Friday, July 01, 2011


Your Man Sallust

Edward FitzGerald, letter to E.B. Cowell (January 28, 1845):
Your man Sallust I had never heard of. His Quotation is good; but does it tell you much? That it is the nature of God to be God—that he cannot help being God—etc.
Text in The Letters of Edward FitzGerald, edd. Alfred McKinley Terhune and Annabelle Burdick Terhune, Volume I: 1830-1850 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), p. 476. The editors supply the following note on p. 477:
Sallust (c. 86-34 B.C.), Roman historian, who modeled his work on Thucydides.
The editors' note identifies the wrong Sallust. Of course a man of FitzGerald's education and reading would have heard of the Roman historian Sallust. But another Sallust is meant here, not the well-known historian of the 1st century B.C. but the lesser-known philosopher of the 4th century A.D., usually called Sallustius. I don't have access to Arthur Darby Nock's edition and translation of Sallustius' Concerning the Gods and the Universe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926), but I'm confident that the quotation in question can be found there.

Thomas Carlyle wrote to FitzGerald (January 19, 1846), "[Y]ou are, in matters small and great, a friend to light and correctness, and an enemy to darkness and error." The Terhunes' confusion of "your man Sallust" is a small matter, of course, but nevertheless one worth correcting.


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