Early Modern Exchanges


‘The very verge of his confine’: Cicero, Shakespeare and Attitudes to Old Age

13 March 2019, 4:30 pm–7:30 pm

Young Cicero Reading by Vincenzo Foppa, study early modern

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Early Modern Exchanges


IAS Forum
G17 South Wing, Wilkins Building
UCL, Gower St
United Kingdom

Marcus Tullius Cicero (‘Tully’) reached the height of his popularity in the reign of Elizabeth I when he rapidly became one of the most frequently published, and one of the most frequently translated classical authors. Cicero’s works played an important role in the reform of the grammar-school curriculum and his reputation for eloquence was unparalleled. Thomas Newton, who translated Cato Maior de senectute (Cato the Elder: ‘On Old Age’), amongst other discourses by Cicero, acclaimed him as ‘that incomparable Phenix of al eloquence among al that ever wrate either before or since his dayes’ (1569). However, Cicero was admired not only for the elegance and rhetorical power of his prose works, but also for their content, since it was felt that his works of moral philosophy could be harmonised with Christian ethics with relative ease. This paper will explore De senectute’s key role in early modern debates about the nature of old age by focusing primarily on the representation of aging in Shakespeare’s King Lear. Since Cato the Elder was Cicero's spokesman, the paper will also draw on Plutarch's Life of Cato the Elder.

All welcome but please register to attend. There will be drinks and discussion after the talk.

This event is organised by UCL Early Modern Exchanges, which is part of the Institute of Advanced Studies.

About the Speaker

Mandy Green

Associate Professor and Senior Lecturer in Renaissance Literature at Durham University

She read English and Latin (JH) at Durham, and continued for her postgraduate studies there. Her research interests centre on classical presences in English literature with a particular focus on Ovid and Milton. Her monograph, Milton’s Ovidian Eve (2008), looked at the ways in which Milton appropriates narrative structures, verbal echoes and literary strategies from the Metamorphoses – not least Ovid’s own central metaphor of continuous transformation – to create a subtly evolving portrait of the first woman, Eve. She is currently working on a critical edition of Cicero’s philosophical discourses, including ‘On Old Age’ and ‘On Friendship’, for the MHRA series Tudor and Stuart Translations, as well as co-editing a volume of essays, Women (Re)writing Milton: A Global Perspective with a former PhD student, Dr Sharihan Al Akhras.

More about Mandy Green