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This webpage reproduces the Introduction to

published in the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1921 (revised 1931)

The text is in the public domain.

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 p. ix  Introduction

The Life and Works of Sallust

Gaius Sallustius Crispus was born in 86 B.C. at Amiternum, a town in the Sabine territory about fifty-five miles north-east of Rome at the foot of the Gran Sasso d'Italia. It was not far from Reate, the native place of Varro and of the Emperor Vespasian.​a The family does not make its appearance in history before the end of the seventh century of the city, and it was evidently of plebeian origin, since Sallust held the office of tribune of the commons. The author of the Invective against Sallust declares that the historian was wild and dissipated in his youth and that his conduct hastened his father's end; Sallust's own words, however, in Cat. III.3‑5, imply that his only fault was ambition, and he certainly applied himself to his studies sufficiently to acquire a good education. One of his teachers was the celebrated Ateius Philologus (Suet. Gramm. x).

Accusations of the most outrageous kind were so freely bandied about in Roman political circles that one might naturally attribute many of those made against Sallust to malicious gossip, especially since we are informed that one Lenaeus, a freedman of  p. x Pompey the Great, assailed the historian in a bitter satire because of his criticisms of Pompey.​1 The best authenticated charge against him is that of an intrigue with the wife of Milo, made by Gellius on the authority of Varro.​2 Varro, however, was a Pompeian and was probably not over-critical in examining the authenticity of a bit of scandal about a prominent Caesarian.

According to his own statement,​3 Sallust must have entered upon a political career at Rome at an early age. He attained the quaestor­ship and thus gained admission to the senate,​4 but in what year this happened is uncertain. In 52 B.C. he was tribune of the commons and took sides with his two colleagues, Quintus Pompeius and Titus Munatius Plancus, against Cicero and Milo after the murder of Clodius.​5 In 50 B.C. he fell a victim to the partisan activity of the censor Appius Claudius Pulcher,​6 and was expelled from the senate; the charges made against him on that occasion need not be taken too seriously. Mommsen thought that Cicero addressed Ad Fam. 2.17 to C. Sallustius,​7 and that therefore the historian was legatus pro praetore to Bibulus in Syria during the year 50‑51.

 p. xi  In 49 B.C. Caesar reappointed Sallust to a quaestor­ship, and thus made him once more a member of the senate. In 48 he commanded one of Caesar's legions in Illyricum, but did not distinguish himself, being defeated by Octavius and Libo.​8 The following year he was sent to quiet the mutinous legions in Campania and was again unsuccessful,​9 narrowly escaping death at the hands of the troops. In 46, now a praetor, he sailed to the island of Circina, to seize the enemy's stores;​10 this time he succeeded in accomplishing his mission, which contributed in no small degree to Caesar's ultimate success. As a reward for his services he was appointed proconsular governor of the province of Numidia and Africa,​11 and there ended his political career.

On his return to Rome Sallust was tried for extortion, but was acquitted, doubtless through Caesar's influence, although the charge that he gave Caesar a bribe of two million sesterces rests only on the doubtful authority of the Invective.​12 Whether the accusation of extortion was well founded or not, it is certain that Sallust became very wealthy and that he was the owner of the magnificent horti Sallustiani, which were afterwards the property of Nero, Vespasian, Nerva, and Aurelian.

After the assassination of Caesar, Sallust went into retirement and devoted himself to the writing  p. xii of history. He is reported to have married Cicero's divorced wife Terentia,​13 and he adopted his sister's grandson, the Sallustius Crispus to whom Horace addressed one of his Odes,​14 afterwards a trusted friend of the Emperor Augustus.​15 It is therefore probable that he had no son of his own. He died in 35‑34 B.C.

Sallust devoted his attention to a comparatively new branch of historiography, the historical monograph. He seems to have made careful and conscientious preparation for his work. Suetonius tells us​16 that Ateius Philologus supplied him with an outline of the whole of Roman history, and his careful study of Thucydides and Cato is apparent; Lenaeus, indeed, called him "an ignorant pilferer of the language of the ancients and of Cato in particular."​17 Sallust professes complete impartiality, and while his leaning towards the popular party is obvious, his fairness is shown by his treatment of Metellus and Marius in the Jugurtha. His first work was an account of the conspiracy of Catiline, which has come down to us under three titles, Catilina, Bellum Catilinae, Bellum Catilinarium.​18 The reason which he himself gives for the choice of the theme is "the novelty of the crime and the danger to which  p. xiii the state was exposed,"​19 but it has been suspected that he had the underlying motive of clearing Caesar, as well as Gaius Antonius, the uncle of Mark Antony, from the suspicion of complicity in the plot; some have even regarded this as his main purpose. The exact time when the Catiline was written is uncertain, but the language of the eulogy of Caesar​20 indicates that it was not published until after the death of the dictator. Some scholars maintain that it was issued immediately after the assassination, while others assign it to the year 40 B.C.

Sallust had an abundance of written records on which to base his account, such as decrees of the senate, Cicero's published speeches, and the histories of Cicero's consul­ship. He could also draw upon his personal recollection of the events and on the testimony of his contemporaries. Yet the monograph is inaccurate in many of its details, in particular in assigning the beginning of the conspiracy to the year 64, instead of to 63, thus prolonging the events of a few months to the duration of more than a year, with inevitable distortion of the facts. The principal aim seems to have been to make the account interesting and vivid, and in that Sallust unquestionably succeeded; from the literary point of view the Catiline must always take a high rank. The character sketches of Sempronia, Cato, and Caesar, with the speeches of the last two, are especially fine.  p. xiv In fact, the orations in all of Sallust's works were greatly admired in antiquity, and collections of them were made for use in the schools of rhetoric; yet he is not mentioned by Cicero among the great speakers of the day, and Quintilian​21 expressly warns orators against taking him as a model. It was probably Sallust's own speeches, and not those which he put into the mouths of his characters, to which Cassius Severus referred when he said "orationes Sallustii in honorem historiarum leguntur."​22 The addresses in Sallust's works are introduced by such phrases as "hoc modo disseruit," "huiuscemodi orationem habuit," and the like, and hence do not purport to give the exact words of the speakers. They are carefully composed and their sentiments are adapted to those who are represented as delivering them, but the language is that of Sallust himself.

Sallust's second work was an account of the war with Jugurtha, entitled Bellum Jugurthinum.​23 The contest with the Numidian prince doubtless attracted Sallust's attention because of his acquaintance with the scene of the conflict. He himself says that he selected it "because of its perilous nature and shifting fortunes, and because it marked the beginning  p. xv of successful resistance to the dominant power of the nobles."​24 Besides the information which he himself had gathered in Numidia, Sallust had the benefit of a number of literary sources, such as the History of Sisenna,​25 and the Memoirs of Sulla, Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, and Publius Rutilius Rufus. He also made use of Punic sources, which he had caused to be translated for his benefit.​26 Nevertheless, judged by modern standards, the Jugurtha is rather like an historical novel of the better class than like sober history. Chronology is to a great extent disregarded, and in place of exact dates we have such vague expressions as "interea," "iisdem temporibus," "paucos post annos," and the like. Sallust even ventures upon shifts in the sequence of events, in order to make a better rounded tale. As a literary masterpiece the work takes high rank.

The Jugurtha was written after the Catiline and published in 41 B.C., if the earlier date assigned to the Catiline is the correct one; in any event, not far from that time. It was followed by Sallust's most extensive work, the Historiae, which in five books recounted the events of about twelve years, from 78 to 67 B.C. The work formed a continuation of Sisenna's History, which ended with the death of Sulla. If, like Sallust's other works, the Historiae had a secondary motive, it was still further to discredit the party of the nobles and to show Pompey's  p. xvi unfitness to be entrusted with the rule of the state.

The greater part of the Historiae has perished. Four complete speeches and two letters are preserved in a collection made apparently in the second century for use in the schools of rhetoric. The work was frequently cited by grammarians and other ancient writers, and from this source numerous small fragments have been recovered. Three longer passages are transmitted in a more or less mutilated form in manuscript. These are the fragmentum Vaticanum, of two leaves containing eight columns and belonging to the Third Book; the fragmentum Berolinense, of one leaf containing a bit of the Second Book; and the fragmentum Aurelianense, two pieces of a palimpsest, one consisting of two leaves and the other of eight complete and two mutilated columns, discovered by Hauler in Codex Orleanensis, 169. The former of these supplements the frag. Berolinense, and with it gives an account of the consul­ship of Lucius Octavius and Gaius Aurelius Cotta,​27 while the latter is of varied contents. Still other brief extracts from the Histories have been recovered from the account of the First Civil War written by Julius Exsuperantius in the latter part of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth centuries, and based upon Sallust.

The proper arrangement of the fragments and  p. xvii their interpretation are matters of considerable uncertainty and difference of opinion, but the labours of De Brosses,º Kritz, Dietsch, and Maurenbrecher​28 have gone far towards solving the problem.

The style of Sallust is quite unlike that of Caesar and Cicero. His model in the writing of history was Thucydides, whose brevity of expression he also imitated and, according to Seneca Rhetor,​29 even surpassed. He is also highly rhetorical and his language is decidedly archaistic, so much so that he was accused of pilfering from the works of Cato the Censor.​30 His reputation in antiquity was very high, although it was based for the most part on his last and greatest work, the Histories. Quintilian's opinion,​31 "nec opponere Thucydidi verear," does more credit to his patriotism than to his critical acumen, but Martial's less extravagant verdict,​32 "primus Romana Crispus in historia," was true at the time when it was written. Sallust was criticized by Asinius Pollio and Livy, but his admirers and imitators far outnumbered his detractors. Tacitus, who deprived him of the first rank assigned him by Martial, speaks of him as "rerum Romanarum florentissimus auctor,"​33 and paid him the still higher compliment of imitation. In Hadrian's time Sallust was even translated into Greek by a certain Zenobius, and his archaic  p. xviii diction made him a favourite writer with Fronto and his school. Towards the end of the second century Aemilius Asper wrote a commentary on the works of Sallust, and in the fourth century St. Augustine calls him "nobilitatae veritatis historicus."​34 The influence of his style is seen in Ammianus Marcellinus, Dictys Cretensis, Hegesippus, Sulpicius Severus, Lactantius, Hilarius, Julius Exsuperantius and others, and it continued into the Middle Ages.

The Doubtful Works

In codex Vaticanus 3864 (V) the excerpts from the Historiae35 are followed in the same handwriting by two anonymous suasoriae, or pleas, addressed to Julius Caesar, in both of which advice is given to the dictator as to the proper conduct of the government. We also find in our manuscripts, sometimes in company with genuine works of Cicero and sometimes with the Bella of Sallust, an Invective against Cicero ascribed to Sallust and a reply purporting to be that of Cicero.

The first suasoria has generally been called an "oration" and therefore​36 precedes the second, which was termed a letter. But the dramatic date of the former is 46 B.C., and that of the latter, 49 or 50 B.C. The former date is the  p. xix one generally accepted, but Post​37 maintains that the letter was written before Caesar crossed the Rubicon. The question of their author­ship is reviewed and discussed, with a full bibliography, by H. Last,​38 who is inclined to admit the genuineness of the first suasoria, but denies that of the second, which he believes to contain proof that it was not written by Sallust or by a contemporary of his. The genuineness of both is upheld by L. Post,​39 Kurfess,​40 and others.41

The Invective against Cicero has generally been regarded as spurious, and as a specimen of the pamphleteer literature of the period following the death of Caesar.​42 But Kurfess, who once argued against its genuineness,​43 now believes that it was written by Sallust as a political pamphlet and published and circulated anonymously.​44 It is generally agreed that its dramatic date is 54 B.C. Quintilian, who quotes from it,​45 regarded it as a genuine work of Sallust. The suasoria, however, are not referred  p. xx to by the ancient writers, unless Gellius XVII.18 be an exception; not even by the grammarians, who so frequently quoted Sallust.

The Invective against Sallust, although it purports to be a reply to the attack upon Cicero, does not observe the same time limits but covers the entire life of Sallust. It is probably an exercise from the schools of rhetoric, composed by a writer of small ability and inferior Latinity​46 at a late period which cannot be determined with certainty.

The Manuscripts

The number of manuscripts of the Catiline and Jugurtha is very great. Roth​47 was the first to submit them to a critical examination, on the basis of which he divided them into two classes. These are:

(1) The codices mutili, marked by an extensive lacuna in the Jugurtha (ciii.2, "quinque" . . . cxii.3, "et ratam"). In some instances the lacuna has been filled by a later hand.

(2) The codices integri, in which the lacuna is filled by the first hand, either in the proper place or at the end. Some of these manuscripts have a phrase  p. xxi ("neque muniebantur ea," Jug. XLIV.5) which is not found in any other codices, and of these Dietsch made a third class. The usual division, however, is a twofold one, although Wirz​48 is right in not recognizing the mutili and integri as classes, except for convenience. As a whole the mutili are older and better than the integri. A careful examination of the manuscripts has recently been made by Ahlberg (see Preface), and his classification, while probably not definitive,​49 will doubtless be the standard for some years to come. He makes use of the following codices mutili:

Codex Parisinus, 16024 (P), formerly Sorbonnensis, 500, of the Tenth century.

Codex Parisinus, 16025 (A), formerly Sorbonnensis, 1576, of the Tenth century (P1 of former editions).50

Codex Parisinus, 6085 (C), of the latter part of the Tenth or the early Eleventh century. After the end of the Jugurtha the speech of Bocchus (ch. 110) is added by the first hand, and the entire lacuna is supplied by a later hand (P2 of former editions).

Codex Basileensis, A.N. IV.11 (B), of the Eleventh  p. xxii century. Jug. 110 is added at the end by the first hand, as in C (B of former editions).

Codex Palatinus, 889 (N), formerly Nazarianus, of the early part of the Eleventh century.

Codex Palatinus, 887 (K), formerly owned by the humanist Kemnatus; of the Eleventh century. It ends with Jug. 102.11, but the rest is supplied a little later by a second hand.

Codex Berolinensis, 205 (H), formerly Philippicus, 1902, of the Eleventh century. The lacuna is supplied a little later by a second hand.

Codex Monacensis, 4559 (M), of the Eleventh or Twelfth century. Besides the lacuna, Jug. 28.1, pecunia . . . 31.12, sunt ii qui (= folia 23b and 24a) is supplied by a later hand (M2 of former editions).

Codex Turicensis, bibl. reip. c. 143, a (T), of the latter part of the Eleventh century. The lacuna is supplied by a later hand.

Codex Parisinus, 10195 (D), formerly Echternacensis, of about the same date as T. The lacuna is supplied by a later hand.

Codex Hauniensis, 25 (F), formerly Fabricianus, of the same time as T and D. The latter part of the Jugurtha (103.2 to the end) is supplied by a later hand.

All these manuscripts contain corrections, of which P2 and A2 are of the greatest value, since they are but little later than the first hand.

 p. xxiii  The following codices mutili are also used in connection with the lacuna, which was supplied by a hand not much later than the first:

Codex Parisinus, 5748 (Q), of the Eleventh century (P4 of earlier editions).

Codex Vaticanus, 3325 (R) of the latter part of the Twelfth century. (Formerly V1 or v.)

The following codices integri are used:

Codex Leidensis Vossianus Lat. 73 (l), of the Eleventh century. The latter part is badly damaged and ends with praeterea, Jug. 109.4.

Codex Lipsiensis, bibl. sen. rep. I, fol. 4 (s), of the Eleventh century.

Codex Parisinus, 6086 (n), of the Eleventh century.

Codex Monacensis, 14777 (m), of the Eleventh century. Ends with Volux adveniens, Jug. 106.1.

And in connection with the lacuna:

Codex Palatinus, 883 (π), of the Twelfth century.

Of the codices mutili P, A, C, B are descended from a common archetype (X); M, T, D, F from another (Γ); and N, K, H, Γ from a third (Y). Of the codices integri l and s are most closely related to X; m and n to Y.

Codex Vaticanus, 3864 (V) is useful for a part of the Catiline and the Jugurtha, since it contains a collection of Speeches and Letters from all the works of Sallust. This manuscript, of the Tenth  p. xxiv century, is highly esteemed by Hauler​51 and Ahlberg,​52 who regard it as an earlier recension than the archetype of the codices mutili. It also contains the two suasoriae.

Sallust is quoted for various reasons by many ancient writers, and these testimonia are sometimes of value in the criticism of his text, especially those of Fronto and St. Augustine, and of the grammarians Arusianus and Priscian.

For the manuscripts of the Invectives see p492, note 1.

Bibliographical Note

The Editio princeps of Sallust was published in 1470. Other early editions are those of Glareanus, Basle, 1538; Carrio, Antwerp, 1580; Gruter, Frankfurt, 1607; Corte, Leipzig, 1724; Havercamp, Amsterdam, 1742.

More recent editions are those of Kritz, three volumes, Leipzig, 1828‑1853; Gerlach, Basle, 1832, 1852, Stuttgart, 1870; Dietsch, Leipzig, 1859; Jordan, Berlin, 1866, 1876, 1887; Eussner, Leipzig, 1887; Ahlberg, Leipzig, 1919; Ornstein and Roman, Paris, 1924.

Of editions with commentaries may be mentioned: Fabri, Nuremberg2, 1845, Kritz, Leipzig, 1856; Jacobs, Berlin10, 1894 (by H. Wirz); Schmalz10, Gotha, 1919; Capes, Oxford, 1889; Merivale,  p. xxv London, 1884; and of the Histories, B. Maurenbrecher, Leipzig, 1891‑93.

The translations of Sallust into various languages of modern Europe are exceedingly numerous, among them German versions by Cless (Stuttgart, 1855) and Holzer (Stuttgart, 1868), and French translations by De Brosses (Paris, 1837) and Roman (Paris, 1924). The earliest English rendering seems to be Alexander Barclay's Historye of Jugurth, published in 1557 together with The Conspiracie of Catiline of Constantius Felicius Durantinus. Later versions are those of John Mair, Dublin, 1788; William Rose, London, 1751, and often reprinted; John Watson, Bohn Library, 1852.

Thayer's Note: The following note remains under copyright (© Harvard University Press 1970). It is so brief as surely to fall under fair use.


[1970] We now have the complete edition by A. Kurfess, in the Teubner series, this being a second edition of that by A. W. Ahlberg (1911, 1915), Leipzig 1954; in the Budé series A. Ernout, Paris, 1947; and in the Penguin series a translation by S. A. Handford, Harmondsworth, 1963.

The Catilinarian Conspiracy has been edited by A. T. Davis, Oxford, 1967. The Letters etc. attributed to Sallust have been re‑edited by A. Kurfess, Leipzig (Teubner, 1962); by A. Ernout (Budé, 1962); and by P. Cagusi (Cagliari, 1958). Very useful is A. D. Leeman, A Systematic Bibliography of Sallust, 1870‑1950.

 p. xxvi  Sigla

V cod. Vaticanus, 3864.
P cod. Parisinus, 16024.
A cod. Parisinus, 16025.
C cod. Parisinus, 6085.
B cod. Basileensis, A. N. IV. 11.
X = the archetype of P, A, C, B.
N cod. Palatinus, 889.
K cod. Palatinus, 887.
H cod. Berolinensis, 205.
M cod. Monacensis, 4559.
T cod. Turicensis, bibl. reip. C. 143a.
D cod. Parisinus, 10195.
F cod. Hauniensis, 25.
Γ = the archetype of M, T, D, F.
Y = the archetype of N, K, H, Γ.
l cod. Leidensis Voss. Lat. 73.
s cod. Lipsiensis, bibl. sen. rep. I. fol. 4.
n cod. Parisinus, 6086.
m cod. Monacensis, 14777.
Q cod. Parisinus, 5748.
R cod. Vaticanus, 3325.
π cod. Palatinus, 883.
P1A1 = the first hand; P2A2, the second hand.
Ah = Ahlberg, Sallust, Leipzig, 1919.
Or = Ornstein, Salluste, Paris, 1924.

The Author's Notes:

1 Suet. Gramm. 15.

2 Gell. 17.18.

3 Cat. III.3.

4 Inv. in Sall. VI.17.

5 Ascon. pro Mil. 33 (p37, l. 18, Clark).

6 Cassius Dio, 40.63.4.

7 Hermes, 1.171; Röm. Forsch. 2, p434, l. 42. C. is a conjecture of Mommsen's; all the manuscripts read Canini Salustio.

8 Orosius, 6.15.8.

9 Cassius Dio, 42.52.

10 Bell. Afr. 348 and  34.

11 Bell. Afr. 97.

12 VII.19.

13 Hieronymus, adv. Jov. 1.

14 2.2.

15 Tacitus, Ann. 3.30.

16 De Gramm. 10.

17 Suet. De Gramm. 15. Asinius Pollio also accused him of imitating Cato (Gramm. 10).

18 For a full discussion of the question see Ahlberg, Prolegomena, pp155 ff.; cf. note 3, p. xiv.

19 Cat. IV.4.

20 Cat. LIV. especially 1‑4.

21 4.2.45.

22 Sen. Rhet. Contr. 3 pr. 8, p243 K.

23 Quint. 3.8.9. The title De Bello Iugurthino is also found. The Catiline and the Jugurtha are collectively referred to as Bella, and the title of the latter influenced that of the former, which for three centuries was usually Catilina; after that, Bellum Catilinae or (in the grammarians) B. Catilinarium.

24 Jug. V.1.

25 Cited Jug. xcv.2.

26 Jug. XVII.7.

27 75 B.C.

28 See Bibliographical Note, p. xxiv.º

29 Contr. 9.1.13; Kiessling (Index, s.v. "Thucydides") understands the comparison to be with Demosthenes.

30 Suet. Gramm. 10, 15; Aug. 86.3.

31 10.1.101.

32 14.191.

33 Ann. 3.30.

34 De Civ. Dei, 1.5.

35 See p. xvi.

36 Through the influence of the title Orationes et Epistulae of codex V.

37 Class. Weekly XXI (1928), p19.

38 Class. Quarterly, XVII (1923), pp87 ff. and 151 ff.; XVIII (1924), p83.

39 l.c.

40 Sallustii Crispi Epistulae ad Caesarem Senem de Re Publica, Leipzig, 1924.

41 See Last, l.c.

42 Schanz, Rom. Lit. 12, p234.

43 Mnemosyne, XL (1912), pp364 ff., and Sallustii Crispi in Ciceronem et invicem Invectivae, Leipzig, 1914.

44 Jahresb. des Phil. Vereins zu Berlin, 48 (1922), 66 ff., and Bursians Jahresb. 1922, p61.

45 IV.1.68; IX.3.89.

46 Angusti et pusilli rhetoris posterioris aetatis, Kurfess, Mnemosyne, XL (1912); for examples of his impurus sermo, see ibid. p377. Kurfess also shows that the author of the second Invective was a servile imitator of the writer of the first one.

47 Rhein. Mus. IX pp129 ff.

48 C. Sallustii Crispi qui est de bello Iugurthino partem extremam . . . recensuit H. Wirz, Zürich, 1897.

49 See O. Schulthess, Das humanistische Gymn. XXVI (1915), p92.

50 Ornstein (see Preface) follows this earlier nomenclature.

51 Wiener Studien, XVII pp122 ff.

52 Prolegomena, p104.

Thayer's Note:

a The ruins of Amiternum lie about 4 km from the modern town of L'Aquila, capital of the Abruzzo region of Italy; and about 45 km from Reate, the modern Rieti.

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