Joseph Addison 's Cato : A Roman Soul Essay

843 Words May 6th, 2015 4 Pages
Joseph Addison’s Cato is an 18th century tragedy uncommon among the other plays of its time. The play depicts Cato’s struggle to resist the imminent invasion of Caesar. It presents the ideals of republican liberty and virtue. The loud tone of virtue within the play is undeniable. Cato provides insight into the many ways an individual becomes virtuous or obtains a Roman soul. The way to a Roman soul is not limited by geography, ethnicity or race. In Cato, Juba, an African Prince, is an ally to Cato. He greatly admires Cato’s qualities and mentality. Syphax and Juba debate the alliance, and the difference between a Numidian and a Roman. Juba states his definition of the Roman soul: JUBA: A Roman soul is bent on higher views: to civilize the rude, unpolished world and lay it under the restraint of laws; to make man mild and sociable to man; to cultivate the wild, licentious savage with wisdom, discipline, and lib’ral arts, th’embellishments of life. Virtue like these make human nature shine, reform the soul, and break our fierce barbarians into men. (I.265-273)
Juba does not see the Roman virtue and civilizing qualities as suppressing him or his people. He sees it as a benefit for him and his people. It could lead one to live a virtuous life. Juba is not a Roman, yet Cato expresses he has a “Roman soul” (IV.iii.48). Anyone is capable of obtaining a Roman soul. Cato presents the idea that virtue is not limited to anyone. Virtuous individuals commit to justice,…

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