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Marcus Porcius Cato was a Roman statesman, orator, writer, and defender of conservative Roman Republican ideas who lived between 234 and 149 BC. He was born into a wealthy family of Roman landholders during the early Republican period on a farm in the city of Tusculum, southeast of present–day Rome. His early farm upbringing resulted in a lifelong interest in agriculture and the writing of his De Agri Cultura in 160 BC which is the oldest Latin literary encyclopedia in existence today.

His conservative views of traditional Roman Republican culture and the importance of the development of Latin literature and its survival as a written language resulted in his fear and dislike of the increasing Greek influence on the Romans. Cato helped insure the survival of Latin by being the first to write an encyclopedic history of Rome in Latin called Origines, of which only small fragments survive.

As censor, he attempted to preserve old Roman ancestral custom, mos maiorum. He supported, in 181 BC, the law against luxury, lex Orchia, and in 169 BC, the law that limited a woman’s financial freedom, lex Voconia. He is also known as Cato the Censor due to his austere scrutinization of Senate officials in 184 BC and the removal of those who he considered too liberal or open to new foreign ideas, and those who were extravagant or who he felt lived luxurious, immoral lives. He was the bane of Tiberius Gracchus's existence, making it very difficult for him to get any liberal reforms passed.

Perhaps one of his most famous quotes was, "delenda est Carthago". It was given at the end of a speech he gave as Censor of the Roman state. In fact, he said it after nearly every sentence he uttered to the public. It would be the equivalent of someone saying "Its a nice day today, oh and by the way, Carthage must be destroyed." It essentially started the Third Punic War, resulting in the destruction of Carthage.

Information was found at http://www.hoflink.com/~jhlb/cato1.htm.

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