A Few, Random Passages on Aging

Crates fr. 33, from Zenobius 3.15

“Give an aging horse shorter laps.”

ἵππῳ γηράσκοντι τὰ μείονα κύκλ᾿ ἐπίβαλλε

Martial, 4.78.9-10

“Let young men do these things in the open: Afer,
There is no more hideous a sight than an aged busybody”

haec faciant sane iuvenes: deformius, Afer,
omnino nihil est ardalione sene.

Plutarch, Table Talk III 656b-c

“Therefore, we eagerly welcomed the new-fangled arguments of young men because they did not take recourse to those obvious points of logic but had a wealth of their own attempts. However, there are matters ready and easy to understand: heaviness of the sweet wine, as Aristotle says, smashes through the stomach and there is a great deal of gas and moisture mixed together. On of these, drives through and escapes; the other naturally makes the wine weaker. But aging gives it more power as the water is separated. And the wine, though less in measure, is more forceful in strength.”

Σφόδρ᾿ οὖν ἀπεδεξάμεθα τὴν εὑρησιλογίαν τῶν νεανίσκων, ὅτι τοῖς ἐμποδὼν οὐκ ἐπιπεσόντες ἰδίων ηὐπόρησαν ἐπιχειρημάτων. ἐπεὶ τά γε πρόχειρα καὶ ῥᾴδια λαβεῖν ἥ τε βαρύτης ἐστὶ τοῦ γλεύκους, ὡς Ἀριστοτέλης φησίν, ἡ διακόπτουσα τὴν κοιλίαν, καὶ τὸ πολὺ συμμεμιγμένον πνευματῶδες καὶ ὑδατῶδες· ὧν τὸ μὲν εὐθὺς ἐκπίπτει βιαζόμενον, τὸ δὲ πέφυκε ἀμβλύτερον ποιεῖν τὸν οἶνον· παλαίωσις δ᾿ ἐπίτασιν ποιεῖ, ἐκκρινομένου τοῦ ὑδατώδους· καὶ γίγνεται μέτρῳ μὲν ἐλάττων ὁ οἶνος δυνάμει δὲ σφοδρότερος.

Historia Augusta, Tacitus 5

And then these shouts came from the senate: “Trajan came to rule as an old man too” they cried ten times. “Hadrian also came to rule as an old man,” they cried ten times. “Antoninus, too, came to power as an old man,” they cried ten times. Then they shouted ten times, “You have also read yourself: “the gray beard of a roman king! Can anyone rule better than an old man?” They asked ten times. “We are making you emperor, not soldier!” They said twenty times, “You order, let soldiers fight.” Then they yelled thirty times, “You have wisdom and a good brother.” Then they said twenty times, “Severus says the head rules, not the feet!” Then they said thirty times, “We are selecting your mind not your body.” And the added twenty times, “Tacitus Augustus, May the gods preserve you!”

Post haec adclamationes senatus haec fuerunt: “Et Traianus ad imperium senex venit.” dixerunt decies. “Et Hadrianus ad imperium senex venit.” dixerunt decies. “Et Antoninus ad imperium senex venit.” dixerunt decies. “Et tu legisti: ‘Incanaque menta regis Romani.’” dixerunt decies. “Ecquis melius quam seneximperat?” dixerunt decies. “Imperatorem te, non militem facimus. dixerunt vicies. “Tu iube, milites pugnent.” dixerunt tricies. “Habes prudentiam et bonum fratrem.” dixerunt decies. “Severus dixit caput imperare non pedes.” dixerunt tricies. “Animum tuum, non corpus eligimus.” dixerunt vicies. “Tacite Auguste, di te servent!”


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