Sallust on the Danger of Using Force

“Of these various paths to fame, it seems to me that the holding of civil and military posts, and indeed all political activities, are in these days the least desirable.  For the deserving do not obtain the honours of office; and the ill-deservers who do obtain them gain nothing thereby either in security or in true honour.  The use of force to rule one’s country or subjects – even if a man is in a position of power, and employs that power to right wrongs – is a perilous course: for it invites counter-measures, and any attempt at revolution is a certain forerunner of massacre, banishment, and other acts of warlike violence.  On the other hand, to struggle in vain against odds, and after exhausting efforts to gain nothing but hatred, is the height of folly – a folly that no one is likely to be guilty of, unless he is possessed by a dishonourable and fatal desire to sacrifice his own honour and freedom in order to increase the power of a set of oligarchs.” Sallust, Chap. 1 in The Jugurthine War trans. S. A. Handford (London: Penguin, 1963), p. 36. [Emphasis added]

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