Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Magazine article The Spectator

Ancient & Modern

Article excerpt

Old age is in the news at the moment because people may not be financially prepared for retirement. But old age has much more interesting questions to consider, and none more interesting than its conclusion. The Roman philosopher-statesman Seneca (AD 1-65) makes some most interesting observations on the matter.

Seneca, being a Stoic, takes the view that death is no evil, and therefore suicide is a rational act. 'In my opinion, old age is not to be refused any more than it is to be craved,' he argues. 'It is very agreeable to enjoy one's own company as long as possible, on condition that one has ensured it is worth enjoying. The question we have to face is - should we treat extreme old age with disdain and take matters into our own hands, rather than just waiting for it to come?'

Arguing that the man who clings to life for the sake of it is like a drunkard who sucks up even the dregs, Seneca concludes that he would not abandon his old age as long as it preserved him 'intact as regards the better part of myself. But if old age begins to destroy my mind and pull apart its various faculties, leaving me breathing but not living, I shall immediately evacuate this crumbling and tottering residence. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.