The suicide of Cato. Etching by P. Testa, 1648.

  • Testa, Pietro, 1611-1650.
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The suicide of Cato. Etching by P. Testa, 1648. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain Mark. Source: Wellcome Collection.

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About this work


Cato is shown lying on his bed, surrounded by his mourning friends, and killing himself by tearing out his own entrails, as described by Plutarch. On the floor is the "little mathematical table that stood by", that fell to the floor and alerted Cato's attendants by its noise. Marcus Porcius Cato (95-46 BC) leader of the Optimates, tried to preserve the Roman Republic against power seekers, in particular Julius Caesar. Cato's sole chance to preserve the republic lay in supporting Pompey, whom he had formerly opposed. After Pompey's defeat, Cato led a small remnant of troops to Africa, where he killed himself after evacuating his adherents by sea


Rome : Arnoldus Westerhout, 1648.

Physical description

1 print : etching, with engraving ; image 27.7 x 41.2 cm


Sic fortitudinis, Cato, aeternum prebes monimentum; qui turpe vitae ... P. Testa 1648 Latin lettering continues

References note

Adam Bartsch, Le peintre graveur, Würzburg, 1920-1922, no. 20, p. 127


Wellcome Collection 42972i

Creator/production credits

The artist Pietro Testa was drowned two years after this print was published, either by suicide or by accident



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