If I am to live longer, perhaps I must live out my old age, seeing and hearing less, understanding worse, coming to learn with more difficulty and to be more forgetful, and growing worse than those to whom I was once superior. Indeed, life would be unliveable, even if I did not notice the change. And if I see the change, how could life not be even more wretched and unpleasant?

Socrates (c.470-399 BC) Greek philosopher
In Xenophon, Memorabilia Book IV, ch.8, sec.8

(sometimes cited to Plato, Apology)

Alt. trans.:

  • "If my life is to be prolonged now, I know that I must live out my old age, seeing worse, hearing less, learning with more difficulty, and forgetting more and more of what I have learned. If I see myself growing worse and reproach myself for it, tell me, how could I continue to live pleasantly? Perhaps even the god in his kindness is offering to end my life not only at the right time, but also in the easiest way possible."
  • "If I were to live longer, perhaps I should fall into the inconveniences of old age: perhaps my sight should grow dim, my hearing fail me, my judgment become weak, and I should have more trouble to learn, more to retain what I had learnt; perhaps, too, after all, I should find myself incapable of doing the good I had done before. And if, to complete my misery, I should have no sense of my wretchedness, would not life be a burden to me? And, on the other hand, say I had a sense of it, would it not afflict me beyond measure?" [tr. E. Bysshe (1712)]

Added on 24-Feb-09 | Last updated 15-Apr-09
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