Marcus Porcius Cato
First appearance The Stolen Eagle
Last appearance Utica
Profession Politican
Race Roman
Relationships Scipio (Friend/Comrade, deceased)
Servilia(Step sister)
Brutus (Nice)
Status Deceased (Suicide)
Actor/Actress Karl Johnson

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Season OneEdit

Stubborn and proud, Cato first appears in the series at the senate meeting demanding to know from Pompey Magnus why Caesar was still in Gaul saying, "his illegal war is over!"

At the beginning of the series, Cato believes that the republic lives as long as people like him are prepared to fight for it, however he appears to despise non-aristocratic Romans viewing them as cattle: indirectly undermining the democracy he values replying to Metellus Scipio's: "What a dreadful noise Plebs make when they're happy..." by saying: "This is music. Wait until Caesar starts them howling for our blood – then you'll hear something dreadful."

When the civil wars begin, Marcus Junius Brutus, Marcus Tullius Cicero and Metellus Scipio try to persuade Pompey accept a truce with Caesar. Cato is the only one who refuses to end the war, seeing right through Caesar's "truce" saying: "Don't you see? He's trying to put a wedge between us!"

After the battle of Pharsalus, Cato is one of the few remaining patricians who is willing to fight on against Caesar. Eventually towards the end of the series, following his and Scipio's defeat at Thapsus, he begins to lose faith in his belief and even asks Scipio to try to make peace with Caesar. He appears very different from the stubborn and proud Cato from earlier in the series, and even speaks fairly humorously to Scipio. For example, when Scipio states that where there is life, there is hope, Cato replies: "I think, if anything, we have disproved that proverb, old friend". Determined not to surrender, Cato proves to be honorable and brave, as he kills himself in order to ensure that Caesar won't have the chance of humiliating him.


  • Cato was, in reality as in the series, a staunch traditionalist and Julius Caesar's most implacable political opponent. He was known, in a time when electoral corruption was rife, as a man of great integrity and probity. Philosophically he was a Stoic. He lived an austere lifestyle, avoiding luxury and modern fashions- which is reflected in the series by his wearing the toga pulla, favoured by workmen and mourners. He was a defender of the ideals of the Roman Republic and fierce opponent of those he saw as overly ambitious.
  • Servilia, Caesar's lover, was his half-sister. In 63 BC, during the crisis caused by Catiline's conspiracy to overthrow the state, Caesar was passed a note in the Senate. Cato, believing Caesar was sympathetic to Catiline, accused him of corresponding with the conspirators and seized the letter, only to discover, to his great embarrassment, that it was a love letter from Servilia.
  • The real Cato was much younger than his fictional counterpart appears: in 52 BC, the year the series opens, he was 43, seven years younger than Caesar. He was also not as contemptuous of plebeians as the series makes him: he established a provision of state-subsidised grain to poor Romans, and Cato was himself a plebeian.
  • Cato was not actually present at the Battle of Thapsus – he was holding the town of Utica. He did commit suicide by stabbing himself following Scipio's defeat, supposedly to deny Caesar the power to pardon him. A surgeon attempted to save him by stitching up the wound, but Cato was determined to die, and pulled out the stitches and his own intestines.

He was the father of two children by his first wife Atilia; a son, Marcus Porcius Cato, who died in the battle of Philippi, and a daughter, Porcia Catonis, who was the second wife of Marcus Junius Brutus. His wife and his two children are omitted from the series.

  • Karl Johnson, who plays Cato in the series, also plays the same role in the BBC's "Ancient Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire."