Jimmy Soni on Rome’s Last Citizen: The Life and Legacy of Cato, Mortal Enemy of Caesar

February 9, 2013

Marcus Porcius Cato, known as Cato the Younger, was a Stoic philosopher and a Roman senator — and the last man standing when Rome’s republic fell to tyranny. His blood feud with Caesar began in the chamber of the Senate, played out on the battlefields of a world war, and ended when he took his own life rather than live under a dictator. Centuries of thinkers, writers, and artists have drawn inspiration from Cato’s example. Saint Augustine and the early Christians were moved and challenged by his example. Dante, in his poem The Divine Comedy, chose Cato to preside over the souls who arrive in Purgatory. George Washington so revered him that he staged the play Cato to revive the spirits of his troops at Valley Forge. And of course his defense of the republic against the coming of tyranny inspired the 18th-century authors of Cato’s Letters, which in turn were read by many of the American Founders and provided the name of the Cato Institute. Now, in Rome’s Last Citizen, Rob Goodman and Jimmy Soni deliver the first modern biography of this stirring figure.

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