1. Time of Composition of the de Senectute. - With the overthrow of Pompey at Pharsalus in 48 b.c. and the consequent ascendency of Julius Caesar, Cicero had retired completely from the arena of political life. Resigning himself of necessity to the centralizing policy of Caesar, he sought consolation in his ever favorite pursuit of philosophy, and it is to these closing years of his life that his chief philosophical works belong. It is still a disputed question whether the de Senectute was written shortly before or shortly after the assassination of Caesar (March 15, 44 b.c.). Conservative opinion at present tends to recognize the earlier date as the more probable, and to refer the composition of the work either to the last months of 45 b.c. or to the very earliest part (January or February) of 44.<br><br>2. Atticus. - The essay is dedicated to Cicero's intimate friend Titus Pomponius Atticus. Atticus was born in 109 b.c., of an old and wealthy equestrian family. From 88 to 65 b.c. he had resided at Athens, devoting his time to literary and philosophical studies. Returning to Rome in 65, he lived on terms of intimacy with the first men of his day. His friendship with Cicero had begun early in life, when the two were students together, and is well attested by the sixteen books of letters (Epistulae ad Atticum) which have come down to us. This correspondence begins in 68 b.c. and continues for twenty-five years, ending only a few months before Cicero's death (Dec. 7, 43 b.c.). Atticus never entered public life. His death occurred eleven years after that of Cicero, in 32 b.c.