Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

of the Christian era.* Such declaimers made use of all possible reports that were current respecting the moral weaknesses of the two men, and respecting an enmity between them, of which history knows nothing, and which is contradicted by our author himself, by the praise he bestows, in his Catilinarian War, upon Cicero.

Sallust's character as an historian, and his grammatical style, have been the subjects of contradictory opinions even among the ancients themselves—both his own contemporaries, and the men of succeeding ages. Some condemned his introductions, as having nothing to do with the works themselves; found fault with the minute details of the speeches introduced in the narrative;

and called him a senseless imitator, in words and expressions, of the earlier Roman historians, especially of Cato. Others praised him for his vivid delineations of character, the precision and vigour of his diction, and for the dignity which he had given to his style by the use of ancient words and phrases which were no longer employed in the ordinary language of his own day. But however different these opinions may appear, there is truth both in the censure and in the praise, though the praise no doubt outweighs the censure; and the general opinion among the later Romans justly declared primus Romana Crispus in historia. It is obvious that it is altogether unjust to say that his introductions are unsuitable, and that the speeches he introduces are inappropriate; for an author must be allowed to write a preface to make an avowal of his own sentiments ; and the speeches are inseparably connected with the forms of public life in antiquity : they are certainly not too long, and express most accurately, both in sentiment and style, the characters of the great men to whom the author assigns them. We have no hesitation in declaring that the speeches in the Catiline and Jugurtha, as well as those extracted from the Historiae, are the most precious specimens of the kind that have come down to us from antiquity.

As regards the grammatical style and the imitation of earlier authors, for which Sallust has been blamed by some, and praised by others, it must be observed that he is the first among the classical authors extant in whose works we perceive a difference between the refined language of public life, such as we have it in Cicero and Caesar, and a new and artificially-formed language of literature. Cicero and Caesar wrote just as a well-educated orator of taste spoke : after the death of Caesar, oratory began to withdraw from the active scenes of public life; and there remained

* It has indeed been said that Quinctilian, who wrote about the year 95 after Christ, cites passages from these Declamations ; but critical investigation has shown that these passages are interpolations, and are found only in the worst manuscripts.

few authors who, following the practical vocation of an orator, though at an unfavourable epoch, yet observed the principle which is generally correct—that a man ought to write in the same manner in which well-bred people speak. But most men of talent who devoted themselves to written composition for the satisfaction of their own minds, or for the instruction of their contemporaries, created for themselves a new style, such as was naturally developed in them by reading the earlier authors, and through their own relations to their readers and not hearers. Livy clung to the language, style, and the full-sounding period of the oratorical style, though even he in many points deviated from the natural refinement of a Caesar and a Cicero ; but Sallust gave up the oratorical period, divided the long-spun, full-sounding, and well-finished oratorical sentence into several short sentences; and in this manner he seemed to go back to the ancients, who had not yet invented the period : but still there was a great difference between his style, in which the ancient simplicity was artificially restored, and the genuine ancient sentence formed without any rhetorical art. He wrote without periods, because he would not write otherwise, and not because he could not; he divided the rhetorical period into separate sentences, because it appeared to him advantageous in his animated description of minute details ; and he wrote concisely, because he did not want the things to fill up his sentences which the orator requires to give roundness and fulness to his periods. He states in isolated independent sentences those ideas and thoughts which the orator distributes among leading and subordinate sentences; but he did all this consciously, as an artist, and with the conviction that it was conducive to historical animation. Tacitus was his imitator in this artificial historical style ; and notwithstanding all his well-deserved praise, it must be admitted that the blame cast upon Sallust attaches in a still higher degree to Tacitus. It is a fact beyond all doubt, that Sallust introduced into the language of literature antiquated forms, words, and expressions; and this arose from a desire to recall with the ancient language also the ancient vigour and simplicity. But even this revival of what was ancient is visible only here and there, and all such words and phrases might be exchanged for others and more customary ones, without depriving Sallust of his essential characteristics ; for these consist in a vivid perception of the important moments of an action, in placing them in strong contrast, to excite his readers, and in the effect produced by isolated sentences simply put in juxtaposition without the artifice of a polished and intricate period.

To give our young readers some preparatory information about certain frequently-recurring peculiarities of Sallust's style, we may remark that the omission of the personal pronoun in the construction of the accusative with the infinitive, as well as the omission of the auxiliary verb est, and the frequent use of the infinitive instead of a dependent clause--for example, hortatur dicere, res postulat exponere, conjuravere patriam incendere, and many similar expressions-arise from his desire to be brief and concise. Among his antiquated forms of words, we may mention die for diei, the singular plerusque, quīs for quibus, senati for senatus; dicundi, legundi, &c. for dicendi, legendi; intellego for intelligo, forem for essem, fuere for fuerunt; the use of the past participles of deponent verbs in a passive sense-as adeptus, interpretatus. Antiquated words, or words used in an antiquated sense, are-supplicium for preces, scilicet for scire licet; antiquated expressions are -fugam facere for fugere, habere vitam for agere vitam, and other phrases with habere. The frequent use of mortales for homines, aevum for aetas, and subigere for cogere, gives to his style somewhat of a poetical colouring. As far as grammatical construction is concerned, there is a tendency to archaisms in the use of quippe qui with the indicative; in the frequent application of the indicative in subordinate sentences in the oratio obliqua; and in some other points which we shall explain in short notes to the passages where they occur. An intentional disturbance of rhetorical symmetry is perceptible in the change of corresponding particles ; -for example, instead of alii in the expression alii-alii, we find pars or partim; instead of modo in the expression modo-modo, we find interdum, and similar variations. But all these differences from the ordinary language contain in themselves sufficient grounds of explanation and excuse, and are by no means so frequent as to render the language of Sallust unworthy of the merited reputation of being classical.

C. SALLUSTII CRISPI

BELLUM

CATILINARIU M.

1. OMNES homines, qui sese studenta praestare ceteris animalibus, summa ope3 niti decet, ne vitam silentio transeant veluti pecora, quae natura prona4 atque ventri obedientia finxit. Sed nostra omnis vis in animo et corpore sita est; animi imperio, corporis servitio magis utimur; alterum nobis cum dis,5 alterum cum beluis6 commune est. Quo mihi rectius videtur ingenii quam virium opibus gloriam quaerere et, quoniam vita ipsa qua fruimur brevis est, memoriam nostri7

i Omnes. Other editions have omnis or omneis. The accusative plural of words of the third declension making their genitive plural in ium, varied in early Latin, sometimes ending in īs, and sometimes in eis or es. This fluctuation, however, afterwards ceased ; and even in the best age of the Latin language it became generally customary to make the accusative plural like the nominative in ēs. The same was the case with some other obsolete forms, as volt for vult, divorsus for diversus, quoique for cuique, maxumus for maximus, quom for quum, or cum, which are retained in many editions, but have been avoided in the present, in accordance with the orthography generally adopted during the best period of the Latin language.

2 Studeo, when the verb following has the same subject, may be construed in three ways-with the infinitive alone, as studeo praestare; with the accusative and infinitive, studeo me praestare, as in the present case; or with ut, as studeo ut praestem. 8 Summa ope,

with the greatest exertion,' equivalent to summo opere, summopere; as magno opere, or magnopere, signifies with great exertion,' or 'greatly.' The nominative ops is not in use, and the plural opes generally signifies the means' or power of doing something.'

4 Prona, 'bent forward,'' bent down to the ground, in opposition to the erect gait of man.

5 Dis for diis. See Zumpt, $ 51, n. 5. 6 Beluis; another, but less correct mode of spelling, is bellua, belluis.

7 Instead of memoriam nostri, Sallust might have said memoriam nostram; but the genitive nostri sets forth the object of remembrance with greater force. See Zumpt, § 423.

6

« IndietroContinua »