|Do not fly Iberia
Display Latin text
Display Dutch text
Ovid XV Chapter 5: 199-236 Pythagoras' Teachings: The Four Ages of Man
Return to index
|'Do you not see that the year displays four aspects, passing through them, in a semblance of our life? For spring, in its new life, is tender and sap-filled, and like a child: then the shoots are fresh and growing, delicate, without substance, quickening the farmer's hopes. Then everything blossoms, the kindly land is a riot of brightly coloured flowers, but the leaves are still not strong. From spring, the year, grown stronger, moves to summer, and becomes a powerful man: no season is sturdier, or more expansive, than this, or shines more richly. Autumn comes, when the ardour of youth has gone, ripe and mellow, between youth and age, a scattering of grey on its forehead. Then trembling winter, with faltering steps, its hair despoiled, or, what it has, turned white. And our bodies themselves are always, restlessly, changing: we shall not be, tomorrow, what we were, or what we are. There was a time when we were hidden in our first mother's womb, only the seed and promise of a human being: nature applied her skilful hands, and, unwilling for our bodies to be buried, cramped in our mother's swollen belly, expelled us from our home, into the empty air. Born into the light, the infant lay there, powerless: but soon it scrambled on all fours like a wild creature, then, gradually, helped by a supporting harness, it stood, uncertainly, on shaky legs. From that point, it grew strong and swift, and passed through its span of youth. When the middle years are also done, life takes the downward path of declining age. Milon, the athlete, grown old, cries when he looks at those weak and flabby arms, that were once, like those of Hercules, a solid mass of muscle. Helen, the daughter of Tyndareus, also weeps, when she sees an old woman's wrinkles in the glass, and asks why she has been twice ravaged. Devouring Time, and you, jealous Age, consume everything, and slowly gnawing at them, with your teeth, little by little, consign all things to eternal death!'