Rome's Last Citizen
The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar
By Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni
Sometime you end up buying a book that never entered your mind.
Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis commonly known as Cato the Younger to distinguish him from his great-grandfather Cato the Elder, was a Senator, politician and statesman in the late Roman Republic, and a follower of the Stoic philosophy.
A noted orator, he is remembered for his stubbornness and tenacity (especially in his lengthy conflict with Julius Caesar), as well as his immunity to bribes, his moral integrity, and his famous distaste for the ubiquitous corruption of the period.
Cato's stand for an elected Republic against a tide of corruption and an increasingly centralized dictatorship holds special meaning for our own time.
The book is gripping. Hard to put down. Brilliantly written.
For the novice reader you get an excellent feel for this age of transition, a dying Republic, civil war and the birth of the Empire.
You follow Cato from an early age to his career in the military and the Senate.
He held a number of important offices. Cato was elected to the position of Quaestor. In 63 BC, he was elected Tribune of the Plebs. He was also elected as Praetor.
|Cato the Younger|
Defender of the Roman Republic
Always he was living a honest moral life while upholding the Republic.
Civil War broke out when Caesar crossed the Rubicon accompanied by the thirteenth legion to take power from the Senate. Formally declared an enemy of the State, Caesar pursued the Senatorial party, now led by Pompey, who abandoned the city to raise arms in Greece, with Cato among his companions.
Pompey was ultimately defeated by Caesar in the Battle of Pharsalus (48 BC). Cato and Metellus Scipio, however, did not concede defeat and escaped to the province of Africa to continue resistance from Utica.
Caesar pursued Cato and Metellus Scipio after installing the queen Cleopatra VII on the throne of Egypt, and in February 46 BC the outnumbered Caesarian legions defeated the army led by Metellus Scipio at the Battle of Thapsus. Acting against his usual strategy of clemency, Caesar did not accept surrender of Scipio's troops, but had them all slaughtered.
In Utica, Cato did not participate in the battle and, unwilling to live in a world led by Caesar and refusing even implicitly to grant Caesar the power to pardon him, he committed suicide in April 46 BC. According to Plutarch, Cato attempted to kill himself by stabbing himself with his own sword, but failed to do so due to an injured hand. Plutarch wrote:
On hearing of his death in Utica, Plutarch wrote that Caesar commented: "Cato, I grudge you your death, as you would have grudged me the preservation of your life."Cato did not immediately die of the wound; but struggling, fell off the bed, and throwing down a little mathematical table that stood by, made such a noise that the servants, hearing it, cried out. And immediately his son and all his friends came into the chamber, where, seeing him lie weltering in his own blood, great part of his bowels out of his body, but himself still alive and able to look at them, they all stood in horror. The physician went to him, and would have put in his bowels, which were not pierced, and sewed up the wound; but Cato, recovering himself, and understanding the intention, thrust away the physician, plucked out his own bowels, and tearing open the wound, immediately expired.
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Rome's Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar
The other great defender of the Republic was Cicero. With his murder the Republic died and the Empire began. Enjoy this clip from HBO's "Rome".