Scanned and translated by James Marchand from Leopold Zatocil, Cato a Facetus, Opera Universitatis Masarykianae Brunensis, Facultas Philosophica. Cislo 48 (Brno, 1952), 229-237. Reedited and marked up by Martin Irvine. For another edition and translation, see J. W. Duff and A. M. Duff, Minor Latin Poets, Loeb Classical Library, 284 (London: Heinemann, 1934), 585-642. This text is found everywhere in the Middle Ages. For the Old Norse version, see Halldor Hermannsson, The Holar Cato, Islandica 39 (Cornell UP, 1958).

Monosticha Catonis (Cato's Monostichs)

Incipiunt dicta Marci Catonis ad filium suum.

Cum animadverterem quam plurimos graviter in via morum errare, succurrendum opinioni eorum et consulendum famae existimavi, maxime ut gloriose viverent et honorem contingerent. Nunc te, fili carissime, docebo, quo pacto morem animi tui componas. Igitur praecepta mea ita legito, ut intellegas; legere enim et non intelligere neglegere est.

[Since I am aware of how many stray in the path of morals, I thought I should come to the aid of their understanding and take their reputations into account, so that they might live with greatest glory and obtain honors. Now I shall teach you, dearest son, how to fabricate morals for your own mind. There read my precepts, that you may understand; to read and not to understand is to be negligent.]

  1. Itaque deo supplica. So, pray to God.
  2. Parentes ama. Love your parents.
  3. Cognatos cole. Respect your kindred.
  4. Magistrum metue. Fear (respect) your teacher.
  5. Datum serva. Keep what is given to you.
  6. Fora para. Be careful of the market-place.
  7. Cum bonis ambula. Keep company with good people.
  8. Antequam voceris, ne accesseris. Don't go until called.
  9. Mundus esto. Keep clean.
  10. Saluta libenter. Greet freely.
  11. Maiori concede. Give way to your superior.
  12. Minori parce. Be nice to your inferior.
  13. Rem tuam custodi. Keep what you have (your counsels?)
  14. Verecundiam serva. Preserve modesty.
  15. Diligentiam adhibe. Be diligent.
  16. Libros lege. Read books.
  17. Quae legeris, memento. Remember what you read.
  18. Familiam cura. Take care of your family.
  19. Blandus esto. Be nice (be laid back).
  20. Irascere ob rem noli. Don't get angry for no reason.
  21. Neminem riseris. Don't laugh at anybody.
  22. Mutuum da. Give in return.
  23. Cui des, videto. Think about to whom you are giving.
  24. In iudicio adesto. Stand by (a friend) in court.
  25. Ad praetorium stato. Keep in good standing.
  26. Convivare raro. Don't party too much.
  27. Quod satis est, dormi. Sleep the right amount of time.
  28. Iusiurandum serva. Keep your oath.
  29. Vino tempera. Don't drink too much.
  30. Pugna pro patria. Fight for your country.
  31. Nihil temere credideris. Don't be gullible.
  32. Tute consule. Give good advice.
  33. Meretricem fuge. Flee the prostitute.
  34. Litteras disce. Study literature.
  35. Nihil mentire. Don't lie.
  36. Bono benefacito. Do good to the good.
  37. Maledicus ne esto. Don't curse.
  38. Existimationem retine. Hold on to your reputation.
  39. Aequum iudica. Judge properly.
  40. Parentem patienter vince. Overcome your parent with patience.
  41. Beneficii accepti esto memor. Remember a good turn.
  42. Miserum noli ridere. Don't sneer at the poor.
  43. Consultus esto. Be a good guru.
  44. Virtute utere. Practice virtue.
  45. Iracundiam temporale rege. Control your anger.
  46. Trocho lude. Play with the hoop (sic!).
  47. Aleam fuge. Spurn dice-playing.
  48. Nihil arbitrii virium feceris. Don't be a bully.
  49. Minorem non contempseris. Don't sneer at your inferior.
  50. Alienum noli concupisci. Don't covet.
  51. Coniugem ama. Love your wife.
  52. Liberos erudi. Teach your children.
  53. Pati legem, quam ipse tuleris. Keep the law you make yourself.
  54. Pauca in convivio loquere. Don't talk much at a banquet.
  55. Illud stude agere, quod iustum est. Seek to do that which is right.
  56. Libenter amorem ferto. Be ready to show affection.
  57. Minime iudica. Do not judge.