Cato the Censor

Cato the Censor

Cato the Censor

Cato the Censor

Synopsis

Oxford Scholarly Classics is a new series that makes available again great academic works from the archives of Oxford University Press. Reissued in uniform series design, the reissues will enable libraries, scholars, and students to gain fresh access to some of the finest scholarship of the last century.

Excerpt

In this book I have sought to provide a study of Cato as complete and as coherent as the often fragmentary evidence permits, excluding only the strictly agricultural content of the De agricultura. The first six chapters examine his career in sequence, and then a further six deal with several broad topics which cut across the chronological pattern. The detailed arrangement of the material has presented a number of problems, especially because many of the topics are to some extent interrelated and because a considerable amount of evidence bears upon more than one of them. The result is inevitably something of a compromise, but the sequence I have adopted, particularly for the topics in Chapters 7 to 12, is strongly influenced by a desire to avoid a great deal of repetition and cross-referencing. Another major problem has lain in the frustrating deficiencies of the information available to us. It is not hard to find questions--especially concerning Cato's role and attitudes in the conduct of foreign affairs--which clamour for answers which the evidence cannot provide. All too soon the point is reached at which the links between evidence and conjecture are too tenuous for the latter to be a reasonable basis for interpretation. Yet I hope to have shown that, without undue speculation, there is much which can be said; that Cato was, at least in some respects, less extreme, less idiosyncratic, and more positive than some scholars have supposed, though not as sophisticated as others have suggested; and that he was not only a remarkable personality but in a number of ways a figure of considerable historical significance.

Two lesser problems have concerned citations in the original languages and the construction of the General Index. Throughout I have had very much in mind the needs of readers who have no knowledge of Latin and Greek, but I have not attempted to maintain the use of translation and paraphrase in Chapter 7, where it would have been inappropriate to the discussion of stylistic features of Cato's speeches, or in the more technical arguments in the Appendices. As for the General Index, it quickly became apparent that if this was to be manageable a considerable measure of selection would be necessary. Various names and topics have therefore been omitted; in particular I have not included the ancient authors who provide information or comment. The result inevitably contains some anomalies and inconsistencies, but I hope that the combination of the two . . .

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