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[7arg] It has been observed of old men, that the sixty-third year of their life is marked as a rule by troubles, by death, or by some disaster; and an example apropos of this observation is taken from a letter from the deified Augustus to his son Gaius. 1

IT has been observed during a long period of human recollection, and found to be true, that for almost all old men the sixty-third year of their age Both were adopted by Augustus, and on the death of the young Marcellus were made principes iuventutis, and thus designated as the successors of Augustus. [p. 79] is attended with danger, and with some disaster involving either serious bodily illness, or loss of life, or mental suffering. Therefore those who are engaged in the study of matters and terms of that kind call that period of life the “climacteric.” 2 Night before last, too, when I was reading a volume of letters of the deified Augustus, written to his grandson Gaius, and was led on by the elegance of the style, which was easy and simple, by Heaven without mannerisms or effort, in one of the letters I ran upon a reference to this very belief about that same year. I give a copy of the letter: 3

"The ninth day before the Kalends of October. 4
“Greeting, my dear Gaius, my dearest little donkey, 5 whom, so help me! constantly miss whenever you are away from me. But especially on such days as to-day my eyes are eager for my Gaius, and wherever you have been to-day, I hope you have celebrated my sixty-fourth birthday in health and happiness. For, as you see, I have passed the climacteric common to all old men, the sixty-third year. And I pray the gods that whatever time is left to me I may pass with you safe and well, with our country in a flourishing condition, while you 6 are playing the man and preparing to succeed to my position.”

[p. 81]

1 Gaius and Lucius Caesar were sons of Agrippa and Julia, and grandsons of Augustus (see Gaium nepotem, § 3).

2 Cf. iii. 10. 9.

3 p. 155, 18, Wichert.

4 Sept. 23.

5 A term of affection. The asellus is an attractive little beast, whatever the reputation of the asinus. The ocellus of Beroaldus and Damsté's autclus (=avicellus, “birdlet”; the usual form is avicula, as in ii. 29. 2) are needless changes, particularly in view of Augustus' humorous tendencies; Weiss cites vi. 16. 5, where asellus has a different, but hardly more complimentary, meaning.

6 The plural refers to Gaius and his brother Lucius; see note.

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