Sallust And The Causes Of The Rise And Fall Of Rome

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Sallust was a Roman politician for many years, and then after his retirement from public service he became a historian. Sallust wrote several historical texts one of which was the Conspiracy of Catiline. In this text Sallust describes many of the causes of both the rise and fall of Rome. Interestingly some of his causes of the rise of Rome directly mirror some of the causes that led to the fall of Rome. One cause that he stated as both a cause for the rise of Rome, and for its eventual decline was the military. Another cause that he stated was Rome’s fortune, and wealth. Thirdly he described virtue, or a lack of it as being both a key factor for the rise of rome as well as the decline of Rome. Sallust argued that the rise and fall of Rome was…show more content…
He argues that Athens had great fame because they were able to have brilliant authors who declared how great Athens was (180). Directly relating to this he thought that Rome’s fame, and success was in part due to their fortune, and prosperity. However in later Rome he points to fortune being a leading cause of the downfall of Rome. He wrote that “To the men that had so easily endured toil and peril, anxiety and adversity the leisure and riches which are generally regarded as so desirable proved a burden and a curse (181).” In this statement he means that the Romans began to place too much value on material goods. They began to love money, and to lust for power which he called avarice. He believed that Romans began to see money as something they could waste on simply the first thing that came to mind (183). He felt that they wasted their money, and lost the values that they originally held. His argument that the Roman desire for money and power is directly correlated to his argument of the destruction of the moral fiber of…show more content…
At first Sullust says that “In peace and war virtue was held in high esteem. The closest unity prevailed, and avarice was a thing almost unknown. Justice and righteousness were upheld not so much by law as by natural instinct (181).” Sallust argues that this was one of the main reasons for Rome’s rise. The strong virtues and morals of Rome provided a strong military, and limited corruption in both the military, and in the government. He wrote that people worked together to achieve success, and competed with each other for the success of the entire people not just for the success of themselves (180). Later the destruction of this moral fiber proved to be one of the important causes of the fall of Rome. As Sallust wrote, “Honour and modesty, all laws divine and human, were alike disregarded in spirit of recklessness and intemperance (183).” This is a dramatic change from the earlier quote in which he describes Rome as being extremely virtuous. This dramatic shift in the culture of Rome he indicates is one of the leading causes of the downfall of Rome. He argued that the younger generation was too lazy, and often took things for granted (204). This in combination with all of the other moral issues in Rome, Sallust argues, were a large part of the decline of Rome, while in contrast its opposite was one of the leading causes of the rise of

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