In a word, enjoy that blessing while you have it: when it is gone, do not lament it; unless, indeed, young men ought to lament the loss of boyhood, and those a little advanced in age the loss of adolescence.
[Denique isto bono utare, dum adsit, cum absit, ne requiras: nisi forte adulescentes pueritiam, paulum aetate progressi adulescentiam debent requirere.]
De Senectute [Cato Maior; On Old Age], ch. 10 / sec. 33 (10.33) (44 BC) [tr. Edmonds (1874)]
(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:
Finally I tell the thou oughtist use of the bodily strength as whiche is one of the goodys of nature in the meane tyme whan thou hast them. But whan the goodys of bodily strength ben no more in thee thenne thou shuldist not require it nor aske it save that thou maist saye paraventure that the adolescentys which ben in the third age owghten to desyre & aske after the age of pueryce which is seconde age & by that he is the ferthir from deth. Therfor I tell the Scipion that when men ben somwhat entrid & come within adolescence which is an age fructuouse and profitable they to require it and to aske it. And not puerice called Childhode whiche is withoute availe and profite.
[tr. Worcester/Worcester/Scrope (1481), Part 3]
In fine, use and take well in worth this gift of bodily strength while thou hast it, and when it is gone do not desire nor seek to have it again, unless peradventure you will say that all young men ought to wish themselves in their infancy and swathing-bands again, or when they be somewhat further stricken in years and in the maturity or best time of their age, to wish themselves again in their adolescency.
[tr. Newton (1569)]
To conclude, use that strength which you have while you have it; but when it is gone, require it not, unlesse you thinke it a seemly thing of young men, to require their child-hood againe, and ancient men their youth.
[tr. Austin (1648)]
The force which Nature gives with care retain,
But when decay'd, 'tis folly to complain;
In age to wish for youth is full as vain,
As for a youth to turn a child again.
[tr. Denham (1669)]
The Faculties of our Bodies are to be made use of, while we possess them, but not to be lamented, when they have left us; unless you would think it reasonable that Boys should be desirous to become Children, and that those, who are become Men, should be wishing to grow Boys again.
[tr. Hemming (1716)]
In short, make use of any Good while you have it, and when it's gone look not for it, unless you think young Men would do right to require Childhood again, or Men in Years their Youth.
[tr. J. D. (1744)]
In short, while you have Strength, use it; when it leaves you, no more repine for the want of it, than you did when Lads, that your Childhood was past; or at the Years of Manhood, that you were no longer Boys.
[tr. Logan (1750)]
In a word, my friends, make a good use of your youthful vigour so long as it remains; but never let it cost you a sign when age shall have withdrawn it from you; as reasonably indeed might youth regret the loss of infancy, or manhood the extinction of youth.
[tr. Melmoth (1773)]
In a word, make use of that good thing while it is present; when it is absent do not regret it; unless, perhaps, young men ought to seek to be boys again; those who have made a little advance in years, to be young men again.
[Cornish Bros. ed. (1847)]
In fine, I would have you use strength of body while you have it: when it fails, I would not have you complain of its loss, unless you think it fitting for young men to regret their boyhood, or for those who have passed on a little farther in life to want their youth back again.
[tr. Peabody (1884)]
In fine, enjoy that blessing when you have it; when it is gone, don't wish it back -- unless we are to think that young men should wish their childhood back, and those somewhat older their youth!
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]
Use then the gifts you have:
When gone, regret them not: unless as men
You are to ask for boyhood to return,
When older ask for you: there still must be
A certain lapse of years.
[tr. Allison (1916)]
In short, enjoy the blessing of strength while you have it and do not bewail it when it is gone, unless, forsooth, you believe that youth must lament the loss of infancy, or early manhood the passing of youth.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]
To sum it up: use the advantages you have while you have them; when they are gone, don’t sit around wishing you could get them back. Or do you think, perhaps, that young men ought to mourn their lost boyhood, and those a bit older their younger days?
[tr. Copley (1967)]
Use whatever gifts you have while you have them, and don’t mope after them when they are gone -- unless of course you think that young men should regret their childhood and that those who are getting on should regret their youth.
[tr. Cobbold (2012)]
So to put it in a nutshell
Use your own strength and use it well
As long as it lasts and when it is spent
Just forget it unless you should
Think that boyhood regrets childhood
Or that manhood may its decline lament.
[tr. Bozzi (2015)]
In short, enjoy the blessing of bodily strength while you have it, but don't mourn when it passes away, any more than a young man should lament the end of boyhood, or a mature man the passing of youth.
[tr. Freeman (2016)]
Note not all quotations have been tagged, so Search may find additional quotes on this topic.
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There is nothing more common than to hear of men losing their energy on being raised to a higher position, to which they do not feel themselves equal.
[Nichts gewöhnlicher ist als Beispiele von Männern, die ihre Thätigkeit verlieren, sobald sie zu höheren Stellen gelangen, denen ihre Einsichten nicht mehr gewachsen sind.]
On War [Vom Kriege], Book 1, ch. 3 “On Military Genius [Der Kriegerishe Genius],” (1.3) (1832) [tr. Graham (1873)]
(Source (German)). Alternate translations:
There is nothing more common than to hear of men losing their energy on being raised to a higher position, to which their abilities are no longer equal.
[tr. Jolles (1943)]
No case is more common than that of the officer whose energy declines as he rises in rank and fills positions that are beyond his abilities.
[tr. Howard & Paret (1976)]
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The way to avoid evil is not by maiming our passions, but by compelling them to yield their vigor to our moral nature. Thus they become, as in the ancient fable, the harnessed steeds which bear the chariot of the sun.
Life Thoughts (1858)
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Democracy does not give the people the most skillful government, but it produces what the ablest governments are frequently unable to create: namely, an all-pervading and restless activity, a superabundant force, and an energy which is inseparable from it and which may, however unfavorable circumstances may be, produce wonders.
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Hampden, on the other hand, was for vigorous and decisive measures. When he drew the sword, as Clarendon has well aid, he threw away the scabbard. He had shown that he knew better than any public man of his time how to value and how to practice moderation. He knew that the essence of war is violence, and that moderation in war is imbecility.
“John Hampden,” Essays Contributed to the Edinburgh Review, Vol. 1 (1843)
Review of Lord Nugent, Some Memorials of John Hampden, His Party, and His Times (1831).
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