Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Plutarch
Pages of Marcus Cato



Previous | Next
                  

Marcus Cato   


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 colours 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 seaside, 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 labour, he with a great
deal of ease drank away. When the senate, with a great deal of
splendour, 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
himself.
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
further moved in the senate that the said banished persons should
receive again the honours 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

Previous | Next
Site Search