Venetian Master (18th Century)

The Death of Cato

“The Death of Cato”. Oil on canvas. 24 x 32 inches.

Cato (95 BC to 46 BC) was a late Republic politician and statesman, and an avid follower of the Stoic philosophy. He was famous for his distaste of the corruption of his times and was unwilling to live in a world led by Julius Caesar. This led him to attempt suicide, by stabbing himself with his own sword.

According to the Greek writer and biographer Plutarch (c. AD 46): Cato did not immediately die of the wound; but struggling, fell off the bed, and throwing down a little mathematical table that stood by, made such a noise that the servants, hearing it, cried out. And immediately his son and all his friends came into the chamber, where, seeing him lie weltering in his own blood, great part of his bowels out of his body, but himself still alive and able to look at them, they all stood in horror.

The physician went to him, and would have put in his bowels, which were not pierced, and sewed up the wound; but Cato, recovering himself, and understanding the intention, thrust away the physician, plucked out his own bowels, and tearing open the wound, immediately expired.