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Cato the Younger

Cato the Younger or Cato of Utica, 95 B.C.–46 B.C., Roman statesman, whose full name was Marcus Porcius Cato; great-grandson of Cato the Elder. Reared by his uncle Marcus Livius Drusus, he showed an intense devotion to the principles of the early republic. He had one of the greatest reputations for honesty and incorruptibility of any man in ancient times, and his Stoicism put him above the graft and bribery of his day. His politics were extremely conservative, and his refusal to compromise made him unpopular with certain of his colleagues. He was from the first a violent opponent of Julius Caesar and, outdoing Cicero in vituperation of the conspiracy of Catiline in 63 B.C., tried to implicate Caesar in that plot, although maintaining his fairness to all. As a result he was sent (59 B.C.) to Cyprus by Clodius in what amounted to exile. He and his party supported Pompey after the break with Caesar. He accompanied Pompey across the Adriatic and held Dyrrhachium (modern Durazzo) for him until after the defeat at Pharsalus. Then he and Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio (see Scipio, family) went to Africa and continued the struggle against Caesar there. Cato was in command at Utica. After Caesar crushed (46 B.C.) Scipio at Thapsus, Cato committed suicide, bidding his people make their peace with Caesar. Cicero and Marcus Junius Brutus (Cato's son-in-law) wrote eulogies of him while Caesar wrote his Anticato against him; the noble tragedy of his death has been the subject of many dramas. He became the symbol of probity in public life.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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