Harlow, Mary: Growing Old at Rome, in Neumann, Christian Alexander (Hrsg.): Old Age before Modernity: Case Studies and Methodological Perspectives, 500 BC ‒ 1700 AD, Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing, 2023 (Online-Schriften des DHI Rom. Neue Reihe: Pubblicazioni online del DHI Roma. Nuova serie, Band 8), S. 75–98. https://doi.org/10.17885/heiup.1086.c14934

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ISBN 978-3-96822-173-1 (PDF)
ISBN 978-3-96822-174-8 (Hardcover)
ISBN 978-3-96822-175-5 (Softcover)




Mary Harlow

Growing Old at Rome

Abstract This chapter presents a brief outline of attitudes to growing old as expressed in the writings of Roman men of the upper classes. These authors were often facing old age themselves and ways in which their ageing status might be viewed preoccupied their thoughts. The chapter discusses the tropes and stereotypes that appear to be part of shared GrecoRoman cultural understanding of old age. As with any stage of life, old age is presented from a myriad of perspectives. It could be philosophical, humorous, cantankerous, painful, tranquil, idealised and demonised. Men and women shared a range of emotional and physical responses to ageing: they might expect and demand respect by virtue of their age and role in the family / society while at the same time fearing dependency, being sidelined and neglected. Then, as now, how one survived or endured old age was often a reflection of social status, rank and gender.