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At first, however, it was ambition, rather than avarice,1 that influenced the minds of men; a vice which approaches nearer to virtue than the other. For of glory, honor, and power, the worthy is as desirous as the worthless; but the one pursues them by just methods; the other, being destitute of honorable qualities, works with fraud and deceit. But avarice has merely money for its object, which no wise man has ever immoderately desired. It is a vice which, as if imbued with deadly poison, enervates whatever is manly in body or mind.2 It is always unbounded and insatiable, and is abated neither by abundance nor by want.

But after Lucius Sylla, having recovered the government3 by force of arms, proceeded, after a fair commencement, to a pernicious termination, all became robbers and plunderers;4 some set their affections on houses, others on lands; his victorious troops knew neither restraint nor moderation, but inflicted on the citizens disgraceful and inhuman outrages. Their rapacity was increased by the circumstance that Sylla, in order to secure the attachment of the forces which he had commanded in Asia,5 had treated them, contrary to the practice of our ancestors, with extraordinary indulgence, and exemption from discipline; and pleasant and luxurious quarters had easily, during seasons of idleness, enervated the minds of the soldiery. Then the armies of the Roman people first became habituated to licentiousness and intemperance, and began to admire statues, pictures, and sculptured vases; to seize such objects alike in public edifices and private dwellings;6 to spoil temples; and to cast off respect for every thing, sacred and profane. Such troops, accordingly, when once they obtained the mastery, left nothing to be vanquished. Success unsettles the principles even of the wise, and scarcely would those of debauched habits use victory with moderation.

1 XI. At first, however, it was ambition, rather than avarice, etc.] “Sed primò magis ambitio quàm avaritia animos hominum exercebat.” Sallust has been accused of having made, in this passage, an assertion at variance with what he had said before (c. 10), Igitur primò pecuniæ, deinde imperii cupido, crevit, and it will be hard to prove that the accusation is not just. Sir H. Steuart, indeed, endeavors to reconcile the passages by giving them the following "meaning," which, he says, "seems perfectly evident:" "Although avarice was the first to make its appearance at Rome, yet, after both had had existence, it was ambition that, of the two vices, laid the stronger hold on the minds of men, and more speedily grew to an inordinate height." To me, however, it "seems perfectly evident" that the Latin can be made to yield no such "meaning." How these passages agree," says Rupertus, " I do not understand; unless we suppose that Sallust, by the word primò does not always signify order."

2 Enervates whatever is manly in body or mind] “Corpus virilemque animum effæminat.” That avarice weakens the mind, is generally admitted. But how does it weaken the body ? The most satisfactory answer to this question is, in the opinion of Aulus Gellius (iii. 1), that that those who are intent on getting riches devote themselves to sedentary pursuits, as those of usurers and money-changers, neglecting all such exercises and employments as strengthen the body. There is, however, another explanation by Valerius Probus, given in the same chapter of Aulus Gellius, which perhaps is the true one; namely, that Sallust, by body and mind, intended merely to signify the whole man.

3 Having recovered the government] “Receptâ republicâ.” Having wrested it from the hands of Marius and his party.

4 All became robbers and plunderers] “Rapere omnes, trahere.” He means that there was a general indulgence in plunder among Sylla's party, and among all who, in whatever character, could profit by supporting it. Thus he says immediately afterward, "neque modum neque modestiam victores habere."

5 Which he had commanded in Asia] “Quem in Asiâ ductaverat.” I have here deserted Cortius, who gives in Asiam, "into Asia," but this, as Bernouf justly observes, is incompatible with the frequentative verb ductaverat.

6 In public edifices and private dwellings] “Privatim ac publicè” I have translated this according to the notion of Bernouf. Others, as Dietsch and Pappaur, consider privatim as signifying each on his own account, and publicè, in the name of the Republic.

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