The Antithesis of Virtue: Sallust’s “Synkrisis” and the Crisis of the Late Republic

Autore: Batstone, William W.
Titolo: The Antithesis of Virtue: Sallust’s “Synkrisis” and the Crisis of the Late Republic
Rivista/Miscellanea: Classical Antiquity, Vol. 7, No. 1
Anno edizione: 1988
Pagine: 1-29
Parole chiave: Histoire - Storia - History, Politique - Politica - Politics
Descrizione: SALLUST'S synkrisis in the Bellum Catilinae has been much discussed. Some think Caesar is praised; others, Cato. It has even been argued that Cato is the more praised in order to emphasize praise of Caesar. Such responses to the synkrisis result from an effort to read it as a tendentious comparison of characteristics which are by implication antagonistic and mutually exclusive. Syme, however, suggests a different analysis that sees the virtues as mutually responsive and so revealing the complementary but fragmented parts of a greater whole: the two together represent the virtus necessary for a libera res publica, while sepa ately each has only a fragmented virtus. This interpretation is appealing be cause it is consistent with what Sallust says about the two men (that they both had ingens virtus) and about his history (that it is free from partisan motives). Both types of interpretation attempt to fit the synkrisis to a single pattern and to comprehend the relationship between the virtues of Caesar and the virtues of Cato according to a single principle of negotiation or resolution. I do not think, however, that any single pattern or principle can finally resolve the comparisons Sallust gives us. In this article I would like to discuss the synkrisis from a literary and rhetori cal viewpoint and to consider what Sallust has accomplished in this rhetorical exaedificatio. In general my position is a modification of Syme's suggestion that the virtues presented are fragmented, but I argue that Sallust's presentation does not suggest that some alliance could save the republic. Rather, he reveals in his antitheses a fragmentation of varying dimensions which is the result of virtues themselves in conflict with each other and an underlying conceptual failure which produces an opposition between the traditional Roman virtues of action and the traditional intellectual categories by which those virtues are known, named, and understood [Author]
Sigla autore: Batstone 1988