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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 2 2014 6:00 AM Can’t Stomach It I was shamed for getting gastric bypass surgery. Should I keep the procedure a secret?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?