Francis Cairns Publications

ARCA Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs ISSN 0309-5541

A Historical Commentary on Sallust's Bellum Jugurthinum

G.M. Paul

ARCA 13. ISBN 978-0-905205-16-8. Cloth, xxvi+276. Publ. 1984. 

The Bellum Jugurthinum is the second historical monograph (the other is the Catilina) written by C. Sallustius Crispus (probably 86-35 B.C.), a senator, Caesarian general and historian whose political and literary career spanned the violent years which saw the end of the Roman Republic. The Bellum Jugurthinum describes an earlier war fought in North Africa at the end of the 2nd century B.C. against Jugurtha, an ambitious native prince who tried to win sole power in Numidia by challenging his family's traditional dependence on Rome.

The main aims of this commentary are to elucidate Sallust's narrative and to clarify his historiographical principles and methods. Such topics as the chronology and topography of the war, Numidian customs and their royal family, Sallust's sources, the conditions of political life in contemporary Rome, and Sallust's personal views are therefore given ample treatment. Textual, linguistic and literary problems are discussed in so far as they relate to historical and historiographical understanding of Sallust's account.

Sallust was indebted to Greek and Roman predecessors, as the commentary indicates. But he also set a new fashion in Roman historiography, as much by his sense of the realities of Roman public life as by the manner of his writing – a style which was later adopted and developed by Tacitus, the great historian of imperial Rome.

G.M. PAUL was born in Glasgow, Scotland, served in the Royal Artillery, and studied first at Oxford and then in London, where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1963. He taught at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, and then as Professor of Classics at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. His scholarly interests are in the field of Greek and Roman historiography and history.


Joint Association of Classical Teachers (1985) 21-22 (Donald Earl)

Les Etudes Classiques 53 (1985) 483 (C. Tzavellas-Bonnet) (brief notice)

Echoes du monde classique 30 (1986) 85-8 (Arthur Keaveney)

Latomus 68 (1989) 454 (P. Jal)

L'Antiquité classique 55 (1986) 443-4 (Jules Wankenne)

Classical World (1986-87) 353 (Mark Morford): "Balance, commense-sense and brevity distinguish this learned work. The reviewer has already found it invaluable in teaching Sallust."

Phoenix 40 (1986) 471-3 (Patrick McGushin): "In every respect, then, this commentary is by far the most comprehensive treatment of the Bellum Jugurthinum to appear in English. In a volume pleasing in both format and quality of production, teachers and students of Roman history are presented with information both useful and precise on major topics in Roman studies."