Anticato

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The Anticato (sometimes Anti-Cato; Latin: Anticatones) was a polemic written by Julius Caesar in hostile reply to Cicero's pamphlet praising Cato the Younger. The text is lost and survives only in fragments. Brutus, dissatisfied with Cicero's work, wrote a second pamphlet in praise of Cato and called, simply, "Cato," which provoked a reply from Octavian.[1] Octavian's work is not known to have been called Anticato but must have been modeled on Caesar's reply to Cicero.

Background[edit]

Main article: Cato the Younger

Cato was a famously stubborn Stoic, who came into conflict with Caesar at the Catiline conspiracy trial. Cato argued for capital punishment for Lucius Sergius Catilina and his conspirators, so as to set an example and discourage similar treason. Caesar argued for a private judgement and clemency. The Senate agreed with Cato, and the executions were carried out; the rebel army disbanded and fled. During the debate, however, Cato had called out Caesar for reading personal messages in the Senate; Caesar defended himself, saying he was only reading a love letter. Cato insisted on reading it, and to widespread dismay, it was what Caesar said—exposing his affair with Servilia Caepionis, the half-sister of Cato. Servilia was forced to divorce.

Next, during the triumvirate of Caesar, Pompey, and Marcus Licinius Crassus, Cato interfered with Caesar's plans for a triumph for himself, while supporting one for Pompey. Cato opposed Caesar's every political step afterward, in particular leading the opposition to Caesar's return to Rome in 49 BC without relinquishing his proconsulship. Caesar famously crossed the Rubicon and came to Rome regardless, sparking the Roman Civil War. When Caesar prevailed in the war and looked to seize power in Rome, Cato committed suicide.

Several leading Romans wrote works in posthumous praise or criticism of Cato. A famous panegyric by Cicero titled simply Cato led to Caesar writing his Anticato in response.

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Hazel, John, Who's Who - In The Roman World. London and New York: Routledge, 2001.