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LIFE AND WRITINGS OF SALLUST.
DR. BARTON-HENRY ARLINGTON.
DR. B. Well, Henry, how are you pleased with Oxford ?—I have met you several times since your arrival among us, but have never before this had an opportunity of conversing with you, or of ascertaining how you liked your new residence.
H. I am delighted with it, my dear Doctor, and feel like a new being amid these classic shades. With the means of improvement now fully under my own control, I am determined to make that use of my time, which shall lead in after life, with the divine blessing, to permanent and honourable distinction. My reading begins, in fact, to assume a new character, and my attention is more and more directed every day to works of solid utility. It is with this view, indeed, that I have sought you on the present occasion, as I have just entered on a course of Roman literature, and wish to consult you about the merits of a writer, in relation to whom, I am, I confess, in a good deal of doubt-I mean the historian Sallust.
Dr. B. I can easily conceive, Henry, that an ardent admirer like yourself of the character and services of a Cicero, would be inclined to regard the cold applause, which Sallust bestows upon the saviour of his country, in the light of a defect, and even stain upon his escutcheon as an historian. Nor will I stand forth to defend him. Something, however, must be conceded to the rankling of private animosity, and something to disgust at the ill-disguised and inordinate vanity of the Roman consul. For, after all, Henry, what is history? A mere place of exhibition, where the spectators are too little acquainted with the hidden causes of what they behold, and the actors are too directly interested in the result, to enable us to depend, with any degree of certainty, on the accounts of either the one or the other!
H. Your remark is a very just one, my dear Doctor, and ought to teach us the utter uncertainty of this species of knowledge, except where it bears the impress from on high. History, in the former casc, may be likened to the arid plains of Egypt, where the half-buried temple,
and half-deciphered inscription, tell the tale of other days, but tell it m dark and mysterious language; while, in the latter, she stands like the pyramids of that same Eastern land, alone in the midst of ruins, resting securely on the rock of ages, and pointing upward to the skies.-But I am wandering from my subject. Would it be too great an encroachment on your valuable time, Doctor, were I to ask for a brief sketch of the life of the historian?
Dr. B. Not at all, Henry. I am perfectly at leisure, and will accede to your request with the utmost readiness. Should any thing, however, strike you in the course of my remarks, as being either at variance with your pre-conceived notions, or savouring too much of mere speculation, you will oblige me by a candid communication of your sentiments.
H. There will be very little occasion for this, my dear Doctor, as I am a mere novice in matters of literary history, and am come prepared to listen rather than to oppose. I will avail myself, however, of your very kind offer, to ask an occasional question or two, should any thing appear to me either novel or obscure.
Dr. B. Well then, to begin with the name itself, the German scholars, whose research nothing can escape, are divided in opinion as to the propriety of writing Sallustius or Salustius, and Crispus Sallustius or Sallustius Crispus. I believe it will be found, upon an examination of authorities, that Sallustius is the more correct form, and Crispus Sallustius the more usual arrangement of the manuscripts. It would seem, however, that, in the golden age of Latin literature, it was customary to place the cognomen after the nomen, and in the silver age to reverse this order.2-But let us proceed to the historian himself. Sallust was born at Amiternum, a town of the Sabines, B. C. 86, or A. U. C. 668. He received his education at Rome, and, in his early youth, appears to have been desirous of devoting himself to literary pursuits.
H. Allow me to interrupt you, my dear Doctor, and to ask whether it be not a very remarkable circumstance, that so many of the Latin writers were natives, rot of the capital, but of the provinces, of Italy?
Dr. B. The most careless inquirer, Henry, into the literary history of Rome, cannot but be struck by the singular fact, that so many of the distinguished individuals who grace the literary annals of the empire-city, were born, not in Rome itself, but either in foreign lands, or in the provinces of the Italian peninsula. Had the queen of nations adhered in later days to the selfish and exclusive policy, by which all who were not born within her walls were at first debarred from the full enjoyment of
1. Cort. ad Sall. Cat. init.—Gerlach, de vita et scriptis Sulustii, (Ed. Op., vol. il. p. 2, 3.)-Hall. Lit. Zeit. 1829. Nro. 90, p. 77.-Lindemann, Corp. Gram. Lat vol. i. p. 202, &c.
2. Baehr, Gesch. der Rom. Lit., p. 377, ed. 2d.
the privileges of citizenship, how few of the great names that now adorn the history of her literature could have been claimed by her as her own. Livius Andronicus, for example, was a slave from Magna Graecia ; Ennius was a native of the same quarter of Italy; Naevius was a Campanian; Plautus came from Umbria; Pacuvius was born at Brundisium, Terence at Carthage, Catullus at Verona, Cicero at Arpinum, Virgil at Andes, Propertius in Umbria, Horace in Apulia, Livy at Patavium, Ovid at Sulmo, Lucan in Spain, the elder Pliny at Verona, and Tacitus at the Umbrian city of Interamna.-You see then, Henry, that Rome may be said to have acquired her literary, as she did her martial, fame, by the exertions of her allies, the provincials of Italy.
H. Yes, Doctor, and it is only transferring to the operations of intellect the old proverb about the Marsi, that there was no triumph either over them or without them ; οὔτε κατὰ Μάρσων, οὔτε ἄνευ Μάρσων, γενέσθαι Opíaußov.1-But let us return to Sallust.
Dr. B. Notwithstanding his early zeal for literary pursuits, our historian appears to have been soon involved in that striving after military or political distinction, which formed so conspicuous a feature of the age in which he lived. We find him, accordingly, at twenty-seven, filling the office of quaestor, which entitled him, of course, to a seat in the senate, and, about six years afterwards, elected to the important post of tribune of the commons. While discharging the duties of this magistracy, he attached himself to the rising fortunes of Julius Caesar, and, during its continuance also, he conducted, along with one of his colleagues, the prosecution against Milo for the murder of Clodius.-Thus far all seems to have gone well with Sallust. In the year of Rome, however, 704, or 50 B. C., he was excluded from the senate, by the censors Appius Claudius Pulcher and Lucius Piso, for an act of gross immorality.2
H. You surprise me, Dr. Barton.-Sallust, whose writings breathe so lofty an air of rigid morality.—Sallust, the stern declaimer against luxury and all its train of attendant vices—a votary at the shrine of licentiousness and profligacy?
Dr. B. The most suspicious kind of morality, my young friend, is undoubtedly that noisy species, which is so fond of descanting on the failings and delinquencies of others. Sallust, ayc, and even Seneca too, notwithstanding the eulogiums of Diderot upon the latter,3 remind me very strongly, when regarded as moralists, of Dr. Johnson's remark, that "no man is a hypocrite in his pleasures." Both were, at one period
1. Appian, Bell. Civ. 1, 46.,
2. Schol. ad Horat. Sat., 1, 2, 46.-Varro, ap. Aul. Gell., 17, 18.-Dio. Cassius 40, 63.-Lactant., 2, 12.-Gerlach, de vita, &c. Salustii, 1. c.
3. Essai sur les Règnes de Claude et de Neron.
of their lives, irregular and licentious, and it may well be doubted, whether either of them carried into fair and successful operation the moral theories which they were so anxious to promulgate.-And yet, although Sallust was confessedly a man of loose and corrupt principles, it is far from being certain that he was the monster of iniquity which some have been pleased to represent him. In the case at present under consideration, it is more than probable that he owed his exclusion from the senate to the violence of the patrician party, to which he was warmly opposed. The female, whose name is connected with this disgraceful affair was Fausta, the daughter of Sylla, and wife of Milo, and the injured husband is said to have caused the offender to be scourged by his slaves. Now, as Fausta was not more remarkable for her personal attractions than for utter want of character, it seems rather extraordinary that, at a time when the corruption of manners had almost reached its maximum, the intimacy of a Roman senator with so abandoned a female should be deemed worthy of so severe a punishment as expulsion from his order. I cannot but think, therefore, that Sallust was sacrificed to the party spirit which agitated, and in fact divided, the republic. The prosecution against Milo, as has already been remarked, took place the same year that Sallust was tribune of the commons; and the latter, who was a devoted partisan of Caesar, had found means to defeat the plans of Cicero and the republican party, and procure the condemnation of Milo. Now the censor Appius Pulcher was seeking, it appears, the friendship of Cicero, whose aid was necessary to his projects, and it would seem that, in order to propitiate the good will of the orator, and other individuals of the party of Pompey, he ventured upon a decisive step against Sallust, which he sought to hide beneath the specious pretext of a regard for public morals.? What think you of this theory, Henry Arlington?
H. I am strongly inclined to adopt it, my dear Doctor, since, admitting it to be true, we may, without regarding Sallust as at all more virtuous than the great body of his contemporaries, be enabled to shield him, by this means, from the virulent abuse of Pompey's freedman Lenaeus, whose work should rather be called a frantic satire than an historical document.3-But proceed, if you please, with the life of the Roman.
Dr. B. The ignominious sentence thus inflicted on him, whether merited or not, baffled all his hopes of present preferment, and, quitting the capital, he joined his patron Caesar, who was then in Gaul. Following the fortunes of that eminent commander, through all the changing scenes of the civil contest which soon after ensued, we find him bearing
1. Aul. Gell., 17, 18.
2. Schoell, Hist. Lit. Rom., vol. ii. p. 21.—Baehr, Gesch. Rom. Lit., p. 374. 3. Sueton. de Grammat., 15.-Op. ed. Crus., vol. ii. p. 383.-Compare Schol. in Horat. Sat. 1, 2, 48.
a share eventually in the expedition to Africa, where the scattered remnants of Pompey's party had rallied under the banners of Scipio and Juba. When this region was subdued, he was left by Caesar as praetor of Numidia; and, about the same time, he married Terentia, the divorced wife of Cicero.1
H. What a blessing it must have been, Dr. Barton, to have lived under so virtuous a governor.
Dr. B. If Dio Cassius speak the truth, Henry, I would rather be excused from being governed by such a praetor as Sallust. The historian gives a sorry picture of his administration in Africa, charging him with flagrant extortion, and with the open despoiling of his province. Caesar, he says, assigned this region unto him, "to govern it in appearance, but, to plunder it in reality,” λόγῳ μὲν ἄρχειν, ἔργῳ δὲ ἄγειν τε καὶ φέρειν ἐπέτρες ψεν.2 And he seems, according to Dio's statement, to have been by no means backward in fulfilling Caesar's expectations; for, to borrow another phrase from Dio, he did not put in practice what he wrote, ook iμμñoaro T Eрyw Tods λóyous. Alas! for poor human nature, Henry, "quam temere in nosmet legem sancimus !"
H. You succeeded so well a moment ago, Doctor, in defending Sallust from another charge, that I wish you would again become his advocate on the present occasion. Is there nothing that can be urged in his
Dr. B. It would not require much skill, Henry, to make out a very plausible case in favour of Sallust, and that too on grounds merely of a probable nature. For it is difficult to conceive, how such conduct, as is alleged against him, can be in any way reconciled with the principles professed by him in his writings, or how a man so deeply guilty, as his enemies made him to be, could have publicly affected such rigid morality, without outraging, in the most shameless manner, the feelings of all his contemporaries. We are tempted to believe, therefore, that Dio Cassius, and the writers who, after him, have repeated these discreditable stories, were led astray by the declamations of the numerous enemies of our historian. One of the later editors, indeed, of the works of Sallust, has started a singular hypothesis, according to which, Dio is thought to have followed a popular tradition, which, confounding Sallust with Catiline, from the circumstance of the former's having written the history of the latter, ascribed to the historian the excesses committed by Catiline himself in his government of Africa !3-Well, Henry, what is your verdict?
1. Pseudo. Cic. Declam. c. 8. seqq.
2. Hist. Rom. 43, 9.-Ed. Reimar. vol. i. p. 346.
3. Schöll, Hist. Rom. Lit. vol. ii. p. 22.-O. M. Müller, Darstellung, &c., p. 47 segg.