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LIFE OF SALLUST.
C. SALLUSTIUS CRISPUS was born at Amiternum (San Vittorino, north of Aquila), an old Sabine town on the river Aternus, amidst the highest Apennines. C. Marius, consul for the seventh time, died in B.C. 86, the year of Sallust's birth.
Sallust's family was plebeian. He passed his youth in troublesome times. The death of Marius was followed by the overthrow of the Marian faction, the tyranny of Sulla, and after Sulla's death in B.C. 78 by the war with Sertorius in Spain, and a servile war in Italy, which ended in B.C. 71. Sallust was twenty-three years of age in B.C. 63, when Cicero was consul, and Catilina formed the conspiracy which Sallust afterwards made the subject of one of his Histories. In B.C. 63 also was born C. Octavius, who afterwards settled the civil disorders of Rome by the establishment of the imperial power.
In his Preface to the conspiracy of Catilina Sallust tells us that history had been his early study, but he left it for a time to engage in political life, like most young men. He admits that he was ambitious; and he experienced all the trouble which attended a public career in Rome. The dishonesty and the vices of the age thwarted him in his attempts to rise, and offended his purer morals. He belonged to what may be called the popular party, which was opposed to the arrogant claims
and exclusive pretensions of the nobility, a term which comprehended those families whose ancestors had filled the high offices of the state, and their descendants wished to keep these offices with their emoluments to themselves. We may assume that Sallust filled the office of quaestor and so got admission into the Senate; but his election to the tribunate in B.C. 53 is the first notice that we have of his public life. He obtained this office soon after Cato had once failed in getting the praetorship, because he refused to do the dirty work of canvassing; and it is probable that Sallust alludes to his own success in his election, when he asks those who may condemn him for retiring from public life, to consider under what circumstances he was elected and what kind of men were unable to get what he did (Jug. c. 4). In the beginning of B.C. 52, Sallust's year of office, P. Clodius lost his life in a brawl with T. Milo on the high road, and Sallust joined his fellow-tribunes Q. Pompeius and T. Munatius Plancus in opposing Cicero, who made himself a partizan of Milo and defended him on his trial. The three tribunes called meetings of the people and inflamed them against Milo with the view of doing him as much harm as they could in public opinion before his trial came on; and they did not spare Cicero. Sallust and Pompeius were suspected of coming to terms with Cicero and Milo, but Plancus persisted in his hostility.
Sallust was a partizan of C. Caesar and of his faction, though we do not know what service he did for his great patron while he was absent from Rome in the Gallic war. However, Sallust suffered from the hostility of the party of Cn. Pompeius in the year B.C. 50, at the same time as other friends of Caesar. The censors Appius Claudius and L. Calpurnius Piso removed several friends of Caesar from the Senate on various grounds, and Sallust among
them; the fair conclusion from which is, that Sallust's ejection was a party proceeding, whatever truth there may have been in the charge of his living a scandalous life.
The unknown author of the miserable Declamation against Sallust hints that Sallust after his ejection went to Caesar. In the early part of B.C. 50, Caesar was in North Italy; he spent the summer of that year in Transalpine Gallia, and returned to North Italy again at the close of the year. Sallust may have gone to Caesar and he may not, for there is no evidence about it. In the next year, B.C. 49, in January, Caesar crossed the river Rubicon, and Sallust may have joined him; but he was a man of so little mark that we find nothing about him until B.C. 48, when he had the command of a legion in Illyricum or the parts thereabouts, as Orosius tells us, or something to that effect, in a very confused way.
In B.C. 47 Sallust was praetor designatus, and thus he would be restored to his rank in the Senate, though it is likely enough that he was restored before by Caesar, but without the clumsy expedient of being elected quaestor a second time, as the author of the Declamation against Sallust affirms. Dion Cassius says that Sallust obtained his readmission to the Senate by being elected a praetor.
In September B.C. 47 Caesar returned from the Alexandrine war and immediately made preparations for the war in Africa, where King Juba, Scipio, and M. Cato had got together a large force. Some of Caesar's soldiers were mutinous and refused to go into Africa, claiming the fulfilment of the promises which Caesar had made them after the battle of Pharsalia, and release from service. Caesar sent Sallust to the mutineers, into Campania, as Dion Cassius says, but the praetor's eloquence did not pacify
the men, and he was compelled to fly for his life. Notwithstanding Sallust's want of success in this mission, Caesar commissioned him to take over some of the legions into Sicily for the African war, as some writers infer from a letter of Cicero to Atticus; but the letter certainly does not prove that Sallust did take the legions to Sicily. However, Sallust was in the African war, and Caesar sent him with some ships to the island Cercina, now the Karkenna islands off the coast of Tunis, to seize the stores of corn there. The quaestorius C. Decimius, who was placed in Cercina to take care of the corn, fled in a small vessel. Sallust was received by the islanders, and sent off a large quantity of corn to Caesar's camp. When the African war was ended by the defeat of Juba and Scipio early in B.C. 46, Caesar made Juba's kingdom of Numidia into a Roman province and left Sallust as governor with the title of Proconsul. Sallust remained in Africa during the year B.C. 46. In B.C. 45 he returned to Rome a rich man.
Sallust spent the rest of his life in retirement. He built a magnificent house and made a beautiful garden at Rome, in the valley which separates the Quirinal from the Pincius or Collis Hortulorum. This part of Rome was beyond the wall of Servius, and extended to the Porta Salaria, which was on the north-east side of Rome. The old Roman topographers affirm that the spot was named Salustricum or Salustium to their day. Near the elevation on which the Church of Sta Susanna stands was the Forum Sallustii. The Horti Sallustiani afterwards became imperial property, and were occupied by Nero, Vespasian, and Aurelian. The Emperor Nerva died here. Many valuable works of art have been found by excavating within the limits of Sallust's estate, and some of them may have belonged to the historian.
There is a story in Hieronymus that Sallust married Terentia, the divorced wife of M. Cicero. Terentia was put away by her husband in B.C. 46. She was then fifty at least, and Sallust was forty. Kritz says that it was so unequal a match that we can scarce believe it, unless Sallust had some peculiar reasons for marrying Terentia. But he may have had such reasons satisfactory to himself, if not to Kritz, and such marriages are not unknown in our times. We do not know if Sallust had any wife, unless it was Terentia, and he left no children, and so far the story of his marriage is consistent, for Terentia was past the usual age of child-bearing. But Terentia, it is said by the same writer who is the authority for her marriage with Sallust, married Messala Corvinus after Sallust's death. She reached the age of one hundred and three, and so had time enough to have three husbands or even more. However, there is no authority for the marriage with Sallust except that of Hieronymus, but he must have found this story somewhere.
Nothing is known of Sallust's life after Caesar's death, or how he managed to live quietly in those troublesome times. He amused himself with writing history, having retired from public life and having no taste, as he says, for agriculture or field sports, of both of which he speaks with contempt (Cat. c. 4). He died in B.C. 35, in his fifty-first year, and four years before the battle of Actium. His property went to his sister's grandson, whom he had adopted. This youth bore the historian's name, and was a man of some influence under Augustus and Tiberius. He died A.D. 20.
The little that we know of Sallust is almost a proof that he never attained any distinction as a public man, that he was neither an orator nor a soldier, that he had neither eloquence nor military talent, the two arts which