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Something a bit bothersome about Cato the Ancient…

Something a bit bothersome about Cato the Ancient and the Romans in general (as compared to the Greeks).
Plutarch’s biography of Cato Maior presents a no-nonsense man of strong moral commitments, the embodiment of the ancient man of virtue –in addition to his no-bullshit approach to things he detected the charlatanism of ancient doctors. But Plutarch was annoyed that Cato treated his slaves worse than cattle, sold them when they were old and of no use to anyone instead of paying them back with a secure & comfortable old age; he banned them from having any other activity than work and sleep to extend their shelf life. In contrast, the Greeks extended their gratitute beyond their slaves, with an impressively humane attitude towards animals. For instance, they rewarded the mules who worked in the Acropolis by according them the privilege to graze freely after their years of service. Granted Plutarch was Greek, but the contrast was striking.
Indeed, as shown with Cato’s war cry “delenda Carthago”, Rome had a inconsistent system of ethics. Cato visited Carthage, was irked when he saw that the inhabitants had too good a life with figs that were too tasty and vowed to destroy the place.The Coliseum was built thanks to the spoils from the Jewish revolt. Rome, in the end, was, simply, a predator state, using the advantage of a superbly effective army, which was nothing but a machine to kill; they limited “virtue” to the treatment of other Romans patricians. No different from the ruthless Sicilian Mafia.The Hellenes appear to be more universal, vastly more moral, and, except for a few such as Alexander, much less predatorial, which explains why hellenism spread in the Levant as a symbol of a way of thinking & being.

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