Name: Marcus Porcius Cato (Uticensis) or Cato the Younger
Dates: 95-46 B.C.
Parents: Marcus Porcius Cato and Livia Drusa
Cato the Younger was born in Rome in 95 B.C. and died in April of 46 B.C., at Utica, in modern Tunisia, the administrative capital of the Roman province of Africa. He is called Cato the Younger to distinguish him from his illustrious great-grandfather Cato the Elder (c. 234-149 B.C.). The elder Cato held an implacable attitude towards Carthage in the Third Punic War. Holding the same stubborn streak, Cato was known for his Stoic resolve, his oratorical skills:
See: "The First Eloquent Stoic: Cicero on Cato the Younger," by Rex Stem in "The Classical Journal" (2005), which says "Cato was the first to bridge the gap between the forensics of political life at Rome and the traditions of Roman Stoicism."and an implacable attitude towards Caesar and the first triumvirate.
Cato the Younger was the son of Marcus Porcius Cato and Livia Drusa. He lived with his half-siblings Quintus Servilius Caepio and Servilia, the latter known for sending a love letter to Julius Caesar at the Senate, to the great embarrassment of Cato.
Cato's wives were Atilia, whom he divorced after she had born him two children, and then Marcia, whom he stoically divorced so that she could marry the orator Hortensius who sought a marital alliance with Cato. Cato's daughter Portia had been Hortensius' first choice, but she was married to Bibulus, the stay-at-home co-consul of Julius Caesar. Bibulus tried to invalidate all the legislation passed during his consular year (the one shared with Cato's foe Caesar), and then stopped attending the Senate meetings.
"My feelings, Conscript Fathers, are extremely different, when I contemplate our circumstances and dangers, and when I revolve in my mind the sentiments of some who have spoken before me. Those speakers, as it seems to me, have considered only how to punish the traitors who have raised war against their country, their parents, their altars, and their homes; but the state of affairs warns us rather to secure ourselves against them, than to take counsel as to what sentence we should pass upon them. Other crimes you may punish after they have been committed; but as to this, unless you prevent its commission, you will, when it has once taken effect, in vain appeal to justice. When the city is taken, no power is left to the vanquished. But, in the name of the immortal gods, I call upon you, who have always valued your mansions and villas, your statues and pictures, at a higher price than the welfare of your country; if you wish to preserve those possessions, of whatever kind they are, to which you are attached; if you wish to secure quiet for the enjoyment of your pleasures, arouse yourselves, and act in defense of your country. We are not now debating on the revenues, or on injuries done to our allies, but our liberty and our life is at stake."
Cato fought under Gellius, against the Spartacans in the servile war of 72 B.C., while Cato's brother Caepio was a military tribune. Moving through the cursus honorum (steps up the political ladder), Cato became quaestor in 65 and praetor in 54. He served as tribune of the plebs in 62.
During the civil war begun when Caesar crossed the Rubicon, Cato, as you might imagine, opposed Caesar. He fought under Pompey against Julius Caesar in 48 B.C. After the Battle of Thapsus (located in northern Africa), when it became clear that Caesar was in charge of Rome, Cato, who had expended much effort and much of his career trying to thwart Julius Caesar, made a grand gesture of defiance by committing suicide.
Plutarch writes the following about the wives of Cato the Younger:
"And he married Atilia, a daughter of Serranus. She was the first woman with whom he consorted" "And what was most disgraceful of all, even Cato's wife Atilia was not free from such transgressions, but although he had two children by her, he was forced to put her away because of her unseemly behaviour.
25 Then he married a daughter of Philippus, Marcia, a woman of reputed excellence, about whom there was the most abundant talk; and this part of Cato's life, like a drama, has given rise to dispute and is hard to explain. However, the case was as follows, according to Thrasea, who refers to the authority of Munatius, Cato's companion and intimate associate. 2 Among the many lovers and admirers of Cato there were some who were more conspicuous and illustrious than others. One of these was Quintus Hortensius, a man of splendid reputation and excellent character. This man, then, desiring to be more than a mere associate and companion of Cato, and in some way or other to bring his whole family and line into community of kinship with him, attempted to persuade Cato, whose daughter Porcia was the wife of Bibulus and had borne him two sons, to give her in turn to him as noble soil for the production of children. 3 According to the opinion of men, he argued, such a course was absurd, but according to the law of nature it was honourable and good for the state that a woman in the prime of youth and beauty should neither quench her productive power and lie idle, nor yet, by bearing more offspring than enough, burden and impoverish a husband who does not want them. Moreover, community in heirs among worthy men would make virtue abundant and widely diffused in their families, and the state would be closely cemented together by family alliances. And if Bibulus were wholly devoted to his wife, Hortensius said he would give her back after she had borne him a child, and he would thus be more closely connected both with Bibulus himself and with Cato by a community of children.
4 Cato replied that he loved Hortensius and thought highly of a community of relationship with him, but considered it absurd for him to propose marriage with a daughter who had been given to another. Then Hortensius changed his tactics, threw off the mask, and boldly asked for the wife of Cato himself, since she was still young enough to bear children, and Cato had heirs enough."