Letter to the Senate
Source: Sallust Histories 2.82 [2.98M]. Translated by John Carew Rolfe. Sallust: With
an English Translation by J. C. Rolfe. Loeb
classical library, 116. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1965.
“If I had been warring against you, against my country, and
against my fathers’ gods, when I endured such hardship and dangers as those
amid which from my early youth the armies under my command have routed the most
criminal of your enemies and insured your safety; even then, Fathers of the
Senate, you could have done no more against me in my absence than you are now
doing. For after having exposed me, in spite of my youth, to a most cruel war,
you have, so far as in you lay, destroyed me and a faithful army by starvation,
the most wretched of all deaths.
“Was it with such expectations that the Roman people sent its sons
to war? Are these the rewards for wounds and for so often shedding our blood
for our country? Wearied with writing letters and sending envoys, I have
exhausted my personal resources and even my expectations, and in the meantime
for three years you have barely given me the means of meeting a year’s
“By the immortal gods! do you think that I can play the part of
a treasury or maintain an army without food or pay?
“I admit that I entered upon this war with more zeal than
discretion; for within forty days of the time when I received from you the
empty title of commander I had raised and equipped an army and driven the
enemy, who were already at the throat of Italy, from the Alps into Spain; and
over those mountains I had opened for you another and more convenient route
than Hannibal had taken.
“I recovered Gaul, the Pyrenees, Lacetania, and the Indigetes;
with raw soldiers and far inferior numbers I withstood the first onslaught of
triumphant Sertorius; and I spent the winter in camp amid the most savage of
foes, not in the towns or in adding to my own popularity.
“Why need I enumerate our battles or our winter campaigns, the
towns which we destroyed or captured? Actions speak louder than words. The
taking of the enemy’s camp at Sucro, the battle at the river Turia, and the
destruction of C. Herennius, leader of the enemy, together with his army and
the city of Valentia, are well enough known to you. In return for these,
grateful fathers, you give me want and hunger. Thus the condition of my army and
of that of the enemy is the same; for neither is paid and either can march
victorious into Italy.
“Of this situation I warn you and I beg you to give it your
attention; do not force me to provide for my necessities on my own
“Hither Spain, so far as it is not in the possession of the
enemy, either we or Sertorius have devastated to the point of ruin, except for
the coast towns, so that it is actually an expense and a burden to us. Gaul
last year supplied the army of Metellus with pay and provisions, but can now
scarcely keep itself alive because of a failure of the crops; I myself have
exhausted not only my means, but even my credit.
“You are our only resource; unless you come to our rescue,
against my will, but not without warning from me, our army will pass over into
Italy, bringing with it all the war in Spain.”
This letter was read in the senate at the beginning of the
following year. But the consuls distributed the provinces which had been
decreed by the senate, Cotta taking Hither Gaul and Octavius taking Cilicia.
Then the next consuls, L. Lucullus and M. Cotta, who were greatly agitated by Pompeius’ letters and messages, both because of
the interests of the state and because they feared that, if he led his army
into Italy, they would have neither glory nor position, used every means to
provide him with money and reinforcements. And they were aided especially by
the nobles, the greater number of whom were already giving expression to their
confidence and adapting their conduct to their words.