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was intrusted.

XLVIII. Pompeius[731] being thus declared consul prayed Cato to come
to him to the suburbs: and on his arrival Pompeius received him in a
friendly manner with salutations and pressing of hands, and after
acknowledging his obligations he entreated Cato to be his adviser and
his assessor in the consulship. But Cato replied, that neither had he
said what he first said out of evil disposition towards Pompeius, nor
had he said what he last said in order to win his favour, but
everything for the interest of the state; accordingly he observed that
he would give Pompeius his advice when he was privately invited, but
that in public, even if he should not be invited, he would certainly
say what he thought. And he did as he said. In the first place, when
Pompeius was proposing laws with new penalties and severe proceedings
against those who had already bribed the people, Cato advised him not
to care about the past, but to attend to the future, for he said, it
was not easy to determine at what point the inquiry into past offences
should stop, and if penalties be imposed after the offences, those
would be hardly dealt with who were punished by a law which they were
not breaking at the time of their wrong-doing. In the next place, when
many men of rank were under trial, some of whom were friends and
relations of Pompeius, Cato observing that Pompeius was giving way to
the greater part of them and yielding, rebuked him firmly and roused
him up. Though Pompeius himself had caused a law to be passed which
did not allow the panegyrics which used to be pronounced on those who
were under trial, he wrote a panegyric on Munatius Plancus[732] on
the occasion of his trial and handed it in, but Cato by stopping his
ears with his hands, for he happened to be one of the judices,
prevented the testimonial from being read. Plancus challenged Cato as
one of the judices after the speeches, but nevertheless he was
convicted. And altogether Cato was a kind of thing difficult and
unmanageable for persons accused, as they were neither willing to have
him to be a judex, nor could they venture to challenge him. For not a
few were convicted because, by being unwilling to have Cato for one of
their judices, they were considered to show that they had no
confidence in the justice of their cause; and their revilers even
charged it upon some as matter of great reproach that they would not
have Cato as one of their judices when he was proposed.

XLIX. Now when Cæsar, though he kept close to his armies in Gaul and
stuck to arms, was still employing gifts and money and friends to
secure his power in the city, Cato's admonitions roused Pompeius from
his former long continued state of incredulity, and he began to be
afraid of the danger; but as he was somewhat hesitating and
spiritlessly procrastinating all attempts at prevention, Cato resolved
to be a candidate for the consulship with the view of either forthwith
wresting Cæsar's arms from him or demonstrating his designs. But the
rival candidates were both popular men: and Sulpicius[733] had already
derived much advantage from Cato's reputation in the state and his
influence. He therefore seemed to be doing what was neither just nor
grateful, but yet Cato found no fault with him. "What is it strange,"
said he, "if a man does not give up to another the thing which he
thinks to be the greatest of goods?" But Cato by persuading the Senate
to pass a Consultum that those who were candidates for the office
should canvass the people themselves, and should not solicit through
any other person, not even by such person going about to see the
citizens on their behalf, still more irritated the citizens, in that
by depriving them not only of the opportunity of receiving money, but
even of conferring a favour, he rendered the people at once poor and
dishonoured. In addition to this, as Cato had neither any persuasive
manners in canvassing for himself, but wished to maintain the dignity
of his life in his character rather than to add to it that of the
consulship by shaking hands with the electors, and as he would not
allow his friends to do the things by which the mass are taken and
gained over, he lost the office.

L. Though the matter caused not only to those who failed, but to their
friends and kin a certain degree of shame and depression and sorrow
for many days, Cato bore what had happened with so little concern,
that after anointing himself in the Campus he exercised at ball, and
again after dinner, according to his wont, he went down into the Forum
without his shoes and tunic, and walked about with his intimates. But
Cicero blames him, that when the times required such a magistrate, he
used no exertion nor tried to gain the favour of the people by
friendly intercourse with them, but for the future ceased to make any
effort and gave up the contest, though he was again a candidate for
the prætorship. Cato, however, said, that he lost the prætorship not
by the real will of the majority, but because they were forced or
corrupted; whereas in the voting for the consulship, in which there
was no foul play, he further perceived that he had displeased the
people by his manners, which it was not the part of a man of sense to
change in order to please others, nor, if he still kept to the like
manners, to subject himself to the like treatment.

LI. When Cæsar had attacked warlike nations and had conquered them
with great hazard, and when it was the opinion that he had fallen upon
the Germans even after a truce had been made, and had destroyed three
hundred thousand[734] of them, the rest indeed were promising to the
people to offer sacrifices for the victory, but Cato urged that they
should give up Cæsar to those who had been wronged, and should not
turn the guilt upon themselves nor allow it to fall on the state.
"However," said he, "let us still sacrifice to the gods, that they do
not turn their vengeance for the madness and desperation of the
commander upon the soldiers, and that they spare the city." Upon this
Cæsar wrote and sent a letter to the Senate; and when the letter had
been read, which contained much abuse of Cato and many charges against
him, Cato got up, and not under the influence of passion or personal
animosity, but as if it were on good consideration and due
preparation, showed that the charges against him were in the nature of
abuse and insult, and were pure trifling and mockery on Cæsar's part.
Then taking hold of all Cæsar's measures from the first, and unveiling
all his plans, not as if he were an enemy, but a fellow conspirator
and participator, he proved to them that they had no reason to fear
the sons of the Britons nor yet the Celts, but Cæsar himself, if they
were prudent; and he so worked on and excited them that the friends of
Cæsar repented of having read the letter in the Senate, and so given
Cato an opportunity of making a fair statement and true charges.
Nothing, however, was done, but it was merely said that it would be
well for a successor to Cæsar to be appointed. But when Cæsar's
friends required that Pompeius also should lay down his arms and give
up his provinces, or that Cæsar should not, Cato cried out, that now
what he foretold them had come to pass, and that the man was having
recourse to force and was openly employing the power which he had got
by deceiving and gulling the state; yet Cato could do nothing out of
doors, because the people all along wished Cæsar to have the chief
power, and he found the Senate ready to assent to his measures, but
afraid of the people.

LII. But when Ariminum[735] was captured, and news came that Cæsar
with his army was advancing against the city, then indeed all men
turned their eyes on Cato, both the people and Pompeius, as the only
man who from the first had foreseen and who had first clearly shown
the designs of Cæsar. Accordingly Cato said, "Men, if any among you
had listened to what I had all along been foretelling and advising,
you would neither have to fear a single man now, nor would you have to
rest all your hopes on a single man." Upon Pompeius saying that Cato
had indeed spoken more like a prophet, but that he had acted more like
a friend, Cato advised the Senate to place affairs in the hands of
Pompeius alone, for it was the business of those who caused great
evils to put an end to them. Now as Pompeius had not a force in
readiness, and he saw that the troops which he was then levying had no
zeal, he left Rome. Cato having determined to follow Pompeius in his
flight, sent his younger son into the country of the Bruttii[736] to
Munatius for safe keeping, but the elder he took with him. And as his
household and daughters required some one to look after them, he took
again Marcia, who was now a widow with a large estate, for Hortensius
at his death had made her his heir. It was with reference to this that
Cæsar[737] vented most abuse on Cato, and charged him with
covetousness and making a traffic of his marriage; for why should he
give up his wife, said Cæsar, if he still wanted one, or why should he
take her back, if he did not want one? if it was not that from the
first[738] the woman was put as a bait in the way of Hortensius, and
Cato gave her up when she was young that he might have her back when
she was rich. Now, in reply to these charges, this from Euripides
suffices: -

"First then what can't be said, for of this kind
I deem thy so call'd cowardice, O Hercules."

For to accuse Cato of filthy lucre is like upbraiding Hercules with
cowardice. But whether the matter of the marriage was not well in
other respects is a thing for inquiry. However, Cato did espouse
Marcia, and intrusting to her his family and daughters, hurried after
Pompeius.

LIII. From that day it is said that Cato never cut the hair of his
head or beard, nor put on a chaplet, but maintained till his death the
same outward signs of sorrow and depression of spirits and grief over
the misfortunes of his country, just the same when his party was
victorious and when it was vanquished. At that time having got by lot
Sicily as his province, he crossed over to Syracuse, and on hearing
that Asinius Pollio[739] had arrived from the enemy with a large force
at Messene, he sent to him to demand the reason of his coming. But
Cato in turn being asked for the reason of the change in affairs, and
having heard that Pompeius had completely deserted Italy and was
encamped in Dyrrachium, he said that there was great perplexity and
uncertainty in matters appertaining to the gods. Pompeius, who had
always been invincible while he was doing what was not honest or just,
now when he wished to save his country and fight in defence of
liberty, was deserted by his good fortune. As to Asinius, he said that
he was able to drive him out of Sicily, but as another greater force
was coming against him, he did not choose to ruin the island by a war;
and after advising the Syracusans to join the victorious party and to
take care of themselves, he sailed away. When he came to Pompeius, he
kept steadily to one opinion, to prolong the war, for he expected
some terms of reconciliation and did not wish that the state should be
worsted in a battle and suffer from itself the extreme of sufferings
by having its fate determined by the sword. And he persuaded Pompeius
and his council to other determinations akin to these, neither to
plunder any city that was subject to the Romans, nor to put to death
any Roman except on the field of battle; and he gained good opinion
and brought over many to the side of Pompeius, who were pleased with
his moderation and mildness.

LIV. Being sent to Asia to help those there who were collecting
vessels and an army, he took with him his sister Servilia and her
young child by Lucullus. For Servilia, who was now a widow, followed
Cato, and she removed much of the evil report about her licentious
conduct by voluntarily subjecting herself to the guardianship of Cato
and his wanderings and mode of life. But Cæsar[740] did not spare his
abuse of Cato even with respect to Servilia. However as it seems the
generals of Pompeius did not want the assistance of Cato at all; and
after persuading the Rhodians to join the side of Pompeius and leaving
Servilia and the child there, he returned to Pompeius, who had already
a splendid military force and a naval power with him. Here indeed
Pompeius appeared most clearly to show his mind; for at first he
intended to give to Cato the command of the ships, and the fighting
vessels were not fewer than five hundred, and the Liburnian and spy
ships and open boats were very numerous: but having soon perceived, or
it having been hinted to him by his friends, that it was the one chief
thing in all the policy of Cato to liberate his country, and that if
he should have the command of so great a force, the very day on which
they should defeat Cæsar, Cato would require Pompeius also to lay down
his arms and to follow the laws, he changed his mind though he had
already spoken with him, and he appointed Bibulus commander of the
ships. Yet he found not Cato's zeal dulled by this; for it is told
that when Pompeius was urging his troops to a battle before Dyrrachium
and bidding each of the commanders say something and to encourage the
men, the soldiers heard them with listlessness and silence; but when
Cato, after the rest, had gone through all the topics derived from
philosophy that were suitable to the occasion to be said about liberty
and virtue, and death and good fame, with great emotion on his part,
and finally addressed himself to invoke the gods as being there
present and watching over the struggle on behalf of their country,
there was so loud an acclamation and so great a movement in the whole
army thus excited, that all the commanders hastened to the contest
full of hopes. The soldiers of Pompeius routed and defeated the enemy,
but the dæmon of Cæsar prevented the completion of the victory by
taking advantage of the caution of Pompeius and his want of confidence
in his success. Now this is told in the Life of Pompeius.[741] But
while all were rejoicing and magnifying the victory, Cato wept for his
country and bewailed the love of power that brought destruction and
misfortune with it, when he saw that many brave citizens had fallen by
the hands of one another.

LV. When Pompeius in order to pursue Cæsar broke up his camp to march
into Thessaly, he left at Dyrrachium a great quantity of arms and
stores, and many kinsmen and friends, and he appointed Cato commander
and guardian over all with fifteen cohorts, both because he trusted
and feared the man. For if he were defeated, he considered that Cato
would be his surest support; but that if he were victorious, Cato
would not, if he were present, let him manage matters as he chose.
Many men of rank also were left behind in Dyrrachium with Cato. When
the defeat at Pharsalus took place, Cato resolved that if Pompeius
were dead, he would take over to Italy those who were with him, and
himself would live an exile as far from the tyranny as possible; but
if Pompeius were alive, that he would by all means keep together the
force for him. Accordingly having crossed over to Cercyra, where the
navy was, he proposed to give up the command to Cicero, who was a
consular, while he was only of prætorian rank; but when Cicero would
not accept the command and set off for Italy, Cato observing that
Pompeius[742] through his stubborn self-will and unreasonable temper
was desirous of punishing those who were sailing away, privately
admonished and pacified him, by which Cato manifestly saved Cicero
from death and secured the safety of the rest.

LVI. Conjecturing that Pompeius Magnus would make his escape to Egypt
or to Libya, and being in haste to join him, Cato with all whom he had
about him weighed anchor and set sail after permitting all those to go
away or stay behind who were not ready to accompany him. He reached
Libya, and coasting along he fell in with Sextus,[743] the younger son
of Pompeius, who reported to him his father's death in Egypt. Now they
were all much troubled, and no one after the death of Pompeius would
obey any other commander while Cato was present. Wherefore Cato, out
of respect to those who were with him, and because he had not heart to
desert and leave in difficulties the brave men who had given proof of
their fidelity, undertook the command and went along the coast till he
came to Cyrene; for the people received him though a few days before
they had shut out Labienus. Upon hearing that Scipio, the
father-in-law of Pompeius, had been well received by King Juba, and
that Varus Attius, who had been appointed governor of Libya by
Pompeius, was with them with a force, he set out by land in the winter
season, having got together a number of asses to carry water, and
driving along with him a quantity of cattle, and also taking chariots
and the people called Psylli,[744] who cure the bites of serpents by
sucking out the poison with their mouths, and deaden and soothe the
serpents themselves by charming them with music. Though the march was
seven days in succession, Cato led at the head of his men without
using horse or beast of burden. And he continued to sup in a sitting
posture from the day that he heard of the defeat at Pharsalus, and he
added this further sign of his sorrow, never to lie down except when
he was sleeping. Having spent the winter in Libya[745] he led forth
his army; and the men were near ten thousand.

LVII. Matters were in bad plight between Scipio and Varus, for in
consequence of their disagreement and disunion they were secretly
trying to win the favour of Juba,[746] who was intolerable for the
arrogance of his temper and his haughtiness by reason of his wealth
and power. When he was going to have his first interview with Cato,
Juba placed his seat between the seats of Scipio and Cato. However,
when Cato observed it, he took up his seat and moved it to the other
side so as to leave Scipio in the middle, though Scipio was his enemy,
and had published a certain writing which contained abuse of Cato.
This, indeed, people make no account of; but they blame Cato that in
Sicily he placed Philostratus[747] in the middle, as he was walking
about with him, to do honour to philosophy. On this occasion, however,
he checked Juba, who had all but made Scipio and Varus his satraps,
and he reconciled them. Though all invited Cato to the command, and
Scipio and Varus were the first to surrender and give it up to him, he
said that he would not break the laws in defence of which they were
fighting against him who broke them, nor would he place himself, who
was a proprætor, before a proconsul who was present. For Scipio had
been appointed proconsul, and the majority, on account of the name,
had confidence that they should be successful, if a Scipio commanded
in Libya.

LVIII. However when Scipio[748] immediately on receiving the command,
wished to please Juba by putting to death all the people of Utica who
were capable of bearing arms, and to dig down the city, because it
favoured Cæsar, Cato would not endure this, but with adjurations and
loud cries in the council and by appealing to the gods he with
difficulty rescued the people from their cruelty; and partly at the
request of the citizens of Utica[749] and partly at the instance of
Scipio, he undertook to keep guard in the city, that it should not
either involuntarily or voluntarily join Cæsar. For the place was in
all respects advantageous, and defensible by those who held it; and it
was strengthened still more by Cato. For he brought abundance of corn
into the city, and he strengthened the walls by raising towers, and
making strong ditches and palisado-work in front of the city. To the
people of Utica who were able to bear arms he assigned the
palisado-work as their quarter, and made them give up their arms to
him; but he kept the rest in the city, and took great care that they
should not be wronged and should suffer no harm from the Romans. He
also sent out a great quantity of arms, supplies and grain to those
in camp, and altogether he made the city the storehouse for the war.
But the advice which he gave Pompeius before, and gave Scipio then,
not to fight with a man of a warlike turn and great ability, but to
take advantage of time which wastes all the vigour wherein the
strength of tyranny lies, Scipio through self-will despised; and on
one occasion he wrote to Cato upbraiding him with cowardice, in that
he was not content to sit down within a city and walls, but would not
even let others boldly use their own judgment as opportunity offered.
To this Cato replied, that he was ready to take the legionary soldiers
and horsemen whom he had brought into Libya, and carry them over to
Italy, and so make Cæsar change his place and to turn him from them to
himself. And when Scipio mocked at this also, it was clear that Cato
was much annoyed that he had declined the command, for he saw that
Scipio would neither conduct the war well, nor, if he should succeed
contrary to expectation, would he behave with moderation to the
citizens in his victory. Accordingly Cato formed the opinion and
mentioned it to some of his friends, that he had no good hopes of the
war on account of the inexperience and confidence of the commanders,
but if there should be any good fortune, and Cæsar should be worsted,
he would not stay in Rome, and would fly from the harshness and
cruelty of Scipio, who was even then uttering dreadful and extravagant
threats against many. But it turned out worse than he expected; and
late in the evening there arrived a messenger from the camp who had
been three days on the road, with the news that a great battle had
been fought at Thapsus[750] in which their affairs were entirely
ruined, that Cæsar was in possession of the camps, Scipio and Juba had
escaped with a few men, and the rest of the army was destroyed.

LIX. On the arrival of this intelligence, the city, as was natural on
the receipt of such news by night and in time of war, nearly lost its
reason, and hardly contained itself within the walls; but Cato coming
forward, whenever he met with any one running about and calling out,
laid hold of him, and cheering him took away the excessive fright and
confusion of his alarm, by saying that matters perchance were not so
bad as they had been reported, but were magnified by rumour; and so he
stayed the tumult. At daybreak he made proclamation that the three
hundred, whom he had as a Senate, and these were Romans, and were
carrying on business in Libya as merchants and money-lenders, should
assemble at the temple of Jupiter, and also all the Roman senators who
were present and their sons. While they were still assembling, Cato
advanced, without hurry and with a tranquil countenance, as if nothing
new had happened, holding a book in his hand, which he was reading;
and this was a register of the military engines, arms, corn, bows, and
legionary soldiers. When they had come together, beginning with the
three hundred, and commending at some length the zeal and fidelity
which they had displayed in aiding with their means and persons and
advice, he exhorted them not to let their hopes be destroyed, and not
severally to provide for their flight or escape. For, he said, that if
they would keep together, Cæsar would despise them less if they made
resistance, and would spare them more if they asked his mercy. And he
urged them to deliberate about themselves, and that he would not find
fault with their deciding either way, and if they should be disposed
to turn to the fortunate side, he should attribute the change to
necessity; but if they preferred to oppose the danger and to undertake
the hazard in defence of liberty, he should not only commend them, but
admire their virtue, and make himself their commander and
fellow-combatant, till they had tried the last fortune of their
country, which was not Utica or Adrumetum only, but Rome, that had
often by her might recovered from greater falls. And they had many
grounds for safety and security; and chief of all, that they were
warring against a man who was pulled in many directions by the
circumstances of the times, for Iberia had gone over to Pompeius the
young, and Rome herself had not yet altogether received the bit for
want of being used to it, but was impatient of suffering and ready to
rise up collected upon every change, and danger was not a thing to
fly from, but they should take as a pattern the enemy, who was not
sparing of his life for accomplishing the greatest wrongs, and for
whom the uncertainty of the war had not the same result as for them,



Online Library46 PlutarchPlutarch's Lives Volume III → online text (page 52 of 55)