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And if some god should offer me the privilege of returning to babyhood again, cradle, wailing, and all, I would absolutely refuse. I would have no desire, once my course were run, to be haled back from the race’s end to the starting-line.
[Et si quis deus mihi largiatur ut ex hac aetate repuerascam et in cunis vagiam, valde recusem, nec vero velim quasi decurso spatio ad carceres a calce revocari.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Senectute [Cato Maior; On Old Age], ch. 23 / sec. 83 (23.83) (44 BC) [tr. Copley (1967)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

And if some god wolde give me puissaunce that I whiche am an olde man myght retourne ayen in to childhode and that I shulde braye and krye in my swathyng cloth and in my cradelle like a childe, I wolde it not but I wolde even refuse it.
[tr. Worcester/Worcester/Scrope (1481)]

I will say more, if God would grant me now in this age to return again to my infancy and to be as young as a child that lieth crying in his cradle, I would refuse and forsake the offer with all my might; neither would I when I have already in a manner run the whole race and own the goal, be again revoked from the end marks to the lists, or place where I took my course at the first setting out. For who would be contented, when he hath gotten the best game, to be forced to race again for the same?
[tr. Newton (1569)]

And if any god would grant me to be now a child in my cradle againe, and to be young, I would refuse it. Neither would I, having runne my full course, be called back again.
[tr. Austin (1648)]

Should some God tell me, that I should be born,
And cry again, his offer I should scorn;
Asham'd when I have ended well my race,
To be led back, to my first starting place.
[tr. Denham (1669)]

And should any of the Gods give me the Liberty of beginning again the Circle of my Years, I should desire to be excused, and be unwilling to begin the Race again, when I am just arrived at the Goal.
[tr. Hemming (1716)]

Or should any heavenly Power grant me the Privilege of turning back, if I pleased, from this Age to Infancy, and to set out again from my Cradle, I would absolutely refuse it; for as I have now got well nigh to the End of my Race, I should be extremely unwilling to be called back, and obliged to start again.
[tr. Logan (1744)]

The sincere truth is, if some divinity would confer upon me a new grant of my life, and replace me once more in the cradle, I would utterly, and without the least hesitation, reject the offer; having well-nigh finished my race, I have no inclination to return to the goal.
[tr. Melmoth (1773)]

But if any god should grant me that I should become a boy again and wail in the cradle, I would strenuously decline it; nor indeed would I wish, as if I had run my course, to be called back from the goal to the starting-post.
[Cornish Bros. ed. (1847)]

For if any god should grant me, that from this period of life I should become a child again and cry in the cradle, I should earnestly refuse it: nor in truth should I like, after having run, as it were, my course, to be called back to the starting-place from the goal.
[tr. Edmonds (1874)]

Indeed, were any god to grant that from my present age I might go back to boyhood, or become a crying child in the cradle, I should steadfastly refuse; nor would I be willing, as from a finished race, to be summoned back from the goal to the starting-point.
[tr. Peabody (1884)]

Nay, if some god should grant me to renew my childhood from my present age and once more to be crying in my cradle, I would firmly refuse; nor should I in truth be willing, after having, as it were, run the full course, to be recalled from the winning-crease to the barriers.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]

Nay, if some God should offer to me now
Once more to be a boy, and shed sad tears
Within my cradle, I'd refuse the gift.
Nor do I wish, my course being fully run,
To leave the winning for the starting post.
[tr. Allison (1916)]

Nay, if some god should give me leave to return to infancy from my old age, to weep once more in my cradle, I should vehemently protest; for, truly, after I have run my race I have no wish to be recalled, as it were, from the goal to the starting-place.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

Indeed if some god granted me the power to cancel my advanced years and return to boyhood, and wail once more in the cradle, I should firmly refuse. Now that my race is run, I have no desire to be called back from the finish to the starting point!
[tr. Grant (1960; 1971 ed.)]

If I knew that some god had arranged for me to be transformed into an infant bawling in its cradle, I would make a dreadful fuss; once my race was run and I was coming down the final stretch, I would have no desire to be sent all the way back to the starting gate.
[tr. Cobbold (2012)]

And by the same token, if any miracle wouild grant me the chance to be a boy again and to cry in the nursery, I would certainly refuse. There is no way I want to be recalled, as it were, from the finish line to the starting blocks now that I have run the whole race.
[tr. Gerberding (2014)]

And if some god allowed me to get back again
To the cradle, as one of those crying toddlers,
From my ancient age, I’d refuse there and then.
Having run most of my course, I couldn’t face
To be recalled from the finish to the starting place.
[tr. Bozzi (2015)]

Truly, if some god graciously granted that I could put aside my years and start over, crying in my cradle again, I would vehemently refuse. Since I have almost finished my race, why would I want to be called back to the starting line?
[tr. Freeman (2016)]

Even if some god should permit that I would return to the time of my birth from this age, I would sternly refuse -- for, truly, I do not wish to restart as if to retrace a race run from the finish line to the starting post.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018), sec. 84]

Added on 25-Jan-24 | Last updated 25-Jan-24
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More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

The course of a man’s life is certain. The path that we follow goes in only one direction. Every mile is distinctly marked with its own peculiar characteristic — the vulnerability of infants, the animal high spirits of adolescents, the seriousness of adults, the maturity of old men — and at each of these stages we must accept gracefully what Nature grants us.

[Cursus est certus aetatis et una via naturae eaque simplex, suaque cuique parti aetatis tempestivitas est data, ut et infirmitas puerorum et ferocitas iuvenum et gravitas iam constantis aetatis et senectutis maturitas naturale quiddam habet, quod suo tempore percipi debeat.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Senectute [Cato Maior; On Old Age], ch. 10 / sec. 33 (10.33) (44 BC) [tr. Cobbold (2012)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

The cours and the weye of age is certeyne and determyned by nature, whiche hathe onely awey which is symple & is nothyng different more in the one than in the othir. But each go by that symple and determyned wey aftir the degrees in their cours from the one age in to that other. And yet nature had given to every part of age his owne propre season and tyme, and hir pertynent cours of usage in kynde. That is to witt, that sekenesse and maladye is appropryd to the age of puerice in childhode, & cruelte is appropryd to the age of yongth, worshipfulnesse and sadnesse of maners be appropryd to the age of virilite whiche is the fyfthe age. Moderaunce and temperaunce be appropryd to olde age. Eueriche oweth to have sumwhat naturelly and appropryd unto that whiche may be gadird in his tyme.
[tr. Worcester/Worcester/Scrope (1481), Part 3]

The race and course of age is certain; and there is but one way of nature and the same simple; and to every part of a man's life and age are given his convenient times and proper tempestivities. For even as weakness and infirmity is incident to young children, lustiness and bravery to young men, and gravity when they come to ripe years; so, likewise the maturity or ripeness of old age have a certain special gift given and attributed to it by nature, which ought not to be neglected, but to be taken in his own time and season when it cometh.
[tr. Newton (1569)]

There is but one course of age, and one way of nature, and the same simple, and to every part of age its own timelines is given; for as infirmity belongs to child-hood, fiercenesse to youth, and gravity to age, so the true ripenesse of age hath a certaine natural gravity in it, which ought to be used in it own time.
[tr. Austin (1648)]

Simple, and certain Nature's wayes appear,
As she sets forth the seasons of the year.
So in all parts of life we find her truth,
Weakness to childhood, rashness to our youth:
To elder years to be discreet and grave,
Then to old age maturity she gave.
[tr. Denham (1669)]

Every Age has something in it, peculiar to it self: as Weakness to our Infancy, an unguided Warmth to Youth, Seriousness to Manhood, and a certain Maturity of Judgment to Old Age, which we may expect to reap the Fruits of, when advanced to it.
[tr. Hemming (1716)]

Life has a sure Course, and Nature but one Way, that that too simple and plain. And to every Part of Man's Age a peculiar Propriety of Temper is given: Thus Weakness in Children, a Boldness in Youth, and a Gravity in Manhood appears; and a full Ripeness of Years has always something which seems natural to it, and which ought to be made use of at a proper Time.
[tr. J. D. (1744)]

The Stages of Life are fixed; Nature is the same in all, and goes on in a plain and steady Course: Every Part of Life, like the Year, has its peculiar Season: As Children are by Nature weak, Youth is rash and bold; staid Manhood more solid and grave; and so Old-Age in its Maturity, has something natural to itself, that ought particularly to recommend it.
[tr. Logan (1750)]

Nature conducts us, by a regular and insensible progression through the different seasons of human life; to each of which she has annexed its proper and distinguishing characteristic. As imbecility is the attribute of infancy, ardour of youth, and gravity of manhood; so declining age has its essential properties, which gradually disclose themselves as years increase.
[tr. Melmoth (1773)]

The course of life is fixed, and the path of nature is one, and that simple. And its own proper seasonableness has been given to each division of life; so that both the feebleness of boys and the proud spirit of young men, and the gravity of a now settle period of life, and the maturity of old age, has something natural to it, which ought to be gathered in its own season.
[Cornish Bros. ed. (1847)]

There is a definite career in life, and one way of nature, and that a simple one; and to every part ot life its own peculiar period has been assigned: so that both the feebleness of boys, and the high spirit of young men, and the steadiness of now fixed manhood, and the maturity of old age, have something natural, which ought to be enjoyed in their own time.
[tr. Edmonds (1874)]

Life has its fixed course, and nature one unvarying way; each age has assigned to it what best suits it, so that the fickleness of boyhood, the sanguine temper of youth, the soberness of riper years, and the maturity of old age, equally have something in harmony with nature, which ought to be made availing in its season.
[tr. Peabody (1884)]

The course of life is fixed, and nature admits of its being run but in one way, and only once; and to each part of our life there is something specially seasonable; so that the feebleness of children, as well as the high spirit of youth, the soberness of maturer years, and the ripe wisdom of old age -- all have a certain natural advantage which should be secured in its proper season.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]

One only way
Nature pursues, and that a simple one:
To each is given what is fit for him.
The boy is weak: youth is more full of fire:
Increasing years have more of soberness:
And as in age there is a ripeness too.
Each should be garnered at its proper time,
And made the most of.
[tr. Allison (1916)]

Life's race-course is fixed; Nature has only a single path and that path is run but once, and to each stage of existence has been allotted its own appropriate quality; so that the weakness of childhood, the impetuosity of youth, the seriousness of middle life, the maturity of old age -- each bears some of Nature's fruit, which must be garnered in its own season.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

The course of life is clear to see; nature has only one path, and it has no turnings. Each season of life has an advantage peculiarly its own; the innocence of children, the hot blood of youth, the gravity of the prime of life, and the mellowness of age all possess advantages that are theirs by nature, and that should be garnered each at its proper time.
[tr. Copley (1967)]

Life and nature have but one direction
Easy to take, without correction.
Each of life’s rite of passage dates
Has its own distinguishing traits:
A child’s weakness
A youth’s boldness
An adult’s authority
An old man’s maturity
And each with a certain natural zest
To be reaped when it’s time for its harvest.
[tr. Bozzi (2015)]

The course of life cannot change. Nature has but a single path and you travel it only once. Each stage of life has its own appropriate qualities -- weakness in childhood, boldness in youth, seriousness in middle age, and maturity in old age. These are fruits that must be harvested in due season.
[tr. Freeman (2016)]

Added on 27-Jul-23 | Last updated 2-Nov-23
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More quotes by Cicero, Marcus Tullius

JAQUES: [O]ne man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 2, sc. 7, l. 149ff (2.7.149-173) (1599)
Added on 27-Jun-22 | Last updated 17-Jan-24
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More quotes by Shakespeare, William