Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECT. III.: The shocking Corruption, and dissolute Manners, produced by Civil War; with the dreadful Barbarities and Devastations attending it. - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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SECT. III.: The shocking Corruption, and dissolute Manners, produced by Civil War; with the dreadful Barbarities and Devastations attending it. - Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), The Works of Sallust (Gordon’s Discourses, Cicero’s Orations against Catiline) 
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: R. Ware, 1744).
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The shocking Corruption, and dissolute Manners, produced by Civil War; with the dreadful Barbarities and Devastations attending it.
AS Civil War hardens the Heart, it likewise debauches all Degrees of Men. It furnishes Men of Ambition with a Prospect of raising themselves to Power; and animates the Avaricious and Indigent with Hopes of Plunder: It enures People to Sights and Acts of Cruelty; and thence banishes or lessens their natural Tenderness and Humanity, and teaches them to despise the Laws, and, consequently, Right and Wrong, by perceiving all these daily trampled under Foot: Insomuch that, at the End of one Civil War, there are always Numbers who wish for another; and always forward to begin it, as a ready way to grow considerable, if they be low; to grow rich, without much Labour, if they be poor and rapacious; to be revenged on their Enemies, if they be vindictive; to live without Restraint, if they be debauched and licentious; and without Fear, if they be obnoxious to Punishment and Restraint, for Debt, and Disorder, and Crimes(a) .
All Revolutions are Seasons of wonderful Latitude and Licence, as well as of strange Vicissitudes, and sudden Turns, where the Wicked are often rewarded, at least saved, and the Harmless punished. Cornelius Aquinas and Fabius Valens, having sollicited Fonteius Capito to rebel against Galba, and Capito (though otherwise a Man far from virtuous) having rejected their Sollicitations, they charged him with the very Treason which he refused to commit, and slew him as a Traitor. The Murderers of Galba boasted of being so, and even craved a Reward; many at once assuming that horrible Merit.
The Evils which any Civil War, however short, produces, are so many and shocking, as to deter every honest and humane Mind from every Step that tends to raise one; as in it neither Life nor Property is secure, but even exposed to continual Peril and Violence: When Innocence is a Snare, and the Laws no longer protect; when Men follow only the Bent of their worst Passions; when the Ties of Morality are dissolved, with those of Society; and even those of Consanguinity and Nature are disregarded; when blind Force dictates, and the Weak and Unoffending must bleed or obey; when the Lowest and Worst Men are daily prospering and rising, merely, perhaps, for being the worst; and the Greatest and Worthiest are destroyed or depressed, probably for that Reason only; when the vilest Instruments are encouraged and supported, and Wealth and Virtue subject to their Malice and Rapine, without Protection or Appeal; when the Magistrate’s Authority is defied by the Officer, that of the Officer by his Men; when the common Soldiers are Masters, and the licentious Rabble fear no Restraint; when the Works and Monuments of Ages, with the noblest Efforts of human Genius, are destroyed in an Hour; and Cities, which gloried in Opulence and Antiquity, reduced at once to Ashes by a few Incendiaries, perhaps in a Whim, or from Mistake, or in a drunken Fit; all their numerous and wealthy Inhabitants either burnt, or begging, or sold to Slavery, or murdered, for Want of Money to redeem them; the old Men dragged about in Derision, then butchered, as useless; the young Men committed to Bonds; the young and virtuous Women forced to bear the Embraces of Brutes yet reeking with the Blood of their Mothers and Fathers and Brothers, shed in their Sight, for endeavouring to save these their dear Children, or Sisters, or Wives, from Brutality and Dishonour; a Lot worse than Death.
It was the Design of the Soldiery, after they had murdered Galba, (for which Murder they had no Pretence, but their own vile Avarice, and his ill-timed Frugality) to have their Hands let loose to general Pillage and Massacte, and to bring to Destruction every able and every worthy Man in the Roman State. Thus they vehemently pressed the Death of Marius Celsus for his Abilities and Virtues; which they dreaded and abhorred as dangerous Crimes.
Guilty Men are always disposed to revolt, like the Soldiers of Nymphidius, Captain of the Prætorian Guards to Nero; like the Soldiers of Vindex in Gaul, and the Armies in Germany. They had all been engaged in treasonable Designs; and, being conscious of such Engagements, continued prone to every Act of Treason. The Soldiery then, having been long accustomed to the base Reign of Nero, came to admire the Vileness and Vices of their Princes, as much as the Armies of old had adored their Virtues; as Tacitus observes. It was, therefore, no Wonder, what otherwise would seem very wonderful, that Two common Soldiers should undertake to transfer the great Roman Empire from one Prince to another; and actually so transferred it, as the Minds of all the rest were before foured and prepared.
In a Civil War, as both Parties are generally implacable, and determined to carry their Point, general Cruelty and Devastation, and even general Destruction, must ensue, till it is ended by a general Victory; which can hardly happen, till after infinite Havock and Misery. Cicero says, ‘The Civil Dissentions between popular and powerful Men (he means the Heads of Parties) never used to have any other Issue than universal Desolation, with the Domination of the Conqueror, and settled Tyranny. Sylla, when Consul, in his Descent very noble, in his Person very brave, had a Contest with the celebrated Marius; each of these was vanquished and sell, yet so that each again became Conqueror, and exercised sovereign Sway. Between the Consul Octavius, and his Collegue Cinna, Discord arose; to both these Fortune, proving propitious, presented absolute Rule; and upon both these Fortune, turning cross, brought their mortal Doom.’
Even during the Peace ensuing these Civil Wars, the Sword continued drawn(a) , and was employed against such as had quietly surrendered. Sylla, for Example, not satisfied with the Slaughter of above Seventy thousand Men at his Entrance into Rome, commanded several Thousand Roman Citizens, submitting to his Power, and unarmed, to be openly massacred in the midst of Rome; besides the Carnage committed every-where by his Men, at their Pleasure; till Furfidius advised them, for their own Sake, to let some live, else they would have none to rule, or rather to domineer over. Then followed the bloody Proscription, the most daring and dreadful Butchery of all, that of Two thousand distinguished Romans, selected from the Senate and Equestrian Order. Nay, shedding their Blood was not enough: Some illustrious Men were torn leisurely Limb from Limb, their Eyes pulled out, their Legs and Arms rent from their Trunks, still breathing, and thus exposed as a Shew. The Destruction of Communities succeeded that of Men, and the most illustrious free Cities in Italy were confiscated, and even sold by Auction, such as Florence, Præneste, Spoletum, &c.
When Fortune had declared for Vitellius, Italy suffered Calamities more oppressive and barbarous than she had during the War. The Soldiers, quartered in the great Towns, let themselves loose to Spoil and Ravage, to Cruelty and Pollution; following Rapine, or compounding at a Price to forbear; sparing neither things Sacred nor Profane. Some assumed the Garb of Soldiers, thus safely to kill their particular Enemies. The Soldiers themselves, marking out for Plunder all the rich Farms, where they met Resistance, devoted both these, and the Owners, to Fire and Sword.—Nor dared their Generals to restrain them, being themselves guilty, and quite awed by their Men. For,
To engage them thoroughly in the Civil War, general Licentiousness was one of the great Baits offered and allowed them by the contending Chiefs: Insomuch that not only the Butchering of all their own Centurions, remarkable for Discipline, was connived at; but they were allowed to chuse others in their Places, and then they always chose the least qualified, and the most seditious. So that it was no Wonder to see the Soldiers no longer under the Controul of their Leaders, nor the Leaders forced headlong by the Fury of the Soldiers(a) .
It is to be observed too, that the less regular and brave Soldiers are, the more licentious, and disobedient, and merciless they are. Tacitus says, that, ‘As, amongst the Soldiers of old, to surpass each other in Modesty, and Feats of Valour, was their only Contention, they at this time (that is, during the Civil War) vied in Impudence and Mutinies.’ Hence they were continually destroying, or demanding the Destruction of, their Commanders. When they themselves had been guilty of any remarkable Violence, or Cowardice, they were sure to punish their Officers, especially the Brave and Innocent: And, if sometimes they became ashamed of their Madness, their wild Fears, and Mistakes, and for a little while relented, their former Fury and Folly soon returned. As, these Outrages were common to whole Legions, one Legion encouraged another in them; and as some Legions thought, that, by the Sedition of others, their own was obliterated, they all rejoiced in repeating their Guilt. Sometimes they were animated to these Acts of Sedition and Blood by one Commander, in order to get rid of others, that the whole Sway and Praise might remain with himself. But whatever was the Cause of such repeated Guilt, they were almost eternally guilty. When they were not doing Mischief in a Body, they crept singly into private Houses, in disguised Habits, as Spies, watching for Matter of Accusation and Ruin, against Men of Wealth and Eminence: So that as no Man was safe at Home, every Man lived in Fear there.
Neither was it against the Insufficiency, or Infidelity, of their Leaders, that they were apt thus to rage. They were often, on the contrary, ready to prompt and encourage such Infidelity. Who was a more able, who a more unblameable, and even admired Commander than Germanicus? Yet, with what Outrage did they use him; drag him from his Bed, and threaten his Life, scorning his Authority, and proceeding to general Mutiny, and Acts of Blood, before his Face; after they had tempted him, in vain, to usurp the Empire himself? Where was there a more loathsome and contemptible Character than that of Vitellius, a Glutton, more resembling a Swine than a Man; yet, in such high Estimation with the Soldiers, that hardly had any Man ever gained such an Interest in their Hearts by worthy Methods, as he had by mere Impotence, Gluttony, and Sloth? We have this Account of him, and them, upon the Authority of Tacitus. All the military Virtues and grand Capacity of that mighty Captain, the great Marshal de Turenne, could not secure to him the Attachment of his Army, when he had declared for the Party of the Slingers, in the Minority of Lewis XIV. against the base Administration of Mazarine. The Cardinal’s Money bribed them all from him in the Space of a Night.
Otho too was the Favourite of the Soldiers, in a very high Degree, by the Force of much Flattery, and profuse Bounty; yet neither Otho nor Vitellius could prevent their Fury and Excesses. In Sight of Vitellius, and in Spight of him, they first besieged, and then burnt, the Capitol, the Glory, and Strength, and Boast of Rome. In spight of Otho, upon a foolish Suspicion and Mistake, some of them drunk, all of them mad for Plunder, they murdered their Officers, and entered Rome like a hostile Army, breathing Destruction to all Men; but especially to the Senate, whom, in express Terms, they professed to butcher. They even burst open the Palace-Doors, to his own great Dread, as well as of all about him; neither could he effectually quell their Fury, even by unmanly Sobs, and Tears, and servile Supplications, till to these he added, what was of more Force, indeed the only Means of Safety and Peace, a Donative. During this dreadful Uproar, Persons of the first Rank in Rome fled by Night for their Lives; Magistrates without their Ensigns and Train; tender Ladies, and antient Noblemen, roaming hither and thither in the Dark, few returning to their own Homes; most seeking lurking Holes amongst the Lowest of their Dependents.
[(a) ]Rapere, consumere, sua parvi pendere. Sallust.
[(a) ]Bellum magis desierat, quam pax cæperat.
[(a) ]Periculosa severitas, flagitiosa largitio: seu nihil militi; seu omnia concederentur, in ancipiti republica.