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Marcus Cato   


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 the 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 pretence, 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 despatched,
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
any one, 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 pretence: 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

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