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Title: Shaping and Deconstructing the Myth of Cato's Suicide
Subtitle: Cato's Suicide in Seneca and Plutarch
Author(s): DE KIMPE, Sébastien
Journal: Latomus
Volume: 82    Issue: 3   Date: 2023   
Pages: 485-502
DOI: 10.2143/LAT.82.3.3292428

Abstract :
One of the most famous ancient deaths is Cato the Younger’s suicide. The narrations of his suicide often differed on specific details. These differences often reflect the political and philosophical beliefs of the authors. In this paper, I compare Seneca’s and Plutarch’s versions by analysing their works on Cato. I look for the influence of their philosophical and personal beliefs and how they impacted their portrayal of Cato’s suicide. However, I argue that this does not fully explain why their versions differ so significantly. An additional explanation is offered: the societal and political changes of the Early Empire had an important influence on how suicide was perceived. Finally, I conclude that philosophical beliefs were the primary reason for their different narrations. Personal reasons also played a smaller role. I finally show that political and societal changes were more important than previously believed.

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