On Rereading “De Senectute”

Nov. 27 1998 3:30 AM

On Rereading “De Senectute”

Cicero's hot investment tips for the declining years.

(Continued from Page 1)

On the final question of how to invest to prepare for the proximity of death in old age, Cicero is not very helpful. (Who is?) He offers his "philosophical" view. Death brings at least an end to those troublesome appetites and may open the way to something better--he doesn't say what. Perhaps one could indoctrinate oneself in that attitude in youth and so prepare for old age. But obviously Cicero did not find that philosophy sufficient. As the introduction to the Loeb edition says, "In February 45 [a year before he wrote "De Senectute"] the death of his adored and only daughter drove him into a frenzy of writing in an effort to forget his grief." He did not accept the fact of his daughter Tullia's death with the thought that she had at least escaped all appetites. His philosophy might have prepared him for his own death; it did not prepare him for the death of one he loved.

42000_42878_981124_age2
Advertisement

Later he wrote an essay titled "Consolatio," which probably dealt with this subject and which I have not read. If he was rescued from his grief, it was apparently time and work, not philosophy, that rescued him.

: Herbert Stein thanks his high-school Latin teacher.

Herbert Stein, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Nixon and Ford. He is a member of the board of contributors at the Wall Street Journal.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.