Cato major, or, The book of old age first written by M.T. Cicero ; and now excellently Englished by William Austin of Lincolns Inne, Esquire ; with annotations upon the names of the men and places.
Cicero, Marcus Tullius., Austin, William, 1587-1634.
Page  117


BUt the young man hopes to live long, which the old man cannot. He hopes foo∣lishly; sor what is greater folly, then to account un∣certain things for certain, false for true? the old man hath nothing to hope for more; therefore he is in better state then the former, seeing that what the other wisheth for, he hath obtained already; the young man would live long, the old man hath lived long. O you immortall gods, what is there in mans life, that is of any long conti∣nuance? Page  118 for let us live long, and we expect the years of the King of the * Taresians; for I have seen it written, that there was one Argan∣thonius at Gades, which reigned eighty years, and lived an hundred and twenty; but to me nothing see∣meth of long continuance, of which there is any end; for when that end shall come, then that which is past flies away like smoak, and that only will remaine, which you have obtained by vertue and good deeds; the houres you see runs on, and the dayes, and the moneths, and the years; neither doth the time past ever return, nor can any tell what will follow. That time which a man hath given him to live, he ought to be conten∣ted with it; for a good actor is not applauded in the midst of a Scene, so a wise mans praise comes not Page  119 till the end. The time of our age is short indeed; but long enough to live well and honestly. But if your age seem longer then your youth, you ought to grieve no more then the husbandman doth, when the sweetnesse of the spring is past, that the summer and the winter are come. For the spring doth as it were signifie youth, and shows what fruit will come; the other seasons of plucking and gathering the fruit, are compared to the lat∣ter times of our age. For the fruit of age as I have said, is the memory of the abundance of good deeds heretofore done; all things which are done by the rules of God, and nature, are to be accounted good; but it is a rule of nature that old men must die, which also hap∣peneth to young men though they resist it. Therefore a young man seemeth to me to die like Page  120 fire put out with water, but old men like fire which being put out by no force, is quietly consumed of it selfe; and as apples on trees being not ripe, are plucked of by violence, but being ripe they fal of themselves: so force taketh away the life of young men, but ripenesse of age the life of old men: which consideration is so pleasant to me, that I seem to behold the eatth, as a quiet port, whether after a long and troublesome navigation I shall arrive. The end of all ages is certain, but the end of old age is un∣certain (which is death,) and a man may live therin uprightly, and contemne death; hence it comes that old men are more bold and hearty then young men, which made that Solon answered to [1] Pysistratus the Tyrant, when he as∣ked him what made him so bold, he answered, old age. But the end Page  121 he answered, old age. But the end of life is then best when nature, (the minde being well, and all the sences perfect) doth dissolve the same work, which she her selfe hath made. For as that workeman which hath made a ship or build∣ing, knowes best how to unjoyn it: so the same nature which hath made a man, best dissolves him; that which is newly joyned, is hardly sodered, but old work is easily taken in pieces. Now that little time of life which we have, is not to be greedily desired of old men, nor without cause to be refu∣sed, and Pythagoras forbids that unlesse the Emperour (which is God) command; we ought not to depart from our station and guard of life, it is the [2] speech of So∣lon the wise, when he wisheth his death to be lamented of his friends. I beleeve he would be dear to Page  122 them. But I know not if Ennius wrote better or no.

No man shall weep my death
Nor spend a sighing breath.

It seemes he thinketh not that death to be lamented, which ob∣taineth immortality. Now for the sense or pain of dying, if there be any, it remaineth but a small time, especially in old men. But this ought to be considered of in youth, that wee might learne before to neglect death, without which meditation no man can be of 〈◊〉 quiet minde. Tis certain we must die, but when, uncertain, whether to day or no we know not; there∣fore who can be quiet in minde, while he feares death continually hanging over his head, concern∣ing Page  123 which there needs no long disputation, when I remember not only [3] L. Brutus who was slain in delivering his countrey, not only *M. Marcellus whom after his death, his cruellest enemies could not suffer to want honou∣rable buriall, and many others; but also our legions of souldiers, who as I have written in my book of O∣riginals, have often gone into those places with a chearfull and constant minde, from whence they never looked to returne. Shall therfore wise and learned old men, feare that which young men, rude, and unletterd have contem∣ned? Truly me thinks that the sa∣tiety of all things makes also a satiety of life. There are certain studies in children, shall young men desire them? there are others in youth, shall age require them? Page  124 and there be studies in the last age: therefore as the studies of former ages fail, so do the studies of old age, so that when the satiety or fulnesse of life commeth, it bring∣eth also a fit time for death.

XXI. Table of Annotations.

  • 1. PYsistratus King of Athens, the sonne of Hippocrates, he reigned at Athens, when Servius Tullius reigned at Rome; he made the first librarie at Athens, which after, Xerxes carried into Persia.
  • Page  1252. The speech of Solon is in latin, this.
    Mors mea ne careat lacrymis, lin∣quamus amicis
    Maerorem, ut celebrent fune∣ra nostra fletu.
    Thus in English.
    Let not my death want teares, but leave to all
    Sorrow and grones, to make my funerall.
  • 3. Lucius Brutus, he deposed Tar∣quinius Superbus; it is said that when for feare of Tarquin he coun∣terfeited himselfe mad, he was in∣treated by Tarquins sonnes to go with them to the oracle of Apollo, to make them sport by the way, whe∣ther they went to know which of them should reigne after their fa∣thers death; it was there answered, Page  126 that he which did first kisse his mo∣ther, should rule, whereupon they hasted home apace to their mother, but Brutus understanding the ora∣cles true meaning, fell to the earth and kissed it, as being the generall mother of all, by which meanes he after expulsing of Tarquin for the rape of Lucretia, did governe the common-wealth himselfe, and was the first Consul; he put to death his own sonnes for taking part with Tarquin; he was stain by the lake Regulus in a battell.