- Meditations, 2:1
A virtuous life is not for the lazy. It does not sleep in. It does not start its day after it's had its cup of coffee. It reminds itself of its role and duties in life; of what consists of Virtue and Vice; and prepares itself for anything that unpredictable Fortune might bring.
We say to ourselves many things at daybreak. We lament to ourselves over another day of work. We remember our ambitions and aspirations. We hate the alarm clock for waking us up for another day of work. We grumble to ourselves about everything under the sun. On the weekends we even curse the sun for waking us up. The best of us simply tell ourselves that we want breakfast or we need to go to the bathroom.
Emperor Marcus could have said just about anything to anybody at daybreak and had his will accomplished. A woman? Done. An extravagant breakfast? Done. The torture or execution of an enemy? Done.
But he does not command anybody anything, though anything that he asked of anybody would have been accomplished immediately. As the most famous man in Rome he could have easily complained to himself about his high position and the lack of privacy it entails. He does not complain about the numerous duties his position as emperor of the civilized world demands of him. Unlike us, he does not wish that he could sleep for a half hour more. He does not even look for his breakfast or for his urine bucket.
Instead, Emperor Marcus reminds himself of the things he needs to keep in mind throughout the day in order to live a virtuous life.