Plutarch's Lives: MARCUS CATO


Marcus Cato, we are told, was born at Tusculum, though (till he
betook himself to civil and military affairs) he lived and was bred
up in the country of the Sabines, where his father's estate lay. His
ancestors seeming almost entirely unknown, he himself praises his
father Marcus, as a worthy man and a brave soldier, and Cato, his
great grandfather too, as one who had often obtained military prizes,
and who, having lost five horses under him, received, on the account
of his valor, the worth of them out of the public exchequer. Now it
being the custom among the Romans to call those who, having no repute
by birth, made themselves eminent by their own exertions, new men or
upstarts, they called even Cato himself so, and so he confessed
himself to be as to any public distinction or employment, but yet
asserted that in the exploits and virtues of his ancestors he was
very ancient. His third name originally was not Cato, but Priscus,
though afterwards he had the surname of Cato, by reason of his
abilities; for the Romans call a skillful or experienced man, Catus.
He was of a ruddy complexion, and gray-eyed; as the writer, who, with
no good-will, made the following epigram upon him, lets us see:--

Porcius, who snarls at all in every place,
With his gray eyes, and with his fiery face,
Even after death will scarce admitted be
Into the infernal realms by Hecate.

He gained, in early life, a good habit of body by working with his
own hands, and living temperately, and serving in war; and seemed to
have an equal proportion troth of health and strength. And he
exerted and practiced his eloquence through all the neighborhood and
little villages; thinking it as requisite as a second body, and an
all but necessary organ to one who looks forward to something above a
mere humble and inactive life. He would never refuse to be counsel
for those who needed him, and was, indeed, early reckoned a good
lawyer, and, ere long, a capable orator.

Hence his solidity and depth of character showed itself gradually,
more and more to those with whom he was concerned, and claimed, as it
were, employment in great affairs, and places of public command. Nor
did he merely abstain from taking fees for his counsel and pleading,
but did not even seem to put any high price on the honor which
proceeded from such kind of combats, seeming much more desirous to
signalize himself in the camp and in real fights; and while yet but a
youth, had his breast covered with scars he had received from the
enemy; being (as he himself says) but seventeen years old, when he
made his first campaign; in the time when Hannibal, in the height of
his success, was burning and pillaging all Italy. In engagements he
would strike boldly, without flinching, stand firm to his ground, fix
a bold countenance upon his enemies, and with a harsh threatening
voice accost them, justly thinking himself and telling others, that
such a rugged kind of behavior sometimes terrifies the enemy more
than the sword itself. In his marches, he bore his own arms on foot,
whilst one servant only followed, to carry the provisions for his
table, with whom he is said never to have been angry or hasty, whilst
he made ready his dinner or supper, but would, for the most part,
when he was free from military duty, assist and help him himself to
dress it. When he was with the army, he used to drink only water;
unless, perhaps, when extremely thirsty, he might mingle it with a
little vinegar; or if he found his strength fail him, take a little

The little country house of Manius Curius, who had been thrice
carried in triumph, happened to be near his farm; so that often going
thither, and contemplating the small compass of the place, and
plainness of the dwelling, he formed an idea of the mind of the
person, who, being one of the greatest of the Romans, and having
subdued the most warlike nations, nay, had driven Pyrrhus out of
Italy, now, after three triumphs, was contented to dig in so small a
piece of ground, and live in such a cottage. Here it was that the
ambassadors of the Samnites, finding him boiling turnips in the
chimney corner, offered him a present of gold; but he sent them away
with this saying; that he, who was content with such a supper, had no
need of gold; and that he thought it more honorable to conquer those
who possessed the gold, than to possess the gold itself. Cato, after
reflecting upon these things, used to return, and reviewing his own
farm, his servants, and housekeeping, increase his labor, and
retrench all superfluous expenses.

When Fabius Maximus took Tarentum, Cato, being then but a youth, was
a soldier under him; and being lodged with one Nearchus, a
Pythagorean, desired to understand some of his doctrine, and hearing
from him the language, which Plato also uses, -- that pleasure is
evil's chief bait; the body the principal calamity of the soul; and
that those thoughts which most separate and take it off from the
affections of the body, most enfranchise and purify it; he fell in
love the more with frugality and temperance. With this exception, he
is said not to have studied Greek until when he was pretty old; and
rhetoric, to have then profited a little by Thucydides, but more by
Demosthenes: his writings, however, are considerably embellished
with Greek sayings and stories; nay, many of these, translated word
for word, are placed with his own apothegms and sentences.

There was a man of the highest rank, and very influential among the
Romans, called Valerius Flaccus, who was singularly skillful in
discerning excellence yet in the bud, and, also, much disposed to
nourish and advance it. He, it seems, had lands bordering upon
Cato's; nor could he but admire, when he understood from his servants
the manner of his living, how he labored with his own hands, went on
foot betimes in the morning to the courts to assist those who wanted
his counsel; how, returning home again, when it was winter, he would
throw a loose frock over his shoulders, and in the summer time
would work without anything on among his domestics, sit down with
them, eat of the same bread, and drink of the same wine. When they
spoke, also, of other good qualities, his fair dealing and
moderation, mentioning also some of his wise sayings, he ordered,
that he should be invited to supper; and thus becoming personally
assured of his fine temper and his superior character which, like a
plant, seemed only to require culture and a better situation, he
urged and persuaded him to apply himself to state affairs at Rome.
Thither, therefore, he went, and by his pleading soon gained many
friends and admirers; but, Valerius chiefly assisting his promotion,
he first of all got appointed tribune in the army, and afterwards was
made quaestor, or treasurer. And now becoming eminent and noted, he
passed, with Valerius himself, through the greatest commands, being
first his colleague as consul, and then censor. But among all the
ancient senators, he most attached himself to Fabius Maximus; not so
much for the honor of his person, and greatness of his power, as that
he might have before him his habit and manner of life, as the best
examples to follow: and so he did not hesitate to oppose Scipio the
Great, who, being then but a young man, seemed to set himself against
the power of Fabius, and to be envied by him. For being sent
together with him as treasurer, when he saw him, according to his
natural custom, make great expenses, and distribute among the
soldiers without sparing, he freely told him that the expense in
itself was not the greatest thing to be considered, but that he was
corrupting the ancient frugality of the soldiers, by giving them the
means to abandon themselves to unnecessary pleasures and luxuries.
Scipio answered, that he had no need for so accurate a treasurer,
(bearing on as he was, so to say, full sail to the war,) and that he
owed the people an account of his actions, and not of the money he
spent. Hereupon Cato returned from Sicily, and, together with
Fabius, made loud complaints in the open senate of Scipio's lavishing
unspeakable sums, and childishly loitering away his time in wrestling
matches and comedies, as if he were not to make war, but holiday; and
thus succeeded in getting some of the tribunes of the people sent to
call him back to Rome, in case the accusations should prove true.
But Scipio demonstrating, as it were, to them, by his preparations,
the coming victory, and, being found merely to be living pleasantly
with his friends, when there was nothing else to do, but in no
respect because of that easiness and liberality at all the more
negligent in things of consequence and moment, without impediment,
set sail towards the war.

Cato grew more and more powerful by his eloquence, so that he was
commonly called the Roman Demosthenes; but his manner of life was yet
more famous and talked of. For oratorical skill was, as an
accomplishment, commonly studied and sought after by all young men;
but he was very rare who would cultivate the old habits of bodily
labor, or prefer a light supper, and a breakfast which never saw the
fire; or be in love with poor clothes and a homely lodging, or could
set his ambition rather on doing without luxuries than on possessing
them. For now the state, unable to keep its purity by reason of its
greatness, and having so many affairs, and people from all parts
under its government, was fain to admit many mixed customs, and new
examples of living. With reason, therefore, everybody admired Cato,
when they saw others sink under labors, and grow effeminate by
pleasures; and yet beheld him unconquered by either, and that not
only when he was young and desirous of honor, but also when old and
greyheaded, after a consulship and triumph; like some famous victor
in the games, persevering in his exercise and maintaining his
character to the very last. He himself says, that he never wore a
suit of clothes which cost more than a hundred drachmas; and that,
when he was general and consul, he drank the same wine which his
workmen did; and that the meat or fish which was bought in the market
for his dinner, did not cost above thirty asses. All which was for
the sake of the commonwealth, that so his body might be the hardier
for the war. Having a piece of embroidered Babylonian tapestry left
him, he sold it; because none of his farm-houses were so much as
plastered. Nor did he ever buy a slave for above fifteen hundred
drachmas; as he did not seek for effeminate and handsome ones, but
able, sturdy workmen, horse-keepers and cow-herds: and these he
thought ought to be sold again, when they grew old, and no useless
servants fed in a house. In short, he reckoned nothing a good
bargain, which was superfluous; but whatever it was, though sold for
a farthing, he would think it a great price, if you had no need of it;
and was for the purchase of lands for sowing and feeding, rather than
grounds for sweeping and watering.

Some imputed these things to petty avarice, but others approved of
him, as if he had only the more strictly denied himself for the
rectifying and amending of others. Yet certainly, in my judgment, it
marks an over-rigid temper, for a man to take the work out of his
servants as out of brute beasts, turning them off and selling them in
their old age, and thinking there ought to be no further commerce
between man and man, than whilst there arises some profit by it. We
see that kindness or humanity has a larger field than bare justice to
exercise itself in; law and justice we cannot, in the nature of
things, employ on others than men; but we may extend our goodness and
charity even to irrational creatures; and such acts flow from a
gentle nature, as water from an abundant spring. It is doubtless the
part of a kind-natured man to keep even worn-out horses and dogs, and
not only take care of them when they are foals and whelps, but also
when they are grown old. The Athenians, when they built their
Hecatompedon, turned those mules loose to feed freely, which they
had observed to have done the hardest labor. One of these (they say)
came once of itself to offer its service, and ran along with, nay,
and went before, the teams which drew the wagons up to the acropolis,
as if it would incite and encourage them to draw more stoutly; upon
which there passed a vote, that the creature should be kept at the
public charge even till it died. The graves of Cimon's horses, which
thrice won the Olympian races, are yet to be seen close by his own
monument. Old Xanthippus, too, (amongst many others who buried the
dogs they had bred up,) entombed his which swam after his galley to
Salamis, when the people fled from Athens, on the top of a cliff,
which they call the dog's tomb to this day. Nor are we to use living
creatures like old shoes or dishes, and throw them away when they are
worn out or broken with service; but if it were for nothing else, but
by way of study and practice in humanity, a man ought always to
prehabituate himself in these things to be of a kind and sweet
disposition. As to myself, I would not so much as sell my draught ox
on the account of his age, much less for a small piece of money sell
a poor old man, and so chase him, as it were, from his own country,
by turning him not only out of the place where he has lived a long
while, but also out of the manner of living he has been accustomed
to, and that more especially when he would be as useless to the buyer
as to the seller. Yet Cato for all this glories that he left that
very horse in Spain, which he used in the wars when he was consul,
only because he would not put the public to the charge of his
freight. Whether these acts are to be ascribed to the greatness or
pettiness of his spirit, let every one argue as they please.

For his general temperance, however, and self-control, he really
deserves the highest admiration. For when he commanded the army, he
never took for himself, and those that belonged to him, above three
bushels of wheat for a month, and somewhat less than a bushel and a
half a day of barley for his baggage-cattle. And when he entered
upon the government of Sardinia, where his predecessors had been used
to require tents, bedding, and clothes upon the public account, and
to charge the state heavily with the cost of provisions and
entertainments for a great train of servants and friends, the
difference he showed in his economy was something incredible. There
was nothing of any sort for which he put the public to expense; he
would walk without a carriage to visit the cities, with one only of
the common town officers, who carried his dress, and a cup to offer
libation with. Yet, though he seemed thus easy and sparing to all
who were under his power, he, on the other hand, showed most
inflexible severity and strictness, in what related to public
justice, and was rigorous, and precise in what concerned the
ordinances of the commonwealth; so that the Roman government, never
seemed more terrible, nor yet more mild, than under his

His very manner of speaking seemed to have such a kind of idea with
it; for it was courteous, and yet forcible; pleasant, yet
overwhelming; facetious, yet austere; sententious, and yet vehement:
like Socrates, in the description of Plato, who seemed outwardly to
those about him to be but a simple, talkative, blunt fellow; whilst
at the bottom he was full of such gravity and matter, as would even
move tears, and touch the very hearts of his auditors. And,
therefore, I know not what has persuaded some to say, that Cato's
style was chiefly like that of Lysias. However, let us leave those
to judge of these things, who profess most to distinguish between the
several kinds of oratorical style in Latin; whilst we write down some
of his memorable sayings; being of the opinion that a man's character
appears much more by his words, than, as some think it does, by his

Being once desirous to dissuade the common people of Rome, from their
unseasonable and impetuous clamor for largesses and distributions of
corn, he began thus to harangue them: "It is a difficult task, O
citizens, to make speeches to the belly, which has no ears."
Reproving, also, their sumptuous habits, he said, it was hard to
preserve a city, where a fish sold for more than an ox. He had a
saying, also, that the Roman people were like sheep; for they, when
single, do not obey, but when altogether in a flock, they follow
their leaders: "So you," said he, "when you have got together in a
body, let yourselves be guided by those whom singly you would never
think of being advised by." Discoursing of the power of women:
"Men," said he, "usually command women; but we command all men, and
the women command us." But this, indeed, is borrowed from the
sayings of Themistocles, who, when his son was making many demands of
him by means of the mother, said, "O woman, the Athenians govern the
Greeks; I govern the Athenians, but you govern me, and your son
governs you; so let him use his power sparingly, since, simple as he
is, he can do more than all the Greeks together." Another saying of
Cato's was, that the Roman people did not only fix the value of such
and such purple dyes, but also of such and such habits of life:
"For," said he, "as dyers most of all dye such colors as they see to
be most agreeable, so the young men learn, and zealously affect what
is most popular with you." He also exhorted them, that if they were
grown great by their virtue and temperance, they should not change
for the worse; but if intemperance and vice had made them great, they
should change for the better; for by that means they were grown
indeed quite great enough. He would say, likewise, of men who wanted
to be continually in office, that apparently they did not know their
road; since they could not do without beadles to guide them on it.
He also reproved the citizens for choosing still the same men as
their magistrates: "For you will seem," said he, "either not to
esteem government worth much, or to think few worthy to hold it."
Speaking, too, of a certain enemy of his, who lived a very base and
discreditable life: "It is considered," he said, "rather as a curse
than a blessing on him, that this fellow's mother prays that she may
leave him behind her." Pointing at one who had sold the land which
his father had left him, and which lay near the sea-side, he
pretended to express his wonder at his being stronger even than the
sea itself; for what it washed away with a great deal of labor, he
with a great deal of ease drank away. When the senate, with a great
deal of splendor, received king Eumenes on his visit to Rome, and the
chief citizens strove who should be most about him, Cato appeared to
regard him with suspicion and apprehension; and when one that stood
by, too, took occasion to say, that he was a very good prince, and a
great lover of the Romans: "It may be so," said Cato, "but by nature
this same animal of a king, is a kind of man-eater;" nor, indeed,
were there ever kings who deserved to be compared with Epaminondas,
Pericles, Themistocles, Manius Curius, or Hamilcar, surnamed Barcas.
He used to say, too, that his enemies envied him; because he had to
get up every day before light, and neglect his own business to follow
that of the public. He would also tell you, that he had rather be
deprived of the reward for doing well, than not to suffer the
punishment for doing ill; and that he could pardon all offenders but

The Romans having sent three ambassadors to Bithynia, of whom one was
gouty, another had his skull trepanned, and the other seemed little
better than a fool; Cato, laughing, gave out, that the Romans had
sent an embassy, which had neither feet, head, nor heart. His
interest being entreated by Scipio, on account of Polybius, for the
Achaean exiles, and there happening to be a great discussion in the
senate about it, some being for, and some against their return; Cato,
standing up, thus delivered himself: "Here do we sit all day long,
as if we had nothing to do, but beat our brains whether these old
Greeks should be carried to their graves by the bearers here or by
those in Achaea." The senate voting their return, it seems that a
few days after Polybius's friends further wished that it should be
moved in the senate, that the said banished persons should receive
again the honors which they first had in Achaea; and, to this
purpose, they sounded Cato for his opinion; but he, smiling,
answered, that Polybius, Ulysses-like, having escaped out of the
Cyclops' den, wanted, it would seem, to go back again because he had
left his cap and belt behind him. He used to assert, also, that wise
men profited more by fools, than fools by wise men; for that wise men
avoided the faults of fools, but that fools would not imitate the
good examples of wise men. He would profess, too, that he was more
taken with young men that blushed, than with those who looked pale;
and that he never desired to have a soldier that moved his hands too
much in marching, and his feet too much in fighting; or snored louder
than he shouted. Ridiculing a fat overgrown man: "What use," said
he, "can the state turn a man's body to, when all between the throat
and groin is taken up by the belly?" When one who was much given to
pleasures desired his acquaintance, begging his pardon, he said, he
could not live with a man whose palate was of a quicker sense than
his heart. He would likewise say, that the soul of a lover lived in
the body of another: and that in his whole life he most repented of
three things; one was, that he had trusted a secret to a woman;
another, that he went by water when he might have gone by land; the
third, that he had remained one whole day without doing any business
of moment. Applying himself to an old man who was committing some
vice: "Friend," said he, "old age has of itself blemishes enough; do
not you add to it the deformity of vice." Speaking to a tribune, who
was reputed a poisoner, and was very violent for the bringing in of a
bill, in order to make a certain law: "Young man," cried he, "I know
not which would be better, to drink what you mix, or confirm what you
would put up for a law." Being reviled by a fellow who lived a
profligate and wicked life: "A contest," replied he, "is unequal
between you and me; for you can hear ill words easily, and can as
easily give them; but it is unpleasant to me to give such, and
unusual to hear them." Such was his manner of expressing himself in
his memorable sayings.

Being chosen consul, with his friend and familiar Valerius Flaccus,
the government of that part of Spain which the Romans call the Hither
Spain, fell to his lot. Here, as he was engaged in reducing some of
the tribes by force, and bringing over others by good words, a large
army of barbarians fell upon him, so that there was danger of being
disgracefully forced out again. He therefore called upon his
neighbors, the Celtiberians, for help; and on their demanding two
hundred talents for their assistance, everybody else thought it
intolerable, that ever the Romans should promise barbarians a reward
for their aid; but Cato said, there was no discredit or harm in it;
for if they overcame, they would pay them out of the enemy's purse,
and not out of their own; but if they were overcome, there would be
nobody left either to demand the reward or to pay it. However, he
won that battle completely, and after that, all his other affairs
succeeded splendidly. Polybius says, that by his command the walls
of all the cities, on this side the river Baetis, were in one day's
time demolished, and yet there were a great many of them full of
brave and warlike men. Cato himself says, that he took more cities
than he stayed days in Spain. Neither is this a mere rhodomontade,
if it be true, that the number was four hundred. And though the
soldiers themselves had got much in the fights, yet he distributed a
pound of silver to every man of them, saying, it was better, that
many of the Romans should return home with silver, rather than a few
with gold. For himself he affirms, that of all the things that were
taken, nothing came to him beyond what he ate and drank. "Neither do
I find fault," continued he, "with those that seek to profit by these
spoils, but I had rather compete in valor with the best, than in
wealth with the richest, or with the most covetous in love of money."
Nor did he merely keep himself clear from taking anything, but even
all those who more immediately belonged to him. He had five servants
with him in the army; one of whom called Paccus, bought three boys,
out of those who were taken captive; which Cato coming to understand,
the man rather than venture into his presence, hanged himself. Cato
sold the boys, and carried the price he got for them into the public

Scipio the Great, being his enemy, and desiring, whiles he was
carrying all things so successfully, to obstruct him, and take the
affairs of Spain into his own hands, succeeded in getting himself
appointed his successor in the government, and, making all possible
haste, put a term to Cato's authority. But he, taking with him a
convoy of five cohorts of foot, and five hundred horse to attend him
home, overthrew by the way the Lacetanians, and salting from them six
hundred deserters, caused them all to be beheaded; upon which Scipio
seemed to be in indignation, but Cato, in mock disparagement of
himself, said, "Rome would become great indeed, if the most honorable
and great men would not yield up the first place of valor to those
who were more obscure, and when they who were of the commonalty (as
he himself was) would contend in valor with those who were most
eminent in birth and honor." The senate having voted to change
nothing of what had been established by Cato, the government passed
away under Scipio to no manner of purpose, in idleness and doing
nothing; and so diminished his credit much more than Cato's. Nor did
Cato, who now received a triumph, remit after this and slacken the
reins of virtue, as many do, who strive not so much for virtue's
sake, as for vainglory, and having attained the highest honors, as
the consulship and triumphs, pass the rest of their life in pleasure
and idleness, and quit all public affairs. But he, like those who
are just entered upon public life for the first time, and thirst
after gaining honor and glory in some new office, strained himself,
as if he were but just setting out; and offering still publicly his
service to his friends and citizens, would give up neither his
pleadings nor his soldiery.

He accompanied and assisted Tiberius Sempronius, as his lieutenant,
when he went into Thrace and to the Danube; and, in the quality of
tribune, went with Manius Acilius into Greece, against Antiochus the
Great, who, after Hannibal, more than anyone struck terror into the
Romans. For having reduced once more under a single command almost
the whole of Asia, all, namely, that Seleucus Nicator had possessed,
and having brought into obedience many warlike nations of the
barbarians, he longed to fall upon the Romans, as if they only were
now worthy to fight with him. So across he came with his forces,
pretending, as a specious cause of the war, that it was to free the
Greeks, who had indeed no need of it, they having been but newly
delivered from the power of king Philip and the Macedonians, and made
independent, with the free use of their own laws, by the goodness of
the Romans themselves; so that all Greece was in commotion and
excitement, having been corrupted by the hopes of royal aid which the
popular leaders in their cities put them into. Manius, therefore,
sent ambassadors to the different cities; and Titus Flamininus (as is
written in the account of him) suppressed and quieted most of the
attempts of the innovators, without any trouble. Cato brought over
the Corinthians, those of Patrae and of Aegium, and spent a good deal
of time at Athens. There is also an oration of his said to be
extant, which he spoke in Greek to the people; in which he expressed
his admiration of the virtue of the ancient Athenians, and signified
that he came with a great deal of pleasure to be a spectator of the
beauty and greatness of their city. But this is a fiction; for he
spoke to the Athenians by an interpreter, though he was able to have
spoken himself; but he wished to observe the usage of his own
country, and laughed at those who admired nothing but what was in
Greek. Jesting upon Postumius Albinus, who had written a historical
work in Greek, and requested that allowances might be made for his
attempt, he said, that allowance indeed might be made, if he had done
it under the express compulsion of an Amphictyonic decree. The
Athenians, he says, admired the quickness and vehemence of his
speech; for an interpreter would be very long in repeating what he
expressed with a great deal of brevity; but on the whole he professed
to believe, that the words of the Greeks came only from their lips,
whilst those of the Romans came from their hearts.

Now Antiochus, having occupied with his army the narrow passages
about Thermopylae, and added palisades and walls to the natural
fortifications of the place, sat down there, thinking he had done
enough to divert the war; and the Romans, indeed, seemed wholly to
despair of forcing the passage; but Cato, calling to mind the compass
and circuit which the Persians had formerly made to come at this
place, went forth in the night, taking along with him part of the
army. Whilst they were climbing up, the guide, who was a prisoner,
missed the way, and wandering up and down by impracticable and
precipitous paths, filled the soldiers with fear and despondency.
Cato, perceiving the danger, commanded all the rest to halt, and stay
where they were, whilst he himself, taking along with him one Lucius
Manlius, a most expert man at climbing mountains, went forward with a
great deal of labor and danger, in the dark night, and without the
least moonshine, among the wild olive trees, and steep craggy rocks,
there being nothing but precipices and darkness before their eyes,
till they struck into a little pass which they thought might lead
down into the enemy's camp. There they put up marks upon some
conspicuous peaks which surmount the hill called Callidromon, and
returning again, they led the army along with them to the said marks,
till they got into their little path again, and there once made a
halt; but when they began to go further, the path deserted them at a
precipice, where they were in another strait and fear; nor did they
perceive that they were all this while near the enemy. And now the
day began to give some light, when they seemed to hear a noise, and
presently after to see the Greek trenches and the guard at the foot
of the rock. Here, therefore, Cato halted his forces, and commanded
the troops from Firmum only, without the rest, to stick by him, as he
had always found them faithful and ready. And when they came up and
formed around him in close order, he thus spoke to them. "I desire,"
he said, "to take one of the enemy alive, that so I may understand
what men these are who guard the passage; their number; and with what
discipline, order, and preparation they expect us; but this feat,"
continued he, "must be an act of a great deal of quickness and
boldness, such as that of lions, when they dart upon some timorous
animal." Cato had no sooner thus expressed himself, but the Firmans
forthwith rushed down the mountain, just as they were, upon the
guard, and, falling unexpectedly upon them, affrighted and dispersed
them all. One armed man they took, and brought to Cato, who quickly
learned from him, that the rest of the forces lay in the narrow
passage about the king; that those who kept the tops of the rocks
were six hundred choice Aetolians. Cato, therefore, despising the
smallness of their number and carelessness, forthwith drawing his
sword, fell upon them with a great noise of trumpets and shouting.
The enemy, perceiving them thus tumbling, as it were, upon them from
the precipices, flew to the main body, and put all things into
disorder there.

In the meantime, whilst Manius was forcing the works below, and
pouring the thickest of his forces into the narrow passages,
Antiochus was hit in the mouth with a stone, so that his teeth being
beaten out by it, he felt such excessive pain, that he was fain to
turn away with his horse; nor did any part of his army stand the
shock of the Romans. Yet, though there seemed no reasonable hope of
flight, where all paths were so difficult, and where there were deep
marshes and steep rocks, which looked as if they were ready to
receive those who should stumble, the fugitives, nevertheless,
crowding and pressing together. In the narrow passages, destroyed even
one another in their terror of the swords and blows of the enemy. Cato
(as it plainly appears) was never oversparing of his own praises, and
seldom shunned boasting of any exploit; which quality, indeed, he
seems to have thought the natural accompaniment of great actions; and
with these particular exploits he was highly puffed up; he says, that
those who saw him that day pursuing and slaying the enemies, were
ready to assert, that Cato owed not so much to the public, as the
public did to Cato; nay, he adds, that Manius the consul, coming hot
from the fight, embraced him for a great while, when both were all in
a sweat; and then cried out with joy, that neither he himself, no,
nor all the people together, could make him a recompense equal to his
actions. After the fight he was sent to Rome, that he himself might
be the messenger of it; and so, with a favorable wind, he sailed to
Brundusium, and in one day got from thence to Tarentum; and having
traveled four days more, upon the fifth, counting from the time of
his landing, he arrived at Rome, and so brought the first news of the
victory himself; and filled the whole city with joy and sacrifices,
and the people with the belief, that they were able to conquer every
sea and every land.

These are pretty nearly all the eminent actions of Cato, relating to
military affairs: in civil policy, he was of opinion, that one chief
duty consisted in accusing and indicting criminals. He himself
prosecuted many, and he would also assist others who prosecuted them,
nay would even procure such, as he did the Petilii against Scipio;
but not being able to destroy him, by reason of the nobleness of his
family, and the real greatness of his mind, which enabled him to
trample all calumnies underfoot, Cato at last would meddle no more
with him; yet joining with the accusers against Scipio's brother
Lucius, he succeeded in obtaining a sentence against him, which
condemned him to the payment of a large sum of money to the state;
and being insolvent, and in danger of being thrown into jail, he was,
by the interposition of the tribunes of the people, with much ado
dismissed. It is also said of Cato, that when he met a certain
youth, who had effected the disgrace of one of his father's enemies,
walking in the market-place, he shook him by the hand, telling him,
that this was what we ought to sacrifice to our dead parents-- not
lambs and goats, but the tears and condemnations of their
adversaries. But neither did he himself escape with impunity in his
management of affairs; for if he gave his enemies but the least hold,
he was still in danger, and exposed to be brought to justice. He is
reported to have escaped at least fifty indictments; and one above
the rest, which was the last, when he was eighty-six years old, about
which time he uttered the well-known saying, that it was hard for him
who had lived with one generation of men, to plead now before
another. Neither did he make this the last of his lawsuits; for,
four years after, when he was fourscore and ten, he accused Servilius
Galba: so that his life and actions extended, we may say, as
Nestor's did, over three ordinary ages of man. For, having had many
contests, as we have related, with Scipio the Great, about affairs of
state, he continued them down even to Scipio the younger, who was the
adopted grandson of the former, and the son of that Paulus, who
overthrew Perseus and the Macedonians.

Ten years after his consulship, Cato stood for the office of censor,
which was indeed the summit of all honor, and in a manner the highest
step in civil affairs; for besides all other power, it had also that
of an inquisition into everyone's life and manners. For the Romans
thought that no marriage, or rearing of children, nay, no feast or
drinking-bout ought to be permitted according to everyone's appetite
or fancy, without being examined and inquired into; being indeed of
opinion, that a man's character was much sooner perceived in things
of this sort, than in what is done publicly and in open day. They
chose, therefore, two persons, one out of the patricians, the other
out of the commons, who were to watch, correct, and punish, if any
one ran too much into voluptuousness, or transgressed the usual
manner of life of his country; and these they called Censors. They
had power to take away a horse, or expel out of the senate any one
who lived intemperately and out of order. It was also their business
to take an estimate of what everyone was worth, and to put down in
registers everybody's birth and quality; besides many other
prerogatives. And therefore the chief nobility opposed his
pretensions to it. Jealousy prompted the patricians, who thought
that it would be a stain to everybody's nobility, if men of no
original honor should rise to the highest dignity and power; while
others, conscious of their own evil practices, and of the violation
of the laws and customs of their country, were afraid of the
austerity of the man; which, in an office of such great power was
likely to prove most uncompromising and severe. And so consulting
among themselves, they brought forward seven candidates in opposition
to him, who sedulously set themselves to court the people's favor by
fair promises, as though what they wished for was indulgent and easy
government. Cato, on the contrary, promising no such mildness, but
plainly threatening evil livers, from the very hustings openly
declared himself; and exclaiming, that the city needed a great and
thorough purgation, called upon the people, if they were wise, not to
choose the gentlest, but the roughest of physicians; such a one, he
said, he was, and Valerius Flaccus, one of the patricians, another;
together with him, he doubted not but he should do something worth
the while, and that, by cutting to pieces and burning like a hydra,
all luxury and voluptuousness. He added, too, that he saw all the rest
endeavoring after the office with ill intent, because they were
afraid of those who would exercise it justly, as they ought. And so
truly great and so worthy of great men to be its leaders was, it
would seem, the Roman people, that they did not fear the severity end
grim countenance of Cato, but rejecting those smooth promisers who
were ready to do all things to ingratiate themselves, they took him,
together with Flaccus; obeying his recommendations not as though he
were a candidate, but as if he had had the actual power of commanding
and governing already.

Cato named as chief of the senate, his friend and colleague Lucius
Valerius Flaccus, and expelled, among many others, Lucius Quintius,
who had been consul seven years before, and (which was greater honor
to him than the consulship) brother to that Titus Flamininus, who
overthrew king Philip. The reason he had for his expulsion, was
this. Lucius, it seems, took along with him in all his commands, a
youth, whom he had kept as his companion from the flower of his age,
and to whom he gave as much power and respect as to the chiefest of
his friends and relations.

Now it happened that Lucius being consular governor of one of the
provinces, the youth setting himself down by him, as he used to do,
among other flatteries with which he played upon him, when he wee in
his cups, told him he loved him so dearly that, "though there was a
show of gladiators to be seen at Rome, and I," he said, "had never
beheld one in my life; and though I, as it were, longed to see a man
killed, yet I made all possible haste to come to you." Upon this
Lucius, returning his fondness, replied, "Do not be melancholy on
that account; I can remedy that." Ordering therefore, forthwith, one
of those condemned to die to be brought to the feast, together with
the headsman and axe, he asked the youth if he wished to see him
executed. The boy answering that he did, Lucius commanded the
executioner to cut off his neck; and this several historians mention;
and Cicero, indeed, in his dialogue de Senectute, introduces Cato
relating it himself. But Livy says, that he that was killed was a
Gaulish deserter, and that Lucius did not execute him by the stroke
of the executioner, but with his own hand; and that it is so stated
in Cato's speech.

Lucius being thus expelled out of the senate by Cato, his brother
took it very ill, and appealing to the people, desired that Cato
should declare his reasons; and when he began to relate this
transaction of the feast, Lucius endeavored to deny it; but Cato
challenging him to a formal investigation, he fell off and refused
it, so that he was then acknowledged to suffer deservedly.
Afterwards, however, when there was some show at the theater, he
passed by the seats where those who had been consuls used to be
placed, and taking his seat a great way off, excited the compassion
of the common people, who presently with a great noise made him go
forward, and as much as they could, tried to set right and salve over
what had happened. Manilius, also, who, according to the public
expectation, would have been next consul, he threw out of the senate,
because, in the presence of his daughter, and in open day, he had
kissed his wife. He said, that as for himself, his wife never came
into his arms except when there was great thunder; so that it was a
jest with him, that it was a pleasure for him, when Jupiter

His treatment of Lucius, likewise, the brother of Scipio, and one who
had been honored with a triumph, occasioned some odium against Cato;
for he took his horse from him, and was thought to do it with a
design of putting an affront on Scipio Africanus, now dead. But he
gave most general annoyance, by retrenching people's luxury; for
though (most of the youth being thereby already corrupted) it seemed
almost impossible to take it away with an open hand and directly, yet
going, as it were, obliquely around, he caused all dress, carriages,
women's ornaments, household furniture, whose price exceeded one
thousand five hundred drachmas, to be rated at ten times as much as
they were worth; intending by thus making the assess-ments greater,
to increase the taxes paid upon them. He also ordained that upon
every thousand asses of property of this kind, three should be
paid, so that people, burdened with these extra charges, and seeing
others of as good estates, but more frugal and sparing, paying less
into the public exchequer, might be tired out of their prodigality.
And thus, on the one side, not only those were disgusted at Cato, who
bore the taxes for the sake of their luxury, but those, too, who on
the other side laid by their luxury for fear of the taxes. For people
in general reckon, that an order not to display their riches, is
equivalent to the taking away their riches; because riches are seen
much more in superfluous, than in necessary, things. Indeed, this
was what excited the wonder of Ariston the philosopher; that we
account those who possess superfluous things more happy than those
who abound with what is necessary and useful. But when one of his
friends asked Scopas, the rich Thessalian, to give him some article
of no great utility, saying that it was not a thing that he had any
great need or use for himself, "In truth," replied he, "it is just
these useless and unnecessary things that make my wealth and
happiness." Thus the desire of riches does not proceed from a
natural passion within us, but arises rather from vulgar out-of-doors
opinion of other people.

Cato, notwithstanding, being little solicitous as to those who
exclaimed against him, increased his austerity. He caused the pipes,
through which some persons brought the public water into their own
houses and gardens, to be cut, and threw down all buildings which
jutted out into the common streets. He beat down also the price in
contracts for public works to the lowest, and raised it in contracts
for farming the taxes to the highest sum; by which proceedings he
drew a great deal of hatred on himself. Those who were of Titus
Flamininus's party canceled in the senate all the bargains and
contracts made by him for the repairing and carrying on of the sacred
and public buildings, as unadvantageous to the commonwealth. They
incited also the boldest of the tribunes of the people to accuse him,
and to fine him two talents. They likewise much opposed him in
building the court or basilica, which he caused to be erected at the
common charge, just by the senate-house, in the market-place, and
called by his own name, the Porcian. However, the people, it seems,
liked his censorship wondrously well; for, setting up a statue for
him in the temple of the goddess of Health, they put an inscription
under it, not recording his commands in war or his triumph, but to
the effect, that this was Cato the Censor, who, by his good
discipline and wise and temperate ordinances, reclaimed the Roman
commonwealth when it was declining and sinking down into vice.
Before this honor was done to himself, he used to laugh at those who
loved such kind of things, saying, that they did not see that they
were taking pride in the workmanship of brass-founders and painters;
whereas the citizens bore about his best likeness in their breasts.
And when any seemed to wonder, that he should have never a statue,
while many ordinary persons had one; "I would," said he, "much rather
be asked, why I have not one, than why I have one." In short, he
would not have any honest citizen endure to be praised, except it
might prove advantageous to the commonwealth. Yet still he had
passed the highest commendation on himself; for he tells us that
those who did anything wrong, and were found fault with, used to
say, it was not worthwhile to blame them; for they were not Catos.
He also adds, that they who awkwardly mimicked some of his actions,
were called left-handed Catos; and that the senate in perilous times
would cast their eyes on him, as upon a pilot in a ship, and that
often when he was not present they put off affairs of greatest
consequence. These things are indeed also testified of him by
others; for he had a great authority in the city, alike for his life,
his eloquence, and his age.

He was also a good father, an excellent husband to his wife, and an
extraordinary economist; and as he did not manage his affairs of this
kind carelessly, and as things of little moment, I think I ought to
record a little further whatever was commendable in him in these
points. He married a wife more noble than rich; being of opinion
that the rich and the high-born are equally haughty and proud; but
that those of noble blood, would be more ashamed of base things, and
consequently more obedient to their husbands in all that was fit and
right. A man who beat his wife or child, laid violent hands, he
said, on what was most sacred; and a good husband he reckoned worthy
of more praise than a great senator; and he admired the ancient
Socrates for nothing so much as for having lived a temperate and
contented life with a wife who was a scold, and children who were

As soon as he had a son born, though he had never such urgent
business upon his hands, unless it were some public matter, he would
be by when his wife washed it, and dressed it in its swaddling
clothes. For she herself suckled it, nay, she often too gave her
breast to her servants' children, to produce, by sucking the same
milk, a kind of natural love in them to her son. When he began to
come to years of discretion, Cato himself would teach him to read,
although he had a servant, a very good grammarian, called Chilo, who
taught many others; but he thought not fit, as he himself said, to
have his son reprimanded by a slave, or pulled, it may be, by the
ears when found tardy in his lesson: nor would he have him owe to a
servant the obligation of so great a thing as his learning; he
himself, therefore, (as we were saying,) taught him his grammar, law,
and his gymnastic exercises. Nor did he only show him, too, how to
throw a dart, to fight in armor, and to ride, but to box also and to
endure both heat and cold, and to swim over the most rapid and rough
rivers. He says, likewise, that he wrote histories, in large
characters, with his own hand, that so his son, without stirring out
of the house, might learn to know about his countrymen and
forefathers: nor did he less abstain from speaking anything obscene
before his son, than if it had been in the presence of the sacred
virgins, called vestals. Nor would he ever go into the bath with
him; which seems indeed to have been the common custom of the Romans.
Sons-in-law used to avoid bathing with fathers-in-law, disliking to
see one another naked: but having, in time, learned of the Greeks to
strip before men, they have since taught the Greeks to do it even
with the women themselves.

Thus, like an excellent work, Cato formed and fashioned his son to
virtue; nor had he any occasion to find fault with his readiness and
docility; but as he proved to be of too weak a constitution for
hardships, he did not insist on requiring of him any very austere way
of living. However, though delicate in health, he proved a stout man
in the field, and behaved himself valiantly when Paulus Aemilius
fought against Perseus; where when his sword was struck from him by a
blow, or rather slipped out of his hand by reason of its moistness,
he so keenly resented it, that he turned to some of his friends about
him, and taking them along with him again, fell upon the enemy; and
having by a long fight and much force cleared the place, at length
found it among great heaps of arms, and the dead bodies of friends as
well as enemies piled one upon another. Upon which Paulus, his
general, much commended the youth; and there is a letter of Cato's to
his son, which highly praises his honorable eagerness for the
recovery of his sword. Afterwards he married Tertia, Aemilius
Paulus's daughter, and sister to Scipio; nor was he admitted into
this family less for his own worth than his father's. So that Cato's
care in his son's education came to a very fitting result.

He purchased a great many slaves out of the captives taken in war,
but chiefly bought up the young ones, who were capable to be, as it
were, broken and taught like whelps and colts. None of these ever
entered another man's house, except sent either by Cato himself or
his wife. If any one of them were asked what Cato did, they answered
merely, that they did not know. When a servant was at home, he was
obliged either to do some work or sleep; for indeed Cato loved those
most who used to lie down often to sleep, accounting them more docile
than those who were wakeful, and more fit for anything when they were
refreshed with a little slumber. Being also of opinion, that the
great cause of the laziness and misbehavior of slaves was their
running after their pleasures, he fixed a certain price for them to
pay for permission amongst themselves, but would suffer no
connections out of the house. At first, when he was but a poor
soldier, he would not be difficult in anything which related to his
eating, but looked upon it as a pitiful thing to quarrel with a
servant for the belly's sake; but afterwards, when he grew richer,
and made any feasts for his friends and colleagues in office, as soon
as supper was over he used to go with a leathern thong and scourge
those who had waited or dressed the meat carelessly. He always
contrived, too, that his servants should have some difference one
among another, always suspecting and fearing a good understanding
between them. Those who had committed anything worthy of death, he
punished, if they were found guilty by the verdict of their
fellow-servants. But being after all much given to the desire of gain,
he looked upon agriculture rather as a pleasure than profit;
resolving, therefore, to lay out his money in safe and solid things,
he purchased ponds, hot baths, grounds full of fuller's earth,
remunerative lands, pastures, and woods; from all which he drew large
returns, nor could Jupiter himself, he used to say, do him much
damage. He was also given to the form of usury, which is considered
most odious, in traffic by sea; and that thus: -- he desired that those
whom he put out his money to, should have many partners; and when the
number of them and their ships came to be fifty, he himself took one
share through Quintio his freedman, who therefore was to sail with
the adventurers, and take a part in all their proceedings; so that
thus there was no danger of losing his whole stock, but only a little
part, and that with a prospect of great profit. He likewise lent
money to those of his slaves who wished to borrow, with which they
bought also other young ones, whom, when they had taught and bred up
at his charges, they would sell again at the year's end; but some of
them Cato would keep for himself, giving just as much for them as
another had offered. To incline his son to be of this kind of
temper, he used to tell him, that it was not like a man, but rather
like a widow woman, to lessen an estate. But the strongest
indication of Cato's avaricious humor was when he took the boldness
to affirm, that he was a most wonderful, nay, a godlike man, who left
more behind him than he had received.

He was now grown old, when Carneades the Academic, and Diogenes the
Stoic, came as deputies from Athens to Rome, praying for release from
a penalty of five hundred talents laid on the Athenians, in a suit,
to which they did not appear, in which the Oropians were plaintiffs,
and Sicyonians judges. All the most studious youth immediately
waited on these philosophers, and frequently, with admiration, heard
them speak. But the gracefulness of Carneades's oratory, whose
ability was really greatest, and his reputation equal to it, gathered
large and favorable audiences, and erelong filled, like a wind, all
the city with the sound of it. So that it soon began to be told,
that a Greek, famous even to admiration, winning and carrying all
before him, had impressed so strange a love upon the young men, that
quitting all their pleasures and pastimes, they ran mad, as it were,
after philosophy; which indeed much pleased the Romans in general;
nor could they but with much pleasure see the youth receive so
welcomely the Greek literature, and frequent the company of learned
men. But Cato, on the other side, seeing this passion for words
flowing into the city, from the beginning, took it ill, fearing lest
the youth should be diverted that way, and so should prefer the glory
of speaking well before that of arms, and doing well. And when the
fame of the philosophers increased in the city, and Caius Acilius, a
person of distinction, at his own request, became their interpreter
to the senate at their first audience, Cato resolved, under some
specious presence, to have all philosophers cleared out of the city;
and, coming into the senate, blamed the magistrates for letting these
deputies stay so long a time without being dispatched, though they
were persons that could easily persuade the people to what they
pleased; that therefore in all haste something should be determined
about their petition, that so they might go home again to their own
schools, and declaim to the Greek children, and leave the Roman
youth, to be obedient, as hitherto, to their own laws and governors.

Yet he did this not out of any anger, as some think, to Carneades;
but because he wholly despised philosophy, and out of a kind of
pride, scoffed at the Greek studies and literature; as, for example,
he would say, that Socrates was a prating seditious fellow, who did
his best to tyrannize over his country, to undermine the ancient
customs, and to entice and withdraw the citizens to opinions contrary
to the laws. Ridiculing the school of Isocrates, he would add, that
his scholars grew old men before they had done learning with him, as
if they were to use their art and plead causes in the court of Minos
in the next world. And to frighten his son from anything that was
Greek, in a more vehement tone than became one of his age, he
pronounced, as it were, with the voice of an oracle, that the Romans
would certainly be destroyed when they began once to be infected with
Greek literature; though time indeed has shown the vanity of this his
prophecy; as, in truth, the city of Rome has risen to its highest
fortune, while entertaining Grecian learning. Nor had he an aversion
only against the Greek philosophers, but the physicians also; for
having, it seems, heard how Hippocrates, when the king of Persia sent
for him, with offers of a fee of several talents, said, that he would
never assist barbarians who were enemies to the Greeks; he affirmed,
that this was now become a common oath taken by all physicians, and
enjoined his son to have a care and avoid them; for that he himself
had written a little book of prescriptions for curing those who were
sick in his family; he never enjoined fasting to anyone, but ordered
them either vegetables, or the meat of a duck, pigeon, or leveret;
such kind of diet being of light digestion, and fit for sick folks,
only it made those who ate it dream a little too much; and by the
use of this kind of physic, he said, he not only made himself and
those about him well, but kept them so.

However, for this his presumption, he seemed not to have escaped
unpunished; for he lost both his wife and his son; though he himself,
being of a strong robust constitution, held out longer; so that he
would often, even in his old days, address himself to women, and when
he was past a lover's age, married a young woman, upon the following
pretense. Having lost his own wife, he married his son to the
daughter of Paulus Aemilius, who was sister to Scipio; so that being
now a widower himself, he had a young girl who came privately to
visit him; but the house being very small, and a daughter-in-law also
in it, this practice was quickly discovered; for the young woman
seeming once to pass through it a little too boldly, the youth, his
son, though he said nothing, seemed to look somewhat indignantly upon
her. The old man perceiving and understanding that what he did was
disliked, without finding any fault, or saying a word, went away
as his custom was, with his usual companions to the market: and
among the rest, he called aloud to one Salonius, who had been a clerk
under him, and asked him whether he had married his daughter? He
answered, no, nor would he, till he had consulted him. Said Cato,
"Then I have found out a fit son-in-law for you, if he should not
displease by reason of his age; for in all other points there is no
fault to be found in him; but he is indeed, as I said, extremely
old." However, Salonius desired him to undertake the business, and
to give the young girl to whom he pleased, she being a humble servant
of his, who stood in need of his care and patronage. Upon this Cato,
without any more ado, told him, he desired to have the damsel
himself. These words, as may well be imagined, at first astonished
the man, conceiving that Cato was as far off from marrying, as he
from a likelihood of being allied to the family of one who had been
consul, and had triumphed; but perceiving him in earnest, he
consented willingly; and, going onwards to the forum, they quickly
completed the bargain.

Whilst the marriage was in hand, Cato's son, taking some of his
friends along with him, went and asked his father if it were for any
offense he brought in a stepmother upon him? But Cato cried out, "Far
from it, my son, I have no fault to find with you nor anything of
yours; only I desire to have many children, and to leave the
commonwealth more such citizens as you are." Pisistratus, the tyrant
of Athens, made, they say, this answer to his sons, when they were
grown men, when he married his second wife, Timonassa of Argos, by
whom he had, it is said, Iophon and Thessalus. Cato had a son by
this second wife, to whom from his mother, he gave the surname of
Salonius. In the mean time, his eldest died in his praetorship; of
whom Cato often makes mention in his books, as having been a good
man. He is said, however, to have borne the loss moderately, and
like a philosopher, and was nothing the more remiss in attending to
affairs of state; so that he did not, as Lucius Lucullus and Metellus
Pius did, grow languid in his old age, as though public business were
a duty once to be discharged, and then quitted; nor did he, like
Scipio Africanus, because envy had struck at his glory, turn from the
public, and change and pass away the rest of his life without doing
anything; but as one persuaded Dionysius, that the most honorable
tomb he could have, would be to die in the exercise of his dominion;
so Cato thought that old age to be the most honorable, which was
busied in public affairs; though he would, now and then, when he had
leisure, recreate himself with husbandry and writing.

And, indeed, he composed various books and histories; and in his
youth, he addicted himself to agriculture for profit's sake; for he
used to say, he had but two ways of getting -- agriculture and
parsimony; and now, in his old age, the first of these gave him both
occupation and a subject of study. He wrote one book on country
matters, in which he treated particularly even of making cakes, and
preserving fruit; it being his ambition to be curious and singular in
all things. His suppers, at his country-house, used also to be
plentiful; he daily invited his friends and neighbors about him, and
passed the time merrily with them; so that his company was not only
agreeable to those of the same age, but even to younger men; for he
had had experience in many things, and had been concerned in much,
both by word and deed, that was worth the hearing. He looked upon a
good table, as the best place for making friends; where the
commendations of brave and good citizens were usually introduced, and
little said of base and unworthy ones; as Cato would not give leave
in his company to have anything, either good or ill, said about

Some will have the overthrow of Carthage to have been one of his last
acts of state; when, indeed, Scipio the younger, did by his valor
give it the last blow, but the war, chiefly by the counsel and advice
of Cato, was undertaken on the following occasion. Cato was sent to
the Carthaginians and Masinissa, king of Numidia, who were at war
with one another, to know the cause of their difference. He, it
seems, had been a friend of the Romans from the beginning; and they,
too, since they were conquered by Scipio, were of the Roman
confederacy, having been shorn of their power by loss of territory,
and a heavy tax. Finding Carthage, not (as the Romans thought) low
and in an ill condition, but well manned, full of riches and all
sorts of arms and ammunition, and perceiving the Carthaginians carry
it high, he conceived that it was not a time for the Romans to adjust
affairs between them and Masinissa; but rather that they themselves
would fall into danger, unless they should find means to check this
rapid new growth of Rome's ancient irreconcilable enemy. Therefore,
returning quickly to Rome, he acquainted the senate, that the former
defeats and blows given to the Carthaginians, had not so much
diminished their strength, as it had abated their imprudence and
folly; that they were not become weaker, but more experienced in war,
and did only skirmish with the Numidians, to exercise themselves the
better to cope with the Romans: that the peace and league they had
made was but a kind of suspension of war which awaited a fairer
opportunity to break out again.

Moreover, they say that, shaking his gown, he took occasion to let
drop some African figs before the senate. And on their admiring the
size and beauty of them, he presently added, that the place that bore
them was but three days' sail from Rome. Nay, he never after this
gave his opinion, but at the end he would be sure to come out with
this sentence, "Also, Carthage, methinks, ought utterly to be
destroyed." But Publius Scipio Nasica would always declare his
opinion to the contrary, in these words, "It seems requisite to me
that Carthage should still stand." For seeing his countrymen to be
grown wanton and insolent, and the people made, by their prosperity,
obstinate and disobedient to the senate, and drawing the whole city,
whither they would, after them, he would have had the fear of
Carthage to serve as a bit to hold in the contumacy of the multitude;
and he looked upon the Carthaginians as too weak to overcome the
Romans, and too great to be despised by them. On the other side, it
seemed a perilous thing to Cato, that a city which had been always
great, and was now grown sober and wise, by reason of its former
calamities, should still lie, as it were, in wait for the follies and
dangerous excesses of the overpowerful Roman people; so that he
thought it the wisest course to have all outward dangers removed,
when they had so many inward ones among themselves.

Thus Cato, they say, stirred up the third and last war against the
Carthaginians: but no sooner was the said war begun, than he died,
prophesying of the person that should put an end to it, who was then
only a young man; but, being tribune in the army, he in several
fights gave proof of his courage and conduct. The news of which
being brought to Cato's ears at Rome, he thus expressed himself: --

The only wise man of them all is he,
The others e'en as shadows flit and flee.

This prophecy Scipio soon confirmed by his actions.

Cato left no posterity, except one son by his second wife, who was
named, as we said, Cato Salonius; and a grandson by his eldest son,
who died. Cato Salonius died when he was praetor, but his son Marcus
was afterwards consul, and he was grandfather of Cato the
philosopher, who for virtue and renown was one of the most eminent
personages of his time.

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