concept of impermanence in Stoicism, and also on the practice of Stoic mindfulness (prosoche) and attention to the present moment. It uses illustrations from the life of Marcus, such as the Antonine Plague, the civil war against his general Avidius Cassius, and his own illness and eventual death. Includes: Videos, reading, discussion, knowledge-check quiz. Also, for students on standard or premium plan, a webinar on Stoicism, Mindfulness, and Death.

What Students Say

"Nobody exemplifies Stoicism as does Marcus Aurelius. Because of the extremely difficult and unpredictable events that came into his life when he became Emperor, his embodiment of Stoic ideas burned in his blood and he saw that life is not worth it's living unless you recognize how critical it is for wisdom to be your primary guide to lead you on your way… moment by moment inch by inch. A year ago i would not have imagined about how to think like a Roman Emperor. Nowadays it is the only game in town worth playing."

Melville Richard Alexander

"A well prepared course with an instructor who not only knows his subject but understands that adult learners will each have their own reasons for participating and will do best when they can proceed at their own pace. The course material and comments will always be available to me so I can and will go back. I knew a bit about Stoicism when I started and learned much. I expect complete novices as well as the well informed would benefit."

Wilfred Allan

"This course brings today's remaining extant Stoic literature to life. Personally, I have read Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius and modern Stoicism commentaries. Yet, this course presents Stoicism from Marcus' practical life – his everyday challenges as a normal man and as a highly responsible emperor. He was able to mediate these challenges with Stoic philosophy. Donald Robertson served as a reliable guide using his CBT background and focused scholarship of Stoicism in general and Marcus Aurelius' Meditations in particular. I feel like this course has given me a Stoic Mentor/Model to emulate and bring my ongoing Stoic readings to life. Yes, I now know that I have a "model" to follow as I continue my journey as a Stoic Student."

RG McNeill Jr

Course Curriculum

Welcome: Before we Even Begin

  • Video: Welcome to the Course (6:33)
  • Welcome Letter from Donald Robertson
  • Facebook Community
  • Video: Why Marcus? (8:34)
  • Poem from Manuscript of The Meditations
  • Favourite Quotations from Marcus
  • Video: Course Overview (11:51)
  • Discuss Excerpt: The Promise of Philosophy
  • Recommended Reading
  • Infographic: Important People in Marcus' Life
  • Exercise: Self-Hypnosis for Stoic Attitudes (Revised)
  • YouTube Live Webinars
  • Discussion: Welcome to Roman Emperor!
  • Impossible Quiz
  • What Next?

Welcome: Bonus Material

  • Podcast: The Life and Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius
  • The Face of Marcus Aurelius
  • Interview with Prof. William O. Stephens
  • Infographic: Important Events in Marcus' Life
  • Map of Key Locations in Marcus Life
  • Download: HD Desktop Wallpapers

Week One: Overcoming Anger and Developing Empathy

  • Introduction to Week One
  • Week One Webinar
  • How to use the Content
  • Comic: The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
  • Video: The Stoic Goal of Life (Part 1) (7:35)
  • Infographic: The Three Stoic Topics
  • Video: The Stoic Goal of Life (Part 2) (11:11)
  • Infographic: Stoic Unhealthy Passions
  • Video: The Stoic Goal of Life (Part 3) (12:05)
  • Infographic: Stoic Healthy Passions
  • Knowledge Check: The Stoic Goal of Life
  • Audio: Stories about Marcus Aurelius the Man
  • Infographic: Stoic Virtue
  • Discuss Excerpt: A Disciple of Antoninus
  • Audio: How Marcus Contemplated the Sage
  • Exercise: Stoic Contemplation of the Sage
  • Knowledge Check: Contemplation of the Sage
  • Discuss Excerpt: A Gift from the God of Healing
  • Video: Stoicism, Empathy, and Anger (17:39)
  • Audio: Stories of Anger and Empathy
  • How Marcus Developed Empathy
  • ​1. We are naturally social animals, designed to help one another
  • 2. Consider their character as a whole
  • 3. Nobody does wrong willingly
  • 4. Nobody is perfect, yourself included
  • 5. You can never be certain of others people’s motives
  • 6. Remember we all will die
  • 7. It’s our own judgements that harm us
  • 8. Anger does us more harm than good
  • 9. Nature gave us the virtue of kindness
  • 10. It’s madness to expect others to be perfect
  • Knowledge Check: Anger and Empathy in Stoicism
  • Discuss Strategies: How can Stoicism Help us Manage Anger?
  • Week 1: What Next?

Week One: Optional Bonus Content

  • How Marcus Lived in Agreement with Nature
  • Marcus' Training in Stoic Philosophy
  • Bonus Video: Marcus on Anger (Brisbane Stoicon-x) (38:48)
  • Bonus Video: Stoicism and Love Conference Talk

Week Two: Conquering Worry and Anxiety

  • Introduction to Week Two
  • Week Two Webinar
  • Comic: The Boar and the Fox
  • Video: Overcoming Worry and Anxiety (19:34)
  • Discuss Excerpt: Marcus Gets out of Bed
  • Audio: Stories About Marcus and Lucius Coping with Anxiety
  • How Marcus Coped with Worry and Anxiety
  • Audio: Action with the Reserve Clause
  • Exercise: Stoic Premeditation
  • Knowledge Check: Conquering Worry and Anxiety
  • Discuss Strategies: How can Stoicism Help us Manage Anxiety?
  • Week 2: What Next?

Week Two: Optional Bonus Content

  • Article: Marcus at the Amphitheatre
  • Video: Stoicism, Anxiety, and OCD
  • Article: How Much Epictetus Influenced Marcus

Week Three: Managing Pain and Illness

  • Introduction to Week Three
  • Week Three Webinar
  • Video: Stoic Indifference to Pain and Illness (20:41)
  • Discuss Excerpt: Apollonius and Maximus
  • Stories About Marcus, Fronto, and Epicurus
  • Audio: How Marcus Coped with Pain and Illness
  • Exercise: Stoicism for Indifference to Pain and Discomfort
  • Knowledge Check: Managing Pain and Illness
  • Discuss Strategies: How can Stoicism Help us Cope with Pain and Illness
  • Week 3: What Next?

Week Three: Optional Bonus Content

  • Article: The Antonine Plague
  • Video: Backbone by Karen Duffy

Week Four: Coming to Terms with Mortality and Loss

  • Introduction to Week Four
  • Week Four Webinar
  • Video: Stoicism, Loss, Death, and the View from Above (15:34)
  • Discuss Excerpt: How the Soul Injures Itself
  • Stories about Marcus and Bereavement
  • Audio: How Marcus Contemplated the River of Time
  • How Marcus Contemplated Loss and Mortality
  • Audio: How Marcus Contemplated the View from Above
  • Discuss Excerpts from Justus Lipsius and the Earl of Shaftesbury
  • Exercise: The View from Above
  • Knowledge Check: Coming to Terms with Mortality and Loss
  • Discuss Strategies: How can Stoicism Help us Come to Terms with Mortality and Loss?
  • Brief Feedback Form
  • Would you Recommend the Course?
  • Week 4: What Next?
  • Final Live Webinar

Week Four: Optional Bonus Content

  • Article: The Civil War in the East

Your Instructor

Donald Robertson

Donald is a trainer and writer, with over twenty years’ experience. He’s a specialist in teaching evidence-based psychological skills, and known as an expert on the relationship between modern cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and classical Greek and Roman philosophy. He was born in Scotland but worked as a psychotherapist for many years in London, England, where he ran a training school for therapists, before emigrating to Canada to focus on his writing and developing e-learning courses.

Donald is the author of six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, as well as having contributed chapters to four other book and published many articles in journals and magazines. His new book How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius is currently available for pre-order and due out in January 2019. You can contact him via his website.

Frequently asked questions

When does the course start and finish? Can I complete it at my own pace?

The course start and end dates are shown above. It's four weeks long and will begin on the date specified. However, you'll also be able to complete it as self-paced if you wish,. You'll benefit from lifetime access to the course content, including all updates, and recordings of all live webinars will be available to replay in your own time.

How long do I have access to the course?

How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own. That's for as long as the course actually exists. You'll also benefit from updates to the contents.

What if I am unhappy with the course?

We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with the course, contact us by email within 30 days of your purchase and we will give you a full refund.

Who is this course aimed at?

Anyone with an interest in Stoicism, particularly Marcus Aurelius. If you're new to Stoicism you'll learn about the basics but if you've already read some books about it we're confident you'll learn some new things and have a chance to approach the subject from a fresh perspective.

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