Sallust, full name Carus Valerius Sailustius Crispus
With Carthaginian trustworthiness [treachery].
Yet many human beings, resigned to sensuality and indolence, un-instructed and unimproved, have passed through life like travelers in a strange country.
It is sweet to serve one's country by deeds, and it is not absurd to serve her by words.
It is the nature of ambition to make men liars and cheats, to hide the truth in their breasts, and show, like jugglers, another thing in their mouths, to cut all friendships and enmities to the measure of their own interest, and to make a good countenance without the help of good will.
Men have no right to complain that they are naturally feeble and short-lived, or that it is chance and not merit that decides their destiny. . . . What guides and controls human life is man's soul. . . . If men pursued good things with the same ardor with which they seek what is unedifying and unprofitable--often, indeed, actually dangerous and pernicious--they would control events instead of being controlled by them, and would rise to such heights of greatness and glory that their mortality would put on immortality.
Now these things never happened, but always are.
Only a few prefer liberty, the majority seek nothing more than fair masters.
The memory of what others have accomplished kindles in the breasts of noble men a flame that is not quenched until their own prowess has won similar glory and renown. In these degenerate days, however, one cannot find a man who does not seek to rival his ancestors in wealth and extravagance, instead of uprightness and industry.
To have the same desires and the same aversion is assuredly a firm bond of friendship.
Watching, working and meditating all things thrive.
For to like the same things and to dislike the same things, only this is a strong friendship.
I myself, however, when a young man, was at first led by inclination, like most others, to engage in political affairs; but in that pursuit many circumstances were unfavorable to me; for, instead of modesty, temperance, and integrity, there prevailed shamelessness, corruption, and rapacity.
If a man is ambitious for power, he can have no better supporters than the poor: They are not worried about their own possessions, since they have none, and whatever will put something in their pockets is right and proper in their eyes.
Is it not better to die in a glorious attempt, than, after having been the sport of other men's insolence, to resign a wretched and degraded existence with ignominy?
It becomes all men, Senators, who deliberate on dubious matters, to be influenced neither by hatred, affection, anger, nor pity.
It becomes all men, who desire to excel other animals, to strive, to the utmost of their power, not to pass through life in obscurity, like the beasts of the field, which nature has formed groveling and subservient to appetite.
It is better to use fair means and fail, than foul and conquer.
As man consists of body and soul, all our possessions and pursuits partake of the nature of one or the other. Thus personal beauty and great wealth, bodily strength, and all similar things, soon pass away; the noble achievements of the intellect are immortal like the soul itself. Physical advantages, and the material gifts of fortune, begin and end; all that comes into existence, perishes; all that grows, must one day decay. But the soul, incorruptible and eternal, is the ruler of mankind; it guides and controls everything, subject itself to no control. Wherefore we can but marvel the more at the unnatural conduct of those who abandon themselves to bodily pleasures and pass their time in riotous living and idleness, neglecting their intelligence--the best and noblest element in man's nature--and letting it become dull through lack of effort; and that, too, when the mind is capable of so many different accomplishments that can win the highest distinction.
But at power or wealth, for the sake of which wars, and all kinds of strife, arise among mankind, we do not aim; we desire only our liberty, which no honorable man relinquishes but with his life.
But experience has shown that to be true which Appius says in his verses, that every man is the architect of his own fortune.
But when sloth has introduced itself in the place of industry, and covetousness and pride in that of moderation and equity, the condition of a state is altered together with its morals; and thus authority is always transferred from the less to the more deserving.
Enough words, little wisdom.
For harmony makes small states great, while discord undermines the mightiest empires.
For the fame of riches and beauty is fickle and frail, while virtue is eternally excellent.
For the glory of wealth and beauty is fleeting and perishable; that of the mind is illustrious and immortal.