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Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier,
senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislature. The name comes from the Ancient Rome, ancient Roman Senate (Latin: ''Senatus''), so-called as an assembly of the senior (Lat ...
, and
historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the stu ...
known for his
conservatism Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, kno ...
and opposition to
Hellenization Hellenization (other British spelling Hellenisation) or Hellenism is the adoption of Greek culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as t ...
. He was the first to write history in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
with his ''
Origines (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
'', a now lost work on the
History of Rome The history of Rome includes the history of the city of Rome as well as the civilisation of ancient Rome. Roman history has been influential on the modern world, especially in the history of the Catholic Church, and Roman law has influenced ma ...
. His work '' De agri cultura'', a rambling work on agriculture, farming, rituals, and recipes, is the oldest extant prose written in the Latin language. His epithet "Elder" distinguishes him from his equally famous great-grandson
Cato the Younger Marcus Porcius Cato "Uticensis" ("of Utica, Tunisia, Utica"; ; 95 BC – April 46 BC), also known as Cato the Younger ( la, Cato Minor), was a conservative Roman Roman Senate, senator in the period of the late republic. A noted orator and a fol ...
, who opposed
Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened ...

Julius Caesar
. He came from an ancient
Plebeian In ancient Rome, the plebeians (also called plebs) were the general body of free Roman citizenship, Roman citizens who were not Patrician (ancient Rome), patricians, as determined by the capite censi, census, or in other words "commoners". Both ...
family who were noted for their
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...

military
service. Like his forefathers, Cato was devoted to
agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors su ...
when not serving in the army. Having attracted the attention of
Lucius Valerius FlaccusLucius Valerius Flaccus was the name of several notable Romans of the Republican era, who were patricians from the gens Valeria. Six held Roman consul, consulships in the period from 261 BC to 86 BC; one also held a Roman censor, censorship. Lu ...
, he was brought to
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
and began to follow the ''
cursus honorum The ''cursus honorum'' (; , or more colloquially 'ladder of offices') was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; ...
'': he was successively
military tribune A military tribune (Latin ''tribunus militum'', "tribune of the soldiers") was an officer of the Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500– ...
(214 BC),
quaestor A ( , ; "investigator") was a public official in Ancient Rome. The position served different functions depending on the period. In the Roman Kingdom, ' (quaestors with judicial powers) were appointed by the king to investigate and handle murders. ...
(204 BC),
aedile Aedile ( ; la, aedīlis , from , "temple edifice") was an elected office of the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of the . Beginning with the of the (traditionally dated to ...
(199 BC),
praetor Praetor ( , ), also pretor, was the granted by the government of to a man acting in one of two official capacities: (i) the commander of an , and (ii) as an elected ' (magistrate), assigned to discharge various duties. The functions of the magi ...
(198 BC),
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
(195 BC) together with Flaccus, and
censor Censor may refer to: People with the name *Cato the Elder Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">R ...
(184 BC). As praetor, he expelled usurers from
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the Mediterranean islands#By area, second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, and one of the Regions of Italy, 20 regions of Italy. It is located west of the Italian Penin ...

Sardinia
. As censor, he tried to save Rome's ancestral customs and combat "degenerate"
Hellenistic The Hellenistic period spans the period of Mediterranean history The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, We ...
influences.


Biography

Cato the Elder was born in the municipal town of
Tusculum Tusculum is a ruined Classical Rome, Roman city in the Alban Hills, in the Latium region of Italy. Tusculum was most famous in Roman times for the many great and luxurious patrician country villas sited close to the city, yet a comfortable distanc ...
, like some generations of his ancestors. His father had earned a reputation as a brave soldier, and his great-grandfather had received a reward from the state for having had five horses killed under him in battle. However, the Tusculan
Porcii The gens Porcia, rarely written Portia, was a plebeian The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th ...
had never obtained the privileges of the Roman magistracy. Cato the Elder, their famous descendant, at the beginning of his career in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...
, was regarded as a ''
novus homo ''Novus homo'' or ''homo novus'' (Latin for 'new man'; ''novi homines'' or ''homines novi'') was the term in ancient Rome for a man who was the first in his Roman gens, family to serve in the Roman Senate or, more specifically, to be elected as Ro ...
'' (new man), and the feeling of his unsatisfactory position, working along with the belief of his inherent superiority, aggravated and drove his ambition. Early in life, he so far exceeded the previous deeds of his predecessors that he is frequently spoken of not only as the leader, but as the founder of the Porcia gens.


Cognomen Cato

His ancestors for three generations had been named Marcus Porcius, and it was said by
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
that at first he was known by the additional
cognomen A ''cognomen'' (; plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of , under . Initially, it was a , but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary ''cognomina'' were used t ...
''Priscus'', but was afterwards called Cato—a word indicating 'common sense that is the result of natural wisdom combined with experience'. Priscus, like ''Major'', may have been merely an epithet used to distinguish him from the later
Cato the Younger Marcus Porcius Cato "Uticensis" ("of Utica, Tunisia, Utica"; ; 95 BC – April 46 BC), also known as Cato the Younger ( la, Cato Minor), was a conservative Roman Roman Senate, senator in the period of the late republic. A noted orator and a fol ...
. There is no precise information as to when he first received the title of Cato, which may have been given in childhood as a symbol of distinction. The qualities implied in the word Cato were acknowledged by the plainer and less outdated title of ''Sapiens'', by which he was so well known in his old age, that
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
says, it became his virtual ''cognomen''. From the number and eloquence of his speeches, he was a gifted orator, but Cato the Censor (''Cato Censorius''), and Cato the Elder are now his most common, as well as his most characteristic names, since he carried out the office of Censor with extraordinary standing and was the only Cato who ever held it.


Deducing Cato's date of birth

The date of Cato's birth has to be deduced from conflicting reports of his age at the time of his death, which is known to have happened in 149 BC. According to the chronology of Cicero, Cato was born in 234 BC, in the year before the first Consulship of
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, surnamed Cunctator ( 280 – 203 BC), was a Roman statesman and general of the third century BC. He was consul five times (233, 228, 215, 214, and 209 BC) and was appointed dictator in 221 and 217 BC. He was ...
, and died at the age of 85, in the consulship of Lucius Marcius Censorinus and Manius Manilius. Pliny agrees with
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
. Other authors exaggerate the age of Cato. According to
Valerius Maximus Valerius Maximus () was a 1st-century Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through t ...

Valerius Maximus
he survived his 86th year, according to Livy and Plutarch he was 90 years old when he died. These exaggerated ages, however, are inconsistent with a statement of Cato himself that is recorded by Plutarch.


Youth


On the Punic Wars

When Cato was very young, after his father's death, he inherited a small property in
Sabine The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; it, Sabini, all s) were an that lived in the central of the ancient , also inhabiting north of the before the . The Sabines divided into two populations just after the founding of Rome, which is described by Ro ...

Sabine
territory, at a distance from his native town. There, he spent most of his childhood overseeing the operations of the farm, learning business and the rural economy. Near this land was a small hut owned by
Manius Curius Dentatus 200px, Curius Dentatus refusing wealth in favour of a turnip, as depicted by Jacopo Amigoni Manius Curius Dentatus (died 270 BC), son of Manius, was a three-time consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin plural ''consules'') was the title of one o ...
, whose military feats and rigidly simple character were remembered and admired in the neighborhood. Cato was inspired to imitate that character, hoping to match the glory of Dentatus. Soon an opportunity came for a military campaign, in 218 BC
Hannibal Barca Hannibal (; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤟𐤁𐤓𐤒, ''Ḥannibaʿl Baraq''; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded Carthage's main forces against the Roman Republic during the Sec ...

Hannibal Barca
attacked one of Rome's allies starting the
Second Punic War The Second Punic War, which lasted from 218 to 201BC, was the second of three wars fought between Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading ...

Second Punic War
. Experts express some disagreement about Cato's early military life. In 214 BC, he served at
Capua Capua (, ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a Administrative division, local administrative division of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides essential public services ...

Capua
, and the historian Wilhelm Drumann imagines that already, at the age of 20, he was a
military tribune A military tribune (Latin ''tribunus militum'', "tribune of the soldiers") was an officer of the Roman army The Roman army (: ) was the armed forces deployed by the Romans throughout the duration of , from the (to c. 500 BC) to the (500– ...
.
Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, surnamed Cunctator ( 280 – 203 BC), was a Roman statesman and general of the third century BC. He was consul five times (233, 228, 215, 214, and 209 BC) and was appointed dictator in 221 and 217 BC. He was ...
had the command in this area,
Campania it, Campano (man) it, Campana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 ...
, during the year of his fourth consulship. At the siege of , in 209 BC, Cato was again at the side of Fabius. Two years later, Cato was one of the men who went with the consul Claudius Nero on his northern march from
Lucania Lucania ( grc-gre, Λευκανία, Leukanía, Lefkanía (Modern Greek)) was a historical region of Southern Italy. It was the land of the Lucanians, Lucani, an Oscan people. It extended from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Gulf of Taranto. It borde ...

Lucania
to check the progress of
Hasdrubal Barca Hasdrubal Barca (245– 22June 207BC), a latinization of ʿAzrubaʿal ( xpu, 𐤏𐤆𐤓‬‬𐤁‬𐤏𐤋‬) son of Hamilcar Barca, was a Carthaginian general in the Second Punic War The Second Punic War (218–201 BC) was the second ...
. It is recorded that the services of Cato contributed to the decisive and important victory of Sena at the
Battle of the Metaurus The Battle of the Metaurus was a pivotal battle in the Second Punic War The Second Punic War (218–201 BC) was the second of three wars fought between Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient Ancient Carthage, Carthaginian c ...
, where Hasdrubal was slain. He later gave several vehement speeches which he often ended by saying "''
Carthago delenda est Ruins in Carthage ("Furthermore, I consider that Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient Ancient Carthage, Carthaginian civilization, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now Tunisia. Carthage was one of the most ...
''", or "Carthage must be destroyed."


Between the wars

In the pauses between campaigns Cato returned to his Sabine farm, where he dressed simply, working and behaving like his laborers. Young as he was, the neighboring farmers liked his tough mode of living, enjoyed his old-fashioned and concise proverbs, and had a high regard for his abilities. His own active personality made him willing and eager to make himself available in the service of his neighbors. He was selected to act, sometimes as an arbitrator of disputes, and sometimes as a supporter in local causes, which were probably tried in front of ''recuperatores'' (the judges for causes of great public interest). Consequently, he was enabled to strengthen by practice his oratorical abilities, to gain self-confidence, to observe the manners of men, to analyze the diversity of human nature, to apply the rules of law, and to practically investigate the principles of justice.


Follower of the old Roman strictness

In the area surrounding Cato's Sabine farm were the lands of
Lucius Valerius FlaccusLucius Valerius Flaccus was the name of several notable Romans of the Republican era, who were patricians from the gens Valeria. Six held Roman consul, consulships in the period from 261 BC to 86 BC; one also held a Roman censor, censorship. Lu ...
, a young nobleman of significant influence and high patrician family. Flaccus could not help remarking on Cato's energy, his military talent, his eloquence, his frugal and simple life, and his traditional principles. Flaccus himself was a member of that purist patrician faction which displayed its adherence to the stricter virtues of the Roman character. Within Roman society a transition was in progress —from
SamniteSamnite is an adjective meaning "having to do with ancient Samnium." Samnite may also refer to: * Samnites, the people of ancient Samnium * Samnite (gladiator type), a gladiator who fought with the equipment and in the manner of a Samnite soldier * ...

Samnite
rusticity to Grecian civilization and oriental luxuriance. The chief magistracies of the state had become almost hereditary for a few wealthy and upper-class families. They were popular by acts of generosity and charming manners, and they collected material wealth from their clients and followers, as well as intellectual prowess provided by their education, taste in the fine arts, and knowledge of literature. Nonetheless, the less fortunate nobles, envious of this exclusive oligarchy, and critical of the decadence and luxury, formed a party with a more conservative and ascetic ideology. In their eyes, rusticity and austerity were the marks of Sabine character, and of the old Roman inflexible integrity and love of order.
Marcus Claudius Marcellus Marcus Claudius Marcellus (; 270 – 208 BC), five times elected as Roman consul, consul of the Roman Republic, was an important Roman military leader during the Gallic War of 225 BC and the Second Punic War. Marcellus gained the most prestigious ...

Marcus Claudius Marcellus
,
Scipio Africanus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (, , ; 236/235–183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman, most notable as one of the main architects of Rome's victory against Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side ...
and his family, and
Titus Quinctius Flamininus Flamininus restoring Liberty to Greece at the Isthmian Games Titus Quinctius Flamininus ( ; c. 228 – 174 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC ...
, may be taken as representative of the new culture; Cato's friends, Fabius and Flaccus, were the leading men in the faction defending the old plainness.


Path to magistracies

Flaccus was a perceptive politician, who looked for young and emergent men to support him. He had observed Cato's martial spirit and heard his eloquent tongue. He knew how much courage and persuasiveness were valued at Rome. He also knew that distinction achieved on the battlefield opened the way to achievements in the higher civil offices. Finally, Flaccus knew too that for a stranger like Cato, the only way to the magisterial honors was success in the
Roman Forum The Roman Forum, also known by its Latin name Forum Romanum ( it, Foro Romano), is a rectangular Forum (Roman), forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citize ...

Roman Forum
. For that reason, he suggested to Cato that he shift his ambition to the field of Roman politics. The advice was followed. Invited to the townhouse of Flaccus, and ratified by his support, Cato began to distinguish himself in the forum, and became a candidate for assuming a post in the magistracy.


Early military career


Quaestor

In 205 BC, Cato was appointed
Quaestor A ( , ; "investigator") was a public official in Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest ...
, and in the next year (204 BC) he entered upon the duties of his place of work, following Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major to Sicily. When Scipio, after much opposition, obtained from the senate permission to transport armed forces from Sicily to
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...
, Cato and
Gaius Laelius Gaius Laelius was a Roman general and statesman, and a friend of Scipio Africanus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (, , ; 236/235–183 BC) was a Roman general and later consul who is often regarded as one of the best military commanders and ...
were appointed to escort the baggage ships. Yet there proved not to be the friendliness of cooperation between Cato and Scipio which ought to have existed between a quaestor and his
proconsul A proconsul was an official of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose wo ...

proconsul
. Fabius had opposed the permission given to Scipio to carry the attack to the enemy's home, and Cato, whose appointment was intended to monitor Scipio's behavior, adopted the views of his friend. Plutarch reports that the lenient discipline of the troops under Scipio's command and the exaggerated expenses incurred by the general provoked Cato's protests, such that Scipio, immediately afterward, replied angrily, saying he would give an account of victories, not of money. Cato left his place of duty after the dispute with Scipio about the latter's alleged extravagance, and returning to Rome, condemned the uneconomical activities of his general to the senate. Plutarch went on to say that at the joint request of Cato and Fabius, a commission of tribunes was sent to Sicily to examine Scipio's activity. Upon their review of his extensive and careful arrangements for the transport of the troops, they determined he was not guilty of Cato's charges. Plutarch's version, which would seem to attribute to Cato the wrongdoing of quitting his post before his time, is barely consistent with Livy's narrative. If Livy is correct, the commission was sent because of the complaints of the inhabitants of Locri, who had been harshly oppressed by Quintus Pleminius, Scipio's legate. Livy says nothing of Cato's interference in this matter, but mentions the bitterness with which Fabius blamed Scipio for corrupting military discipline and for having illegally left his province to take the town of
Locri Locri is a town and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a local administrative division of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, con ...
. The author of the abridged life of Cato, commonly considered the work of
Cornelius Nepos Cornelius Nepos (; c. 110 BC – c. 25 BC) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'' ...
, asserts that Cato, after his return from Africa, put in at
Sardinia Sardinia ( ; it, Sardegna ; sc, Sardigna or ) is the Mediterranean islands#By area, second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, and one of the Regions of Italy, 20 regions of Italy. It is located west of the Italian Penin ...

Sardinia
, and brought the poet
Quintus Ennius Quintus Ennius (; c. 239 – c. 169 BC) was a writer and poet who lived during the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relatio ...
in his own ship from the island to Italy. But because Sardinia is rather out of the line of the trip to Rome, it is more likely that the first contact between Ennius and Cato happened at a later date, when the latter was
praetor Praetor ( , ), also pretor, was the granted by the government of to a man acting in one of two official capacities: (i) the commander of an , and (ii) as an elected ' (magistrate), assigned to discharge various duties. The functions of the magi ...
in Sardinia.
Aurelius Victor Sextus Aurelius Victor (c. 320 – c. 390) was a historian and politician of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period o ...
, ''On famous Roman men'', 47.


Aedile and praetor

In 199 BC Cato was elected
aedile Aedile ( ; la, aedīlis , from , "temple edifice") was an elected office of the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the , run through of the . Beginning with the of the (traditionally dated to ...
, and with his colleague Helvius, restored the Plebeian Games, and gave upon that occasion a banquet in honor of
Jupiter Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the List of Solar System objects by size, largest in the Solar System. It is a gas giant with a mass more than two and a half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, but ...
. In 198 BC he was elected
praetor Praetor ( , ), also pretor, was the granted by the government of to a man acting in one of two official capacities: (i) the commander of an , and (ii) as an elected ' (magistrate), assigned to discharge various duties. The functions of the magi ...
, and obtained Sardinia as his province, with the command of 3,000 infantry and 200 cavalry. Here he took the earliest opportunity to demonstrate his main beliefs by practicing his strict public morality. He reduced official operating costs, walked his trips with a single assistant, and placed his own frugality in contrast with the opulence of provincial magistrates. The rites of religion were celebrated with thrift, justice was administered with strict
impartiality Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice Justice, one of the four cardinal virtues, by Vitruvio Alberi, 1589–1590. Fresco, corner of the vault, studiolo of the Virgin of Mercy, Madonna of Mercy, P ...
, and
usury Usury () is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loan In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they operate within the financial system. It is concerned with the creation and ...
was severely punished. According to Aurelius Victor, a revolt in Sardinia was subdued by Cato during his praetorship.


Consul


Enactment of the Porcian Laws

In 195 BC, when he was only 39 years old, Cato was elected junior consul to his old friend and patron Flaccus. During his consulship, he enacted the first two of the
Porcian Laws The Valerian and Porcian laws were Roman laws Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by i ...
, which expanded the protections of
Roman citizen Citizenship in ancient Rome () was a privileged political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance. *Women in Ancient Rome, Roman women had a limited form of citizenship. They were not allowed t ...
s against degrading or capricious punishment under the Republic's Valerian Law.


Repeal of the Oppian Law

In 215 BC, at the height of the Second Punic War and at the request of the
tribune of the plebs #REDIRECT Tribune of the plebs#REDIRECT Tribune of the plebs Tribune of the plebs, tribune of the people or plebeian tribune ( la, tribunus plebis) was the first office of the Roman state that was open to the plebeians, and was, throughout the his ...
Gaius Oppius, the Oppian Law (''Lex Oppia''), intended to restrict the luxury and extravagance of women in order to save money for the public treasury, was passed. The law specified that no woman could own more than half an ounce of gold, nor wear a garment of several colours, nor drive a carriage with horses closer than a mile to the city, except to attend public celebrations of religious rites. After
Hannibal Hannibal (; xpu, 𐤇𐤍𐤁𐤏𐤋, ''Ḥannibaʿl''; 247 – between 183 and 181 BC) was a Carthaginian general and statesman who commanded the forces of Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern ...

Hannibal
was defeated and
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
was resplendent with Carthaginian wealth, tribunes Marcus Fundanius and Lucius Valerius proposed to abolish the Oppian law, but tribunes Marcus Junius Brutus and Titus Junius Brutus opposed doing so. This conflict spawned far more interest than the most important state affairs. Middle-aged married Roman women crowded the streets, blocked access to the forum, and intercepted their approaching husbands, demanding to restore the traditional ornaments of Roman matrons. They even begged the praetors, consuls and other magistrates. Even Flaccus hesitated, but his colleague Cato was inflexible, and made a characteristically impolite speech, which was later retold by Livy. Finally, the dissenting tribunes withdrew their opposition and the Oppian law was repealed by vote of all tribes. Women went in procession through the streets and the forum, dressed up with their now legitimate finery. Just after this controversy had been settled, Cato, who had maintained a severe and determined firm opposition, seems to have suffered no very real damage to his popularity. He soon set sail for his appointed province,
Hispania Citerior Hispania Citerior (English: "Hither Iberia", or "Nearer Iberia") was a Roman province in Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5t ...
.


Post in Hispania Citerior

In his campaign in
Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter in the New Testame ...

Hispania
, Cato behaved in keeping with his reputation of untiring hard work and alertness. He lived soberly, sharing the food and the labours of the common soldier. Wherever it was possible, he personally superintended the execution of his orders. His movements were reported as bold and rapid, and he always pushed for victory. His operations appear to have been carefully designed, and were coordinated with the plans of other generals in other parts of Hispania. His manoeuvres were considered original and successful. He managed to benefit by setting tribe against tribe, and took native mercenaries into his pay. The details of the campaign, as related by Livy, and illustrated by incidental anecdotes by
Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46 – after AD 119) was a Greek Middle Platonist Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy, lasting from about 90 BC&nbs ...

Plutarch
, are full of horror and they make clear that Cato reduced
Hispania Citerior Hispania Citerior (English: "Hither Iberia", or "Nearer Iberia") was a Roman province in Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5t ...
to subjection with great speed and little mercy. We read of multitudes who put themselves to death because of the dishonour after they had been stripped of all their arms, of extensive massacres of surrendered troops, and the frequent harsh plunders. The phrase
bellum se ipsum alet The Latin language, Latin phrase bellum se ipsum alet ( en, The war will feed itself) or bellum se ipsum alit ( en, The war feeds itself, french: La guerre doit se nourrir elle-même),Cadiou (2008), pp.579–580 and its German language, German rend ...
—the war feeds itself— was coined by Cato during this period. His conduct in Hispania were not contradictory with the traditional ideals of a Roman soldier, or with his own firm and over-assertive temper. He claimed to have destroyed more towns in Hispania than he had spent days in that country.


Roman triumph

After he reduced the area between the River Iberus and the
Pyrenees The Pyrenees (; es, Pirineos ; french: Pyrénées ; ca, Pirineus ; eu, Pirinioak ; oc, Pirenèus ; an, Pirineus) is a mountain range straddling the border of France and Spain. It extends nearly from its union with the Cantabrian Mountains to ...

Pyrenees
to a resentful and, as it turned out, temporary obedience, Cato turned his attention to administrative reforms, and increased the revenues of the province by improvements in the working of the
iron Iron () is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behav ...

iron
and
silver mine Silver mining is the extraction of the precious metal silver Silver is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ag (from the Latin ', derived from the Proto-Indo-European wikt:Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/h₂erǵ-, ''h ...

silver mine
s. For his achievements in Hispania, the senate decreed a thanksgiving ceremony of three days. In the course of the year 194 BC, he returned to Rome and was rewarded with the honor of a
Roman triumph The Roman triumph (') was a civil ceremonyA civil, or registrar, ceremony is a non-religious legal marriage in Stockholm Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, tha ...
, at which he exhibited an extraordinary quantity of captured
brass Brass is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or fractured, shows a lustrous appea ...

brass
, silver, and
gold Gold is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elemen ...

gold
, both coin and ingots. Cato distributed the monetary prize to his soldiery, and was more liberal than might have been expected from his vigorous parsimony.


End of consulship

The return of Cato seems to have accelerated the enmity of
Scipio Africanus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (, , ; 236/235–183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman, most notable as one of the main architects of Rome's victory against Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side ...
, who was Consul in 194 BC and is said to have desired the command of the province in which Cato was harvesting notoriety. There is some disagreement between Nepos (or the pseudo-Nepos), and Plutarch, in their accounts of this topic. Nepos claims that Scipio failed to obtain the province, and, offended by the rejection, remained after his consulship in a private capacity at Rome. Plutarch claims that Scipio, who was disgusted by Cato's severity, was appointed to succeed him but could not convince the senate to censure Cato's administration, and passed his consulship in inactivity. Plutarch was probably mistaken, judging by the statement in Livy, that in 194 BC, Sextus Digitius was appointed to the province of Hispania Citerior. The notion that Scipio was appointed successor to Cato in Hispania may have arisen from a double confusion of name and place, since Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica was chosen in 194 BC to the province of
Hispania Ulterior Hispania Ulterior (English: "Further Hispania", or occasionally "Thither Hispania") was a region of Hispania Hispania ( ; ) was the Ancient Rome, Roman name for the Iberian Peninsula and its provinces. Under the Roman Republic, Hispania was div ...
. However true this account, Cato used his eloquence and produced detailed financial accounts to successfully defend against criticism of his consulship. The known fragments of the speeches (or one speech under different names) made after his return attest to the strength of his arguments. Plutarch states that, after his Consulship, Cato accompanied Tiberius Sempronius Longus as
legatus A ''legatus'' (Anglicisation, anglicised as legate) was a high-ranking Roman military officer in the Roman Army, equivalent to a modern high-ranking general officer. Initially used to delegate power, the term became formalised under Augustus as ...

legatus
to
Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to th ...
, but this seems incorrect because, although Scipio Africanus believed that one Consul should have
Macedon Macedonia (; grc-gre, Μακεδονία), also called Macedon (), was an Classical antiquity, ancient monarchy, kingdom on the periphery of Archaic Greece, Archaic and Classical Greece, and later the dominant state of Hellenistic Greece. Th ...

Macedon
ia, Sempronius was soon in
Cisalpine Gaul Cisalpine Gaul ( la, Gallia Cisalpina, also called ''Gallia Citerior'' or ''Gallia Togata'') was the part of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of Ital ...
, and in 193 BC Cato was in Rome dedicating a small temple to Victoria Virgo.


Late military career


Battle of Thermopylae

The military career of Cato had not yet ended. In 191 BC, he, along with his old associate
Lucius Valerius FlaccusLucius Valerius Flaccus was the name of several notable Romans of the Republican era, who were patricians from the gens Valeria. Six held Roman consul, consulships in the period from 261 BC to 86 BC; one also held a Roman censor, censorship. Lu ...
, were appointed as lieutenant-generals (
legatus A ''legatus'' (Anglicisation, anglicised as legate) was a high-ranking Roman military officer in the Roman Army, equivalent to a modern high-ranking general officer. Initially used to delegate power, the term became formalised under Augustus as ...

legatus
) under the consul Manius Acilius Glabrio, who had been dispatched to
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geogr ...
to oppose the invasion of
Antiochus III the Great Antiochus III the Great ( Greek: ; c. 2413 July 187 BC, ruled April/June 222 – 3 July 187 BC) was a Greek Hellenistic king and the 6th ruler of the Seleucid Empire. He ruled over the Syria (region), region of Syria and large parts of the rest o ...
, King of the
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), off ...
. In the decisive
Battle of Thermopylae (191 BC) The Battle of Thermopylae took place on 24 April 191 BC. It was fought as part of the Roman–Seleucid War, pitting forces of the Roman Republic led by the consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin plural ''consules'') was the title of one of t ...
, which led to the downfall of Antiochus, Cato behaved with his usual valor, and enjoyed good fortune. By a daring and difficult advance, he surprised and defeated a body of the enemy's
Aetolia Aetolia ( el, Αἰτωλία, Aἰtōlía) is a mountainous region of Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe, Southeastern Europe. Its population is approxi ...
n
auxiliaries Auxiliaries are personnel that assist the military or police but are organised differently from such forces. Auxiliary may be volunteers undertaking support functions or performing certain duties such as garrison troops, usually on a part-time bas ...
, who were posted upon the Callidromus, the highest peak of the range of
Mount Oeta Mount Oeta (; el, Οίτη, polytonic Greek orthographyThe orthography of the Greek language ultimately has its roots in the adoption of the Greek alphabet in the 9th century BC. Some time prior to that, one early form of Greek, Mycenaean la ...
. Then, coming to the aid of forces under Flaccus's command, he began a sudden descent from the hills above the royal camp, and the panic caused by this unexpected movement promptly turned the day in favor of the Romans, and signaled the end of the Seleucid invasion of Greece. After the action, the consul hugged Cato with the greatest warmth and attributed to him the whole credit of the victory. This fact rests on the authority of Cato himself, who, like
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
, often indulged in the habit, offensive to modern taste, of sounding his own praises. After an interval spent in the pursuit of Antiochus and the pacification of Greece, Cato was sent to Rome by the Consul Glabrio to announce the successful outcome of the campaign, and he performed his journey with such celerity that he had started his report in the senate before the return of , the later conqueror of Antiochus, who had been sent off from Greece a few days before him.


Doubtful visit to Athens

During the campaign in Greece under Glabrio, Plutarch's account (albeit rejected by historian Wilhelm Drumann) suggests that before the Battle of Thermopylae, Cato was chosen to prevent
Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). ...

Corinth
,
Patrae ) , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 = , demographics1_title2 = , demographics1_info2 = , timezone1 = EET , utc_offset1 = +2 , ...
, and
Aegium Aegium or Aigion ( grc, Αἴγιον), or Aegeium or Aigeion (Αἴγειον), was a town and polis ''Polis'' (, ; grc-gre, πόλις, ), plural ''poleis'' (, , ), literally means "city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (198 ...
from siding with Antiochus. During this period, Cato visited
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...

Athens
where, in trying to prevent the Athenians from listening to the propositions of the Seleucid king, Cato addressed them in a
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
speech, which required an interpreter to be understood by the audience. Whether this was out of necessity or merely a choice by Cato remains unclear, however, since the assertion that he might very well have already known Greek at the time can be made from anecdotal evidence. For example, Plutarch said that while at in his youth he had developed a close friendship with Nearchus, who was himself a Greek
philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mi ...

philosopher
. Similarly,
Aurelius Victor Sextus Aurelius Victor (c. 320 – c. 390) was a historian and politician of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post- period o ...
stated he had received instruction in Greek from Ennius while praetor in Sardinia. Nevertheless, because his speech was an affair of state, it is probable that he complied with the Roman norms of the day in using the Latin language while practicing diplomacy, which was considered as a mark of Roman
dignity Dignity is the right Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by i ...
.


Influence in Rome

His reputation as a soldier was now established; henceforth he preferred to serve the state at home, scrutinizing the conduct of the candidates for public honours and of generals in the field. If he was not personally engaged in the prosecution of the Scipiones (Africanus and Asiaticus) for corruption, it was his spirit that animated the attack upon them. Even
Scipio Africanus Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (, , ; 236/235–183 BC) was a Roman general and statesman, most notable as one of the main architects of Rome's victory against Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side ...
—who refused to reply to the charge, saying only, "Romans, this is the day on which I conquered Hannibal" and was absolved by acclamation—found it necessary to retire, self-banished, to his villa at
Liternum Liternum was an ancient town of Campania it, Campano (man) it, Campana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demograph ...
. Cato's enmity dated from the African campaign when he quarreled with Scipio for his lavish distribution of the spoil among the troops, and his general luxury and extravagance. Cato was also opposed to the spread of Hellenic culture, which he believed threatened to destroy the rugged simplicity of the conventional Roman type. It was during this censorship that his determination to oppose Hellenism was most strongly exhibited, and hence, the behavior from which was derived the title (censor) by which he is most generally distinguished. He revised with unsparing severity the lists of senators and knights, ejecting from either order the men whom he judged unworthy of membership, either on moral grounds or on the basis of their lack of the prescribed means. The expulsion of L. Quinctius Flamininus for wanton cruelty was an example of his rigid justice. His regulations against luxury were very stringent. He imposed a heavy tax upon dress and personal adornment, especially of women, and upon young slaves purchased as favourites. In 181 BC he supported the ''lex Orchia'' (according to others, he first opposed its introduction, and subsequently its repeal), which prescribed a limit to the number of guests at an entertainment, and in 169 BC the ''lex Voconia'', one of the provisions of which was intended to limit the accumulation of what Cato considered an undue amount of wealth in the hands of women.


Public works

Among other things he repaired the
aqueducts Aqueduct may refer to: Bridges *Aqueduct (bridge) Aqueduct of Vanvitelli, Italy, built by Luigi Vanvitelli. It is a World Heritage Site and one of the finest examples of an aqueduct in Europe. Aqueducts or water bridges are bridges constructe ...

aqueducts
, cleansed the
sewer Sewer may refer to: * Part of sewerage, the infrastructure that conveys sewage *Sanitary sewer, a system of pipes used to transport sewage - several types of sanitary sewers can be distinguished *Storm drain, a collection and transportation system ...
s, and prevented private persons drawing off public water for their own use. The
Aqua Appia The Aqua Appia was the first Roman aqueduct Aerial footage of a Roman provincial aqueduct at Mória ( Lesbos) The Romans constructed aqueducts throughout their Republic A republic ( la, res publica, links=yes, meaning "public affair") is ...
was the first aqueduct of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
. It was constructed in 312 BC by Appius Claudius Caecus, the same Roman censor who also built the important Via Appia. Unauthorised plumbing into Rome's
aqueducts Aqueduct may refer to: Bridges *Aqueduct (bridge) Aqueduct of Vanvitelli, Italy, built by Luigi Vanvitelli. It is a World Heritage Site and one of the finest examples of an aqueduct in Europe. Aqueducts or water bridges are bridges constructe ...
had always been a problem, as
Frontinus Sextus Julius Frontinus (c. 40 – 103 AD) was a prominent Roman Empire, Roman civil engineer, author, soldier and senator of the late 1st century AD. He was a successful general under Domitian, commanding forces in Roman Britain, and on the Rhi ...
records much later. Cato also ordered the demolition of houses which encroached on the public way, and built the first
basilica In Ancient Roman architecture, a basilica is a large public building with multiple functions, typically built alongside the town's Forum (Roman), forum. The basilica was in the Latin West equivalent to a stoa in the Greek East. The building ...

basilica
in the
Forum Forum (plural forums or fora) may refer to: Common uses * Forum (legal), designated space for public expression in the United States *Forum (Roman), open public space within a Roman city **Roman Forum, most famous example *Internet forum, discus ...

Forum
near the
Curia Curia (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, ...

Curia
(Livy, ''History'', 39.44; Plutarch, ''Marcus Cato'', 19). He raised the amount paid by the
publicani In antiquity, publicans ( Greek τελώνης ''telōnēs'' (singular); Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area aro ...
for the right to collect taxes and, at the same time, reduced the contract prices for the construction of public works.


Later years

From the date of his censorship (184 BC) to his death in 149 BC, Cato held no public office, but continued to distinguish himself in the Senate as the persistent opponent of the new ideas. He was struck with horror, along with many other Romans, at the licence of the
Bacchanalian The Bacchanalia (or Bacchanal / Carnival) were Roman festivals of Bacchus based on various religious ecstasy, ecstatic elements of the Greek Dionysia. They seem to have been popular and well-organised throughout the central and southern Italian pe ...
mysteries, which he attributed to the influence of
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
manners, and he vehemently urged the dismissal of the philosophers
Carneades Carneades (; el, Καρνεάδης, ''Karneadēs'', "of Carnea Carneia ( grc, Κάρνεια, or grc, Καρνεῖα ''Karneia'', or grc, Κάρνεα ''Karnea'') was the name of one of the tribal traditional festival of Sparta Spar ...

Carneades
,
Diogenes Diogenes ( ; grc, Διογένης, Diogénēs ), also known as Diogenes the Cynic (, ), was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynicism (philosophy), Cynic philosophy. He was born in Sinop, Turkey, Sinope, an Ionians, Ionian colony ...
, and
Critolaus Critolaus (; el, Κριτόλαος ''Kritolaos''; c. 200 – c. 118 BC) of Phaselis was a Greek philosopher of the Peripatetic school. He was one of three philosophers sent to Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = ...
, who had come as ambassadors from
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Athens
, on account of what he believed was the dangerous nature of their ideas. He also uttered warnings against the influence of Chaldean astrologers who had entered Italy along with Greek culture. He had a horror of physicians, who were chiefly Greeks. He obtained the release of
Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the ...

Polybius
, the historian, and his fellow prisoners, contemptuously asking whether the Senate had nothing more important to do than discuss whether a few Greeks should die at Rome or in their own land. It was not until his eightieth year that he made his first acquaintance with Greek literature, though some think after examining his writings that he may have had a knowledge of Greek works for much of his life. In his last years, he was known for strenuously urging his countrymen to prosecute the
Third Punic War The Third Punic War (149–146 BC) was the third and last of the Punic Wars The Punic Wars were a series of wars (taking place between 264 and 146BC) that were fought between the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūbli ...
and to destroy
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the . The city developed from a n colony ...

Carthage
. In 157 BC, he was one of the deputies sent to Carthage to arbitrate between the
Carthaginians The Punics, Carthaginians or Western Phoenicians, were a group of peoples in the Western Mediterranean who traced their origins to the Phoenicians. In modern scholarship, the term 'Punic' – the Latin equivalent of the Greek-derived term 'Phoen ...
and
Massinissa Masinissa (''c.''238 BC – 148 BC)—also spelled Massinissa and Massena—was the first King of Numidia. During his younger years, before he was king, he fought in the Second Punic War (218–201 BC), first against the Romans as an ally ...
, king of
Numidia Numidia (Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifica ...

Numidia
. The mission was unsuccessful and the commissioners returned home, but Cato was so struck by Carthage's growing prosperity that he was convinced that the security of Rome depended on its annihilation. From then on, he began concluding his speeches in the Senate —on any topic whatsoever— with the cry, " Carthage must be destroyed" ('). Other times, his phrase is fully quoted as "Moreover, I advise that Carthage must be destroyed" (').
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
's
dialogue Dialogue (sometimes spelled dialog in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. ...
'' Cato the Elder on Old Age'' also depicted Cato's antipathy to Carthage. According to
Ben Kiernan Benedict F. Kiernan (born 1953) is an Australian-born American academic and historian who is the Whitney Griswold Professor of History, Professor of International and Area Studies and Director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University. B ...
, Cato may have made the first recorded
incitement to genocide Incitement to genocide is a crime under international law which prohibits inciting (encouraging) the commission of genocide. An extreme form of hate speech, incitement to genocide is considered an inchoate offense and is theoretically subject to ...
. To Cato the individual life was a continual discipline, and public life was the discipline of the many. He regarded the individual householder as the germ of the family, the family as the germ of the state. By strict economy of time he accomplished an immense amount of work; he demanded his dependents practice a similar dedication, and proved himself a hard husband, a strict father, and a severe and cruel master. There was little difference, apparently, in the esteem in which he held his wife and his slaves, although perhaps his pride caused him to take a warmer interest in his sons,
Marcus Porcius Cato LicinianusMarcus Porcius Cato Licinianus (191–152 BC) was son of Cato the Censor by his first wife Licinia, and thence called ''Licinianus'', to distinguish him from his half-brother, Marcus Porcius Cato Salonianus, the son of Salonia. He was distinguished ...
and
Marcus Porcius Cato SalonianusMarcus Porcius M. f. M. n. Cato Salonianus (born c. 154 BC) was the younger son of Cato the Elder Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor ( la, Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator and hist ...
. To the Romans themselves little in this behavior seemed worthy of censure, it was respected rather as a traditional example of the old Roman manners. In the remarkable passage in which
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
describes the character of Cato, there is no word of blame for the rigid discipline of his household.


Writings

Cato was and remains famous as an author as well. He was a historian, the first
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
prose writer of any importance, and the first author of a history of
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
in Latin. Some have argued that if it were not for the impact of Cato's writing, Latin might have been supplanted by Greek as the literary language of Rome. He was also one of the very few early Latin authors who could claim Latin as a native language. * His manual on running a farm ('' De Agri Cultura'' or "On Agriculture") (c. 160 BC) is his only work that survives completely. It is a miscellaneous collection of rules of husbandry and management, including sidelights on country life in the 2nd century BC. Adopted by many as a textbook at a time when Romans were expanding their agricultural activities into larger scale and more specialized business ventures geared towards profitability, ''De Agri Cultura'' assumes a farm run and staffed by slaves. Cato advises on hiring gangs for the olive harvest, and was noted for his chilling advice on keeping slaves continually at work, on reducing rations for slaves when sick, and on selling slaves that are old or sickly. Intended for reading aloud and discussing with farm workers, ''De Agri Cultura'' was widely read and much quoted (sometimes inaccurately) by later Latin authors. Cato the Elder ranked the vineyard as the most important aspect when judging a farm. This was because of the profitability of the wine trade during that time. Grain pastures were ranked sixth due to the grain crisis. * The ''
Origines (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
'' in seven books (BC) related the history of the Italian towns with special attention to Rome, from their legendary or historical foundation to his own day. Written to teach Romans what it means to be Roman and used to teach his own son how to read, Cato the Elder wrote ''ab urbe condita'' (from the founding of the city), and the early history is filled with legends illustrating Roman virtues. The ''Origines'' also spoke of how not only Rome, but the other Italian towns were venerable, and claimed the Romans were indeed superior to the Greeks. As it avoided using
consular dating A consul is an official representative of the government of one Sovereign state, state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between th ...
, it was not cited much by other historians and is mostly lost,. although it was a source for
Virgil Publius Vergilius Maro (; traditional dates 15 October 7021 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( ) in English, was an ancient Rome, ancient Roman poet of the Augustan literature (ancient Rome), Augustan period. He composed three ...

Virgil
's ''
Aeneid The ''Aeneid'' ( ; la, Aenē̆is ) is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
'' and is referenced by other writers including
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
. * Under the Roman Empire a collection of about 150 political speeches by Cato existed. In these he pursued his political policies, fought verbal vendettas, and opposed what he saw as Rome's moral decline. Not even the titles of all of these speeches are now known, but fragments of some of them are preserved. Cato included parts of at least two of his speeches, ''On Behalf of the Rhodians'' and ''Against Galba'', in his historical work the ''Origines''. The first to which we can give a date was ''On the Improper Election of the Aediles'', delivered in 202 BC. The collection included several speeches from the year of his consulship, followed by a self-justifying retrospect ''On His Consulship'' and by numerous speeches delivered when he was Censor. It is not clear whether Cato allowed others to read and copy his written texts (in other words, whether he "published" the speeches) or whether their circulation in written form began after his death. * ''On Soldiery'' was perhaps a practical manual comparable to ''On Farming''. This work is considered lost * ''On the Law Relating to Priests and Augurs'' was a topic that would follow naturally from some of the sections of ''On Farming''. Only one brief extract from this work is known. * ''Praecepta ad Filium'', "Maxims addressed to his son," from which the following extract survives: * ''Carmen de moribus'' ("Poem on morality"), apparently in prose in spite of the title.. * A collection of ''Sayings'', some of them translated from Greek. The two surviving collections of proverbs known as the ''
Distichs of Cato The ''Distichs of Cato'' (Latin: ''Catonis Disticha'', most famously known simply as Cato), is a Latin collection of proverbial wisdom and morality by an unknown author from the 3rd or 4th century AD. The ''Cato'' was the most popular medieval sch ...
'' and the ''Monosticha Catonis'' probably belong to the 4th century AD and are not works of Cato the Elder.


Legacy

The wrinkle ridge system Dorsa Cato on the Moon is named after Cato. The comune of Monte Porzio Catone, one of the Castelli Romani and close to the ruins of Tusculum, is named in honor of the Porcius Cato family. Cato is portrayed by Vittorio Gassman in ''Scipio the African, Scipione detto anche l'Africano'', a 1971 Italian film starring Marcello Mastroianni as Scipio Africanus.


Family tree



See also

*Ancient Rome and wine – with details on Cato's influences on Roman viticulture and winemaking *Otium *Horatii *Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus *Marcus Atilius Regulus *Publius Decius Mus (consul 340 BC), Publius Decius Mus *Roman agriculture, Roman Agriculture *Pliny the Elder


Notes


References


Citations


Bibliography

* * * * * * * ''This entry incorporates public domain text originally from:'' William Smith (lexicographer), William Smith (ed.), ''Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology'', 1870.


Further reading

* Ceaicovschi, K. (2009). Cato the Elder in Aulus Gellius". ''Illinois Classical Studies'', (33–34), 25–39. * * Gotter, U. (2009). "Cato's Origines: The Historian and his Enemies". In ''Cambridge Companion to the Roman Historians.'' Edited by Andrew Feldherr, 108–22. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Gratwick, A. S. (2002). "A Matter of Substance: Cato's Preface to the De Agri Cultura." ''Mnemosyne'', 4th ser., 55.1: 41–72. * Habinek, T. N. (1985). "The Colometry of Latin Prose". ''University of California Studies in Classical Philology'' 25. Berkeley: University of California Press. * Joshel, S. R. (2010). ''Slavery in the Roman World.'' Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Levene, D. (2000). "Sallust's 'Catiline' and Cato the Censor". ''The Classical Quarterly'', 50(1), 170–91. * O'Gorman, E. (2004). "Cato the Elder and the Destruction of Carthage". ''Helios'', 31, 99–125. * Reay, B. (2005). "Agriculture, Writing, and Cato's Aristocratic Self-Fashioning". ''Classical Antiquity'' 24.2: 331–61. * Sciarrino, E. (2011). ''Cato the Censor and the Beginnings of Latin Prose: From Poetic Translation to Elite Transcription''. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. * *


External links


Public Domain Copy of Plutarch's Lives of Illustrious Men volume 3 Cato the Censor translated by J and W. Langhorne


Latin text, English translation, information on the manuscripts, prefatory material. * * * *
Cato the Elder by Marcus Tullius Cicero at Perseus Digital Library
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