Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Huston, we HAD a problem!!

Phew, that was a mess. All that went through my mind when I saw that was

"RECALL! RECALL! Mission is aborted! I repeat, Mission is aborted! Break of and return to base!"

So check all of your most recent comments and posts because Disqus might not have picked them up!
If you had a particularly long post I can see what I can do about recovering them for you. I'm sure blogger still has it somewhere in here.
I will continue to be in collaboration with other members of the board to consistently improve and maintain an enjoyable user experience......................................
I have to stop reading the corporate postings   ┐( ̄ー ̄)┌

If you find any bugs please post them here. Please remember to make sure all your stuff is updated before you post.

P.S.  As always. If you "like" something, then show the love people! "I get little enough of that at work"
P.S.S.  Hunter Doesn't need anymore love  ლ(TロTლ)

Monday, May 14, 2012

To Kill A Republican

I was talking with myself the other day, (yes I do that often) and I realized that it isn’t  in my nature to be silent, especially on a history blog. So with quite a bit of prodding and studying, I present to you...........(pause for dramatic effect)...........A HISTORY POST!!!!!!!!!!

"He was rough and ungentle toward those that flattered him, and still more unyielding to those who threatened him. It was difficult to excite him to laughter, his countenance seldom relaxed even into a smile; he was not quickly or easily provoked to anger, but if once incensed, he was no less difficult to pacify."
         Plutarch, Cato the Younger

      Many people have compared America to the Roman Empire, mainly in its corruption, but People sometimes forget that America and Rome shared some positive qualities in their traditions. It is my belief that no one exemplifies these positive traits of Rome better than the man spoken of by Plutarch in the quotation above, Cato the Younger.
      Cato the Younger (so named after his great-grandfather, who brought the family into prominence in the Roman government .) was orphaned at a young age, and along with his beloved brother and sister were moved to his Uncles# estates. Even at this young age Cato showed his character in his speech and actions. One such example was when a political ally of Cato’s uncle was staying at the estate waiting for support from the Senate. Cato and his brother, Caepio, were familiar with the man, and in jest one day the man asked the two boys if they would support his endeavor with their uncle. Caepio happily said that he would, but Cato shrewdly and calmly kept his peace, simply staring questioningly. This  irritated the man and caused him to ask Cato specifically. Cato continued to say nothing. Finally, the man grabbed Cato and threatened to throw him out the window unless Cato assented to agree with him. Cato would neither agree nor disagree. Another event which showed Cato’s sense of justice was when he and his boyhood friends played a mock-trial. Throughout this make-believe trial Cato acted in defense of a young small boy that had been accused by an older bigger boy. When the larger boy bound the smaller boy and threw him in prison during the trial, Cato flew into a rage, overpowered the guards, and set the boy free. This passion for justice would follow Cato throughout his life, and became the hallmark of whatever position he occupied. In fact, the integrity and shrewdness of Cato was so well known that the Dictator Sulla often asked for his opinion on certain matters of statecraft, even when Cato was opposed to Sulla’s point of view.
      It was during the beginning of Cato’s adulthood that he came under the influence of the Stoic philosophy. The Stoic creed fit in almost perfectly with Cato’s already austere lifestyle and overwhelming drive for duty. Even before his acceptance of stoicism, Cato practiced self-denial in multiple ways: denial of food, a grueling exercise regime, even wearing the opposite of whatever was comfortable and in “fashion” for that day. Although this labeled him as an eccentric to some, this lifestyle only served to endear him to the greater mass of people, who saw him as a hard yet just man.
    With these traits in view one would think that Cato would pursue a Political career, especially since he had proven himself a fiery and talented speaker on occasion. But we again see the depth of this man’s character and love of country as he joined the army as a volunteer during Spartacus’ rebellion. Cato did not earn glory in battle, but he definitely earned some infamy from the experience. His commanding officer, Gellius, wanted to give Cato top-military honors in order to gain points with the Tribune, Cato’s older brother. This was an enormous opportunity for Cato, military honors would catapult him into a political field which he already had ground roots support in. Cato once again defied everyone’s expectations and refused the honors, saying that he had done nothing to deserve them. His refusal was viewed as slightly eccentric, but did work to endear him to his troops.
    After the putting down of the rebellion, Cato was appointed Tribune over all of Macedonia. It was during this time that the organizational ability of Cato was truly shown. Cato was a strict disciplinarian, but fair. Those that did wrong were punished harshly, those that did right were rewarded generously. Cato never stopped teaching his men how and why to do things. Organization was prized, and under Cato’s watchful eye nothing was wasted. The men loved Cato, because he never ordered something he would not do himself, because he always kept himself strict to a standard that amazed even battle-hardened veterans. Because of the efficiency with which Cato worked and the spirit which he promoted, when he left from the military it is said that the legion laid their tunics on the ground in front of him, and he was embraced by his officers. This honor was rarely paid to even victorious generals, much less departing tribunes. The irony of this event was that it was shortly followed by the death of Caepio, the brother which Cato said throughout his entire lifetime was his most loved kin. This time is one of the rare point in Cato’s life that he broke his austere lifestyle, and he extravagantly indulged in the finest of funerals for his brother.  It is believed that this event was what caused Cato to go back to Rome and accept a commision as Quaestor [keeper of the treasury] although he insisted on studying the responsibilities and powers of the position before accepting it.
       At this point, Cato had his first defeat, for the love of a women. Cato had been betrothed to an important heiress, and when he attempted to fulfill his marriage contract he was stopped by a powerful Roman politician who was seeking her as well. Cato fought for his bride, but was eventually defeated. The disappointment caused Cato to only marry once and never again. This would cause damage to him later in his career.  
      For now, the political career of Cato was never brighter. As Quaestor, he reformed the treasury, going as far as paying restitution for the purges and fraud of the dictator Sulla. Cato’s time in the treasury is well documented by Plutarch as one of increasing competence, efficiency, and justice. It is said of that time that the treasury was run with such ability that it was more highly regarded than the Senate, the consuls, or even the Courts themselves (something like the IRS becoming more respected than the President, Congress, and the Supreme Court). This quotation from Plutarch sums up Cato’s diligence in his office.

   “Cato's assiduity also, and indefatigable diligence, won very much upon the people. He always came first of any of his colleagues to the treasury, and away the last. He never missed any assembly of the people, or sitting of the senate; being always anxious and on the watch for those who lightly, or as a matter of interest, passed votes in favour of this or that person, for remitting debts or granting away customs that were owing to the state. And at length, having kept the exchequer pure and clear from base informers, and yet having filled it with treasure, he made it appear that the state might be rich without oppressing the people.”

Throughout the rest of his Career Cato kept a close eye on all the workings of the treasury through his network of informers.
   Once he stepped down, the famed Quaestor became an avid senator, and rose to the top of the leadership position of the Optimates (or the conservative/aristocratic party). then at the pinnacle of his power, Cato once again refused what he believed to be an undue honor, Tribune of the People/governorship. The colleagues of Cato continued to prod him to run for the position, but Cato steadfastly refused, saying  “For the power of so great an office ought to be reserved, as with strong medicine, for occasions of last necessity.” Cato went so far as to begin a vacation before the election. The event that changed Cato’s mind came when on the road to his southern villa he met the man that was running for the position, Metellus Nepos, a man controlled by the upcoming powerhouse in the Senate, Pompey. Cato fearful of Pompey gaining too much control in the Senate eventually went back and solicited his name to be included in the running.
    The resulting appointments of Tribunes guaranteed that the victorious Cato easily got a lock on Pompey’s power in the Senate. Unfortunately, It was at this time that the newly appointed Tribune also saw two seeds sown that would reap his eventual downfall. The first of these foretastes of defeat was when Cato offended another up-and-coming power, an eloquent young man by the name of Julius Caesar. Because of their alleged complicity in the Catiline conspiracy to overthrow the government, Consul Cicero sought to  prosecute and or execute a number of nobles of which Julius was the foremost in ability and power. Tribune Cato supported Cicero in this endeavour delivering many scathing speeches against the conspirators and their supporters. Perhaps the most scathing and damaging of his speeches was directed towards Caesar, as he had been able to swing the opinion of many people to be lenient towards the conspirators.Thus because Cato succeeded in prompting the executions, he was able to stop Caesar from capitalizing on the situation whatsoever. This, as well as an illicit relationship between Cato’s sister and Caesar, created an extreme enmity between Cato and the thwarted yet still ambitious Caesar, and forced him to look for allies. Caesar would find these allies in the returning Pompey, who Cato thwarted in a bid to nullify the election date for Consulship. Pompey needed the Consulship in order to further his influence, but Cato withstood him and blocked his election. At this Pompey sought to ally himself with Cato and his family through marriage, but Cato refused with quite a bit of eloquence. Thwarted ambition and pride, these two factors were mirrored in the twin rising stars of Pompey and Julius Caesar and brought them together along with Crassus in order to circumvent Cato and his stranglehold on the Senate. This alliance resulted in the creation of the “triumvirate”, an unofficial organization that practically created a stranglehold on the power  in Rome, and indirectly the responsibility for the alliance of these powerful individuals can be laid on the shoulders of Cato the Younger. And accept responsibility Cato did, he fought tooth and nail against every act of the Triumvirate, but unfortunately to no avail. When Cato countered Pompey, Caesar was able to act. When Cato countered Caesar, he was undercut by Pompey. This did not stop Cato, but the triumvirate finally succeeded in removing him from by power by giving the tumultuous Senator a powerful yet far away post in Cypress.
  Far away from Rome, the politically isolated Cato continued in his normal routine of organizing his charge and practicing his integrity. As usual Cato completed his tasks well. Due to his diligence in even this small affair, the Senate not only summoned him to return, but also to be voted in as Praetor, and granted him quite a few privileges . Cato refused these privileges as unlawful, but asked for the freedom and citizenship of the Steward/slave that assisted him on Cypress.
  Upon his return, Cato found his party, the Optimates, still regrouping politically from the havoc the Triumvirate wreaked upon it, but he also found the triumvirate equally in dire straits. Crassus, who had acted as an equalizer between Julius and Pompey, had died in an attempt to subjugate the Parthians in the East. The void left by the absence of Crassus put Pompey and Caesar at odds against each other. In this political Chaos, Cato sought for his greatest achievement, consulship. In a time of Bribery and election fraud, it was a unique race that Cato ran, perfectly legal and clean. Cato tragically lost due to his refusal to resort to bribery of the people for votes.Some have suggested that it was this loss that caused Cato to finally put his foot down in the Senate, make peace with Pompey, and demand Proconsul Caesar’s recall to Rome. Faced between the aspect of being deprived of his power or causing a civil war, the powerful Caesar crossed the Rubicon and attacked the Roman forces, defeating the Senatorial forces in the battle of Pharsalus. After the defeat Cato was forced to retreat to the African city of Utica, where he continued to mastermind the Senate’s logistics and political scene as Pompey fought Julius’ forces, and upon the final defeat of Pompey he acted as the last haven for senatorial forces. At the end, it seems Cato could not deal with losing his beloved Republic to Caesar, for he forced all his surviving troops to retreat to safety, and then killed himself. He could not deal with the loss of his Republic. Thus died perhaps the greatest of the Republic’s servants.  
 Looking through Cato’s life, I can say that he is a worthy role model for any politician. His only true loss was that once he was dedicated to a cause he lost sight of perhaps the larger picture. Who knows what might have happened if he had consummated some sort of alliance early on with Pompey  against Caesar. Perhaps the Republic would still stand. Whatever your opinion of Cato, one must admit that he illustrated the best of Roman ideals, that he was a great and  honorable man with integrity.

Sunday, May 6, 2012