Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories, Paperback Book

Catiline's War, The Jugurthine War, Histories Paperback

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Sallust (86-c. 35 bc) is the earliest Roman historian of whom complete works survive, a senator of the Roman Republic and younger contemporary of Cicero, Pompey and Julius Caesar.

His Catiline's War tells of the conspiracy in 63 bc led by L.

Sergius Catilina, who plotted to assassinate numerous senators and take control of the government, but was thwarted by Cicero.

Sallust's vivid account of Roman public life shows a Republic in decline, prey to moral corruption and internal strife.

In The Jugurthine War he describes Rome's fight in Africa against the king of the Numidians from 111 to 105 bc, and provides a damning picture of the Roman aristocracy.

Also included in this volume are the major surviving extracts from Sallust's now fragmentary Histories, depicting Rome after the death of the dictator Sulla.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9780140449488

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Sallust had a long political career, siding with the populists, who would eventually become the triumvirate of Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey. In many ways, Sallust's history resembles Caesar's memoirs twenty years later, but Caesar's biases are much more difficult to ferret out. If Sallust had been a more clever man, we might have taken his word for it and entered his works as pure history, but his bias is so evident that we can almost fill out the rest of the story by it's absence.There are fairly self-evident motivations for the men Sallust presents as incorrigible villains, and we may also compare his view of history to Cicero's; for even though they were of like opinion, Cicero tends to be more equitable in his explanations.This difference between the two authors rather perfectly encapsulates the difference between them as men, and the central point of their disagreement. Cicero was a pacifier, a placator, but one of enough skill and vigor to change his opponent's course in the midst of deference. We might expect him to be in perfect agreement with Ben Franklin who, when once asked for advice by Thomas Jefferson, is supposed to have said "never disagree with anyone".Sallust, on the other hand, was an incurable idealist. We are treated to long passages on the particular moral qualities a man ought to have and how Sallust's opponents lack them and how Sallust's friends all have them. There is a constant sense of injustice being perpetrated throughout the politic sphere, but it is always by Sallust's political and ideological enemies.Though the reader rarely doubts such depravity and greed went on, Sallust's self righteous displays of humble innocence strike as false. His history is not informed enough to serve us--indeed, it is filled with errors in dates, places, and people. But neither is his rhetoric so impressive that it saves his tract from being more than the lamentations of a man who retired to complain for posterity's sake.As a historical view, he is useful, but moreso within the context of other writers.