previous next

because they take pleasure in living in company and as yet judge nothing by expediency, not even their friends. [14] All their errors are due to excess and vehemence and their neglect of the maxim of Chilon,1 for they do everything to excess, love, hate, and everything else. And they think they know everything, and confidently affirm it, and this is the cause of their excess in everything. [15] If they do wrong, it is due to insolence, not to wickedness. And they are inclined to pity, because they think all men are virtuous and better than themselves2; for they measure their neighbors by their own inoffensiveness, so that they think that they suffer undeservedly. [16] And they are fond of laughter, and therefore witty; for wit is cultured insolence. Such then is the character of the young.

13. Older men and those who have passed their prime have in most cases characters opposite to those of the young. For, owing to their having lived many years and having been more often deceived by others or made more mistakes themselves, and since most human things turn out badly, they are positive about nothing, and in everything they show an excessive lack of energy. [2] They always “think,” but “know” nothing; and in their hesitation they always add “perhaps,” or “maybe”; all their
statements are of this kind, never unqualified. [3] They are malicious; for malice consists in looking upon the worse side of everything. Further, they are always suspicious owing to mistrust, and mistrustful owing to experience. [4] And neither their love nor their hatred is strong for the same reasons; but, according to the precept of Bias,3 they love as if they would one day hate, and hate as if they would one day love. [5] And they are little-minded, because they have been humbled by life; for they desire nothing great or uncommon, but only the necessaries of life. [6] They are not generous, for property is one of these necessaries, and at the same time, they know from experience how hard it is to get and how easy to lose. [7] And they are cowardly and inclined to anticipate evil, for their state of mind is the opposite of that of the young; they are chilled, whereas the young are hot, so that old age paves the way for cowardice, for fear is a kind of chill. [8] And they are fond of life, especially in their last days, because desire is directed towards that which is absent and men especially desire what they lack. [9] And they are unduly selfish, for this also is littleness of mind. And they live not for the noble, but for the useful, more than they ought, because they are selfish;

1 One of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. The maxim was Μηδὲν ἄγαν, Ne quid nimis, Never go to extremes.

2 Or, “better than they really are.”

3 One of the Seven Wise Men of Greece.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (W. D. Ross, 1959)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Greece (Greece) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: