1Ea demum magna voluptas est, C. Sallusti, aequalem ac parem verbis vitam agere neque quicquam tam obscaenum dicere cui non ab initio pueritiae omni genere facinoris aetas sua1 respondeat, ut omnis <o>ratio moribus consonet. Neque enim qui ita vivit ut tu aliter ac tu loqui potest, neque qui tam illoto sermone utitur vita honestior est.
Quo me praevertam, patres conscripti, unde initium sumam? maius enim mihi dicendi onus imponitur quo notior est uterque nostrum; <quid>2 quod aut, si de mea vita atque actibus huic conviciatori respondero, invidia gloriam consequetur, aut, si huius facta, mores, omnem aetatem nudavero, in idem vitium incidam procacitatis quod huic obicio? id vos si forte offendimini, iustius huic quam 2mihi suscensere debetis, qui initium introduxit. ego dabo operam ut pro me minimo cum fastidio respondeam et in hunc minime mentitum esse videatur. scio me, patres conscripti, in respondendo non habere magnam exspectationem, quod nullum vos sciatis3 novum crimen in Sallustium
Invective Against Sallust
It is indeed a great pleasure, Gaius Sallustius, to live a life in parity and conformity with one’s words, to say nothing so obscene that one’s career from earliest boyhood does not correspond in every kind of malefaction, so that all one’s speech is consonant with one’s morals. For anyone who lives as you live cannot but speak as you speak, and anyone who practices such filthy speech lives no less indecently.
Where am I to turn first, Conscript Fathers, what shall I take as my starting point? The better known each of us is, the heavier burden of speech is laid upon me. Add that if I reply to this reviler in terms of my life and actions, malice will follow self-praise; or if I lay bare his doings and morals and entire career, I shall full into licence—the same fault of which I accuse him. If that perchance offends you, in fairness you ought to blame him, the one who started it, rather than me. I shall be careful to reply on my own behalf with the minimum of assumption and so that what I say against him shall be seen as the minimum of mendacity. I know, Conscript Fathers, that my response awakens no great expectancy, for you know1 that you will hear no new
- 1The Senate could not know this, though they might suspect that Sallust’s known offences were too many and grave to leave room for anything new. But scio, read by Reynolds, is no more logical, and for the same reason: the speaker’s knowledge that he had nothing new to say did not extend to his audience.