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Erasmus, hexameter couplets, Cato


The part the Disticha (or Dicta) Catonis played in Erasmus's caareer is only one event in the work's long and honorable history. The Cato was composed by an anonymous author during the later Roman principate. As presented in the oldest manuscripts, the work consists of prose sententiae followed by fouor books of hexameter couplets. The whole is ornamented with a prose preface, and the second, third, and fourth books of hexameters have verse prologues of ten, four, and four lines respectively. The "Cato" to whom the work is attributed is probably either that redoubtable critic of Roman morals, Cato the Censor (234-149 B.C.), or the Stoic hero Cato of Utica (94-46 B.C.).