What Makes a Roman
Cato imposes a great honor upon Juba, the Numidian prince, by declaring him to be a fellow Roman. Caesar, however, continues to be referred to as Roman, despite Cato’s hatred of him. The despotism displayed by Caesar in his conquests does not, even in the remotest sense embody the Roman ideals that Cato holds so dear. Caesar, however, is continually referred to as a Roman tyrant. After one reads or experiences the play Cato, one may find themselves asking, “if Juba becomes a Roman through his virtue, why doesn’t Caesar stop being a Roman through his vice?” The answer to this question, however, lies in what the true definition of a “Roman” is. Juba and Caesar are both Romans, however they are Romans in very different sense of the word. Juba receives the distinction of being a Roman through his unfaltering loyalty to the ancient Roman ideals. Caesar, however, is only considered a Roman in the simplest sense of the word; nationality.
The difference between Juba’s Roman status and Caesar’s Roman status is that Caesar is only Roman by nationality. The term “Roman,” however, as used by Cato, refers not to nationality, but to character. Cato believes the majority of Romans to be moral, just, honorable, and loyalty, which is why he deems anyone who portrays these virtues to be a Roman. In Cato’s eyes, though he is Roman by birth, Caesar is not, in fact, a true Roman because of his vices. Caesar is a tyrant; he embraces greed, dishonesty, and bribery, none of which are Roman virtues.
Caesar completely abandoned the Republican ideals that Rome was founded on; he had become a selfish tyrant interested only in his own gains and power. While in power, Consuls were no longer elected, instead Caesar stayed in power and elected his own consuls (Thompson). He succumbs to every single one of his vices and appetites. When Caesar’s messenger, Decius, asks Cato what his price for his friendship would be, Cato replies:
Bid him disband his...