1902 Encyclopedia > Dionysius Cato

Dionysius Cato

DIONYSIUS CATO, a name concerning which it is doubtful whether it be the name of the author, or merely part of the title, of the Dionysii Catonis Disticha de Moribus ad Filium, a small work, consisting of moral apophthegms, chiefly in hexameters. The name usually given is simply Cato, but Dionysius is added on the authority of a MS. declared by Scaliger to be of great antiquity. Other titles by which the book is known are Cato Moralissimus and Cato, Carmen de Moribus. The latter is also the title of a work by the famous M. Cato the elder; but extracts given from this by Aulus Gellius prove that it was in prose. The authorship of the Disticha has been ascribed to a large number of persons, including Seneca and Boetius, but in truth we know nothing of the writer, or of the exact time when it was written. The style is generally pure, and the existence of occasional corruptions argues little against its antiquity, since interpolations have certainly been made, and not improbably emendations attempted. The first mention of the work which we find is in a letter addressed to Valentinian; it is also referred to by Isidorus and Alcuin, and frequently by Chaucer. It appears to have had considerable reputation in the Middle Ages ; and at the revival of learning it was studied and highly praised by such men as Scaliger and Erasmus. There have been numerous editions, in MS. and print, of which the best is that of Arntzenius, Amsterdam, 1754. In 1483 a translation was issued from Caxton's press at Westminster.

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