Opinion: Cato the Elder by Plutarch

Commonly referred to as Censorius (the Censor), Sapiens (the Wise), Priscus (the Ancient), or Major, Cato the Elder, or Cato the Censor, (to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger) known for his conservatism and opposition to Hellenization.
The telling of Cato the Elder by Plutarch, a Greek historian and biographer (C.A.D. 46-120) (Platzner, 2008), reveals not only Cato the man, his virtues, or the lack there of, but also a bias introduced into Plutarchs storytelling. His sources are suspect as he is noted for observation and criticisms rather than critical analysis. Plutarchs depiction of Cato appears to be that of a man’s covetous wanting, rather than that of a detached observer (Duckworth, 2002).

These being the case, Plutarch’s observations are more emotional than consistent with his observations, unstable and predetermined, being that a Greek was documenting the heroic, or not, exploits of a great Roman Soldier. It appears that Plutarch was unable to draw into his perception surrounding his own world view, the fact that a man such as a Roman warrior was able to forgo fortune and favour, and pursue a life of service and quite possibly, the prospect of immortality, or maybe even godhood, which was quite possible with Roman Law (Republic, 2011).

The ten best quotes by the ancient Roman statesman Cato the Elder! (234 BCE – 149 BCE) See all quotes by Cato
Cato was a consul and Lawyer as well as the valiant soldier, one Plutarch himself describes, even though he delivers this idealism through a veil of disbelief and posturing. Cato could have achieved immortality or godhood, I do not yet know, but all of Plutarch’s ideals, placed upon Cato the Elder, achieved an immortalisation of this Roman soldier, whether intentional or not.


Works Cited:
Duckworth, C. P. (Ed.). (2002). Plutarch – Fall of the Roman Republic, Revised edition. (R. S. Rex Warner, Trans.) Wales & Duckworth: Penguin Books.
Platzner, S. L. (2008). Introduction to Greek Myth: Distionctive Qualities of Greek Literary Myth. In S. L. Platzner, Classical Mythology: Images and Insights (5th ed., pp. 21-22). Sacramento: California State University.
Republic, H. -T. (2011, June 13th). Lecture 1. Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

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