Marcus Cato: The republican Man
Some years into the republic age of Rome, Marcus Cato was born into a less-than-impressive, but honorable home. Over time, Cato would prove to be a great statesman as well as earn many other titles and honors. However, before one can understand the great man, one must understand the society that shaped him. At this time in its history, Rome had formed its republic by vesting the power in the people, represented by the senate. Despite there being instances of corruption, the republic naturally defended against corruption by keeping too much power away from just one man and dispersing it to the many. Under Roman tradition the citizens lived praiseworthy family lives, and ancestry, as well as different traditions, shaped those lives. On top of those two sorts of body politic, the republic and the family, a true Roman citizen had a balanced and temperate form of self-government. Each of these three traits of Rome helped to shape not just Marcus Cato, but all of its inhabitants. Being well versed in Greek tradition as well as very knowledgeable in Roman history and politics, Cato came to be a very prosperous political figure, war hero, and most of all a well-rounded model for a republic even today. It was mostly his moderate combination of all of these traits through temperance and a strong code of morals that allowed Cato to achieve this status.
From his early days as a young scholar, Cato learned and practiced frugality and temperance in everything he did. Growing up, one of Cato’s influences was Fabius Maximus, a soldier above Cato. Among the things that Cato absorbed from Fabius was a quote from Plato: “pleasure is evil’s chief bait; the body of all calamity of the soul” (193). From lines like this Cato learned the value of strong morals and moderation. Among the merits shared by great men of his time and succeeding generations, temperance and frugality reign from amongst the canopy of virtues. Basing decisions...
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