previous next
"I am aware, my fellow-citizens, that most men do not appear as candidates before you for an office, and conduct themselves in it when they have obtained it, under the same character; that they are at first industrious, humble, and modest, but afterward lead a life of indolence and arrogance. But to me it appears that the contrary should be the case; for as the whole state is of greater consequence than the single office of consulate or prætorship, so its interests ought to be managed1 with greater solicitude than these magistracies are sought. Nor am I insensible how great a weight of business I am, through your kindness, called upon to sustain. To make preparations for war, and yet to be sparing of the treasury; to press those into the service whom I am unwilling to offend; to direct every thing at home and abroad; and to discharge these duties when surrounded by the envious, the hostile,2 and the factious, is more difficult, my fellow-citizens, than is generally imagined. In addition to this, if others fail in their undertakings, their ancient rank, the heroic actions of their ancestors, the power of their relatives and connections, their numerous dependents, are all at hand to support them; but as for me, my whole hopes rest upon myself, which I must sustain by good conduct and integrity; for all other means are unavailing.

"I am sensible, too, my fellow-citizens, that the eyes of all men are turned upon me; that the just and good favor me, as my services are beneficial to the state, but that the nobility seek occasion to attack me. I must therefore use the greater exertion, that you may not be deceived in me,3 and that their views may be rendered abortive. I have led such a life, indeed, from my boyhood to the present hour, that I am familiar with every kind of toil and danger; and that exertion, which, before your kindness to me, I practiced gratuitously, it is not my intention to relax after having received my reward. For those who have pretended to be men of worth only to secure their election,4 it may be difficult to conduct themselves properly in office; but to me, who have passed my whole life in the most honorable occupations, to act well has from habit become nature.

" You have commanded me to carry on the war against Jugurtha; a commission at which the nobility are highly offended. Consider with yourselves, I pray you, whether it would be a change for the better, if you were to send to this, or to any other such appointment, one of yonder crowd of nobles,5 a man of ancient family, of innumerable statues, and of no military experience; in order, forsooth, that in so important an office, and being ignorant of every thing connected with it, he may exhibit hurry and trepidation, and select one of the people to instruct him in his duty. For so it generally happens, that he whom you have chosen to direct, seeks another to direct him. I know some, my fellow-citizens, who, after they have been elected6 consuls, have begun to read the acts of their ancestors, and the military precepts of the Greeks; persons who invert the order of things ;7 for though to discharge the duties of the office"8 is posterior, in point of time, to election, it is, in reality and practical importance, prior to it.

" Compare now, my fellow-citizens, me, who am a new man, with those haughty nobles.9 What they have but heard or read, I have witnessed or performed. What they have learned from books, I have acquired in the field; and whether deeds or words are of greater estimation, it is for you to consider. They despise my humbleness of birth; I contemn their imbecility. My condition10 is made an objection to me; their misconduct is a reproach to them. The circumstance of birth,11 indeed, I consider as one and the same to all; but think that he who best exerts himself is the noblest. And could it be inquired of the fathers,12 of Albinus and Bestia, whether they would rather be the parents of them or of me, what do you suppose that they would answer, but that they would wish the most deserving to be their offspring ? If the patricians justly despise me, let them also despise their own ancestors, whose nobility, like mine, had its origin in merit. They envy me the honor that I have received; let them also envy me the toils, the abstinence,13 and the perils, by which I obtained that honor. But they, men eaten up with pride, live as if they disdained all the distinctions that you can bestow, and yet sue for those distinctions as if they had lived so as to merit them. Yet those are assuredly deceived, who expect to enjoy, at the same time, things so incompatible as the pleasures of indolence and the rewards of honorable exertion.14

" When they speak before you, or in the senate, they occupy the greatest part of their orations in extolling their ancestors;15 for, they suppose that, by recounting the heroic deeds of their forefathers, they render themselves more illustrious. But the reverse of this is the case; for the more glorious were the lives of their ancestors, the more scandalous is their own inaction. The truth, indeed, is plainly this, that the glory of ancestors sheds a light on their posterity,16 which suffers neither their virtues nor their vices to be concealed. Of this light, my fellow-citizens, I have no share; but I have, what confers much more distinction, the power of relating my own actions. Consider, then, how unreasonable they are; what they claim to themselves for the merit of others, they will not grant to me for my own; alleging, forsooth, that I have no statues, and that my distinction is newly-acquired; but it is surely better to have acquired such distinction myself than to bring disgrace on that received from others.

"I am not ignorant, that, if they were inclined to reply to me, they would make an abundant display of eloquent and artful language. Yet, since they attack both you and myself, on occasion of the great favor which you have conferred upon me, I did not think proper to be silent before them, lest any one should construe my forbearance into a consciousness of demerit. As for myself, indeed, nothing that is said of me, I feel assured,17 can do me injury; for what is true, must of necessity speak in my favor; what is false, my life and character will refute. But since your judgment, in bestowing on me so distinguished an honor and so important a trust, is called in question, consider, I beseech you, again and again, whether you are likely to repent of what you have done. I can not, to raise your confidence in me, boast of the statues, or triumphs, or consulships of my ancestors; but, if it be thought necessary, I can show you spears,18 a banner,19 caparisons20 for horses, and other military rewards; besides the scars of wounds on my breast. These are my statues; this is my nobility; honors, not left, like theirs, by inheritance, but acquired amid innumerable toils and dangers.

"My speech, they say, is inelegant; but that I have ever thought of little importance. Worth sufficiently displays itself; it is for my detractors to use studied language, that they may palliate base conduct by plausible words. Nor have I learned Greek; for I had no wish to acquire a tongue that adds nothing to the valor21 of those who teach it. But I have gained other accomplishments, such as are of the utmost benefit to a state; I have learned to strike down an enemy; to be vigilant at my post;22 to fear nothing but dishonor; to bear cold and heat with equal endurance; to sleep on the ground; and to sustain at the same time hunger and fatigue. And with such rules of conduct I shall stimulate my soldiers, not treating them with rigor and myself with indulgence, nor making their toils my glory. Such a mode of commanding is at once useful to the state, and becoming to a citizen. For to coerce your troops with severity, while you yourself live at ease, is to be a tyrant, not a general.

"It was by conduct such as this, my fellow-citizens, that your ancestors made themselves and the republic renowned. Our nobility, relying on their forefathers' merits, though totally different from them in conduct, disparage us who emulate their virtues; and demand of you every public honor, as due, not to their personal merit, but to their high rank. Arrogant pretenders, and utterly unreasonable ! For though their ancestors left them all that was at their disposal, their riches, their statues, and their glorious names, they left them not, nor could leave them, their virtue; which alone, of all their possessions, could neither be communicated nor received.

" They reproach me as being mean, and of unpolished manners, because, forsooth, I have but little skill in arranging an entertainment, and keep no actor,23 nor give my cook24 higher wages than my steward; all which charges I must, indeed, acknowledge to be just; for I learned from my father, and other venerable characters, that vain indulgences belong to women, and labor to men; that glory, rather than wealth, should be the object of the virtuous; and that arms and armor, not household furniture, are marks of honor. But let the nobility, if they please, pursue what is delightful and dear to them; let them devote themselves to licentiousness and luxury; let them pass their age as they have passed their youth, in revelry and feasting, the slaves of gluttony and debauchery; but let them leave the toil and dust of the field, and other such matters, to us, to whom they are more grateful than banquets. This, however, they will not do; for when these most infamous of men have disgraced themselves by every species of turpitude, they proceed to claim the distinctions due to the most honorable. Thus it most unjustly happens that luxury and indolence, the most disgraceful of vices, are harmless to those who indulge in them, and fatal only to the innocent commonwealth.

"As I have now replied to my calumniators, as far as my own character required, though not so fully as their flagitiousness deserved, I shall add a few words on the state of public affairs. In the first place, my fellow-citizens, be of good courage with regard to Numidia; for all that hitherto protected Jugurtha, avarice, inexperience, and arrogance,25 you have entirely removed. There is an army in it, too, which is well acquainted with the country, though, assuredly, more brave than fortunate; for a great part of it has been destroyed by the avarice or rashness of its commanders. Such of you, then, as are of military age, co-operate with me, and support the cause of your country; and let no discouragement, from the ill-fortune of others, or the arrogance of the late commanders, affect any one of you. I myself shall be with you, both on the march and in the battle, both to direct your movements and to share your dangers. I shall treat you and myself on every occasion alike; and, doubtless, with the aid of the gods, all good things, victory, spoil, and glory, are ready to our hands; though, even if they were doubtful or distant, it would still become every able citizen to act in defense of his country. For no man, by slothful timidity, has escaped the lot of mortals;26 nor has any parent wished for his children27 that they might live forever, but rather that they might act in life with virtue and honor. I would add more, my fellow-citizens, if words could give courage to the faint-hearted; to the brave I think that I have said enough."

1 LXXXV. Its interests ought to be managed, etc.] “Majore curâ illam administrari quàm hœc peti debere.” Cortius injudiciously omits the word illam. No one has followed him but Alien.

2 Hostile] “Occursantis.” Thwarting, opposing.

3 That you may not be deceived in me] “Ut neque vos capiamini.” “"This verb is undoubtedly used in this passage for decipere. Compare Tibull. Eleg. iii. 6, 45: Nec vos aut capiant pendentia brachia collo, Aut fallat blandâ sordida tingua piece. Cic. Acad. iv. 20: Sapientis vim maximam esse cavere, ne capiatur."” Gerlach.

4 To secure their election] “Per ambitionem.Ambire is to canvass for votes; to court the favor of the people.

5 Of yonder crowd of nobles] “Ex illo globo nobilitatis.Illo, δεικτικῶς.

6 I know some--who after they have been elected, etc.] “"At whom Marius directs this observation, it is impossible to tell. Gerlach, referring to Cic. Quæst. Acad. ii. 1, 2, thinks that Lucullus is meant. But if he supposes that Lucullus was present to the mind of Marius when he spoke, he is egregiously deceived, for Marius was forty years antecedent to Lucullus. It is possible, however, that Sallust, thinking of Lucullus when he wrote Marius's speech, may have fallen into an anachronism, and have attributed to Marius, whose character he had assumed, an observation which might justly have been made in his own day."” Kritzius.

7 Persons who invert the order of things] “Homines prœposteri.” Men who do that last which should be done first.

8 For though to discharge the duties of the office, etc.] “Nam gerere, quam fieri, tempore posterius, re atque usu prius est.” With gerere is to be understood consulatum ; with fieri, consulem. This is imitated from Demosthenes, Olynth. iii.: Τὸ γὰρ πράττειν το̂υ λέγειν καὶ χειροτονεὶν, ὕστερον ὂν τῇ τάξει, πρότερον τῃ δυνάμει καὶ κρειττόν ἐστι. "Acting is posterior in order to speaking and voting, but prior and superior in effect."

9 With those haughty nobles] “Cum illorum superbiâ.Virtus Scipiados et mitis sapientia Lœ.

10 My condition] “Mihi fortuna.” “"That is, my lot, or condition, in which I was born, in which I had no hand in producing."” Dietsch.

11 The circumstance of birth, etc.] “Naturam unam et communem omnium existumo."Nascendi sortem" is the explanation which Dietsch gives to naturam. One man is born as well as another, but the difference between men is made by their different modes of action; a difference which the nobles falsely suppose to proceed from fortune. “"Voltaire, Mohammed, Act. I., sec. iv., has expressed the sentiment of Sallust exactly: “Les mortels sont égaux, ce n'est point la naissance,
C'est la seule vertu qui fait leur différence.
”"” Burnouf.

12 And could it be inquired of the fathers, etc.] “Ac, si jam ex patribus Alibini aut Bestiœ quœri posset,” etc. Patres, in this passage, is not, as Anthon imagines, the same as majores; as is apparent from the word gigni. The fathers of Albinus and Bestia were probably dead at the time that Marius spoke. The passage which Anthon quotes from Plutarch to illustrate patres, is not applicable, for the word there is πρόγονοι: ᾿Επυνθάνετο τῶν παρόντων, ἐι μὴ καὶ τοὺς ἐκείνων ὄιονται προγόνους ἀυτῷ μᾶλλον ἀν ἔμξασθαι παραπλησίους ἐκγόνους ἀπολιπεῖν, ἄτε δὴ μήδ̓ ἀυτοὺς δἰ ἐυγένειαν, ἀλλ᾽ ἀπ᾽ ἀρετῆς καὶ καλῶν ἔργων ἐνδόξους γενομένους. Vit. Mar. c. 9. “"He would then ask the people whether they did not think that the ancestors of those men would have wished rather to leave a posterity like him, since they themselves had not risen to glory by their high birth, but by their virtue and heroic achievements?"” Langhorne.

13 Abstinence] “Innocentiœ.” Abstinence from all vicious indulgence.

14 Honorable exertion] “Virtutis.” See notes on Cat. c. 1, and Jug. c. 1.

15 They occupy the greatest part of their orations in extolling their ancestors] “Plerâque oratione majores suos extollunt.” "They extol their ancestors in the greatest part of their speech."

16 The glory of ancestors sheds a light on their posterity]

Incipit ipsorum contra te stare parentum
Nobilitas, claramque facem præferre pudendis.

Juvenal, viii. 138:
“Thy fathers' virtues, clear and bright, display
Thy shameful deeds, as with the light of day.

17 I feel assured] “Ex animi sententiâ.” “"It was a common form of strong asseveration."” Gerlach

18 Spears] “Hastas.” “"A hasta pura, that is a spear without iron, was anciently the reward of a soldier the first time that he conquered in battle, Serv. ad Virg. Æn. vi. 760; it was afterward given to one who had struck down an enemy in a sally or skirmish, Lips. ad Polyb. de Milit. Rom. v. 17."” Bernouf.

19 A banner] “Vexillum.” “"Standards were also military rewards. Vopiscus relates that ten hastœ purœ, and four standards of two colors, were presented to Aurelian. Suetonius (Aug. 25) says that Agrippa was presented by Augustus, after his naval victory, with a standard of the color of the sea. These standards therefore, were not, as Badius Ascensius thinks, always taken from the enemy; though this was sometimes the case, as appears from

Tunc hasta viris, tunc martia cuique
Vexilla, ut meritum, et prædæ libamina, dantur.

Sil. Ital. xv. 261:
"” Bernouf.

20 Caparisons] “Phaleras.” "

Phaleris hic pectora fulget:
Hic torque aurato circumdat bellica colla.

Sil. Ital. xv. 255:
Juvenal, xv. 60:Ut læti phaleris omnes et torquibus omnes.” These passages show that phaleræ, a name for the ornaments of horses, were also decorations of men; but they differed from the torques, or collars, in this respect, that the phaleræ hung down over the breast, and the torques only encircled the neck. See Lips. ad Polyb. de Milit. Rom. v. 17." Bernouf.

21 Valor] “Virtutem.” “"The Greeks, those illustrious instructors of the world, had not been able to preserve their liberty; their learning therefore had not added to their valor. Virtus, in this passage, is evidently fortitudo bellica, which, in the opinion of Marius, was the only virtue."” Bernouf. See Plutarch, Vit. Mar. c. 2.

22 To be vigilant at my post] “Prœsidia agitare.” Or "to keep guard at my post." “"Prœsidia agitare signifies nothing more than to protect a party of foragers or the baggage, or to keep guard round a besieged city."” Cortius.

23 Keep no actor] “Histrionem nullum--habeo."Luxuriæ peregrinæ origo ab exercitu Asiatico (Manlii sc. Vulsonis, A.U.C. 568) invecta in urbem est. * * * Tum psaltriæ sambucistriæque, et convivalia ludionum oblectamenta, addita epulis." Liv. xxxix. 6. “"By this army returning from Asia was the origin of foreign luxury imported into the city. * * * At entertainments-were introduced players on the harp and timbrel, with buffoons for the diversion of the guests."” Baker. Professor Anthon, who quotes this passage, says that histrio " here denotes a buffoon kept for the amusement of the company." But such is not the meaning of the word histrio. It signifies one who in some way acted, either by dancing and gesticulation, or by reciting perhaps to the music of the sambucistriœ or other minstrels. See Smith's Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Ant. Art. Histrio, sect. 2. Scheller's Lex. sub. vv. Histrio, Ludio, and Salto. The emperors had whole companies of actors, histriones aulici, for their private amusement. Suetonius says of Augustus (c. 74) that at feasts he introduced acroamata et histriones. See also Spartian. Had. c. 19; Jul. Capitol. Verus, c. 8.

24 My cook] “Coquum.” Livy, in the passage just cited from him, adds tum coquus vilissimum antiquis mancipium, et œstimatione et usu in pretio esse ; et quod ministerium fuerat, ars haberi cœpta. “"The cook, whom the ancients considered as the meanest of their slaves both in estimation and use, became highly valuable."” Baker.

25 Avarice, inexperience, and arrogance] “Avaritiam, imperitiam, superbiam.” “"The President De Brosses and Dotteville have observed, that Marius, in these words, makes an allusion to the characters of all the generals that had preceded him, noticing at once the avarice of Calpurnius, the inexperience of Albinus, and the pride of Metellus."” Le Brun.

26 For no man, by slothful timidity, has escaped the lot of mortals] “Etenim ignaviâ nemo immortalis factus.” The English translators have rendered this phrase as if they supposed the sense to be, " No man has gained immortal renown by inaction." But this is not the signification. What Marius means, is, that no man, however cautiously and timidly he may avoid danger, has prolonged his life to immortality. Taken in this sense, the words have their proper connection with what immediately follows: neque quisquam parens liberis, uti œterni forent, optavit. The sentiment is the same as in the verse of Horace: Mors et fugacem persequitur virum: or in these lines of Tyrtæus:᾿Ου γάρ κως θάνατόν γε φυγεἶν ἐιμαρμένον ἐστὶν ῎Ανδῤ, ὀυδ̓ ἢν μρογόνων γένος ἀθανάτων: Πολλάκι δηϊότητα φυγῶν καὶ δοῦπον ἀκόντων ῞Ερχεται, ἐν δ᾽ ὄικῳ μοῖρα κίχεν θανάτου.” “To none, 'mong men, escape from death is giv'n,
Though sprung from deathless habitants of heav'n:
Him that has led the battle's threatening sound,
The silent foot of fate at home has found.
” The French translator, Le Brun, has given the right sense: "Jamais la lâcheté n'a préservé de la mort ;" and Dureau Delamalle: "Pour être un lâche, on n'en serait pas plus immortel." Ignavia is properly inaction; but here signifies a timid shrinking from danger.

27 Nor has any parent wished for his children, etc.] ᾿Ου γὰρ ἀθανάτους σφίσι παῖδας ἐύχονται γενέσθαι, ἀλλ᾽ ἀγαθοὺς καὶ ἐυκλεεῖς. "Men do not pray that they may have children that will never die, but such as will be good and honorable." Plato, Menex. 20. “"This speech, differing from the other speeches in Sallust both in words and thoughts, conveys a clear notion of that fierce and objurgatory eloquence which was natural to the rude manners and bold character of Marius. It is a speech which can not be called polished and modulated, but must rather be termed rough and ungraceful. The phraseology is of an antique cast, and some of the words coarse. * * * But it is animated and fervid, rushing on like a torrent; and by language of such a character and structure, the nature and manners of Marius are excellently represented."” Gerlach

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (Axel W. Ahlberg, 1919)
load focus Latin
load focus Latin (Axel W. Ahlberg, 1919)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (106 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: