It seems to me you have had enough of life when you have had your fill of all its activities. Little boys enjoy certain things, but older youths to not yearn for these. Young adulthood has its delights, but middle age does not desire them. There are also pleasures of middle age, but these are not sought in old age. And so, just as the pleasures of earlier ages fall away, so do those of old age. When this happens, you have had enough of life, and it is time for you to pass on.
[Omnino, ut mihi quidem videtur studiorum omnium satietas vitae facit satietatem. Sunt pueritiae studia certa: num igitur ea desiderant adulescentes? Sunt ineuntis adulescentiae: num ea constans iam requirit aetas, quae media dicitur? Sunt etiam eius aetatis: ne ea quidem quaeruntur in senectute. Sunt extrema quaedam studia senectutis: ergo, ut superiorum aetatum studia occidunt, sic occidunt etiam senectutis; quod cum evenit, satietas vitae tempus maturum mortis affert.]
De Senectute [Cato Maior; On Old Age], ch. 20 / sec. 76 (20.76) (44 BC) [tr. Freeman (2016)]
(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:
And he that is full & replete of all the studyes & werkys perteynent to every age he is replete and wery of the tyme of this life so that he doubte not in no wise the deth as it seemyth me rightfully & as I preve it by my self. And note ye for a good advertisement to every man for to bere in remembraunce and for his prouffite. That certayne thyngys be wherin pueryce callid childhode which is the seconde age puttith his studye and his entendyng in thynges accordyng to his agrement. And the adolescente men whiche be undir the thidd age desyren in no wise the thynges and the besynes wherin puerice studyeth and occupyeth. And certeyne thynges be wherin the men studyen & occupyen them in begynnyng of their adolescencye. Also certayne thynges be in whiche yong age whiche is the fourth & the mene age puttith not his studye & besynesse in his precedent ages though the man had employed & occupied hym in the othir first ages which be smaller and of lesse degree. Yong age is callid the age stable & meane by cause that it holdith the meane betwixt adolescence & olde age And cesseth than the man for to do lighe thynges and folyes And as theene or nevir the man is stable & hole in body in witt & undirstōding the thynges and the werkys in whiche yong men studyen and occupye them been suche that olde men rek nevir of it. But namely olde age hath delectacyon in some thynges in his laste dayes wheryn he studyeth and employeth his wittys. How be it thenne that the studyes and the werkys of the fyve first ages dyen and seace in some tyme and seasons they in suche wise seacen and dyen in the besynesse studyes and the werkys of olde age whiche when they lacken in the man than he whiche is full and wery for to lyve in this worlde cometh to that tyme whiche is ripe and covenable for to dye.
[tr. Worcester/Worcester/Scrope (1481)]
But, methinks, satiety of all things causeth satiety of life. There are some fantastical and childish plays wherst young children in their childhood delight to play; shall, therefore, young men and tall fellows addict themselves to the same sembably? There are some exercises and affection swherein youthly years to enure themselves: shall the ripe and constant age (which si called the middle age of man) look to play at the same? And if this middle age there are some studies, wills, and appetites which old age careth not for. And there be some studies and exercises belonging and appropriate to old age . And therefore as the pleasure and delight of the studies and exercises in fresher and lustier ages doth in time wear away and come to an end, so doth the studies of old age in continuance and tract of time also die and vanish. And when this pleasuyre and delightful contentation begin in old men once to decrease, then doth satiety of life bring to them a convenable and mature time to die.
[tr. Newton (1569)]
Truly me thinks that the satiety 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? 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 bringeth also a fit time for death.
[tr. Austin (1648), ch. 21]
Satiety from all things else doth come,
Then life must to it self grow wearisome.
Those Trifles wherein Children take delight,
Grow nauseous to the young man's appetite,
And from those gaieties our youth requires,
To exercise their minds, our age retires.
And when the last delights of Age shall die,
Life in it self will find satietie.
[tr. Denham (1669)]
There are in every Stage of Life, peculiar Pleasures and Diversions, in the Pursuit of which we are employed. And as, when Boys, we are tired with such things, as pleased our Infant State, and, when advanced to a riper Age, we still grow weary of our former Diversions; so Old Age itself has its peculiar Enjoyments. Therefore, as all the several Delights, of all our different Ages, decay and grow insipid, those f our latest Years will likewise fail, and make us loath and reject them, till at last, well satisfied with Length of Days, we fall our selves, ass if it were full ripe, and fit to drop into another World.
[tr. Hemming (1716)]
'Tis a Rule with me, That the Fulness of all Things makes the Fullness of Life. Children have their Desires; must young people have the same? In some certain Studies delight Youth, must the Middle-aged too require the same? The Middle-aged have their Foibles; but they are not pursued by the Old; but Old Age has also its favourite Amusements of some Sort of other; and as the Studies of former Ages fall off from us, so do those of our Old Age at last fail us: And when that happens, then the fullness of Life brings on the fit and seasonable Moment for Death.
[tr. J. D. (1744)]
By living long we come to a Satiety in all things besides and this should naturally lead us to a Satiety of Life itself. Children we see have their particular Diversions; and does Youth, when past Childhood, pursue or desire the same? Youth also has its peculiar Exercises; and does full Manhood require these as before? Or has Old Age the same Inclinations that prevailed in more vigorous Years? We ought then to conclude, That as there is a Succession of Pursuits and Pleasures in the several Stages of Life, the one dying away, as the other advances and takes Place; so in the same Manner are those of Old Age to pass off in their Turn. And when this Satiety of Life has fully ripen'd us, we are then quietly to lie down in Death, as our last Resting-Place, where all Anxiety ends, and Cares and Fears subsist no more.
[tr. Logan (1744)]
The distaste with which, in passing through the several stages of our present being, we leave behind us the respective enjoyments peculiar to each; must necessarily, I should think, in the close of its latest period, render life itself no longer desirable. Infancy and youth, manhood and old age, have each of them their peculiar and appropriate pursuits. But does youth regret the toys of infancy, or manhood lament that no longer as a taste for the amusements of youth? The season of manhood has also its suitable objects, that are exchanged for others in old age; and these too, like all the preceding, become languid and insipt in their turn. Now when this state of absolute satiety is at length arrived; when we have enjoyed the satisfactions peculiar to old age, till we have no longer any relish remaining for them; it is then that death may justly be considered as a mature an seasonable event.
[tr. Melmoth (1773)]
In every view of it, as seems to me at least, a satiety of all pursuits produces satiety of life. Doubtless there are pursuits peculiar to boyhood; do then young men long for these? There are also pursuits proper to commencing adolescence; does that time of olife which is now settled, and is called middle-age, require them? There are also pursuits that belong to this latter period; those even are not sought after by old age. There are also certain pursuits of old age, which are the last; therefore as the pursuits of the former stages cease, so also to those of old age. And when this has come to pass, satiety of life brings on the ripe time of death.
[Cornish Bros. ed. (1847)]
On the whole, as it seems to me indeed, a satiety of all pursuits causes a satiety of life. There are pursuits peculiar to boyhood; do therefore young men regret the loss of them? There are also some of early youth; does that now settled age, which is called middle life, seek after these? There are also some of this period; neither are they looked for by old age. There are some final pursuits of old age; accordingly, as the pursuits of the earlier parts of life fall into disuse, so also do those of old age; and when this has taken place, satiety of life brings on the seasonable period of death.
[tr. Edmonds (1874)]
In fine, satiety of life, as it seems to me, creates satiety of pursuits of every kind. There are certain pursuits belonging to boyhood; do grown-up young men therefore long for them? There are others appertaining to early youth; are they required in the sedate period of life which we call middle age? This, too, has its own pursuits, and they are not sought in old age. As the pursuits of earlier periods of life fail, so in like manner do those of old age. When this period is reached, satiety of life brings a season ripe for death.
[tr. Peabody (1884)]
As a general truth, as it seems to me, it is weariness of all pursuits that creates weariness of life. There are certain pursuits adapted to childhood: do young men miss them? There are others suited to early manhood: does that settled time of life called "middle age" ask for them? There are others, again, suited to that age, but not looked for in old age. There are, finally, some which belong to old age. Therefore, as the pursuits of the earlier ages have their time for disappearing, so also have those of old age. And when that takes place, a satiety of life brings on the ripe time for death.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]
To put it in a word, it seems to me
'Tis weariness of all pursuits that makes
A weary age. We have pursuits as boys,
Do young men want them? Others yet there are
Suited to growing years, are they required
By those who've reached what's termed "the middle age"?
That too enjoys its own, but are they fit
For us old me? We have our own of course,
And as the others end, just so do ours,
And when it happens, weariness of life
Proclaims that ripeness which precedes our death.
[tr. Allison (1916)]
Undoubtedly, as it seems to me at least, satiety of all pursuits causes satiety of life. Boyhood has certain pursuits: does youth yearn for them? Early youth has its pursuits: does the matured or so-called middle stage of life need them? Maturity, too, has such as are not even sought in old age, and finally, there are those suitable to old age. Therefore as the pleasures and pursuits of the earlier periods of life fall away, so also do those of old age; and when that happens man has his fill of life and the time is ripe for him to go.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]
From a more general point of view, it seems to me that once we have had our fill of all the things that have engaged our interest, we have had our fill of life itself. There are interests that are proper to childhood: does a full-grown man regret their loss? There are interests that belong to early manhood: when we reach full maturity -- what is called “middle age” -- do we look back to them with longing? Middle age itself has its special concerns; even these have lost their attraction for the old. Finally, there are interests peculiar to old age; these fall away, too, just as did those of the earlier years. When this has happened, a sense of the fullness of life tells us that it is time to die.
[tr. Copley (1967)]
When we are children, we have childish interests, but do young men miss them? And when we are middle-aged, do we want what young men want? Similarly, old men are not remotely involved in the needs of middle age; they have their own. Therefore we may argue that as the concerns of each earlier stage of life fade away, so eventually do those of old age. And when that happens, we have had enough of life and we are ready for death.
[tr. Cobbold (2012)]
Then too, I think I can safely say that when the point arrives where you have had enough of life's pursuits -- this isn't boredom but more a fullness or satisfaction -- then you have also had enough of life. There are certain pursuits of childhood which teenagers don't miss, do they? And stable, middle aged adults don't go running after the pursuits of teens, do they? And there are some interests of our middle years. therefore, just as we do not fear or regret when the pursuits of earlier stages fall away, so too the thinking person does not regret the passing of the interests of old age. And when this happens, the fullness of life brings about the time which is ripe for death.
[tr. Gerberding (2014)]
The fulfilment of all desires,
At least it seems to me, kills all life’s bliss,
And childhood certainly requires
Interests that young people do not miss,
And the tastes of youth’s initial stage
Won’t be sought after in middle age
Whose pursuits seem to be cheerless
To those in their elderliness.
Therefore as the previous life’s urges
Will set like the Sun so will old age’s.
Once life has had its fill there comes the day
On which one may suitably pass away.
[tr. Bozzi (2015)]
Added on 15-Dec-20 | Last updated 2-Nov-23
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