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A greater than he was Polybius. Born a Greek, he was essentially Latin both in

his subject and treatment. His works-most of which have perished-were in the

nature of historical and biographical sketches, covering the earlier history of

Rome, as well as his own times. He was himself a participant in many of the

scenes which he describes, having been present with Scipio at the destruction of

Carthage. It was at this epoch that the custom was introduced by the Roman

generals of writing military sketches of their campaigns. Perhaps all of the

leading men of the times, with the exception of Marius, adopted this habit, and

it is to be regretted that their works have not been preserved.

The oldest complete historical work in Latin literature which has survived to our

times is Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War-a book which is, perhaps, the

best of its kind extant. The story of its composition is well known. The work was

doubtless written in the camp amid the very scenes which it describes. For

perspicuity, vigor, and conciseness-no less than for the vainglory which glimmers

on every page-the work is without a parallel. It is the record of events

considered as they were, dashed down by a man of affairs who saw the world

objectively, and dealt only with tangible results.

Unlike Caesar, Sallust was a professional historian. He consciously undertook the

formal narrative of parts, at least, of his country's career. This great author

was a Sabine by birth. He rose to distinction, became praetor of Numidia, amassed

a fortune, and afterwards lived in leisure. Of his works, besides a few

fragments, we have only remaining the Catiline and Jugurthine War. In terseness

of diction, just discrimination of character, and harmony of arrangement, these

two treatises, though more brief than posterity could have wished, have ever been

regarded as models of historical composition.

It was one of the peculiarities of Latin literary development that oratory-if

indeed oratory may be called a branch of literature- preceded the writing of

history. The genius of the Republic fostered the art of public speech. In this

field Marcus Tullius Cicero, who flourished from B.C. 106 to 43, was without a

peer, without a rival. He was the founder of written address. Carefully educated,

first at Rome and afterwards in the Greek schools at Rhodes, he early in life

became a master in scholastic attainments. At his epoch there was still great

danger that the vulgar language of the common people of Rome would triumph over

the classical Latin, which, under the influence of Greek culture, supported by

the powerful patronage of the Scipios, held supremacy in the Senate and among the

Patricians. The popular language, however, encroached upon the literary republic

and threatened its overthrow. The eloquent Hortensius, speaking the vulgar

tongue, thundered it from the Tribune.

Cicero appeared as the opponent of this barbarism. To the diction of the scholar

he added a natural copiousness which was never equaled by his own countrymen, if

indeed by any orator in the world. He was painstaking, industrious, ambitious.

His addresses were carefully prepared. Those that were extemporaneous were

afterwards revised and reduced to writing. He rose to influence, not by force of

character, not by consistency or originality as a statesman, but as a lawyer and

orator. He towered immeasurably above all his contemporaries. He was the founder

of that majestic species of composition-the written address. This sort of

discourse was most strongly discriminated on the one hand from the fiery and

invective style of the great Greeks, and on the other from the harangue which had

hitherto constituted the staple of the Senate House. More than any other man of

his times-more perhaps than all other men combined--did Cicero contribute by

example and precept to raise the Latin language to a standard of classical

elegance. His influence triumphed completely over the vulgarizing tendency, and

it was no longer doubtful that the scholarly language was to be the speech of the

Imperial Republic.

Terentius Varro was a contemporary of Cicero. A profounder scholar than the great

orator-especially in history and antiquities- he devoted himself to historical

works and satirical compositions. In literary excellence,