Marius In Sallust

Korolenkov Anton V.

The author reflects upon various aspects of Marius’ figure as depicted by Sallust. Although this topic has attracted scholars’ attention quite often, the author thinks that the key explanation of Sallust’s view on Marius’ conduct has not yet been found. The explanation that the author puts forward is connected with Marius’ attitude to fors–fortuna. After the oracle of Utica had given him advice to try his fortune as often as possible and to be confident in its benevolence that Marius’ «fall» began. This is reflected in his quarrel with Metellus and his struggle for consulate, which acquired the character of a party row. When Sallust describes Marius’ speech after his election, he has in mind the armies of the civil war rather than the legions going to fight against Jugurtha. (Being instigators of a civil war, Marius and Sulla were not considered by Sallust as bearers of virtus: Marius’ virtus was recognised by his partisans only; as for the future dictator, the word is never applied to him at all.) But when Marius acts without trusting fortuna, his action are regarded as quite positive. Following this line Sallust, e.g., justifies the slaughter of the inhabitants of Capsa after its surrender, for their loyalty could not be relied upon. The seizure of the Mulucca citadel, on the contrary, is definitely underrated by Sallust, for in his view fortuna played a decisive role in the event. Only when Marius gives up his confidence in fortuna, he becomes an ideal general and the true defeater of Jugurtha. One can guess that such confidence (in the prediction of seven consulates for him) would afterwards become the cause of Marius’ new moral fall.

Keywords: ancient Rome, Sallust, prosopography