Dr. Richard Cirulli delves further into his growing body of work regarding societal evolution, known as the “Boomerang Series,” in his most recent article: “A Few Classical Lessons On Growing Old? By Dr. Richard Cirulli, Ph.D.” this Friday, November 9, 2018 at 10am EST on the Westchester On the Level Internet radio broadcast. Listen “Live” or “On Demand”. Use the following hyperlink – http://tobtr.com/s/11041973 to listen to this segment from 10-11am.
A Few Classical Lessons on Growing Old? By Dr. Richard Cirulli, Ph.D.
“My skin once soft is wrinkled now,
my hair once black has turned to white
My heart has become heavy, my knees that once danced nimbly like fawns cannot carry me. How often I lament these things- but what can be done? No one who is human can escape old age.”
— Sappho Sixth Century BC Poet
For us aging Baby boomers, we may find some consolation and wisdom from the classic thinkers and philosophers of antiquity on how to grow old, or more politically correct, retreat from youth. It also makes us feel youthful in a relative sense that we are not old enough to be labeled as ancients. The author, a fan of Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC-43BC) shares some of this famous Roman philosopher, lawyer, orator and statesman’s views on aging.
Forty-five BC was not a good year for this famous orator and statesman now in his early sixties and living alone. He had divorced his wife of 30 years, married a younger women only to divorce her soon after the marriage, and his beloved daughter Tullia had died earlier that year. If this was far too much for a stalwart youth to bear in the prime of their life, Cicero received the bad news that Caesar had just crossed the Rubicon River forcing the Republic into civil war. Cicero, not a supporter of Caesar, soon found himself standing against the new dictator, who forced him into a humiliating pardon.
Rather than to lament his fate, and retire to his country estate believing he was an old man useless to the world, Cicero did not resign himself to overindulging in wine, or committing suicide as his friend the younger Cato had done. Instead Cicero, turned to writing, something he had longed to do since his youth, so as to make his mark in the literary world. Cicero was naturally inclined to the stoic doctrines of virtue, order, and divine providence, as opposed to the Epicureans self indulgent views. Cicero being a bibliophile and scripturient worked around the clock to produce numerous treatises on government, ethics, education, religion, friendship, and moral duty.
Just before Caesar’s murder on the Ides of March in 44BC, Cicero focused on the subject of old age, writing his treatise titled De Senectute. In this treatise, he took the position that in later years, despite limitations, could be embraced as an opportunity for growth and completeness. The following are just a few of his valuable lessons on aging:
• A good old age begins in youth
• Old age can be a wonderful part of life
• There are proper seasons to life
• Older people have much to teach the young
• Old age need not deny us an active life
• The Mind is a muscle that must be exercised
• Older people must stand up for themselves
• Sex is highly overrated
• Cultivate your own garden ( interests )
Well as we can see, there are some-things us “elders” can learn from the ancients. Confirming the older has much to teach the young. The author can truly identify with Cicero, and will now move on to the next writing , and not in fear that Caesar will be crossing the Bronx River, and in maturity wise enough to know not to schedule meetings with critics during the Ides of March.
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Dr. Richard Cirulli is a retired Professor of Business, consultant, writer, Playwright, author, Innocent Bystander, Author of “The Songs of Roland” and critic at large. He looks forward to your comments at email@example.com.