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had some personal troubles of his own to distract him. His old enemy Clodius was still reigning over the streets of Rome in all his glory, and thought that it would be a humorous and appropriate thing to indict Cato for embezzlement of some of that very Cypriot treasure over which the latter had taken so much trouble. The charge was too gross, and Cato easily got off, after making his famous bon mot that “what greater disgrace can the age see than Clodius as the accuser and Cato as the accused in a trial for embezzlement ? ” Yet, curiously enough, Cato was found at the same moment opposing a motion in the Senate to declare the acts of Clodius's tribunate illegal. It had occurred to Cicero, some time after his return from banishment, that the best way to get rid of the slur on himself caused by the decree that the demagogue had passed against him, would be to procure a declaration that the latter had never been legally elected tribune. To stand for the office Clodius had been forced to get himself adopted as a Plebeian, and his adoption had been carried out with the most flagrant disregard of legal formalities. Cato opposed this raking up of events now three years old, by pointing out that many accomplished facts depended for their legality on Clodius having been duly elected ; among others, his own commission to Cyprus. If Clodius was no tribune, then he had been no commissioner, and all his doings in Cyprus and Byzantium were vitiated. This settled the matter, and Cicero's ingenious device was rejected—a result which made him as bitterly angry with Cato, as he had been once before over the breaking up of the Concordia Ordinum, and as he was to be once again over the matter of his triumph for his military exploits in Cilicia. · It is to the same year, B.C. 56, that belongs the most extraordinary, and to our eyes most objectionable, of the incidents of Cato's private life. Plutarch wrongly
I. Denarius struck by Cato, during the Civil War. II. Aureus with portrait of Pompey, commemorating his naval exploits. III. Denarius with portrait of Cæsar, struck during his dictatorship.
A STRANGE DIVORCE
his wife and at offend Cato
gives it as having happened in 63, which the ages of the persons concerned makes impossible. He had married as his second wife Marcia, daughter of the consular Marcius Philippus; she was still a young woman, had borne him three children, and was a person of excellent character. Hortensius, a particular friend of Cato, came to him with the request, which he allowed was an unusual one, but which he trusted would not offend Cato, that he would kindly divorce his wife and allow himself (Hortensius) to marry her. For although Cato was quite satisfied with her, he thought that he himself was more interested in the lady. “Observing the vehemence of Hortensius," says Plutarch, “Cato did not absolutely refuse him, but said that it was necessary to consult his wife and her father Philippus. Finding them not unwilling, he said that his private inclination should not stand in the way." Accordingly he divorced Marcia, and she was married to Hortensius in his presence and with his consent, surely the most extraordinary instance of altruism known. For that, Cato was consulting in philosophic guise “ the greatest happiness of the greatest number” is shown by the fact that when Hortensius died, six years later, he at once remarried Marcia, and lived with her again till death parted them. It was a strange example of Roman views and Roman morals in the aspect which appears most unlovely to us.
Cato's next field-day was during the consular elections of B.C. 55. The Optimates had been thoroughly cowed by the news of the conference at Lucca, and the assurance that Cæsar, Pompey, and Crassus were firm friends again. Accordingly, when Crassus and Pompey announced their intention of standing together for the consulship, no one had the courage to enter the field against them. Cato was much enraged at this, and went about trying to get one man after another to stand as an Optimate competitor. At last he prevailed on Lucius Domitius, who had married his sister, to put himself in the way of honour and danger. Seeing Domitius canvassing assiduously, the friends of the triumvirs determined to use violence, and on the day of the election prepared gangs of Clodius's ruffians to block the polling-places at daybreak. But Cato and Domitius went down to the Campus Martius with torches at midnight to secure a good place. At dawn arrived the first gangs of the triumvirs' myrmidons, who killed Domitius' torchbearer and chased away his and Cato’s clients. The unwilling candidate would have fled, but Cato, though badly wounded by a dagger-thrust in the arm, “still kept Domitius on the spot, adjuring him not to desert the cause of the Republic as long as he had life in him." But his brother-in-law's firmness broke down ; unable to stand the stress, he finally retired, and Pompey and Crassus were elected.
Cato then proclaimed that if other men fled he would not, and announced himself as a candidate for the praetorship, intending thus to secure himself thereby the sacrosanct position of a magistrate, and (as Plutarch quotes him) “ a kind of fort from which he should be able to make sorties against the consuls.” He failed, naturally, as he scorned to use either bribery or intimidation, both of which were lavishly employed against him. It was therefore only as a private person that he was able to speak against the Trebonian Law which gave Pompey Spain and an army, and Crassus Syria and an army. When the bill was brought forward, Cato got permission from a friendly tribune to speak, but when he had already talked for two hours, “ with many repetitions and many predictions of evil,” Trebonius got angry and bade his apparitors take him down from the rostrum. Yet, standing below among the people, he continued his speech, which so enraged Trebonius that he had him driven out of the