Euripides, fr. 25 (Aeolus): On old Men, Lurking and Thinking

 

“Alas, the ancient proverb holds well:

We old men are nothing other than a sound

and an image, lurking imitations of dreams.

We have no mind and but we think we know how to think well.”

 

φεῦ φεῦ, παλαιὸς αἶνος ὡς καλῶς ἔχει·

γέροντες οὐδέν ἐσμεν ἄλλο πλὴν ψόφος

καὶ σχῆμ’, ὀνείρων δ’ ἕρπομεν μιμήματα·

νοῦς δ’ οὐκ ἔνεστιν, οἰόμεσθα δ’ εὖ φρονεῖν.

 

This is certainly uplifting. Not sure if I prefer to age with Euripides in mind or this:

 

Democritus, fr. 296

 

“Old age is the perfect handicap: it has everything and lacks everything.”

 

γῆρας ὁλόκληρός ἐστι πήρωσις·

πάντ’ ἔχει καὶ πᾶσιν ἐνδεῖ.

 

If not, maybe we can take some solace in Pindar:

 

Pindar, Olympian 4.25-27

“Sometimes even young men grow grey hair before the right time of life”

 

φύονται δὲ καὶ νέοις

ἐν ἀνδράσιν πολιαί

θαμάκι παρὰ τὸν ἁλικίας ἐοικότα χρόνον

 

But if we get too high on that, we can always rely on Cicero to bring us back to earth:

 

Cicero, On Old Age 24

“No one is so old that he thinks he could not live another year”

nemo enim est tam senex qui se annum non putet posse vivere

5 thoughts on “Euripides, fr. 25 (Aeolus): On old Men, Lurking and Thinking

  1. Cicero’s line reminds me of every Baby Boomer I know who always are pushing up how old is “young” to die. I haven’t heard someone who died in their 80s as dying young, but someone is going to say it to me sooner than later.

    1. Absolutely. And, the new “good age” keeps changing. 50 is the new 40! 40 is the new 30!

      I remember all the black balloons for my father’s 40th. In four years I don’t want any prattle about the new 30. I want black balloons.

      1. I plan to try and be like my dad: never talk about it at all. He just didn’t care as far as I could tell.

        I respect the black balloons though, and laugh at the “new”. The only reason 40 is the new 30 is because they now require so much training and degree getting for a career that you can’t get one before you’re 40.

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