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Lecture

Plutarch, Life of Cato

5 Pages
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Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA233H1
Professor
Erik Gunderson

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CLA 233: Week 7: Mar. 1, 2011
Background
-overarching themes like “virtue and “exemplary citizens discussed in terms of
individual people or cases
-e.g. Cato the Virtuous
-people and events can come to represent categories
-application of a category to a person will dictate the historicalfacts that are
collected in relation to him/it
-“categorical thinking”
-tell stories of glorious past at aristocratic dinner parties
-used as example
-way of uniting past, present, and future
-Plutarch, like Livy, uses exemplary figures to create his history
-common technique, orators would say “he has the virtue of a _____” (like Cato)
-50BC-18CE = gap in histories
Plutarch: Life of Cato
-not to be confused with Cato the younger (dies 46 BC)
-talking about Cato the Elder
-exemplary stories also have family names attached to them
-to be born a Cato meant you had to live up to that name; be the next Cato
-Cato themes:
-husband
-father
-master to his slaves
-virtuous
-succeeds at everything
-bodies
-new/old combination: radical self invention as an “old man,” very traditional and
conservative, even though he is a new man in town
-interesting theme of body politics (e.g. soft bodies, hard bodies, luxurious bodies)
-politics and morality are merged for Cato
www.notesolution.com
-this is an issue for some leading citizens, they don’t want to be held to that
standard
-bundling of issues:
-old and new
-public and private
-Cato says we should be suspicious of Greek culture but nevertheless consumes it
Section 1:
-collection of opening remarks
-Cato not born from aristocratic family
-father was a soldier; demonstrated his virtuous character
-virtue of the soldier emphasized rather than virtue of the aristocrat
-heavy investor in the them of character
-body and speech contribute to character
-bodily habits translate into character
-e.g. good soldier, good farmer
-alwaysafter you” in his speeches, holds people accountable
-on his way to Rome Cato is an advocate for small towns and villages, but once he gets to
Rome he becomes the prosecutor
Section 2:
[2] Near his fields was the cottage which had once belonged to Manius Curius, a hero of
three triumphs. To this he would often go, and the sight of the small farm and the mean
dwelling led him to think of their former owner, who, though he had become the greatest
of the Romans, had subdued the most warlike nations, and driven Pyrrhus out of Italy,
nevertheless tilled this little patch of ground with his own hands and occupied this
cottage, after three triumphs. (2) Here it was that the ambassadors of the Samnites
once found him seated at his hearth cooking turnips, and offered him much gold; but he
dismissed them, saying that a man whom such a meal satisfied had no need of gold,
and for his part he thought that a more honourable thing than the possession of gold
was the conquest of its possessors. Cato would go away with his mind full of these
things, and on viewing again his own house and lands and servants and mode of life,
would increase the labours of his hands and lop off his extravagancies.
-Cato learns how to be a hero (like in the Old Republic) from the example of Manius
Curius
-emphasis on simplicity: eating the turnips
-critic of pleasure
-Cato doesn’t want money, he wants power
Section 3
-interesting story of Cato’s rise
-Valerius Flaccus, an old, neighboring farmer, hears about Cato
-impressed by his simple, frugal way of living; he likes him and decides to
provide an “in” for him
-Valerius Flaccus helps him rise at every step in the courts: his benefactor
-3.5: critique of Scipio
(5) In the same spirit he did not hesitate to oppose the great Scipio, a youthful
rival of Fabius, and thought to be envious of him. When he was sent out with Scipio as
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Description
CLA 233: Week 7: Mar. 1, 2011 Background -overarching themes like virtue and exemplary citizens discussed in terms of individual people or cases -e.g. Cato the Virtuous -people and events can come to represent categories -application of a category to a person will dictate the historical facts that are collected in relation to himit -categorical thinking -tell stories of glorious past at aristocratic dinner parties -used as example -way of uniting past, present, and future -Plutarch, like Livy, uses exemplary figures to create his history -common technique, orators would say he has the virtue of a _____ (like Cato) -50BC-18CE = gap in histories Plutarch: Life of Cato -not to be confused with Cato the younger (dies 46 BC) -talking about Cato the Elder -exemplary stories also have family names attached to them -to be born a Cato meant you had to live up to that name; be the next Cato -Cato themes: -husband -father -master to his slaves -virtuous -succeeds at everything -bodies -newold combination: radical self invention as an old man, very traditional and conservative, even though he is a new man in town -interesting theme of body politics (e.g. soft bodies, hard bodies, luxurious bodies) -politics and morality are merged for Cato www.notesolution.com
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