CATO, DIONYSIUS, the supposed author of the Dionysii Catonis Disticha de Moribus ad Filium. The name usually given is simply Cato, an indication of the wise character of the maxims inculcated, but Dionysius is added on the authority of a MS. declared by Scaliger to be of great antiquity. This MS. also contains Priscian's translation of the Periegesis of the geographer Dionysius Periegetes; this has probably led to the Disticha also being attributed to him. In the middle ages the author on the Disticha was supposed to be Cato the Elder, who wrote a Carmen de Moribus, but extracts from this in Aulus Gellius show that it was in prose. Nothing is really known of the author or date of the Disticha; it can only be assigned to the 3rd or 4th century a.d. It is a small collection of moral apophthegms, each consisting of two hexameters, in four books. They are monotheistic in character, not specially Christian. The diction and metre are fairly good. The book had a great reputation in the middle ages, and was translated into many languages; it is frequently referred to by Chaucer, and in 1483 a translation was issued from Caxton's press at Westminster.
Editions by F. Hauthal (1869), with full account of MSS. and early editions, and G. Némethy (1895), with critical notes; see also F. Zarncke, Der deutsche Cato (1852), a history of middle age German translations; J. Nehab, Der altenglische Cato (1879); E. Bischoff, Prolegomena zum sogenannten Dionysius Cato (1893), in which the name is discussed; F. Plessis, Poésie latine (1909), 663; for medieval translations and editions see Teuffel, Hist. of Roman Lit. § 398, 3.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)