Your Occasional Stoic – Manners Make the Man

An occasional series of posts quoting  the great works of stoicism with some short notes from me.

From Alexander the grammarian: not to leap on mistakes, or captiously interrupt when anyone makes an error of vocabulary, syntax, or pronunciation, but neatly to introduce the correct form of that particular expression by way of answer, confirmation, or discussion of the matter itself rather than its phrasing – or by some other such felicitous prompting

–  Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 1:10

  • Solid advice, Marcus.
  •  Alexander the grammarian is Alexander of Cotiaeum, one of Marcus’s tutors.  He also taught the sophist Aelius Aristides.  I bet you anything Aristides corrected the hell out of everyone he met.
  • One of the reasons I am drawn to the Meditations is it mixing of aphorisms like this – simple instructions towards kindness and civility – with others on  how to remain unmoved in the face of death.  It is a book of simple practical advice and ruminations on the things that cause us sleepless nights.
  • Whether Marcus really meant the Meditations only for his own use and not for publication is something we will never really know, but little points like this one make you think he was coaching himself, trying to suppress his own pedantic tendencies.

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  1. jeannettesmyth

    i am really interested in the deployment of impeccable, impenetrable and sometimes brutal good manners. as when the parker bowles opened the door for princess diana to leave the room, where diana had been telling the PB to stop schtupping diana’s hubs, and curtseyed as HRH staggered out the door. also all the novels of edith wharton. caramba! lily bart as marcus aurelius!
    thx for this.

    1. seanv2

      “Brutal good manners”, what an excellent phrase! Of course, being that he the emperor and all, I doubt people corrected Marcus’s grammar very often.

  2. jeannettesmyth

    the king’s english is uncorrectable, i think. unless you are the parker bowles.

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