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Marcus Cato   


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 worth while 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 half-witted.
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 suckling 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 armour, 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

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