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Marcus Cato   


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 taking 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 honourable
and great men would not yield up the first place of valour to those
who were more obscure, and when they who were of the commonalty (as he
himself was) would contend in valour with those who were most
eminent in birth and honour." 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 honours, 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 honour 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 any one 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
Flaminius (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 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 an 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

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