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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Speech of Marius
By Sallust (c. 86–c. 34/35 B.C.)
 
From the ‘History of the War against Jugurtha’

I KNOW, Romans, that most of those who apply to you for preferment in the State assume a different conduct from what they observe after they have obtained it. When they are candidates, they are active, condescending, and modest; when magistrates, haughty and indolent: but to me the contrary conduct appears reasonable; for in proportion as the good of the State is of more importance than the consulship or prætorship, the greater care and attention is requisite to govern the commonwealth than to court its dignities.  1
  I am very sensible what an arduous task is imposed on me by your generous choice of me: to make preparations for the war, and yet to be sparing of the treasury; to oblige those to serve whom you would not willingly offend; to attend to everything both at home and abroad; and to perform all this amid a confederacy of envious men, eternally obstructing your measures and caballing against you,—it is, O Romans! a more difficult undertaking than can be readily imagined. Moreover, if others fail in the discharge of their duty, the ancient lustre of their family, the heroic actions of their ancestors, the credit of their kindred and friends, and their numerous dependents, afford them protection. But for me, my resources lie solely in myself; my firmness and integrity alone must protect me: every other support would be of little avail.  2
  I am well aware too, Romans, that the eyes of all are on me: that all honest, all candid men, pleased with my successful endeavors to serve the State, wish well to me; but that the nobility watch for an opportunity to ruin me. Hence I must labor the more strenuously that you be not ensnared by them, and that they be disappointed. From my childhood to the present time, my manner of life has been such that toils and dangers are now habitual to me. The course I pursued, Romans, merely from a disinterested principle, before you conferred any favors on me, I shall not discontinue now that you have bestowed so noble a recompense. Those who put on the deceitful guise and semblance of virtue to obtain power, must when possessed of it find it difficult to act with moderation; but to me, whose whole life has been an uninterrupted series of laudable pursuits, virtue, through the force of habit, is become natural.  3
  You have ordained that I should have the management of the war against Jugurtha: an ordinance highly displeasing to the nobility. Now I pray you, consider within yourselves whether you had not better alter your choice, and employ on this, or any other similar occasion, one of the tribe of the nobility: a man of ancient family, surrounded with the images of his ancestors, and who has never been in the service. See how, on such an important occasion, he will hurry and be confounded; and, ignorant of his whole duty, apply to some plebeian to instruct him in it. And thus it commonly happens that he whom you have appointed your general is obliged to find another from whom to receive his orders.  4
  I know, Romans, some who, after entering on the consular office, began to study the history of our ancestors, and the military precepts of the Greeks. Preposterous method! For though, in the order of time, the election to offices precedes the exercise of men,—yet in the order of things, qualifications and experience should precede election.  5
  New man as I am, Romans, compare me with these haughty nobles. What they have only read or heard of, I have seen performed or performed myself; what they have gathered from books, I have learned in the service. Now do you yourselves judge whether practice or speculation is of greater value. They despise me for the meanness of my descent; I despise them for their indolence: I am upbraided with my success; they with their crimes. I am of opinion that nature is always the same, and common to all; and that those who have most virtue have most nobility. Suppose it were possible to put the question to the fathers of Albinus or Bestia, whether they would rather have chosen me for their descendant, or them? What answer do you think they would make, but that they should have desired to have had the most deserving men for their sons? But if they have reason to despise me, they have the same cause to despise their ancestors, whose nobility, like mine, took its rise from their military virtue. They envy my advancement: let them likewise envy my toils, my integrity, my dangers; for by these I gained it.  6
  These men, in truth, blinded with pride, live in such manner as if they slighted the honors you have to bestow, and yet sue for them as if they had deserved them. Deluded men! to aspire at once after two things so opposite in their nature,—the enjoyment of the pleasures of effeminacy, and the fruits of a laborious virtue! When they harangue too before you, or in the Senate, they employ most of their eloquence in celebrating their ancestors, and vainly imagine that the exploits of these great men reflect a lustre on themselves: whereas it is quite the reverse; for the more illustrious were the lives of the dead, the more scandalous is the spiritless and unmanly behavior of these their descendants. The truth of the matter is plainly this: the glory acquired by ancestors is like a light diffused over the actions of their posterity, which suffers neither their good nor bad qualities to be concealed.  7
  This light, Romans, is what I lack; but what is much more noble, I can recount my own achievements. Mark the inconsistency of my adversaries! What credit they arrogantly claim to themselves for the exploits of others, they deny me for my own; and what reason do they give for it? why, truly this: that I have no images of my ancestors to show, and my nobility is no older than myself. But surely it is more honorable for one to acquire nobility himself than to debase that which he derives from his predecessors.  8
  I am sensible, Romans, that if they were to reply to what I now advance, they would do so with great eloquence and force. Yet as they have given a loose rein to their calumniating tongues on every occasion—not only against me, but likewise against you—ever since you have conferred this dignity on me, I was resolved to speak, lest some should impute my silence to a consciousness of guilt. Though I am abundantly satisfied that no words can injure me,—since if what is said be true, it must be to my honor; if false, my life and conduct will confute it,—yet because your determination is blamed, in bestowing on me the highest dignity of the State, and trusting me with the conduct of affairs of such importance, I beseech you to consider whether you had not better alter your choice. I cannot indeed boast of the images, triumphs, or consulships of my ancestors, to raise your confidence in me; but if it be necessary, I can show you spears, banners, collars of merit, and other military distinctions, besides a body scarred with honorable wounds. These are my statues! These are the proofs of my nobility! not derived from ancestors, as theirs are, but such as I have myself won by many toils and dangers.  9
  My language is too unpolished; but that gives me small concern,—virtue shows itself with sufficient clearness. They stand in need of the artful colorings of eloquence to hide the infamy of their actions. Nor have I been instructed in the Grecian literature! Why, truly, I had little inclination to that kind of instruction, which did not improve the authors of it in the least degree of virtue. But I have learned other things far more useful to the State: to wound the enemy; to watch; to dread nothing but infamy; to undergo cold and heat alike; to lie on the bare ground; to bear hunger and fatigue. These lessons shall animate my troops; nor shall I ever be rigorous to them and indulgent to myself, or borrow my glory from their toils. This is the mode of commanding most useful to the State; this is what suits the equality of citizens. To treat the army with severity while you indulge yourself in ease and pleasure is to act the tyrant, not the general.  10
  By conduct like this, our forefathers gained immortal honor both to themselves and the republic: while our nobility, though so unlike their ancestors in character, despise us who imitate them; and demand of you all public honors, not on account of their personal merit, but as due to their high rank. Arrogant men;—how mistaken! Their ancestors left them everything in their power to bequeath: their wealth, their images, their high renown; but their virtue they did not leave them, nor indeed could they; for it can neither be given nor received as a gift.  11
  They hold me to be unpolished and ill-bred, because I cannot entertain elegantly, have no buffoon, and pay no higher wages to my cook than to my steward,—every part of which accusation, Romans, I readily admit: for I have learned from my father and other venerable persons that delicacy belongs to women, labor to men; that a virtuous man ought to have a larger share of glory than of riches; and that arms are more ornamental than splendid furniture.  12
  But let them still pursue what is so dear and delightful to them: let them indulge in wine and pleasure; let them spend their old age, as they did their youth, in banqueting and the lowest sensual gratifications; let them leave the fatigues and dangers of the field to us, to whom they are more welcome than the most elegant entertainments! Even this they will not do; for after debasing themselves by the practice of the foulest and most infamous vices, these most detestable of all men endeavor to deprive the brave of the rewards that are due to them. Thus—by the greatest injustice—luxury and idleness, the worst of vices, are noway prejudicial to those who are guilty of them; while they threaten the innocent commonwealth with unmerited ruin.  13
  Now, since I have answered these men as far as my own character was concerned, though not so fully as their infamous behavior deserved, I shall add a few words concerning the state of public affairs. And first, Romans, be of good courage as to Numidia: since you have now removed all that hitherto secured Jugurtha; namely, the covetousness, incapacity, and haughtiness of our commanders. There is an army stationed in Africa, well acquainted with the country, but indeed less fortunate than brave; for a great portion of it has been destroyed by the rapaciousness and rashness of its commanders. Do you, therefore, who are of age to bear arms, join your efforts to mine, and assume the defense of the commonwealth; nor let the fate of others, or the haughtiness of the late commanders, discourage any of you: when you march, when you engage, I will always be with you to direct your campaign, and to share every danger. In a word, I shall desire you to act no otherwise in any instance than as you see me act. Moreover, all things are now ripe for us,—victory, spoil, and glory; and even though they were uncertain or distant, it would still be the duty of every good citizen to assist the State. No man ever became immortal by inactivity; nor did ever any father wish his children might never die, but rather that they might live like useful and worthy men. I should add more to what I have already said, if words could inspire cowards with bravery: to the valiant I think I have said enough.  14
 
 
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