DiscoverThe Daily StoicWhatever You Call It, Steer Clear | Ask DS
Whatever You Call It, Steer Clear | Ask DS

Whatever You Call It, Steer Clear | Ask DS

Update: 2024-02-29


Marcus Aurelius called it a few different things. His translators varied even more in their interpretations. Gregory Hays used the word “imperialization.” Robin Waterfield called it “becoming Caesarified” and “dyed in purple.” Pierre Hadot has it, “becoming Caesarized.” George Long translates it, “Take care that thou art not made into a Caesar, that thou art not dyed with this dye.” In The Daily Stoic, we have Marcus express his worry of being “stained purple.”

Ok, but what is he actually talking about? He’s talking about being corrupted by power, changed by the position and fame that he has. And we know this was a lifelong concern of his. One story has Marcus Aurelius breaking down in tears when he’s told he will someday be emperor, not because he was sad, but because his study of history taught him how few people managed to leave the job unscathed, let alone unchanged.

While none of us will wear the purple cloak of the emperor (that’s what Marcus was referring to about being dyed), hopefully, we will be successful. Hopefully, we will earn positions of influence and power and respect. What will this reveal about us? What might it corrupt or corrode?

It is a timeless battle, a timeless temptation. Stoicism is here to help us with it. Meditations, specifically, is one of the only books ever written by a person with that much power, one of the only books by a person who power did not make worse, and about how to remain good and decent and virtuous when there is every excuse and opportunity not to.


On today’s Thursday episode of the Daily Stoic podcast, Ryan talks with over 150 employees from Austin Central Library during their staff development and apperception day. They discuss why Ryan became an author, writing process, and the importance of reading and learning from ancient wisdom.

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Whatever You Call It, Steer Clear | Ask DS

Whatever You Call It, Steer Clear | Ask DS