On Old Age (De Senectute)


by Cicero (-106 - -43)

The 84-year-old author, using Marcus Cato as narrator, and playing wittily with the allowances made for elderly garrulity and digression, advises us to trust Nature’s wisdom, adapt to our limitations, and enjoy the respect accorded to old age.

He recommends consciousness of a well-spent life, the rejuvenation of younger friends and lively dining clubs, and reminds us that, sitting in a theatre’s back row, we nonetheless attend the play. He answers four reasons for unhappy aging, some more convincingly than others (believing, for example, that senility comes only to ‘unsound character’), amid beautiful similes of ripening vines and sea voyages.

Related recommendations: Montaigne’s ‘On the length of life’

Origin: Rome

Themes: How to Age and/or Die

Genres: Aphoristic, Dialogue or Epistolary, Spiritual or Philosophical Meditation

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