Why does Pope compare Addison with Atticus and Cato?

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Pope compares Joseph Addison to Atticus and Cato in The Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, written in the 1730s. At this point, he had known Addison, the influential editor of the Spectator, since 1709. In 1709, Pope was a young man of 23, and Addison's acceptance helped Pope's reputation.

By the 1730s, the friendship had soured, especially after Addison endorsed a rival translation of the Odyssey that came out at the same time as Pope's own Odyssey translation. Addison gave Pope's translation a wishy-washy review.

As a result, Pope, in The Epistle, referred to Addison as Atticus, a man known to be wishy-washy in his opinions because he didn't want to offend anyone. Pope was essentially saying to Addison, you can't have it both ways: you can't prefer someone else's translation of the Odyssey and think I won't be offended when you faintly praise my own.

Pope also compares Addison to Cato, a Roman law-maker much fawned over, saying that Addison, too, is used to being flattered by followers who simply want his...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 859 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on March 30, 2020
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on March 17, 2020