Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cato on Cato

The Cato Institute was actually named after the figure Cato. Hence it is not, as some wrongly think, C.A.T.O.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Cato killed himself in protest of the Roman regime.

Washington loved the play, mind you, and wrote his main crush, the married Sally Halifax that he'd like to do a play reading of it with her.

Plus, I just noticed that he also seems to have named a real-life slave/manservant Juba, a character in,_a_Tragedy

by Joseph Addison [1712]

once again, pardon our Wiki:

Influence on the American Revolution

Some scholars, including historian David McCullough—author of 1776—believe that the source of several famous quotations from the American Revolution came from, or were inspired by, Cato.

These include:
Patrick Henry's famous ultimatum: "Give me Liberty or give me death!"
(Supposed reference to Act II, Scene 4: "It is not now time to talk of aught/But chains or conquest, liberty or death.").

The actor John Kemble in the role of Cato in Addison's play, which he revived at Covent Garden in 1816, drawn by George Cruikshank.
Nathan Hale's valediction: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
(Supposed reference to Act IV, Scene 4: "What a pity it is/That we can die but once to serve our country.").

Washington's praise for Benedict Arnold in a letter to him: "It is not in the power of any man to command success; but you have done more—you have deserved it."
(Clear reference to Act I, Scene 2: "'Tis not in mortals to command success; but we'll do more, Sempronius, we'll deserve it.").

Not long after the American Revolution, Edmund Burke quotes the play as well in his Letter to Charles-Jean-Francois Depont (1789) in Further Reflections on the Revolution in France: "The French may be yet to go through more transmigrations. They may pass, as one of our poets says, 'through many varieties of untried being,' before their state obtains its final form." The poet in reference is, of course, Addison and the passage Burke quoted is from Cato (V.i. II): "Through what variety of untried being,/Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!"

Jonathan Rowe said...

Fairfax not Halifax.

Tom Van Dyke said...