Marcus Aurelius and COVID-19

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I keep a copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius nearby and am continually amazed by the wisdom and the timely relevance of the musings of a Roman emperor from nearly 1,900 years ago.

I learned today that he lived through the Antonine Plague of 165 CE, a global pandemic that wiped out more than 10 million people. At some point during that horrible pandemic he wrote the following in his diary:

Bear in mind constantly that all of this has happened before and will happen again—the same plot from beginning to end, the identical staging. Produce them in your mind, as you know them from experience or from history: the court of Hadrian, of Antoninus. The courts of Philip, Alexander, Croesus. All just the same. Only the people different.

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