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[38] For old age is honoured only on condition that it defends itself, maintains its rights, is subservient to no one, and to the last breath rules over its own domain. For just as I approve of the young man in whom there is a touch of age, so I approve of the old man in whom there is some of the flavour of youth. He who strives thus to mingle youthfulness and age may grow old in body, but old in spirit he will never be.

I am now at work on the seventh volume of my Antiquities. I am collecting all the records of our ancient history, and at the present moment am revising all the speeches made by me in the notable causes which I conducted. I am investigating the augural, pontifical, and secular law; I also devote much of my time to Greek literature; and, in order to exercise my memory, I follow the practice of the Pythagoreans and run over in my mind every evening all that I have said, heard, or done during the day. These employments are my intellectual gymnastics; these the race-courses of my mind; and while I sweat and toil with them I do not greatly feel the loss of bodily strength. I act as counsel for my friends; I frequently attend the senate, where, on my own motion, I propose subjects for discussion after having pondered over them seriously and long; and there I maintain my views in debate, not with [p. 49] strength of body, but with force of mind. But even if I could not perform these services, nevertheless, my couch1 would afford me delight while reflecting on the very things that I lacked the strength to do. However, the fact that I can do them is due to the life that I have led. For the man who lives always amid such studies and pursuits as mine is not aware of the stealthy approach of age. Thus employed his life gradually and imperceptibly glides into old age, and succumbs, not to a quick assault, but to a long-continued siege.

1 i.e. the lectulus lucubratorius, used when reading or the like.

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load focus Introduction (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
load focus Latin (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges, SYNTAX OF THE VERB
    • Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges, ORDER OF WORDS
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