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

Previous | Next

Marcus Cato   

word, went away, as his custom was, with his usual companions to the
market: and among the rest, he called aloud to one Salonius, who had
been a clerk under him, and asked him whether he had married his
daughter? He answered no, nor would he, till he had consulted him.
Said Cato, "Then I have found out a fit son-in-law for you, if he
should not displease by reason of his age; for in all other points
there is no fault to be found in him; but he is indeed, as I said,
extremely old." However, Salonius desired him to undertake the
business, and to give the young girl to whom he pleased, she being a
humble servant of his, who stood in need of his care and patronage.
Upon this Cato, without any more ado, told him he desired to have
the damsel himself. These words, as may well be imagined, at first
astonished the man, conceiving that Cato was as far off from marrying,
as he from a likelihood of being allied to the family of one who had
been consul and had triumphed; but perceiving him in earnest, he
consented willingly; and going onwards to the forum, they quickly
completed the bargain.
Whilst the marriage was in hand, Cato's son, taking some of his
friends along with him, went and asked his father if it were for any
offence he brought in a stepmother upon him? But Cato cried out,
"Far from it, my son, I have no fault to find with you or anything
of yours; only I desire to have many children, and to leave the
commonwealth more such citizens as you are." Pisistratus, the tyrant
of Athens, made, they say, this answer to his sons, when they were
grown men, when he married his second wife, Timonassa of Argos, by
whom he had, it is said, Iophon and Thessalus. Cato had a son by
this second wife, to whom, from his mother, he gave the surname of
Salonius. In the meantime, his eldest died in his praetorship; of whom
Cato often makes mention in his books, as having been a good man. He
is said, however, to have borne the loss moderately and like a
philosopher, and was nothing the more remiss in attending to affairs
of state; so that he did not, as Lucius Lucullus and Metellus Pius
did, grow languid in his old age, as though public business were a
duty once to be discharged, and then quitted; nor did he, like
Scipio Africanus, because envy had struck at his glory, turn from
the public, and change and pass away the rest of his life without
doing anything; but as one persuaded Dionysius, that the most
honourable tomb he could have would be to die in the exercise of his
dominion; so Cato thought that old age to be the most honourable which
was busied in public affairs; though he would, now and then, when he
had leisure, recreate himself with husbandry and writing.
And, indeed, he composed various books and histories; and in his
youth he addicted himself to agriculture for profit's sake; for he
used to say he had but two ways of getting- agriculture and parsimony;
and now, in his old age, the first of these gave him both occupation
and a subject of study. He wrote one book on country matters, in which
he treated particularly even of making cakes and preserving fruit;
it being his ambition to be curious and singular in all things. His
suppers, at his country house, used also to be plentiful; he daily
invited his friends and neighbours about him, and passed the time
merrily with them; so that his company was not only agreeable to those
of the same age, but even to younger men; for he had had experience in
many things, and had been concerned in much, both by word and deed,
that was worth the hearing. He looked upon a good table as the best
place for making friends; where the commendations of brave and good
citizens were usually introduced, and little said of base and unworthy
ones; as Cato would not give leave in his company to have anything,
either good or ill, said about them.
Some will have the overthrow of Carthage to have been one of his
last acts of state; when, indeed, Scipio the younger did by his valour
give it the last blow, but the war, chiefly by the counsel and
advice of Cato, was undertaken on the following occasion. Cato was
sent to the Carthaginians and Masinissa, King of Numidia, who were
at war with one another, to know the cause of their difference. He, it

Previous | Next
Site Search