In contrast to the childhood and youthful stages of human development, Cicero’s “On Old Age” is a philosophical text that addresses the issue of old age and death. The overarching theme of aging and death in Cicero’s text has been supported by some appealing and unsatisfactory ideas, as well as concise and convincing arguments. Dovey’s “What Old Age Is Really Like,” like modern people’s ideas, shows that old age is a time of hardship and instability. Cicero’s text not only expresses his abilities and ambitions since childhood, but it also demonstrates the inevitability of aging. Unlike Dovey, Cicero believes that one’s current state of life transition is acceptable. Cicero can think about the aging process that seemed to be working against him. Cicero defends the old age against the people’s perception of what it entails. Cicero grounds his text in the philosophical pillar of reasoning logically to respond to the disadvantages that people, until today, alleges old age against the advantages that he purports. In contrast, the modern world culture has the same perception of old age where they perceive it with total disadvantages. The modern society seems displeased when they start approaching old age, and many of them tend to fear death as it seems so near to them. Therefore, aging is inescapable, and humans need to embrace it and dismiss the fear of death by living each opportunity.
At old age, one does not require so much strength as a youth as things should be done in proportionality to one’s strength and ability. In Dovey’s “What Old Age Is Really Like,” he says, “Old age is perplexing to imagine in part because the definition of it is notoriously unstable” (Dovey, n.p). Cicero as an old man depicts a convincing idea that people at old age do not desire to be as strong as the youths. He adds his personal experience that when he was young, he yearned to have a strength of a bull of an elephant, but, modern people’s ideas as depicted by Dovey seems to show that old age is something that is disgusting and that everybody is afraid of. Cicero acknowledges that old age deteriorates one’s energy and the body grows weaker. However, he argues convincingly that one should use the advantage they have at their time and avoid wishing to be young all through. The modern ideas of that when one grows old becomes weak and unstable is therefore quenched. When should live to the maximum and avoid regrets over the life he missed to enjoy. For instance, Cicero’s words, “Use whatever you have… enjoy the blessing of strength while you have it and do not bewail it when it is gone” (Cicero, p.37), signifies that at any point of life, one has different capabilities which should be held, dear.
Modern people perceive that old age deprives human beings the physical sensations and pleasures. Dovey’s research presents the modern ideas that there is only “negative benchmarks” that are associated with aging. He says, “negative benchmarks associated with aging such as memory loss, illness, or an end to sexual activity” (Dovey,n.p). However, Cicero response to this charge against old age says that eating and drinking can also give sensual pleasure. Enjoying meals with friends is more fun and satisfactory, and it gives him the pleasure he needs. He says, “though it lacks immoderate banquets, may find delight in temperate repasts” (Cicero, p. 53). Cicero supports the claim by arguing that there is no need for sexual pleasure as old age does not provide it to old age as it does to the youth, and that, the sensual pleasures for the youth are the reason why old age should be praised. Therefore, the old as the young enjoy different sensations which all contribute to physical pleasure to both parties.
Both the modern ideas about aging and Cicero’s, have some common reasoning. Cicero says, “the crowning glory of old age is influence” (Cicero, p.75), and Dovey portray the modern ideas on aging by saying that, “the biggest problem for many older people is ‘ageism,’ rather than the process of aging itself” (Dovey, n.p). The reason is that the aged people are affected by the stereotypes of the society. However, there is no chance to escape from aging, but people will misperceive the aged people and make them feel displaced. This perception makes Cicero say that “…old men feel their years a bore to youth” (p.35).
In conclusion, the ideas for the modern people seem to contradict much of Cicero’s believes. The young do not think that they will once grow old while many old people do not appreciate their age. According to Cicero’s “On Old Age,” there are all reasons for people to appreciate their old age. However, Dovey suggests a better take to old age while he comments that people are made to either lament of their old age or celebrate it, but they should “affirm it as a significant part of life” (Dovey, n.p). Therefore, aging is inescapable, and humans need to embrace it and dismiss the fear of death by living each opportunity.
Cicero. On Old Age. 2017, Retrieved from: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/e/roman/texts/cicero/cato_maior_de_senectute/text*.html
Dovey, C. What Old Age Is Really Like, 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/what-old-age-is-really-like