Shakespeare on Age and Aging Romeos

One that is well-nigh worn to pieces with age to show himself a young gallant“… One that is well-nigh worn to pieces with age to show himself a young gallant.”
(Merry Wives of Windsor, act 2, sc. 1)

Comments.  The character of the aging Romeo has been the subject and the butt of a large number of novels, plays and comedies, in the major European languages and (probably) in the minor ones as well. Still, it would seem that the lessons to be derived from all the mentioned sources are sometimes lost. Typical is the case of the ex-prime minister of Italy, Berlusconi, currently on trial for having lost his head in pursuit of a (then) 17-year-old girl. The affair, as often in Italian politics, has comedy overtones – such as Berlusconi’s alleged belief that the girl in question was the niece of Egyptian Gauleiter Mubarak. Meaning that the act of taking her under his protection was an act of diplomacy rather than real or intended lechery. Berlusconi intervened when the said North African Lolita was arrested for theft and brought to a police station. From Brussels he called the police station asking the officer in charge to deliver the thief to another female protégée whom he also called from Brussels.
Numerous phone intercepts of conversations among other girls under Berlusconi’s protection reflect, in significantly less elegant language than Mistress Ford’s, their opinion of their protector.

Tips for Use. Apply jokingly to yourself if you are suspected of courting a young woman.

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In the Play.  Mrs. Ford comments on the love letter sent to him by the aging Romeo Falstaff.

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