XV[15arg] The defence of a passage in the historical works of Sallust, which his enemies attacked in a spirit of malicious criticism.
THE elegance of Sallust's style and his passion for coining and introducing new words was met with exceeding great hostility, and many men of no mean ability tried to criticize and decry much in his writings. Many of the attacks on him were ignorant or malicious. Yet there are some things that may be regarded as deserving of censure, as for example the following passage in the History of Catiline, 1 which has the appearance of being written somewhat carelessly. Sallust's words are these: “And for myself, although I am well aware that by no means equal repute attends the narrator and the doer of deeds, yet I regard the writing of history as one of the hardest of tasks; first because the style and diction must be equal to the deeds recorded; and in the second place, because such criticisms as you make of others' shortcomings are thought by most men to be due to malice and envy. Furthermore, when you commemorate the distinguished merit and fame of good men, while everyone is quite ready to believe you when you tell of things which he thinks he could easily do himself, everything beyond that he regards as fictitious, if not false.” The critics say: “He declared that he would give the reasons why it appears to be ' hard ' 'to write history'; and then, after mentioning the first reason, he does not give a second, but gives utterance to complaints. For it ought not to be regarded as a reason why the work of history is 'hard,' that the reader either [p. 359] misinterprets what is written or does not believe it to be true.” They maintain that he ought to say that such work is exposed and subject to misjudgments, rather than “hard” ; for that which is “hard” is hard because of the difficulty of its accomplishment, not because of the mistaken opinions of other men. That is what those ill-natured critics say. But Sallust does not use arduus merely in the sense of “hard,” but as the equivalent of the Greek word χαλεπός, that is, both difficult and also troublesome, disagreeable and intractable. And the meaning of these words is not inconsistent with that of the passage which was just quoted from Sallust.