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Title:The elder Cato: A philological reassessment
Author(s):Churchill, J. Bradford
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Newman, John Kevin
Department / Program:Classics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Classical
History, Ancient
Political Science, General
Abstract:M. Porcius Cato (cos. 195 sc B.C.E.) has been a focal point of study of the literature and politics of Rome of the second century sc B.C.E. He has sometimes been seen as a study in contradictions--an enemy of Greek influence who partook of Greek influences, an enemy of luxury who indulged himself later in life, an enemy of money-lenders who was himself a money-lender, a man with rational convictions interwoven with irrational prejudices--and as a short-sighted, narrow, self-interested politician. By expanding upon recent historical studies of Cato and his role in the development of the Roman cultural self-image, a better integration of all the evidence will be proposed. Reflected in the preserved words and actions of Cato is a creative, thoughtful, practical, and ideologically balanced approach to rhetoric, politics, and social mores. He judged things Greek on the basis of their compatibility with Roman standards, and is not attested as having characterized anything as worthless merely because it was foreign. He claimed to be no enemy of harmless indulgence, but indulgence which led to corruption he fought to control. He advocated regulation of interest rates, not the abolition of lending at interest, and himself engaged in maritime loans, which were transactions of a different sort. His rational positions were argued with emotional conviction, but betray no indication of reactionary prejudice. His political acts are not obviously calculated primarily in self-interest, but he recognized areas of individual conduct which were detrimental to the stability and viability of the Roman state, and attacked them in court as he did in the legislative arena. It is no surprise that among later Romans he became an exemplar of virtue for his consistent adherence to his stated principles.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Churchill, James Bradford
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712234
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712234

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