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The Jugurthine War / The Conspiracy of Catiline (Penguin Classics) Paperback – February 28, 1964

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus), (86-34 BC), was a Roman historian. His principal works are theBellum Catilinae, on the conspiracy of Catiline and his account of the Jugurthine War, Bellum Jugurthinum.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (February 28, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140441328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140441321
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is suggested by historians that Sallust was a hypocrite. In his writings he always claims to be writing from the highest motives and says such things as:
"Wealth and Beauty can only give us a fleeting and perishable fame, but intellectual excellence is a glorious and everlasting possession." This stance sits nicely alongside the fact that he was expelled from the Senate for alleged immorality in 50 B.C.! The solution to this problem seems to be that human nature is a complex phenomenon, and that man is capable of both brute carnality and intellectual honesty, depending on the chemical swings of the moment without totally compromising his integrity.
Only a part of Sallust's work has survived, most notably his history of the war against Jugurthine, an able North African monarch, and the Conspiracy of Catiline, a debauched but charismatic member of the aristocracy who aimed at a populist coup. This volume is composed of these two histories.
The war against the ruthless but talented Jugurthine was more about politics than tactics. Jugurthine took advantage of the growing material greed of senators and tribunes in the late Roman Republic to bribe them to connive at his usurpation of the Numidian Kingdom. This policy was only successful in the short term, however, as the aggravated greed of the Romans led to a war of conquest, plunder, and annexation of his kingdom.
Sallust's account is particularly effective at showing the rise of Marius, a common soldier from a plebian family, who succeeded in overcoming prejudice to rise to the top of the Roman State as Consul. Although he later became a bloodthirsty revolutionary, his toughness, honesty, and energy contrast with the corruption and decadence that was already infecting Rome's higher orders.
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Format: Paperback
Sallust is credited as the father of the historical monograph, and this volume contains his two surviving examples in this genre. I first read this edition of the "Jugurthine War" back in the late 60's at the height of the Vietnam War. I found the similarities between Vietnam and the Jugurthine War to be striking. The U.S. military could well have studied the lessons of this book. Aside from that, Sallust's story of Jugurtha is a rollicking good yarn with intrigue, corruption, hairbreadth escapes, betrayal, remarkable battles, and central characters (Jugurtha and the Romans opposing him) who, each in their own way, are all remarkable men. The other half of the book, "Cataline" deals, not with a guerilla war, but with an abortive coup. It deals with some of the same human values and has some characters who are almost as interesting as the characters in "The Jugurthine War".
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Format: Paperback
As all Penguin Classics, this translation is intended to be enjoyable by a modern reader with no knowledge of the Classical languages who wants to introduce him/herself to the Classical authors. Therefore the colorful cover and the emminently readable translation. However, the cover - a mythological mosaic of the Later Roman epoch - has nothing to do with the subject-matter, and the translation falls sometimes into unduly modernizing. There is a place where one speaks of the Roman "proletariat"?! Personally, I should prefer a translation that was readable but which made no attempt to give the impression of Ancient-Roman-society-very-much-alike-to-ours. But I must admit that, compared to, say, the Portuguese translation by Barreto Feio (a fine speciment of XIXth century prose, and enormously cumbersome to a modern reader) this trans. fares better.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sallust was a master of historical narrative, even if his history's can only barely be labled as such. In his desire to press home a moral of the greed and corruption of Rome he sacrificed much of the truth to his own political agenda, even more so than was normal for historians of the time. These two monographs are the only complete surviving works of the great Latin stylist, and despite the details are well worth the reading.
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Format: Paperback
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. I remember studying both the content and writing style while (inexplicably) attempting to master Latin in college.

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 soldier-farmer landowners to a professional corps that admitted anyone. While a necessary measure 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 if they wished to grab power in civil war, which had been avoided for centuries. First, there was Sulla's dictatorship, then Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon. 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 oligarchy that ruled the Republic for so long, as exemplified by the failure of Metellus and how despised enemy, Marius (who was not a aristocrat and knew no Greek) took over from him and triumphed.
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