"this peculiar creature was none other than the great-grandson of the famous Marcus Porcius Cato"

Cato the Elder
Public DomainCato the Elder - Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The famous Marcus Porcius Cato referred to here is known to us as Cato the Elder, distinguishing him from his great-grandson Cato the Younger. Cato the Elder was a ‘new man’ from an ancient plebeian family who worked his way up the political career ladder to hold the top positions in Roman government (consul and censor at the beginning of the 2nd century BC). During the Punic Wars against Carthage, he urged against any leniency with their enemy; his motto was ‘Carthage must be destroyed.’ Following Roman victory in the Third Punic War, Carthage was indeed destroyed and the ground salted over to prevent crops from growing.

Cato the Elder was also famous for his traditional Republican values and hatred of excessive displays of wealth. He passed a number of regulations limiting personal luxury, including taxes on dress and personal adornment. He believed strongly that no man should be allowed to seek too much individual power and was a political and personal enemy of Scipio Africanus, the famous Roman general who defeated Hannibal in the Second Punic War, hailed as king by the native Spanish troops serving under him.