One suspects Marcus Aurelius was referring to a particularly frustrating person, some opponent who just would not, or could not, get the message, when he wrote:
“You can hold your breath until you’re blue in the face and they’ll just go on doing it.”
There’s an American expression along those same lines: “Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty and the pig enjoys it.”
Both these pieces of advice are worth remembering for the inevitable moments that we find ourselves in conflict or at cross purposes with one of those nutty, obnoxious, stubborn jerks that make up a certain percentage of the population. Although it’s tempting to fight and argue with them, it rarely ends well, because you can’t beat someone with nothing to lose, and it’s impossible to reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into in the first place.
It takes great skill to identify irrationality and emotional reactions in other people. It takes a lot of confidence to avoid battling with someone acting out of ego. It requires patience to endure their onslaughts and put up with them in your midst.
But if you can, you’ll preserve your happiness and live a much less stressful life. It’s not your job to change other people—and even it were, crazy doesn’t want to be changed. Learn how to walk away. Learn how to de-escalate. Learn how to let other people be themselves and you just do you. It’s a much easier life, you can count on that.