By Cynthia Skenazi

In Aging Gracefully within the Renaissance: tales of Later existence from Petrarch to Montaigne Cynthia Skenazi explores a shift in attitudes in the direction of getting older and offers a ancient viewpoint on a very important challenge of our time. From the past due fourteenth to the tip of the 16th centuries, the aged topic turned some extent of latest social, scientific, political, and literary awareness on either side of the Alps. A circulation of secularization tended to dissociate outdated age from the Christian practise for dying, re-orienting the idea that of getting older round pragmatic issues resembling wellbeing and fitness care, intergenerational relationships, and amassed insights one may possibly desire to cross alongside. Such alterations have been observed by way of a growing number of own money owed of later existence. indexed by way of Choice magazine as one of many striking educational Titles of 2014 This identify is offered on-line in its entirety in Open Access

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He reviews the parts of birds, fish, and mammals most easy to digest, and enumerates the types of milk, vegetables, bread, and spices that will help restore the aged body’s heat and moisture. His discussion of the other five non-naturals has the same precision. Closely following Hippocratic and Galenic principles, he describes the best orientation for the elder’s house, recommends a bright room that should be kept warm in winter, fresh in the summer (first non-natural). For the third non-natural (rest and motion), Gerontocomia prescribes light physical exercises such as massages and hot baths.

One needs only to think of Roger Bacon’s Libellus de retardandis senectutis accidentibus (circa 1236) paraphrased in Arnaldo Villanova’s De conservanda juventute et retardanda senectute (ca. 17 In contrast to these medical works, Petrarch’s remarks on his health and diet in his Letters of Old Age (Rerum Senilium Libri, conceived in 1361, at age fifty-seven) cross the boundaries between medicine, moral philosophy, religion, history, and literature. In his correspondence (Sen. III, 5; V, 3) and his Invective contra medicum,18 he often criticizes doctors’ corruption and ignorance, and pokes fun at their pretentious jargon, but his attacks target bad practitioners and never question the value of medicine.

Broadly speaking, health resulted from a proper balance of the substances ingested by the body, all of which were themselves endowed with elementary qualities. Health was maintained by a diet of foods whose “complexion” was similar to the individual’s own; health was restored via foods with qualities suited to the invalid, or the elderly. Nutritional advice was usually rooted in a conservative tradition, yet the details of the geriatric diet as well as the qualities attributed to specific food were a matter of ongoing discussion.

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