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to whom it would bring the happiest life, if they were successful, and
the most glorious death if they failed. However, he said they ought to
deliberate by themselves, and he joined them in praying that in
consideration of their former virtue and zeal what they resolved might
be for the best.

LX. When Cato had spoken to this effect, some of them indeed were
brought to confidence by his words; but the greater part seeing his
fearlessness and noble and generous temper, nearly forgot present
circumstances, and considering him alone as an invincible leader and
superior to all fortune, prayed him to use their persons and property
and arms as he judged best, for they said it was better to die in
obedience to him than to save their lives by betraying such virtue. On
a certain person observing that they should declare freedom to the
slaves, and most of them assenting to this, Cato said he would not do
so, for it was not lawful nor yet right; but if the masters were ready
to give up their slaves, they should receive those who were of
military age. Many offers were made, and Cato, after telling them to
enrol every man who was willing, retired. Shortly after there came to
him letters from Juba and Scipio; from Juba, who was hid in a mountain
with a few men, asking him what he had resolved to do; and that if
Cato left Utica he would wait for him, and if he stood a siege he
would come to aid him with an army; from Scipio, who was in a vessel
off a certain point not far from Utica, and waiting with the same

LXI. Accordingly Cato determined to detain the letter-carriers till he
had confirmed the resolution of the three hundred. For the senators
were zealous, and immediately manumitted their slaves, and set about
arming them. But with respect to the three hundred, inasmuch as they
were men engaged in maritime affairs and money lending, and had the
chief part of their substance in slaves, the words of Cato stood no
long time in them, but oozed out, just as bodies which have a great
degree of rarity easily receive heat and again part with it, being
cooled when the fire is removed; in like manner Cato, while they saw
him, fanned the flame and warmed those men; but when they began to
reflect by themselves, the fear of Cæsar drove out of them all regard
to Cato and to honour. "Who are we," said they, "and who is the man
whose commands we are refusing to obey? Is not this Cæsar, to whom the
whole power of the Romans has been transferred? and not one of us is a
Scipio, nor a Pompeius, nor a Cato. But at a time when all men by
reason of fear are humbled in mind more than is fitting, at such a
time shall we fight in defence of the liberty of the Romans, and
contend in Utica against a man before whom Cato with Pompeius Magnus
fled and gave up Italy; and shall we manumit our slaves to oppose
Cæsar, we who have only as much freedom as he shall choose to give?
No, even yet, miserable wretches, let us know our own weakness, and
deprecate the conqueror, and send persons to supplicate him." This was
what the most moderate among the three hundred recommended; but the
majority were forming a design on the senatorial class, with the hope
that, if they seized them, they would pacify Cæsar's rage against

LXII. Though Cato suspected the change, he took no notice of it.
However he wrote to Scipio and Juba to tell them to keep away from
Utica, because he distrusted the three hundred, and he sent off the
letter-carriers. But the horsemen who had escaped from the battle, no
contemptible number, riding up to Utica, sent to Cato three men, who
did not bring the same message from all; for one party was bent on
going to Juba, another wished to join Cato, and a third was afraid of
entering Utica. Cato on hearing this ordered Marcus Rubrius to observe
the three hundred and quietly to receive the registrations of those
who manumitted their slaves without forcing any one; and himself
taking the senatorial men went out of Utica, and meeting with the
commanders of the cavalry he besought them not to betray so many Roman
senators, nor to choose Juba for their commander in place of Cato but
to secure their own safety and that of the rest by coming into a city
which could not be taken by storm, and contained both corn and other
resources for many years. The senatorial men joined in this prayer and
wept; and the commanders conferred with the cavalry, while Cato sat
down on a mound with the senatorial men and waited for the answer.

LXIII. In the meantime Rubrius came in a passion, charging the three
hundred with great disorder and tumult, inasmuch, as they were falling
off and disturbing the city. On which the rest, altogether despairing,
fell to weeping and lamentation, but Cato attempted to cheer them, and
sent to the three hundred and bade them wait. But the representatives
on the part of the horsemen came with no reasonable requisitions: for
they said that they neither wanted Juba for their pay-master, nor were
they afraid of Cæsar if they had Cato to command them, but it was a
dangerous thing to shut themselves up with the citizens of Utica, who
were Phœnicians and an inconstant people; and if they should keep
quiet now, they would set upon them and betray them, when Cæsar came.
If then any man wanted their aid in war and their presence, he must
eject or kill all the people of Utica, and then invite them into a
city free from enemies and barbarians. Cato considered this to be an
excessively savage and barbarous proposal, but he answered mildly and
said that he would consult with the three hundred. When he had
returned into the city he found the men no longer making pretexts or
evasions out of respect to him, but openly complaining that any one
should force them to fight with Cæsar when they were neither able nor
willing. Some even whispered with respect to the senatorial men, that
they ought to keep them in the city, since Cæsar was near. Cato let
this pass as if he did not hear it, and indeed he was somewhat deaf;
but when one came up to him and reported that the horsemen were going
away, Cato, fearing that the three hundred might do something
desperate to the senatorial men, got up with his friends and set out
walking; but observing that they had already advanced some distance,
he seized a horse and rode to them. The horsemen were glad to see him
approach, and received him and urged him to save himself with them.
Then it is said that Cato even shed tears, beseeching on behalf of the
senatorial men and holding forth his hands, and turning back the
horses of some and laying hold of their arms, until he prevailed on
them to abide there for that day at least, and secure the senatorial
men in their flight.

LXIV. When Cato arrived with the horsemen, and had posted some at the
gates, and had delivered the citadel to others to watch, the three
hundred, who were afraid that they should be punished for their
change, sent to Cato and prayed him by all means to come to them. But
the senatorial men crowding round him would not let him go, and they
declared that they would not give up their guardian and saviour to
faithless men and traitors. For a most lively perception, as it
appears, and affection and admiration of Cato's virtue had been
implanted in all alike who were in Utica, inasmuch as nothing spurious
or deceitful was mingled with what he did. And as the man had long
resolved to kill himself, he laboured with prodigious toil, and had
care and pain on behalf of others, in order that after placing all in
safety he might be released from life. For his resolution to die was
no secret, though he said nothing. Accordingly he complied with the
wish of the three hundred after comforting the senatorial men, and he
went alone to the three hundred, who thanked him, and prayed him to
employ them and trust them in everything else, and if they are not
Catos, and not capable of the lofty mind of Cato, he should have pity
on their weakness; and as they had determined to supplicate Cæsar and
to send to him, on Cato's behalf chiefly and for him first of all they
would prefer their prayer; and if they could not prevail on Cæsar,
neither would they receive the grace if it were offered to themselves,
but so long as they breathed would fight for him. In reply to this
Cato commended their good intentions, but said that they ought for
their own safety's sake to send quickly, and not to offer any petition
on his behalf, for entreaty belonged to the vanquished, and
deprecation of vengeance to those who were wrongdoers; that he had not
only been unvanquished all through life, but that he was victorious as
far as he chose to be, and had the superiority over Cæsar in things
honourable and just, and that Cæsar was the party who was captured
and conquered; for what he used to deny that he was doing against his
country long ago, he was now convicted of and detected therein.

LXV. Having thus spoken to the three hundred he went away, and hearing
that Cæsar at the head of all his army was already on his march, "Ha!"
said he, "he considers that he has to deal with men;" and turning to
the senators he urged them not to delay, but to make their escape
while the horsemen were still staying there. He also closed the gates,
except one that led to the sea, where he assigned vessels to those
under his command and preserved order by stopping wrong-doing and
settling disturbances, and supplying with stores those who were ill
provided. And when Marcus Octavius[751] with two legions had encamped
near, and had sent a message to Cato, in which he called on Cato to
come to some terms with him about the command, Cato gave him no
answer, but he said to his friends, "Do we wonder why our affairs are
ruined, when we see that love of power abides among us even when we
are in the midst of ruin?" In the mean time hearing that the horsemen,
as they were leaving the city, were pillaging and plundering the
people of Utica, as if their property was booty, Cato hurried to them
as fast as he could run, and took the plunder from the first that he
met with, and the rest made haste to throw it away or set it down on
the ground, and all of them for very shame retired in silence and with
downcast looks. Cato having called together the people of Utica in the
city, entreated them not to irritate Cæsar against the three hundred,
but to unite altogether to secure their safety. Then again betaking
himself to the sea he inspected the persons who were embarking, and
all his friends and acquaintance whom he could persuade to go away, he
embraced and accompanied to the shore. But he did not recommend his
son to take shipping, nor did he think it his duty to turn him from
his purpose of sticking to his father. There was one Statyllius, in
years a young man, but one who aimed at being resolute in character
and an imitator of the indifference of Cato. This man Cato entreated
to embark, for he was notoriously a hater of Cæsar; and-when he would
not go, Cato looking on Apollonides the Stoic and Demetrius the
Peripatetic said - "It is your business to soften this stubborn man and
to fashion him to his own interests." But Cato himself was busied all
the night and the greatest part of the following day in assisting the
rest in making their escape and helping those who wanted his aid.

LXVI. When Lucius Caæsar,[752] who was a kinsman of Cæsar, and about
to go to him as ambassador on behalf of the three hundred, urged Cato
to help him in devising some plausible speech which he should employ
on behalf of the three hundred, "for on thy behalf," he continued, "it
is becoming for me to touch the hands and to fall down at the knees of
Cæsar," Cato would not allow him to do this, and said, "For my part,
if I wished to save my life by Cæsar's favour, I ought to go to him
myself. But I do not choose to thank a tyrant for his illegal acts;
and he acts illegally in sparing as master those whom he has no right
to lord it over. However, if you please, let us consider how you shall
get pardon for the three hundred." After talking with Lucius on this
matter he presented his son and his friends to him as he was
departing, and after accompanying him some distance and taking leave
of him he returned home, and then calling together his son and his
friends he spoke on many subjects, among which he forbade his son to
meddle in political matters, for, he said, circumstances no longer
allowed him to act as befitted a Cato, and to act otherwise was base.
At evening he went to the bath. While he was bathing, he remembered
Statyllius, and calling out aloud he said, "Apollonides, have you sent
Statyllius away, and brought him down from his stubborn temper, and
has the man gone without even taking leave of us?" "By no means,"
replied Apollonides, "though we said much to him, but he is lofty and
immovable and says he will stay and do whatever you do." On this they
say that Cato smiled and replied, "Well, this will soon be shown."

LXVII. After taking the bath he supped in much company, still sitting
as his fashion had been since the battle, for he never reclined except
when he was sleeping; and there were at supper with him all his
friends and the magistrates of Utica. After supper the drinking went
on with much gaiety and enjoyment, one philosophical subject after
another taking its turn, till at last the enquiry came round to the
so-called paradoxes of the Stoics, that the good man alone is free,
and that all the bad are slaves. Hereupon the Peripatetic making
objections, as one might expect, Cato broke in with great vehemence,
and with a loud tone and harsh voice maintained his discourse at great
length, and displayed wonderful energy, so that no one failed to
observe that he had resolved to end his life and relieve himself from
present troubles. Wherefore as there was silence and depression of
spirits among all the company, after he had done speaking, with the
view of cheering them up and diverting their suspicions, Cato again
begun to put questions and to express anxiety about the state of
affairs, and his fears for those who had sailed away, and also for
those who were going through a waterless and barbarian desert.

LXVIII. At the end of the entertainment he took his usual walk with
his friends after supper, and after giving the officers of the watch
the proper orders, he retired to his chamber, but he first embraced
his son and his friends with more than his usual expression of
kindness, which again made them suspect what was going to happen. On
entering his chamber and lying down he took Plato's dialogue on the
Soul,[753] and when he had gone through the greater part of it, he
looked up over his head, and not seeing his sword hanging there, for
his son had caused it to be taken away while he was at supper, he
called a slave and asked who had taken his sword. The slave made no
answer and Cato was again at the book, but after a short interval, as
if he were in no haste or hurry, and was merely looking for his sword,
he bade the slave bring it. As there was some delay and nobody brought
it, after having read the dialogue through he again called his slaves
one by one, and raising his voice demanded his sword; and striking the
mouth of one of them with his fist he bruised his hand, being in a
great passion and calling out aloud that he was surrendered
defenceless to the enemy by his son and his slaves, till at last his
son ran in weeping with his friends, and embracing him fell to
lamentations and entreaties. But Cato rising up looked sternly and
said, "When and where have I been proved, and without knowing it, to
have lost my reason, that no one instructs me or teaches me in the
matters wherein I am judged to have determined ill, but I am hindered
from using my own reasonings and am deprived of my weapons? Why don't
you put your father in chains also, generous son, and his hands behind
his back, till Cæsar shall come and find me unable even to defend
myself? For I need not a sword to kill myself, when it is in my power
to die by holding my breath for a short time and giving my head a
single blow against the wall."

LXIX. As he said this the youth went out weeping, and all the rest,
except Demetrius and Apollonides, to whom when they were left by
themselves Cato begun to speak in milder terms, and said, "I suppose
you too have resolved by force to keep alive a man of my age and to
sit here in silence and to watch him, or are you come to prove that it
is neither a shocking nor a shameful thing for Cato, when he has no
other way to save his life, to wait for mercy from his enemy? Why then
do you not speak and convince me of this and teach me a new doctrine,
that we may cast away those former opinions and reasons in which we
lived together, and being made wiser through Cæsar owe him the greater
thanks for it? And yet for my part I have come to no resolve about
myself, but it is necessary that when I have resolved I have power to
do what I have determined. And I will deliberate in a manner together
with you, deliberating with the reasons which even you in your
philosophy follow. Go away then in good heart and tell my son not to
force his father when he cannot persuade him."

LXX. Upon this Demetrius and Apollonides without making any reply
retired weeping. The sword was sent in by a child, and when Cato
received it he drew it and looked at it. Seeing that the point was
entire and the edge preserved, he said, "Now I am my own master," and
laying the sword down, he began reading the book again, and he is said
to have read it through twice.[754] He then fell into so sound a sleep
that those who were outside the chamber were aware of it, and about
midnight he called his freedmen Cleanthes the physician and Butas whom
he employed chief of all in public matters. He sent Butas to the sea
to examine if all had set sail and to report to him, and he presented
his hand to the physician to tie it up, as it was inflamed from the
blow which he gave the slave. And this made them all more cheerful,
for they thought that Cato was inclined to live. In a little time
Butas came and reported that all had set sail except Crassus,[755] who
was detained by some business, and that even he was now all but on
board, and that a violent storm and wind prevailed at sea. Cato
hearing this groaned for pity of those who were at sea and he sent
Butas again to the sea, to learn if any one were driven back and
waited any necessaries, and to let him know. And now the birds were
beginning to sing,[756] and he sank asleep again for a while. When
Butas had returned and reported that all was quiet about the ports,
Cato, bidding him close the door, threw himself on the bed as if he
were going to sleep for the rest of the night. When Butas had gone
out, he drew the sword and thrust it beneath his chest, but as he used
his hand with less effect owing to the inflammation, he did not
immediately despatch himself, and having some difficulty in dying he
fell from the bed and made a noise by overturning a little abacus of
the geometrical kind that stood by, which his attendants perceiving
called out and his son and his friends immediately ran in. Seeing him
smeared with blood and the greater part of his bowels protruding,
though he was still alive and his eyes were open, they were all
dreadfully alarmed, and the physician going up to him attempted to
replace his bowels, which remained uninjured, and to sew up the wound.
But when Cato recovered and saw this, he pushed the physician away,
and tearing the bowels with his hands and at the same time rending the
wound he died.[757] LXXI. In a space of time which one would not have
thought enough for all in the house to have heard of the event, there
were present at the door the three hundred, and soon after the people
of Utica were assembled, with one voice calling Cato benefactor and
saviour and the only free man, the only unvanquished. And this they
did though it was told that Cæsar was advancing; but neither fear nor
subserviency towards the conqueror nor their mutual differences and
quarrels dulled them towards doing honour to Cato. They decorated the
body in splendid style, and made a pompous procession and interred him
near the sea, where a statue of him now stands with a sword in his
hand, and then they began to think how they should save themselves and
their city.

LXXII. Cæsar hearing from those who came to him that Cato was staying
in Utica and not flying away, and that he was sending off the rest,
while himself and his companions and his son were fearlessly going
about, thought it difficult to ascertain the intentions of the man,
but as he made most account of him he advanced with his force by quick
marches. When he heard of his death, it is reported that he said this,
"Cato, I grudge thee thy death, for thou hast grudged me thy safety."
For in fact if Cato had submitted to receive his life from Cæsar, he
would not have been considered to have lowered his own fame so much as
to have added to the splendour of Cæsar's. What would have been done
is uncertain, but with respect to Cæsar the milder measures are more

LXXIII. When Cato died he was fifty[758] years of age save two. His
son[759] received no harm from Cæsar, but he is said to have been fond
of pleasure and not free from blame with regard to women. In
Cappadocia he had as his host Marphadates, one of the royal family,
who possessed a handsome wife, and as Cato stayed longer with them
than was decent, he was satirized in such terms as these:

"To-morrow Cato goes away, to-morrow thirty days."


"Porcius and Marphadates, friends are two, but Psyche one."

For the wife of Marphadates was named Psyche (Soul). And again:

"Of noble blood and splendid fame, Cato has a royal Soul."

But he blotted out and destroyed all such ill report by his death; for
while fighting at Philippi against Cæsar and Antonius in defence of
liberty, and the line was giving way, not deigning either to fly or to
secrete himself, but challenging the enemy and showing himself in
front of them and cheering on those who kept the ground with him he
fell after exhibiting to his adversaries prodigies of valour. And
still more, the daughter of Cato being inferior neither in virtue nor
courage (for she was the wife of Brutus who killed Cæsar) was both
privy to the conspiracy and parted with life in a manner worthy of her
noble birth and merit, as is told in the Life of Brutus. Statyllius,
who said that he would follow Cato's example, was prevented indeed at
the time by the philosophers, though he wished to kill himself, but
afterwards he showed himself most faithful to Brutus and most
serviceable at Philippi, and there he died.


[Footnote 653: Cato was a cognomen of the Porcia Gens, which was
Plebeian. The name Cato was first given to M. Porcius Cato Censorius,
who was consul B.C. 195 and censor B.C. 184. The father of the Cato
whose life is here written was M. Porcius Cato, a Tribunus Plebis, who
married Livia, a sister of the tribune M. Livius Drusus. This Cato,
the tribune, was the son of M. Porcius Cato Salonianus, who was the
son of Cato the Censor. Cato the Censor was therefore the
great-grandfather of the Cato whose life is here written. See the
_Life of Cato the Censor_ by Plutarch, c. 24. 97. This Cato was born
B.C. 95.]

[Footnote 654: The text of Plutarch says that Livius Drusus was the
uncle of Cato's mother, but this is a mistake, and accordingly
Xylander proposed to read [Greek: theio men onti pros tês mêtros] θείο
μὲν ὄντι πρὸς τῆς μητρός. But Sintenis supposes that Plutarch may have
misunderstood the Roman expression "avunculus maternus." Cato's father
had by his wife Livia a daughter Porcia, who married J. Domitius
Ahenobarbus. Livia's second husband was Q. Servilius Cæpio, by whom
she had a son Q. Servilius Cæpio, whom Plutarch calls Cato's brother,
and two daughters, named Servilia, one of whom married M. Junius
Brutus, the father of the Brutus who was one of Cæsar's assassins, and
the other married L. Licinius Lucullus (Life of Lucullus. c. 38).]

[Footnote 655: The word is [Greek: anamnêstikous] ἀναμνηστικούς. The
meaning of Plutarch is perhaps not quite clear. See the note in
Schaefer's edition.]

[Footnote 656: These were the Roman Socii, or Italian states, which
were in a kind of alliance with and subordination to Rome. They had to
furnish troops for the wars, and to share the burdens of the Roman
State in return for which they claimed the citizenship (Life of
Marius, c. 32).]

[Footnote 657: Or Silo (Life of Marius, c. 33).]

Online Library46 PlutarchPlutarch's Lives Volume III → online text (page 53 of 55)