Fat Knights, Censorious Censors,  and Cato the Elder

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 6.22

“The censors used to remove a man who was out of shape and too fat from his horse because they thought that a man of such weight was less than fit for performing the duties of a knight. This was not as much a punishment as one might think: the duty’s burden was removed without the shame of losing office. Nevertheless, Cato, in the speech which he wrote concerning the neglect of sacrifice, objects that this matter is more criminal, that it was possible to be seen as a matter of public disgrace. If you accept his argument, it must be assumed that a man was not wholly free of being blamed for lethargy, since he had spoiled and plumped his body to such an immoderate size.”

1 Nimis pingui homini et corpulento censores equum adimere solitos scilicet minus idoneum ratos esse cum tanti corporis pondere ad faciendum equitis munus. 2 Non enim poena id fuit, ut quidam existimant, sed munus sine ignominia remittebatur. 3 Tamen Cato in oratione, quam de sacrificio commisso scripsit, obicit hanc rem criminosius, uti magis videri possit cum ignominia fuisse. 4 Quod si ita accipias, id profecto existimandum est non omnino inculpatum neque indesidem visum esse, cuius corpus in tam inmodicum modum luxuriasset exuberassetque.

Aulus Gellius kept a collection of passages for his son.

Leave a Reply