Gaius Sallustius Crispis, known as Sallust, was a historian who rose to high positions in the Roman state. A commoner in origin, he was one of ten tribunes representing plebeians. He held oﬃce as one of two quaestors in charge of Rome’s treasury, as a provincial governor in Africa, and as a praetor, or judicial authority. He was admitted to the Senate twice as a result of the quaestorships, the second of which was arranged by Julius Caesar. As governor in Africa for a year, in 46 after Numidia was annexed by the Republic during its civil war, he accumulated a fortune and lived sumptuously in Rome, his property embellished by a garden reputedly a wonder of the city. He was accused in some quarters of sensual indulgence, but caution
reminds us that malicious gossip and personal abuse were customary in Rome. In his book on the African war, he praises the wonders of mind over body: “ … exceptional deeds of the intellect are, like the soul, immortal. Ultimately, the advantages of the body and of fortune end as surely as they began, and all of them rise and fall, grow and decline, but the mind-incorruptible, everlasting, the ruler of the human race-moves and controls everything and yet is not itself controlled” (2:3). In politics he supported Caesar’s reforms and condemned arrogant excesses of the aristocratic Senate. He married the divorced wife of statesman and orator Cicero, who opposed Caesar’s policies.