100 BC: Permixtio Terrae Oriri Coepit


Ceterum mos partium et factionum ac deinde omnium malarum artium paucis ante annis Romae ortus est otio atque abundantia earum rerum, quae prima mortales ducunt. Nam ante Carthaginem deletam populus et senatus Romanus placide modesteque inter se rem publicam tractabant, neque gloriae neque dominationis certamen inter civis erat: metus hostilis in bonis artibus civitatem retinebat. Sed ubi illa formido mentibus decessit, scilicet ea quae res secundae amant, lascivia atque superbia incessere. Ita quod in advorsis rebus optaverant otium postquam adepti sunt, asperius acerbiusque fuit. Namque coepere nobilitas dignitatem, populus libertatem in lubidinem vortere, sibi quisque ducere, trahere, rapere. Ita omnia in duas partis abstracta sunt, res publica, quae media fuerat, dilacerata.

Ceterum nobilitas factione magis pollebat, plebis vis soluta atque dispersa in multitudine minus poterat. Paucorum arbitrio belli domique agitabatur, penes eosdem aerarium, provinciae, magistratus, gloriae triumphique erant; populus militia atque inopia urgebatur, praedas bellicas imperatores cum paucis diripiebant. Interea parentes aut parvi liberi militum, uti quisque potentiori confinis erat, sedibus pellebantur. Ita cum potentia avaritia sine modo modestiaque invadere, polluere et vastare omnia, nihil pensi neque sancti habere, quoad semet ipsa praecipitavit. Nam ubi primum ex nobilitate reperti sunt qui veram gloriam iniustae potentiae anteponerent, moveri civitas et dissensio civilis quasi permixtio terrae oriri coepit.

C. Sallusti Crispi, Bellum Jugurthinum XLI

Now the institution of parties and factions, with all their attendant evils, originated at Rome a few years before this as the result of peace and of an abundance of everything that mortals prize most highly. For before the destruction of Carthage the people and senate of Rome together governed the republic peacefully and with moderation. There was no strife among the citizens either for glory or for power; fear of the enemy preserved the good morals of the state. But when the minds of the people were relieved of that dread, wantonness and arrogance naturally arose, vices which are fostered by prosperity. Thus the peace for which they had longed in time of adversity, after they had gained it proved to be more cruel and bitter than adversity itself. For the nobles began to abuse their position and the people their liberty, and every man for himself robbed, pillaged, and plundered. Thus the community was split into two parties, and between these the state was torn to pieces.

But the nobles had the more powerful organization, while the strength of the commons was less effective because it was incompact [“disconnected” maybe?] and divided among many. Affairs at home and in the field were managed according to the will of a few men, in whose hands were the treasury, the provinces, public offices, glory and triumphs. The people were burdened with military service and poverty. The generals divided the spoils of war with a few friends. Meanwhile the parents or little children of the soldiers, if they had a powerful neighbor, were driven from their homes. Thus, by the side of power, greed arose, unlimited and unrestrained, violated and devastated everything, respected nothing, and held nothing sacred, until it finally brought about its own downfall. For as soon as nobles were found who preferred true glory to unjust power, the state began to be disturbed and civil dissension to arise like an upheaval of the earth.

Sallust, The War with Jugurtha, 41 (c. 100 BC); translated by J. C. Rolfe (1921)

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