Suicide of Cato the Younger
Suicide of Cato the Younger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I marvel at those who, believing themselves Republican, claim Cato as one of theirs. Like other figures of hallowed antiquity, Cato his is own. Yet, there is something modern in his telling of the downfall of society – or perhaps history doth repeat itself.

Do not suppose that our ancestors, from so small a commencement, raised the republic to greatness merely by force of arms. If such had been the case, we should enjoy it in a most excellent condition; for of allies and citizens, as well as arms and horses, we have a much greater abundance that they had. But there were other things which made them great, but which among us have no existence—such as industry at home, equitable government abroad, and minds impartial in council, uninfluenced by any immoral or improper feeling. Instead of such virtues, we have luxury and avarice, public distress and private superfluity: we extol wealth, and yield to indolence; no distinction is made between good men and bad; and ambition usurps the honors due to virtue. Nor is this wonderful; since you study each his individual interest, and since at home you are slaves to pleasure, and here to money or favor; and hence it happens that an attack is made on the defenseless State.

via On the Punishment of the Catiline Conspirators by Cato the Younger. Rome (218 B.C.-84 A.D.). Vol. II. Bryan, William Jennings, ed. 1906. The World’s Famous Orations.

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