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Time, then, did not prevent those men from doing such great things ; and shall we of the present [p. 87] day, who live in luxury in states that are free from tyranny or any war or siege, be such cowards as to shirk unwarlike contests and rivalries which are for the most part terminated justly by law and argument in accordance with justice, confessing that we are inferior, not only to the generals and public men of those days, but to the poets, teachers, and actors as well ? Yes, if Simonides in his old age won prizes with his choruses, as the inscription in its last lines declares :
But for his skill with the chorus great glory Simonides followed,
Octogenarian child sprung from Leoprepes' seed.1
And it is said that Sophocles, when defending himself against the charge of dementia brought by his sons,2 read aloud the entrance song of the chorus in the Oedipus at Colonus, which begins3:
Of this region famed for horses
Thou hast, stranger, reached the fairest
Dwellings in the land,
Bright Colonus, where the sweet-voiced
Nightingale most loves to warble
In the verdant groves;
and the song aroused such admiration that he was escorted from the court as if from the theatre, with the applause and shouts of those present. And here is a little epigram of Sophocles, as all agree :
Song for Herodotus Sophocles made when the years of his age were
Five in addition to fifty.4
[p. 89] But Philemon5 the comic dramatist and Alexis6 were overtaken by death while they were on the stage acting and being crowned with garlands. And Polus the tragic actor, as Eratosthenes and Philochorus tell us, when he was seventy years old acted in eight tragedies in four days shortly before his death.7

1 Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Graec. iii. p. 496, no. 147 (203).

2 This story, though repeated by several ancient writers, deserves no credit.

3 Sophocles, Oed. Col. 668-673.

4 Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Graec. ii. p. 245, no. 5.

5 Philemon, the chief rival of Menander, was born in 361 and died in 262 b.c. Suidas (s.v. Φιλήμων) states that he died in his sleep at the age of 99 years, the pseudo-Lucian (Macrobioi, 25) that he died of excessive laughter when 97 years old.

6 There is epigraphic as well as literary evidence for the prolific productiveness and great age of Alexis, the foremost poet of the Middle Comedy, who lived circa 376-270 b.c. See Kaibel in Pauly-Wissowa, Suppl. Bd., and Am. Jour. Phil. xxi. (1900) pp. 59 ff.

7 A long list of Greeks who lived to an advanced age is given by B. E. Richardson, Old Age among the Ancient Greeks, pp. 215-222.

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