The New Student's Reference Work/Cato, Marcus Porcius (The Censor)

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Ca'to (ka'to), Marcus Porcius (surnamed The Censor), was born at Tusculum in 234 B.C. Marcus Porcius was his proper name. Cato, meaning wise, was a title given him later in life when he held office as censor. He spent his boyhood on his father's farm, and there learned simple manners and ways of living. When 17, he served with great bravery in the army against Hannibal. At the same time he was becoming known as an orator and statesman. Because of his ability and uprightness, he was made consul in 195 B.C., though his family was unknown. Made, the next year, governor of Spain, he showed such skill and vigor in putting down a rebellion there, that the people gave him a military triumph on his return to Rome. In 184 he was chosen censor, and at once became very active in using his office to carry out his ideas of simplicity, of honesty in government and of dislike of everything which was new. He put the water-courses, reservoirs and drains in good order; had the taxes collected more cheaply; saw that less money was paid for building the great public buildings; and decided what price should be paid for slaves, clothes, furniture, carriages, etc. Rome was growing rich from the spoils and plunder of her successful wars, and the Romans had caught from the Greeks a liking for fine clothes, great palaces, many slaves and all that made up luxury in life. These new ways of life Cato despised and fought against. The famous saying, “Carthage must be destroyed,” which became a battle-cry of the Romans, was first used by Cato, who never made a speech in the senate without using the appealing, insistent words to inflame the ambitions of the Roman people. He died in 149 B. C.