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How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  341 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Worried that old age will inevitably mean losing your libido, your health, and possibly your marbles too? Well, Cicero has some good news for you. In How to Grow Old, the great Roman orator and statesman eloquently describes how you can make the second half of life the best part of all--and why you might discover that reading and gardening are actually far more pleasurable ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published March 29th 2016 by Princeton University Press (first published -44)
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Manuel Antão
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

The Roman Way: How to Grow Old - Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life by Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero was full of shit.

Though I did some Classics in the 80s, I barely read any Cicero. (This was out of personal indolence, not the fault of my courses...) He is one of the people from the Graeco-Roman world I really would like to read a bit more of than I did back then - probably in translation on a long National Express coach
Amanda Patchin
Jul 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Brief but lovely.

In a nutshell? Make peace with aging's changes but do not attribute to age that which is the fault of your character.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Late last year I found grey in the stubble on my chin. This year I've started sprouting grey hairs at my temples. Time and age catch up to us all, and for modern people—to judge by a perennially fruitful field of advertising—the discovery of grey hair, or crow's feet, or a newly creaky joint, marks the beginning of a crisis. The same was apparently true in the ancient world, judging by the forceful arguments against bemoaning old age in Cicero's De Senectute, loosely rendered here as How to Grow ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rather poorly titled, but it fits in with the other titles in this Princeton University Press series, mostly translations of Seneca and Cicero: How to be a Friend; How to be Free; How to Die; How to Keep Your Cool, etc. This one is handier than the other I read (How to Die) in that the Latin and English are on facing pages. Unlike that book this one is not a selection, it's a straight-up translation of Cicero's De Senectute, written near the end of his life, and a very accurate and lively ...more
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I continue to enjoy this series from Princeton Press, although I did find this one repetitive. The introduction covered most of the key parts from Cicero’s essay, which does a nice job of rebutting many commonly held fallacies about old age. All the same: this one’s as worth a read at eighteen as at eighty. Recommended.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who plans to get to old
A reminder that the Greeks and Romans had it all figured out over 2,300 years ago. There's nothing new under the sun other than technology, it seems. Food, Friends, and Fun are still the best.
Sean Blevins
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading.

A good old age begins in youth, Cicero instructs us. The cultivation of reason, wisdom, and judgment, begun years before, bear their fruit in old age and allow for new joys and pleasures, proper and limited to the final years of life.

Cicero argues that the four reasons one may fear old age: the limiting of opportunities, the dissipation of powers, the diminishment of sensual pleasures, and the nearness of death, are all founded on misapprehension.

It's true that grey hairs don't
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of Cicero as a Latin teacher and student, and I have to say this little book blew me away. It's so relevant, so interesting, and deeply gentle in guiding the reader to make peace with old age. It's one that definitely is still meaningful today, and is looking pretty good for its 2000 years!
Vincent Li
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy these little translations. The language is colloquial but communicates its ideas well (to the extent that the advice seems wise and worth knowing, I can't speak for fidelity in translation).

This small treatise is on growing old. Through the dramatic face of Cato the Elder, Cicero speaks about how old age can be a blessing. According to Cicero, living well in old age is a result of good habit and virtue developed in one's youth. Cicero writes about how while our bodies may grow
Nov 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found very little wisdom in this little dialogue. Mostly a lot of self-indulgent bullshit, if you ask me.

Obviously written before Botox and cryogenics :p
Cynthia Ross
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most amusing part was Cicero telling us that porn is basically only for very old men who don’t have the strength or interest in sex anymore. If you meet an old idiot, who is miserly or lazy, it is a character flaw that transcends age so don’t assume age is a contributing factor. Blame the person’s character outright. The best part was, you should never have to fear death. If you are a fedora atheist then you’ll simply cease to exist and considering most of you are doing nothing of note ...more
Andrew Davis
Jun 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A nice, clear and short essay on aging and death.
The most important lessons:
1. A good old age begins in youth.
Moderation, wisdom, clear thinking, enjoying all that life has to offer – these are habits we should learn while we are young since they will sustain us as we grow older. Miserable young people do not become happier as they grow older.
2. Old age can be a wonderful part of life.
The senior years can be very enjoyable if we have developed the proper internal resources.
3. There are proper
Alistair Forrest
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-read, history
I wrote a longer review of this for, but here's the best thing I learned from Rome's elder statesman: grumpy old folk don’t age well. Cicero sees no room for a Victor Meldrew attitude as “older people who are reasonable, good tempered and gracious will bear ageing well. Those who are mean-spirited and irritable will be unhappy at every period of their lives.” I have taken careful note!
A couple of years before his violent death on the order of the Second Triumvirate, Cicero wrote this
Martin von Haller Groenbaek
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am not sure whether a book like this would be so revered, if it was written today. Its core observations about how to grow old with dignity and how to have joy in old age surely reflect perennial wisdom. But what I really like is the fact that the book is written by someone about 2.000 years ago who talks about things in life that are just as relevant back then as today.
Ellyn Lem
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure what to expect when reading a work on aging from 44 BC. . . I mean, a few things have changed since then. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the Roman statesman Cicero's work was filled with revelations that prove still meaningful today. Here, for example, is his take on losing some physical strength as we get older: "I no longer wish for the strength of youth. . . any more than when I was a young man I desired the strength of a bull or an elephant. People should use the the ...more
Lionel Chia
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: priceless
This was a little gem gifted by a friend, whom humorously said that "it's the kind of book I would read". She's read on the mark, but probably not because of the nature of the subject but more in the style.

What's it about? ---
As the title says, this is a book about how to grow old. More accurately, it's a book about why growing old isn't such a bad thing. Here are my favourite quotes:

1. "Old people have the strength to teach the young and prepare them for the many duties of life"
2. "Each stage
William Schram
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We all eventually grow old and die. However, the aging process doesn’t have to be unpleasant or filled with grumbling and moaning. Although you won’t be able to do stuff like run a marathon as well as a younger person or even as well as your younger self, that is no reason to throw in the towel to a long path of senescence and painful joints. In How To Grow Old Marcus Tullius Cicero writes a dialogue between some imaginary characters that talks about the good things of growing old. The wisdom ...more
Si Jing
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
On page 45: "Some people will say that memory fades away as the years pass. Of course it does if you don't exercise it or aren't very bright to begin with."

This was the very first page that i flipped to when i was browsing through the book. Some words of wisdom that have been around for 2000 years and it spoke to me. Immediately, i knew this book was worth my time and so it was. Towards the back, Cicero began to discuss about the soul being immortal which got me to ponder about this.

There is no
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, translated
Truly wisdom. I think something that really stood out to me was that a good old age begins in youth. Miserable young people do not grow happier as they grow old.

Also, that there are different seasons to life. We can enjoy certain things better when we are young and others when we are old. It's useless to cling onto youth when it is over.

Overall, an insightful read that may resonate even better if read when older.

Henry Manampiring
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's short, can be finished for less than an hour, but it's impact can be lasting.

The writing is more than 2000 year old, but its insight on how to live old age remains surprisingly relevant to today.

While the books seems written for those 40 year old and older, younger adults can still benefit, because as Cicero explained, a wise and virtuous old age is cultivated since one is young.

Truly delightful read, and its English is highly accessible. Recommended.
Joe W
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, revealing with a Context We all need.

Cicero and this writing should be required reading for high school students to graduate.
Plenty of insights that are never discussed in secondary schools today. This book offers an intellectual opening to ideas that can lead to true spiritual discussions. Shame on the pseudo-teachers and administrators of forsaken government schools for not attending to Cicero and His accumulated wisdom.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To be honest, not what I expected once I opened this book given that the title provides for "Ancient wisdom for the second part of life". I'm a quarter of century before starting this stage, but I am internally happy that this book landed on my hands now. It is a call that whatever this is going to be in 5, 10, 25 years actually starts now.
Kyle S.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great insight on old age

I recommend this book to not just those approaching old age, but to the young as well. I believe the young can benefit just as much, if not more from this book than the old.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Geez, do I say this out loud? Read it thinking I'd get some fantastic wisdom from Cicero, but found it to be a lot more interesting as a historical document than as an essay on aging for the modern human.
C. Lewis
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a gem of a book! It's an easy read with lots of excellent advice and fun anecdotes about a timeless subject that is as relevant today as it was to the ancient Romans. I will be be reading this many more times in the coming years.
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
a delightful book, half in Latin, half in English. The translator's summary was excellent. well worth taking this drink of wisdom from the past.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
A delightful little treatise on old age. Short enough to read in a single sitting. Lots of gems and, I think, best to be read before one is into old age.
Sheppard  Hobgood
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book, written over 2000 years ago, explores the human psyche regarding death and old age. I marvel at how Cicero’s thinking coincides with ours, even today. There is nothing new under the sun.
Jade Cassels
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very beautiful written from start to end, jade approves!! ...more
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Full of wisdom. Not sure why he didn't just present the ideas as his own rather than couch them in a real person who did not live to be old -somewhat of a fictitious setting.
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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.

Alternate profiles:
Marco Tulio Cicerón

Note: All editions should have Marcus Tullius Cicero as primary author. Editions with another name on the cover should have that name added as