THE CRISIS THAT ALMOST HAPPENED: SALLUSTS BELLUM CATILINAE 18-19

  • Pobezin, G.
Abstract:
In 63 BC M. Tullius Cicero exposed a dangerous plot to overthrow the Roman Republic; the conspiracy mastermind, Roman Senator L. Sergius Catilina, surrounded himself with a band of veteran desperados and disgruntled fellow aristocrats - a motley crew of political adventurers - had a dangerous political agenda and the conspiracy was a serious business; as Cicero was exposing Catiline's doings in the senate, an army was assembling in Etruria. The conspiracy exposed, there was a fight, the conspirers were either killed or arrested and the Republic was saved. The whole episode was well documented: apart from Cicero's speeches, there are several historiographic accounts from which the most remarkable document is that of the Roman historian Sallust. However, Sallust's document is outstanding in another respect: it mentions the first conspiracy, an episode so obscure some historians are not even convinced it was a real thing. However, Sallust writes about it in chapters 18 in 19 - what is more, he writes about it as if it was a real and present danger. The tension of the narrative about this first conspiracy culminates with the words in 18.8: "And had not Catiline ... been too hasty to give the signal to his associates, there would that day have been perpetrated the most atrocious outrage ..." (quod ni Catilina maturasset ... eo die pessumum facinus patratum foret). It is a well-established fact that claiming "the truthful account of events as they actually happened" in Roman historiography (and Greek, for that matter) is not much more than ideological banter; however, Sallust writes in all seriousness about a non-event as if it was a real thing - and gets away with it. In this paper, we will explore the narrative techniques behind the chapters 18-19 and the narrative persona Sallust has built to deliver them.
SGEM Research areas:
Year:
2016
Type of Publication:
In Proceedings
Keywords:
Sallust; Roman historiography; Catilinarian conspiracy; the first conspiracy; narrative techniques
Volume:
16
SGEM Book title:
3rd International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts SGEM2016, Vienna Extended Session
Book number:
3.1
SGEM Series:
International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts-SGEM
Pages:
241-248
Publisher address:
51 Al. Malinov blvd, Sofia, 1712, Bulgaria
SGEM supporters:
SWS Scholarly Society; Acad Sci Czech Republ; Latvian Acad Sci; Polish Acad Sci; Russian Acad Sci; Serbian Acad Sci & Arts; Natl Acad Sci Ukraine; Natl Acad Sci Armenia; Sci Council Japan; European Acad Sci, Arts & Letters; Acad Fine Arts Zagreb Croatia; C
Period:
06-09 April, 2016
ISBN:
978-619-7105-52-0
ISSN:
2367-5659
Conference:
3rd International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts SGEM2016, Vienna Extended Session, 06-09 April, 2016
DOI:
10.5593/SGEMSOCIAL2016/HB31/S02.031
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