Walter Allen, Jr. (essay date January 1954)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Allen, Walter, Jr. “Sallust's Political Career.” Studies in Philology 51, no. 1 (January 1954): 1-14.

[In the following essay, Allen discusses Sallust's remarks (in the prologues to his historical monographs) concerning his lack of political ambition after retirement from public life.]

Although some reaction has justifiably been voiced against the notion, principally German, of perceiving in Sallust a profound philosophical historian,1 our limited knowledge of his political career, in addition to the unfavorable reports of his private life, renders difficult the usual biographical method of studying an author's attitude and possible bias. The...

(The entire section is 5432 words.)

Lidia Storoni Mazzolani (essay date 1976)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Mazzolani, Lidia Storoni. “Sallust—On Harmony.” In Empire without End, translated by Joan McConnell and Mario Pei, pp. 39-83. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976.

[In the following excerpt, Mazzolani surveys Sallust's political history and his views on government and human nature, noting the author's concern with Rome's moral and social decline and his longing for social harmony in the midst of discord.]

… other enemies are within her walls, inside the very heart of Rome.

—Sallust, Bellum Catilinae 52. 351

Sallust chose recent events: the war against...

(The entire section is 8468 words.)

P. McGushin (essay date 1977)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: McGushin, P. Introduction to C. Sallustius Crispus, Bellum Catilinae: A Commentary, pp. 1-24. Leiden, Amsterdam: E. J. Brill, 1977.

[In the following excerpt, McGushin offers an overview of Sallust's life and writings before commenting on the source, form, structure, and style of the Bellum Catilinae and analyzing the author's reputation based on his performance as a writer and a public figure.]


In spite of the fact that Sallust's life and writings aroused a wide variety of comment in the ancient world, surprisingly little reliable information exists for much of his career. It is now generally accepted that C....

(The entire section is 9483 words.)

Duane F. Conley (essay date April 1981)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Conley, Duane F. “The Interpretation of Sallust's Catiline 10.1-11.3.” Classical Philology 76, no. 2 (April 1981): 121-25.

[In the following essay, Conley explores Sallust's account of ambitio and avarita to show that the author does not contradict himself in Bellum Catilinae 10-11, as some scholars have claimed.]

It has long been noticed that in chapters 10-11 of the Bellum Catilinae Sallust appears to contradict himself. Chapter 10. 3 states that “primo pecuniae, deinde imperi cupido crevit,” and from the next two sentences, which develop these two concepts respectively, it is clear that Sallust identifies...

(The entire section is 2403 words.)

William W. Batstone (essay date 1986)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Batstone, William W. “Incerta Pro Certis: An Interpretation of Sallust Bellum Catilinae 48.4-49.4.” Ramus 15, no. 2 (1986): 28-39.

[In the following essay, Batstone offers a literary and rhetorical interpretation of Bellum Catilinae 48-4-49 to show that Sallust was exploring the uncertainties of the events and actors he describes and that his reporting is not merely propaganda.]

Sallust's style is provocative and tendentious, but does his admitted moral tendentiousness carry over into a political or partisan tendentiousness? For centuries we have heard of Sallust the partisan, Sallust the propagandist, Sallustian bias. The history of this...

(The entire section is 9174 words.)

Lukas de Blois (essay date 1988)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: de Blois, Lukas. “The Perception of Expansion in the Works of Sallust.” Latomus 47, no. 3 (1988): 603-19.

[In the following essay, de Blois examines Sallust's works to see how he perceived the effects of Roman expansion, noting his moralizing approach, his view of social reality, and his ideas about the process of history.]

Res … quae ab exiguis profecta initiis eo creuerit ut iam magnitudine laboret sua …

(Livy I, Praef. 4).

Modern scholars regard Roman expansion in the last two centuries of the republic (c. 220-30 B.C.) as one of the main causes of the civil wars in the first...

(The entire section is 8862 words.)

F. Ahleid (essay date 1988)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Ahleid, F. “Oratorical Strategy in Sallust's ‘Letter of Mithridates’ Reconsidered.” Mnemosyne 41, no. 1-2 (1988): 67-92.

[In the following essay, Ahleid discusses the “Letter of Mithridates” from the Historiae as a work of deliberative oratory.]

In his recent monograph on Mithridates VI Eupator, McGing describes the propaganda with which the king of Pontus tried to obtain support in his wars against Rome1. Among the texts discussed by McGing, Sallust Hist. [Historiae] 4,69 Maurenbrecher figures as “potentially one of the most important sources for Mithridates' propaganda, as it purports to be a personal letter of...

(The entire section is 10189 words.)

D. S. Levene (essay date 1992)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Levene, D. S. “Sallusts's Jugurtha: An ‘Historical Fragment.’” Journal of Roman Studies 82 (1992): 53-70.

[In the following essay, Levene argues that Sallust deliberately composed his Bellum Jugurthinum as a fragment in order to highlight the moral decline and tragedy of Rome and to show that the history he writes is incomplete.]

The ancient historian is used to dealing with texts that are fragments through the accident of transmission. This paper is concerned with a deliberate fragment: a work that is notionally complete, in that it is written and presented as something finished and whole, but which at the same time draws the reader's...

(The entire section is 14256 words.)

Thomas Wiedemann (essay date April 1993)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Wiedemann, Thomas. “Sallust's Jugurtha: Concord, Discord, and the Digressions.” Greece & Rome 40, no. 1 (April 1993): 48-57.

[In the following essay, Wiedemann discusses the three digressions in the Bellum Jugurthinum—about the ethnography of north Africa, civil unrest in Rome, and the legend of the Philaeni—which he argues Sallust used to support his belief in social harmony.]

The current fashion for emphasizing ambiguities and discontinuities in literary texts should have found Sallust's writings congenial. The Catiline explores competing and contradictory claims to virtus, exemplified by Caesar, Cato, and Catiline...

(The entire section is 4334 words.)

C. S. Kraus and A. J. Woodman (essay date 1997)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Kraus, C. S., and A. J. Woodman. “Sallust.” In Latin Historians, pp. 10-50. Oxford.: Oxford University Press, 1997.

[In the following excerpt, Kraus and Woodman examine Sallust's Historiae, focusing on three elements that stand out: the author's preface regarding his profession, his character studies, and his descriptions of foreign lands and people.]

‘In these diverse ways, the lost masterpiece becomes palpable—content, architecture, and tone.’—‘[I]n my judgement the most learned and acute scholars have often been over-confident in delineating the scope of lost histories and the qualities of their...

(The entire section is 7501 words.)

D. S. Levene (essay date January-June 2000)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Levene, D. S. “Sallust's Catiline and Cato the Censor.” Classical Quarterly 50, no. 1 (January-June 2000): 170-91.

[In the following essay, Levene argues that in the Bellum Catilinae Sallust was working in the tradition of Cato the Censor as he calls for moral uprightness and condemns the lack of virtue in contemporary life.]

That Sallust1 owed a considerable debt to the writings of Cato the Censor was observed in antiquity,2 and the observation has often been discussed and expanded on by modern scholars.3 The ancient references to Sallust's employment of Cato are mainly in the context of his adoption of an...

(The entire section is 13820 words.)