Why does Portia say that she is "Cato's daughter"?

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When Portia refers to herself as "Cato's daughter," she has been reproaching Brutus for his lack of trust in refusing to share his secrets with her. He has been behaving in an abstracted manner and has recently been meeting with a mysterious group of men. But when she asks him...

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When Portia refers to herself as "Cato's daughter," she has been reproaching Brutus for his lack of trust in refusing to share his secrets with her. He has been behaving in an abstracted manner and has recently been meeting with a mysterious group of men. But when she asks him what is going on, Brutus merely replies that he is unwell. Portia indignantly tells him that he should have no secrets from his wife. Anticipating the possible objection that the matter in question does not concern women, Portia says:

I grant I am a woman; but withal
A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife:
I grant I am a woman; but withal
A woman well-reputed, Cato's daughter.
Think you I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so father'd and so husbanded?

The daughter of Cato and wife of Brutus is no ordinary woman. Marcus Porcius Cato, commonly known as Cato the Younger, was the scion of a prominent political family, members of which had held high office in the Republic for hundreds of years. By reminding Brutus that she is the daughter of one of the greatest Roman statesmen, Portia is not only pointing out her impeccable lineage but also the fact that she has grown up in an atmosphere where political issues were constantly discussed.

Although neither Brutus nor Portia mentions Caesar, Portia's shrewdness is such that she may well have divined his involvement in the matter that is troubling Brutus. Caesar's name is, after all, on everyone's lips, either as Rome's greatest hero or as the dictator who is poised to overthrow the Republic. This may be another reason for mentioning Cato, a staunch Republican and one of Caesar's greatest adversaries—indeed, in 46 BC, Cato committed suicide rather than submit to Caesar's jurisdiction.

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