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On Old Age, On Friendship & On Divination

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  387 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews

Cicero (Marcus Tullius, 106 - 43 BCE), Roman lawyer, orator, politician and philosopher, of whom we know more than of any other Roman, lived through the stirring era which saw the rise, dictatorship, and death of Julius Caesar in a tottering republic. In his political speeches especially and in his correspondence we see the excitement, tension and intrigue of politics and

Hardcover, Loeb Classical Library #154, 580 pages
Published January 1st 1923 by Harvard University Press
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Nov 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mari by: Frank
Shelves: classics-roman
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Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'd like to read it again when I begin to age and fall apart. I liked the reference to the main character's (I forget the spelling) mastery of Greek after the age of 60 - made me feel like I shouldn't be so worried about running out of time to study the things I want to learn. It also contains a good deal of sound advice regarding choosing friends and interacting with them, although it can seem somewhat Machiavellian at times.
For a class I'm teaching next quarter, and also because Saul Levmore and I are working on a joint collection of essays on aging, I've been reading Cicero's On Old Age (De Senectute) and its companion work On Friendship (De Amicitia). Both of these works, written in 44 BCE, were real favorites for many centuries, but they are less often read today. You can find a decent translation in the Loeb Classical Library. Both works are dedicated to Cicero's best friend Atticus, and Cicero says that their ...more
Jeremy Egerer
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cicero's treatise on friendship wasn't that novel -- especially because I read Montaigne's and Seneca's far superior works on the matter -- but it is relatively solid. His treatise on old age, however -- extremely valuable, and highly recommended. The end of the treatise is loaded with quality quotes and passages; every person should read this.
Jul 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Given how little we have how do I rate the ancient sources other than "must read?"
Chris Timmons
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another of Cicero's handsomely articulated programmes for living the good life, but let us add, life ordered around our natural human limitations, the disciplining of our sensual appetites (not in the puritanical sense; but in the acknowledgement of life's manifold pleasures), and the graceful filling of our days with reflection, gratitude, joy and finally complete submission to the reality of ever present mortality.
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good read. A book that makes you ponder the life that you live in.
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Both De Senectute (On Old Age) and De Amicitia (On Friendship) are enjoyable reads (I have not read De Divinatione). I try to read these two works once every year or so. They are not terribly long, and the dialogue format makes it casual even while dispensing philosophical views on old age and friendship. Cicero does have the tendency to go on a bit long at times, and even get sidetracked, but what he has to say is well worth that rather minor annoyance. De Senectute is really an expansion of th ...more
Jun 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Too bad one only gets around to reading this late in life. There is a lot to be learned.

We know more about Cicero than any other Roman writer, and he was one of the most prolific. There is an unfortunate portrayal of him in the HBO series "Rome" that leaves the impression of his being a scheming, pedantic, intellectually effite weasel (I think that covers it), but he was an astonishingly deep thinker and the epitomy of Aristotle's virtue.

"Divination" is less revealing than "Old Age" and "Friends
Nov 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rhetoric

On Old Age provides the source information about Isocrates' and Gorgias' late production, as well as the argument about "use it or lose it." In fact much of it is close to current thought, except the bit about how it's better to not feel passions as you age...Viagra!

On Friendship is not particularly startling, only that he suggests that friendships should be carefully vetted because people ought to take as good of care with their friendships as they do with their goats and sheep. Plenty quo
Feb 01, 2011 added it
Cicero is a sweet old man who just wants to ramble at you for awhile. Lots of well thought out, timeless ideas of what it means to grow old and to die. All from a guy who has been dead for over two thousand years. By the end of it you will want to die....because he makes being old so great...not because it is boring. Because it isn't.
A must-read treatise on old age. Cicero answers four common complaints against old age and shows how advancing years are a blessing and may be enjoyed fully and without any unhappiness or fear of death.
Mar 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
only read De Amicita
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful ideas and writing style.
Andrew Price
Oct 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Classical advice from a man I hope to read again and again.
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Cicero's style has never been beaten. This is elegant writing at its best.
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Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. Cicero is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.
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“Nemo enim est tam senex qui se annum non putet posse vivere.

(No one is so old as to think that he cannot live one more year.)”
“For while we are enclosed in these confinements of the body, we perform as a kind of duty the heavy task of necessity; for the soul from heaven has been cast down from its dwelling on high and sunk, as it were, into the earth, a place just the opposite to godlike nature and eternity. But I believe that the immortal gods have sown souls in human bodies so there might exist beings to guard the world and after contemplating the order of heaven, might imitate it by their moderation and steadfastness in life.” 14 likes
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