Appointed military tribune,1
he was sent to Macedonia, to serve under Rubrius the praetor. At this time, we are told, his wife being full of grief and in tears, one of Cato's friends, Munatius, said to her:
‘Take heart, Atilia; I will watch over thy husband.’
‘Certainly he will,’ cried Cato, and after they had gone a day's journey on their way, immediately after supper, he said:
‘Come, Munatius, see that you keep your promise to Atilia, and forsake me neither by day nor by night.’
Then he gave orders that two couches be placed in the same chamber for them, and thus Munatius always slept—and that was the joke—watched over by Cato.
He had in his following fifteen slaves, two freedmen, and four friends. These rode on horses, while he himself always went a-foot; and yet he would join each of them in turn and converse with him.2
And when he reached the camp, where there were several legions, and was appointed to the command of one of them by the general, he thought it a trifling and useless task to make a display of his own virtue, which was that of a single man, but was ambitious above all things to make the men under his command like unto himself.
He did not, however, divest his power of the element which inspires fear, but called in the aid of reason; with its help he persuaded and taught his men about everything, while rewards and punishments followed their acts. Consequently, it were hard to say whether he made his men more peaceful or more warlike, more zealous or more just; to such a degree did they show themselves terrible to their enemies but gentle to their allies, without courage to do wrong but ambitious to win praise.
Moreover, that to which Cato gave least thought was his in greatest measure, namely, esteem, favour, surpassing honour, and kindness, from his soldiers. For he willingly shared the tasks which he imposed upon others, and in his dress, way of living, and conduct on the march, made himself more like a soldier than a commander, while in character, dignity of purpose, and eloquence, he surpassed all those who bore the titles of Imperator
and General. In this way, without knowing it, he produced in his men at the same time the feeling of good will towards himself.
For a genuine desire to attain virtue arises only in consequence of perfect good will and respect for him who displays virtue; those, on the other hand, who praise good men without loving them may revere their reputation, but they do not admire their virtue or imitate it.