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[14] A noble answer and worthy of a scholar!

For, in truth, it is their own vices and their own faults that fools charge to old age; but Ennius, of whom I spoke a while ago, did not do this, for he says:

He, like the gallant steed that often won
Olympic trophy in the final lap,
Now takes his rest when weakened by old age.

He is comparing his old age to that of a brave and victorious horse. You both may recall him distinctly,1 for it was only nineteen years from his death until the election of the present consuls, Titus Flamininus and Manius Acilius, and he did not pass away until the consulship of Caepio and Philip (the latter being in his second term), at a time when I, at sixty-five, spoke publicly for the Voconian [p. 25] law,2 with loud voice and mighty lungs. But he at seventy—for Ennius lived that long—was bearing the two burdens which are considered the greatest—poverty and old age—and was bearing them in such a way that he seemed almost to take a pleasure in them.

1 Laelius and Scipio, at the death of Ennius, were respectively seventeen and sixteen years old.

2 This law, named from its author, Voconius Saxa, tribune of the plebs, passed in 169 B.C., provided (1) that no one enrolled as having 100,000 asses (about $1,000) should make a woman his heir; or (2) leave to another a sum greater than the heirs would receive.

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