Friday, March 07, 2014


The Seven Ages of Man

Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1.2 (tr. Abraham Cohen):
The seven worlds which a man experiences: At one year old he is like a king, placed in a covered litter, and all embrace and kiss him. At two or three he is like a pig which pokes about the sewers. At ten he jumps about like a kid. At twenty he is like a neighing horse; he adorns his person and seeks a wife. Having married, he is like an ass, bearing a heavy burden. Then having become the father of children, he grows bold like a dog to procure sustenance for them. When finally he has grown old, he is bent like a monkey.
I owe the reference to Michael E. Goodich (1944-2006), From Birth to Old Age: The Human Life Cycle in Medieval Thought, 1250-1350 (Lanham: University Press of America, 1989), p. 62. See also L. Landau, "Some Parallels to Shakespeare's 'Seven Ages'," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 19 (1920) 382-396 (esp. p. 389).

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