A Twitter bot that posts random verses from the Distichs of Cato.
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This twitterbot posts random distichs (bits of moral teaching in the form of hexameter poetry) from the Disticha Catonis, written in the 3rd–4th century CE by an otherwise unknown Dionysius Cato.

The code itself was cobbled carelessly from various sources and wrestled with through trial and error till it finally worked.

The resulting bot is @DistichaCatonis.


You'll need NPM, NodeJS, and the twit module:

sudo npm install twit --save

You'll also need your Twitter API keys.

  1. Log in to Twitter on the web and add your mobile or Google Voice number to your account:
  • Settings > Mobile
  • You can delete it once your keys are generated
  1. Visit Twitter Apps and create your app keys

For running locally, you can keep a simple shell script (added to .gitignore to ensure it isn't committed) that passes your keys when it executes:


Replace the ellipses with the keys obtained from Twitter. I named mine local.sh.


If you build something from this bot, you'll probably deploy it through Heroku, and there are some things you should know.

  1. You don't need to pay for dynos. One dyno is enough.
  2. Heroku scales a web dyno by default, but your Twitter bot will use a single worker dyno. You'll need to scale it yourself on the command line:
    heroku ps:scale worker=1
  3. You don't want to put your Twitter keys in anything committed. They should be stored as environment variables and added on the command line with the following commands (replacing the ellipses with your Twitter keys):
heroku config:set CONSUMER_KEY=…
heroku config:set CONSUMER_SECRET=…
heroku config:set ACCESS_TOKEN=…
heroku config:set ACCESS_TOKEN_SECRET=…

Alternatively, you can pull the .env file from Heroku, edit it locally in your editor of choice (it's a hidden file, but a good editor should see it), and then push the new .env file back to Heroku:

heroku config:pull
heroku config:push