ASINIUS POLLIO, in a letter which he addressed to Plancus, and certain others who were unfriendly to Gaius Sallustius, thought that Sallust deserved censure because in the first book of his Histories he called the crossing of the sea and a passage made in ships transgresses, using transgressi of those who had crossed the sea, for which the usual term is transfretare. I give Sallust's own words: 1 “Accordingly Sertorius, having left a small garrison in Mauretania and taking advantage of a dark night and a favourable tide, tried either by secrecy or speed to avoid a battle while crossing (in transgressu).” Then later he wrote: 2 “When they had crossed (transgressos), a mountain which had been seized in advance by the Lusitanians gave them all shelter.” This, they say, is an improper and careless usage, supported by no adequate authority. “For transgressus,” says Pollio, “comes from transgredi, 'to step [p. 289] across,' and this word itself refers to walking and stepping with the feet.” Therefore Pollio thought that the verb transgredi did not apply to those who fly or creep or sail, but only to those who walk and measure the way with their feet. Hence they say that in no good writer can transgressus be found applied to ships, or as the equivalent of transfretatio. But, since cursus, or “running,” is often correctly used of ships, I ask why it is that ships may not be said to make a transgressus, especially since the small extent of the narrow strait which flows between Spain and the Afric land is most elegantly described by the word transgressio, as being a distance of only a few steps. But as to those who ask for authority and assert that ingredi or transgredi has not been used of sailing, I should like them to tell me how much difference they think there is between ingredi, or “march,” and ambulare, or “walk.” Yet Cato in his book On Farming says: 3 “A farm should be chosen in a situation where there is a large town near by and the sea, or a river where ships pass (ambulant).” Moreover Lucretius, by the use of this same expression, bears testimony that such figures are intentional and are regarded as ornaments of diction. For in his fourth book he speaks of a shout as “marching” (gradientem) through the windpipe and jaws, which is much bolder than the Sallustian expression about the ships. The lines of Lucretius are as follows: 4
The voice besides doth often scrape the throat;[p. 291] Accordingly, Sallust, in the same book, uses progressus, not only of those who sailed in ships, but also of floating skiffs. I have added his own words about the skiffs: 5 “Some of them, after going (progressae) but a little way, the load being excessive and unstable, when panic had thrown the passengers into disorder, began to sink.”
A shout forth marching (gradiens) doth make the windpipe rough.