Cato Maior de Senectute
by Marcus Tullius Cicero
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American Edition Revised



Copyright, 1882


Three years ago Mr. James S. Reid, of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, prepared for the Syndics of the University Press editions of Cicero's Cato Maior de Senectute and Laelius de Amicitia. The thorough and accurate scholarship displayed, especially in the elucidation of the Latinity, immediately won for the books a cordial reception; and since then they have gained a permanent place in the esteem of English scholars.

The present volume has the full authorization of Mr. Reid, and was prepared with the design of presenting to American students, in a form best adapted to their use, the results of his work. The Text remains substantially that of Mr. Reid; while mention is made in the notes of the most important variations in readings and orthography from other editions. The Introductions have been recast, with some enlargement; the analyses of the subject-matter in particular have been entirely remodelled. The Notes have been in some instances reduced, in others amplified,—especially by the addition of references to the standard treatises on grammar, history, and philosophy. It was at first the intention of the American editor to indicate by some mark the matter due to himself; but as this could hardly be done without marring the appearance of the page, and thus introducing a source of confusion to the student, it was not attempted. In the work of revision free use of the principal German and English editions has been made.

To some the notes of the present edition may appear too copious. The aim throughout, however, has been not simply to give aid on difficult points, but to call attention to the finer usages of the Latin, and to add also whatever explanation seemed necessary to a clear understanding of the subject-matter. Latin scholarship which shall be at the same time broad and accurate, including not only a mastery of the language but also a comprehensive view of the various phases of Roman life and thought, will, it is believed, be best assured by the slow and careful reading of some portions of the literature and by the rapid survey of others. Certainly of the shorter Latin classics few would more fully repay close and careful study of both language and thought than these charming colloquies on Old Age and Friendship. While almost faultless in expression, they embody in a remarkable degree that universal element which characterizes the literary masterpiece, and makes it the valued possession not merely of an age or a nation, but of all time.


LAKE FOREST, ILL., May, 1882.

* * * * *




In Philosophy the Romans originated nothing. Their energies in the earlier years of the state were wholly absorbed in organization and conquest. Resting in a stern and simple creed, they had little speculative interest in matters outside the hard routine of their daily life. But with the close of the Period of Conquest came a change. The influx of wealth from conquered provinces, the formation of large landed estates, the excessive employment of slave labor, and the consequent rise of a new aristocracy, prepared the way for a great revolution. The old religion lost its hold on the higher classes; something was needed to take its place. With wealth and luxury came opportunity and desire for culture. Greece, with Art, Literature, and Philosophy fully developed and highly perfected, stood ready to instruct her rude conqueror.[1]

In Cicero's time the productive era of Greek Philosophy had well-nigh passed. Its tendency was less speculative, more ethical and practical than in the earlier time. There were four prominent schools, the New Academy, the Peripatetic, the Stoic, and the Epicurean. The supporters of the last-named advocated in Science the doctrine of the atom, in Ethics the pursuit of pleasure, in Religion the complete inactivity of the gods.

The Stoics and Peripatetics were divided by comparatively unimportant differences. In Ethics, considered by them as almost the whole of Philosophy, which was itself defined as 'the art of living', the main question between the two schools was the amount of importance to be attributed to Virtue,—the Stoics declaring that in comparison with Virtue all other things sink into absolute insignificance, while the Peripatetics maintained that these have a certain though infinitesimally small significance. The New Academy taught at this time no complete philosophical system. It simply proclaimed the view that in the field of knowledge certainty is unattainable, and that all the inquirer has to do is to balance probabilities one against the other. The New Academic, therefore, was free to accept any opinions which seemed to him to have the weight of probability on their side, but he was bound to be ready to abandon them when anything appeared which altered his views of the probabilities. He not only might be, but he could not help being, eclectic; that is, he chose such views promulgated by other schools as seemed to him at the moment to be most reasonable or probable. Cicero called himself an adherent of this school. On most points however, although eclectic, he agreed with the Peripatetics, but with a decided leaning toward the Stoic ethical system. The Stoic opinion that it is the duty of the wise man to abstain from public life, which the Peripatetics contested, Cicero decisively rejected. With the Epicureans he had absolutely no sympathy. Up to this time these schools and their teachings were known to the Romans only through the medium of the Greek. The only Latin philosophical literature was Epicurean, and, excepting the poem of Lucretius (De Rerum Natura), scarcely famous as yet, consisted entirely of books rudely written, although considerably read.


Cicero made no claim to originality as a philosopher, nor even to complete acquaintance with every detail of the Greek systems.[2] In early life he had studied with enthusiasm and success all the learning of the Greeks, but especially in the two departments of Rhetoric and Philosophy, then closely connected, or rather hardly distinguished. He not only sought the society of learned Greeks, but spent considerable time in study at Rhodes and Athens, which had become not merely the 'school of Greece', as Thucydides makes Pericles call her, but the school of the civilized world.[3] When, by reason of political troubles, he was forced to retire to private life, he began to carry out a great plan for interpreting the best philosophical writings of the Greeks to his fellow-countrymen. For this work his liberal views as a New Academic peculiarly fitted him. His usual method was to take one or two leading Greek works on the subject with which he was dealing, and to represent freely in his own language their subject-matter, introducing episodes and illustrations of his own. He thus presented to the Romans in their own tongue the most significant portions of the Greek Philosophy; and in his writings there has come down to us much, especially of the Post-Aristotelian Philosophy, that was doomed to oblivion in the original Greek. But further than this, to Cicero more than to any other Roman is due the formation of a Latin philosophical vocabulary, by which the language was enriched and fitted for the part it has since taken as the Language of the Learned. While on many points Cicero's own views can hardly be determined with perfect exactness, the exalted sentiments and the exquisite literary finish of his philosophical writings have always won admiration; and through them he has exerted no small influence on the literature and life of modern times.[4]


During the whole of an exceptionally busy public life Cicero devoted his spare moments to reading and to the society of the learned. After his exile in 58 and 57 B.C. his political career, except for a brief period just before his death, was over, and it is at this time that his period of great literary activity begins, In 55 he produced the work De Oratore, in 54 the De Re Publica, and in 52 the De Legibus, all three works, according to ancient ideas, entitled to rank as philosophical.[5]

From 51 to 46 B.C., owing first to his absence in Cilicia, then to the civil troubles, Cicero almost ceased to write. But in the latter year he was reconciled with Caesar, and as the Senate and law courts were closed against him on his refusal to compromise his political principles, he betook himself with greater devotion than ever to literature. The first work written in 46 was the Hortensius, or De Philosophia, now lost. It was founded on a lost dialogue of Aristotle, and set forth the advantages of studying Philosophy. During the same year Cicero completed several oratorical works, the Partitiones Oratoriae, the Brutus, or De Claris Oratoribus, and the Orator, all of which are extant.

Early in 45 Cicero lost his beloved daughter Tullia. He passed the whole year in retirement, trying to soothe his grief by incessant writing. In quick succession appeared

De Consolatione, an attempt to apply philosophy to the mitigation of his own sorrow and that of others;

Academica, an exposition of the New Academic Philosophy, advocating probability rather than certainty as the foundation of philosophy;

De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, a work criticising the most prominent views entertained concerning Ethics;

Disputationes Tusculanae, treating of certain conditions essential to morality and happiness;

De Natura Deorum, an examination of the principal theories regarding the nature and power of the gods;

Cato Maior, on old age; Laelius, on friendship;

De Fato, discussing Fate and Free Will;

Paradoxa, a book setting forth certain remarkable views of the Stoics;

De Officiis, a treatise on practical ethics, the application of moral principles to the questions and difficulties of ordinary life.

These works, written mostly in 45 and 44, are, except the De Cons., still extant. To the list may be added also other works of a rhetorical nature, such as the Topica and De Optima Genere Dicendi, and some lost philosophical books, such as De Gloria.

Even though allowance be made for the fact that Cicero was giving in Latin the substance of Greek books with which he had been familiar from boyhood, the mental vigor and literary power exhibited by this series of works appear prodigious when we consider their great compass and variety and the generally high finish of their style.

References.—For a fuller account of Cicero's philosophical views and writings consult Ritter, 'History of Ancient Philosophy', Vol. 4, Ch. 2; Maurice, 'Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy', Ch. 7, Sec. 5; Tennemann and Morell, 'History of Philosophy', Ch. 3; Ueberweg, 'History of Philosophy', Vol I, Sec. 61; J.B. Mayor, 'Sketch of Ancient Philosophy', pp. 223-244; Teuffel, 'History of Roman Literature', Vol. i, Sec. 172 et seq. Cruttwell, 'History of Roman Literature', Bk. II. Part 1, Ch. 2; 'Cicero', by Collins, in Ancient Classics for English Readers, Ch. 10, et seq.; also the Introduction to Reid's edition of the Academica, and the account of Cicero by Prof. Ramsay in Smith's Dictionary of Biography and Mythology. The most attractive biography of Cicero in English is that by Forsyth. That by Trollope is able but quite partisan. On the philosophy, consult also Zeller's 'Eclectics.'



1. Date and Circumstances of Composition.

The date at which the Cato Maior was written can be determined with almost perfect exactness. A mention in Cicero's work entitled De Divinatione[6] shows that the Cato Maior preceded that work by a short time. The De Divinatione was written after the assassination of Caesar, that is, after the 15th of March in the year 44.[7] Again, the Cato Maior is mentioned as a recent work in three letters addressed by Cicero to Atticus.[8] The earliest of these letters was written on or about the 12th of May, 44.[9] We shall hardly err, therefore, if we assume that Cicero composed the Cato Maior in April of the year 44.[10] This agrees also with slight indications in the work itself. In the dedicatory introduction Cicero speaks of troubles weighing heavily on himself and Atticus.[11] Any one who reads the letters to Atticus despatched in April, 44, will have little doubt that the troubles hinted at are the apprehensions as to the course of Antonius, from whom Cicero had personally something to fear. Atticus was using all the influence he could bring to bear on Antonius in order to secure Cicero's safety; hence Cicero's care to avoid in the dedication all but the vaguest possible allusions to politics. Had that introduction been written before Caesar's death, we should have had plain allusions (as in the prooemia of the Academica, the De Finibus, the Tusculan Disputations, and the De Natura Deorum) to Caesar's dictatorship.[12]

The time was one of desperate gloom for Cicero. The downfall of the old constitution had overwhelmed him with sorrow, and his brief outburst of joy over Caesar's death had been quickly succeeded by disgust and alarm at the proceedings of Antonius. The deep wound caused by his daughter's death[13] was still unhealed. It is easy to catch in the Cato Maior some echoes of his grief for her. When it is said that of all Cato's titles to admiration none is higher than the fortitude he showed in bearing the death of his son,[14] the writer is thinking of the struggle he himself had been waging against a like sorrow for more than a year past; and when Cato expresses his firm conviction that he will meet his child beyond the grave,[15] we can see Cicero's own yearning for reunion with his deeply loved Tullia.

2. Greek Sources.

All Cicero's philosophical and rhetorical writings were confessedly founded more or less on Greek originals.[16] The stores from which he principally drew in writing the Cato Maior are clearly indicated in several parts of the work. Passages from Xenophon's Oeconomicus are translated in Chapters 17 and 22. In Chapters 2 and 3 there is a close imitation of the conversation between Socrates and Cephalus at the beginning of Plato's Republic, while in Chapter 21 is reproduced one of the most striking portions of the Phaedo, 72 E-73 B, 78-80.[17] The view of the divine origin and destiny of the human soul contained in the passage from the Phaedo is rendered by Cicero in many of his works,[18] and was held by him with quite a religious fervor and sincerity.

Besides these instances of special indebtedness Cicero, in composing the Cato Maior, was no doubt under obligations of a more general kind to the Greeks. The form of the dialogue is Greek, and Aristotelian rather than Platonic.[19] But further, it is highly probable that Cicero owed to some particular Greek dialogue on Old Age the general outline of the arguments he there brings forward. Many of the Greek illustrative allusions may have had the same origin, though in many cases Roman illustrations must have been substituted for Greek. Whether the dialogue by Aristo Cius, cursorily mentioned in the Cato Maior,[20] was at all used by Cicero or not it is impossible to determine.[21]

3. Purpose.

The Cato Maior is a popular essay in Ethics, applying the principles of philosophy to the alleviation of one of life's chief burdens, old age. In ancient times, when philosophy formed the real and only religion of the educated class, themes like this were deemed to afford a worthy employment for the pens even of the greatest philosophers. Such essays formed the only substitute the ancients had for our Sermons. There can be no doubt of Cicero's sincerity when he says that the arguments he sets forth in the treatise had given him real comfort,[22] and the opening words of the dedication show that he meant and hoped to administer the same comfort to his friend Atticus, who indeed acknowledged the benefit he derived from the work.[23] When Cicero wrote the treatise he was himself sixty-two years of age, while his friend was three years older. He speaks, therefore, rather euphemistically when he says that his purpose is to lighten the trouble of an old age which is already close at hand, or at all events approaching.[24]

But in addition to the main ethical purpose, there was, as in many of Cicero's works, a distinct political purpose. He desired to stimulate in his readers an admiration for what he regarded as the golden age of Roman politics, the era of the Punic wars, and to do this by making the contrast between that age and his own appear as striking as possible. A like double purpose is apparent throughout the De Re Publica, where Africanus the younger is the chief personage, and in the treatise on Friendship, where Laelius is the central figure. For the dialogue on Old Age M. Porcius Cato the Censor is selected as the principal speaker for two reasons: first, because he was renowned for the vigor of mind and body he displayed in advanced life;[25] and secondly, because in him were conspicuously exhibited the serious simplicity, the unswerving adherence to principle, and the self-sacrificing patriotism which were the ideal Roman virtues, and which Cicero could not find among the politicians of his time.

4. Form and Language.

The Cato Maior, like most of Cicero's philosophical writings, is cast in the form of a dialogue. Among the ancients the dialogue was a common rhetorical device, especially in the presentation of abstruse subjects. The introduction of characters to conduct the discussion gave vividness and clearness to the unfolding of the argument, as well as a kind of dramatic interest to the production. In the Cato Maior[26] and the Laelius, as generally, Cicero followed the plan of Aristotle's dialogues (now lost) rather than that of the dialogues of Plato. In the former there was more of exposition and less of discussion than in the latter; one person stated his views on some question, and the company in attendance only made occasional remarks without attempting to debate the question. In the latter, although one person, Socrates, is everywhere prominent, others are continually drawn into the discussions, and there is a quick interchange of question and answer. The Aristotelian form was better adapted to Cicero's purposes than the Platonic; the progress of the argument was less interrupted, and thus better opportunity for a symmetrical development of the theme was afforded. Then, too, the former was more popular. The style of Aristotle[27] had been imitated by Theophrastus and many other writers down to Cicero's time, while that of Plato had found hardly any imitators.

The editors of the Cato Maior have generally assumed that Cicero attempted to give an antique coloring to the diction of the dialogue in order to remind readers of Cato's own style. It is only necessary to read a page or two of Cato's De Re Rustica to have this illusion dispelled. The only things actually alleged to be archaisms are (1) the use of deponent participles as passives in Sec.Sec. 4, 59, 74, a thing common enough in Cicero; (2) the occurrence of quasi = quem ad modum in Sec. 71; (3) of audaciter = audacter in Sec. 72; (4) of tuerentur for intuerentur in Sec. 77; (5) of neutiquam in Sec. 42; (6) of the nominative of the gerundive governing an accusative case in Sec. 6. In every instance the notes will supply a refutation of the allegation. That Cicero should attempt to write in any style but his own is exceedingly improbable.

5. Personages.

The conversation is supposed to take place between Cato, Scipio Africanus the younger, and Laelius, in the year before Cato's death, i.e. 150 B.C., when he was in his eighty-fourth year,[28] Scipio being about 35 and Laelius a few years older.

(1.) Cato. M. Porcius Cato was born in 234 B.C.[29] at the ancient Latin town of Tusculum. Little is known of his family except that it was plebeian, and possessed a small patrimony in the territory of the Sabines, close to the farm of M'. Curius Dentatus, one of Cato's great heroes and models. The heads of the family, so far as memory extended, had distinguished themselves as tough warriors and hardy farmers. Among the Sabines, who even down to the times of the Empire were famed for simplicity of manners and the practice of all the sterner virtues, Cato passed those portions of his life which were not occupied with business of state. From his earliest days he toiled in his own fields, and contented himself with the hardest rustic life.[30] Yet even in his boyhood Cato must have passed intervals at Rome, and seen something of the great statesmen and generals of the time.[31] He seems to have received when young as thorough an education as was possible without learning Greek, such an education as was to be obtained only in the capital. He grew up to manhood in the comparatively quiet period between the first and the second Punic wars; the most exciting event of his younger years must have been the destruction at Clastidium of the vast hordes of Celts who had swept over the northern half of Italy, almost within reach of Rome.

Cato was of the age for military service about the time of the battle of Lake Trasimenus, and entered the army then as a common soldier.[32] The first expedition in which he is definitely said to have taken part is that of Q. Fabius Maximus Cunctator against Hannibal in Campania, in 214.[33] This Roman commander was a man entirely after Cato's heart, and became one of his models in public life.

Before and during the early years of his soldier's life, Cato succeeded in winning some reputation as an orator, having practised first in the provincial courts near his home, and afterwards at Rome.[34] This reputation as well as his great force of character procured for him a powerful life-long friend and patron, M. Valerius Flaccus, a statesman of the old Roman conservative-democratic school of politics, the leader of which was Fabius Cunctator. Through the influence of Flaccus, possibly with the aid of Fabius, Cato became military tribune, and served with that rank under Marcellus in Sicily, under Fabius again at the capture of Tarentum in 209,[35] and under C. Claudius Nero at the battle of the Metaurus, where he contributed materially to that great victory.

In 204 Cato began his political career with the quaestorship.[36] As he was a novus homo and a man of small private means, it was no small distinction that he had forced his way to office in his thirtieth year. The lot assigned him as quaestor to Scipio, then in Sicily and about to cross over into Africa. The chance was most unfortunate, if for no other reason, because Cato was intimately connected with the party in the senate opposed to Scipio, which had been attempting to bring him to trial for the atrocities committed by the Roman army in southern Italy. But in addition the two men were so utterly different that there was no possibility of the quaestor standing in that filial relation to his consul, which old Roman custom required. As financial officer, Cato complained of the luxury and extravagance which Scipio allowed not only to himself but to his army. Yet the complaint was made not so much on economic as on moral grounds; it seemed to Cato that the old Roman discipline and power to endure hardships were being swept away. The dispute was ended by Scipio allowing Cato to return to Rome, some authorities say from Sicily, others from Africa. According to one writer,[37] he came home by way of Sardinia and brought thence with him Ennius the poet.[38]

In 199 Cato was plebeian aedile, and exercised with severity the police jurisdiction pertaining to that office, yet so as to win popular approval, since he was chosen praetor for 198 without the usual interval. The province of Sardinia was entrusted to him, and he strained every nerve to make his government present as strong a contrast as possible with the lax and corrupt administration of the nobles who took Scipio for their pattern. The troops were sternly disciplined, and law-breakers of every kind severely dealt with; in money matters the strictest economy prevailed; all gifts from provincials to Roman officers were forbidden. The praetor, the great representative of Roman power, passed from town to town attended by a single servant.

In 196 Cato was occupied with his canvass for the consulship of the year 195, to which he was elected in company with his friend Flaccus. Cato was the first novus homo elected since C. Flaminius, the consul of 217. It is probable, though not certain, that he paved the way to his election by carrying the first of the leges Porciae, restricting the right of punishing Roman citizens. During the whole of his career Cato showed a high sense of the importance of the individual civis Romanus.

One of the first official acts of the new consul was to deliver a set speech to the people against a proposal to repeal the Oppian law, passed twenty years before, the object of which was to prevent lavish expenditure on dress and adornments, particularly by women. We have a lively report of Cato's speech from Livy's pen, partly founded on the speech as published by Cato himself.[39] The earnest pleading in favor of simple manners and economy failed, after having almost caused an open insurrection on the part of the women.[40]

The two new provinces in Spain, Hispania Citerior and Ulterior, were still in a very unsettled state. The nearer province was made a consular province and assigned to Cato; the praetor who governed the farther province was also placed under Cato's jurisdiction. Before leaving Rome Cato carried a law for protecting the provincials from extortion. During the whole of his year of office he practised with the utmost exactness his principles of purity, simplicity, and economy in public affairs. He is said to have started from his house on the journey to Spain with only three servants, but when he got as far as the forum, it struck him that such an attendance was scarcely worthy of a Roman consul; so he purchased two more slaves on the spot! In the same spirit, before returning he sold his horse that the state might not be at the expense of transporting it to Italy. Cato was no less careful of the revenue than of the expenditure. He largely increased the productiveness of the mines and other property belonging to the state, and all goods captured from the enemy were sold for the benefit of the exchequer. On leaving the province Cato made an unusually large gift to each soldier, saying that it was better for all to bring home silver than for a few to bring home gold. The provincials were thoroughly content with their ruler and ever after looked on him as their best friend. The army was kept in the strictest discipline. Some disorderly conduct of the equites was rebuked by Cato in a bitter harangue which he afterwards published. Partly by craft, partly by good leadership in the field, Cato broke the strength of the turbulent natives and returned to enjoy a well-earned triumph.[41] In the same year (194) a brilliant triumph was celebrated by Flamininus.

Scipio, probably uneasy at the great reputations quickly won by Flamininus and Cato, secured his second consulship for the year 194, but failed to achieve anything remarkable. Cato probably spent the three years after his return for the most part at his Sabine farm. When the war against Antiochus broke out, he took service along with his friend Flaccus on the staff of the consul Glabrio,[42] and by a difficult march over the mountains broke in on the king's rear, and so was chiefly instrumental in winning the great battle of Thermopylae, by which Antiochus was driven out of Greece. Immediately after the battle Cato returned home with despatches. We have dim and uncertain information that he took the field once or twice again, but his career as a soldier was practically ended.

From this time to his death, forty years later, Cato was the leading figure on the stage of Roman politics. In season and out of season he attacked abuses or innovations in speeches addressed to the senate, the people, or the courts. Soon after his return from Thessaly he struck a heavy blow at the unrepublican honor-hunting among the magistrates, of which the example had been set by P. Scipio Africanus. Most provincial governors drove their subjects into war, sent lying despatches home about their victories, and claimed a triumph. In 190 Cato attacked with success the proposal to grant a triumph to Q. Minucius Thermus, who had already triumphed over the Spaniards as praetor, and after his consulship in 193 had fought against the Ligurians. Cato's next victim was his former commander M'. Acilius Glabrio, who came forward at the same time with Cato, Marcellus (a son of the captor of Syracuse), L. Cornelius Scipio Nasica, T. Quinctius Flamininus (the conqueror of Macedonia) and Cato's friend L. Valerius Flaccus, as candidate for the censorship of 189. Cato by his violent speeches procured the trial of Glabrio for appropriating the plunder captured in Thessaly, and himself gave evidence concerning some property which had disappeared. Glabrio denounced Cato as a perjurer, but yet retired from his candidature. On this occasion Cato and Flaccus failed, Marcellus being elected as plebeian and Flamininus as patrician censor.

In the next year (188) Cato acted in the senate with the party which tried unsuccessfully to refuse the triumph to the two consuls of 189, M. Fulvius Nobilior and Cn. Manlius Vulso, the former of whom had gained none but trifling advantages over the Aetolians, while the latter had disgraced the Roman name by making war without authorization upon the Gauls of Asia Minor, and had also suffered a humiliating defeat from some Thracian robber bands on his homeward march. Not disheartened by ill success, Cato and his friends determined to strike at higher game. L. Scipio Asiaticus (or Asiagenus), the brother of Africanus, was asserted in the senate to have appropriated 3000 talents of public money when in command against Antiochus. Legal proceedings were taken not only against Asiaticus, but against Africanus, who behaved with great violence and arrogance. In the end Africanus withdrew to his country estate, while his brother was condemned to pay a heavy fine. A death-stroke had been given to the almost kingly authority of Africanus, who never again showed his face in Rome. The proceedings against the Scipios seem to have begun in 187 and not to have been completed before 185.

Nearly twenty years had passed since the conflict between Cato and Scipio began, and now it had ended in a complete triumph for Cato.[43] But the new modes of which Scipio was the chief patron were too strong to be conquered, and Cato spent the rest of his life in fighting a hopeless battle against them, though he fought for a time with the strongest weapons that the constitution supplied. In 184 he was censor along with Flaccus, who seems to have allowed his colleague full liberty of action. Every portion of the censor's duty was carried out on the most severe and 'old Roman' principles. Seven senators were degraded, among them L. Flamininus, an ex-consul and brother of the 'liberator of the Hellenes,' for serious misconduct,[44] also Manilius, an ex-praetor, for no worse offence than that of having kissed his wife in presence of his daughter. M. Furius Purpurio, who had actually competed with Cato for the censorship, was punished for diverting a public aqueduct for his private advantage. Flaccus was named leader of the senate in the place of Scipio Africanus, now dead.

On reviewing the equites, Cato removed from that body L. Scipio and many others on various charges: this one had allowed himself to grow too fat for horsemanship; that had failed to groom his horse properly; another had neglected his farm; another again had made an untimely jest on the occasion of the review itself. With the ordinary citizens Cato dealt just as harshly. In his censorian edict he sharply reproved the extravagance prevalent at private feasts. All articles of luxury, such as slaves purchased at fancy prices, luxurious clothing, carriages, statues, and pictures were rendered liable to heavy taxation. In this way Cato revenged himself for the repeal of the Oppian law.

In looking after the property and income of the state Cato followed the same principles he had acted on in Spain. He reduced the expenditure on public works as far as possible, and took care to sell at the full price the right to collect the revenue. Encroachments on the property of the nation were severely punished.

Not by acts only, but by constant speeches, full at once of grimness and humor, did Cato struggle against the degeneracy of his time[45]. He concluded his period of office with a self-laudatory harangue, and assumed the title Censorius, while his statue was placed in the temple of the goddess Salus with an inscription affirming that he had reformed the Roman nation.

But in a very brief time all trace of Cato's activity as censor was swept away, except that afforded by the numerous life-long quarrels in which he had involved himself[46]. In less than two years one of his victims, Purpurio, was employed by the senate on a high political mission, while another, L. Flamininus, sat among the senators at the games in defiance of Cato's sentence. Yet Cato remained by far the most powerful member of the senate. Titus Flamininus, his only important rival, quickly passed out of notice. So far as there was any democratic opposition to the senatorial oligarchy, Cato was the leader of that opposition for the remainder of his life. But at that period no great political movements agitated the state within; nearly the whole interest of the time was centred in the foreign relations of Rome. On matters of foreign policy Cato offered but little opposition to the prevailing tendencies of the age, though on particular occasions he exercised great influence. But his voice was at all times loudly heard on all questions of morality and public order. He supported the lex Furia and the lex Voconia, the object of which was to prevent the dissipation of family property, and the lex Orchia, directed against extravagant expenditure on feasts, also the lex Baebia de ambitu, the first serious attempt to check bribery. We hear also that Cato bitterly attacked Lepidus, censor in 180, for erecting a permanent theatre in place of the movable booths before used. The building was actually pulled down. We are told that from time to time he denounced the misdoings of provincial governors. In 171 he was one of a commission of five for bringing to justice three ex-praetors who had practised all manner of corruption in Spain. Almost the last act of his life was to prosecute Galba for cruel misgovernment of the Lusitanians. The titles of Cato's speeches show that he played a great part in the deliberations of the senate concerning foreign affairs, but as his fighting days were over and he was unfitted for diplomacy, we have little explicit evidence of his activity in this direction. At the end of the third Macedonian war he successfully opposed the annexation of Macedonia. He also saved from destruction the Rhodians, who during the war had plainly desired the victory of Perseus, and in the early days, when the Roman commanders had ill success, had deeply wounded the whole Roman nation by an offer to mediate between them and the king of Macedon.

Cato had all his life retained his feeling of enmity to the Carthaginians, whom Scipio, he thought, had treated too tenderly. In 150 he was one of an embassy sent to Carthage, and came back filled with alarm at the prosperity of the city. It is said that whatever was the subject on which he was asked for his opinion in the senate, he always ended his speech with 'ceterum censeo delendam esse Carthaginem' P. Scipio Nasica, the son-in-law of Africanus, and the representative of his policy, always shouted out the opposite opinion, thinking that the fear of Carthage had a salutary effect on the Roman populace at large. But the ideas of Cato prevailed, and a cruel policy, carried out with needless brutality, led to the extinction of Rome's greatest rival. Cato did not live to see the conclusion of the war; he died in 149, at the age of 84 or 85 years, having retained his mental and physical vigor to the last. He had two sons, one by his first wife, and one by his second wife, born when Cato was 80 years of age. The elder son, to whom many of Cato's works were addressed, died as praetor-elect, before his father[47]. The other was grandfather of Cato Uticensis.

The literary activity of the old censor was great, though his leisure was small.[48] In Cicero's time a collection of 150 speeches was still extant. The titles of about 90 are still known to us, and of some we possess a few fragments. Cato's greatest work, however, was his Origines, the first real historical work written in Latin. His predecessors had been merely compilers of chronicles. The work was founded on laborious investigations, and comprised the history of Rome from the earliest times perhaps down to 150 B.C.[49], as well as notices of the history of other important Italian states. Further, Cato wrote of Agriculture, to which he was enthusiastically devoted. We still have his De Re Rustica, a collection of maxims loosely strung together. He also composed works on law; a sort of educational encyclopaedia for his son; and a collection of witty sayings, [Greek: Apophthegmata], drawn from Greek as well as from Roman sources.

Plutarch seems to have known a collected edition of the pungent and proverbial utterances for which the censor was famous, and for which (not for any knowledge of philosophy[50]) he received the title of sapiens ('shrewd') which he bore at the end of his life. This edition, however, was not compiled by Cato himself.

In view of Cicero's treatise, the Cato Maior, it is necessary to say something of Cato's relations with the Greeks and Greek literature. The ancients give us merely vague statements that he only began to learn Greek 'in his old age.' The expression must be liberally interpreted if, as seems clear, the whole of his writings showed the influence of Greek literature. It is certain, however, that he thoroughly detested the Greek nation. This hatred was shown in acts more than once. No doubt Cato was at least a consenting party to the expulsion from Rome of Greek teachers in 161 B.C. When in 155 the famous embassy came from Athens consisting of Carneades the Academic, Critolaus the Peripatetic and Diogenes the Stoic, Cato was a prime mover of the decree by which they were removed from the city. Socrates was one of Cato's favorite marks for jests. And this is the man into whose mouth Cicero puts the utterances, but slightly veiled, of Greek wisdom!

(2.) Scipio. P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the younger, was no blood relation of the conqueror of Hannibal, but the adopted son of his son. It must be remembered, however, that adoption was much more formal and binding, and produced much closer ties in ancient than in modern times.[51] The elder Africanus was unfortunate in his sons. The younger of these attained to the praetorship in 174, but was immediately driven from the senate by the censors of that year on account of his disreputable life. The elder was an invalid, who never held any office except that of augur, and died at an early age. He adopted the son of L. Aemilius Paulus, the victor of Pydna; the adopted son bore the name Aemilianus in memory of his origin. Cato's son married a daughter of Paulus, so that the censor was brought into relationship with the Cornelii, whose most illustrious representative he had hated and attacked.

The young Scipio was born about 185, and when scarce 17 years old fought with daring bravery at Pydna. While still very young he showed a great devotion to study, which he retained through life. He was a thorough partisan of the new Greek learning, and grouped around him in friendship all the leaders of the Hellenistic movement. Among his dearest friends were Polybius, the Greek statesman and historian, and later Panaetius, the Stoic. In 151 B.C. when the consuls found it difficult to enlist officers and men for service in Spain, where great defeats had been suffered, Scipio volunteered, and served with great distinction as military tribune. When the war with Carthage broke out he held the same rank, and shone by comparison with his blundering superior officers. Coming to Rome in 148 he stood for the aedileship, but was elected consul for the year 147, and again for 146, when he finished the war. He is said to have grieved over the fate of Carthage, and to have dreaded any further increase of the Roman territory. In 142 Scipio was censor, and acted with almost Catonian severity. In 134, though not a candidate, he was elected to the consulship and put in command of the Roman army then besieging the city of Numantia in Spain. The war, of which this siege formed a part, had been going on for some years most disastrously for the Romans, but Scipio speedily brought it to a conclusion in 133. While before Numantia he received news of the murder of Ti. Gracchus, whose sister he had married and whose cousin he had become by adoption, but whose policy he had on the whole opposed, though he had occasionally coquetted with the democrats. This course cost him the favor of the people, and when in 131 he desired to conduct the war against Aristonicus, only two of the thirty-five tribes voted for his appointment. In 129, after a violent scene in the senate, where he had opposed the carrying out of Ti. Gracchus' agrarian law, he was triumphantly escorted home by a crowd, composed chiefly of Italians whose interests had been threatened by the law. Next morning he was found dead in his bed. Opinion as to the cause of his death was divided at the time and so remained. In the Laelius the death is assumed to have been from natural causes.[52] Elsewhere, however, Cicero adopts the view of many of Scipio's friends that he was murdered by Carbo.[53] Carbo afterwards lent color to the suspicions by putting himself to death, in order, as was supposed, to avoid a direct prosecution. In ancient times even C. Gracchus was suspected of having thus avenged his brother's death, but no modern scholar of any rank has countenanced the suspicion.

Whether the degree of intimacy between Cato and Scipio, which Cicero assumes, ever existed or not, cannot be determined.[54] There was much in Scipio that would attract Cato. Unlike the elder Africanus, he was severe and simple in his outward life, and though a lover of Greek and Greeks, yet attached to all that was best in the old Roman character and polity. Though an opponent of revolution, he was far from being a partisan of the oligarchy. Altogether, of all Romans, he most nearly deserved the description, '[Greek: aner tetragonos aneu psogou],' 'a man four-square without reproach.' In his De Re Publica, Cicero points to Scipio as the ideal statesman, and often elsewhere eulogizes him as an almost perfect Roman.

(3.) Laelius. Gaius Laelius, born about 186, was Scipio's most distinguished officer before Carthage, and his most intimate friend throughout life. The friendship of the two was one of the most famous in antiquity, and is celebrated in the Laelius. Laelius was an able speaker, writer and soldier, and devoted to Greek learning, particularly to the Stoic philosophy. He is with Cicero the type of a man of culture.[55] He, too, is one of the interlocutors in the De Re Publica.


1. General View.

The Cato Maior falls naturally into three parts:—

Preliminary, dedication to Atticus, Sec.Sec. 1-3; Introductory Conversation, 4-9; Cato's Defence of Old Age, 10-85.

After Sec. 9 Cato continues to express his views on old age without interruption to the end, and the dialogue thus becomes really a monologue.

2. Analysis.


Cicero, addressing Atticus, states his purpose in writing the book and the effect of the work on himself (1, 2), the reasons for putting the sentiments on old age into the mouth of Cato, and the circumstances of the supposed conversation (3).


Scipio declares his admiration of Cato's vigorous and happy old age. Cato replies that the secret lies in following the guidance of Nature (4, 5). Laelius then asks Cato to point out the road to such an old age as his own (6). This the old man promises to do, but first remarks that the faults charged against old age are generally due to defects of character (7). Laelius suggests that prosperity makes Cato's declining years pleasant. Cato admits that there may be some truth in this, but maintains that right character alone can make old age tolerable (8, 9).


A. Introductory argument from fact. Account of celebrated old men whose lives till death were useful and happy 10-14

(a). Fabius Maximus 10-12 (b). Plato; (c). Isocrates; (d). Gorgias 13 (e). Ennius 14

B. Refutation of charges made against old age 15-85

Statement of the four charges commonly made against old age: it withdraws men from active life, it weakens the physical powers, it takes away capacity for enjoyment, and it involves the anticipation of death 15

A. Refutation of the first charge, that old age withdraws from active life.

(a). There are employments suited to old age which are as necessary to the well-being of society as those which require greater physical powers 15-20

(b). The special objection that old men have weak memories is answered by showing that this is due either to an original defect or to insufficient exercise 21-22

(c). Argument from fact: instances of old men in public and in private life who till death were actively at work 23-26

B. Rebuttal of the second charge, that old age weakens the physical powers.

(a). Old age does not desire nor require the strength of youth, because it may exert influence through other means. Instances cited to show this 27-32

(b). Temperate habits will retain a good measure of strength till old age (33, 34); many instances of weakness in old age may be attributed to ill-health, which is common to all periods of life (35); proper care will greatly retard decay 33-38

C. Refutation of the third charge, that old age takes away the capacity for enjoyment

(a). The pleasures in which youth finds its keenest enjoyment are in themselves bad, and old age is beneficent in freeing from their allurements 39-44

(b). Old age has pleasures far more refined and satisfying than those of sense 45-64 Such as, those of conversation and literature (45-50); especially those of agriculture (51-61); and lastly, the exercise of influence, which old age will always possess if a rightly spent youth has preceded (62-64).

(c). The special objection that old men's tempers spoil their enjoyments is met by the statement that this is the fault of character, not of age 65

D. Refutation of the fourth charge, that old age is unhappy because it involves the anticipation of death.

(a). Since the right aim of life is to live not long but well, death ought not to be dreaded at any age 66-69

(b). Old men, especially those of learning and culture, ought not to fear death 70-76 Because, that which is according to nature is good, and it is natural for old men to die (70-73); the process of dying is brief and almost painless (74); even young men and those without learning often set the example of despising death (75); and old age, just as the other periods of life, has finally its season of ripeness and satiety (76).

(c). Death is probably the gateway to a happy immortality 77-85 Tending towards proof of this are the arguments stated in Plato; viz. the rapidity of the mind's action, its powers of memory and invention, its self-activity, indivisible nature and pre-existence (78); also the arguments, attributed to Cyrus, based upon the soul's immateriality, the posthumous fame of great men and the likeness of death to sleep (79-81); the instinctive belief in immortality, so strong as even to form an incentive for action (82); and, finally, the speaker's own longing after immortality and hope of union with those whom he once knew and loved (83-85).

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* * * * *


O Tite, si quid ego adiuero curamve levasso quae nunc te coquit et versat in pectore fixa, ecquid erit praemi?

Licet enim mihi versibus isdem affari te, Attice, quibus affatur Flamininum

ille vir haud magna cum re, sed plenus fidei,

quamquam certo scio non, ut Flamininum,

sollicitari te, Tite, sic noctesque diesque,

novi enim moderationem animi tui et aequitatem, teque non cognomen solum Athenis deportasse, sed humanitatem et prudentiam intellego. Et tamen te suspicor isdem rebus quibus me ipsum interdum gravius commoveri, quarum consolatio et maior est et in aliud tempus differenda. Nunc autem visum est mihi de senectute aliquid ad te conscribere. 2 Hoc enim onere, quod mihi commune tecum est, aut iam urgentis aut certe adventantis senectutis et te et me ipsum levari volo: etsi te quidem id modice ac sapienter, sicut omnia, et ferre et laturum esse certo scio. Sed mihi, cum de senectute vellem aliquid scribere, tu occurrebas dignus eo munere, quo uterque nostrum communiter uteretur. Mihi quidem ita iucunda huius libri confectio fuit, ut non modo omnis absterserit senectutis molestias, sed effecerit mollem etiam et iucundam senectutem. Numquam igitur laudari satis digne philosophia poterit cui qui pareat omne tempus aetatis sine molestia possit degere. 3 Sed de ceteris et diximus multa et saepe dicemus: hunc librum ad te de senectute misimus. Omnem autem sermonem tribuimus non Tithono, ut Aristo Cius, parum enim esset auctoritatis in fabula, sed M. Catoni seni, quo maiorem auctoritatem haberet oratio: apud quem Laelium et Scipionem facimus admirantis, quod is tam facile senectutem ferat, eisque eum respondentem, qui si eruditius videbitur disputare quam consuevit ipse in suis libris, attribuito litteris Graecis, quarum constat eum perstudiosum fuisse in senectute. Sed quid opus est plura? Iam enim ipsius Catonis sermo explicabit nostram omnem de senectute sententiam.

II. 4 SCIPIO. Saepe numero admirari soleo cum hoc C. Laelio cum ceterarum rerum tuam excellentem, M. Cato, perfectamque sapientiam, tum vel maxime quod numquam tibi senectutem gravem esse senserim, quae plerisque senibus sic odiosa est, ut onus se Aetna gravius dicant sustinere.

CATO. Rem haud sane, Scipio et Laeli, difficilem admirari videmini. Quibus enim nihil est in ipsis opis ad bene beateque vivendum, eis omnis aetas gravis est: qui autem omnia bona a se ipsi petunt, eis nihil potest malum videri quod naturae necessitas afferat. Quo in genere est in primis senectus, quam ut adipiscantur omnes optant, eandem accusant adeptam: tanta est stultitiae inconstantia atque perversitas. Obrepere aiunt eam citius quam putassent. Primum quis coegit eos falsura putare? Qui enim citius adulescentiae senectus quam pueritiae adulescentia obrepit? Deinde qui minus gravis esset eis senectus, si octingentesimum annum agerent, quam si octogesimum? Praeterita enim aetas quamvis longa, cum effluxisset, nulla consolatione permulcere posset stultam senectutem. 5 Quocirca si sapientiam meam admirari soletis, quae utinam digna esset opinione vestra nostroque cognomine, in hoc sumus sapientes, quod naturam optimam ducem tamquam deum sequimur eique paremus: a qua non veri simile est, cum ceterae partes aetatis bene descriptae sint, extremum actum tamquam ab inerti poeta esse neglectum. Sed tamen necesse fuit esse aliquid extremum et, tamquam in arborum bacis terraeque fructibus, maturitate tempestiva quasi vietum et caducum, quod ferundum est molliter sapienti. Quid est enim aliud Gigantum modo bellare cum dis nisi naturae repugnare?

6 LAELIUS. Atqui, Cato, gratissimum nobis, ut etiam pro Scipione pollicear, feceris, si, quoniam speramus, volumus quidem certe, senes fieri, multo ante a te didicerimus quibus facillime rationibus ingravescentem aetatem ferre possimus.

CATO. Faciam vero, Laeli, praesertim si utrique vestrum, ut dicis, gratum futurum est.

LAELIUS. Volumus sane, nisi molestum est, Cato, tamquam longam aliquam viam confeceris, quam nobis quoque ingrediundum sit, istuc, quo pervenisti, videre quale sit.

III. 7 CATO. Faciam ut potero, Laeli. Saepe enim interfui querellis aequalium meorum, pares autem vetere proverbio cum paribus facillime congregantur, quae C. Salinator, quae Sp. Albinus, homines consulates, nostri fere aequales, deplorare solebant, tum quod voluptatibus carerent, sine quibus vitam nullam putarent, tum quod spernerentur ab eis, a quibus essent coli soliti; qui mihi non id videbantur accusare, quod esset accusandum. Nam si id culpa senectutis accideret, eadem mihi usu venirent reliquisque omnibus maioribus natu, quorum ego multorum cognovi senectutem sine querella, qui se et libidinum vinculis laxatos esse non moleste ferrent nec a suis despicerentur. Sed omnium istius modi querellarum in moribus est culpa, non in aetate. Moderati enim et nec difficiles nec inhumani senes tolerabilem senectutem agunt, importunitas autem et inhumanitas omni aetati molesta est.

8 LAELIUS. Est, ut dicis, Cato; sed fortasse dixerit quispiam tibi propter opes et copias et dignitatem tuam tolerabiliorem senectutem videri, id autem non posse multis contingere.

CATO. Est istuc quidem, Laeli, aliquid, sed nequaquam in isto sunt omnia; ut Themistocles fertur Seriphio cuidam in iurgio respondisse, cum ille dixisset non eum sua, sed patriae gloria splendorem assecutum: 'nec hercule', inquit, 'si ego Seriphius essem, nec tu, si Atheniensis, clarus umquam fuisses'. Quod eodem modo de senectute dici potest; nec enim in summa inopia levis esse senectus potest, ne sapienti quidem, nec insipienti etiam in summa copia non gravis. 9 Aptissima omnino sunt, Scipio et Laeli, arma senectutis artes exercitationesque virtutum, quae in omni aetate cultae, cum diu multumque vixeris, mirificos ecferunt fructus, non solum quia numquam deserunt, ne extremo quidem tempore aetatis, quamquam id quidem maximum est, verum etiam quia conscientia bene actae vitae multorumque bene factorum recordatio iucundissima est.

IV. 10 Ego Q. Maximum, eum qui Tarentum recepit, senem adulescens ita dilexi, ut aequalem. Erat enim in illo viro comitate condita gravitas, nec senectus mores mutaverat. Quamquam eum colere coepi non admodum grandem natu, sed tamen iam aetate provectum. Anno enim post consul primum fuerat quam ego natus sum, cumque eo quartum consule adulescentulus miles ad Capuam profectus sum quintoque anno post ad Tarentum. Quaestor deinde quadriennio post factus sum, quem magistratum gessi consulibus Tuditano et Cethego, cum quidem ille admodum senex suasor legis Cinciae de donis et muneribus fuit. Hic et bella gerebat ut adulescens, cum plane grandis esset, et Hannibalem iuveniliter exsultantem patientia sua molliebat; de quo praeclare familiaris noster Ennius:

unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem; noenum rumores ponebat ante salutem; ergo plusque magisque viri nunc gloria claret.

11 Tarentum vero qua vigilantia, quo consilio recepit! Cum quidem me audiente Salinatori, qui amisso oppido fugerat in arcem, glorianti atque ita dicenti, 'mea opera, Q. Fabi, Tarentum recepisti', 'certe', inquit ridens, 'nam nisi tu amisisses, numquam recepissem'. Nec vero in armis praestantior quam in toga; qui consul iterum, Sp. Carvilio collega quiescente, C. Flaminio tribuno plebis, quoad potuit, restitit agrum Picentem et Gallicum viritim contra senatus auctoritatem dividenti, augurque cum esset, dicere ausus est optimis auspiciis ea geri, quae pro rei publicae salute gererentur; quae contra rem publicam ferrentur, contra auspicia ferri. 12 Multa in eo viro praeclara cognovi, sed nihil admirabilius quam quo modo ille mortem fili tulit, clari viri et consularis. Est in manibus laudatio, quam cum legimus, quem philosophum non contemnimus? Nec vero ille in luce modo atque in oculis civium magnus, sed intus domique praestantior. Qui sermo, quae praecepta! Quanta notitia antiquitatis, scientia iuris auguri! Multae etiam, ut in homine Romano, litterae: omnia memoria tenebat non domestica solum, sed etiam externa bella. Cuius sermone ita tum cupide fruebar, quasi iam divinarem, id quod evenit, illo exstincto fore unde discerem neminem.

V. 13 Quorsus igitur haec tam multa de Maximo? Quia profecto videtis nefas esse dictu miseram fuisse talem senectutem. Nec tamen omnes possunt esse Scipiones aut Maximi, ut urbium expugnationes, ut pedestris navalisve pugnas, ut bella a se gesta, ut triumphos recordentur. Est etiam quiete et pure atque eleganter actae aetatis placida ac lenis senectus, qualem accepimus Platonis, qui uno et octogesimo anno scribens est mortuus, qualem Isocrati, qui eum librum, qui Panathenaicus inscribitur, quarto nonagesimo anno scripsisse dicit vixitque quinquennium postea; cuius magister Leontinus Gorgias centum et septem complevit annos, neque umquam in suo studio atque opere cessavit. Qui, cum ex eo quaereretur cur tam diu vellet esse in vita, 'nihil habeo,' inquit, 'quod accusem senectutem'. Praeclarum responsum et docto homine dignum! 14 Sua enim vitia insipientes et suam culpam in senectutem conferunt, quod non faciebat is, cuius modo mentionem feci, Ennius:

sic ut fortis ecus, spatio qui saepe supremo vicit Olumpia, nunc senio confectus quiescit.

Equi fortis et victoris senectuti comparat suam; quem quidem probe meminisse potestis; anno enim undevicesimo post eius mortem hi consules, T. Flamininus et M'. Acilius, facti sunt; ille autem Caepione et Philippo iterum consulibus mortuus est, cum ego quinque et sexaginta annos natus legem Voconiam magna voce et bonis lateribus suasissem. Annos sepiuaginta natus, tot enim vixit Ennius, ita ferebat duo quae maxima putantur, onera, paupertatem et senectutem, ut eis paene delectari videretur.

15 Etenim, cum complector animo, quattuor reperio causas cur senectus misera videatur: unam, quod avocet a rebus gerendis; alteram, quod corpus faciat infirmius; tertiam, quod privet omnibus fere voluptatibus; quartam, quod haud procul absit a morte. Earum, si placet, causarum quanta quamque sit iusta una quaeque videamus.

VI. A rebus gerendis senectus abstrahit. Quibus? An eis, quae iuventute geruntur et viribus? Nullaene igitur res sunt seniles, quae vel infirmis corporibus animo tamen administrentur? Nihil ergo agebat Q. Maximus, nihil L. Paulus, pater tuus, socer optimi viri fili mei? Ceteri senes, Fabricii Curii Coruncanii, cum rem publicam consilio et auctoritate defendebant, nihil agebant? 16 Ad Appi Claudi senectutem accedebat etiam ut caecus esset; tamen is, cum sententia senatus inclinaret ad pacem cum Pyrrho foedusque faciendum, non dubitavit dicere ilia, quae versibus persecutus est Ennius:

quo vobis mentes, rectae quae stare solebant antehac, dementis sese flexere viai

ceteraque gravissime, notum enim vobis carmen est, et tamen ipsius Appi exstat oratio. Atque haec ille egit septemdecim annis post alterum consulatum, cum inter duos consulatus anni decem interfuissent censorque ante superiorem consulatum fuisset, ex quo intellegitur Pyrrhi bello grandem sane fuisse, et tamen sic a patribus accepimus. 17 Nihil igitur afferunt qui in re gerenda versari senectutem negant, similesque sunt ut si qui gubernatorem in navigando nihil agere dicant, cum alii malos scandant, alii per foros cursent, alii sentinam exhauriant, ille clavum tenens quietus sedeat in puppi, non faciat ea, quae iuvenes. At vero multo maiora et meliora facit. Non viribus aut velocitate aut celeritate corporum res magnae geruntur, sed consilio auctoritate sententia, quibus non modo non orbari, sed etiam augeri senectus solet; 18 nisi forte ego vobis, qui et miles et tribunus et legatus et consul versatus sum in vario genere bellorum, cessare nunc videor, cum bella non gero. At senatui quae sint gerenda praescribo et quo modo; Carthagini male iam diu cogitanti bellum multo ante denuntio, de qua vereri non ante desinam quam illam exscisam esse cognovero. 19 Quam palmam utinam di immortales, Scipio, tibi reservent, ut avi relliquias persequare, cuius a morte tertius hic et tricesimus annus est, sed memoriam illius viri omnes excipient anni consequentes. Anno ante me censorem mortuus est, novem annis post meum consulatum, cum consul iterum me consule creatus esset. Num igitur, si ad centesimum annum vixisset, senectutis eum suae paeniteret? Nec enim excursione nec saltu, nec eminus hastis aut comminus gladiis uteretur, sed consilio ratione sententia, quae nisi essent in senibus, non summum consilium maiores nostri appellassent senatum. 20 Apud Lacedaemonios quidem ei, qui amplissimum magistratum gerunt, ut sunt, sic etiam nominantur senes. Quod si legere aut audire voletis externa, maximas res publicas ab adulescentibus labefactatas, a senibus sustentatas et restitutas reperietis.

Cedo qui vestram rem publicam tantam amisistis tam cito?

sic enim percontantur in Naevi poetae Ludo. Respondentur et alia et hoc in primis:

proveniebant oratores novi, stulti adulescentuli.

Temeritas est videlicet florentis aetatis, prudentia senescentis.

VII. 21 At memoria minuitur. Credo, nisi eam exerceas, aut etiam si sis natura tardior. Themistocles omnium civium perceperat nomina; num igitur censetis eum, cum aetate processisset, qui Aristides esset Lysimachum salutare solitum? Equidem non modo eos novi qui sunt, sed eorum patres etiam et avos, nec sepulcra legens vereor, quod aiunt, ne memoriam perdam; his enim ipsis legendis in memoriam redeo mortuorum. Nec vero quemquam senem audivi oblitum, quo loco thesaurum obruisset. Omnia quae curant meminerunt, vadimonia constituta, quis sibi, cui ipsi debeant. 22 Quid iuris consulti, quid pontifices, quid augures, quid philosophi senes? Quam multa meminerunt! Manent ingenia senibus, modo permaneat studium et industria, neque ea solum claris et honoratis viris, sed in vita etiam privata et quieta. Sophocles ad summam senectutem tragoedias fecit; quod propter studium cum rem neglegere familiarem videretur, a filiis in iudicium vocatus est, ut, quem ad modum nostro more male rem gerentibus patribus bonis interdici solet, sic illum quasi desipientem a re familiari removerent iudices. Tum senex dicitur eam fabulam quam in manibus habebat et proxime scripserat, Oedipum Coloneum, recitasse iudicibus quaesisseque num illud carmen desipientis videretur, quo recitato sententiis iudicum est liberatus. 23 Num igitur hunc, num Homerum Hesiodum Simoniden Stesichorum, num quos ante dixi Isocraten Gorgian, num philosophorum principes, Pythagoran Democritum, num Platonem Xenocraten, num postea Zenonem Cleanthen, aut eum, quem vos etiam vidistis Romae, Diogenen Stoicum coegit in suis studiis obmutiscere senectus? An in omnibus studiorum agitatio vitae aequalis fuit? 24 Age, ut ista divina studia omittamus, possum nominare ex agro Sabino rusticos Romanos, vicinos et familiaris meos, quibus absentibus numquam fere ulla in agro maiora opera fiunt, non serendis, non percipiendis, non condendis fructibus. Quamquam in aliis minus hoc mirum est, nemo enim est tam senex qui se annum non putet posse vivere; sed idem in eis elaborant, quae sciunt nihil ad se omnino pertinere:

serit arbores, quae alteri saeclo prosint,

ut ait Statius noster in Synephebis. 25 Nec vero dubitat agricola, quamvis sit senex, quaerenti cui serat respondere: 'dis immortalibus, qui me non accipere modo haec a maioribus voluerunt, sed etiam posteris prodere'.

VIII. Et melius Caecilius de sene alteri saeculo prospiciente, quam illud idem:

edepol, senectus, si nil quicquam aliud viti adportes tecum, cum advenis, unum id sat est, quod diu vivendo multa quae non volt videt.

Et multa fortasse quae volt, atque in ea, quae non volt, saepe etiam adulescentia incurrit. Illud vero idem Caecilius vitiosius:

tum equidem in senecta hoc deputo miserrimum, sentire ea aetate eumpse esse odiosum alteri.

26 Iucundum potius quam odiosum! Ut enim adulescentibus bona indole praeditis sapientes senes delectantur, leviorque fit senectus eorum qui a iuventute coluntur et diliguntur, sic adulescentes senum praeceptis gaudent, quibus ad virtutum studia ducuntur, nec minus intellego me vobis quam mihi vos esse iucundos. Sed videtis, ut senectus non modo languida atque iners non sit, verum etiam sit operosa et semper agens aliquid et moliens, tale scilicet, quale cuiusque studium in superiore vita fuit. Quid, qui etiam addiscunt aliquid, ut et Solonem versibus gloriantem videmus, qui se cotidie aliquid addiscentem dicit senem fieri, et ego feci, qui litteras Graecas senex didici, quas quidem sic avide arripui quasi diuturnam sitim explere cupiens, ut ea ipsa mihi nota essent, quibus me nunc exemplis uti videtis. Quod cum fecisse Socraten in fidibus audirem, vellem equidem etiam illud, discebant enim fidibus antiqui, sed in litteris certe elaboravi.

IX. 27 Ne nunc quidem viris desidero adulescentis, is enim erat locus alter de vitiis senectutis, non plus quam adulescens tauri aut elephanti desiderabam. Quod est, eo decet uti et quidquid agas agere pro viribus. Quae enim vox potest esse contemptior quam Milonis Crotoniatae? Qui cum iam senex esset athletasque se exercentis in curriculo videret, aspexisse lacertos suos dicitur illacrimansque dixisse, 'at hi quidem mortui iam sunt'. Non vero tam isti, quam tu ipse, nugator, neque enim ex te umquam es nobilitatus, sed ex lateribus et lacertis tuis. Nihil Sex. Aelius tale, nihil multis annis ante Ti. Coruncanius, nihil modo P. Crassus, a quibus iura civibus praescribebantur, quorum usque ad extremum spiritum est provecta prudentia. 28 Orator metuo ne languescat senectute: est enim munus eius non ingeni solum, sed laterum etiam et virium. Omnino canorum illud in voce splendescit etiam nescio quo pacto in senectute, quod equidem adhuc non amisi, et videtis annos. Sed tamen est decorus seni sermo quietus et remissus, facitque persaepe ipsa sibi audientiam diserti senis composita et mitis oratio, quam si ipse exsequi nequeas, possis tamen Scipioni praecipere et Laelio. Quid enim est iucundius senectute stipata studiis iuventutis? 29 An ne illas quidem viris senectuti relinquimus, ut adulescentis doceat, instituat, ad omne offici munus instruat? Quo quidem opere quid potest esse praeclarius? Mihi vero et Cn. et P. Scipiones et avi tui duo L. Aemilius et P. Africanus comitatu nobilium iuvenum fortunati videbantur, nec ulli bonarum artium magistri non beati putandi, quamvis consenuerint vires atque defecerint. Etsi ipsa ista defectio virium adulescentiae vitiis efficitur saepius quam senectute; libidinosa enim et intemperans adulescentia effetum corpus tradit senectuti. 30 Cyrus quidem apud Xenophontem eo sermone, quem moriens habuit, cum admodum senex esset, negat se umquam sensisse senectutem suam imbecilliorem factam quam adulescentia fuisset. Ego L. Metellum memini puer, qui, cum quadriennio post alterum consulatum pontifex maximus factus esset, viginti et duos annos ei sacerdotio praefuit, ita bonis esse viribus extremo tempore aetatis, ut adulescentiam non requireret. Nihil necesse est mihi de me ipso dicere, quamquam est id quidem senile aetatique nostrae conceditur. X. 31 Videtisne, ut apud Homerum saepissime Nestor de virtutibus suis praedicet? Tertiam enim aetatem hominum videbat, nec erat ei verendum ne vera praedicans de se nimis videretur aut insolens aut loquax. Etenim, ut ait Homerus, ex eius lingua melle dulcior fluebat oratio; quam ad suavitatem nullis egebat corporis viribus. Et tamen dux ille Graeciae nusquam optat ut Aiacis similis habeat decem, sed ut Nestoris, quod si sibi acciderit, non dubitat quin brevi sit Troia peritura. 32 Sed redeo ad me. Quartum ago annum et octogesimum: vellem equidem idem posse gloriari quod Cyrus, sed tamen hoc queo dicere, non me quidem eis esse viribus, quibus aut miles bello Punico aut quaestor eodem bello aut consul in Hispania fuerim aut quadriennio post, cum tribunus militaris depugnavi apud Thermopylas M'. Glabrione consule; sed tamen, ut vos videtis, non plane me enervavit, non afflixit senectus: non curia viris meas desiderat, non rostra, non amici, non clientes, non hospites. Nec enim umquam sum assensus veteri illi laudatoque proverbio, quod monet mature fieri senem, si diu velis senex esse. Ego vero me minus diu senem esse mallem quam esse senem ante quam essem. Itaque nemo adhuc convenire me voluit cui fuerim occupatus. 33 At minus habeo virium quam vestrum utervis. Ne vos quidem T. Ponti centurionis viris habetis: num idcirco est ille praestantior? Moderatio modo virium adsit et tantum quantum potest quisque nitatur, ne ille non magno desiderio tenebitur virium. Olympiae per stadium ingressus esse Milo dicitur, cum umeris sustineret bovem: utrum igitur has corporis an Pythagorae tibi malis viris ingeni dari? Denique isto bono utare, dum adsit, cum absit, ne requiras: nisi forte adulescentes pueritiam, paulum aetate progressi adulescentiam debent requirere. Cursus est certus aetatis et una via naturae eaque simplex, suaque cuique parti aetatis tempestivitas est data, ut et infirmitas puerorum et ferocitas iuvenum et gravitas iam constantis aetatis et senectutis maturitas naturale quiddam habet, quod suo tempore percipi debeat. 34 Audire te arbitror, Scipio, hospes tuus avitus Masinissa quae faciat hodie nonaginta natus annos: cum ingressus iter pedibus sit, in equum omnino non ascendere; cum autem equo, ex equo non descendere; nullo imbri, nullo frigore adduci ut capite operto sit; summam esse in eo corporis siccitatem, itaque omnia exsequi regis officia et munera. Potest igitur exercitatio et temperantia etiam in senectute conservare aliquid pristini roboris.

XI. Ne sint in senectute vires: ne postulantur quidem vires a senectute. Ergo et legibus et institutis vacat aetas nostra muneribus eis quae non possunt sine viribus sustineri. Itaque non modo quod non possumus, sed ne quantum possumus quidem cogimur. 35 At multi ita sunt imbecilli senes, ut nullum offici aut omnino vitae munus exsequi possint. At id quidem non proprium senectutis vitium est, sed commune valetudinis. Quam fuit imbecillus P. Africani filius, is qui te adoptavit, quam tenui aut nulla potius valetudine! Quod ni ita fuisset, alterum illud exstitisset lumen civitatis; ad paternam enim magnitudinem animi doctrina uberior accesserat. Quid mirum igitur in senibus, si infirmi sunt aliquando, cum id ne adulescentes quidem effugere possint? Resistendum, Laeli et Scipio, senectuti est, eiusque vitia diligentia compensanda sunt, pugnandum tamquam contra morbum sic contra senectutem, 36 habenda ratio valetudinis, utendum exercitationibus modicis, tantum cibi et potionis adhibendum, ut reficiantur vires, non opprimantur. Nec vero corpori solum subveniendum est, sed menti atque animo multo magis. Nam haec quoque, nisi tamquam lumini oleum instilles, exstinguuntur senectute. Et corpora quidem exercitationum defetigatione ingravescunt, animi autem exercitando levantur. Nam quos ait Caecilius 'comicos stultos senes,' hos significat credulos obliviosos dissolutos, quae vitia sunt non senectutis, sed inertis ignavae somniculosae senectutis. Ut petulantia, ut libido magis est adulescentium quam senum, nec tamen omnium adulescentium, sed non proborum, sic ista senilis stultitia, quae deliratio appellari solet, senum levium est, non omnium. 37 Quattuor robustos filios, quinque filias, tantam domum, tantas clientelas Appius regebat et caecus et senex; intentum enim animum tamquam arcum habebat nec languescens succumbebat senectuti. Tenebat non modo auctoritatem, sed etiam imperium in suos: metuebant servi, verebantur liberi, carum omnes habebant; vigebat in illo animus patrius et disciplina. 38 Ita enim senectus honesta est, si se ipsa defendit, si ius suum retinet, si nemini emancipata est, si usque ad ultimum spiritum dominatur in suos. Ut enim adulescentem in quo est senile aliquid, sic senem in quo est aliquid adulescentis probo, quod qui sequitur, corpore senex esse poterit, animo numquam erit. Septimus mihi liber Originum est in manibus; ommia antiquitatis monumenta colligo; causarum illustrium, quascunque defendi, nunc cum maxime conficio orationes; ius augurium pontificium civile tracto; multum etiam Graecis litteris utor, Pythagoriorumque more, exercendae memoriae gratia, quid quoque die dixerim audierim egerim commemoro vesperi. Hae sunt exercitationes ingeni, haec curricula mentis; in his desudans atque elaborans corporis viris non magno opere desidero. Adsum amicis, venio in senatum frequens ultroque affero res multum et diu cogitatas easque tueor animi, non corporis viribus. Quas si exsequi nequirem, tamen me lectulus meus oblectaret ea ipsa cogitantem, quae iam agere non possem; sed ut possim facit acta vita. Semper enim in his studiis laboribusque viventi non intellegitur quando obrepat senectus: ita sensim sine sensu aetas senescit nec subito frangitur, sed diuturnitate exstinguitur.

XII. 39 Sequitur tertia vituperatio senectutis, quod eam carere dicunt voluptatibus. O praeclarum munus aetatis, si quidem id aufert a nobis, quod est in adulescentia vitiosissimum! Accipite enim, optimi adulescentes, veterem orationem Archytae Tarentini, magni in primis et praeclari viri, quae mihi tradita est cum essem adulescens Tarenti cum Q. Maximo. Nullam capitaliorem pestem quam voluptatem corporis hominibus dicebat a natura datam, cuius voluptatis avidae libidines temere et ecfrenate ad potiendum incitarentur. Hinc patriae proditiones, 40 hinc rerum publicarum eversiones, hinc cum hostibus clandestina colloquia nasci; nullum denique scelus, nullum malum facinus esse ad quod suscipiendum non libido voluptatis impelleret; stupra vero et adulteria et omne tale flagitium nullis excitari aliis illecebris nisi voluptatis; cumque homini sive natura sive quis deus nihil mente praestabilius dedisset, huic divino muneri ac dono nihil tam esse inimicum quam voluptatem. 41 Nec enim libidine dominante temperantiae locum esse, neque omnino in voluptatis regno virtutem posse consistere. Quod quo magis intellegi posset, fingere animo iubebat tanta incitatum aliquem voluptate corporis, quanta percipi posset maxima: nemini censebat fore dubium quin tam diu, dum ita gauderet, nihil agitare mente, nihil ratione, nihil cogitatione consequi posset. Quocirca nihil esse tam detestabile tamque pestiferum quam voluptatem, si quidem ea, cum maior esset atque longior, omne animi lumen exstingueret. Haec cum C. Pontio Samnite, patre eius, a quo Caudino proelio Sp. Postumius T. Veturius consules superati sunt, locutum Archytam Nearchus Tarentinus hospes noster, qui in amicitia populi Romani permanserat, se a maioribus natu accepisse dicebat, cum quidem ei sermoni interfuisset Plato Atheniensis, quem Tarentum venisse L. Camillo Ap. Claudio consulibus reperio. 42 Quorsus hoc? Ut intellegeretis, si voluptatem aspernari ratione et sapientia non possemus, magnam esse habendam senectuti gratiam, quae efficeret ut id non liberet quod non oporteret. Impedit enim consilium voluptas, rationi inimica est, mentis ut ita dicam praestringit oculos, nec habet ullum cum virtute commercium. Invitus feci ut fortissimi viri T. Flaminini fratrem L. Flamininum e senatu eicerem septem annis post quam consul fuisset, sed notandam putavi libidinem. Ille enim cum esset consul in Gallia exoratus in convivio a scorto est ut securi feriret aliquem eorum qui in vinculis essent, damnati rei capitalis. Hic Tito fratre suo censore, qui proximus ante me fuerat, elapsus est, mihi vero et Flacco neutiquam probari potuit tam flagitiosa et tam perdita libido, quae cum probro privato coniungeret imperi dedecus.

XIII. 43 Saepe audivi e maioribus natu, qui se porro pueros a senibus audisse dicebant, mirari solitum C. Fabricium quod, cum apud regem Pyrrhum legatus esset, audisset a Thessalo Cinea esse quendam Athenis qui se sapientem profiteretur, eumque dicere omnia quae faceremus ad voluptatem esse referenda. Quod ex eo audientis M'. Curium et Ti. Coruncanium optare solitos ut id Samnitibus ipsique Pyrrho persuaderetur, quo facilius vinci possent cum se voluptatibus dedissent. Vixerat M'. Curius cum P. Decio, qui quinquennio ante eum consulem se pro re publica quarto consulatu devoverat: norat eundem Fabricius, norat Coruncanius, qui cum ex sua vita tum ex eius quem dico. Deci facto iudicabant esse profecto aliquid natura pulchrum atque praeclarum, quod sua sponte expeteretur quodque spreta et contempta voluptate optimus quisque sequeretur. 44 Quorsum igitur tam multa de voluptate? Quia non modo vituperatio nulla, sed etiam summa laus senectutis est, quod ea voluptates nullas magno opere desiderat. Caret epulis exstructisque mensis et frequentibus poculis. Caret ergo etiam vinulentia et cruditate et insomniis. Sed si aliquid dandum est voluptati, quoniam eius blanditiis non facile obsistimus, divine enim Plato escam malorum appellat voluptatem quod ea videlicet homines capiantur ut pisces, quamquam immoderatis epulis caret senectus, modicis tamen conviviis delectari potest. C. Duellium M. F., qui Poenos classe primus devicerat, redeuntem a cena senem saepe videbam puer; delectabatur cereo funali et tibicine, quae sibi nullo exemplo privatus sumpserat: tantum licentiae dabat gloria. 45 Sed quid ego alios? Ad me ipsum iam revertar. Primum habui semper sodalis—sodalitates autem me quaestore constitutae sunt sacris Idaeis Magnae Matris acceptis—epulabar igitur cum sodalibus, omnino modice, sed erat quidam fervor aetatis, qua progrediente omnia fiunt in dies mitiora. Neque enim ipsorum conviviorum delectationem voluptatibus corporis magis quam coetu amicorum et sermonibus metiebar; bene enim maiores accubitionem epularem amicorum, quia vitae coniunctionem haberet, convivium nominaverunt, melius quam Graeci, qui hoc idem tum compotationem, tum concenationem vocant, ut, quod in eo genere minimum est, id maxime probare videantur.

XIV. 46 Ego vero propter sermonis delectationem tempestivis quoque conviviis delector, nec cum aequalibus solum, qui pauci admodum restant, sed cum vestra etiam aetate atque vobiscum, habeoque senectuti magnam gratiam, quae mihi sermonis aviditatem auxit, potionis et cibi sustulit. Quod si quem etiam ista delectant, ne omnino bellum indixisse videar voluptati, cuius est fortasse quidam naturalis modus, non intellego ne in istis quidem ipsis voluptatibus carere sensu senectutem. Me vero et magisteria delectant a maioribus instituta et is sermo, qui more maiorum a summo adhibetur in poculo, et pocula sicut in Symposio Xenophontis est, minuta atque rorantia, et refrigeratio aestate et vicissim aut sol aut ignis hibernus. Quae quidem etiam in Sabinis persequi soleo conviviumque vicinorum cotidie compleo, quod ad multam noctem quam maxime possumus vario sermone producimus. 47 At non est voluptatum tanta quasi titillatio in senibus. Credo, sed ne desideratio quidem; nihil autem est molestum quod non desideres. Bene Sophocles, cum ex eo quidam iam affecto aetate quaereret, utereturne rebus veneriis, 'di meliora!' inquit; 'ego vero istinc sicut a domino agresti ac furioso profugi.' Cupidis enim rerum talium odiosum fortasse et molestum est carere, satiatis vero et expletis iucundius est carere quam frui; quamquam non caret is, qui non desiderat; ergo hoc non desiderare dico esse iucundius. 48 Quod si istis ipsis voluptatibus bona aetas fruitur libentius, primum parvulis fruitur rebus, ut diximus, deinde eis, quibus senectus, etiam si non abunde potitur, non omnino caret. Ut Turpione Ambivio magis delectatur qui in prima cavea spectat, delectatur tamen etiam qui in ultima, sic adulescentia voluptates propter intuens magis fortasse laetatur, sed delectatur etiam senectus, procul eas spectans, tantum quantum sat est. 49 At illa quanti sunt, animum tamquam emeritis stipendiis libidinis ambitionis, contentionum inimicitiarum, cupiditatum omnium secum esse secumque, ut dicitur, vivere! Si vero habet aliquod tamquam pabulum studi atque doctrinae, nihil est otiosa senectute iucundius. Videbamus in studio dimetiendi paene caeli atque terrae Gallum familiarem patris tui, Scipio. Quotiens ilium lux noctu aliquid describere ingressum, quotiens nox oppressit cum mane coepisset! Quam delectabat eum defectiones solis et lunae multo ante nobis praedicere! 50 Quid in levioribus studiis, sed tamen acutis? Quam gaudebat Bello suo Punico Naevius, quam Truculento Plautus, quam Pseudolo! Vidi etiam senem Livium, qui, cum sex annis ante quam ego natus sum fabulam docuisset Centone Tuditanoque consulibus, usque ad adulescentiam meam processit aetate. Quid de P. Licini Crassi et pontifici et civilis iuris studio loquar aut de huius P. Scipionis, qui his paucis diebus pontifex maximus factus est? Atque eos omnis, quos commemoravi, his studiis flagrantis senes vidimus. M. vero Cethegum, quem recte suadae medullam dixit Ennius, quanto studio exerceri in dicendo videbamus etiam senem! Quae sunt igitur epularum aut ludorum aut scortorum voluptates cum his voluptatibus comparandae? Atque haec quidem studia doctrinae, quae quidem prudentibus et bene institutis pariter cum aetate crescunt, ut honestum illud Solonis sit, quod ait versiculo quodam, ut ante dixi, senescere se multa in dies addiscentem, qua voluptate animi nulla certe potest esse maior.

XV. 51 Venio nunc ad voluptates agricolarum, quibus ego incredibiliter delector, quae nec ulla impediuntur senectute et mihi ad sapientis vitam proxime videntur accedere. Habent enim rationem cum terra, quae numquam recusat imperium nec umquam sine usura reddit quod accepit, sed alias minore, plerumque maiore cum faenore; quamquam me quidem non fructus modo, sed etiam ipsius terrae vis ac natura delectat. Quae cum gremio mollito ac subacto sparsum semen excepit, primum id occaecatum cohibet, ex quo occatio quae hoc efficit nominata est; deinde tepefactum vapore et compressu suo diffundit et elicit herbescentem ex eo viriditatem, quae nixa fibris stirpium sensim adolescit culmoque erecta geniculato vaginis iam quasi pubescens includitur; e quibus cum emersit, fundit frugem spici ordine structam et contra avium minorum morsus munitur vallo aristarum. 52 Quid ego vitium ortus satus incrementa commemorem? Satiari delectatione non possum, ut meae senectutis requietem oblectamentumque noscatis. Omitto enim vim ipsam omnium quae generantur e terra, quae ex fici tantulo grano aut ex acini vinaceo aut ex ceterarum frugum aut stirpium minutissimis seminibus tantos truncos ramosque procreet; malleoli plantae sarmenta viviradices propagines nonne efficiunt ut quemvis cum admiratione delectent? Vitis quidem quae natura caduca est et, nisi fulta est, fertur ad terram, eadem, ut se erigat, claviculis suis quasi manibus quidquid est nacta complectitur, quam serpentem multiplici lapsu et erratico, ferro amputans coercet ars agricolarum, ne silvescat sarmentis et in omnis partis nimia fundatur. 53 Itaque ineunte vere in eis quae relicta sunt exsistit tamquam ad articulos sarmentorum ea quae gemma dicitur, a qua oriens uva se ostendit, quae et suco terrae et calore solis augescens primo est peracerba gustatu, dein maturata dulcescit vestitaque pampinis nec modico tepore caret et nimios solis defendit ardores: qua quid potest esse cum fructu laetius, tum aspectu pulchrius? Cuius quidem non utilitas me solum, ut ante dixi, sed etiam cultura et natura ipsa delectat: adminiculorum ordines, capitum iugatio, religatio et propagatio vitium, sarmentorum ea, quam dixi, aliorum amputatio, aliorum immissio. Quid ego irrigationes, quid fossiones agri repastinationesque proferam quibus fit multo terra fecundior? 54 Quid de utilitate loquar stercorandi? Dixi in eo libro, quem de rebus rusticis scripsi. De qua doctus Hesiodus ne verbum quidem fecit, cum de cultura agri scriberet. At Homerus, qui multis, ut mihi videtur, ante saeculis fuit, Laerten lenientem desiderium, quod capiebat e filio, colentem agrum et eum stercorantem facit. Nec vero segetibus solum et pratis et vineis et arbustis res rusticae laetae sunt, sed hortis etiam et pomariis, tum pecudum pastu, apium examinibus, florum omnium varietate. Nec consitiones modo delectant, sed etiam insitiones, quibus nihil invenit agri cultura sollertius.

XVI. 55 Possum persequi permulta oblectamenta rerum rusticarum, sed ea ipsa quae dixi sentio fuisse longiora. Ignoscetis autem, nam et studio rerum rusticarum provectus sum, et senectus est natura loquacior, ne ab omnibus eam vitiis videar vindicare. Ergo in hac vita M'. Curius, cum de Samnitibus, de Sabinis, de Pyrrho triumphavisset, consumpsit extremum tempus aetatis; cuius quidem ego villam contemplans, abest enim non longe a me, admirari satis non possum vel hominis ipsius continentiam vel temporum disciplinam. Curio ad focum sedenti magnum auri pondus Samnites cum attulissent, repudiati sunt; non enim aurum habere praeclarum sibi videri dixit, sed eis qui haberent aurum imperare. 56 Poteratne tantus animus efficere non iucundam senectutem? Sed venio ad agricolas, ne a me ipso recedam. In agris erant tum senatores, id est senes, si quidem aranti L. Quinctio Cincinnato nuntiatum est eum dictatorem esse factum, cuius dictatoris iussu magister equitum C. Servilius Ahala Sp. Maelium regnum appetentem occupatum interemit. A villa in senatum arcessebatur et Curius et ceteri senes, ex quo qui eos arcessebant viatores nominati sunt. Num igitur horum senectus miserabilis fuit, qui se agri cultione oblectabant? Mea quidem sententia haud scio an nulla beatior possit esse, neque solum officio, quod hominum generi universo cultura agrorum est salutaris, sed et delectatione quam dixi, et saturitate copiaque rerum omnium, quae ad victum hominum, ad cultum etiam deorum pertinent, ut, quoniam haec quidam desiderant, in gratiam iam cum voluptate redeamus. Semper enim boni assiduique domini referta cella vinaria, olearia, etiam penaria est, villaque tota locuples est, abundat porco haedo agno gallina, lacte caseo melle. Iam hortum ipsi agricolae succidiam alteram appellant. Conditiora facit haec supervacaneis etiam operis aucupium atque venatio. 57 Quid de pratorum viriditate aut arborum ordinibus aut vinearum olivetorumve specie plura dicam? Brevi praecidam. Agro bene culto nihil potest esse nec usu uberius nec specie ornatius, ad quem fruendum non modo non retardat, verum etiam invitat atque allectat senectus. Ubi enim potest illa aetas aut calescere vel apricatione melius vel igni, aut vicissim umbris aquisve refrigerari salubrius? 58 Sibi habeant igitur arma, sibi equos, sibi hastas, sibi clavam et pilam, sibi venationes atque cursus, nobis senibus ex lusionibus multis talos relinquant et tesseras; id ipsum ut lubebit, quoniam sine eis beata esse senectus potest.

XVII. 59 Multas ad res perutiles Xenophontis libri sunt, quos legite quaeso studiose, ut facitis. Quam copiose ab eo agri cultura laudatur in eo libro, qui est de tuenda re familiari, qui Oeconomicus inscribitur! Atque ut intellegatis nihil ei tam regale videri quam studium agri colendi, Socrates in eo libro loquitur cum Critobulo Cyrum minorem Persarum regem, praestantem ingenio atque imperi gloria, cum Lysander Lacedaemonius, vir summae virtutis, venisset ad eum Sardis eique dona a sociis attulisset, et ceteris in rebus communem erga Lysandrum atque humanum fuisse et ei quendam consaeptum agrum diligenter consitum ostendisse. Cum autem admiraretur Lysander et proceritates arborum et directos in quincuncem ordines et humum subactam atque puram et suavitatem odorum qui afflarentur ex floribus, tum eum dixisse mirari se non modo diligentiam sed etiam sollertiam eius a quo essent illa dimensa atque discripta; et Cyrum respondisse 'atqui ego ista sum omnia dimensus, mei sunt ordines, mea discriptio; multae etiam istarum arborum mea manu sunt satae.' Tum Lysandrum, intuentem purpuram eius et nitorem corporis ornatumque Persicum multo auro multisque gemmis, dixisse 'recte vero te, Cyre, beatum ferunt, quoniam virtuti tuae fortuna coniuncta est!' 60 Hac igitur fortuna frui licet senibus, nec aetas impedit quo minus et ceterarum rerum et in primis agri colendi studia teneamus usque ad ultimum tempus senectutis. M. quidem Valerium Corvinum accepimus ad centesimum annum perduxisse, cum esset acta iam aetate in agris eosque coleret, cuius inter primum et sextum consulatum sex et quadraginta anni interfuerunt. Ita quantum spatium aetatis maiores ad senectutis initium esse voluerunt, tantus illi cursus honorum fuit; atque huius extrema aetas hoc beatior quam media, quod auctoritatis habebat plus, laboris minus; apex est autem senectutis auctoritas. 61 Quanta fuit in L. Caecilio Metello, quanta in A. Atilio Calatino! In quem illud elogium:

hunc unum plurimae consentiunt gentes populi primarium fuisse virum.

Notum est totum carmen incisum in sepulcro. Iure igitur gravis, cuius de laudibus omnium esset fama consentiens. Quem virum nuper P. Crassum, pontificem maximum, quem postea M. Lepidum eodem sacerdotio praeditum vidimus! Quid de Paulo aut Africano loquar, aut, ut iam ante, de Maximo? Quorum non in sententia solum, sed etiam in nutu residebat auctoritas. Habet senectus, honorata praesertim, tantam auctoritatem, ut ea pluris sit quam omnes adulescentiae voluptates.

XVIII. 62 Sed in omni oratione mementote eam me senectutem laudare, quae fundamentis adulescentiae constituta sit. Ex quo efficitur id, quod ego magno quondam cum assensu omnium dixi, miseram esse senectutem quae se oratione defenderet. Non cani nec rugae repente auctoritatem arripere possunt, sed honeste acta superior aetas fructus capit auctoritatis extremos. 63 Haec enim ipsa sunt honorabilia, quae videntur levia atque communia, salutari appeti decedi assurgi deduci reduci consuli, quae et apud nos et in aliis civitatibus, ut quaeque optime morata est, ita diligentissime observantur. Lysandrum Lacedaemonium, cuius modo feci mentionem, dicere aiunt solitum Lacedaemonem esse honestissimum domicilium senectutis; nusquam enim tantum tribuitur aetati, nusquam est senectus honoratior. Quin etiam memoriae proditum est, cum Athenis ludis quidam in theatrum grandis natu venisset, magno consessu locum nusquam ei datum a suis civibus, cum autem ad Lacedaemonios accessisset, qui, legati cum essent certo in loco considerant, consurrexisse omnes illi dicuntur et senem sessum recepisse; 64 quibus cum a cuncto consessu plausus esset multiplex datus, dixisse ex eis quendam Atheniensis scire quae recta essent, sed facere nolle. Multa in nostro collegio praeclara, sed hoc de quo agimus, in primis, quod, ut quisque aetate antecedit, ita sententiae principatum tenet, neque solum honore antecedentibus, sed eis etiam, qui cum imperio sunt, maiores natu augures anteponuntur. Quae sunt igitur voluptates corporis cum auctoritatis praemiis comparandae? Quibus qui splendide usi sunt, ei mihi videntur fabulam aetatis peregisse nec tamquam inexercitati histriones in extremo actu corruisse.

65 At sunt morosi et anxii et iracundi et difficiles senes. Si quaerimus, etiam avari; sed haec morum vitia sunt, non senectutis. Ac morositas tamen et ea vitia, quae dixi, habent aliquid excusationis, non illius quidem iustae, sed quae probari posse videatur: contemni se putant, despici, illudi; praeterea in fragili corpore odiosa omnis offensio est; quae tamen omnia dulciora fiunt et moribus bonis et artibus, idque cum in vita tum in scaena intellegi potest ex eis fratribus qui in Adelphis sunt. Quanta in altero diritas, in altero comitas! Sic se res habet: ut enim non omne vinum, sic non omnis natura vetustate coacescit. Severitatem in senectute probo, sed eam, sicut alia, modicam; acerbitatem nullo modo; 66 avaritia vero senilis quid sibi velit, non intellego. Potest enim quicquam esse absurdius quam, quo viae minus restet, eo plus viatici quaerere?

XIX. Quarta restat causa, quae maxime angere atque sollicitam habere nostram aetatem videtur, appropinquatio mortis, quae certe a senectute non potest esse longe. O miserum senem, qui mortem contemnendam esse in tam longa aetate non viderit! Quae aut plane neglegenda est, si omnino exstinguit animum, aut etiam optanda, si aliquo eum deducit ubi sit futurus aeternus. Atqui tertium certe nihil inveniri potest. 67 Quid igitur timeam, si aut non miser post mortem, aut beatus etiam futurus sum? Quamquam quis est tam stultus, quamvis sit adulescens, cui sit exploratum se ad vesperum esse victurum? Quin etiam aetas illa multo pluris quam nostra casus mortis habet: facilius in morbos incidunt adulescentes, gravius aegrotant, tristius curantur. Itaque pauci veniunt ad senectutem; quod ni ita accideret, melius et prudentius viveretur. Mens enim et ratio et consilium in senibus est, qui si nulli fuissent, nullae omnino civitates fuissent. Sed redeo ad mortem impendentem. Quod est istud crimen senectutis, cum id ei videatis cum adulescentia esse commune? 68 Sensi ego in optimo filio, tu in exspectatis ad amplissimam dignitatem fratribus, Scipio, mortem omni aetati esse communem. At sperat adulescens diu se victurum, quod sperare idem senex non potest. Insipienter sperat; quid enim stultius quam incerta pro certis habere, falsa pro veris? At senex ne quod speret quidem habet. At est eo meliore condicione quam adulescens, quoniam id quod ille sperat hic consecutus est: ille volt diu vivere, hic diu vixit. 69 Quamquam, o di boni, quid est in hominis natura diu? Da enim supremum tempus, exspectemus Tartessiorum regis aetatem: fuit enim, ut scriptum video, Arganthonius quidam Gadibus, qui octoginta regnaverat annos, centum viginti vixerat.

Sed mihi ne diuturnum quidem quicquam videtur, in quo est aliquid extremum; cum enim id advenit, tum illud quod praeteriit, effluxit; tantum remanet, quod virtute et recte factis consecutus sis. Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. 70 Neque enim histrioni, ut placeat, peragenda fabula est, modo in quocunque fuerit actu probetur; neque sapientibus usque ad 'plaudite' veniendum est, breve enim tempus aetatis satis longum est ad bene honesteque vivendum; sin processerit longius, non magis dolendum est, quam agricolae dolent praeterita verni temporis suavitate aestatem autumnumque venisse. Ver enim tamquam adulescentia significat ostenditque fructus futuros; reliqua autem tempora demetendis fructibus et percipiendis accommodata sunt. 71 Fructus autem senectutis est, ut saepe dixi, ante partorum bonorum memoria et copia. Omnia autem, quae secundum naturam fiunt, sunt habenda in bonis; quid est autem tam secundum naturam quam senibus emori? Quod idem contingit adulescentibus adversante et repugnante natura. Itaque adulescentes mihi mori sic videntur, ut cum aquae multitudine flammae vis opprimitur, senes autem sic, ut cum sua sponte, nulla adhibita vi, consumptus ignis exstinguitur, et quasi poma ex arboribus, cruda si sunt, vix evelluntur, si matura et cocta, decidunt, sic vitam adulescentibus vis aufert, senibus maturitas; quae quidem mihi tam iucunda est, ut, quo propius ad mortem accedam, quasi terram videre videar aliquandoque in portum ex longa navigatione esse venturus.

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