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‘Elderly men, and those who have passed their prime, have most of their characters (formed) of the elements opposite to these; for from their long experience of life, its frequent errors and failures (from having lived many years and often been deceived or imposed upon by others, and fallen into error by their own fault), and from their observation of the inherent vice of all human things (everything turns out ill, nothing can be depended upon, and so they lose all confidence, and), they refrain from all positive assertion and are in excess in the undue remissness shewn in whatever they do’. Muretus, et sunt in omnibus rebus remissiores. As the young carry everything they do to excess, ἄγαν, so on the contrary the old are in excess too (ἄγαν...ἢ δεῖ) but this is manifested in want of spirit and energy and activity in all that they do undertake; supply πράττουσιν. It is doubtful whether ἄγαν should be taken before or after ἧττον. If ἧττον ἄγαν, as the order is in the text, it will be ‘everything they do is “less in excess” (referring to the proverb, and the application of it to the young in the preceding chapter) than it ought to be’. If the order is ἄγαν ἧττον, the meaning is, ‘everything they do is excessively too little (inferior in vigour and energy) to what it ought to be’.
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