Marco Porcio Catón (234 - 149 a.C.)
Marcus Porcius Cato was a Roman statesman, orator, writer, and defender of
conservative Roman Republican ideas who lived between 234 and 149 BC.
He was born into a wealthy family of Roman landholders during the early
Republican period on a farm in the city of Tusculum, southeast of present-day
Rome. His early farm upbringing resulted in a lifelong interest in agriculture
and the writing of his De Agri Cultura in 160 BC which is the oldest Latin
literary encyclopedia in existence today.
His conservative views of traditional Roman Republican culture and the
importance of the development of Latin literature and its survival as a written
language resulted in his fear and dislike of the increasing Greek influence on
the Romans. Cato helped insure the survival of Latin by being the first to write
an encyclopedic history of Rome in Latin called Origines, of which only small
As censor, he attempted to preserve old Roman ancestral custom, mos maiorum. He
supported, in 181 BC, the law against luxury, lex Orchia, and in 169 BC, the law
that limited a woman's financial freedom, lex Voconia. He is also known as Cato
the Censor due to his austere scrutinization of Senate officials in 184 BC and
the removal of those who he considered too liberal or open to new foreign ideas,
and those who were extravagant or who he felt lived luxurious, immoral lives. He
was the bane of Tiberius Gracchus's existence, making it very difficult for him
to get any liberal reforms passed.
Perhaps one of his most famous quotes was, "delenda est Carthago" that
essentially started the Third Punic War, resulting in the destruction of