Cato "The Post Of Honor Is A Private Station"

Joseph Addison

"The Post Of Honor Is A Private Station"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This tragedy of a banished leader of unimpeachable integrity held great attraction to both Whigs and Tories in the complex political situation of the early eighteenth century. Cato, the great and austere champion of constitutional government, stands for Roman virtue against the popular military dictator, Caesar. By the fourth act Cato's efforts to save Rome from herself and Caesar have failed, and it has become obvious that Cato must die. His son, Portius, brings to him the corpse of his other son, who has fallen in battle. Cato tells his friends that he intends to take all the blame and all of Caesar's punishment, then tells his remaining son to live a virtuous life but not to seek public office and power:

Portius, draw near! My son, thou oft hast seen
Thy sire engaged in a corrupted state,
Wrestling with vice and faction. Now thou see'st me
Spent, overpowered, despairing of success;
Let me advise the to retreat betimes
To thy paternal seat, the Sabine field,
Where the great Censor toiled with his own hands,
And all our frugal ancestors were blessed
In humble virtues and a rural life.
There live retired, pray for the peace of Rome;
Content thyself to be obscurely good.
When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honor is a private station.