Sunday, February 25, 2018

Quote: Bowra on The Greeks and Old Age

from The Greek Experience (1957), by C.M. Bowra, p. 112f

from Ch. 5, The Good Man and the Good Life:

The best solution was not to complain of the passing of youth and its opportunities, but to ask what advantages come with the advance of years, and the answer was that, though a man may lose the good things of life, he can still be a good man with increased power and confidence and experience. He may not be able to enjoy himself so much as before, but he can make more of himself and become a more controlled and more complete being. To each of the four traditional virtues experience brings its special enlargement. Courage becomes a form of patient endurance, as the old Oedipus, worn by blindness and suffering but still noble and majestic, says of himself:
     contentment have I learned from suffering, 
     and from long years and from nobility.*
. . . To each of the four cardinal virtues age brings a new distinction and a richer usefulness. The man who has left behind him youth and its good things, or can enjoy them only fitfully, attains a new dignity through his renewed opportunities of being a good man.

*Sophocles. Oedipus at Colonus lines 7f

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