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Cato the Elder


Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise.
—Plutarch “Cato the Elder” Para. 9.4

Parallel – Aristides

Sometimes called Cato the Censor or Cato the Elder because he is the great-grandfather of the more famous Cato the Younger who resisted Julius Caesar in the first century civil wars. This Cato (234-149 BC) sets the standard for the old Roman agricultural and military virtues. He may be the best of breed, but he also seems to be the last of them. 


Cato’s Context – Roman History in a Nutshell

Kings: 753-509 BC

The Republic: 509-31 BC 

The Emperors:

  • 31 BC – AD 476 (in the West)
  • 31 BC – AD 1453 (in the East)

Cursus Honorum

  • Military Tribune
  • Quaestor – Accountant
  • Praetor – Judge/governor
  • Consul – commander-in-chief of the army, leader of the Senate
  • Censor – in charge of public morals

 Militiae – on military duty with Cato

  • Second Punic War
    • military tribune
  • Sicily – quaestor
  • Sardinia – praetor
  • Hither Spain – consul
  • Greece – as legate
    • Thermopylae 2!

Domī – At Home with Cato

  • In Rome
    • Censor
    • Anti-Greek
    • Anti-Carthaginian
    • Anti-luxury
  • At home
    • Raises his own son
    • Profit and gain
    • Leave behind more than you receive
    • Advice for the treatment of slaves sounds harsh even to Plutarch

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