Social Studies for 9th EGB
Teacher: Mauricio Torres
• He was commonly known as Cato the Younger
to distinguish him from his great-grandfather,
Cato the Elder.
• Cato was a politician and statesman in the late
Roman Republic, and a follower of the Stoic
– A noted orator, he is remembered for his
stubbornness and tenacity, as well as his immunity to
bribes, his moral integrity, and his famous distaste for
the corruption of the period.
• Since he was little, Cato showed clear signs of stubbornness
even during play time. An anecdote from his early days, during
Marius and Sulla’s civil war:
– “at one point during the height of the civil strife, as respected Roman
nobles were being led to execution from Sulla's villa, Cato, aged
about 14, asked his tutor why no one had yet killed the dictator.
Sarpedon's (his tutor) answer was thus: "They fear him, my child, more
than they hate him." Cato replied to this, "Give me a sword, that I
might free my country from slavery."
• His parents died when he was young, and after receiving his
vast inheritance at the end of his teens, he chose to live like an
stoic, eating and drinking only what he needed.
Political and Military life
• He studied Stoic philosophy and politics.
• In the year 72 BC, he volunteered to fight in the war against
• In 67 BC, he was sent to Macedonia and given command of a
– He led his men from the front, sharing their work, food, and sleeping
quarters. He was strict in discipline and punishment but was nonetheless
loved by his legionaries.
• Back in Rome, he was elected quaestor (public official who
supervised financial affairs).
– From this post, he prosecuted former quaestors, Sulla’s corrupt officials
and kept an eye on the treasury.
– When his office was done, he was publicly acclaimed by the people.
• He was then became a senator and also a tribune.
• During the events of the Caitiline Conspiracy, Caesar
recognized the conspirators were guilty of treason. Yet
he said that the death penalty was not applicable.
– As a tribune, Cato disagreed with Caesar and asked for the
death penalty, the which was enforced by Cicero.
• In the meantime, Caesar’s lover was Cato’s half sister!
• Cato openly opposed the triumvirate. During this
time, Caesar was Consul and wanted to pass laws that
gave land to the poor. While Cato was making a
speech, Caesar had him dragged out of the Senate
and sent to jail!
Civil War and death.
• During the civil war, he sided with the
Optimates, Caesar’s enemies.
• He fought at the battles of Dyrrachium and
• In Utica, facing the reality of Caesar’s victory, he
chose to kill himself, to deny him the opportunity
to give him a pardon.
– He stabbed himself with a sword, but, due to an
injured hand, he was not able to do it correctly.
– Wounded, his doctor tried to patch up the wound.
Knowing his intention, he stood up, tore up the
wound, plucked out his bowels and immediately
Cato: Teaching by example
In order to understand Cato, it is best
to review his deeds and learn four
lessons from him through some
anecdotes and analysis.
Cato: Teaching by example
• Julius Caesar wanted to end him. George Washington wanted
to be him.
• He was the senator who led the opposition to Julius Caesar in the
last years of the Roman Republic, then killed himself rather than
live under a dictator. He brought Stoicism into the mainstream.
• Cato reminds us that there’s a thin line between visionaries and
fools –a lesson especially important to anyone doing work that
goes against the grain.
• He remains both a shining example and a cautionary tale.
Lesson 1: The power of actions
• Cato understood that actions are far easier to ―hear‖ than
words. So he perfected a style of politics-by-gesture.
– He went barefoot.
– He wore his toga commando style.
– He walked alone without the usual entourage of aides.
– He slept in the trenches with his troops rather than relax in a tent; he
marched alongside them rather than ride a horse.
Lesson 2: Don’t compromise, ever!
• Stoics taught Cato that there were no shades of gray. There was
no more-or-less good, no more-or-less bad.
– Whether you were a meter underwater or a hundred, you were still
• He demanded the same of his friends, his family, and his soldiers.
He was infuriating to his enemies, and he could seem crazy to his
– And yes, sometimes he took his adherence to principle down absurd, blind
alleys. But he also built an impossible, almost inhuman standard that
brought him unshakable authority.
Lesson 3: Fear nothing
• Fear can only enter the mind with our consent, Cato had been
– Choose not to be afraid, and fear simply vanishes.
• To the untrained observer, Cato’s physical courage was reckless.
But in fact, it was among the most practiced aspects of Cato’s
• It was this long meditation on the absurdity of fear that enabled
him to press forward where others gave in.
Lesson 4: Use pain as a teacher
• Cato endured the worst hardships voluntarily. Pain, hunger, thirst,
boredom and else.
• What was the point? Pain and difficulty could build endurance
and self-control. Cato was drilling himself to become indifferent
to all things outside the magic circle of the conscience.
– He could be ridiculed, starving, poor, cold, hot, sick—and none of it would
• Cato didn’t have Caesar’s military skill, or Cicero’s eloquence.
• But he had something even more formidable: a determination to
hold himself, and those around him, to an insanely high
– His deeds did not give him glory nor riches, his actions gave him respect
and a higher power, which could never be achieved with armies or
bought with money.