The length of life and eugeria in classical Greece

Hormones (Athens). 2008 Jan-Mar;7(1):82-3. doi: 10.14310/horm.2002.1111041.


Contrary to the commonly held belief that in antiquity and as late as 1700 A.D. normal lifespan was about 35 years, there are indications that the ancient Greeks lived longer. In a study of all men of renown, living in the 5th and 4th century in Greece, we identified 83 whose date of birth and death have been recorded with certainty. Their mean +/- SD and median lengths of life were found to be 71.3+/-13.4 and 70 years, respectively. Although this cohort cannot be considered as representative of the general population, it is however indicative of a long length of life in classical Greece. Good living conditions and a mild climate at the time of intellectual and artistic excellence, the use of slaves for hard work, an animated social life in which the aged actively participated and, not least of all, the respect that aged people were accorded by the younger, all favored a longer length of life and eugeria (happy aging) or eulongevity in classical Greece.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Greece, Ancient
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Male