« IndietroContinua »
LIFE OF CAIUS CRISPUS SALLUSTIU8.
SALLUST, the celebrated Roman historian, was born at Amiternum, a town, in the Sabine territory, in the year of Rome 668, 86 years before the birth of Christ, and in the consulship of Cinna and Carbo. While young he removed to Rome, where he devoted himself to literary pursuits, under the direction of Atteius Prætextatus, a celebrated Athenian grammarian, and an instructor in the art of rhetoric.
At an early age, probably about the year of Rome 695, he obtained the questorship, and consequently became entitled to a seat in the senate. In the year 701, during a period of great civil commotion, he was made a tribune of the people; and in the dissensions consequent upon the death of Clodius, he took an active part in opposition to Milo. To this course he was probably moved not less by personal hostility to Milo, whom he had greatly injured, and from whom he had received a severe, but well merited chastisement, than by attachment to the party of Clodius. In the year 704 the censors, Appius Claudius and Calpurnius Fiso, degraded him from his rank as senator, on account of the infamy of his private character.
It was probably about this time, that he wrote the History of the Catilinarian Conspiracy, with the exception, perhaps, of the part relating to the characters of Cæsar and Cato, though some ascribe to the whole work a later date. Of most of the events connected with this conspiracy, Sallust had been an eye witness, and, with few exceptions, lie appears to have recorded them with ex. emplary impartiality. Though at a later period, the bitter enemy of Cicero, he manifests no such hostility in his account of this conspiracy, unless it be found in the somewhat faint praise which he bestows upon that illustrious orator and patriotic statesman.
Notwithstanding he expressed the determination in the introduction of this history, of spending the remainder of his days remote from the agitations of public life, he yet entered soon after with renewed ardor into the violent strug. gles which arose between the parties of Pompey and Cæsar. In this contest he espoused the cause of Cæsar, to whom he was personally attached, and through whose influence, in the year of the city 706, he was again made questor, and consequently reinstated in the senate. In the following year by the same influence he was raised to the pretorship, and about this time also he married Terentia, whom Cicero had recently divorced.
LIFE OF CAIUS CRISPUS SALLUSTIUS.
Soon after these events the civil war was renewed in Africa, where the rennants, of the senatorial party had been assembled under the command of Scipio and Cato. To oppose these Sallust was directed to conduct a detachment of several legions, by the way of Capua to the shores of Campania, where they were to embark for Africa. On arriving at the port of embarkation, a mutiny arose among the troops on account of their unwillingness to leave Italy, and to encounter anew the hardships and dangers to which they had been so long exposed. Sallust found his authority of no avail to suppress the insurrection, and was compelled to secure his own safety by a precipitate flight tu Rome, whither he was followed by a great number of the troops. Order being at length restored by the presence and authority of Cæsar, the legions consent. ed to embark, and shortly afterwards landed in Africa. Subsequently in an expedition entrusted to his command, against the island of Cercina, Sallust is said to have evinced considerable courage, military skill and prowess.
After the close of this war, he was appointed to the command of the African province, where he acquired immense riches by oppressing the people. On his return home, he was accused by the Numidians, of mal-administration of the affairs of his province, but escaped punishment through the friendship of Cæsar with whom he is reported to have shared his spoils. Scarcely, however, had he been acquitted, when Cæsar, on whom all his fortunes depended, was assassinated, on the ides of March, in the year of Rome 710.
With this event terminated the political career of Sallust, who thenceforward devoted himself wholly to the pursuits of private life. In his retirement, besides other historical works of which a few fragments now remain, he composed the History of the Jugurthine War, for which he had collected ample materials during his residence in Africa. He also erected a magnificent residence upon the Quirinal Hill, and laid out those beautiful gardens, which afterwards bore his name, and which were long considered as the pride and ornament of Rome. After his decease, which occurred in the year 718, his house and gardens became the favorite residence of successive Roman emperors.
As a historian, Sallust has few equals. His style is in a high degree concise resembling in this and in other respects that of Thucydides, whom, he seeing to have taken as his model. He is distinguished also for his uncommon talent at graphic description, and his masterly delineations of character. In his writings he is ever the advocate of virtue, and the stern, uncompromising tve of corruption in every form, whether exhibited in the venal administration of government, or in the obscurer vices of private riie. Unfortunately for his memory, the principies of virtue inculcated in his writings seem to have had but little influence in the conduct of his life; and posterity has shown the leste indulgence to his faults, from the contrast which they exhibit to his own moral precepts.
I. Falsò queritur de naturâ suâ genus humanum, quod, imbecilla atque ævi brevis, forte potiùs quàm virtute regatur. Nam contrà reputando neque majus aliud neque præstabilius invenies, magisque naturæ industriam hominum quàm vim aut tempus deesse. Sed dux atque imperator vitae mortalium animus est; qui ubi ad gloriam virtutis viâ grassatur, abundè pollens potensque et clarus est, neque fortunâ eget: quippe quæ probitatem, industriam aliasque artes bonas neque dare neque eripere cuiquam potest. Sin, captus pravis cupidinibus, ad inertiam et voluptates corporis pessum datus est, perniciosâ libidine paulisper usus, ubi per socordiam vires, tempus, ingenium defluxêre, naturæ infirmitas accusatur: suam quisque culpam auctores ad negotia transferunt. Quòd si hominibus bonarum rerum tanta cura esset, quanto studio aliena ac nihil profutura multumque etiam periculosa petunt, neque regerentur magis, quàm regerent casus, et eò magnitudinis procederent, uti pro mortalibus gloriâ æterni fierent.
II. Nam utì genus hominum compositum est ex corpore et animâ, ita res cuncte studiaque omnia nostra, corpo
ris alia, alia animi naturam sequuntur. Igitur præclara facies, magnæ divitiæ, ad hoc vis corporis et alia omnia hujuscemodi brevi dilabuntur; at ingenii egregia facinora, sicuti anima, immortalia sunt. Postremò corporis et fortunæ bonorum ut initium, sic finis est, omniaque orta occidunt, et aucta senescunt: animus incorruptus, æternus, rector humani generis, agit atque habet cuncta, neque ipse habetur. Quò magis pravitas eorum admiranda est, qui, dediti corporis gaudiis, per luxum atque ignaviam ætatem agunt, ceterùm ingenium, quo neque melius neque amplius aliud in naturâ mortalium est, incultu atque socordiâ torpescere sinunt, quum præsertim tam multæ varieque sint artes animi, quibus summa claritudo paratur.
III. Verùm ex his magistratus et imperia, postremò omnis cura rerum publicarum minimè mihi hac tempestate cupienda videntur; quoniam neque virtuti honos datur, neque illi, quibus per fraudem is fuit, utique tuti, aut eo magis honesti sunt. Nam vi quidem regere patriam aut parentes quamquam et possis, et delicta corrigas, tamen importunum est; quum præsertim omnes rerum mutationes cædem, fugam aliaque hostilia portendant. Frustrà autem niti, neque aliud se fatigando nisi odium quærere, extrema dementiæ est: nisi forte quein inhonesta et perniciosa libido tenet potentiæ paucorum decus atque libertatem suam gratificari.
IV. Ceterùm ex aliis negotiis, quæ ingenio exercentur, in primis magno usui est memoria rerum gestarum: cujus de virtute quia multi dixêre, prætereundum puto, simul, ne per insolentiam quis existimet memet studium meum laudando extollere. Atque ego credo fore, qui, quia decrevi procul a republicâ ætatem agere, tanto tamque utili lahori meo nomen inertiæ imponant; certè, quibus maxima industria videtur salutare plebem et conviviis gratiam quærere. Qui si reputaverint, et quibus ego temporibus magistratus adeptus sim, et quales viri idem assequi nequiverint, et postea quæ genera hominum in senatum pervenerint, profectò existimabunt me magis meritò quàm ignaviâ judicium animi mei mutavisse, majusque commodum ex otio meo, quàm ex aliorum negotiis, reipublicæ venturum. Nam sæpe ego audivi, Q. Maximum, P. Scipionem, præterea civitatis nostræ præclaros viros solitos ita dicere, quum majorum imagines intuerentur, vehementissimè sibi animum ad virtutem accendi.' Scilicet non ceram illam neque figuram tantam vim in sese habere, sed memoriâ rerum gestarum eam flammam egregiis viris in pectore crescere, neque priùs sedari, quàm virtus eorum famam atque gloriam adæquaverit. At contrà quis est omnium his moribus, quin divitiis et sumptibus, non probitate neque industriâ cum majoribus suis contendat ? Etiam homines novi, qui antea per virtutem soliti erant nobilitatem antevenire, furtim et per latrocinia potiùs quàm bonis artibus ad imperia et honores nituntur ; proinde quasi prætura et consulatus atque alia omnia hujuscemodi per se ipsa clara et magnifica sint, ac non perinde habeantur, ut eorum, qui ea sustinent, virtus est. Verùm ego liberiùs altiùsque processi, dum me civitatis morum piget tædetque: nunc ad inceptum redeo.
V. Bellum scripturus sum, quod populus Romanus cum Jugurthâ, rege Numidarum, gessit: primùm, quia mag. num et atrox variâque victoriâ fuit; dein, quia tunc primùm superbiæ nobilitatis obviàm itum est. Quæ contentio divina et humana cuncta permiscuit, eòque vecordia processit, utì studiis civilibus bellum atque vastitas Italiæ