The 1744 edition of The Works of Sallust


Ancient Roman historian who was the greatest single influence on Tacitus .


Thomas Gordon, translator, The Works of Sallust, Translated into English. With Political Discourses upon that Author. To which is added, a Translation of Cicero’s Four Orations against Catiline. London: Printed for T. Woodward, and J. Peele, and sold by J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball in Pater-noster Row. MDCCXLIV [1744]. First Edition, quarto, large paper edition, xvi+xxviii+xiv+548 pages, complete with all parts present, early ink inscriptions on front pastedown and English bookseller’s sticker at bottom, bookplate of Charles [Third] Earl of Ailesbury [Lord Bruce], bound in quarter brown calf and calf corners with blind decoration, marbled paper on front and back boards, spine gilt ruled with five raised bands, title in gilt and date (1744) in gilt at bottom of spine.

Contents: Dedication to the Duke of Cumberland; Introduction (i-xxii, by Thomas Gordon); Political Discourses upon Sallust 1-IX; Dedication to His Grace Evelyn, Duke of Kingston prefacing Catiline’s Conspiracy; The Orations of Cicero Against Catiline with Dedication to Mr Doddington [the first Oration in the Senate, the second and third Orations addressed to the People, the fourth Oration spoken in the Senate]; The War Against Jugurtha with a Dedication to the Earl of Cholmondeley; The Speech of M. Aemilius Lepidus, the Consul, Against Sylla; The Speech of L. Philippus Against Lepidus; Pompey’s Letter to the Senate; The Oration of Licinius, the Tribune: Addressed to the People; The Letter which Mithridates, King of Pontus, sent to Arsaces, King of Parthia; The Speech of Marcus Cotta, the Consul, to the People; The First Epistle of Sallust to Caius Julius Caesar: Concerning the Regulation of the Commonwealth; The Second Epistle of Sallust to Caius Julius Caesar: Concerning the Regulation of the Commonwealth; Index.

Condition: Binding tight, possibly rebound early 19th century, shelf wear to marbled cover boards, corners bumped, internally generally clean and bright and very good for its age, only edges of pages browned, some pages of slightly smaller height as originally printed, a few pages slightly cropped or showing minor loss without affecting text, very faint offsetting on Introduction xvii where another sheet not fully dry was placed on top during the original 1744 printing, a little random staining on a few pages, one torn page without loss of text in First Oration of Cicero, tiny holes (p. 189 of The War Against Jugurtha and p. 305 of The Speech of Marcus Cotta), faint water stains at top centre of pages in Discourses V-IX and from p. 289 not affecting text.

Gaius Sallustius Crispus (probably 86-35 BC) was born a Sabine in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. Sallust, as he is better known today, is the earliest known Roman historian with surviving works. He wrote particularly about politics, rivalries among powerful individuals, war, political corruption and Rome’s decline, which he found deeply troubling. Sallust was a novus homo—the first in his family to become a Roman Senator. He inveterately opposed the old Roman aristocracy and his later political career enjoyed Julius Caesar’s patronage. Influenced by the Greek historian Thucydides, Sallust became a noted Roman historian and literary stylist. Lucan (AD 39-65), an outstanding poet of Imperial Rome, and the historian and biographer Plutarch (before AD 50-after AD 120) both used Sallust as a source, and Martial (between AD 38/41-between AD 101/104) regarded Sallust as “the prince of Roman historiographers”. Sallust’s language and method greatly influenced Tacitus (c. AD 56-after AD 118), Senator and author of the Annals and Histories, who spoke highly of him. Experience of electoral disorder in 53 partly shaped some major themes in Sallust’s writings. Sallust first entered public office in 52 as a Tribune of the Plebs. He was expelled from the Senate in 50, ostensibly on a charge of immorality but probably because of his Tribunal actions in 52. He commanded one of Caesar’s legions in 49 and as Praetor in 46 took part in the African campaign and was appointed first Governor of Africa Nova but on returning to Rome was charged with malpractice, avoiding disgrace only on Caesar’s intervention. Sallust then quit public life to pursue historiography. The Catiline Conspiracy, his first published work, is written in monograph form as is The War Against Jugurtha. Among the many poets, teachers, politicians, theologians and other authors who have appreciated or valued aspects of Sallust’s writings since antiquity are Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Petrarch, Thomas More, Nietzsche and Henrik Ibsen.

The translator of The Works of Sallust, Thomas Gordon (c.1691-1750), was a Scottish writer who in the 1720s, with John Trenchard, wrote many essays titled “Cato’s Letters” condemning corruption in Britain’s political system. Gordon’s ideas importantly shaped republicanism in Britain and especially in the American colonies. In 1728 Gordon published a two-volume translation of Tacitus which became a standard work.

The bookplate of Charles Bruce, 3rd Earl of Ailesbury (1682-1747), is affixed to the verso of the title page of The Works of Sallust. Bruce, like his father and grandfather before him, was a politician; he was the Member for Great Bedwyn (1705-1710) and chose to sit for Marlborough until 1711 when he was called to the House of Lords. Bruce succeeded his father in the Earldoms of Elgin and Ailesbury in 1741. As neither of Charles’s sons survived him or left issue, the Earldom of Elgin and subsidiary Scottish peerages were inherited by his cousin the Earl of Kincardine, while the Earldom of Ailesbury and subsidiary English peerages became extinct.