"Which by the feet of Cato once was pressed"
Cato the Younger
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCato the Younger - Credit: M.Romero Schmidkte

(Canto 14, line 15)

This is Cato the Younger (95-46 BC), also known as Uticensis for Utica, the location where he committed suicide. A republican, Cato (full name Marcus Porcius Cato) was opposed to dictatorship, earned fame for his resistance against the dictator Sulla and was elected tribune in 63 BC. After having strongly opposed the "Triumvirate" of Pompey, Caesar and Crassus, he became a supporter of Pompey. In 46 BC, after Caesar's victory at Thapsus in North Africa against the remainder of Pompey's forces, Cato, an adherent of Stoic philosophy, gave up the defense of Utica, which was under his command, and killed himself. The "sand" mentioned in the poem refers to Libyan desert which Cato led his forces through after the Pompey's forces had been defeated. Cato's wife Marcia was mentioned in Canto 4.