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Catiline's War, the Jugurthine War, Histories (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Unabridged, February 26, 2008
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About the Author
A. J. Woodman is the Basil L. Gildersleeve Professor of Classics at the University of Virginia. He has co-authored commentaries on Tacitus’ Annals, and a monograph Latin Historians. Most recently he produced Tacitus Reviewed, co-edited Traditions and Contexts in the Poetry of Horace, and published an award-winning translation of Tacitus’ Annals.
Top Customer Reviews
The two tales in this were hugely influential historical essays more or less up to the early 20C; they served as models of moralistic writing as well as clear exposition in Latin. In the Jugurthine War, you get wonderful details on the rise of the great generals, Marius and Sulla, who were friends and then deadly rivals in a struggle that essentially sowed the seeds of the end of the Roman Republic in the next generation.
While the plot covers a war in Northern Africa on a ruthless rebel King, Jugurtha, the most important aspects of the work are on the transformation of the Roman army from amateur farmer landowners to a professional corps that admitted anyone. While a necessity to maintain the expansion of the Roman empire as the population of traditional army recruits dwindled, this led directly to rise of powerful generals, who could rely on the personal loyalty of their troops to grab power in civil war, which had been avoided for centuries. First, there was Sulla's dictatorship, then Julius Caesar. But the story takes place before that, when the military genius Marius was transforming the army and mentoring the ambitious Sulla. The reader can study the organization of the army as well as the changing mores of Roman society that this reflected. It is a great masterpiece and fun read, with wonderfully quirky details. In many ways, it is about the end of the aristocratic oligarchy that ruled the Republic for so long, as exemplified by the failure of Metellus and how Marius, who was not a aristocrat and knew no Greek, took over from him and triumphed.Read more ›
Sallust is believed to have lived 86-34BC, he achieved senatorial rank, and he was a Caesarean (unlike Cicero, who was an optimate). His works include a history of the Jugurthine war (a late second-century BC African conflict that punctuated Rome's own internal struggles), an account of the Catilinarian conspiracy, and fragments of a history that once described the 70s and 60s BC. A lot of this is almost certainly made up. Stock descriptions of sieges and battles in the war against Jugurtha, which took place before Sallust was born, are unlikely to fit any close reality. The books contain the inevitable set speeches, all of course the author's interpretation of what might have been said. Even the Catilinarian account may well have been drawn from Cicero: Sallust was too young to have been in the senate in 63BC. Yet Sallust's books are invaluable. At least he would have been in Rome, and since Cicero was judge and party on Catiline, this second, corroborative account is priceless. And even the speeches and the fragmentary histories are of value, providing a strong flavour of the ideological conflicts that divided the Roman Republic, how they were expressed, and what the public response may have been.
Sallust is essential reading for students of the period. It also is a good alternative or complement to the host of trashy novels and movies that have recently come out about Rome.
For Sallust, ‘false is the complaint that the human nature is weak and ruled by chance. It is the mind which is the leader and the commander of life. When it proceeds along the path of prowess, it does not need fortune. But, if the mind has been taken captive by perverse desires (and) when strength and intellect have ebbed away, those responsible transfer the blame from themselves to ‘events’.’
As Jugurtha characterized it mercilessly, Rome ‘was a city for sale and soon to be doomed – if only it found a buyer.’
National politics (the few and the many)
For Sallust, the many have been the plaything of the haughty few. The conduct of war and of domestic matter (the laws, the courts, the treasury, the provinces) rested solely in their hands. They flaunted ‘their priesthoods and consulships, and some their triumphs, as if these possessions were an honor, not plunder. Who are those who have taken the commonwealth? The most criminal of beings with gory hands and monstrous avarice, for whom loyalty, dignity, devotion and everything honorable and dishonorable is a source of profit.’
With Sulla, all the power of the few fell in the hands of one man.
In a letter in the name of Mithridates, Sallust lambasts the Romans to be ‘the world’s bandits’, having ‘only a single reason for making war on all nations, peoples and kings: a profound desire for empire and for riches.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sallust is one of our few reliable sources for the late Roman republic. There is Cicero, of course, and a more prolific writer and orator can hardly be imagined; there is Caesar,... Read morePublished 16 months ago by James Kenney
This book was ordered for my son who is taking college courses which was a requirement to get a grade in English litPublished on December 26, 2013 by Janie White
will be used in class this fall im taking a Roanoke college this fall i was able to by my boos on amazon and save lots of moneyPublished on August 9, 2013 by lynn
This man is certainly no Herodotus, nor a Xenophon, nor even a Caesar for that matter. Assuming that the translation is an elegant one, and the only reason I have to think it may... Read morePublished on April 22, 2013 by Zendicant Pangolin
The style and presentation of the text is somewhat hard to follow for someone who likes history but is no expert such as myself. Read morePublished on November 9, 2011 by J. Pratt