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Ovid XV Chapter 5: 199-236 Pythagoras' Teachings: The Four Ages of Man
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|'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!'||
'Quid? non in species succedere quattuor annum |
adspicis, aetatis peragentem imitamina nostrae?
nam tener et lactens puerique simillimus aevo
vere novo est: tunc herba recens et roboris expers
turget et insolida est et spe delectat agrestes;
omnia tunc florent, florumque coloribus almus
ludit ager, neque adhuc virtus in frondibus ulla est.
transit in aestatem post ver robustior annus
fitque valens iuvenis: neque enim robustior aetas
ulla nec uberior, nec quae magis ardeat, ulla est.
excipit autumnus, posito fervore iuventae
maturus mitisque inter iuvenemque senemque
temperie medius, sparsus quoque tempora canis.
inde senilis hiems tremulo venit horrida passu,
aut spoliata suos, aut, quos habet, alba capillos.
'Nostra quoque ipsorum semper requieque sine ulla
corpora vertuntur, nec quod fuimusve sumusve,
cras erimus; fuit illa dies, qua semina tantum
spesque hominum primae matris latitavimus alvo:
artifices natura manus admovit et angi
corpora visceribus distentae condita matris
noluit eque domo vacuas emisit in auras.
editus in lucem iacuit sine viribus infans;
mox quadrupes rituque tulit sua membra ferarum,
paulatimque tremens et nondum poplite firmo
constitit adiutis aliquo conamine nervis.
inde valens veloxque fuit spatiumque iuventae
transit et emeritis medii quoque temporis annis
labitur occiduae per iter declive senectae.
subruit haec aevi demoliturque prioris
robora: fletque Milon senior, cum spectat inanes
illos, qui fuerant solidorum mole tororum
Herculeis similes, fluidos pendere lacertos;
flet quoque, ut in speculo rugas adspexit aniles,
Tyndaris et secum, cur sit bis rapta, requirit.
tempus edax rerum, tuque, invidiosa vetustas,
omnia destruitis vitiataque dentibus aevi
paulatim lenta consumitis omnia morte!