The Virtues of Age

The Virtues of Age

Marcus Tullius Cicero 106-43 BC


“Those… who allege that old age is devoid of useful activity… are like those who would say that the pilot does nothing in the sailing of his ship, because, while others are climbing the masts, or running about the gangways, or working at the pumps, he sits quietly in the stern and simply holds the tiller.  He may not be doing what younger members of the crew are doing, but what he does is better and much more important. It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment; in these qualities old age is usually not … poorer, but is even richer.”

From “Cicero, On Old Age.”

Cicero’s De Senectute (on Old Age), translated with introduction and notes by Andrew P. Peabody  (Leopold Classic Library, 2015).


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