Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

The Lexicon is quite full, containing not only all the words and names of the text, but also all the forms of less obvious derivation. The definitions are copious, much more so than in the Caesar. The young student of Caesar makes surer and more rapid progress when he can select one, even though it be not the most accurate or elegant, from a small number of definitions : with a multitude of meanings he is too apt to be perplexed, and he often passes from the Lexicon to the text with a feeling of increased bewilderment. The more advanced student of Sallust is reasonably capable of greater discrimination; in two or three lines of synonyms he may see both their natural connections and their obvious distinctions, while he may also select with a view both to accuracy and elegance.

Although the Catilina was unquestionably written before the Jugurtha, the works have been arranged in the order of their chronology rather than in that of their composition. This is, however, a matter of little importance, as the reverse order may be followed in reading.

The Plan of the Forum will localize many of the events narrated in the text, and give a sense of reality to the student's comprehension of them.

In conclusion, the Editor expresses the hope, that so charming an author as Sallust, and so deserving of a place in a course of classical study, may soon be much more extensively read and studied in the schools and seminaries of this country.

G. S.
Central High SCHOOL,
Philadelphia, Sept. 1st, 1870.

[ocr errors]

LIFE OF CAIUS SALLUSTIUS CRISPUS.

AIUS SALLUSTIUS CRISPUS belonged to a plebeian family,

B. C. 86. He was therefore fourteen years younger than Caesar, and twenty years younger than Cicero. The weight of autbority - for the MSS. are not unanimous — seems to decide that we should write C. Sallustius Crispus, and not C. Crispus Sallustius; and Sallustius rather than Salustius. Like the sons of many provincial families in good circumstances, he received his education at Rome, and seems to have devoted his earlier years to literary pursuits.

Sallust lived in a corrupt and licentious age. The standard of both public and private morality was low.

Hence the profligate and immoral life attributed to him proved no bar to political preferment. In B. C. 59, at the age of twenty-seven, he obtained the quaestorship, which entitled him to a seat in the senate. In B. C. 52, he became a tribune of the plebs, and it was while holding this office that he assisted in the prosecution of Milo for the murder of Clodius. In B. C. 50, the censors expelled Sallust from the senate on the alleged ground of his licentious conduct. But as he belonged to the faction of Caesar, whom the senatorial party were striving to repress, it is more than probable that his immorality was merely made the pretext for his exclusion. In B. C. 47, the year after the battle of Pharsalia, Sallust obtained the praetorship, and thus regained his seat in the senate. In the following year he accompanied Caesar in his campaign in Africa, where a remnant of the senatorial party had rallied under Scipio and Cato. On the conclusion of that war, Caesar left him there as governor of Numidia, in which capacity he is charged with having greatly

oppressed and plundered the people. Certain it is, that though he was governor but one year, he amassed enormous wealth. The Numidians charged him with maladministration, and threatened him with a prosecution for extortion; but through the influence of Caesar, who is said to have received a portion of the plunder, he was allowed to escape. He then retired from public life, and with the wealth thus acquired he purchased a villa at Tibur, and laid out, on the Quirinālis, in the suburbs of Rome, those magnificent gardens which were afterwards called horti Sallustiani. The beauty of these gardens has beeu much celebrated, and after the death of Sallust they became the retreat of successive emperors down to the time of Aureliānus. In his villa at Tabur or in the splendid palace surrounded by his gardens, Sallust spent the close of his life in literary retirement; and it is more than probable that here also he composed those historical works on which bis reputation depends. The story that he married Terentia, the divorced wife of Cicero, rests on insufficient authority. He died in B.C. 34.

The two great political parties in Rome were the populares, or popular party, embracing the great mass of the plebs, and sometimes an ambitious patrician, like Caesar; and the optimātes, or aristocratic party, comprising the senate, the patricians, the young nobility, and the chief part of the equites; who had almost exclusively filled the chief offices of government. Sallust was a warm supporter of the popular party, and his strong dislike of the aristocracy, particularly of its younger branch, frequently shows itself in his writings. After his expulsion from the senate he probably repaired to Caesar's quarters in Gaul, and shared the fortunes of that great commander.

The extant works of Sallust are two historical treatises on selected portions of Roman history: the Catilina, or Bellum Catilinarium, which unfolds the origin, progress, and suppres. sion of the conspiracy of Catilina, of which Sallust was himself an eye-witness; and the Jugurtha, or Bellum Jugurthinum, wbich describes the varying fortune and the final success of the Romans in their war with Jugurtha, the wily king of Numidia. Sallust's residence in that country probably suggested the work to him, and enabled him to collect maierials for it. Besides these, Sallust also wrote a Roman History in five books, of which however but a few disconnected fragments remain. These works, as previously stated, were probably all written after his retirement from public life, though the composition of each of them has been assigned to widely different dates.

Sallust has always been regarded as a charming writer. Among Roman authors he is certainly unsurpassed in the art of historical composition. His style is one altogether peculiar, and is characterized by a sententious brevity. He is the most concise among the Roman writers of the golden age. With him style was evidently a matter of primary importance. He made Thucydides bis model, and studied a pointed style, rendered more forcible by antithesis and contrast. There is this difference, however, between the Greek and the Roman : “ The brevity of Thucydides is the result of condensation; that of Sallust is elliptical expression. He gives a hint, and the reader must supply the rest: whilst Thucydides only expects his readers to unfold and develop ideas which already existed in a concentrated form. Ballust requires addition; Thucydides dilution and expansion.” (Browne’s Rom. Class. Lit.)

He is perhaps over-fond of certain antique forms and modes of expression, and clings too tenaciously to the old orthography at a time when the new was becoming very generally adopted. Yet “in the Catilina and Jugurtha there is not a single word used which is not also of frequent occurrence in contemporary and later writers.” (Merivale.) Niebuhr remarks that Sallust “preserves the old phraseology with a predilection guided by learning and judgment,” and Aulus Gellius speaks of him as proprietatum in verbis retinentissimus." His attempt to imitate, rather than follow the bent of his own genius, not unfrequently develops in his style more of art than of nature, and more artistic polish than native ease and grace.

Sallust's private character was a subject of controversy in ancient as it has also been in modern times, and different opinions have been formed in regard to it. The first permanent allusion to it grew out of the bitterness and animosity of partisan feeling. Sallust, in his general history, had spoken disparagingly of Pompey, and Lenaeus, the latter's freedman, replied in an invective full of virulence and slanderous accusations; and though the historian is said to have been defended by Asconius Pediānus, who lived and wrote in the age of Augustus, the unfavorable view of his character prevailed among his contemporaries. The Declamatio in Sallustium, purporting to have been written by Cicero, simply repeats former charges, and is now very generally believed to have been the work of Porcius Latro, a rhetorician who lived in the reign of Claudius. The identity of the historian with the Sallustius whose profligacy is noticed by Horace in the second satire of the first book, is merely the result of conjecture, and has nothing more to recomiend it than identity of name. That, like many of his distinguished contemporaries, Sallust was a man of loose morals, we may easily believe: the morals of the age were loose; but that he was more than usually vicious we may reasonably refuse to believe. The heat of political controversy is not favorble to the development of truth, and in the absence of reliable testimony, it is wiser, more just anil charitable to accord to Sallust a character more in accordance with the cultivated mind, the good taste, and the literary ability, which all must agree he possessed. This is the judgment to which the present age is tending, and the one on which it will doubtless rest.

[graphic]
« IndietroContinua »