Why, pray, should I speak of things which are incredible except to those who have seen them, that a host of private men have levelled mountains and built upon the seas? To such men their riches seem to me to have been but a plaything; for while they might have enjoyed them honourably, they made haste to squander them shamefully. Nay more, the passion which arose for lewdness, gluttony, and the other attendants of luxury was equally strong; men played the woman, women offered their chastity for sale; to gratify their palates they scoured land and sea; they slept before they needed sleep; they did not await the coming of hunger or thirst, of cold or of weariness, but all these things their self-indulgence anticipated.

[Nam quid ea memorem, quae nisi eis qui videre nemini credibilia sunt, a privatis compluribus subvorsos montis, maria constrata esse? Quibus mihi videntur ludibrio fuisse divitiae; quippe quas honeste habere licebat, abuti per turpitudinem properabant. Sed lubido stupri, ganeae ceterique cultus non minor incesserat; viri muliebria pati, mulieres pudicitiam in propatulo habere; vescendi causa terra marique omnia exquirere, dormire prius quam somni cupido esset, non famem aut sitim neque frigus neque lassitudinem opperiri sed omnia luxu antecapere.]

Sallust (c. 86-35 BC) Roman historian and politician [Gaius Sallustius Crispus]
Bellum Catilinae [The War of Cateline; The Conspiracy of Catiline], ch. 13, sent. 1-3 [tr. Rolfe (1931)]

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

  • "Need I mention, what to all but eye-witnesses would seem incredible? whole mountains levelled to the valley by the expense and labour of individuals, and even the seas covered with magnificent structures! To such men riches seem to be a burden: what they might enjoy with credit and advantage to themselves, they seem in eager haste to squander away in idle ostentation. To these vices that conspired against the commonwealth, many others may be added, such as prostitution, convivial debauchery, and all kinds of licentious pleasure. The men unsexed themselves, and the women made their persons venal. For the pleasures of the table, sea and land were ransacked; the regular returns of thirst and hunger were anticipated; the hour of sleep was left to a price and accident; cold was a sensation not to be endured by delicate habits; luxury was the business of life, and by that every thing was governed." [tr. Murphy (1807)]

  • "It is needless to recount other things, which none but those who saw them will believe; as the levelling of mountains by private citizens, and even covering the sea itself with fine edifices. These men appear to me to have sported with their riches, since they lavished them in the most shameful manner, instead of enjoying them with honour. Nor were they less addicted to all manner of extravagant gratifications: men and women laid aside all regard to chastity. To procure dainties for their tables, sea and land were ransacked. They indulged in sleep before nature craved it; the returns of hunger and thirst were anticipated with luxury: and cold and fatigue were never so much as felt." [tr. Rose (1831)]

  • "For why should I relate those things which are credible to no one except to those who have seen them -- that mountains have been levelled, seas built over by many private persons, whose riches appear to me to have been a jest, since those which they might have used honourably, they hastened to abuse disgracefully? But no less a desire of wantoning, gluttony, and other fashion had come on, women exhibited their shame in the open air, for the sake of feasting they ransacked every place by sea and land, and slept before there was any desire of sleep, they waited not for hunger nor thirst, nor cold nor fatigue, but anticipated all these things through their luxury." [Source (1841)]

  • "For why should I mention those displays of extravagance, which can be believed by none but those who have seen them; as that mountains have been leveled, and seas covered with edifices, by many private citizens; men whom I consider to have made a sport of their wealth, since they were impatient to squander disreputably what they might have enjoyed with honor. But the love of irregular gratification, open debauchery, and all kinds of luxury, had spread abroad with no less force. Men forgot their sex; women threw off all the restraints of modesty. To gratify appetite, they sought for every kind of production by land and by sea; they slept before there was any inclination for sleep; they no longer waited to feel hunger, thirst, cold, or fatigue, but anticipated them all by luxurious indulgence." [tr. Watson (1867)]

  • "Why should I tell of things which no one who has not seen them could believe, of how often private individuals have levelled mountains and built over seas? Such men seem to me to have trifled with their riches in the haste with which they have ignobly abused what they might honourably have enjoyed. But the passion for defilement, gluttony, and all other kinds of indulgence, had kept pace with that for wealth. Each sex alike trampled on their modesty. Sea and land were ransacked to supply the table. Men went to trest before the felt a desire for sleep; they did not wait for hunger or thirst, cold, or weariness, but anticipated them all by luxurious expedients." [tr. Pollard (1882)]

  • "Why should I recall that numerous private individuals undermined mountains and paved over the seas -- things that are credible to no one except those who have seen them? To such men, it seems to me, their riches were a plaything: when they could have held them with honour, they hurried to misuse them disgracefully. But the lust which had arisen for illicit sex, gluttony and other refinements was no less: men took the passive role of women, women made their chastity openly available; everywhere, by land and by sea, was ransacked for the sake of feeding; they slept before there could be any desire for slumber: they did not wait for hunger or thirst nor for cold nor tiredness, but in their luxuriousness anticipated them all." [tr. Woodman (2007)]

Added on 8-Dec-20 | Last updated 8-Dec-20
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