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Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86-35 BCE), better known as Sallust, was a Roman statesman and historian. He turned away from an unsuccessful career in both politics and the Roman army, choosing instead on a writing career and produced three major works: Bellum Catilinae (Catiline's War), Bellum Jugurthinum (Jugurthine War), and Histories. Unfortunately, his works would almost be forgotten under decades later. His writing style and perspective would influence American and well as 17th-century English politicians.

Early Life & Political Career

Sallust was a Sabine from Amiternum, born in 86 BCE. Other than the speculation that he may have been a member of the local aristocracy, little is known of his early life. He rose to prominence in Roman politics, military, and historiography. His somewhat humble origins would influence both his writing and historical perspective. While no one in his family had ever been involved in politics, he accomplished the unthinkable when he became a tribune of the plebs in 52 BCE. In his first major work Bellum Catilinae, he wrote on his reason for entering politics and the shock at what he found:

I, myself, however, when a young man, was at first led by inclination … to engage in political affairs, but in that pursuit many circumstances were unfavorable to me, for instead of modesty, temperance, and integrity, there prevailed shamelessness, corruption, and rapacity. (9)

This disgust would become a major theme throughout his writing. It was the time of Julius Caesar's (100-44 BCE) war with Pompey (106-48 BCE), and Rome was a city on edge. During these hectic days of the Roman Republic, tribunes had gained considerable political power in the Roman government, and Sallust took full advantage of this. Unfortunately, his vocal outbursts against the famed orator and statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE) and politician T. Annus Milo (95-48 BCE) would eventually lead to his expulsion from the Roman Senate in 50 BCE.

After only two years as a tribune, Sallust was charged with immorality & expelled.

Milo, a candidate for consul and rival of Julius Caesar, was on trial, having been accused of orchestrating the murder of the unscrupulous politician Clodius Pulcher (93-52 BCE), a candidate for a praetor. At the trial Cicero defended Milo, but Sallust and his fellow tribunes spoke out against him, verbally attacking Cicero. Unfortunately for Milo, he was found guilty and exiled. After only two years as a tribune, Sallust was charged with immorality and expelled; however, most believe it was his actions against the highly influential Cicero that had led to his dismissal.

His close friendship with Julius Caesar saved him, and while he had little if any military experience, he was given the unsuccessful command of a legion in 49 BCE. Three years later, in 46 BCE, as a praetor, he unsuccessfully quelled a mutiny among Caesar's troops. However, later, he had some success in Caesar's African campaign. As the governor of Africa Nova, he was charged with malpractice; namely, extortion and plundering. Again, Caesar came to his rescue, and Sallust avoided a trial.

He would later write of his ineffective political career that he had detested the dishonest practices he saw in politics but was lured by ambition and the same "eagerness for honors" (Bellum Catilinae, 9). According to historian Barry Strauss in his The Death of Caesar, Sallust suggested to Caesar that he should strengthen the Republic for the future not only in arms to use against Rome's enemies but also in the "kindly arts of peace" (31). There is no mention of how Caesar received this suggestion. After his failures in politics and the military, Sallust decided, and rightfully so, to end his lackluster career and turn his attention to writing. His decision to leave just happened to coincide with Caesar's assassination in 44 BCE.

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Writing Career

In his first book Bellum Catilinae (Catiline's War) he speaks of his decision to turn to writing.

When, therefore, my mind had rest from its numerous troubles and trials, and I had determined to pass the remainder of my days unconnected with public life; it was not my intention to waste my valuable leisure in indolence and inactivity, or engaging in servile occupations … but returning to those studies from which, at their commencement, a corrupt ambition had allured me. (10)

With a mind influenced, in his words, by hope and fear, he wanted to write on "the transactions of the Roman people" (10). For his first effort, he decided to write "with as much truth as I can" on the Catiline Conspiracy because of the "nature of its guilt and perils" (10).

Although the book covers the conspiracy charges against Lucius Sergius Catilina (Catiline), he took the opportunity to discuss what he identified to be wrong with Rome: its moral decline. In his mind, this decline began after the fall of Carthage in 149 BCE and escalated after the dictatorship of Sulla (82-79 BCE). In December 63 BCE Catiline stood before the entire Roman Senate. He was portrayed by his accuser, Cicero, as an ambitious man who had attempted to seize power for his own personal gain. The discovery of the conspiracy would be the highpoint of Cicero's long and distinguished career in politics. The plot conceived by Catiline called for the assassination of several elected officials and the burning of the city itself. The resulting chaos would allow Catiline to assume the leadership role he so passionately desired. He was not alone in his scheme but was supported by disgruntled veterans of the Roman army and the poor (who were promised the elimination of their debt) as well as many who, like Catiline, had hoped for financial gain.

Sallust viewed Catiline as a revolutionary and accepted Cicero's judgment. However, Sallust wrote that Catiline, while a man of noble birth, was "of a vicious and depraved disposition" (11). Although he had a mind that was daring and subtle, he coveted other men's property and sought objects that were unattainable. Although eloquent, he was a man of little wisdom. Sallust believed that the dictatorship of Sulla led Catiline to take the opportunity to seize the government. He wrote that the corrupt morals of the state with its extravagance, selfishness, and destructive vices furnished him with additional incentives to take action.

Sallust's Jugurthine War continued the basic theme of all of his works: the decline of both virtue in Rome and political conflict: the clash of the Senate & plebians.

Past personal history probably kept the author from giving Cicero the recognition he deserved, for Sallust credited Caesar and Cato as the true heroes for the stirring speeches they made during the hearing before the Senate. Caesar, a one-time friend of Catiline, asked that the Senate not act in haste and await the results of a trial. Cato, on the other hand, agreed with Cicero and wanted immediate execution. Caesar's wishes were ignored, and the conspirators were executed without a trial. Catiline, after a failed escape attempt, died during his recapture.

The plot represented another chapter in the decline of Rome. According to the historian Mary Beard in her SPQR, the Catiline conspiracy was emblematic of the failings of the city in the 1st century BCE. The "moral fiber of the Roman culture" had been destroyed not only by the city's defeat of their rivals and domination of the Mediterranean Sea but also by the city's wealthy and their greed and lust for power (Beard, 28). All of this arose after the defeat and destruction of both Carthage and Corinth (146 BCE). Sallust wrote that the republic had increased its power "by perseverance and integrity" (Bellum Catilinae, 19). Powerful princes had been defeated, barbarous tribes were reduced to domination, and "Carthage, the rival of Rome's dominion, had been destroyed, and sea and land lay everywhere to her sway." (19) The long history of the city was seen as a desire for power. "At first the love of money, and then that of power, began to prevail, and these became, as it were, the sources of every evil." (19) This greed undermined both honesty and integrity and replaced them with inhumanity, contempt for religion, and general decadence.

Sallust wrote two more books: Bellum Jugurthinum (Jugurthine War) and Histories. Written between 42 and 40 BCE, the Jugurthine War continued the basic theme of all of his works: the decline of both virtue in Rome and political conflict: the clash of the Senate (nobility) and plebians. Jugurtha was the king of Numidia and had rebelled against Rome in the final years of the 2nd century BCE. Sallust wrote:

I propose to write of the war the people of Rome waged with Jugurtha, king of the Numidians: first, because it was long, sanguinary and of varying fortune and secondly, because then for the first time resistance was offered to the insolence of the nobles. (Bellum Jugurthinum, 141)

Sallust blamed the mishandling of the war on the political struggle prevalent in the Roman Senate. There were charges of both incompetence and corruption. The elitist nobility chose to sacrifice for the sake of their own greed. After a brief visit to Rome, Jugurtha saw Rome as a city for sale "and will fall as soon as it finds a buyer" (Beard, 266). A necessary change came in the form of a "new man" – Gaius Marius. Marius' rise to power as consul was seen as an attack on the political elite. In raising an army he ignored property qualifications and enlisted many of the impoverished Romans. In the end, Jugurtha was finally defeated and brought to Rome in chains where he died in prison.

Although there was some reference to earlier events, his Histories, of which only fragments remain, mostly cover Roman history from 78 BCE to around 67 BCE. Its style demonstrates his respect for the Greek historian Thucydides. As in his other two works, Sallust continues to speak of political conflict and the decline of Roman morality. After the ousting of the king, the nobles began to treat the plebians as slaves "making decisions about their lives and bodies in the manner of kings" (Histories, 1.10). However, they achieved some rights through the tribunes and the plebian assembly. The Punic Wars would temporarily end the discord; however, after the war, this dispute resumed. Again, he returns to a common complaint: the destruction of Carthage. "Discord, avarice, ambition and all the other evils which arise from great good fortune, increased after the destruction of Carthage." (Histories 1.10)


Sallust died around 35 BCE. Although many charge his works with inaccuracies and prejudice, his writing style and political perspective influenced both the American founding fathers as well as the English politicians of the 17th century CE. In England, it was the era of unrest and the Glorious Revolution, while in America, it was the time of revolution. Both believed in a government similar to that of the old Roman Republic.

Ancient History Sourcebook: Sallust (prob.86-35 BCE): Life in Rome in the Late Republic, c. 63 BCE

[Davis Introduction]:

Catiline's anarchistic conspiracy of 63 B.C. was, of course, only possible in a society in which there were a great number of depraved and desperate men, ready for any enterprise, however villainous. For such spirits Catiline was an ideal leader. In this quotation from Sallust we see how it became possible for him to find a large following, and what manner of man he was personally.

Conspiracy of Catiline, chs. 11-16:

After Sulla had recovered the government by force of arms, everybody became robbers and plunderers. Some set their hearts on houses, some on lands. His victorious troops knew no restraint, no moderation, but inflicted on the citizens disgraceful and inhumane outrages. The whole period was one of debauched tastes and lawlessness. When wealth was once counted an honor, and glory, authority, and power attended it, virtue lost her influence, poverty was thought a disgrace, and a life of innocence was regarded as a life of mere ill nature. From the influence of riches, accordingly, luxury, avarice, pride came to prevail among the youth. They grew at once rapacious and prodigal. They undervalued what was their own they set at nought modesty and continence they lost all distinction between sacred and profane, and threw off all consideration and self-restraint.

It is a serious matter for reflection, after viewing our modern mansions and villas, extended to the veritable size of cities, to contemplate the temples which our ancestors a most devout race of men, erected to the gods. But our forefathers adorned the fanes of the deities with devotion, and their homes with their own glory, and took nothing from what they conquered but the power of doing harm their descendants on the contrary have even wrested from their allies, with rank injustice, whatever their brave and victorious ancestors had left to their vanquished enemies---as if the only use of power was to inflict injury. Why should I mention these displays of extraordinary luxury which now set in, which can be believed only by those who have seen them as, for example, how mountains have been leveled, and seas actually built over with edifices by many a private citizen---men whom I deem to have made a sport of their wealth, since they were impatient to squander disreputably what they might have enjoyed with honor.

But the love of irregular gratification, open debauchery, and all kinds of luxury had spread abroad with no less force. Men and women alike threw off all restraints of modesty. To gratify appetite they sought for every kind of production by land or sea. They slept before there was any natural inclination to sleep. They no longer waited to feel hunger, thirst, or fatigue, but anticipated them all by luxurious indulgence. Such propensities drove young men, when their patrimonies were run through, to criminal practices for their minds, impregnated with evil habits, could not easily abstain from gratifying their passions, and were thus the more inordinately devoted in every way to rapacity and extravagance.

In so populous and corrupt a city Catiline easily kept about him, as a bodyguard, crowds of the lawless and desperate. All the shameless libertines and profligate rascals were his associates and intimate friends---the men who had squandered their paternal estates by gaming, luxury, sensuality, and all too who had plunged heavily into debt to buy immunity for crimes all assassins or sacrilegious persons from every quarter, convicted, or dreading conviction for their misdeeds all, likewise, for whom their tongue or hand won a livelihood by perjury or bloodshed all, in short, whom wickedness, poverty, or a guilty conscience goaded were friends to Catiline.

If any man of character as yet unblemished fell into his society, he presently rendered him by daily intercourse and temptation like to and equal to the rest. But it was the young whose acquaintance he chiefly courted and easily ensnared. For as the passions of each, according to his years, were aroused, he furnished mistresses to some, bought horses and dogs for others, and spared, in a word, neither his purse nor his character, if he could make them his devoted and trustworthy supporters.

Catiline was alleged to have corrupted a Vestal Virgin, and wrought many vile crimes at last, smitten with a passion for a certain Aurelia, he murdered his own grown-up son, because she objected to marrying him and having in the house a grown-up stepson. And this crime seems to me to have been the chief cause of hurrying forward his conspiracy. For his guilty mind, at peace neither with gods nor men, found no comfort either waking or sleeping, so utterly did conscience desolate his tortured spirit. His complexion, in consequence, was pale, his eyes haggard, his walk sometimes quick and sometimes slow, and distraction was plainly evident in every feature and look.

The young men he enticed by various methods into evil practices. From among them he furnished false witnesses and forgers of signatures and he taught them all to regard with equal unconcern property and danger. At length when he had stripped them of all character and shame he led them to other and greater iniquities. When there was no ready motive for crime, he nevertheless stirred them up to murder quite inoffensive persons, just as if they had injured him, lest their hand or heart should grow torpid for want of employment. Trusting to such confederates and comrades, and knowing that the load of debt was everywhere great, and that the veterans of Sulla, having spent their money too freely, now were longing for a civil war, remembering their spoils and former victory, Catiline accordingly formed the design of overthrowing the government.

From: William Stearns Davis, ed., Readings in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol. II: Rome and the West, pp. 135-138.

Scanned by: J. S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has modernized the text.

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Defining the image of Catiline

Of the images which have come to define Catiline, the increasingly sympathetic standpoint which seeks to portray him as an agrarian reformer, speaks to me as more representative of Catiline than most others. That being said, the basic nature of Catiline’s own rise to prominence within the Senate, previously characterised as exploiting the plight of the poor within economic decline, reflects the fundamental problems historians face in establishing empirical truth about the existence and nature of Catiline’s conspiracy. Sallust’s lampooning of Catiline, however subjective and ostensibly inaccurate, does demonstrate what many could argue as facets which compromise a “heroic” depiction of Catiline, as they highlight the ways in which he was ultimately politically driven.

To that end, the image of Catiline is principally reliant upon the economic circumstances which prompted his policies. Undeniably, Rome was faced with financial difficulty, as is reflected in import-export trends. Indeed, Catiline himself was in particular strife because the expenses of his failed campaigns for consulship had become too great. Whether the cancellation of debts was designed as a charitable policy, or whether it served the economic or political interests of Catiline himself, historians, in particular Parenti and Allen, acknowledge the enormous political sway that it was granting Catiline. Indeed the prevention of his charge at a consulship because he was involved in a legal dispute (although he was acquitted) in large part deflated his political aura. However, the fact that he pursued his reforms for the landed upper class, and in the cancellation of debts, despite how unpopular he was as part of the senatorial class, serves to highlight the genuineness of his cause. Although scholars like H E Gould suggest that he was a revolutionary who was only ever politically motivated, Catiline was demonstrably shunned by the class within which Rome’s power resided. Although indeed the voting power remained with the male citizenry, the fact that hundreds of senators could enact patronage and propaganda as a means of suppressing Catiline’s own play at the consulship remains a powerful reminder forces Catiline was contending with, in pursuit of his own policies.In large part, this generates the modern, perhaps even idyllic depiction of Catiline.

In charting the growth of this portrayal, in juxtaposition to Sallust’s uninhibited attack on Catiline, historians generate images of Catiline which determine the extent to which they establish Catiline’s role in the conspiracy. Increasingly, although Cicero could have fabricated the whole event, as is evidenced by remarkable inconsistencies in his rhetorical outbursts, as illuminated by Parenti, historians no longer deny the occurrence of a conspiracy. In large part, I believe this stems from the fact that an historical image of the people involved within the purported conspiracy suggests an interplay of forces within Rome, such as those of the revolutionaries and the Senate, which reflects the existence of a conspiracy. In this vein, the concerns of historians are increasingly focussed on the nature of the conspiracy. To this end, Catiline’s position at odds with that of the Senate underscores the arguable charitable mindset prompting his pursuit of these policies. The conditions of Roman politics were such that Catiline was more than likely to have understood the risk to his own life of remaining in such opposition to the Senate, although admittedly it was only with the death of Julius Caesar some years later that senators were especially considerate of their views. Regardless of the fundamental moral costs to the Roman political system, which in many ways provokes the harshness of orthodox historiography on Catiline’s character, I believe Catiline is shown to not embody the “rogue revolutionary” caricature established by Gould.I feel that the growing image of Catiline as a beneficent agrarian reformer seeking to curb the plight of the peasants is reflective of some empirical truth. Indeed ultimately, Catiline’s conspiracy, however desperate or ill-equipped as it has been characterised, was a means of empowering the peasantry in economic circumstances in which the Senate had incredible central authority by virtue of the fact that their financial patronage was even more necessary for the plebeian classes, and therefore a more potent tool of establishing Senatorial power.

Sallust - History

Some of the earliest surviving histories from Rome are the works of Gaius Sallistus Crispus (commonly known as Sallust). Two of his works, The Conspiracy of Cataline and the Jugurthine War, exist in their entirety and we have fragments of a third, The Histories. All three of his works discuss events leading into the period known as the Roman Revolution, the era of civil wars when Rome transitioned from being a Republic to an imperial state. He had personal experience with the wars, as he gave his support to Gaius Julius Caesar from his low-level position in the Senate. If he wrote of his own experiences, however, it has not survived into the modern day.

The events covered in The Conspiracy of Cataline (during the year 63 BCE), took place when Sallust was a young man, who had not yet entered the Senate and so was not a first-hand witness.[1] Even though he was not a direct witness, he is considered an excellent source because he had access to (some of) the people involved as well as the Senatorial records. His Jugurthine War discusses events that happened about a generation before his birth (the war lasted from 112-105 BCE), but which had immense consequences in his own time. It discusses Gaius Marius, his seven consulships, his changes to the army, and how he and Lucius Cornelius Sula came to be rivals. Their rivalry culminated in a short civil war which set the precedent for the later war between Caesar and Pompey, in which Sallust participated. And while it’s this work that gives the story, it’s commentary in his Conspiracy of Cataline that offers an interpretation for why these events came to pass.

Sallust, like many Roman historians, sees a gradual but unmistakable decline in the strength and morality of the Roman people over the course of the Republic. Unlike others who seem to simply lament the loss of the past (Tacitus in particular) Sallust has a reason: Rome destroyed all other powers who could match it and so became the sole power over most of the Mediterranean. With no external enemies against which to prove themselves, the Romans fell to fighting each other. Before (and during) the Punic Wars, Romans who wished to cover themselves in glory looked to do so for the benefit of the Republic. Great Roman generals and statesmen, like Scipio Africanus, Cincinnatus, and Quintus Fabius Maximus, gained notoriety for themselves while fighting for the good of the Senate and People of Rome. After Carthage was destroyed, Romans who wished to gain notoriety did so by vying with each other politically. Sallust sees this as damaging to the state, eventually leading to repeated civil wars. Sallust did not live long enough to see the completion of Rome’s transition to an imperial monarchy, but I can’t imagine he would have been surprised by the result.

It has long been said that the United States is following in the footsteps of the Roman Republic, and not without reason. The men who put together the American government consciously echoed Rome in the creation of a Senate, an executive with the power of veto, and, in general, with the idea of a republic in the first place. But the comparison didn’t really work its way into the culture until after the Second World War. After that war, the United States found itself in a position of unprecedented power in the world. The US was even able to dictate the terms of aid to the Allies with the Marshall Plan. However, the largest contributor to the success of the Allies, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was refused any aid, financial or otherwise, by the US. This contributed to the development of a Cold War between the two powers, though hot proxy wars were fought in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

As Carthage and Rome had divided the Mediterranean between them, the United States and the USSR divided the world. They balanced each other—when one pushed, the other pushed back. Carthage moved into Spain, Rome pushed back. So it was with the Cold War: if the Soviets pushed into Western Europe, the US (and NATO) pushed back the Soviets travelled into orbit, the Americans went to the Moon, and so on. Yes, in both republics there were political squabbles and serious domestic issues which were ignored, but the general picture was of a united republic, in which the people had roughly the same goals, even if the citizens disagreed on how to get there.

The Cold War ended with the slow collapse of the USSR over the course of the last decades of the Twentieth Century. Their resources were stretched thin by involvement in war in Afghanistan, the ongoing arms race against the United States, and (perhaps most prominent) the Chernobyl disaster. The destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was the symbolic end of the Cold War, while the signing of various treaties over the next two years allowed American President George H. W. Bush to say officially that the Cold War had ended. And, not only had it ended, but the Capitalist West, as represented by the United States, had won. Though it had, of course, always been there, it did not take long for infighting to come to the fore. The next decade saw further solidification of political ideology, exemplified by the activities in the 1992 Presidential Election, eventually leading to the election of Bill Clinton, the successful Republican campaign to take a majority in the House in 1994 (commonly known as the Contract with America), the impeachment of President Clinton, and, finally, the fiasco that was the 2000 Presidential Election.

The 2000 election was decided extra-constitutionally by the Supreme Court in a decision that explicitly said the justices understood the unique nature of the case and that Bush v. Gore should never be used as precedent to decide on issues in future elections. From two decades on, one can see Bush v. Gore as a flashpoint for the increased partisanship in the US and the current frame of mind that causes members of each party to believe that the other seeks to destroy the country and therefore must be stopped at all costs.

The situation in Sallust’s Rome was not terribly different. Roman politics was less organized around parties (though they did exist) and more focused on individuals in power and their ideas. People could and did change affiliation regularly. The split that came about during the civil war had more to do with the personalities of the men at the head of each faction than party loyalty. Gnaeus Pompey Magnus represented the Senatorial faction, who presented themselves as the defenders of the Republic, but whose true commonality was hatred of the leader of the other faction: Gaius Julius Caesar. Caesar also presented himself and his actions as seeking to protect the form and function of the Roman government. In reality, both men, and their factions, were fighting for their personal primacy. After he won, Caesar “restored” the Senate and made a point of appearing to be directed by them, even as they named him Dictator.[2] Caesar’s successor, Octavian (later Augustus), fought a similarly organized civil war against Marcus Antonius, but had the advantage of spinning it as a foreign war because of the influence of Cleopatra. When he won, he also did his best to assure the appearance of Senatorial control while at the same time possessing offices which allowed him to override the legislative body any time he liked. After nearly fifty years of his rule, the Senate was little more than a consulting group, but still appeared to observe all of the forms. Augustus’ successors would not be so subtle.

This essay is the first in a series of comparative essays about the Roman Republic and the United States. The collapse of the Republic was a great deal more nuanced than the political rivalries discussed above, as is the current American political state cannot be simplified to the way the Cold War played out. I am aware what I’ve said above presents a nostalgic view of the postwar United States I know I’m leaving out the racism, sexism, and xenophobia inherent to the American way of life in this period. But, in my defense, so was Sallust. The Romans didn’t have quite the same issues: the societal construct required for racism wasn’t there, sexism was inherent to their patriarchal society, but they would not have seen it as we do, and xenophobia was not an issue for a country which could conquer and integrate the conquered. The main issues Sallust was (actively) ignoring were those associated with the class structure, which were recognized and written about at the time. These class issues are also factors in the collapse of the Republic, which is why most histories of the era begin with at least some mention of the Gracchi brothers’ efforts to redistribute land being illegally held by upper classes to the very poor in and around Rome. I’ll be covering that an more in the next few weeks as we continue this series.

[1] He entered the Senate in 55 BCE.

[2] The Roman office of Dictator was not what we think of in the modern sense: a dictator was elected by the Senate during a time of emergency for a limited period (usually six months) after which he would have to step down. The era in which Caesar was given the title certainly qualified as one of emergency, but he was given the office indefinitely.

Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust)

Friend of Caesar. Sallust came from a family of knights in Amiternum, east of Rome. For his education he was sent to Rome, where his family owned a house. After some military service in the 60s, he fell on hard times and had to sell his family’s home in the capital. Subsequently, he is on record as Quaestor in 55 or 54, when he either delivered or wrote an invective speech against Cicero. During his first stint in the senate he was caught committing adultery with Fausta, Sulla’s daughter, the wife of an Annius Milo. In the late 50s he joined Julius Caesar, which may be why Caesar’s opponents had him expelled from the senate in 50 (ostensibly for his adultery with Fausta). He unsuccessfully held command of a legion of Caesar’s in 49. In 48 he was Quaestor again, thus being readmitted to the senate. In 47 he was almost killed in a mutiny, but in 46 he was Praetor and accompanied Caesar to Africa. He was rewarded by the governorship of Africa. After his return in 45 he was sued for gouging the provincials, but Caesar stopped the case. After Caesar’s death he retreated to private life and wrote his historical works, The War against Catiline (circa 42-41 B.C.E.), The War against Jugurtha (circa 41-40 B.C.E.), and The Histories (after 39 B.C.E.).

Further Reading

Sallust, translated by John Carew Rolfe (1921), contains the major works. An excellent, incisive critique of Sallust, his work, and his cultural milieu is Ronald Syme's scholarly Sallust (1964). Also useful is D. C. Earl, The Political Thought of Sallust (1961). A brief but clear account of Sallust for the general reader is in Stephen Usher, The Historians of Greece and Rome (1970), which, since it reports the conclusions of modern scholarship, is more useful than the older works by J. B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians (1909), and Max Ludwig Wolfram Laistner, The Greater Roman Historians (1947). □

Sallust - History

Page numbers are to the Penguin translation, which does not show chapter and section

Numidian royal family

Masinissa (BJ 5.4-5 p. 39) (202-148), ally of Rome against Carthage and Hannibal in second Punic War, friend of Scipio Africanus and, according to some sources, of his grandson by adoption Scipio Aemilianus.

He had three sons mentioned by Sallust (BJ 5.6, p.39): Micipsa, Mastanabal, Gulussa

Gulussa had at least one son, Massiva (BJ 35.1-6, p.71)

Mastanabal had at least two sons, Jugurtha (BJ 5.7, p. 39) (118-106) and Gauda (BJ 65.1-3, p. 101) (said to be cerebrally challenged)

Micipsa (148-118) had two sons, Adherbal (118-112) and Hiempsal (BJ 5.7, p. 39)

After the war the Romans installed Gauda (Jugurtha's half-brother) (106-88) as the king of Numidia he was succeeded by his son Hiempsal II (88-60) (mentioned in BJ 17.7 p. 77 as a source for African history), and he in turn by his son Juba I (60-46), who supported Pompey and his successors (i.e. the losing side) in the civil war. His infant son was brought up at Rome under Octavian (Augustus) and later installed as client king Juba II (25 BCE - CE 23). A man of wide learning, he collected art, invented a new dyeing process, and wrote books in Greek on Libya, Arabia, and Assyria, a history of Rome, researches into language, drama, and painting, a treatise on the plant euphorbia, which he discovered and named after his doctor Euphorbus, and a comparative study of antiquities, mostly Greek and Roman.

The king of Mauretania was Bocchus, who first appears at BJ 19.7 (p. 57)

Prominent Roman politicians mentioned in Sallust's monograph (for page numbers see index at the back of the book):

M. Aemilius SCAURUS (cos. 115) BJ 15.4, 25.4, 25.10, 28.4, 29.2-5, 30.2, 32.1, 40.4
Q. Caecilius METELLUS NUMIDICUS (cos. 109) first mentioned BJ 43.1, last BJ 89.6
L. Calpurnius BESTIA (cos. 111) first mentioned BJ 27.4, last 85.16
L. CASSIUS LONGINUS (cos. 107) BJ 32-33, sent to bring Jugurtha to Rome
L. Cornelius SULLA (cos. 88) first mentioned BJ 95.1
M. Fulvius FLACCUS (cos. 125) BJ 16.2, 31.7, 42.1
C. MARIUS (cos. 107) first mentioned BJ 46.7
C. MEMMIUS, ( 111) BJ 27.2, 30.3-4, 32-34
L. OPIMIUS (cos. 121) BJ 16.2
A. Postumius ALBINUS (cos. 99) BJ 36-39, 43-44, 55
Sp. Postumius ALBINUS (cos. 110) BJ 35-36, 39, 44, 77.3, 85.16
P. RUTILIUS RUFUS (cos. 105) BJ 50.1, 52.5-6, 86.5
C. Sempronius GRACCHUS ( 123) BJ 16.2, 31.7, 42.1
Ti. Sempronius GRACCHUS ( 133) BJ 31.7, 42.1

Features of Greek or Roman historical and biographical narrative (will not necessarily all be found in all works):

Statements about the writing of history, usually at the beginning of the work, which may involve justification of the endeavor in general (use and value of history) and of the topic in particular

Story-like narrative, including dialogue between two or more characters

Mythological elements (e.g., omens, prophecies, divine intervention or retribution)

Speeches, usually given in public (and thus possibly subject to verification)

Geographical and ethnographical digressions, e.g., the description of Africa and its inhabitants in BJ 17-19 (pp. 53-57)

Expressions of opinion ancient historians did not consider it a necessity to try to preserve impartiality

Speeches serve various functions, including but not limited to:

Random comments and questions, by chapter and section (or page in Penguin translation):

4.5 (37) Wax masks of Roman ancestors: important men had a mask made of wax from their faces. These masks were kept in the front hall of the direct descendant when one entered the house of a representative of a famous old family (a Cornelius Scipio, or a Fabius, for example), one encountered portraits of numerous ancestors. Actors wore these masks for each funeral of a family member, and did their best to reproduce the personae of those they represented. This extended to the person in whose honor the funeral was held. This person (a man, always, until the late Republic, when extended funeral services for important women became fashionable), was carried out in a sitting position (before being cremated) and an actor would impersonate him as he was in life, sometimes comically. The most senior representative of the family would then deliver a funeral address to the deceased, remarking upon his accomplishments and those of all his ancestors. Cicero says that there was always a certain amount of embellishment in these funeral orations.

5.1 (38) Since Sallust says that the two most important reasons for choosing to describe this war were military and political, it is important to see if his narrative bears out his claim: how many exciting and close battles were there? And how often does he describe the political fallout from Romans' dealings with Jugurtha? Does one of these themes receive preferential treatment in the narrative? He also says that this war marked 'the beginning of a struggle that played havoc with all our institutions, human and divine, and reached such a pitch of fury that civil strife was ended only by a war which left Italy a desert'. The latter prediction does not include events covered in the war against Jugurtha, but in several places Sallust will foreshadow the coming conflict.

7.4 ff (41) According to Sallust, Jugurtha was corrupted and given ambition by unnamed Romans whom he met while campaigning with Scipio Aemilianus in Spain. Scipio, of course, plays the role of the upright Roman who warns Jugurtha against misbehavior. Since this Scipio serves for later writers (especially Cicero) as an exemplary role-model of Roman virtue and behavior, it might be worthwhile to investigate what is known of his actions (as opposed to what people said about him, almost all of which is positive), to see if the later Romans' opinions were justified.

14.1-25 (47-52) What kinds of arguments does Adherbal seek to use to persuade the Roman senate to support him? Threats? Entreaties? Praise? Blame? Moral blackmail? Arguments of advantage?

15.4 (52) The first appearance of Scaurus. How does Sallust characterize him?

16.2 (53) The first appearance of Opimius, one of the consuls of 121: to what does Sallust attribute his influence in the Senate?

24.2-10 (60)-61 Letter sent by Adherbal to the Senate, during the siege of Cirta. Again, what types of arguments does he employ? The same as in his address to the Senate? The letter is at least shorter than the speech. How does Sallust describe the reaction at Rome and to what does he attribute it?

27.2 (63) First appearance of C. Memmius and the consul Bestia. Does Sallust anywhere have any fault to find with Memmius? What about Bestia?

31.1-29 (66-69) Speech of Memmius in a public meeting (contio) one knows what to expect when Sallust says the he has already introduced Memmius as a person who is both independent and an opponent of the nobility (NB Memmius himself was a member of the upper class, and we know from other sources that Memmius was on bad terms with both Scipio Aemilianus and Scaurus). Various phrases attributed to him by Sallust describe the faction of senatorial 'old boys': a powerful oligarchy, an arrogant ruling class, the tyranny of this faction, a clique of noblemen, a gang of criminals, craving for power, a few powerful men, tyranny, a handful of men, outrageous insolence, the Republic has been put up for sale, tyrants, despot. His closing argument is especially interesting: whereas it is sometimes thought in modern times that it is better to let a guilty person go free than to condemn an innocent one, the ancients believed just the opposite.

33.1-35.10 (70-73) Jugurtha's visit to Rome, assassination of Massiva by Bomilcar, Jugurtha's departing comment. Sallust says that justice and law do not always coincide: that is, to put Bomilcar on trial for murder was the right thing to do but contrary to the law of nations. Then, as now, ambassadors had immunity.

36.4-37.2 (73) A dispute concerning elections could delay the elections for months, although this happened seldom. Bad omens could also delay elections, as could violence.

39.3 (76) The senate rejects the treaty that Aulus Albinus had made with Jugurtha the senate was always able to decide whether or not to accept any arrangements that a general made with others, and based its decision occasionally on the basis of animosity or friendship for the general in question, as well as on considerations of utility or honor.

41.1-42.5 (77-79) Sallust's famous conception of the origins and reasons for civil strife in Rome. There is some truth to his analysis, but there is much lacking also. Can you think of any social, political, or economic factors which he does not mention? Where the translation says 'partisanship and factionalism' Sallust uses two words, partes and factio (what these terms mean). Where the translation says 'all political life was torn apart between two parties' Sallust says 'everything was split into two parts'.

42.2 (79) Note that when he describes the activities of the Gracchi he says that they 'were not sufficiently moderate' - although he does not explain what he means. Nevertheless he comes down on the side of refraining from violence in opposing them. The statement that it is better to suffer harm oneself than to inflict it on another is Socratic, most cogently expressed in Plato's dialogue Gorgias.

43.1 (80) Introduction of Q. Caecilius Metellus (Numidicus), who has many good qualities even though he was 'opposed to the popular party', and is not even greedy. Sallust will eventually reveal Metellus' one failing, so be on the lookout for it.

44.2 (81) When Sallust says there was not much time (due to the postponed elections) for a summer campaign, he speaks of the campaigning season. In the ancient Mediterranean world it was the usual practice for armies to take to the field and fight battles from spring through fall, but during winter to stay at home (if near enough) or in winter quarters. Not that the winters were especially harsh near the coasts, although they could be cold and rainy, but it was an old practice, maintained from the days of small city-states and citizen soldiers who had to return home to tend to their winter wheat, which they harvested in spring. Sieges of cities, of course, would continue during winters, but most other military activity ceased.

45.1-3 (81-82) Details of how to whip a demoralized and undisciplined army into shape. This is standard treatment, and unfortunately the description of lax discipline in the Roman army became a frequent topic in histories, perhaps because it was true.

46.3 (82) Here for the first time, but not the last, Sallust characterizes Numidians as fickle and untrustworthy this is the excuse that Metellus uses (according to Sallust) for not taking Jugurtha's offers of surrender seriously. For other examples see 54.4 and 74.3 (Numidian soldiers can disperse after a defeat because no one expects them to stay around), 56.3-56 (the people of Sicca try to change sides), 66.2 (the rebellion in Vaga - here the fickle people are not only Numidians but 'lower classes', the translator's rendition of the word volgus, also spelled vulgus, meaning the common people).

46.7 (83) First appearance of Marius. Does he get a proper introduction at this point? At some other? Compare the treatment of Sulla (95.2-4).

47.1-4 (84) Roman occupation of Vaga. Later Jugurtha persuades the people there to kill all the soldiers and officers left by Metellus as garrison.

49.2-4 (85-86) Jugurtha delivers a short pep talk to his soldiers before the battle, and Metellus does likewise (49.6). Historians acknowledged the practice but did not reproduce a full-fledged speech on each occasion, for that would clutter the history. The battle address was standard practice in the ancient world the commander would either assemble the men and address them from a platform of some sort, or mount upon a horse (the voice carries better that way) and either speak in one position or ride slowly along the front ranks. Many have doubted whether these speeches were genuine or if generals actually addressed their troops at all, mostly on the grounds that the soldiers would not be able to hear them. It is known that a commander with a weak voice would have someone else deliver his words for him. In more modern times, Benjamin Franklin wrote of a preacher who came to Philadelphia and was able to be heard by a very large number indeed: "He had a loud and clear Voice, and articulated his Words and Sentences so perfectly that he might be heard and understood at a great Distance, especially as his Auditories, however numerous, observ'd the most exact Silence. He preach'd one Evening from the Top of the Court House Steps, which are in the Middle of Market Street, and on the West Side of Second Street which crosses it at right angles. Both Streets were fill'd with his Hearers to a considerable Distance. Being among the hindmost in Market Street, I had the Curiosity to learn how far he could be heard, by retiring backwards down the Street towards the River, and I found his Voice distinct till I came near Front-Street, when some Noise in that Street, obscur'd it. Imagining then a Semi-Circle, of which my Distance would be the Radius, and that it were fill'd with Auditors, to each of whom I allow'd two square feet, I computed that he might well be heard by more than Thirty-Thousand. This reconcil'd me to the Newspaper Accounts of his having preach'd to 25000 People in the Fields, and to the ancient Histories of Generals haranguing whole Armies, of which I had sometimes doubted."

50.4 (87) The irregular battle tactics upset the Romans, as they upset any army which preferred a more formal method of warfare. Sallust's battle descriptions contain many traditional elements which are often lumped under the title of 'tragic history' he observes that the sight was one of 'confusion, uncertainty, shame, and misery', a description that makes the reader into a member of an audience watching a tragedy performed on a stage.

54.6 (91) It is apparently not only acceptable but good that Romans wage war against a king (not one elected by his countrymen) by harassing and terrorizing people in towns and on farms around the countryside. The treatment of the enemy is standard.

58.5-6 (95) What does the scene between Metellus and Marius reveal of their relationship up to this point?

60.3-4 (96) Speaking of tragic history, the defenders of Zama watch the battle outside as if it were a drama put on for them. Sallust probably got the idea for this from Thucydides' description of the people on shore watching the battle in the great harbor at Syracuse (Thucydides 7.71).

61.2-3 (97) A more detailed description of the difference between campaigning season and winter, and activities appropriate for a good commander when the army is in winter quarters. This time, Metellus interrupts the siege, not because it is winter but because it seemed hopeless to capture the city. When he speaks of 'the province' he means the part of North Africa which used to be Carthaginian territory, now the Roman province of Africa. Metellus' attempt to remove Jugurtha by means of his best friend, Bomilcar, reaches a new level of serious negotiation he had begun to try this method of winning the war when he first arrived in Africa.

63.1-65.5 (99-102) Re-introduction of Marius, and the prophecy which was thought by most of the ancients to guide his career from this point on. After revealing Metellus' one fault, Sallust details the deterioration of the friendship between Marius and Metellus. It is possible, although not certain, that one or more of the Metelli had supported Marius in his entry into political life. What does Marius do when he is disappointed of his commander? Do his subsequent actions agree with what Sallust says of his character?

65.5 (102) The lex Mamilia refers to the commission established to investigate senators' dealings with Jugurtha (40.2).

66.1-69.3 (102-104) There is a slightly different version of Turpilius' fate, and the reasons for it, after the fall of Vaga in Plutarch's Life of Marius chapter 6.

70.1-72.2 (104-106) Sallust resumes his interrupted narrative of Bomilcar's plot deliberate creation of suspense is as natural to a writer of ancient history as to a novelist. What is the effect on Jugurtha? Whether or not he reacted as Sallust says he did (72.2), a description such as this was considered obligatory.

73.1 ff (107) When Metellus begins his second year of campaigning, he does so without the assistance of Marius the story once again takes place on two fronts, the political battles at Rome, where Marius and his supporters are doing all they can to denigrate Metellus (negative campaigning, although Metellus was not actually running for office, was as familiar to the Romans as to us) and Metellus is doing all he can in Africa to capture Jugurtha. What does Sallust say is the deciding factor for the voters? Incidentally, when he says that 'seditious tribunes were exciting the mob' this is standard rhetorical treatment: as a rule, any tribune attacking the status quo was labeled seditious. Although Sallust begins to describe Metellus' second year in Africa by returning to the scene of the elections in Rome, he gives the campaign and other political activity scant notice until (82.2) Metellus learns that he will be replaced, and by whom.

74.2-4 (108) Sallust does not reveal where the battle between the Romans and Numidians took place. Metellus next plans and embarks upon the desert crossing and attack on Thala.

75.9 (109) How do the Roman soldiers interpret the rainfall?

76.5-6 (110) Thala falls but what happens to the booty? Metellus then needs to take his army to Leptis (also spelled Lepcis). If this is Leptis Magna, it is considerably to the east of Carthage and visible on the map in the beginning of the book.

79.1-10 (111-112) The etiological digression on the altar of the Philaeni appears both for its own interest, because digressions were a regular feature of ancient history, and to interrupt the narrative. Sallust never says whether the Romans succeeded in maintining Leptis as a friendly city, but one assumes that they did. Cyrene was a Greek kingdom on the north coast of Africa between Carthage and Egypt.

80.3 (113) King Bocchus of Mauretania now enters the story and remains important to it. Sallust had mentioned him briefly before, during the description of Africa (19.7), as offering a place of refuge for deserters from the Roman army (62.7) and from among Jugurtha's advisers (74.1). What topics does Sallust introduce along with Bocchus?

83.1 (114-115) What does Metellus do and refrain from doing when he hears about the African command?

84.1 (116) From what Sallust writes, it would appear that Marius was the only consul for the year 107. In fact the second consul was L. Cassius Longinus, mentioned at 32.5 as the person of great integrity to whom Jugurtha was willing to entrust himself when he visited Rome. The other consul went to Gaul, where he was killed in battle. Since Sallust has omitted an account of the campaign rhetoric before the election, he seizes the opportunity provided by winter and the intermission of military activity to report on Marius' words and deeds, and then includes a long speech in which Marius praises himself at the expense of the nobility (85.1-50). Exactly what arguments does Marius employ, and what kind of evidence to make his case? Does anything he says disagree with what Sallust writes in the narrative, either up to this time, or, reading ahead, when Marius wages war in Africa?

86.2-3 (122) Marius' preparations: what kind of person does he recruit for the army, what does Sallust say the senatorial opposition thinks of common opinion of military service, and what conclusion does the historian draw?

87.1-3 (123) Marius trains his combined army: what are similarities and differences compared to Metellus' course of training? Did the two commanders face the same kinds of issues with their armies at the outset?

88.5-6 (124) Sallust shows Bocchus trying to negotiate with Marius, but even the historian will not venture an opinion as to motives.

89.4-6 (125) Marius decides to attack the town of Capsa: why? What does Sallust think of his plan and does the action on the following pages lend credence to the historian's judgment?

91.5-7 (126) What reasons does Sallust give to justify Roman brutality in the capture of Capsa? The usual procedure, if a place surrendered without putting up a fight, was to leave the inhabitants unharmed.

92.2 (127) Marius, according to Sallust, was regarded by both Numidians and Romans as favored by divine providence (or something like that). Are there reasons or evidence given for statement this in the narrative?

92.5-94.7 (128-131) Marius' second great accomplishment, described in some detail, is to capture a fort near the river Muluccha. What was so difficult about this feat? Who or what, according to Sallust, enabled Marius to prevail in the end? And why was the Ligurian after snails?

95.1 (131) Introduction of Sulla. Although Sallust never says so (while Plutarch does), Sulla wrote an autobiography which a number of ancient historians and biographers used. He was not the only Roman to do so Scaurus, too, wrote an autobiography (one modern historian said that Scaurus had a lot to explain - or to explain away), as did P. Rutilius Rufus. When reading the remainder of this monograph, see if it is possible to identify what material Sallust may owe to Sulla, and what evidence there is of Sallust's independence of it. What Sallust's readers knew, and you perhaps may not, is that despite the good terms on which their professional relationship began, Marius and Sulla ended up deadly enemies, and hated each other so much that Sulla even had Marius' remains dug up and scattered (Marius died in 86 when Sulla was away in Greece and Asia Minor).

96.3 (132) Sallust says that Sulla refrained from seeking to make himself popular by being critical of others. This is in contrast to whom? When Sallust says that Sulla only cared that no one should be better than he was and few his equal, he describes the heroic ideal of an old-fashioned Roman: to be first, best, and greatest (or at least not to be second).

97.2-3 (132) How does Jugurtha persuade Bocchus actually to attack the Romans?

97.3-100.5 (132-136) The battle won, Marius marches to winter quarters. What specifically does Sallust say about how Marius behaves in battle and conducts the army on its march and in camp? Does anything of this description seem surprising?

101.1-11 (136-137) The final major battle, fought not far from Cirta. Since this was a major victory in a pitched battle (as opposed to a siege or a skirmish) between the Romans and the armies of two kings, Sallust adds a suitably glorious and gory conclusion.

102.1-113.7 (138-148) The war ends by treachery and the only question left is to see how it happens. There are many details of interest in these final pages, none of which has anything to do with Marius' military activities (which are mentioned but not described in any detail).

102.2 (138) When Bocchus asks Marius to send two reliable people to discuss things with him, whom does Marius send and which one speaks? (It is not Sallust's habit, believe it or not, to write as many direct speeches (= those in quotation marks) as may be found in other historians, and he parcels out direct speech only when the person and the occasion are especially important to his narrative.) What kinds of persuasion does the Roman employ?

102.12 (139) Bocchus' reply does not rate a direct speech. How much of what the king says appears to be true? Since Sallust had taken the trouble to point out (101.6) that Jugurtha spoke Latin, how did the Romans and Bocchus understand each other? (cf. 109.4) Sallust says that Bocchus changed his mind about sending a delegation to Rome, although there is no way to tell from the narrative that this statement was true it may have been apparent at the time from the lapse of time before he actually did send some people. It is probably not a coincidence that with Sulla at the center of the narrative Fortune (with a capital F) starts to play a role in the narrative. In the year 82, almost 25 years after the events related here, Sulla adopted the surname Felix, 'the Fortunate'.

103.1-7 (139-140) While Marius is away besieging a fort manned by Roman deserters (it would have been interesting to learn their fate, which one may take for granted, but Sallust does not give any details other than to say that Marius returned after a number of weeks), Sulla befriends Bocchus' envoys. What opinion does Sallust express about this, and about the reasons why Bocchus may have changed his mind once again?

104.5 (141) The senate's reply to Bocchus' envoys was not extraordinary under the circumstances.

108.3 (144) Sallust comes very close here to revealing an exact source (probably Sulla) when he describes Bocchus' desire to treat the Romans treacherously and lack of courage to do so. When he says that the king was 'had the fidelity of a Carthaginian' he was merely using in his comparison what the Romans considered the most outstanding trait of Carthaginians: the Latin expression Punica fides meant 'Carthaginian (good) faith', that is, none at all.

110.1-8 (145) Bocchus finally receives his own speech, the tenor of which seems mainly to be that he likes Sulla and is willing to do whatever he can for the Roman people. What does Sulla reply?

112.3 (146-147) What is Jugurtha's counter proposal to Bocchus and on what grounds does he make it? The historian uses a certain amount of space making the negotiations and potential treachery as suspenseful as possible.

114.4 (148) The ending leaves the reader in suspense to wonder what will happen with the new - and much more serious - threat to Italy from southern Gaul.


Lucius Catiline’s impiety concerning the Roman Republic was ever present in his desire to rule regardless of how he achieved his goal. The Roman definition of piety to the state can be summed up by Sallust’s statement that, “It is glorious to serve one’s country by deeds, even to serve her by words is a thing not to be despised.”[1] Sallust’s assertion unveiled the Roman value of piety as not just pertaining to the loyalty of family and religion, but also absolute loyalty to Rome. Catiline’s greatest ambition was not to rule within the laws of the Roman Republic rather, it was to gain complete control of Rome by any means necessary. According to Sallust, Catiline,

“had been seized with a mighty desire of getting control of the government, caring little by what manner he should achieve it, provided he made himself supreme.”[2]

Sallust believed that Catiline had no fidelity to the Republic, and only acted to serve his own interests. By viewing Sallust’s statement regarding piety to one’s country juxtaposed with his perception of Catiline’s will for supremacy it is apparent that Sallust used Catiline to personify impiety as one of the social ills which led to the decline of the Roman Republic.

Sallust - History

Now, if these were the days in which the Roman republic shows fairest and best, what are we to say or think of the succeeding age, when, to use the words of the same historian, "changing little by little from the fair and virtuous city it was, it became utterly wicked and dissolute?" This was, as he mentions, after the destruction of Carthage. Sallust's brief sum and sketch of this period may be read in his own history, in which he shows how the profligate manners which were propagated by prosperity resulted at last even in civil wars. He says: "And from this time the primitive manners, instead of undergoing an insensible alteration as hitherto they had done, were swept away as by a torrent: the young men were so depraved by luxury and avarice, that it may justly be said that no father had a son who could either preserve his own patrimony, or keep his hands off other men's." Sallust adds a number of particulars about the vices of Sylla, and the debased condition of the republic in general and other writers make similar observations, though in much less striking language.

However, I suppose you now see, or at least any one who gives his attention has the means of seeing, in what a sink of iniquity that city was plunged before the advent of our heavenly King. For these things happened not only before Christ had begun to teach, but before He was even born of the Virgin. If, then, they dare not impute to their gods the grievous evils of those former times, more tolerable before the destruction of Carthage, but intolerable and dreadful after it, although it was the gods who by their malign craft instilled into the minds of men the conceptions from which such dreadful vices branched out on all sides, why do they impute these present calamities to Christ, who teaches life-giving truth, and forbids us to worship false and deceitful gods, and who, abominating and condemning with His divine authority those wicked and hurtful lusts of men, gradually withdraws His own people from a world that is corrupted by these vices, and is falling into ruins, to make of them an eternal city, whose glory rests not on the acclamations of vanity, but on the judgment of truth?

Watch the video: Introduction to Sallust and the Bellum Catilinae