Human good turns out to be activity of soul in conformity with
excellence, and if there exists more than one excellence, in con-
formity with the best and most complete.… But we must add [in
a complete life.] For one swallow does not make a summer, nor
does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make
a man blessed and happy.… Yet evidently happiness needs the
external goods as well.… For the man who is very ugly in appear-
ance or ill-born or solitary and childless is hardly happy, and per-
haps a man would be still less so if he had thoroughly bad children
or friends or had lost good children or friends by death.… Why
then should we not say that he is happy who is active in conform-
ity with complete excellence and is sufficiently equipped with
external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a
—ARISTOTLE, Nicomachean Ethics
Human life has been divided into three or four ages, but also into
five, into seven, and even into ten. Shakespeare, in As You Like It,
championed the division into seven.
All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
But it is undeniable that only the divisions into three and four have
had any permanence in man's interpretations. Both are enshrined