Joseph Addison: On Honor and Cato

The Great Conversation

Born in 1672, Joseph Addison is an English writer well-known for his 1712 tragedy, Cato, which was performed for George Washington’s Continental Army at Valley Forge and was a major literary inspiration for many of the key figures of the American Revolutionary War. The tragedy is about the final days of the stoic Roman statesman, Marcus Portius Cato, during which he contemplates the approaching army of his enemy, Julius Caesar. At the close of the play, Cato chooses an honorable death by suicide rather than a dishonorable surrender to Caesar.

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