Alas, how many things are to be observed in this reply! but to a good, intelligent man it is sufficient for it to be placed here, even as Ovid puts it. He shows that AEacus was affable when he described, in a long speech to Cephalus, the history of the pestilence which destroyed his people, and the restoration of the same, which he tells readily.
It is clear enough, then, that to this age four things are suitable, because the noble Nature reveals them in it, even as the Song says. And that the example given may be the more memorable, AEacus says that he was the father of Telamon and Peleus and of Phocus, from which Telamon sprang Ajax and from Peleus Achilles.
Following the section which has been discussed, we have now to proceed to the last, that is, to that which begins, “The fourth part of their life Weds them again to God,” by which the text intends to show what the noble Soul does in the last age, that is, in Extreme Old Age, that is, Senility. And it says that it does two things: the one, that it returns to God as to that port or haven whence it departed when it issued forth to enter into the sea of this life; the other is, that it blesses the voyage which it has made, because it has been upright, straight, and good, and without the bitterness of storm and tempest.
And here it is to be known that, even as Tullius says in that book On Old Age, the natural death is, as it were, a port or haven to us after our long voyage and a place of rest. And the Virtuous Man who dies thus is like the good mariner; for, as he approaches the port or haven, he strikes his sails, and gently, with feeble steering, enters port. Even thus we ought to strike the sails of our worldly affairs, and turn to God with all our heart and mind, so that one may come into that haven with all sweetness and all peace.
And in this we have from our own proper nature great instruction in gentleness, for in such a death as this there is no pain nor bitterness, but even as a ripe apple easily and without violence detaches itself from its branch, so our Soul without grief separates itself from the body wherein it has dwelt.