Cato the Elder  

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Marcus Porcius Cato< (234 BC, Tusculum – 149 BC) was a Roman statesman, commonly surnamed Censorius (the Censor), Sapiens (the Wise), Priscus (the Ancient), or Major (the Elder), or Cato the Censor, to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger.

He came of an ancient Plebeian family who all were noted for some military service but not for the discharge of the higher civil offices. He was bred, after the manner of his Latin forefathers, to agriculture, to which he devoted himself when not engaged in military service. But, having attracted the notice of Lucius Valerius Flaccus, he was brought to Rome, and successively held the offices of Cursus Honorum: Tribune (214 BC), Quaestor (204 BC), Aedile (199 BC), Praetor (198 BC), Consul (195 BC) together with his old patron, and finally Censor (184 BC).

Cato "the censor"

Cato was opposed to the spread of Hellenic culture, which he believed threatened to destroy the rugged simplicity of the conventional Roman type. It was in the discharge of the censorship that this determination was most strongly exhibited, and hence that he derived the title (the Censor) by which he is most generally distinguished. He revised with unsparing severity the lists of Senators and Knights, ejecting from either order the men whom he judged unworthy of it, either on moral grounds or from their want of the prescribed means. The expulsion of L. Quinctius Flamininus for wanton cruelty was an example of his rigid justice.

His regulations against luxury were very stringent. He imposed a heavy tax upon dress and personal adornment, especially of women, and upon young slaves purchased as favourites. In 181 BC he supported the lex Orchia (according to others, he first opposed its introduction, and subsequently its repeal), which prescribed a limit to the number of guests at an entertainment, and in 169 BC the lex Voconia, one of the provisions of which was intended to check the accumulation of an undue proportion of wealth in the hands of women.


  • "Cessation of work is not accompanied by cessation of expenses."
  • "This corn is well grown and Carthage must be destroyed."
  • "Grasp the subject, words will follow."
  • "Anger so clouds the mind, that it cannot perceive the truth."
  • "Take no account of dreams."
  • "And what do you think of usury?" - "What do you think of murder?"
  • "After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one."
  • "Never am I less alone than when I am by myself, never am I more active than when I do nothing."
  • "Wise men learn more from fools than fools from the wise."

See also

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