James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

February 5

Death of Cato

By Joseph Addison (1672–1719)

  • Marcus Porcius Cato was a Roman patriot and Stoic philosopher. He sided with Pompey against Cæsar on the outbreak of the civil war in the year 49 and after the battle of Pharsalia he committed suicide on Feb. 5, 46 B.C., having learned of Cæsar’s victory at Thapsus.

  • CÆSAR’S arms have thrown down all distinction;

    Whoe’er is brave and virtuous is a Roman—

    I’m sick to death—O when shall I get loose

    From this vain world, th’ abode of guilt and sorrow!

    —And yet methinks a beam of light breaks in

    On my departing soul. Alas I fear

    I’ve been too hasty. O ye powers that search

    The heart of man, and weigh his inmost thoughts,

    If I have done amiss, impute not!—

    The best may err, but you are good.