Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spirited: Sallust's Bellum Catilinae

I have not posted in a while because I have been rather busy with school and teaching. At the moment, I am writing a paper on the much-derided proem of Sallust's Bellum Catilinae (which I really like). I thought I would type out the sections of the proem and post them as I will be using them for my paper. Here is the first installment:
[1] Omnis homines qui sese student praestare ceteris animalibust summa ope niti decet ne vitam silentio transeant veluti pecora, quat natura prona atque ventri odoedientia finxit. Sed nostra omnis vis in animo et corpore sita est; animi imperio, corporis servitio magis utimur; alterum nobis cum dis, alterum cum beluis commune est. Quo mihi rectius videtur ingeni quam virium opibus gloriam quaerere et quoniam vita ipsa qua fruimur brevis est, memoriam nostri quam maxume longam efficere. Name divitiarum et formae gloria fluxa atque fragilis est, virtus clara aeternaque habebetur.
Sed dium magnum inter mortalis certamen fuit vine corporis an virtute animi res militaris magis procederet. (Name et prius quam incipias consulto et, ubi consulueris, nature facto opus est. Ita utrumque per se indigens alterum alterius auxilio eget. (Sallust, BC, 1).
[1]To strive becomes all men who apply themselves with the utmost of their power to surpass the rest of the animals [and] not pass through life in obscurity like cattle, which are inclined by nature and formed by obedience to their appetite. But our strength on the whole is situated in the mind and the body; we use more the authority of the mind and the servility of the body; one of ours is in common with the gods, the other is in common with the beasts. Consequently, it seems to me that to seek glory with the resources of innate nature rather than strength and, we delight in this life since it is brief, to produce a memory of ourselves as long as possible. For glory of wealth and bodily beauty is flowing and fragile, manly virtue is famous and eternal.

But for a long time there was a great contest between men whether military affairs turn out successfully because of body or virtue of mind. (For both before one begins deliberation and when one has deliberated, there is a need for a mature act. In this way and in another way through lack one requires the aid of the other.


  1. I would take "ne vitam silentio transeant veluti pecora" as an object clause of effort after niti: "to strive not to pass their life in silence like cattle"; I'm not as certain about this, but I my instinct is to take summa ope with niti (to which it is immediately adjacent) as well; hence: "It becomes all men who are zealous to surpass the other animals to strive with the utmost of their power not to pass their life in silence like cattle, which...." Otherwise, well done!

  2. (although your "apply themselves" probably makes better use of the sese than I did by ignoring it.)

  3. I agree with the first note about taking the ne-clause after niti. You're also probably right about the use of summa ope as well, but I like my way better because there is no possibility of a reflexive meaning (so far as I can see) with "to be zealous."

  4. I mean, I guess it's possible to do the whole thing clausally: "Who are zealous that they surpass the other animals," but it's hard to do that kind of thing in English. I guess by ignoring it, I was assuming (without actually looking it up) that it's one of those places where Latin goes into indirect statement and English would really rather not; but I was more or less winging that part of it.

  5. I mostly just enjoy the word "zealous" and the frequency with which it occurs in ancient-language dictionaries.