People - Ancient Rome: Sallust
Born Gaius Sallustius Crispus, he was a Roman historian.
Sallust in Roman Biography
Sal'lust, [Lat. Sallus'tius ; Fr. Salluste, st'liist';
It. Sali.ustio, sil-loos'te-o,] (or, more fully, Caius
Crispus,) a celebrated Roman historian, who
was born of a plebeian family at Amitemum in 86 B.C.
He was elected tribune of the people in 52 B.C., and was
expelled from the senate by the censors in 50 for alleged
immoral conduct. He was a partisan of Caesar in the
civil war. In the
year 47 he obtained the office of praetor,
and accompanied Caesar in his African campaign. He
was appointed governor of Numidia by Caesar in 46 B.C.
According to Dion Cassius, he enriched himself by the
oppression and plunder of the people of that province.
After the death of Julius Caesar he returned to Rome,
and built a sumptuous palace on the Quirinal, with
large gardens, still called Horti Sallustiani. Having
retired from public life, he devoted his latter years to
literary pursuits. He died in 34 B.C. The scandalous
charges against the character of Sallust, made by several
ancient and modem writers, may have been true, but, in
the opinion of some of the best critics, they are far from
having been established by any decisive evidence. He
was much influenced by party spirit, and probably
hated the aristocratic party more than he loved the
Sallust wrote a "
History of the Conspiracy of
Catiline," (" Bellum Catilinarium,") and a "History of
the War between the Romans and Jugurtha," (" Helium
Jugurthinum.") The speeches which he ascribes to
Cato, Cxsar, and others in his histories, though probably
expressed in the language of Sallust, give us, there
is reason to believe, the substance of what was said by
those eminent men. He also wrote a history of Rome
for the period included between 78 and 66 B.C., which
is lost. "The ancient critics," says Macaulay, "placed
Sallust in the same rank with Livy ; and unquestionably
the small portion of his works which has come down to
us is calculated to give a high opinion of his ta'ents.
But his style is not very pleasant ; and his most powerful
work, the account of the conspiracy of Catiline, has
rather the air of a clever party pamphlet than that of a
history." (Essay on History in the "Edinburgh Review,"
See Dks Brosses, "Vie de Salluste;" D. W. Moi.i.er, "De C.
Sallustio," 1684; MiJl.l.KR, "C. Sallustius, nder
etc., 1817; F. D. Geri.ach,
" Ueber den Geschichtsschreiber
C. Sallustins Crispus," 1831 ; E. C. de Gkri.achh,
" Etudes sur Salluste." etc., 1847; Bregolini, "Vita di C.
Sallustio," 1802; "Nouvelle Biographie Generate;"
Marine" for February, 1846.
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Sallust in Wikipedia
Gaius Sallustius Crispus, generally known simply as Sallust, (86-34 BC), a Roman historian, belonged to a well-known plebeian family,
and was born at Amiternum in the country of the Sabines. Throughout his career Sallust always stood by his principle as a popularis,
an opposer of Pompey's party and the old aristocracy of Rome.
Life and career -
After an ill-spent youth, Sallust entered public life and won election as Quaestor in 55 and one of the tribunes of the people in 52,
the year in which the followers of Milo killed Clodius in a street brawl. Sallust then supported the following prosecution of Milo.
He also had hostilities with the famous orator Cicero.
From the beginning of his public career, Sallust operated as a decided partisan of Caesar, to whom he owed such political advancement
as he attained. In 50 the censor Appius Claudius Pulcher removed him from the Senate on the grounds of gross immorality (probably
really because of his friendship with Caesar). In the following year, no doubt through Caesar's influence, he was reinstated.
In 46 he served as a praetor and accompanied Caesar in his African campaign, which ended in the decisive defeat of the remains of the
Pompeian war party at Thapsus. As a reward for his services, Sallust gained appointment as governor of the province of Africa Nova.
In this capacity he committed such oppression and extortion that only the influence of Caesar enabled him to escape condemnation. On
his return to Rome he purchased and began laying out in great splendour the famous gardens on the Quirinal known as the Horti
Sallustiani or Gardens of Sallust. These gardens would later belong to the emperors.
Sallust then retired from public life and devoted himself to historical literature, and further developing his Gardens of Sallust,
upon which he spent much of his accumulated wealth.
Sallust's account of the Catiline conspiracy (De coniuratione Catilinae or Bellum Catilinae) and of the Jugurthine War (Bellum
Iugurthinum) have come down to us complete, together with fragments of his larger and most important work (Historiae), a history of
Rome from 78-67 BC, intended as a continuation of Cornelius Sisenna's work.
The Conspiracy of Catiline -
The Conspiracy of Catiline (Sallust's first published work) contains the history of the memorable year 63. Sallust adopts the usually
accepted view of Catiline, and describes him as the deliberate foe of law, order and morality, and does not give a comprehensive
explanation of his views and intentions. (Note that Catiline had supported the party of Sulla, which Sallust had opposed.) Mommsen's
suggestion—that Sallust particularly wished to clear his patron (Caesar) of all complicity in the conspiracy—may have contained some
In writing about the conspiracy of Catiline, Sallust's tone, style, and descriptions of aristocratic behavior show him as deeply
troubled by the moral decline of Rome. While he inveighs against Catiline's depraved character and vicious actions, he does not fail
to state that the man had many noble traits, indeed all that a Roman man needed to succeed. In particular, Sallust shows Catiline as
deeply courageous in his final battle.
This subject gave Sallust the opportunity of showing off his rhetoric at the expense of the old Roman aristocracy, whose degeneracy
he delighted to paint in the blackest colours.
Jugurthine War -
Sallust's Jugurthine War is a brief monograph recording the war in Numidia c.112 B.C. Its true value lies in the introduction of
Marius and Sulla to the Roman political scene and the beginning of their rivalry. Sallust's time as governor of Africa Nova ought to
have let the author develop a solid geographical and ethnographical background to the war, however, this is not evident in the
monograph despite a diversion on the subject because Sallust's priority in the "Jugurthine War", as with the "Catiline Conspiracy",
is to use history as a vehicle for his judgement on the slow destruction of Roman morality and politics.
The extant fragments of the Histories (some discovered in 1886) show sufficiently well the political partisan, who took a keen
pleasure in describing the reaction against Sulla's policy and legislation after the dictator's death. Historians regret the loss of
the work, as it must have thrown much light on a very eventful period, embracing the war against Sertorius (died 72 BC), the
campaigns of Lucullus against Mithradates VI of Pontus (75 - 66 BC), and the victories of Pompey in the East (66 - 62 BC).
Two letters (Duae epistolae de republica ordinanda), letters of political counsel and advice addressed to Caesar, and an attack upon
Cicero (Invectiva or Declamatio in Ciceronem), frequently attributed to Sallust, are thought by modern scholars to have probably come
from the pen of the rhetorician Marcus Porcius Latro, also the supposed author of a counter-invective attributed to Cicero.
On the whole, antiquity looked favourably on Sallust as an historian. Tacitus speaks highly of him (Annals, iii. 30); and Quintilian
does not hesitate to put him on a level with Thucydides (x.1 ), and declares that he is a greater historian than Livy (ii.5 ).
Sallust struck out for himself practically a new line in literature, his predecessors having functioned as little better than mere
dry-as-dust chroniclers, whereas he endeavoured to explain the connection and meaning of events and successfully delineated
character. The contrast between his early life and the high moral tone adopted by him in his writings has frequently made him a
subject of reproach, but history gives no reason why he should not have reformed.
In any case, his knowledge of his own former weaknesses may have led him to take a pessimistic view of the morality of his fellow-
men, and to judge them severely. He took as his model Thucydides, whom he imitated in his truthfulness and impartiality, in the
introduction of philosophizing reflections and speeches, and in the brevity of his style, sometimes bordering upon obscurity. Some
readers have ridiculed his fondness for old words and phrases (in which he imitated his contemporary Cato the
younger) as an affectation, but this very affectation and his rhetorical exaggerations made Sallust a favourite author in the 2nd
century and later.
Nietzsche, in Twilight of the Idols (Section 13.1) credits Sallust for his epigrammatic style: "My sense of style, for the epigram as
a style, was awakened almost instantly when I came into contact with Sallust." and praises him for being "compact, severe, with as
much substance as possible, a cold sarcasm against 'beautiful words' and 'beautiful sentiments'."
Sallustius Crispus in Harpers Dictionary
A famous Roman historian, belonging to a plebeian family. He was born B.C. 86, at Amiternum, in the country of the Sabines. He was quaestor
about 59, and tribune of the plebs in 52, the year in which Clodius was killed by Milo. In his tribunate he joined the popular party, and
took an active part in opposing Milo. It is said that he had been caught by Milo in the act of adultery with his wife Fausta, the daughter
of the dictator Sulla ; that he had received a beating from the husband; and that he had been only let off on payment of a sum of money. In
50 Sallust was expelled from the Senate by the censors, probably because he belonged to Caesar's party, though some give as the ground of
his ejection from the Senate the act of adultery already mentioned. In the Civil War he followed Caesar's fortunes. In 47 we find him
praetor elect, by obtaining which dignity he was restored to his rank. He nearly lost his life in a mutiny of some of Caesar's troops in
Campania, who had been led thither to pass over into Africa. He accompanied Caesar in his African war (B.C. 46), and was left by Caesar as
governor of Numidia, in which capacity he is charged with having oppressed the people, and enriched himself by unjust means. He was accused
of maladministration before Caesar, but it does not appear that he was brought to trial. The charge is somewhat confirmed by the fact of his
becoming immensely rich, as was shown by the expensive gardens which he formed (horti Sallustiani) on the Quirinalis. He retired into
privacy after he returned from Africa, and he passed quietly through the troublesome period after Caesar's death. He died in the year 34,
about four years before the battle of Actium. The story of his marrying Cicero's wife, Terentia, ought to be rejected.
It was probably not till after his return from Africa that Sallust wrote his historical works. (a) The Catilina, or Bellum Catilinarium, is
a history of the conspiracy of Catiline during the consulship of Cicero, 63. The introduction to this history, which some critics admire, is
only a feeble and rhetorical attempt to act the philosopher and moralist. The history, however, is valuable. Sallust was a living spectator
of the events which he describes, and considering that he was not a friend of Cicero, and was a partisan of Caesar, he wrote with fairness.
The speeches which he has inserted
Bust of Sallust. (St. Petersburg.)
in his history are certainly his own composition; but we may assume that Caesar's speech was extant, and that he gave the substance of it.
(b) The Iugurtha, or Bellum Iugurthinum, contains the history of the war of the Romans against Iugurtha, king of Numidia, which began in
111, and continued until 106. It is probable that Sallust was led to write this work from having resided in Africa, and that he collected
some materials there. He cites the Punic Books of King Hiempsal, as authority for his general geographical description (Iug. 17). The
Jugurthine War has a philosophical introduction of the same stamp as that to the Catilina. As a history of the campaign, the Jugurthine War
is of no value: there is a total neglect of geographical precision, and apparently not a very strict regard to chronology. (c) Sallustius
also wrote Historiarum Libri Quinque, which were dedicated to Lucullus, a son of L. Licinius Lucullus. The work is supposed to have
comprised the period from the consulship of M. Aemilius Lepidus and Q. Lutatius Catulus (B.C. 78), the year of Sulla 's death, to the
consulship of L. Vulcatius Tullus and M. Aemilius Lepidus (B.C. 66), the year in which Cicero was praetor. This work is lost, with the
exception of fragments which have been collected and arranged. They contain, among other things, several orations and letters. Some
fragments belonging to the third book, and relating to the war with Spartacus, have been published from a Vatican MS. in the present
century, and a number of others were found in 1886 by Hauler in an Orleans palimpsest. (d) Duae Epistolae de Re Publica Ordinanda, which
appear to be addressed to Caesar at the time when he was engaged in his Spanish campaign (B.C. 49) against Petreius and Afranius, and are
attributed to Sallust; but the opinions of critics on their authenticity are divided. (e) The Declamatio in Sallustium, which is attributed
to Cicero, is generally admitted to be the work of some rhetorician, the matter of which is the well-known hostility between the orator and
the historian. The same opinion is generally maintained as to the Declamatio in Ciceronem, which is attributed to
Some of the Roman writers considered that Sallustius imitated the style of Thucydides (Quint.x. 1), and he has himself greatly influenced
the style of Tacitus. His language is generally concise and perspicuous: perhaps his love of brevity may have caused the ambiguity that is
sometimes found in his sentences. He also affected archaic words. Though he has considerable merit as a writer, his art is always apparent.
He had no pretensions to great research or precision about facts. His reflections have often something of the same artificial and
constrained character as his expressions. One may judge that his object was to obtain distinction as a writer; that style was what he
thought of more than matter. He has, however, probably the merit of being the first Roman who wrote what is usually called history. He was
not above his contemporaries as a politician; he was a party man, and there are no indications of any comprehensive views, which had a whole
nation for their object. He hated the nobility, and depicted their vices in a spirit of bitter exaggeration.
There are many MSS. of Sallust, especially at Paris. These Codices Parisini, of the tenth and eleventh centuries (P, P1, P2), are the best,
all being distinguished by a lengthy lacuna after Iug. 103, supplied from a second “family” of MSS. written later, and represented by
several codices at Munich. Remains of the orations and letters of Sallust are preserved in two MSS. of the tenth century—one at Berne, and
one in the Vatican. These give also annotations by an unknown grammarian.
There are separate editions of the Catilina by Cook (1884); Turner (1887); Eussner (1887), and Herbermann (New York, 1890); of the Iugurtha
by Herzog (Leipzig, 1840); Schmalz (Gotha, 1866), and Brook (London, 1885). The fragments of his Historiae are given in Jordan's edition of
the Sallust (1887); and separately edited by Maurenbrecher (fasc. i. and ii., Leipzig, 1891-93). Complete editions of Sallust are those of
Gerlach (Basel, 1832), Kritz (1828, 1856), Dietsch (1859, 1864), Jordan (Berlin, 1876, 1887), and with English notes by Merivale (1852),
Long (1860, revised by Frazer, 1890), and Capes (1884). There are lexicons to Sallust by Eichert (Hanover, 1864) and Mollweide (Strassburg,
1887). A good English translation is that of Pollard (1882). On the style, see Constans, De Sermone Sallustiano (Paris, 1880); and in
general the monographs by Vogel (Mainz, 1857), Jäger (Salzburg, 1884), and Rambeau (Burg, 1879).
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