Sallust's Role in History:
Sallust is considered a great literary stylist and the first Roman historian. Earlier, there had been Roman annalist
. His model was Thucydides, according to J.W. Mackail
Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust) was born c. 86 B.C. to a plebeian Sabine
family, at Amiternum (now San Vittorino, Italy).
Sallust and Cicero:
When Milo and his followers killed Claudius Pulcher (both Milo and Claudius are sometimes described as thugs), Cicero
defended Milo. Sallust stood on the other side in the division of the senators.
The Writings of Sallust:
Sallust's first monograph was his Bellum Catilinae
(43-42 B.C.) about the conspiracy of Catiline. Sallust's second monograph was the Bellum Jugurthinum
(41-40 B.C.) about the struggle of King Jugurtha
of Numidia with Rome which led to the rise of Marius
Sallust was a new man or novus homo,
the first in his family to enter the Senate. In this he was like Marius and Cicero.
Sallust may have created lavish gardens, the Horti Sallustiani, possibly as the result of ill-gotten gains in Africa while in the Numidian territory.
Sallust died in 35/34 B.C.
Sallust's Political Career:
Sallust probably began his political career as tribune of the plebs in 52 B.C., although he may have been a quaestor earlier. In 50, Sallust was expelled by the censor Appius Claudius from the Senate
. This may have had to do with the conflict between optimates
and populares, the two political factions of the late Republic. The censor was an optimate and Sallust was not. Sallust soon joined Caesar
's side in the civil war between Caesar and Pompey
. Caesar helped restore him to the senate, where he became praetor in 47 B.C., and then afterwards, proconsul of the Numidian territory until 45 or 44 B.C. Although accused of extortion*, through Caesar's intervention, Sallust wasn't brought to trial. Soon thereafter, Sallust retired to private life and writing.
Charges of extortion were called quaestiones rerum repetundarum.
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