Dr. Morillo ENG579
Cato's Politics (1703-1713): A Fundamental Political Question and its Repercussions in the Play that premiered in April 1713.
Treaty of Utrecht was also finished April 1713.
Senators must decide what to do about Caesar. Join him? Fight him? Negotiate Peace with him?
For Rome = France, there’s no good match for an anti-Louis faction in France, but a better match with Caesar as sign for “Rome” and for the religious politics that were key to the whole war--will a Catholic Bourbon King in France AND Spain make ROME (always political shorthand for Catholicism and the Papacy) the greatest power in Europe and make Protestant England even more embattled?
can map each question onto not just 2, but 3 English political factions. Join
Louis=Jacobite answer; Fight him=Whig answer; Negotiate peace with him=Tory
answer. Already Cato aligns best with the English Whigs,
imperial power grows via wars, conquest and increasingly autocratic
control. This causes a series of
factions to develop within and without
repercussion of Caesar’s power: in the years before the play's action, the Roman
senate splits into the Caesarians (Caesar, Octavian) and the opposition
Assume the Roman senate= British Parliament. First Parliament splits into Whig and Tory factions over the power of "Rome" as the Catholic question in 1679-81, the issue of excluding James II from power, and then keeping James' son "James III/the Pretender" out of power to avoid the awful paradox of a Catholic English king sworn to uphold the Protestant Anglican Church.
Then the Romans most opposed to Caesar coalesce around Cato in N. Africa, but the divisive power of Caesar splits the Utican "Little Senate" into is own factions for Caesar (Sempronius) and against Caesar (Cato, Lucius, Marcus, Portius, Marcia, Lucia). Most dangerous of all is Sempronius for ambition and self-interest, and selling others out to Caesar's interest.
in this reading
according to the Whigs. The party holding power in Parliament in the year
leading up to the play was the Tory party. The Queen favored the Tories so much
that Anne created 12 new Tory peers in 1712 to stack the House of Lords for
that party's interest, especially to get the vote to end the war. The clearly
dangerous Sempronius articulates the most Tory-sounding political principles of
passive obedience, deference to Crown. (A blind officious zeal to serve my king
/ The ruling principle (2.1.435) A Sempronius-like figure, driven by ambition
to side with "Caesar" at the ultimate cost to both parties,
Whig and Tory, and to England's political stability = Henry St. John, Lord
Bolingbroke, a Tory secretary of state. His strong ambition was clear, as was
his ability to become catalyst of further factionalism, seen in his power
struggle with Robert Harley, Lord Oxford, Sec. of Treasury. This struggle to
lead the party already in power was always at the top of the domestic political
Bolingbroke connive for Caesar's/Louis' interest? The crippling blow he dealt
his own party, according to Holmes, came when he appeared in public with the
Pretender, the presumptive James III. The big Whig fear was that some/most
Tories were really Jacobites in disguise, and here that fear was realized when
Bolingbroke was caught unmasked. (After Anne died in Aug. 1714 Bolingbroke fled
and DID join the Pretender in
A Cato figure to counter the ambitious, unprincipled expediency of Sempronius/Bolingbroke and represent the Whigs could indeed be Marlborough, the most prominent Whig leader while the Whigs were in opposition (1708-1714). But "Cato" is really more a name for the Whig political principles of 1688.
The play’s political argument may be: while the Tories feared that Marlborough was the real tyrant within England, Addison may use the play to reply from the Whig side that the far more dangerous threat lay not with Marlborough, but with the Tories from their inception as a party; that if they should they regress from conservativism to reactionism, follow Bolingbroke, turn Jacobite, restore James III, they would destroy all of the constitutional gains for law, liberty and country won by the Whigs first in 1688 with the Glorious Revolution.
other countries fall under the threat of Caesar and replicate the splits.
most topical political moment for connecting the action to English
Parliamentary politics in 1712-3 comes with the way Addison describes the
political situation in
another crown whose next wearer was yet unknown in 1713 was
Play exposes the naked ambition and unprincipled power of Caesar, Sempronius, Syphax. Caesar and all his supporters clearly corrupt all higher political ideals.
Caesar is plausibly Louis, Sempronious a Bolingbroke-type Tory, Syphax would
need to be a Spanish ally of Louis, and a General, scheming to deliver
Ending shows Cato faction losing politically in the present, but establishing through the dynastic marriage of Juba/Numidia and Marcia/Republican Roman values some possible hope for the political future.
the fate of