Reading it now in English translation, I think that the problem was that I was approaching it in Polish or Croatian translation, in which it seemed unnatural to me. Was it the projected catholicism in those translations, even if ony in verbalisation, or bad translators, or maybe I was not mature enough yet, I do not know.
So, it took me almost half a century to mature to Marcus Aurelius. Not bad.
In a rather dry Penguin "Great Ideas" English edition, it achieved appropriate form for me, I felt that I am having a discourse with the Emperor-philosopher.
At moments it felt like reading of the excerpts from an email Emperor would write from his seclusion at some of the summer villas. Considering his timelessness-it is not a little feat to be a best-selling author for almost 2000 years after you disappear from the Earth-I give him a credit for being a bore sometimes, with his all too frequent reminders that we are not to dwell the Earth for long, and that both we and our doings will cease to be, all too soon.
So, yes, even in English rendering I did not find him jolly. It was an encounter with rather a sullen Emperor, but at least I could feel the person behind the text. It was not leading me-or the translator-to some shallow musings of a Catholic obsessive manic melancholic.
I definitely admire Marcus' being so down to earth a man, when he could bask in the purpury and not give a damn about posterity, or those before him. He did not make much of them or himself, but he remained true to simplicity of thought, loftiness was a stranger to him.
Ave Marcus Aurelius!