Since we wrote our series of in-depth articles about the seasons of man’s lives (which are some of the most fascinating articles we have written, I recommend you read them! I have continued to think about the human development in particular adulthood. The majority of books and articles about development are centered around the transition from childhood to adolescence, and then adolescence into adulthood. It’s strange that people act as if there is no growth after the age of 25. This is not true!
In our 20s and 30s we continue to change and grow. Researchers such as Daniel Levinson discovered that individuals experience qualitatively different life stages from birth to old age. Understanding the unique challenges and opportunities that each season presents can help you navigate through the landscape of death.
In my research, I discovered that people have divided the lifespan of humans into distinct steps or stages across cultures and time. According to the culture, there were certain expectations and standards for each stage that helped people to know how to live their lives. The stages of life, from birth to death, were used as a rough guide on how to lead a happy life.
We have highlighted different ways that writers, philosophers, and sages have divided the lifespan. These are interesting and can give you some ideas about what season you might be in and which one you will transition into next.
Solon’s Stages of Life
Solon is the founder of ancient Athens and its lawgiver. In one of the few fragments of his poetry that we have, Solon divided life into seven stages, each lasting ten years. The numbers seven and ten are intentional because both were considered to be “perfect” or complete in ancient Greece.
0-7 A boy is first the man, unripe. Then he loses his milk teeth as a child would.
7-14: Signs of manhood are already in the making, as God adds another seven years to his seven.
14-21: His limbs continue to grow in the third of sevens; his chin is touched with a downy fleecy; the blush of his cheek has disappeared;
21-28: In the fourth of seven, the power of man and his value becomes clear.
28-35: He thinks that the fifth is the time to court, and that his sons will continue the line.
35-42: In the sixth, his mind is ever open to virtue and never inspires to unprofitable deeds.
42-56: [Two Stages combined] Seven times 7, 8, and now the tongue and mind have been working together for 14 years.
He is still able to speak and wit, but not as quick or nimble as in his prime years.
The ebb of death is a time for those who have reached the tenth and completed it.
Ptolemy’s Life Stages of Man
Ptolemy, an ancient Roman astronomer, divided life into seven stages. He described the ages 41-55, as a period of unhappiness. Modern researchers have discovered that happiness is lowest around the age of 47 or 48. He was way ahead of his times!
Ptolemy said that each stage in life was marked by certain characteristics influenced by celestial bodies.
1-4: The soul is in a state of inarticulation. Moon is the ruling celestial body.
In 4-14, the logical part is formed. Mercury is the ruling celestial body.
14-22: Youth. Love is the driving force. Venus is the ruling celestial body.
22-41: The soul masters action and seriousness. Sun is the ruling celestial body.
41-55: Unhappiness and desire to achieve. Mars is the ruling celestial body.
56-68: Thoughtfulness, dignity. Jupiter is the ruling celestial body.
Saturn is the ruling celestial body. Saturn is the ruling celestial body.
Horace’s Four Seasons of a Man’s Life
In his poem “Ars Poetica”, the Roman poet Horace describes the stages of a man’s existence. While he does not give an exact age, the descriptions of each stage are fascinating. The words in brackets were originally used for the translation.
The boy is only able to say a few words and prints the floor with a solid tread.
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