Comparison of  Biography genre  and History genre,  through analysis of Plutarch's  Cato the Censor and Polybius' Book X description of the Career of  Scipio the Elder  [two exact contemporaries]

Biography:    Discussed  Plutarch  Alexander chapter 1 (classic definition of biography):  character rather than grand exploits,  private and intimate rather than public and official,  artist's sketch rather than photograph,  the `revealing anecdote  rather than the measured narration of facts year-by-year


Comparison of   Cato and Scipio:

Cato a `new man'  [definition in Plutarch, Cato]              Scipio a patrician aristocrat
Cato a man of moderate means                                       S  a millionaire on both sides of family
Cato worked his way up by patronage in courts             S inherits a huge clientele of soldiers
Cato a brilliant speaker      (150 orations)
Both see military service during the Hannibalic War:
                        Cato as volunteer                                        Scipio as son of consul
Both face the Barca family  (Hasdrubal)                           Hannibal (Zama 201)
War Heroes:  public office
Cato:  strict governor of Sicily and Sardinia
            strict as governor of Spain (196-195)                    Scipio virtually ruled Spain 215-207
Cato  anti usury (but a moneylender himself)                    Scipio dispenses booty & patronage on grandest scale

WAR:    Changes in society:

-devastation of Italy by occupation, urban dispossessed unable to reestablish themselves
-slaves by millions brought in:  cheap labor for aristocrats    (latifundia)
-overseas empire (Spain,  Africa,  Po Valley,  southern France)
-military/industrial complex:  millions  $$$  as provisioners of the War
-liberation of slaves  200-150:  total change in Italian demographics (1.5 million +++)
                                    (clientage on new, vast scale)
-`Present Shock'  to traditionalists like Cato (keep the old village agricultural model),
               and to liberals (like Scipio) enthusiasm for things Greek and Punic:
- new words in vocabulary:  moneylender, pimp, prostitute, cookie  etc.
               Cato complains of purchase of boys as sex-objects and fancy foreign foods
                                    (but he  does it himself)

Cato as businessman (farms, ponds, forestry, etc.:  Plutarch)  canny clever:  need to make money because no inherited wealth
      or political use, and `principles' forbid exploitation
                        but cold-hearted:  sells slaves when they get too old to work
Scipio & family continue in the imperialism business  (Wars in Greece and Asia)
Cato organizes provincial government of Spains (to prevent some aristocrat from doing it and getting rich from the opportunities)
            Cato uses the court system to persecute  internationalists (Scipios):  perversion of justice

            Cato's censorship:  harasses Scipio into retirement and death
                        opposed by (snobbish aristocracy) because a new man and excessively `stoic' in principles
                        Dangerous to system as usual.  Cato causes great bitterness and division


            Both literary texts analyze virtues and vices:  purpose of history and biography both
                        In Rome  (the Thucydidean virtue of  incorruptibility does not apply:  generosity must take its
            Cato's  Origines,  though history, left out all the aristocratic names of great heroes. Spite.


September 19, 2009 11:47 AM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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