Marcus Cato


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Cato’s Censorship


. . . He gave most general annoyance while censor by retrenching people’s luxury; for . . . he caused all dress, carriages, women’s ornaments and household furniture, of which the price exceeded a certain value, to be rated at ten times as much as they were worth. By thus making the assessments greater, he intended to increase the taxes paid upon them. . . .

. . . Cato also caused the pipes, through which some persons brought the public water into their own houses and gardens, to be cut, and threw down all buildings which jutted out into the common streets. He beat down, also, the price in contracts for public works to the lowest, and raised it in contracts for farming the taxes2 to the highest sum. By such proceedings he drew a great deal of hatred on himself. . .

However the people liked his censorship wondrously well. Setting up a statue for him in the temple of the goddess of Health, they put an inscription under it. The latter did not record his commands in war or his triumph. It was to the effect, that this was Cato the Censor, who, by his good discipline and wise and temperate ordinances, reclaimed the Roman commonwealth when it was sinking down into vice. Before this honor was done to himself, he used to laugh at those who loved such things. He said that they did not see that they were taking pride in the workmanship of brass-founders and painters; whereas the citizens bore about his best likeness in their breasts. And when anyone seemed to wonder that he should have never a statue, though many ordinary persons had one, he said, "I would much rather be asked, why I have no statue, than why I have one." In short, he could not endure to have any honest citizen praised, unless it might prove advantageous to the commonwealth. . . .

1 Plutarch, , 18–19.

2 See page 101, note 2.


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Chicago: "Cato’s Censorship," Marcus Cato in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 190. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: . "Cato’s Censorship." Marcus Cato, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, page 190. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: , 'Cato’s Censorship' in Marcus Cato. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.190. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from