November 9, 2023 Classical Studies Speaker Series
Thomas Strunk, Xavier University
"The Lives of Cato Uticensis: Philosopher, Traitor, Republican"
In the spring of 46 BCE, as Caesar was bearing down on Utica, Cato the Younger committed suicide rather than accept the dictator’s clemency. Thus ended the physical life of Cato the Younger, but it was also the birth of Cato Uticensis, a symbol representing in turn the philosopher who stayed true to his principles in the face of death, the traitor who refused to accept Caesar’s just and legitimate rule, and the republican who resisted tyranny.
These three dominant interpretations of Cato have their origins in the writings of his contemporaries Cicero, Caesar, and Sallust. Yet their perduring influence can be traced across the millennia in writers such as Seneca and Lucan, who wrestled over a philosophic or republican Cato, and Augustine and Dante, who portrayed Cato as sinner and saint. Even in the modern era, Cato has been held up as a republican hero on the theatrical stage and the battlefield of the American revolution. In examining these various interpretations of Cato, we might ask which is most suitable for our own age, or perhaps question Cato’s value at all for a twenty-first century world.
Location: Global and International Studies, 1128
Contact Alyson Melzer (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more info!