In a Beautiful French Binding

BINDINGS. Sallustius Crispus, Gaius. (86- ca. 34 B.C.)

C. Crispi Sallustii De L. Sergii Catilinæ coniuratione, ac Bello Iugurthino historiæ. Eiusdem in M.T. Ciceronem invectiva, M.T. Cic. in C. Crispum Sallustium recriminatio, Porcii Latronis declamatio contra L. Catilinam, fragmenta quædam ex libris historiarum C. Crispi Sallustii.

Lyon: Sébastien Gryphe, 1551


Sextodecimo: 12 x 7 cm. 271 p. Collation: A-R8.


Bound in a beautiful near-contemporary strapwork binding with a few tiny defects. The text is in very good condition with light soiling and light occasional stains. Gauphered edges, gilt. Text ruled in red, Gryphius’ device on the title.

The extant works of Sallust, the "Bellum Iugurthinum",  "Bellum Catilinarium" (and associated texts), and the fragments of his "Histories," dealing with the years 78-67 B.C.

The Roman Republic in Crisis: The Conspiracy of Catiline

In his "Bellum Catilinae", Sallust recounts Catiline's attempt to raise a traitorous faction to overthrow the Republic in 63 B.C. The true "savior" of the crisis, the man who exposed Catiline's plot and pressured him to flee from Rome, was Cicero, whose famous speeches before the Senate provide us with a vivid picture of those critical days when civil war once again threatened the Republic.

Informed by Cicero of Catiline's revolutionary intentions, the Senate declared a state of emergency and instructed the consuls to take whatever steps might be necessary to safeguard the security of the Republic. Catiline could not leave Rome to join his forces in Etruria without exposing himself and so was forced to endure the blistering abuse of Cicero's first oration in person. 

From the opening salvo of the first Catlinarian, "Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?" ("How long, Catiline, will you go on abusing our patience?"), Cicero exposes the details of the conspiracy and warns Catiline, himself a powerful aristocrat, that the Senate, once they have heard the extent of his plot, will insist that the would-be revolutionary be executed. By painting an image of his opponent as "hostis" rather than "inimicus", a foreign enemy rather than a personal one, Cicero seeks to unite the divided factions of the senate against Catiline.

Cicero's gambit proved a success. Catiline fled Rome to join his army. Cicero used his remaining three orations to solidify his support in the Senate, to root out Catiline's co-conspirators (a deed which was eventually accomplished by a series of non-rhetorical maneuvers) and, once found, to have them executed. In the matter of the executions, Caesar was the only vocal opponent in the Senate, arguing that such executions were illegal. Later, the debatable legality of these executions would serve as the basis for Cicero's exile in 58 B.C. Catiline's army was eventually defeated by Republican forces at the Battle of Pistoia in 62 B.C.

Sallust's Catiline: An Investigation into the Crisis.

"Sallust composed his historical monographs between 43 and 40 B.C., when he was in his forties. He had fought on Caesar's side during the civil war and, once the Pompeians had been defeated, Caesar appointed Sallust governor of the province of Africa Nova. In addition to his "Bellum Catilinae", his account of the war against Jugurtha, King of Numidia, and fragments of a history from the death of Sulla to Pompey's victory over the pirates is also extant. The works of Sallust won an immediate, notable success. The Roman people had the delightful sensation of now possessing a historian who could satisfy their expectations for a literary genre that was arousing lively cultural interest. The very style of writing, personal and powerful, provoked admiration. The rhetorical schools could not remain untouched by the desire to emulate his manner of writing.

"Like many of his contemporaries, Sallust saw the Catilinarian danger as one of the very symptoms of the very serious disease suffered by Roman society: the deterioration of Roman morality, which began after the fall of Carthage, when fear of a foreign enemy no longer kept the community of citizens united. The second element of this decline is the degeneration of Roman political life during the period from the dictatorship of Sulla to the civil war between Caesar and Pompey. The historian emphasizes the horror of the Sullan proscriptions, in which Catiline had distinguished himself at the beginning of his career.

"The condemnation involves equally both parties in the struggle, the 'populares' and the supporters of the Senate: on the one hand are demagogues who by large donations and promises to the plebeians make them the basis for their own ambitions; on the other hand are aristocrats who cloak themselves in the dignity of the Senate but in fact fight only to consolidate and extend their own privileges. Sallust sees an organic link between the factiousness of the opposing parties and the danger of social upheaval. From Caesar Sallust probably hoped for the creation of a policy not unlike the one Cicero expected from Octavian: an authoritarian regime that would be able to end the crisis of the state by reestablishing order in the Republic, strengthening concord among the wealthy classes and restoring prestige and dignity to a Senate that had been enlarged with new men from the elite of all of Italy." (Gian Biagio Conte’s "Latin Literature, A History")

USTC 150814