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Stoic History
7 min2018 OCT 5
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Stoic History ep 2 : Meet Cato the Younger


The ancient philosphers would write about Cato the Younger in their writings. He was an inspiration and role model for them. But who was Cato the Younger? Marco Porcius Cato Uticensis (Cato the Younger, Cato the Stoic or Cato of Utica), was grandson of M. Porcius Cato Major (Cato the Elder or Cato the Wise), very well known during the Roman Republic because of his constant opposition to Julius Caesar. Described as a notable orator he is remembered by his tenacity and stubbornness but also by his moral integrity. Cato was born in 95 BC in Rome, the son of Marcus Porcius Cato and his wife Livia. He was left orphan very young because of the loss of both parents and was bred up in the house of Livius Drusus, his uncle by the mother's side. Cato was four when his uncle, tribune at that moment, was assassinated in 91 BC, an event that sparked the Social War. Since he was very young, he cultivated the old Roman virtues of simplicity and frugality, in contrast to the materialism of his own days. Also, the love of liberty for his country was rooted in his breast. Plutarch narrates the story of a fourteen years old Cato, carried by his tutor Sarpedo to Sylla's house (in that moment dictator), seeing heads of great men brought there because they fell under dictator's displeasure and he asked his master why nobody killed this man. The master replied that they had fear of him more than they hated him. Cato asked why the master gave him a sword with which he could stab him and free the country from slavery. Cato would exasperate many men in the years ahead. Obviously, the pattern of his life was set early and was perhaps as much a matter of temperament as anything else.