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Plutarch's Lives

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he, "to die with Phocion?" One of his friends that stood by,
asked him if he wished to have anything said to his son. "Yes, by
all means," said he, "bid him bear no grudge against the
Athenians." Then Nicocles, the dearest and most faithful of his
friends, begged to be allowed to drink the poison first. "My
friend," said he, "you ask what I am loath and sorrowful to give,
but as I never yet in all my life was so thankless as to refuse
you, I must gratify you in this also." After they had all drunk
of it, the poison ran short; and the executioner refused to
prepare more, except they would pay him twelve drachmas, to defray
the cost of the quantity required. Some delay was made, and time
spent, when Phocion called one of his friends, and observing that
a man could not even die at Athens without paying for it,
requested him to give the sum.

It was the nineteenth day of the month Munychion, on which it was
the usage to have a solemn procession in the city, in honor of
Jupiter. The horsemen, as they passed by, some of them threw away
their garlands, others stopped, weeping, and casting sorrowful
looks towards the prison doors, and all the citizens whose minds
were not absolutely debauched by spite and passion, or who had any
humanity left, acknowledged it to have been most impiously done,
not, at least, to let that day pass, and the city so be kept pure
from death and a public execution at the solemn festival. But as
if this triumph had been insufficient, the malice of Phocion's
enemies went yet further; his dead body was excluded from burial
within the boundaries of the country, and none of the Athenians
could light a funeral pile to burn the corpse; neither durst any
of his friends venture to concern themselves about it. A certain
Conopion, a man who used to do these offices for hire, took the
body and carried it beyond Eleusis, and procuring fire from over
the frontier of Megara, burned it. Phocion's wife, with her
servant-maids, being present and assisting at the solemnity,
raised there an empty tomb, and performed the customary libations,
and gathering up the bones in her lap, and bringing them home by
night, dug a place for them by the fireside in her house, saying,
"Blessed hearth, to your custody I commit the remains of a good
and brave man; and, I beseech you, protect and restore them to the
sepulcher of his fathers, when the Athenians return to their right

And, indeed, a very little time and their own sad experience soon
informed them what an excellent governor, and how great an example
and guardian of justice and of temperance they had bereft
themselves of. And now they decreed him a statue of brass, and
his bones to be buried honorably at the public charge; and for his
accusers, Agnonides they took themselves, and caused him to be put
to death. Epicurus and Demophilus, who fled from the city for
fear, his son met with, and took his revenge upon them. This son
of his, we are told, was in general of an indifferent character,
and once, when enamored of a slave girl kept by a common harlot
merchant, happened to hear Theodorus, the atheist, arguing in the
Lyceum, that if it were a good and honorable thing to buy the
freedom of a friend in the masculine, why not also of a friend in
the feminine, if, for example, a master, why not also a mistress?
So putting the good argument and his passion together, he went off
and purchased the girl's freedom. The death which was thus
suffered by Phocion, revived among the Greeks the memory of that
of Socrates, the two cases being so similar, and both equally the
sad fault and misfortune of the city.


The family of Cato derived its first luster from his
great-grandfather Cato, whose virtue gained him such great
reputation and authority among the Romans, as we have written in
his life.

This Cato was, by the loss of both his parents, left an orphan,
together with his brother Caepio, and his sister Porcia. He had
also a half-sister, Servilia, by the mother's side. All these
lived together, and were bred up in the house of Livius Drusus,
their uncle by the mother who, at that time, had a great share in
the government, being a very eloquent speaker, a man of the
greatest temperance, and yielding in dignity to none of the

It is said of Cato, that even from his infancy, in his speech,
his countenance, and all his childish pastimes, he discovered an
inflexible temper, unmoved by any passion, and firm in
everything. He was resolute in his purposes, much beyond the
strength of his age, to go through with whatever he undertook.
He was rough and ungentle toward those that flattered him, and
still more unyielding to those who threatened him. It was
difficult to excite him to laughter; his countenance seldom
relaxed even into a smile; he was not quickly or easily provoked
to anger, but if once incensed, he was no less difficult to

When he began to learn, he proved dull, and slow to apprehend,
but of what he once received, his memory was remarkably
tenacious. And such, in fact, we find generally to be the course
of nature; men of fine genius are readily reminded of things, but
those who receive with most pains and difficulty, remember best;
every new thing they learn, being, as it were, burnt and branded
in on their minds. Cato's natural stubbornness and slowness to
be persuaded, may also have made it more difficult for him to be
taught. For to learn, is to submit to have something done to
one; and persuasion comes soonest to those who have least
strength to resist it. Hence young men are sooner persuaded than
those that are more in years, and sick men, than those that are
well in health In fine, where there is least previous doubt and
difficulty the new impression is most easily accepted. Yet Cato,
they say, was very obedient to his preceptor, and would do
whatever he was commanded; but he would also ask the reason, and
inquire the cause of everything. And, indeed, his teacher was a
very well-bred man, more ready to instruct, than to beat his
scholars. His name was Sarpedon.

When Cato was a child, the allies of the Romans sued to be made
free citizens of Rome. Pompaedius Silo, one of their deputies, a
brave soldier, and a man of great repute, who had contracted a
friendship with Drusus, lodged at his house for several days, in
which time being grown familiar with the children, "Well," said
he to them, "will you entreat your uncle to befriend us in our
business?" Caepio, smiling, assented, but Cato made no answer,
only he looked steadfastly and fiercely on the strangers. Then
said Pompaedius, "And you, young sir, what say you to us? will
not you, as well as your brother, intercede with your uncle in
our behalf?" And when Cato continued to give no answer, by his
silence and his countenance seeming to deny their petition,
Pompaedius snatched him up to the window as if he would throw him
out, and told him to consent, or he would fling him down, and,
speaking in a harsher tone, held his body out of the window, and
shook him several times. When Cato had suffered this a good
while, unmoved and unalarmed, Pompaedius setting him down, said
in an under-voice to his friend, "What a blessing for Italy,
that he is but a child! If he were a man, I believe we should
not gain one voice among the people." Another time, one of his
relations, on his birthday, invited Cato and some other children
to supper, and some of the company diverted themselves in a
separate part of the house, and were at play, the elder and the
younger together, their sport being to act the pleadings before
the judges, accusing one another, and carrying away the condemned
to prison. Among these a very beautiful young child, being bound
and carried by a bigger into prison, cried out to Cato, who
seeing what was going on, presently ran to the door, and
thrusting away those who stood there as guard, took out the
child, and went home in anger, followed by some of his

Cato at length grew so famous among them, that when Sylla
designed to exhibit the sacred game of young men riding courses
on horseback, which they called Troy, having gotten together the
youth of good birth, he appointed two for their leaders. One of
them they accepted for his mother's sake, being the son of
Metella, the wife of Sylla; but as for the other, Sextus, the
nephew of Pompey, they would not be led by him, nor exercise
under him. Then Sylla asking, whom they would have, they all
cried out, Cato; and Sextus willingly yielded the honor to him,
as the more worthy.

Sylla, who was a friend of their family, sent at times for Cato
and his brother to see them and talk with them; a favor which he
showed to very few, after gaining his great power and authority.
Sarpedon, full of the advantage it would be, as well for the
honor as the safety of his scholars, would often bring Cato to
wait upon Sylla at his house, which, for the multitude of those
that were being carried off in custody, and tormented there,
looked like a place of execution. Cato was then in his
fourteenth year, and seeing the heads of men said to be of great
distinction brought thither, and observing the secret sighs of
those that were present, he asked his preceptor, "Why does nobody
kill this man?'' "Because," said he, "they fear him, child, more
than they hate him." "Why, then," replied Cato, "did you not
give me a sword, that I might stab him, and free my country from
this slavery?" Sarpedon hearing this, and at the same time
seeing his countenance swelling with anger and determination,
took care thenceforward to watch him strictly, lest he should
hazard any desperate attempt.

While he was yet very young, to some that asked him, whom he
loved best, he answered, his brother. And being asked, whom
next, he replied, his brother, again. So likewise the third
time, and still the same, till they left off to ask any further.
As he grew in age, this love to his brother grew yet the
stronger. When he was about twenty years old, he never supped,
never went out of town, nor into the forum, without Caepio. But
when his brother made use of precious ointments and perfumes,
Cato declined them; and he was, in all his habits, very strict
and austere, so that when Caepio was admired for his moderation
and temperance, he would acknowledge that indeed he might be
accounted such, in comparison with some other men, "but," said
he, "when I compare myself with Cato, I find myself scarcely
different from Sippius," one at that time notorious for his
luxurious and effeminate living.

Cato being made priest of Apollo, went to another house, took his
portion of their paternal inheritance, amounting to a hundred and
twenty talents, and began to live yet more strictly than before.
Having gained the intimate acquaintance of Antipater the Tyrian,
the Stoic philosopher, he devoted himself to the study, above
everything, of moral and political doctrine. And though
possessed, as it were, by a kind of inspiration for the pursuit
of every virtue, yet what most of all virtue and excellence fixed
his affection, was that steady and inflexible Justice, which is
not to be wrought upon by favor or compassion. He learned also
the art of speaking and debating in public, thinking that
political philosophy, like a great city, should maintain for its
security the military and warlike element. But he would never
recite his exercises before company, nor was he ever heard to
declaim. And to one that told him, men blamed his silence, "But
I hope not my life," he replied, "I will begin to speak, when I
have that to say which had not better be unsaid."

The great Porcian Hall, as it was called, had been built and
dedicated to the public use by the old Cato, when aedile. Here
the tribunes of the people used to transact their business, and
because one of the pillars was thought to interfere with the
convenience of their seats, they deliberated whether it were
best to remove it to another place, or to take it away. This
occasion first drew Cato, much against his will, into the forum;
for he opposed the demand of the tribunes, and in so doing, gave
a specimen both of his courage and his powers of speaking, which
gained him great admiration. His speech had nothing youthful or
refined in it, but was straightforward, full of matter, and
rough, at the same time that there was a certain grace about his
rough statements which won the attention; and the speaker's
character showing itself in all he said, added to his severe
language something that excited feelings of natural pleasure and
interest. His voice was full and sounding, and sufficient to be
heard by so great a multitude, and its vigor and capacity of
endurance quite indefatigable; for he often would speak a whole
day, and never stop.

When he had carried this cause, he betook himself again to study
and retirement. He employed himself in inuring his body to labor
and violent exercise; and habituated himself to go bareheaded in
the hottest and the coldest weather, and to walk on foot at all
seasons. When he went on a journey with any of his friends,
though they were on horseback and he on foot, yet he would often
join now one, then another, and converse with them on the way.
In sickness, the patience he showed in supporting, and the
abstinence he used for curing his distempers, were admirable.
When he had an ague, he would remain alone, and suffer nobody to
see him, till he began to recover, and found the fit was over.
At supper, when he threw dice for the choice of dishes, and lost,
and the company offered him nevertheless his choice, he declined
to dispute, as he said, the decision of Venus. At first, he was
wont to drink only once after supper, and then go away; but in
process of time he grew to drink more, insomuch that oftentimes
he would continue till morning. This his friends explained by
saying that state affairs and public business took him up all
day, and being desirous of knowledge, he liked to pass the night
at wine in the conversation of philosophers. Hence, upon one
Memmius saying in public, that Cato spent whole nights in
drinking, "You should add," replied Cicero, "that he spends whole
days in gambling." And in general Cato esteemed the customs and
manners of men at that time so corrupt, and a reformation in them
so necessary, that he thought it requisite, in many things, to go
contrary to the ordinary way of the world. Seeing the lightest
and gayest purple was then most in fashion, he would always wear
that which was nearest black; and he would often go out of doors,
after his morning meal, without either shoes or tunic; not that
he sought vainglory from such novelties, but he would accustom
himself to be ashamed only of what deserves shame, and to despise
all other sorts of disgrace.

The estate of one Cato, his cousin, which was worth one hundred
talents, falling to him, he turned it all into ready money, which
he kept by him for any of his friends that should happen to want,
to whom he would lend it without interest. And for some of them,
he suffered his own land and his slaves to be mortgaged to the
public treasury.

When he thought himself of an age fit to marry, having never
before known any woman, he was contracted to Lepida, who had
before been contracted to Metellus Scipio, but on Scipio's own
withdrawal from it, the contract had been dissolved, and she
left at liberty. Yet Scipio afterward repenting himself, did all
he could to regain her, before the marriage with Cato was
completed, and succeeded in so doing. At which Cato was
violently incensed, and resolved at first to go to law about it;
but his friends persuaded him to the contrary. However, he was
so moved by the heat of youth and passion, that he wrote a
quantity of iambic verses against Scipio, in the bitter,
sarcastic style of Archilochus, without, however, his license and
scurrility. After this, he married Atilia, the daughter of
Soranus, the first, but not the only woman he ever knew, less
happy thus far than Laelius, the friend of Scipio, who in the
whole course of so long a life never knew but the one woman to
whom he was united in his first and only marriage.

In the war of the slaves, which took its name from Spartacus,
their ringleader, Gellius was general, and Cato went a volunteer,
for the sake of his brother Caepio, who was a tribune in the
army. Cato could find here no opportunity to show his zeal or
exercise his valor, on account of the ill conduct of the general.
However, amidst the corruption and disorders of that army, he
showed such a love of discipline, so much bravery upon occasion,
and so much courage and wisdom in everything, that it appeared
he was no way inferior to the old Cato. Gellius offered him
great rewards, and would have decreed him the first honors;
which, however, he refused, saying, he had done nothing that
deserved them. This made him be thought a man of a strange and
eccentric temper.

There was a law passed, moreover, that the candidates who stood
for any office should not have prompters in their canvass, to
tell them the names of the citizens; and Cato, when he sued to
be elected tribune, was the only man that obeyed this law. He
took great pains to learn by his own knowledge to salute those he
had to speak with, and to call them by their names; yet even
those who praised him for this, did not do so without some envy
and jealousy, for the more they considered the excellence of
what he did, the more they were grieved at the difficulty they
found to do the like.

Being chosen tribune, he was sent into Macedon to join Rubrius,
who was general there. It is said that his wife showing much
concern, and weeping at his departure, Munatius, one of Cato's
friends, said to her, "Do not trouble yourself, Atilia, I will
engage to watch over him for you." "By all means," replied Cato;
and when they had gone one day's journey together, "Now," said he
to Munatius, after they had supped, "that you may be sure to keep
your promise to Atilia, you must not leave me day nor night," and
from that time, he ordered two beds to be made in his own
chamber, that Munatius might lie there. And so he continued to
do, Cato making it his jest to see that he was always there.
There went with him fifteen slaves, two freedmen, and four of his
friends; these rode on horseback, but Cato always went on foot,
yet would he keep by them, and talk with each of them in turn, as
they went.

When he came to the army, which consisted of several legions, the
general gave him the command of one; and as he looked upon it as
a small matter, and not worthy a commander, to give evidence of
his own single valor, he resolved to make his soldiers, as far as
he could, like himself, not, however, in this, relaxing the
terrors of his office, but associating reason with his authority.
He persuaded and instructed every one in particular, and bestowed
rewards or punishments according to desert; and at length his men
were so well disciplined, that it was hard to say, whether they
were more peaceable, or more warlike, more valiant, or more just;
they were alike formidable to their enemies and courteous to
their allies, fearful to do wrong, and forward to gain honor.
And Cato himself acquired in the fullest measure, what it had
been his least desire to seek, glory and good repute; he was
highly esteemed by all men, and entirely beloved by the soldiers.
Whatever he commanded to be done, he himself took part in the
performing; in his apparel, his diet and mode of traveling, he
was more like a common soldier than an officer; but in character,
high purpose, and wisdom, he far exceeded all that had the names
and titles of commanders, and he made himself, without knowing
it, the object of general affection. For the true love of virtue
is in all men produced by the love and respect they bear to him
that teaches it; and those who praise good men, yet do not love
them, may respect their reputation, but do not really admire, and
will never imitate their virtue.

There dwelt at that time in Pergamus, Athenodorus, surnamed
Cordylio, a man of high repute for his knowledge of the stoic
philosophy, who was now grown old, and had always steadily
refused the friendship and acquaintance of princes and great men.
Cato understood this; so that imagining he should not be able to
prevail with him by sending or writing, and being by the laws
allowed two months' absence from the army, he resolved to go into
Asia to see him in person, trusting to his own good qualities not
to lose his labor. And when he had conversed with him, and
succeeded in persuading him out of his former resolutions, he
returned and brought him to the camp, as joyful and as proud of
this victory as if he had done some heroic exploit, greater than
any of those of Pompey or Lucullus, who, with their armies, at
that time were subduing so many nations and kingdoms.

While Cato was yet in the service, his brother, on a journey
towards Asia, fell sick at Aenus in Thrace, letters with
intelligence of which were immediately dispatched to him. The
sea was very rough, and no convenient ship of any size to be had;
so Cato, getting into a small trading-vessel, with only two of his
friends and three servants, set sail from Thessalonica, and
having very narrowly escaped drowning, he arrived at Aenus just
as Caepio expired. Upon this occasion, he was thought to have
showed himself more a fond brother than a philosopher, not only
in the excess of his grief, bewailing, and embracing the dead
body, but also in the extravagant expenses of the funeral, the
vast quantity of rich perfumes and costly garments which were
burnt with the corpse, and the monument of Thasian marble, which
he erected, at the cost of eight talents, in the public place of
the town of Aenus. For there were some who took upon them to
cavil at all this, as not consistent with his usual calmness and
moderation, not discerning that though he were steadfast, firm,
and inflexible to pleasure, fear, or foolish entreaties, yet he
was full of natural tenderness and brotherly affection. Divers
of the cities and princes of the country, sent him many presents,
to honor the funeral of his brother; but he took none of their
money, only the perfumes and ornaments he received, and paid for
them also. And afterwards, when the inheritance was divided
between him and Caepio's daughter, he did not require any portion
of the funeral expenses to be discharged out of it.
Notwithstanding this, it has been affirmed that he made his
brother's ashes be passed through a sieve, to find the gold that
was melted down when burnt with the body. But he who made this
statement appears to have anticipated an exemption for his pen,
as much as for his sword, from all question and criticism.

The time of Cato's service in the army being expired, he
received, at his departure, not only the prayers and praises, but
the tears, and embraces of the soldiers, who spread their clothes
at his feet, and kissed his hand as he passed, an honor which the
Romans at that time scarcely paid even to a very few of their
generals and commander-in-chief. Having left the army, he
resolved, before he would return home and apply himself to state
affairs, to travel in Asia, and observe the manners, the customs,
and the strength of every province. He was also unwilling to
refuse the kindness of Deiotarus, king of Galatia, who having had
great familiarity and friendship with his father, was very
desirous to receive a visit from him. Cato's arrangements in his
journey were as follows. Early in the morning he sent out his
baker and his cook towards the place where he designed to stay
the next night; these went soberly and quietly into the town, in
which, if there happened to be no friend or acquaintance of Cato
or his family, they provided for him in an inn, and gave no
disturbance to anybody; but if there were no inn, then and in
this case only, they went to the magistrates, and desiring them
to help them to lodgings, took without complaint whatever was
allotted to them. His servants thus behaving themselves towards
the magistrates, without noise and threatening, were often
discredited, or neglected by them, so that Cato many times
arrived and found nothing provided for him. And it was all the
worse when he appeared himself; still less account was taken of
him. When they saw him sitting, without saying anything, on his
baggage, they set him down at once as a person of no consequence,
who did not venture to make any demand. Sometimes, on such
occasions, he would call them to him and tell them, "Foolish
people, lay aside this inhospitality. All your visitors will not
be Catos. Use your courtesy, to take off the sharp edge of
power. There are men enough who desire but a pretense, to take
from you by force, what you give with such reluctance."

While he traveled in this manner, a diverting accident befell him
in Syria. As he was going into Antioch, he saw a great multitude
of people outside the gates, ranged in order on either side the
way; here the young men with long cloaks, there the children
decently dressed; others wore garlands and white garments, who
were the priests and magistrates. Cato, imagining all this could
mean nothing but a display in honor of his reception, began to be
angry with his servants who had been sent before, for suffering
it to be done; then making his friends alight, he walked along
with them on foot. As soon as he came near the gate, an elderly
man, who seemed to be master of these ceremonies, with a wand and
a garland in his hand, came up to Cato, and without saluting him,
asked him, where he had left Demetrius, and how soon he thought
he would be there. This Demetrius was Pompey's servant, and as
at this time the whole world, so to say, had its eyes fixed upon
Pompey, this man also was highly honored, on account of his
influence with his master. Upon this, Cato's friends fell into
such violent laughter, that they could not restrain themselves
while they passed through the crowd; and he himself, ashamed and
distressed, uttered the words, "Unfortunate city!" and said no
more. Afterwards, however, it always made him laugh, when he
either told the story or was otherwise reminded of it.

Pompey himself shortly after made the people ashamed of their
ignorance and folly in thus neglecting him, for Cato, coming in
his journey to Ephesus, went to pay his respects to him, who was
the elder man, had gained much honor, and was then general of a
great army. Yet Pompey would not receive him sitting, but as
soon as he saw him, rose up, and going to meet him, as the more
honorable person, gave him his hand, and embraced him with great
show of kindness. He said much in commendation of his virtue,
both at that time when receiving him, and also yet more, after he
had withdrawn. So that now all men began at once to display
their respect for Cato, and discovered in the very same things
for which they despised him before, an admirable mildness of
temper, and greatness of spirit. And indeed the civility that
Pompey himself showed him, appeared to come from one that rather
respected than loved him; and the general opinion was, that while
Cato was there, he paid him admiration, but was not sorry when he
was gone. For when other young men came to see him, he usually
urged and entreated them to continue with him. Now he did not at
all invite Cato to stay, but as if his own power were lessened by
the other's presence, he very willingly allowed him to take his
leave. Yet to Cato alone, of all those who went for Rome, he
recommended his children and his wife, who was indeed connected
by relationship with Cato.

After this, all the cities through which he passed, strove and
emulated each other in showing him respect and honor. Feasts and
entertainments were made for his reception, so that he bade his
friends keep strict watch and take care of him, lest he should
end by making good what was said by Curio, who though he were his
familial friend, yet disliking the austerity of his temper, asked
him one day, if when he left the army, he designed to see Asia,
and Cato answering, "Yes, by all means," "You do well," replied
Curio, "you will bring back with you a better temper and
pleasanter manners;" pretty nearly the very words he used.

Deiotarus being now an old man, had sent for Cato, to recommend
his children and family to his protection; and as soon as he
came, brought him presents of all sorts of things, which he
begged and entreated him to accept. And his importunities
displeased Cato so much, that though he came but in the evening,
he stayed only that night, and went away early the next morning.
After he was gone one day's journey, he found at Pessinus a yet
greater quantity of presents provided for him there, and also
letters from Deiotarus, entreating him to receive them, or at
least to permit his friends to take them, who for his sake
deserved some gratification, and could not have much done for
them out of Cato's own means. Yet he would not suffer it, though
he saw some of them very willing to receive such gifts, and ready
to complain of his severity; but he answered, that corruption
would never want pretense, and his friends should share with him
in whatever he should justly and honestly obtain, and so returned
the presents to Deiotarus.

When he took ship for Brundusium, his friends would have
persuaded him to put his brother's ashes into another vessel; but
he said, he would sooner part with his life than leave them, and
so set sail. And as it chanced, he, we are told, had a very
dangerous passage, though others at the same time went over
safely enough.

After he was returned to Rome, he spent his time for the most
part either at home, in conversation with Athenodorus, or at the
forum, in the service of his friends. Though it was now the time
that he should become quaestor, he would not stand for the place
till he had studied the laws relating to it, and by inquiry from
persons of experience, had attained a distinct understanding of
the duty and authority belonging to it. With this knowledge, as
soon as he came into the office, he made a great reformation
among the clerks and under-officers of the treasury, people who
had long practice and familiarity in all the public records and
the laws, and, when new magistrates came in year by year, so
ignorant and unskillful as to be in absolute need of others to
teach them what to do, did not submit and give way, but kept the
power in their own hands, and were in effect the treasurers
themselves. Till Cato, applying himself roundly to the work,
showed that he possessed not only the title and honor of a
quaestor, but the knowledge and understanding and full authority
of his office. So that he used the clerks and under-officers
like servants, as they were, exposing their corrupt practices,
and instructing their ignorance. Being bold impudent fellows,
they flattered the other quaestors, his colleagues, and by their
means endeavored to maintain an opposition against him. But he
convicted the chiefest of them of a breach of trust in the charge
of an inheritance, and turned him out of his place. A second he
brought to trial for dishonesty, who was defended by Lutatius
Catulus, at that time censor, a man very considerable for his
office, but yet more for his character, as he was eminent above
all the Romans of that age for his reputed wisdom and integrity.
He was also intimate with Cato, and much commended his way of
living. So perceiving he could not bring off his client, if he
stood a fair trial, he openly began to beg him off. Cato
objected to his doing this. And when he continued still to be
importunate, "It would be shameful, Catulus," he said, "that the
censor, the judge of all our lives, should incur the dishonor of
removal by our officers." At this expression, Catalus looked as
if he would have made some answer; but he said nothing, and
either through anger or shame went away silent, and out of
countenance. Nevertheless, the man was not found guilty, for the
voices that acquitted him were but one in number less than those
that condemned him, and Marcus Lollius, one of Cato's colleagues,
who was absent by reason of sickness, was sent for by Catalus,
and entreated to come and save the man. So Lollius was brought
into court in a chair, and gave his voice also for acquitting
him. Yet Cato never after made use of that clerk, and never paid
him his salary, nor would he make any account of the vote given
by Lollius. Having thus humbled the clerks, and brought them to
be at command, he made use of the books and registers as he
thought fit, and in a little while gained the treasury a higher
name than the Senate-house itself; and all men said, Cato had
made the office of a quaestor equal to the dignity of a consul.
When he found many indebted to the state upon old accounts, and
the state also in debt to many private persons, he took care that
the public might no longer either do or suffer wrong; he strictly
and punctually exacted what was due to the treasury, and as
freely and speedily paid all those to whom it was indebted. So
that the people were filled with sentiments of awe and respect,
on seeing those made to pay, who thought to have escaped with
their plunder, and others receiving all their due, who despaired
of getting anything. And whereas usually those who brought
false bills and pretended orders of the senate, could through
favor get them accepted, Cato would never be so imposed upon, and
in the case of one particular order, question arising, whether it
had passed the senate, he would not believe a great many
witnesses that attested it, nor would admit of it, till the
consuls came and affirmed it upon oath.

There were at that time a great many whom Sylla had made use of
as his agents in the proscription, and to whom he had for their
service in putting men to death, given twelve thousand drachmas
apiece. These men everybody hated as wicked and polluted
wretches, but nobody durst be revenged upon them. Cato called
everyone to account, as wrongfully possessed of the public
money, and exacted it of them, and at the same time sharply
reproved them for their unlawful and impious actions. After
these proceedings, they were presently accused of murder, and
being already in a manner prejudged as guilty, they were easily
found so, and accordingly suffered; at which the whole people
rejoiced, and thought themselves now to see the old tyranny
finally abolished, and Sylla himself, so to say, brought to

Cato's assiduity also, and indefatigable diligence, won very much
upon the people. He always came first of any of his colleagues
to the treasury, and went away the last. He never missed any
assembly of the people, or sitting of the senate; being always
anxious and on the watch for those who lightly, or as a matter of
interest, passed votes in favor of this or that person, for
remitting debts or granting away customs that were owing to the
state. And at length, having kept the exchequer pure and clear
from base informers, and yet having filled it with treasure, he
made it appear the state might be rich, without oppressing the
people. At first he excited feelings of dislike and irritation
in some of his colleagues, but after a while they were well
contented with him, since he was perfectly willing that they
should cast all the odium on him, when they declined to gratify
their friends with the public money, or to give dishonest judgments
in passing their accounts; and when hard pressed by suitors, they
could readily answer it was impossible to do anything, unless
Cato would consent. On the last day of his office, he was
honorably attended to his house by almost all the people;
but on the way he was informed that several powerful friends were
in the treasury with Marcellus, using all their interest with him
to pass a certain debt to the public revenue, as if it had been a
gift. Marcellus had been one of Cato's friends from his
childhood, and so long as Cato was with him, was one of the best
of his colleagues in this office, but when alone, was unable to
resist the importunity of suitors, and prone to do anybody a
kindness. So Cato immediately turned back, and finding that
Marcellus had yielded to pass the thing, he took the book, and
while Marcellus silently stood by and looked on, struck it out.
This done, he brought Marcellus out of the treasury, and took him
home with him; who for all this, neither then, nor ever after,
complained of him, but always continued his friendship and
familiarity with him.

Cato after he had laid down his office, yet did not cease to keep
a watch upon the treasury. He had his servants who continually
wrote out the details of the expenditure, and he himself kept
always by him certain books, which contained the accounts of the
revenue from Sylla's time to his own quaestorship, which he had
bought for five talents.

He was always first at the senate, and went out last; and often,
while the others were slowly collecting, he would sit and read by
himself, holding his gown before his book. He was never once out
of town when the senate was to meet. And when afterwards Pompey
and his party, finding that he could never be either persuaded or
compelled to favor their unjust designs, endeavored to keep him
from the senate, by engaging him in business for his friends, to
plead their causes, or arbitrate in their differences, or the
like, he quickly discovered the trick, and to defeat it, fairly
told all his acquaintance that he would never meddle in any
private business when the senate was assembled. Since it was not
in the hope of gaining honor or riches, nor out of mere impulse,
or by chance that he engaged himself in politics, but he
undertook the service of the state, as the proper business of an
honest man, and therefore he thought himself obliged to be as
constant to his public duty, as the bee to the honeycomb. To
this end, he took care to have his friends and correspondents
everywhere, to send him reports of the edicts, decrees,
judgments, and all the important proceedings that passed in any
of the provinces. Once when Clodius, the seditious orator, to
promote his violent and revolutionary projects, traduced to the
people some of the priests and priestesses, (among whom Fabia,
sister to Cicero's wife, Terentia, ran great danger,) Cato,
having boldly interfered, and having made Clodius appear so
infamous that he was forced to leave the town, was addressed,
when it was over, by Cicero, who came to thank him for what he
had done. "You must thank the commonwealth," said he, for whose
sake alone he professed to do everything. Thus he gained a
great and wonderful reputation; so that an advocate in a cause,
where there was only one witness against him, told the judges
they ought not to rely upon a single witness, though it were Cato
himself. And it was a sort of proverb with many people, if any
very unlikely and incredible thing were asserted, to say, they
would not believe it, though Cato himself should affirm it. One
day a debauched and sumptuous liver talking in the senate about
frugality and temperance, Amnaeus standing up, cried, "Who can
endure this, Sir, to have you feast like Crassus, build like
Lucullus and talk like Cato." So likewise those who were vicious
and dissolute in their manners, yet affected to be grave and
severe in their language, were in derision called Catos.

At first, when his friends would have persuaded him to stand to
be tribune of the people, he thought it undesirable; for that the
power of so great an office ought to be reserved, as the
strongest medicines, for occasions of the last necessity. But
afterwards in a vacation time, as he was going, accompanied with
his books and philosophers, to Lucania, where he had lands with a
pleasant residence, they met by the way a great many horses,
carriages, and attendants, of whom they understood, that Metellus
Nepos was going to Rome, to stand to be tribune of the people.
Hereupon Cato stopped, and after a little pause, gave orders to
return back immediately; at which the company seeming to wonder,
"Don't you know," said he, "how dangerous of itself the madness
of Metellus is? and now that he comes armed with the support of
Pompey, he will fall like lightning on the state, and bring it to
utter disorder; therefore this is no time for idleness and
diversion, but we must go and prevent this man in his designs, or
bravely die in defense of our liberty." Nevertheless, by the
persuasion of his friends, he went first to his country-house,
where he stayed but a very little time, and then returned to

He arrived in the evening, and went straight the next morning to
the forum, where he began to solicit for the tribuneship, in
opposition to Metellus. The power of this office consists rather
in controlling, than performing any business; for though all the
rest except any one tribune should be agreed, yet his denial or
intercession could put a stop to the whole matter. Cato, at
first, had not many that appeared for him; but as soon as his
design was known, all the good and distinguished persons of the
city quickly came forward to encourage and support him, looking
upon him, not as one that desired a favor of them, but one that
proposed to do a great favor to his country and all honest men;
who had many times refused the same office, when he might have
had it without trouble, but now sought it with danger, that he
might defend their liberty and their government. It is reported
that so great a number flocked about him, that he was like to be
stifled amidst the press, and could scarce get through the crowd.
He was declared tribune, with several others, among whom was

When Cato was chosen into this office, observing that the
election of consuls was become a matter of purchase, he sharply
rebuked the people for this corruption, and in the conclusion of
his speech protested, he would bring to trial whomever he should
find giving money, making an exception only in the case of
Silanus, on account of their near connection, he having married
Servilia, Cato's sister. He therefore did not prosecute him, but
accused Lucius Murena, who had been chosen consul by corrupt
means with Silanus. There was a law that the party accused might
appoint a person to keep watch upon his accuser, that he might
know fairly what means he took in preparing the accusation. He
that was set upon Cato by Murena, at first followed and observed
him strictly, yet never found him dealing any way unfairly or
insidiously, but always generously and candidly going on in the
just and open methods of proceeding. And he so admired Cato's
great spirit, and so entirely trusted to his integrity, that
meeting him in the forum, or going to his house, he would ask
him, if he designed to do anything that day in order to the
accusation, and if Cato said no, he went away, relying on his
word. When the cause was pleaded, Cicero, who was then consul
and defended Murena, took occasion to be extremely witty and
jocose, in reference to Cato, upon the stoic philosophers, and
their paradoxes, as they call them, and so excited great laughter
among the judges; upon which Cato, smiling, said to the standers
by, "What a pleasant consul we have, my friends." Murena was
acquitted, and afterwards showed himself a man of no ill feeling
or want of sense; for when he was consul, he always took Cato's
advice in the most weighty affairs, and during all the time of
his office, paid him much honor and respect. Of which not only
Murena's prudence, but also Cato's own behavior, was the cause;
for though he were terrible and severe as to matters of justice,
in the senate, and at the bar, yet after the thing was over, his
manner to all men was perfectly friendly and humane.

Before he entered on the office of tribune, he assisted Cicero,
at that time consul, in many contests that concerned his office,
but most especially in his great and noble acts at the time of
Catiline's conspiracy, which owed their last successful issue to
Cato. Catiline had plotted a dreadful and entire subversion of
the Roman state by sedition and open war, but being convicted by
Cicero, was forced to fly the city. Yet Lentulus and Cethegus
remained with several others, to carry on the same plot; and
blaming Catiline, as one that wanted courage, and had been timid
and petty in his designs, they themselves resolved to set the
whole town on fire, and utterly to overthrow the empire, rousing
whole nations to revolt and exciting foreign wars. But the
design was discovered by Cicero, (as we have written in his
life,) and the matter brought before the senate. Silanus, who
spoke first, delivered his opinion, that the conspirators ought
to suffer the last of punishments, and was therein followed by
all who spoke after him; till it came to Caesar, who being an
excellent speaker, and looking upon all changes and commotions in
the state as materials useful for his own purposes, desired
rather to increase than extinguish them; and standing up, he made
a very merciful and persuasive speech, that they ought not to
suffer death without fair trial according to law, and moved that
they might be kept in prison. Thus was the house almost wholly
turned by Caesar, apprehending also the anger of the people;
insomuch that even Silanus retracted, and said he did not mean to
propose death, but imprisonment, for that was the utmost a Roman
could suffer. Upon this they were all inclined to the milder and
more merciful opinion, when Cato standing up, began at once with
great passion and vehemence to reproach Silanus for his change of
opinion, and to attack Caesar, who would, he said, ruin the
commonwealth by soft words and popular speeches, and was
endeavoring to frighten the senate, when he himself ought to
fear, and be thankful, if he escaped unpunished or unsuspected,
who thus openly and boldly dared to protect the enemies of the
state, and while finding no compassion for his own native
country, brought, with all its glories, so near to utter ruin,
could yet be full of pity for those men, who had better never
have been born, and whose death must deliver the commonwealth
from bloodshed and destruction. This only of all Cato's
speeches, it is said, was preserved; for Cicero, the consul, had
disposed, in various parts of the senate-house, several of the
most expert and rapid writers, whom he had taught to make figures
comprising numerous words in a few short strokes; as up to that
time they had not used those we call short-hand writers, who
then, as it is said, established the first example of the art.
Thus Cato carried it, and so turned the house again, that it was
decreed the conspirators should be put to death.

Not to omit any small matters that may serve to show Cato's
temper, and add something to the portraiture of his mind, it is
reported, that while Caesar and he were in the very heat, and the
whole senate regarding them two, a little note was brought in to
Caesar, which Cato declared to be suspicious, and urging that
some seditious act was going on, bade the letter be read. Upon
which Caesar handed the paper to Cato; who discovering it to be a
love-letter from his sister Servilia to Caesar, by whom she had
been corrupted, threw it to him again, saying, "Take it,
drunkard," and so went on with his discourse. And, indeed, it
seems Cato had but ill-fortune in women; for this lady was ill
spoken of, for her familiarity with Caesar, and the other
Servilia, Cato's sister also, was yet more ill-conducted; for
being married to Lucullus, one of the greatest men in Rome, and
having brought him a son, she was afterwards divorced for
incontinency. But what was worst of all, Cato's own wife Atilia
was not free from the same fault; and after she had borne him two
children, he was forced to put her away for her misconduct.
After that he married Marcia, the daughter of Philippus, a woman
of good reputation, who yet has occasioned much discourse; and
the life of Cato, like a dramatic piece, has this one scene or
passage full of perplexity and doubtful meaning.

It is thus related by Thrasea, who refers to the authority of
Munatius, Cato's friend and constant companion. Among many that
loved and admired Cato, some were more remarkable and conspicuous
than others. Of these was Quintus Hortensius, a man of high
repute and approved virtue, who desired not only to live in
friendship and familiarity with Cato, but also to unite his whole
house and family with him by some sort or other of alliance in
marriage. Therefore he set himself to persuade Cato, that his
daughter Porcia, who was already married to Bibulus, and had
borne him two children, might nevertheless be given to him, as a
fair plot of land, to bear fruit also for him. "For," said he,
"though this in the opinion of men may seem strange, yet in
nature it is honest, and profitable for the public, that a woman
in the prime of her youth should not lie useless, and lose the
fruit of her womb, nor, on the other side, should burden and
impoverish one man, by bringing him too many children. Also by
this communication of families among worthy men, virtue would
increase, and be diffused through their posterity; and the
commonwealth would be united and cemented by their alliances."
Yet if Bibulus would not part with his wife altogether, he would
restore her as soon as she had brought him a child, whereby he
might be united to both their families. Cato answered, that he
loved Hortensius very well, and much approved of uniting their
houses, but he thought it strange to speak of marrying his
daughter, when she was already given to another. Then
Hortensius, turning the discourse, did not hesitate to speak
openly and ask for Cato's own wife, for she was young and
fruitful, and he had already children enough. Neither can it be
thought that Hortensius did this, as imagining Cato did not care
for Marcia; for, it is said, she was then with child. Cato,
perceiving his earnest desire, did not deny his request, but said
that Philippus, the father of Marcia, ought also to be consulted.
Philippus, therefore, being sent for, came; and finding they were
well agreed, gave his daughter Marcia to Hortensius in the
presence of Cato, who himself also assisted at the marriage.
This was done at a later time, but since I was speaking of women,
I thought it well to mention it now.

Lentulus and the rest of the conspirators were put to death, but
Caesar, finding so much insinuated and charged against him in the
senate, betook himself to the people, and proceeded to stir up
the most corrupt and dissolute elements of the state to form a
party in his support. Cato, apprehensive of what might ensue,
persuaded the senate to win over the poor and unprovided-for
multitude, by a distribution of corn, the annual charge of which
amounted to twelve hundred and fifty talents. This act of
humanity and kindness unquestionably dissipated the present
danger. But Metellus, coming into his office of tribune, began
to hold tumultuous assemblies, and had prepared a decree, that
Pompey the Great should presently be called into Italy, with all
his forces, to preserve the city from the danger of Catiline's
conspiracy. This was the fair pretense; but the true design was,
to deliver all into the hands of Pompey, and give him an absolute
power. Upon this the senate was assembled, and Cato did not fall
sharply upon Metellus, as he often did, but urged his advice in
the most reasonable and moderate tone. At last he descended even
to entreaty, and extolled the house of Metellus, as having always
taken part with the nobility. At this Metellus grew the more
insolent, and despising Cato, as if he yielded and were afraid,
let himself proceed to the most audacious menaces, openly
threatening to do whatever he pleased in spite of the senate.
Upon this Cato changed his countenance, his voice, and his
language; and after many sharp expressions, boldly concluded,
that while he lived, Pompey should never come armed into the
city. The senate thought them both extravagant, and not well in
their safe senses; for the design of Metellus seemed to be mere
rage and frenzy, out of excess of mischief bringing all things to
ruin and confusion, and Cato's virtue looked like a kind of
ecstasy of contention in the cause of what was good and just.

But when the day came for the people to give their voices for the
passing this decree, and Metellus beforehand occupied the forum
with armed men, strangers, gladiators, and slaves, those that in
hopes of change followed Pompey, were known to be no small part
of the people, and besides, they had great assistance from
Caesar, who was then praetor; and though the best and chiefest
men of the city were no less offended at these proceedings than
Cato, they seemed rather likely to suffer with him, than able to
assist him. In the meantime Cato's whole family were in extreme
fear and apprehension for him; some of his friends neither ate
nor slept all the night, passing the whole time in debating and
perplexity; his wife and sisters also bewailed and lamented him.
But he himself, void of all fear, and full of assurance,
comforted and encouraged them by his own words and conversation
with them. After supper he went to rest at his usual hour, and
was the next day waked out of a profound sleep by Minucius
Thermus, one of his colleagues. So soon as he was up, they two
went together into the forum, accompanied by very few, but met by
a great many, who bade them have a care of themselves. Cato,
therefore, when he saw the temple of Castor and Pollux
encompassed with armed men, and the steps guarded by gladiators,
and at the top Metellus and Caesar seated together, turning to
his friends, "Behold," said he, "this audacious coward, who has
levied a regiment of soldiers against one unarmed naked man;"
and so he went on with Thermus. Those who kept the passages,
gave way to these two only, and would not let anybody else pass.
Yet Cato taking Munatius by the hand, with much difficulty pulled
him through along with him. Then going directly to Metellus and
Caesar, he sat himself down between them, to prevent their
talking to one another, at which they were both amazed and
confounded. And those of the honest party, observing the
countenance, and admiring the high spirit and boldness of Cato,
went nearer, and cried out to him to have courage, exhorting also
one another to stand together, and not betray their liberty, nor
the defender of it.

Then the clerk took out the bill, but Cato forbade him to read
it, whereupon Metellus took it, and would have read it himself,
but Cato snatched away the book. Yet Metellus having the decree
by heart, began to recite it without book; but Thermus put his
hand to his mouth, and stopped his speech. Metellus seeing them
fully bent to withstand him, and the people cowed, and inclining
to the better side, sent to his house for armed men. And on
their rushing in with great noise and terror, all the rest
dispersed and ran away, except Cato, who alone stood still, while
the other party threw sticks and stones at him from above, until
Murena, whom he had formerly accused, came up to protect him, and
holding his gown before him, cried out to them to leave off
throwing; and, in fine, persuading and pulling him along, he
forced him into the temple of Castor and Pollux. Metellus now
seeing the place clear, and all the adverse party fled out of the
forum, thought he might easily carry his point; so he commanded
the soldiers to retire, and recommencing in an orderly manner,
began to proceed to passing the decree. But the other side
having recovered themselves, returned very boldly, and with loud
shouting, insomuch that Metellus's adherents were seized with a
panic, supposing them to be coming with a reinforcement of armed
men, and fled every one out of the place. They being thus
dispersed, Cato came in again, and confirmed the courage, and
commended the resolution of the people; so that now the majority
were, by all means, for deposing Metellus from his office. The
senate also being assembled, gave orders once more for supporting
Cato, and resisting the motion, as of a nature to excite sedition
and perhaps civil war in the city.

But Metellus continued still very bold and resolute; and seeing
his party stood greatly in fear of Cato, whom they looked upon as
invincible, he hurried out of the senate into the forum, and
assembled the people, to whom he made a bitter and invidious
speech against Cato, crying out, he was forced to fly from his
tyranny, and this conspiracy against Pompey; that the city would
soon repent their having dishonored so great a man. And from
hence he started to go to Asia, with the intention, as would be
supposed, of laying before Pompey all the injuries that were done
him. Cato was highly extolled for having delivered the state
from this dangerous tribuneship, and having in some measure
defeated, in the person of Metellus, the power of Pompey; but he
was yet more commended when, upon the senate proceeding to
disgrace Metellus and depose him from his office, he altogether
opposed and at length diverted the design. The common people
admired his moderation and humanity, in not trampling wantonly on
an enemy whom he had overthrown, and wiser men acknowledged his
prudence and policy, in not exasperating Pompey.

Lucullus soon after returned from the war in Asia, the finishing
of which, and thereby the glory of the whole, was thus, in all
appearance, taken out of his hands by Pompey. And he was also
not far from losing his triumph, for Caius Memmius traduced him
to the people, and threatened to accuse him; rather, however, out
of love to Pompey, than for any particular enmity to him. But
Cato, being allied to Lucullus, who had married his sister
Servilia, and also thinking it a great injustice, opposed
Memmius, thereby exposing himself to much slander and
misrepresentation, insomuch that they would have turned him out
of his office, pretending that he used his power tyrannically.
Yet at length Cato so far prevailed against Memmius, that he was
forced to let fall the accusations, and abandon the contest. And
Lucullus having thus obtained his triumph, yet more sedulously
cultivated Cato's friendship, which he looked upon as a great
guard and defense for him against Pompey's power.

And now Pompey also returning with glory from the war, and
confiding in the good-will of the people, shown in their splendid
reception of him, thought he should be denied nothing, and sent
therefore to the senate to put off the assembly for the election
of consuls, till he could be present to assist Piso, who stood
for that office. To this most of the senators were disposed to
yield; Cato, only, not so much thinking that this delay would be
of great importance, but, desiring to cut down at once Pompey's
high expectations and designs, withstood his request, and so
overruled the senate, that it was carried against him. And this
not a little disturbed Pompey, who found he should very often
fail in his projects, unless he could bring over Cato to his
interest. He sent, therefore, for Munatius, his friend; and Cato
having two nieces that were marriageable, he offered to marry the
eldest himself, and take the youngest for his son. Some say they
were not his nieces, but his daughters. Munatius proposed the
matter to Cato, in presence of his wife and sisters; the women
were full of joy at the prospect of an alliance with so great and
important a person. But Cato, without delay or balancing,
forming his decision at once, answered, "Go, Munatius, go and
tell Pompey, that Cato is not assailable on the side of the
women's chamber; I am grateful indeed for the intended kindness,
and so long as his actions are upright, I promise him a
friendship more sure than any marriage alliance, but I will not
give hostages to Pompey's glory, against my country's safety."
This answer was very much against the wishes of the women, and to
all his friends it seemed somewhat harsh and haughty. But
afterwards, when Pompey, endeavoring to get the consulship for
one of his friends, gave pay to the people for their votes, and
the bribery was notorious, the money being counted out in
Pompey's own gardens, Cato then said to the women, they must
necessarily have been concerned in the contamination of these
misdeeds of Pompey, if they had been allied to his family; and
they acknowledged that he did best in refusing it. Yet if we may
judge by the event, Cato was much to blame in rejecting that
alliance, which thereby fell to Caesar. And then that match was
made, which, uniting his and Pompey's power, had well-nigh ruined
the Roman empire, and did destroy the commonwealth. Nothing of
which perhaps had come to pass, but that Cato was too
apprehensive of Pompey's least faults, and did not consider how
he forced him into conferring on another man the opportunity of
committing the greatest.

These things, however, were yet to come. Lucullus, meantime, and
Pompey, had a great dispute concerning their orders and
arrangements in Pontus, each endeavoring that his own ordinances
might stand. Cato took part with Lucullus, who was manifestly
suffering wrong; and Pompey, finding himself the weaker in the
senate, had recourse to the people, and to gain votes, he
proposed a law for dividing the lands among the soldiers. Cato
opposing him in this also, made the bill be rejected. Upon this
he joined himself with Clodius, at that time the most violent of
all the demagogues; and entered also into friendship with Caesar,
upon an occasion of which also Cato was the cause. For Caesar
returning from his government in Spain, at the same time sued to
be chosen consul, and yet desired not to lose his triumph. Now
the law requiring that those who stood for any office should be
present, and yet that whoever expected a triumph should continue
without the walls, Caesar requested the senate, that his friends
might be permitted to canvass for him in his absence. Many of
the senators were willing to consent to it, but Cato opposed it,
and perceiving them inclined to favor Caesar, spent the whole day
in speaking, and so prevented the senate from coming to any
conclusion. Caesar, therefore, resolving to let fall his
pretensions to the triumph, came into the town, and immediately
made a friendship with Pompey, and stood for the consulship. And
so soon as he was declared consul elect, he married his daughter
Julia to Pompey. And having thus combined themselves together
against the commonwealth, the one proposed laws for dividing the
lands among the poor people, and the other was present to support
the proposals Lucullus, Cicero, and their friends, joined with
Bibulus, the other consul, to hinder their passing, and, foremost
of them all, Cato, who already looked upon the friendship and
alliance of Pompey and Caesar as very dangerous, and declared he
did not so much dislike the advantage the people should get by
this division of the lands, as he feared the reward these men
would gain, by thus courting and cozening the people. And in
this he gained over the senate to his opinion, as likewise many
who were not senators, who were offended at Caesar's ill conduct,
that he, in the office of consul, should thus basely and
dishonorably flatter the people; practicing, to win their favor,
the same means that were wont to be used only by the most rash
and rebellious tribunes. Caesar, therefore, and his party,
fearing they should not carry it by fair dealing, fell to open
force. First a basket of dung was thrown upon Bibulus as he was
going to the forum; then they set upon his lictors and broke
their rods; at length several darts were thrown, and many men
wounded; so that all that were against those laws, fled out of
the forum, the rest with what haste they could, and Cato, last of
all, walking out slowly, often turning back and calling down
vengeance upon them.

Thus the other party not only carried their point of dividing the
lands, but also ordained, that all the senate should swear to
confirm this law, and to defend it against whoever should attempt
to alter it, indicting great penalties on those that should
refuse the oath. All the senators seeing the necessity they were
in, took the oath, remembering the example of Metellus in old
time, who refusing to swear upon the like occasion, was forced to
leave Italy. As for Cato, his wife and children with tears
besought him, his friends and familiars persuaded and entreated
him, to yield and take the oath; but he that principally
prevailed with him was Cicero, the orator, who urged upon him
that it was perhaps not even right in itself, that a private man
should oppose what the public had decreed; that the thing being
already past altering, it were folly and madness to throw himself
into danger, without the chance of doing his country any good; it
would be the greatest of all evils, to embrace, as it were, the
opportunity to abandon the commonwealth, for whose sake he did
everything, and to let it fall into the hands of those who
designed nothing but its ruin, as if he were glad to be saved
from the trouble of defending it. "For," said he, "though Cato
have no need of Rome, yet Rome has need of Cato, and so likewise
have all his friends." Of whom Cicero professed he himself was
the chief, being; at that time aimed at by Clodius, who openly
threatened to fall upon him, as soon as ever he should get to be
tribune. Thus Cato, they say, moved by the entreaties and the
arguments of his friends, went unwillingly to take the oath,
which he did the last of all, except only Favonius, one of his
intimate acquaintance.

Caesar, exalted with this success, proposed another law, for
dividing almost all the country of Campania among the poor and
needy citizens. Nobody durst speak against it but Cato, whom
Caesar therefore pulled from the rostra, and dragged to prison:
yet Cato did not even thus remit his freedom of speech, but as
he went along, continued to speak against the law, and advised
the people to put down all legislators who proposed the like.
The senate and the best of the citizens followed him with sad and
dejected looks, showing their grief and indignation by their
silence, so that Caesar could not be ignorant how much they were
offended; but for contention's sake, he still persisted,
expecting Cato should either supplicate him, or make an appeal.
But when he saw that he did not so much as think of doing either,
ashamed of what he was doing and of what people thought of it, he
himself privately bade one of the tribunes interpose and procure
his release. However, having won the multitude by these laws and
gratifications, they decreed that Caesar should have the
government of Illyricum, and all Gaul, with an army of four
legions, for the space of five years, though Cato still cried out
they were, by their own vote, placing a tyrant in their citadel.
Publius Clodius, who illegally of a patrician became a plebeian,
was declared tribune of the people, as he had promised to do all
things according to their pleasure, on condition he might banish
Cicero. And for consuls, they set up Calpurnius Piso, the father
of Caesar's wife, and Aulus Gabinius, one of Pompey's creatures,
as they tell us, who best knew his life and manners.

Yet when they had thus firmly established all things, having
mastered one part of the city by favor, and the other by fear,
they themselves were still afraid of Cato, and remembered with
vexation what pains and trouble their success over him had cost
them, and indeed what shame and disgrace, when at last they were
driven to use violence to him. This made Clodius despair of
driving Cicero out of Italy while Cato stayed at home.
Therefore, having first laid his design, as soon as he came into
his office, he sent for Cato, and told him, that he looked upon
him as the most incorrupt of all the Romans, and was ready to
show he did so. "For whereas," said he, "many have applied to be
sent to Cyprus on the commission in the case of Ptolemy, and have
solicited to have the appointment, I think you alone are
deserving of it, and I desire to give you the favor of the
appointment." Cato at once cried out, it was a mere design upon
him, and no favor, but an injury. Then Clodius proudly and
fiercely answered, "If you will not take it as a kindness, you
shall go, though never so unwillingly;" and immediately going
into the assembly of the people, he made them pass a decree, that
Cato should be sent to Cyprus. But they ordered him neither
ship, nor soldier, nor any attendant, except two secretaries; one
of whom was a thief and a rascal, and the other a retainer to
Clodius. Besides, as if Cyprus and Ptolemy were not work
sufficient, he was ordered also to restore the refugees of
Byzantium. For Clodius was resolved to keep him far enough off,
whilst himself continued tribune.

Cato being in this necessity of going away, advised Cicero, who
was next to be set upon, to make no resistance, lest he should
throw the state into civil war and confusion, but to give way to
the times, and thus become once more the preserver of his
country. He himself sent forward Canidius, one of his friends,
to Cyprus, to persuade Ptolemy to yield, without being forced;
which if he did, he should want neither riches nor honor, for the
Romans would give him the priesthood of the goddess at Paphos.
He himself stayed at Rhodes, making some preparations, and
expecting an answer from Cyprus. In the meantime, Ptolemy, king
of Egypt, who had left Alexandria, upon some quarrel between him
and his subjects, and was sailing for Rome, in hopes that Pompey
and Caesar would send troops to restore him, in his way thither
desired to see Cato, to whom he sent, supposing he would come to
him. Cato had taken purging medicine at the time when the
messenger came, and made answer, that Ptolemy had better come to
him, if he thought fit. And when he came, he neither went
forward to meet him, nor so much as rose up to him, but saluting
him as an ordinary person, bade him sit down. This at once threw
Ptolemy into some confusion, who was surprised to see such stern
and haughty manners in one who made so plain and unpretending an
appearance; but afterwards, when he began to talk about his
affairs, he was no less astonished at the wisdom and freedom of
his discourse. For Cato blamed his conduct, and pointed out to
him what honor and happiness he was abandoning, and what
humiliations and troubles he would run himself into; what bribery
he must resort to and what cupidity he would have to satisfy,
when he came to the leading men at Rome, whom all Egypt turned
into silver would scarcely content. He therefore advised him to
return home, and be reconciled to his subjects, offering to go
along with him, and assist him in composing the differences. And
by this language Ptolemy being brought to himself, as it might be
out of a fit of madness or delirium and discerning the truth and
wisdom of what Cato said, resolved to follow his advice; but he
was again over-persuaded by his friends to the contrary, and so,
according to his first design, went to Rome. When he came there,
and was forced to wait at the gate of one of the magistrates, he
began to lament his folly, in having rejected, rather, as it
seemed to him, the oracle of a god, than the advice merely of a
good and wise man.

In the meantime, the other Ptolemy, in Cyprus, very luckily for
Cato, poisoned himself. It was reported he had left great
riches; therefore Cato designing to go first to Byzantium, sent
his nephew Brutus to Cyprus, as he would not wholly trust
Canidius. Then, having reconciled the refugees and the people of
Byzantium, he left the city in peace and quietness; and so sailed
to Cyprus, where he found a royal treasure of plate, tables,
precious stones and purple, all which was to be turned into ready
money. And being determined to do everything with the greatest
exactness, and to raise the price of everything to the utmost, to
this end he was always present at selling the things, and went
carefully into all the accounts. Nor would he trust to the usual
customs of the market, but looked doubtfully upon all alike, the
officers, criers, purchasers, and even his own friends; and so in
fine he himself talked with the buyers, and urged them to bid
high, and conducted in this manner the greatest part of the

This mistrustfulness offended others of his friends, and, in
particular, Munatius, the most intimate of them all, became
almost irreconcilable. And this afforded Caesar the subject of
his severest censures in the book he wrote against Cato. Yet
Munatius himself relates, that the quarrel was not so much
occasioned by Cato's mistrust, as by his neglect of him, and by
his own jealousy of Canidius. For Munatius also wrote a book
concerning Cato, which is the chief authority followed by
Thrasea. Munatius says, that coming to Cyprus after the other,
and having a very poor lodging provided for him, he went to
Cato's house, but was not admitted, because he was engaged in
private with Canidius; of which he afterwards complained in very
gentle terms to Cato, but received a very harsh answer, that too
much love, according to Theophrastus, often causes hatred; "and
you," he said, "because you bear me much love, think you receive
too little honor, and presently grow angry. I employ Canidius on
account of his industry and his fidelity; he has been with me
from the first, and I have found him to be trusted." These
things were said in private between them two; but Cato afterwards
told Canidius what had passed; on being informed of which,
Munatius would no more go to sup with him, and when he was
invited to give his counsel, refused to come. Then Cato
threatened to seize his goods, as was the custom in the case of
those who were disobedient; but Munatius not regarding his
threats, returned to Rome, and continued a long time thus
discontented. But afterwards, when Cato was come back also,
Marcia, who as yet lived with him, contrived to have them both
invited to sup together at the house of one Barca; Cato came in
last of all, when the rest were laid down, and asked, where he
should be. Barca answered him, where he pleased; then looking
about, he said, he would be near Munatius, and went and placed
himself next to him; yet he showed him no other mark of kindness,
all the time they were at table together. But another time, at
the entreaty of Marcia, Cato wrote to Munatius, that he desired
to speak with him. Munatius went to his house in the morning,
and was kept by Marcia till all the company was gone; then Cato
came, threw both his arms about him, and embraced him very
kindly, and they were reconciled. I have the more fully related
this passage, for that I think the manners and tempers of men are
more clearly discovered by things of this nature, than by great
and conspicuous actions.

Cato got together little less than seven thousand talents of
silver; but apprehensive of what might happen in so long a voyage
by sea, he provided a great many coffers, that held two talents
and five hundred drachmas apiece; to each of these he fastened a
long rope, and to the other end of the rope a piece of cork, so
that if the ship should miscarry, it might be discovered
thereabout the chests lay under water. Thus all the money,
except a very little, was safely transported. But he had made
two books, in which all the accounts of his commission were
carefully written out, and neither of these was preserved. For
his freedman Philargyrus, who had the charge of one of them,
setting sail from Cenchreae was lost, together with the ship and
all her freight. And the other Cato himself kept safe, till he
came to Corcyra, but there he set up his tent in the
market-place, and the sailors being very cold in the night, made
a great many fires, some of which caught the tents, so that they
were burnt, and the book lost. And though he had brought with
him several of Ptolemy's stewards, who could testify to his
integrity, and stop the mouths of enemies and false accusers, yet
the loss annoyed him, and he was vexed with himself about the
matter, as he had designed them not so much for a proof of his
own fidelity, as for a pattern of exactness to others.

The news did not fail to reach Rome, that he was coming up the
river. All the magistrates, the priests, and the whole senate,
with great part of the people, went out to meet him; both the
banks of the Tiber were covered with people; so that his entrance
was in solemnity and honor not inferior to a triumph. But it was
thought somewhat strange, and looked like willfulness and pride,
that when the consuls and praetors appeared, he did not
disembark, nor stay to salute them, but rowed up the stream in a
royal galley of six banks of oars, and stopped not till he
brought his vessels to the dock. However, when the money was
carried through the streets, the people much wondered at the vast
quantity of it, and the senate being assembled, decreed him in
honorable terms an extraordinary praetorship, and also the
privilege of appearing at the public spectacles in a robe faced
with purple. Cato declined all these honors, but declaring what
diligence and fidelity he had found in Nicias, the steward of
Ptolemy, he requested the senate to give him his freedom.

Philippus, the father of Marcia, was that year consul, and the
authority and power of the office rested in a manner in Cato; for
the other consul paid him no less regard for his virtue's sake,
than Philippus did on account of the connection between them.
And Cicero now being returned from his banishment, into which he
was driven by Clodius, and having again obtained great credit
among the people, went, in the absence of Clodius, and by force
took away the records of his tribuneship, which had been laid up
in the capitol. Hereupon the senate was assembled, and Clodius
complained of Cicero, who answered, that Clodius was never
legally tribune, and therefore whatever he had done, was void,
and of no authority. But Cato interrupted him while he spoke,
and at last standing up said, that indeed he in no way justified
or approved of Clodius's proceedings; but if they questioned the
validity of what had been done in his tribuneship, they might
also question what himself had done at Cyprus, for the expedition
was unlawful, if he that sent him had no lawful authority: for
himself, he thought Clodius wee legally made tribune, who, by
permission of the law, was from a patrician adopted into a
plebeian family; if he had done ill in his office, he ought to be
called to account for it; but the authority of the magistracy
ought not to suffer for the faults of the magistrate. Cicero
took this ill, and for a long time discontinued his friendship
with Cato; but they were afterwards reconciled.

Pompey and Crassus, by agreement with Caesar, who crossed the
Alps to see them, had formed a design, that they two should stand
to be chosen consuls a second time, and when they should be in
their office, they would continue to Caesar his government for
five years more, and take to themselves the greatest provinces,
with armies and money to maintain them. This seemed a plain
conspiracy to subvert the constitution and parcel out the empire.
Several men of high character had intended to stand to be consuls
that year, but upon the appearance of these great competitors,
they all desisted, except only Lucius Domitius, who had married
Porcia, the sister of Cato, and was by him persuaded to stand it
out, and not abandon such an undertaking, which, he said, was not
merely to gain the consulship, but to save the liberty of Rome.
In the meantime, it was the common topic among the more prudent
part of the citizens, that they ought not to suffer the power of
Pompey and Crassus to be united, which would then be carried
beyond all bounds, and become dangerous to the state; that
therefore one of them must be denied. For these reasons they
took part with Domitius, whom they exhorted and encouraged to go
on, assuring him, that many who feared openly to appear for him,
would privately assist him. Pompey's party fearing this, laid
wait for Domitius, and set upon him as he was going before
daylight, with torches, into the Field. First he that bore the
light next before Domitius, was knocked down and killed; then
several others being wounded, all the rest fled, except Cato and
Domitius, whom Cato held, though himself were wounded in the arm,
and crying out, conjured the others to stay, and not while they
had any breath, forsake the defense of their liberty against
those tyrants, who plainly showed with what moderation they were
likely to use the power, which they endeavored to gain by such
violence. But at length Domitius also, no longer willing to face
the danger, fled to his own house, and so Pompey and Crassus were
declared consuls.

Nevertheless, Cato would not give over, but resolved to stand
himself to be praetor that year, which he thought would be some
help to him in his design of opposing them; that he might not act
as a private man, when he was to contend with public magistrates.
Pompey and Crassus apprehended this; and fearing that the office
of praetor in the person of Cato might be equal in authority to
that of consul, they assembled the senate unexpectedly, without
giving any notice to a great many of the senators, and made an
order, that those who were chosen praetors, should immediately
enter upon their office, without attending the usual time, in
which, according to law, they might be accused, if they had
corrupted the people with gifts. When by this order they had got
leave to bribe freely, without being called to account, they set
up their own friends and dependents to stand for the praetorship,
giving money, and watching the people as they voted. Yet the
virtue and reputation of Cato was like to triumph over all these
stratagems; for the people generally felt it to be shameful that
a price should be paid for the rejection of Cato, who ought
rather to be paid himself to take upon him the office. So he
carried it by the voices of the first tribe. Hereupon Pompey
immediately framed a lie, crying out, it thundered; and straight
broke up the assembly; for the Romans religiously observed this
as a bad omen, and never concluded any matter after it had
thundered. Before the next time, they had distributed larger
bribes, and driving also the best men out of the Field, by these
foul means they procured Vatinius to be chosen praetor, instead
of Cato. It is said, that those who had thus corruptly and
dishonestly given their voices, at once, when it was done,
hurried, as if it were in flight, out of the Field. The others
staying together, and exclaiming at the event, one of the
tribunes continued the assembly, and Cato standing up, as it were
by inspiration, foretold all the miseries that afterward befell
the state, exhorted them to beware of Pompey and Crassus, who
were guilty of such things, and had laid such designs, that they
might well fear to have Cato praetor. When he had ended this
speech, he was followed to his house by a greater number of
people than were all the new praetors elect put together.

Caius Trebonius now proposed the law for allotting provinces to
the consuls, one of whom was to have Spain and Africa, the other
Egypt and Syria, with full power of making war, and carrying it
on both by sea and land, as they should think fit. When this was
proposed, all others despaired of putting any stop to it, and
neither did nor said anything against it. But Cato, before the
voting began, went up into the place of speaking, and desiring to
be heard, was with much difficulty allowed two hours to speak.
Having spent that time in informing them and reasoning with them,
and in foretelling to them much that was to come, he was not
suffered to speak any longer; but as he was going on, a sergeant
came and pulled him down; yet when he was down, he still
continued speaking in a loud voice, and finding many to listen
to him, and join in his indignation. Then the sergeant took him,
and forced him out of the forum; but as soon as he got loose, he
returned again to the place of speaking, crying out to the people
to stand by him. When he had done thus several times, Trebonius
grew very angry, and commanded him to be carried to prison; but
the multitude followed him, and listened to the speech which he
made to them, as he went along, so that Trebonius began to be
afraid again, and ordered him to be released. Thus that day was
expended, and the business staved off by Cato. But in the days
succeeding, many of the citizens being overawed by fears and
threats, and others won by gifts and favors, Aquillius, one of
the tribunes, they kept by an armed force within the
senate-house; Cato, who cried, it thundered, they drove out of
the forum; many were wounded, and some slain; and at length by
open force they passed the law. At this many were so incensed,
that they got together, and were going to throw down the statues
of Pompey; but Cato went, and diverted them from that design.

Again, another law was proposed, concerning the provinces and
legions for Caesar. Upon this occasion Cato did not apply
himself to the people, but appealed to Pompey himself; and told
him, he did not consider now, that he was setting Caesar upon his
own shoulders, who would shortly grow too weighty for him, and at
length, not able to lay down the burden, nor yet to bear it any
longer, he would precipitate both it and himself with it upon the
commonwealth; and then he would remember Cato's advice, which was
no less advantageous to him, than just and honest in itself.
Thus was Pompey often warned, but still disregarded and slighted
it, never mistrusting Caesar's change, and always confiding in
his own power and good fortune.

Cato was made praetor the following year; but, it seems, he did
not do more honor and credit to the office by his signal
integrity, than he disgraced and diminished it by his strange
behavior. For he would often come to the court without his
shoes, and sit upon the bench without any under garment, and in
this attire would give judgment in capital causes, and upon
persons of the highest rank. It is said, also, he used to drink
wine after his morning meal, and then transact the business of
his office; but this was wrongfully reported of him. The people
were at that time extremely corrupted by the gifts of those who
sought offices, and most made a constant trade of selling their
voices. Cato was eager utterly to root this corruption out of
the commonwealth; he therefore persuaded the senate to make an
order, that those who were chosen into any office, though nobody
should accuse them, should be obliged to come into the court, and
give account upon oath of their proceedings in their election.
This was extremely obnoxious to those who stood for the offices,
and yet more to those vast numbers who took the bribes. Insomuch
that one morning, as Cato was going to the tribunal, a great
multitude of people flocked together, and with loud cries and
maledictions reviled him, and threw stones at him. Those that
were about the tribunal presently fled, and Cato himself being
forced thence, and jostled about in the throng, very narrowly
escaped the stones that were thrown at him, and with much
difficulty got hold of the Rostra, where, standing up with a bold
and undaunted countenance, he at once mastered the tumult, and
silenced the clamor; and addressing them in fit terms for the
occasion, was heard with great attention, and perfectly quelled
the sedition. Afterwards, on the senate commending him for this,
"But I," said he, "do not commend you for abandoning your praetor
in danger, and bringing him no assistance."

In the meantime, the candidates were in great perplexity; for
every one dreaded to give money himself, and yet feared lest his
competitors should. At length they agreed to lay down one
hundred and twenty-five thousand drachmas apiece, and then all of
them to canvass fairly and honestly, on condition, that if any
one was found to make use of bribery, he should forfeit the
money. Being thus agreed, they chose Cato to keep the stakes,
and arbitrate the matter; to him they brought the sum concluded
on, and before him subscribed the agreement. The money he did
not choose to have paid for them, but took their securities who
stood bound for them. Upon the day of election, he placed
himself by the tribune who took the votes, and very watchfully
observing all that passed, he discovered one who had broken the
agreement, and immediately ordered him to pay his money to the
rest. They, however, commending his justice highly, remitted the
penalty, as thinking the discovery a sufficient punishment. It
raised, however, as much envy against Cato as it gained him
reputation, and many were offended at his thus taking upon
himself the whole authority of the senate, the courts of
judicature, and the magistracies. For there is no virtue, the
honor and credit for which procures a man more odium than that of
justice; and this, because more than any other, it acquires a man
power and authority among the common people. For they only honor
the valiant and admire the wise, while in addition they also love
just men, and put entire trust and confidence in them. They fear
the bold man, and mistrust the clever man, and moreover think
them rather beholding; to their natural complexion, than to any
goodness of their will, for these excellences; they look upon
valor as a certain natural strength of the mind, and wisdom as a
constitutional acuteness; whereas a man has it in his power to be
just, if he have but the will to be so, and therefore injustice
is thought the most dishonorable, because it is least excusable.

Cato upon this account was opposed by all the great men, who
thought themselves reproved by his virtue. Pompey especially
looked upon the increase of Cato's credit, as the ruin of his own
power, and therefore continually set up men to rail against him.
Among these was the seditious Clodius, now again united to
Pompey; who declared openly, that Cato had conveyed away a great
deal of the treasure that was found in Cyprus; and that he hated
Pompey, only because he refused to marry his daughter. Cato
answered, that although they had allowed him neither horse nor
man, he had brought more treasure from Cyprus alone, than Pompey
had, after so many wars and triumphs, from the ransacked world;
that he never sought the alliance of Pompey; not that he thought
him unworthy of being related to him, but because he differed so
much from him, in things that concerned the commonwealth. "For,"
said he, "I laid down the province that was given me, when I went
out of my praetorship; Pompey, on the contrary, retains many
provinces for himself; and he bestows many on others; and but now
he sent Caesar a force of six thousand men into Gaul, which
Caesar never asked the people for, nor had Pompey obtained their
consent to give. Men, and horse, and arms in any number, are
become the mutual gifts of private men to one another; and Pompey
keeping the titles of commander and general, hands over the
armies and provinces to others to govern, while he himself stays
at home to preside at the contests of the canvass, and to stir up
tumults at elections; out of the anarchy he thus creates amongst
us, seeking, we see well enough, a monarchy for himself." Thus
he retorted on Pompey.

He had an intimate friend and admirer of the name of Marcus
Favonius, much the same to Cato as we are told Apollodorus, the
Phalerian, was in old time to Socrates, whose words used to throw
him into perfect transports and ecstasies, getting into his head,
like strong wine, and intoxicating him to a sort of frenzy. This
Favonius stood to be chosen aedile, and was like to lose it; but
Cato, who was there to assist him, observed that all the votes
were written in one hand, and discovering the cheat, appealed to
the tribunes, who stopped the election. Favonius was afterward
chosen aedile, and Cato, who assisted him in all things that
belonged to his office, also undertook the care of the spectacles
that were exhibited in the theater; giving the actors crowns, not
of gold, but of wild olive, such as used to be given at the
Olympic games; and instead of the magnificent presents that were
usually made, he offered to the Greeks beet root, lettuces,
radishes, and pears; and to the Romans, earthen pots of wine,
pork, figs, cucumbers, and little fagots of wood. Some ridiculed
Cato for his economy, others looked with respect on this gentle
relaxation of his usual rigor and austerity. In fine, Favonius
himself mingled with the crowd, and sitting among the spectators,
clapped and applauded Cato, bade him bestow rewards on those who
did well, and called on the people to pay their honors to him, as
for himself he had placed his whole authority in Cato's hands.
At the same time, Curio, the colleague of Favonius, gave very
magnificent entertainments in another theater; but the people
left his, and went to those of Favonius, which they much
applauded, and joined heartily in the diversion, seeing him act
the private man, and Cato the master of the shows, who, in fact,
did all this in derision of the great expenses that others
incurred, and to teach them that in amusements men ought to
seek amusement only, and the display of a decent cheerfulness,
not great preparations and costly magnificence, demanding the
expenditure of endless care and trouble about things of little

After this Scipio, Hypsaeus, and Milo, stood to be consuls, and
that not only with the usual and now recognized disorders of
bribery and corruption, but with arms and slaughter, and every
appearance of carrying their audacity and desperation to the
length of actual civil war. Whereupon it was proposed, that
Pompey might be empowered to preside over that election. This
Cato at first opposed, saying that the laws ought not to seek
protection from Pompey, but Pompey from the laws. Yet the
confusion lasting a long time, the forum continually, as it were,
besieged with three armies, and no possibility appearing of a
stop being put to these disorders, Cato at length agreed, that
rather than fall into the last extremity, the senate should
freely confer all on Pompey, since it was necessary to make use
of a lesser illegality as a remedy against the greatest of all,
and better to set up a monarchy themselves, than to suffer a
sedition to continue, that must certainly end in one. Bibulus,
therefore, a friend of Cato's, moved the senate to create Pompey
sole consul; for that either he would reestablish the lawful
government, or they should serve under the best master. Cato
stood up, and, contrary to all expectation, seconded this motion,
concluding, that any government was better than mere confusion,
and that he did not question but Pompey would deal honorably, and
take care of the commonwealth, thus committed to his charge.
Pompey being hereupon declared consul, invited Cato to see him in
the suburbs. When he came, he saluted and embraced him very
kindly, acknowledged the favor he had done him, and desired his
counsel and assistance, in the management of this office. Cato
made answer, that what he had spoken on any former occasion was
not out of hate to Pompey, nor what he had now done, out of love
to him, but all for the good of the commonwealth; that in
private, if he asked him, he would freely give his advice; and
in public, though he asked him not, he would always speak his
opinion. And he did accordingly. For first, when Pompey made
severe laws for punishing and laying great fines on those who had
corrupted the people with gifts, Cato advised him to let alone
what was already passed, and to provide for the future; for if he
should look up past misdemeanors, it would be difficult to know
where to stop; and if he would ordain new penalties, it would be
unreasonable to punish men by a law, which at that time they had
not the opportunity of breaking. Afterwards, when many
considerable men, and some of Pompey's own relations were
accused, and he grew remiss, and disinclined to the prosecution,
Cato sharply reproved him, and urged him to proceed. Pompey had
made a law, also, to forbid the custom of making commendatory
orations in behalf of those that were accused; yet he himself
wrote one for Munatius Plancus, and sent it while the cause was
pleading; upon which Cato, who was sitting as one of the judges,
stopped his ears with his hands, and would not hear it read.
Whereupon Plancus, before sentence was given, excepted against
him, but was condemned notwithstanding. And indeed Cato was a
great trouble and perplexity to almost all that were accused of
anything, as they feared to have him one of their judges, yet did
not dare to demand his exclusion. And many had been condemned,
because by refusing him, they seemed to show that they could not
trust their own innocence; and it was a reproach thrown in the
teeth of some by their enemies, that they had not accepted Cato
for their judge.

In the meanwhile, Caesar kept close with his forces in Gaul, and
continued in arms; and at the same time employed his gifts, his
riches, and his friends above all things, to increase his power
in the city. And now Cato's old admonitions began to rouse
Pompey out of the negligent security in which he lay, into a sort
of imagination of danger at hand; but seeing him slow and
unwilling, and timorous to undertake any measures of prevention
against Caesar, Cato resolved himself to stand for the
consulship, and presently force Caesar either to lay down his
arms or discover his intentions. Both Cato's competitors were
persons of good position; Sulpicius, who was one, owed much to
Cato's credit and authority in the city, and it was thought
unhandsome and ungratefully done, to stand against him; not that
Cato himself took it ill, "For it is no wonder," said he, "if a
man will not yield to another, in that which he esteems the
greatest good." He had persuaded the senate to make an order,
that those who stood for offices, should themselves ask the
people for their votes, and not solicit by others, nor take
others about with them, to speak for them, in their canvass. And
this made the common people very hostile to him, if they were to
lose not only the means of receiving money, but also the
opportunity of obliging several persons, and so to become by his
means both poor and less regarded. Besides this, Cato himself
was by nature altogether unfit for the business of canvassing, as
he was more anxious to sustain the dignity of his life and
character, than to obtain the office. Thus by following his own
way of soliciting, and not suffering his friends to do those
things which take with the multitude, he was rejected, and lost
the consulship.

But whereas, upon such occasions, not only those who missed the
office, but even their friends and relations, used to feel
themselves disgraced and humiliated, and observed a sort of
mourning for several days after, Cato took it so unconcernedly,
that he anointed himself, and played at ball in the Field, and
after breakfasting, went into the forum, as he used to do,
without his shoes or his tunic, and there walked about with his
acquaintance. Cicero blames him, for that when affairs required
such a consul, he would not take more pains, nor condescend to
pay some court to the people, as also because that he afterwards
neglected to try again; whereas he had stood a second time to be
chosen praetor. Cato answered, that he lost the praetorship the
first time, not by the voice of the people, but by the violence
and corrupt dealing of his adversaries; whereas in the election
of consuls, there had been no foul play. So that he plainly saw
the people did not like his manners, which an honest man ought
not to alter for their sake; nor yet would a wise man attempt the
same thing again, while liable to the same prejudices.

Caesar was at this time engaged with many warlike nations, and
was subduing them at great hazards. Among the rest, it was
believed he had set upon the Germans, in a time of truce, and had
thus slain three hundred thousand of them. Upon which, some of
his friends moved the senate for a public thanksgiving; but Cato
declared, they ought to deliver Caesar into the hands of those
who had been thus unjustly treated, and so expiate the offense
and not bring a curse upon the city; "Yet we have reason," said
he, "to thank the gods, for that they spared the commonwealth,
and did not take vengeance upon the army, for the madness and
folly of the general." Hereupon Caesar wrote a letter to the
senate, which was read openly, and was full of reproachful
language and accusations against Cato; who, standing up, seemed
not at all concerned, and without any heat or passion, but in a
calm and, as it were, premeditated discourse, made all Caesar's
charges against him show like mere common scolding and abuse, and
in fact a sort of pleasantry and play on Caesar's part; and
proceeding then to go into all Caesar's political courses, and to
explain and reveal (as though he had been not his constant
opponent, but his fellow-conspirator,) his whole conduct and
purpose from its commencement, he concluded by telling the
senate, it was not the sons of the Britons or the Gauls they need
fear, but Caesar himself, if they were wise. And this discourse
so moved and awakened the senate, that Caesar's friends repented
they had had a letter read, which had given Cato an opportunity
of saying so many reasonable things, and such severe truths
against him. However, nothing was then decided upon; it was
merely said, that it would be well to send him a successor. Upon
that Caesar's friends required, that Pompey also should lay down
his arms, and resign his provinces, or else that Caesar might not
be obliged to either. Then Cato cried out, what he had foretold
was come to pass; now it was manifest he was using his forces to
compel their judgment, and was turning against the state those
armies he had got from it by imposture and trickery. But out of
the Senate-house Cato could do but little, as the people were
ever ready to magnify Caesar and the senate, though convinced by
Cato, were afraid of the people.

But when the news was brought that Caesar had seized Ariminum,
and was marching with his army toward Rome, then all men, even
Pompey, and the common people too, cast their eyes on Cato, who
had alone foreseen and first clearly declared Caesar's
intentions. He, therefore, told them, "If you had believed me,
or regarded my advice, you would not now have been reduced to
stand in fear of one man, or to put all your hopes in one alone."
Pompey acknowledged, that Cato indeed had spoken most like a
prophet, while he himself had acted too much like a friend. And
Cato advised the senate to put all into the hands of Pompey; "For
those who can raise up great evils," said he, "can best allay

Pompey, finding he had not sufficient forces, and that those he
could raise, were not very resolute, forsook the city. Cato,
resolving to follow Pompey into exile, sent his younger son to
Munatius, who was then in the country of Bruttium, and took his
eldest with him; but wanting somebody to keep his house and take
care of his daughters, he took Marcia again, who was now a rich
widow, Hortensius being dead, and having left her all his estate.
Caesar afterward made use of this action also, to reproach him
with covetousness, and a mercenary design in his marriage.
"For," said he, "if he had need of wife, why did he part with
her? And if he had not, why did he take her again? Unless he
gave her only as a bait to Hortensius; and lent her when she was
young, to have her again when she was rich." But in answer to
this, we might fairly apply the saying of Euripides.

To speak of mysteries -- the chief of these
Surely were cowardice in Hercules.

For it is much the same thing to reproach Hercules for cowardice,
and to accuse Cato of covetousness; though otherwise, whether he
did altogether right in this marriage, might be disputed. As
soon, however, as he had again taken Marcia, he committed his
house and his daughters to her, and himself followed Pompey. And
it is said, that from that day he never cut his hair, nor shaved
his beard, nor wore a garland, but was always full of sadness,
grief, and dejectedness for the calamities of his country, and
continually showed the same feeling to the last, whatever party
had misfortune or success.

The government of Sicily being allotted to him, he passed over to
Syracuse; where understanding that Asinius Pollio was arrived at
Messena, with forces from the enemy, Cato sent to him, to know
the reason of his coming thither: Pollio, on the other side,
called upon him to show reason for the present convulsions. And
being at the same time informed how Pompey had quite abandoned
Italy, and lay encamped at Dyrrhachium, he spoke of the
strangeness and incomprehensibility of the divine government of
things; "Pompey, when he did nothing wisely nor honestly, was
always successful; and now that he would preserve his country,
and defend her liberty, he is altogether unfortunate." As for
Asinius, he said, he could drive him out of Sicily, but as there
were larger forces coming to his assistance, he would not engage
the island in a war. He therefore advised the Syracusans to join
the conquering party and provide for their own safety; and so set
sail from thence.

When he came to Pompey, he uniformly gave advice to protract the
war; as he always hoped to compose matters, and was by no means
desirous that they should come to action; for the commonwealth
would suffer extremely, and be the certain cause of its own ruin,
whoever were conqueror by the sword. In like manner, he
persuaded Pompey and the council to ordain, that no city should
be sacked that was subject to the people of Rome; and that no
Roman should be killed, but in the heat of battle; and hereby he
got himself great honor, and brought over many to Pompey's party,
whom his moderation and humanity attracted. Afterwards being
sent into Asia, to assist those who were raising men, and
preparing ships in those parts, he took with him his sister
Servilia, and a little boy whom she had by Lucullus. For since
her widowhood, she had lived with her brother, and much recovered
her reputation, having put herself under his care, followed him
in his voyages, and complied with his severe way of living. Yet
Caesar did not fail to asperse him upon her account also.

Pompey's officers in Asia, it seems, had no great need of Cato;
but he brought over the people of Rhodes by his persuasions, and
leaving his sister Servilia and her child there, he returned to
Pompey, who had now collected very great forces both by sea and
land. And here Pompey, more than in any other act, betrayed his
intentions. For at first he designed to give Cato the command of
the navy, which consisted of no less than five hundred ships of
war, besides a vast number of light galleys, scouts, and open
boats. But presently bethinking himself, or put in mind by his
friends, that Cato's principal and only aim being to free his
country from all usurpation, if he were master of such great
forces, as soon as ever Caesar should be conquered, he would
certainly call upon Pompey, also, to lay down his arms, and be
subject to the laws, he changed his mind, and though he had
already mentioned it to Cato, nevertheless made Bibulus admiral.
Notwithstanding this, he had no reason to suppose that Cato's
zeal in the cause was in any way diminished. For before one of
the battles at Dyrrhachium, when Pompey himself, we are told,
made an address to the soldiers and bade the officers do the
like, the men listened to them but coldly, and with silence,
until Cato, last of all, came forward, and in the language of
philosophy, spoke to them, as the occasion required, concerning
liberty, manly virtue, death, and a good name; upon all which he
delivered himself with strong natural passion, and concluded with
calling in the aid of the gods, to whom he directed his speech,
as if they were present to behold them fight for their country.
And at this the army gave such a shout and showed such
excitement, that their officers led them on full of hope and
confidence to the danger. Caesar's party were routed, and put to
flight; but his presiding fortune used the advantage of Pompey's
cautiousness and diffidence, to render the victory incomplete.
But of this we have spoken in the life of Pompey. While,
however, all the rest rejoiced, and magnified their success, Cato
alone bewailed his country, and cursed that fatal ambition, which
made so many brave Romans murder one another.

After this, Pompey following Caesar into Thessaly, left at
Dyrrhachium a quantity of munitions, money, and stores, and many
of his domestics and relations; the charge of all which he gave
to Cato, with the command only of fifteen cohorts. For though he
trusted him much, yet he was afraid of him too, knowing full
well, that if he had bad success, Cato would be the last to
forsake him, but if he conquered, would never let him use his
victory at his pleasure. There were, likewise, many persons of
high rank that stayed with Cato at Dyrrhachium. When they heard
of the overthrow at Pharsalia, Cato resolved with himself, that
if Pompey were slain, he would conduct those that were with him
into Italy, and then retire as far from the tyranny of Caesar as
he could, and live in exile; but if Pompey were safe, he would
keep the army together for him. With this resolution he passed
over to Corcyra, where the navy lay, there he would have resigned
his command to Cicero, because he had been consul, and himself
only a praetor: but Cicero refused it, and was going for Italy.
At which Pompey's son being incensed, would rashly and in heat
have punished all those who were going away, and in the first
place have laid hands on Cicero; but Cato spoke with him in
private, and diverted him from that design. And thus he clearly
saved the life of Cicero, and rescued several others also from

Conjecturing that Pompey the Great was fled toward Egypt or
Africa, Cato resolved to hasten after him; and having taken all
his men aboard, he set sail; but first to those who were not
zealous to continue the contest, he gave free liberty to depart.
When they came to the coast of Africa, they met with Sextus,
Pompey's younger son, who told them of the death of his father in
Egypt; at which they were all exceedingly grieved, and declared
that after Pompey they would follow no other leader but Cato.
Out of compassion therefore to so many worthy persons, who had
given such testimonies of their fidelity, and whom he could not
for shame leave in a desert country, amidst so many difficulties,
he took upon him the command, and marched toward the city of
Cyrene, which presently received him, though not long before they
had shut their gates against Labienus. Here he was informed that
Scipio, Pompey's father-in-law, was received by king Juba, and
that Attius Varus, whom Pompey had made governor of Africa, had
joined them with his forces. Cato therefore resolved to march
toward them by land, it being now winter; and got together a
number of asses to carry water, and furnished himself likewise
with plenty of all other provision, and a number of carriages.
He took also with him some of those they call Psylli, who cure
the biting of serpents, by sucking out the poison with their
mouths, and have likewise certain charms, by which they stupefy
and lay asleep the serpents.

Thus they marched seven days together, Cato all the time going on
foot at the head of his men, and never making use of any horse or
chariot. Ever since the battle of Pharsalia, he used to sit at
table, and added this to his other ways of mourning, that he
never lay down but to sleep.

Having passed the winter in Africa, Cato drew out his army, which
amounted to little less than ten thousand. The affairs of Scipio
and Varus went very ill, by reason of their dissensions and
quarrels among themselves, and their submissions and flatteries
to king Juba, who was insupportable for his vanity, and the pride
he took in his strength and riches. The first time he came to a
conference with Cato, he had ordered his own seat to be placed in
the middle, between Scipio and Cato; which Cato observing, took
up his chair, and set himself on the other side of Scipio, to
whom he thus gave the honor of sitting in the middle, though he
were his enemy, and had formerly published some scandalous
writing against him. There are people who speak as if this were
quite an insignificant matter, and who nevertheless find fault
with Cato, because in Sicily, walking one day with Philostratus,
he gave him the middle place, to show his respect for philosophy.
However, he now succeeded both in humbling the pride of Juba, who
was treating Scipio and Varus much like a pair of satraps under
his orders, and also in reconciling them to each other. All the
troops desired him to be their leader; Scipio, likewise, and
Varus gave way to it, and offered him the command; but he said,
he would not break those laws, which he sought to defend, and he,
being, but propraetor, ought not to command in the presence of a
proconsul, (for Scipio had been created proconsul,) besides that
people took it as a good omen; to see a Scipio command in Africa,
and the very name inspired the soldiers with hopes of success.

Scipio, having taken upon him the command, presently resolved, at
the instigation of Juba, to put all the inhabitants of Utica to
the sword, and to raze the city, for having, as they professed,
taken part with Caesar. Cato would by no means suffer this; but
invoking the gods, exclaiming and protesting against it in the
council of war, he with much difficulty delivered the poor people
from this cruelty. And afterwards, upon the entreaty of the
inhabitants, and at the instance of Scipio, Cato took upon
himself the government of Utica, lest, one way or other, it
should fall into Caesar's hands; for it was a strong place, and
very advantageous for either party. And it was yet better
provided and more strongly fortified by Cato, who brought in
great store of corn, repaired the walls, erected towers, and made
deep trenches and palisades around the town. The young men of
Utica he lodged among these works, having first taken their arms
from them; the rest of the inhabitants he kept within the town,
and took the greatest care, that no injury should be done nor
affront offered them by the Romans. From hence he sent great
quantity of arms, money, and provision to the camp, and made this
city their chief magazine.

He advised Scipio, as he had before done Pompey, by no means to
hazard a battle against a man experienced in war, and formidable
in the field, but to use delay; for time would gradually abate
the violence of the crisis, which is the strength of usurpation.
But Scipio out of pride rejected this counsel, and wrote a letter
to Cato, in which he reproached him with cowardice; and that he
could not be content to lie secure himself within walls and
trenches, but he must hinder others from boldly using their own
good-sense to seize the right opportunity. In answer to this,
Cato wrote word again, that he would take the horse and foot
which he had brought into Africa, and go over into Italy, to make
a diversion there, and draw Caesar off from them. But Scipio
derided this proposition also. Then Cato openly let it be seen
that he was sorry he had yielded the command to Scipio, who he
saw would not carry on the war with any wisdom, and if, contrary
to all appearance, he should succeed, he would use his success as
unjustly at home. For Cato had then made up his mind, and so he
told his friends, that he could have but slender hopes in those
generals that had so much boldness, and so little conduct; yet if
anything should happen beyond expectation, and Caesar should be
overthrown, for his part he would not stay at Rome, but would
retire from the cruelty and inhumanity of Scipio, who had already
uttered fierce and proud threats against many.

But what Cato had looked for, fell out sooner than he expected.
Late in the evening came one from the army, whence he had been
three days coming, who brought word there had been a great battle
near Thapsus; that all was utterly lost; Caesar had taken the
camps, Scipio and Juba were fled with a few only, and all the
rest of the army was lost. This news arriving in time of war,
and in the night, so alarmed the people, that they were almost
out of their wits, and could scarce keep themselves within the
walls of the city. But Cato came forward, and meeting the people
in this hurry and clamor, did all he could to comfort and
encourage them, and somewhat appeased the fear and amazement they
were in, telling them that very likely things were not so bad in
truth, but much exaggerated in the report. And so he pacified
the tumult for the present. The next morning, he sent for the
three hundred, whom he used as his council; these were Romans,
who were in Africa upon business, in commerce and money-lending;
there were also several senators and their sons. They were
summoned to meet in the temple of Jupiter. While they were
coming together, Cato walked about very quietly and unconcerned,
as if nothing new had happened. He had a book in his hand, which
he was reading; in this book was an account of what provision he
had for war, armor, corn, ammunition and soldiers.

When they were assembled, he began his discourse; first, as
regarded the three hundred themselves, and very much commended
the courage and fidelity they had shown, and their having very
well served their country with their persons, money, and counsel.
Then he entreated them by no means to separate, as if each single
man could hope for any safety in forsaking his companions; on
the contrary, while they kept together, Caesar would have less
reason to despise them, if they fought against him, and be more
forward to pardon them, if they submitted to him. Therefore, he
advised them to consult among themselves, nor should he find
fault, whichever course they adopted. If they thought fit to
submit to fortune, he would impute their change to necessity; but
if they resolved to stand firm, and undertake the danger for the

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