Immagini della pagina
[ocr errors]

the high office of prætor, which he acquired in the year 47, the next after the battle of Pharsalia. This appointment restored him to a place in the Senate. He was employed in the following year in Cæsar's campaign in Africa, against the remnant of the senatorial party under Scipio and Cato. Upon its successful termination, he was left there as governor of the province of Numidia, which, upon the death of its king Juba, was incorporated with the possessions of the republic. It does not appear that he continued in this post beyond the usual term of one year; yet, in that short time, he contrived to amass the vast treasures for which he became afterwards notorious. His countrymen were shocked at the alleged profligacy of his conduct, especially, as we are told, after the vehement indignation he had expressed in his writings against the corruption and extortion of the Roman nobles. See Dion's Roman History, xliii. 9. καὶ τοὺς Νομάδας λαβὼν ἔς τε τὸ ὑπήκοον ἐπήγαγε, καὶ τῷ Σαλουστίῳ, λόγῳ μὲν, ἄρχειν, ἔργῳ δὲ, ἄγειν τε καὶ φέρειν ἐπέτρεψε. ἀμέλει καὶ ἐδωροδόκησε πολλὰ καὶ ἥρπασεν· ὥστε καὶ κατηγορηθῆναι αἰσχύνην αἰσχίστην ὀφλῆσαι, ὅτι τοιαῦτα συγγράμματα συγγράψας, καὶ πολλὰ καὶ πικρὰ περὶ τῶν ἐκκαρπουμένων τινὰς εἰπὼν, οὐκ ἐμιμήσατο τῷ ἔργῳ τοὺς λόγους. Sallust was even menaced with an impeachment for the spoliation of his province; but it does not appear that he was brought to trial. He returned to Rome and formed the magnificent gardens, known by his name, on the

Pincian hill, which became eventually the property of the Emperors, and were a favourite resort of Augustus, Vespasian, Nerva, and other sovereign rulers. The story that he married Terentia, whom Cicero had divorced, is devoid of probability. Sallust lived from henceforth in luxurious retirement, having attained wealth and ease, the main objects of his ambition. He died B.C. 34, three years before the battle of Actium.

Some of the worst reflections upon Sallust's character are derived, as we have seen, from the Declamatio in Sallustium, the authenticity of which is at least doubtful. He had spoken disparagingly of Pompeius, calling him a man, oris probi, (some read, improbi) animo inverecundo, and Lenæus, Pompey's freedman, had attacked him furiously in consequence, describing him, among other things, as nebulonem vita scriptisque monstrosum, with which he coupled a charge of ignorance, affectation, and plagiarism. He is said to have been defended by Asconius Pedianus, who wrote a life of him, in the time of Augustus: but the unfavourable view of his character prevailed. Porcius Latro, a grammarian of the reign of Claudius, repeated the charges against him, and we have seen that Dion believed and propagated one, at least, of the gravest of them. We can only say that. Dion, as is well known, generally inclines to the worst view of every man's character. Impressed with this concurrence of authorities, critics have commonly supposed

that the Sallustius, whose profligacy is noticed in the second satire of Horace's first book, is no other than px of. the historian; for which however there is no further ground than the identity of name. Sallust left no descendants of his own, but he had a brother by whom the name was perpetuated; and the Crispus Sallustius to whom Horace addressed the second ode of his second book was the historian's grandnephew. The allusion there made to the wealth of Libya is the more appropriate, considering their relationship, and the probability that the person addressed inherited the fortune which had been accumulated in that country. Latius regnes avidum domando Spiritum, quam si Libyam remotis Gadibus jungas, et uterque Pœnus, Serviat uni.

The extant works of Sallust are two historical pieces, on the conspiracy of Catilina, and the war with Jugurtha. He is believed to have written also a contemporary history of Rome, beginning with the insurrection of Lepidus, B.C. 78, and continued in five books to the year 66. This may have been intended as a continuation of the work of Sisenna on the civil wars of Sulla. See Vell. ii. 9. It has perished with the exception of a few considerable extracts from the speeches it contained, and a large number of detached sentences, collected from a variety of writers, and evincing the great and long-continued popularity of the work. Two extant epistles or

harangues addressed to Julius Cæsar, and entitled Epistola de republica ordinanda, have also been ascribed to Sallust, but their authenticity is very questionable.

The Catilina, or Bellum Catilinarium, is a history of the conspiracy of Catilina, B.C. 63. It contains in itself no distinct evidence of the date of its composition. Those who affirm on the authority of St Jerome (in Jovin. i. p. 52) that the author married Terentia, presume that subsequently to his marriage he would not have alluded to the disgrace of Terentia's sister, the Vestal Virgin whom Catilina was accused of seducing (see Catil. ch. 15). But as both the date and fact of the marriage are quite uncertain, such a presumption can be of little force for determining the period of this composition. Others again contend that Sallust would not have invented a speech for Cæsar (Catil. ch. 51), instead of giving the genuine oration, during Caesar's actual lifetime, and therefore argue that the work must have been written as late as B.C. 44, the year of Cæsar's death. There can be no force, however, in this argument to those who know the indifference of Sallust, and of the ancients in general, to the authenticity of such rhetorical exercises as the harangues with which they studied to adorn their narratives. On the other hand, we have to set Dion's remarks about the inconsistency observed at the time between Sallust's conduct in his province, and the sentiments declared in his writings. Now

the Jugurtha was certainly written after his provincial administration, in B.C. 46; and we can hardly doubt therefore that Dion refers to the reflexions on the nobility at the beginning of the Catilina, which accordingly must have been written at an earlier period. That the Jugurtha was written after B.C. 46, may be safely inferred from the author's reference to the Punic books of king Hiempsal, which he consulted for it, or rather which had been explained to him (see Jugurtha, ch. 17), indicating clearly that he was himself on the spot at the time.

The Catilina and Jugurtha are what are denominated in modern times Monographies; e. narratives of a detached series of connected events; nor is it unlikely that the fragments of Sallust's Histories belong, in fact, to similar treatises on the war of Lepidus, the war of Spartacus, and possibly the wars of Sulla and Marius. Altogether, these works would have formed a pretty complete history of Roman affairs between the years B.C. 117 and 62. The events belonging to the earlier portion of this series had already been related by Roman writers. Sisenna had composed an account of the wars of Marius and Sulla; personal memoirs had been written by Rutilius Rufus, consul, B.C. 105, by Æmilius Scaurus, by Sulla himself, and by Lucullus. Of Sisenna's work at least the testimony both of Cicero and Sallust leaves us little to regret; and it does not appear that the ancients themselves made much use of those of the

« IndietroContinua »