Princeton (2022) h/b 232pp £12.99 (ISBN 9780691212364)

This is the latest in this refreshingly modern and innovative series which currently numbers 21 volumes, combining the familiar and obscure with such gems as: How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing (the medieval German humanist Vincent Obsopoeus); How to Keep Your Cool: An Ancient Guide to Anger Management (Seneca); and How to Think about War: An Ancient Guide to Foreign Policy (Thucydides). O. is himself author of How to Be a Bad Emperor: An Ancient Guide to Truly Terrible Leaders (Suetonius).

This Guide to Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae, like the others in the series, is stylishly produced and the price is very reasonable. As O. intimates, the architects of the nascent United States were all too aware of the threat that Catilinarian-like conspiracies posed; and the recent shenanigans at the US Capitol cannot have failed to bring to mind Catiline and his subversive conspiracy where men at the top of politics ride roughshod over their own laws and ignore ethics and social mores.

The book consists of a 30 page Introduction, a Latin text with English translation on the facing page (Loeb style), nine pages of lucid notes and a small selection of further reading: perhaps the publishers should consider a short Index in future volumes? The Introduction describes what we can learn from Catiline’s actions and how to stop a conspiracy from taking hold, and the struggle for power as embodied in the intense friction between Catiline and Cicero. It usefully defines Sallust’s debt to Thucydides, and his deployment of characterisation and psychology. Names and ranks, and contemporary Roman political institutions are briefly elucidated.

For the translation the author has accessed the editions from John Selby Watson’s (1870) to John Ramsey’s revision of John C. Rolfe’s Loeb (2013). Very readable, it is devoid of complication and provides a practical source for researchers and writers who require an authoritative reading of Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae.

Paul Chrystal

Paul Chrystal is author of Rome: Republic into Empire—the Civil Wars of the First Century BC (2019)