Those Stubborn Principles’: From Stoicism to Sociability in Joseph Addison’s Cato

THE REVIEW OF POLITICS 76.2 (2014): 223-241

Abstract:  Joseph Addison’s 1713 play, Cato: A Tragedy, dramatizes the final days of Cato the Younger’s resistance to Julius Caesar before his eventual suicide at Utica in 46 BC. Although Addison initially seems to present Cato as a model for emulation, we argue that Addison is ultimately critical of both Cato and the Stoicism he embodies. Via the play’s romantic subplot and via his work as an essayist, Addison offers a revision of the Catonic model, reworking it into a gentler model that elevates qualities such as love, friendship, and sympathy and that is more appropriate to the type of peaceful civil and commercial society he wishes to promote.