Centre for Policy on Ageing


The elderly in classical antiquity
Author(s)Moses I Finley
Journal titleAgeing and Society, vol 4, part 4, December 1984
Pagespp 391-408
KeywordsOlder people ; Histories.
AnnotationFor evidence about the extent and experience of old age in classical antiquity, one must rely excessively on literature and mythology, with their heavy bias towards the leisured classes and their lack of quantitative data. Nevertheless, there are bases for some plausible inferences: both life expectancy and for most people the standard of living were low, with a consequence of an early commencement of 'adult' employment and the absence of any notion (or possibility) of retirement. Those hardy and lucky enough to survive often appear to have retained a vigorous creativity into very old age; emotional relations (e.g. between parents and children) were coloured by such factors as high infant mortality and the relative early death of parents and grandparents. The absence of really large cities, other than Rome and one or two others, and of rural isolation reduced the dangers of the kind of loneliness associated with the modern bed-sitter, though problems of old age feel solely on the family (rather than the community). Medical literature showed a surprising lack of interest in mental illness associated with old age or even in medical problems other than obvious ones of debility, and there is no way for us to penetrate this silence. (KJ).
Accession NumberCPA-930602063 A
ClassmarkB: 6A

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