Thursday, March 01, 2018



Erasmus, Poems 95 = Elegy 2, lines 55-68 (tr. Clarence H. Miller):
Then age, sad and full of griefs, rushes upon us. Then crook-backed old age, tottering along, creeps up on us, calamitous with both heavy cares and miserable diseases, encompassed by griefs and hundreds of afflictions. She will sprinkle your temples with grey hair; she will make your hairy skin hang down in folds. Then pleasure suddenly abandons your dying body and all the force and vitality of your mind fail. Beauty dies, the nimble strength of the body dies, and those roses fade from your ruddy cheeks. Suddenly your forehead is rough and furrowed with the wrinkles of old age. The light in your sunken eyes grows dim. Your head, instead of your chin, grows smooth. Finally you become a monkey, quite unlike what you were and unrecognizable even to yourself.

Tristior inde ruit ac plena doloribus aetas,        55
    Inde subit tremulo curva senecta gradu,
Et gravibus curis et tristibus aspera morbis,
    Luctibus et centum conglomerata malis.
Haec tibi temporibus canos sparsura capillos,
    Haec tibi pendentem contrahet hirta cutem.        60
Corpora tum subito linquit moribunda voluptas,
    Omnis et ingenii visque calorque cadit.
Forma perit, pereunt agiles in corpore vires,
    Et rosa purpureis excidit ista genis.
Finditur annosis subito frons aspera rugis,        65
    Decrescunt oculis lumina fusca cavis.
Pro mento fit leve caput, fis simia tandem,
    Ignotusque tibi dissimilisque tui.
On line 67, cf. Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1.2 (tr. Abraham Cohen):
When finally he has grown old, he is bent like a monkey.
Related post: Erasmus on Old Age.

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