Petrarch, Against a Man of Great Rank (7):
I shall try, even though at an advanced age, to keep learning, so that by my vigilance I can reduce the charge against me as much as is given to me to do so. Plenty of people have learned a lot in old age: for years do not extinguish the mind, and indeed, they readily set ablaze the desire for learning, while cautious senescence looks about at what is lacking to it, because insolent youth had not seen it. Solon learned in old age, as did Socrates, as did Plato, and even Cato learned to the end. In fact, the older he got, the more thirsty for literature he was!
What is to prevent me from standing in their tracks – though with an unequal stride, it will yet be with equal desire. No one is so fast that you can’t at least chase them from far behind. Perhaps I will learn, great censor, perhaps I will learn something which will make me appear not uneducated in your eyes. I wish that you had advised me in my youth, and has left a fitting space for this fine undertaking. Yet, I will persist, and (what alone is left) I will compensate for the brevity of time with my haste. Often, in a short time or narrow space, great and illustrious things have been accomplished.
Nitar, etsi plena sit etas, adhuc discere, ut obiectum crimen, qua dabitur, vigilando diluam. Multa in senectute didicerunt multi; neque enim ingenium anni exstinguunt, et noscendi desiderium ultro accendunt, dum quid desit sibi senectus cauta circumspicit, quod insolens iuventa non viderat. Didicit in senio Solon, didicit Socrates, didicit Plato, didicit ad extremum Cato, qui quo senior, eo sitientior literarum fuit. Quid me prohibet horum vestigiis insistere, gressu licet impari, desiderio tamen pari? Nemo est tam velox, quem non longe saltem sequi valeas. Discam fortasse, magne censor, discam aliquid, quo non tam indoctus videar tibi. Vellem me in adolescentia monuisses, et iustum spatium pulcro conatui reliquisses. Instabo tamen, et, quod unum est iam reliquum, brevitatem temporis velocitate pensabo. Sepe in angusto seu temporum seu locorum magne res atque egregie geste sunt.