Monday, May 26, 2014

Cicero on Old Age

I was inspired by Bishop Ambrose's De Officiis (On the Duties of the Clergy) to read Cicero's De Officiis (translated by PG Walsh as On Obligations) and now I am reading Cicero's Old Age - "Great deeds are not done by strength or speed or physique: they are the products of thought, and character, and judgment" (VI, 15). Cicero also shares how in Cato's latter years, the elder statesman learned how to read Greek (there is yet hope for me!). "Early adulthood is naturally rash; sound sense only comes with advancing years."
Cicero also recounts how the Spartans respected the elderly but not in Athens with a story of an old man entering an Athenian theatre who could not find a seat and no one offered a seat to him but when the old man reached the section where the Spartan delegation was seated, each Spartan rose up, one after the other and offered the old man his seat. The gathering rose and applauded loud and long the actions of the Spartans but the latter exclaimed: "The Athenians know what good behaviour is, but they do not put their knowledge into practice!"

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