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FRL V: ORATORY, PART 3

126 M. PORCIUS CATO MINOR

M. Porcius Cato minor (95–46 BC; praet. 54 BC; RE Porcius 16) killed himself in Utica during the African war against C. Iulius Caesar (121) and therefore was nicknamed Uticensis, also to distinguish him from his great-grandfather M. Porcius Cato Censorius (8). Cato served as military tribune, quaestor, Tribune of the People, and provincial governor and was an active member of the Senate. He was well known for his modesty, moral uprightness, and exemplary conduct in office, which led to clashes with other politicians (on his career and oratory see van der Blom 2016, 204–47, on his speeches pp.315–22).

T 1 Cic. Brut. 118–19

tum Brutus: “quam hoc idem in nostris contingere intellego quod in Graecis, ut omnes fere Stoici prudentissimi in disserendo sint et id arte faciant sintque architecti paene verborum, idem traducti a disputando ad dicendum inopes reperiantur. unum excipio Catonem, in quo perfectissimo Stoico summam eloquentiam non desiderem...” [119] et ego [Cicero]: “...”inquam, “...tuus autem avunculus, quem ad modum scis, habet a Stoicis id quod ab illis petendum fuit; sed dicere didicit a dicendi magistris eorumque more se exercuit....”

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126 M. PORCIUS CATO MINOR

126 M. PORCIUS CATO MINOR

In Cicero it is noted that the oratory of Cato, though a Stoic, was not affected by the common defects of adherents of this philosophical school and that he even managed to include elements of Stoic doctrine successfully in public speeches; he was able to employ brevity or long speeches as the situation required (T 1–3). Cato’s eloquence was appreciated (T 4–5), and he was said to practice effective public speaking (T 6).

A letter from Cato to Cicero is extant (Cic. Fam. 15.5).

T 1 Cicero, Brutus

Thereupon Brutus [said]: “Remarkable: I see the same thing applies to our countrymen as to the Greeks, that practically all Stoics are very able in precise exposition, and they do it skillfully and are almost architects of words; but when the same people are transferred from debating to speaking, they are found to be deficient. One exception I make for Cato, in whom, though a most accomplished Stoic, I feel no desire for the most perfect eloquence...” [119] And I [Cicero] said: “...And your uncle [Cato], as you know, has acquired from the Stoics what was to be sought from them, but he learned to speak from masters of speaking and trained himself in their methods....”

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.fragmentary_republican_latin-oratory.2019