The men of old Rome had the habit of all wearing the same name within one and the same family: perhaps because they did not care overmuch about names; perhaps because they felt that the individual was of less importance than the family; or perhaps, more wisely, because they knew that each man in the same line is in some sense the same man and that the same tale continues with small variations, forever.

These matters are admirably demonstrated in the case of Marcus Porcius Cato, son of Marcus Porcius Cato and descendant of the illustrious Marcus Porcius Cato. He had no real time, being a young man at the time of the Civil War, to make a name for himself; but he fought for the Republic, was among those pardoned by Cæsar, and then joined the Liberators' War on the side of those Liberators, although supposedly he was not among Cæsar's assassins beforehand.

There he lived up to the example of his ancestors, and had not long to wait after his father to do so; for at Philippi when the forces of Brutus turned hare and ran before Octavian, he charged the oncoming enemy alone — without shield or helmet, say the foolish, as if that would have made a difference — met them there in battle, and was duly cut down. Thus perishes courage, while cowardice lives forever.

But the line of the Porcii Catones did not die there, for yet another man of the name was suffect consul in the year Pilate retired, and still today, God willing, somewhere in Umbria or on the Janiculum a small child glares sternly, and wordlessly refuses to eat his supper.