What would be the differences in uses of "senilis" and "senex".

I know "senilis" is constructed with senex+illis, it should help me, but I don't get it.

Thank you.

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1 Answer 1

  1. As adjectives, the main distinction is that senex is said of a person, while senilis is said of things belonging or relative to such a person.

    A simple example could be senex vir seniles cogitationes cogitat, an old man has senile thoughts/the thoughts of an old man/thoughts typical of their age.

    The best attested example I can find is:

    Quae bello est habilis, Veneri quoque convenit aetas.
    Turpe senex miles, turpe senilis amor
    (Ovid, Amores 1.9)

    The author contrasts the ability for love and war in both young and old people. A literal translation of the second verse could be: [An] old soldier [is a] shameful [thing], old people's love [is also a] shameful [thing]. The soldier is old, but his love is senile. Anyway translation of poetry is better in the hands of (native) poets, so:

    Tis shame for eld in waive or love to be (Marlowe, c. 1580)

    The old in both unserviceable prove, Infirm in war, and impotent in love. (Cromwell, 1855)

  2. Other differences include senex being tens of times more frequent in the literature, and allowing its usage as a noun.

  3. A possible source of confusion is the fact that both senilis in Latin and senile in English (as happens in other languages too), can be used figuratively as a synonym of senex/old.

I hope it helps.

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