"Curse On His Virtues! They've Undone His Country"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Cato of Utica (95 B.C.–46 B.C.), great-grandson of Cato the Elder, is a symbol of probity in public life. Violently opposed to Julius Caesar and fiercer against the conspiring Cataline than was Cicero, he supported Pompey in his break with Caesar, and even after defeat at Pharsala, fled to Africa to continue resistance. After Caesar crushed Scipio at Thapsus, in 46 B.C., Cato decided on suicide. Addison's excellent classical tragedy in blank verse, following the rules of Aristotle, is only one of many dramatizations of the story. Performed in 1713 and interpreted by the Whigs as an attack on the dominant Tory party, it was a great success on the stage because of its political implications. It also went through seven printed editions that same year. Throughout Latin America in the nineteenth century, when Spain prohibited local plays about revolution, a Spanish translation of Cato was widely used to whip up resistance to Spain. Here is the scene when Cato announces his decision to commit suicide.

While pride, oppression, and injustice reign,
The world will still demand her Cato's presence.
In pity to mankind, submit to Caesar
And reconcile thy mighty soul to life.
Would Lucius have me live to swell the number
Of Caesar's slaves, or by a base submission
Give up the cause of Rome, and own a tyrant?
The victor never will impose on Cato
Ungenerous terms. His enemies confess
The virtues of humanity are Caesar's.
Curse on his virtues! they've undone his country.
Such popular humanity is treason.
. . .