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The Civil Wars of Marius and Sulla--The Command against Mithridates--Sulla marches against the City--Captures it--Flight of the Marians--Changes introduced by Sulla--Rome under Martial Law--Narrow Escape of Marius--He passes over to Africa--Killing of Quintus Pompeius

[55] Hitherto the murders and seditions had been merely intestine squabbles. Afterward the chiefs of factions assailed each other with great armies, according to the usage of war, and the country lay as a prize between them. The beginning and origin of these contentions came about directly after the Social War, in this wise. When Mithridates, king of Pontus and of other nations, invaded Bithynia and Phrygia and that part of Asia adjacent to those countries, as I have related in the preceding book, the consul Sulla was chosen by lot to the command of Asia and the Mithridatic war, but was still in Rome. Marius thought that this would be an easy and lucrative war and he desired the command of it. So he prevailed upon the tribune, Publius Sulpicius, by many promises, to help him obtain it. He also led the new Italian citizens, who had very little power in the elections, to hope that they should be distributed among all the tribes--not putting forward anything concerning his own advantage, but with the expectation of employing them as loyal servants in his every
Y.R. 666
attempt. Sulpicius straightway brought forward a law for
B.C. 88
this purpose. If it were enacted Marius and Sulpicius would have everything they wanted, because the new citizens far outnumbered the old ones. The old citizens saw this and opposed the new ones with all their might. They fought each other with sticks and stones, and the evil increased continually. The consuls, becoming apprehensive, as the day for voting on the law drew near, proclaimed a vacation of many days' duration, such as was customary on festal occasions, in order to postpone the voting and the danger.

[56] Sulpicius would not wait for the vacation's end. He ordered his faction to come to the forum with concealed daggers and to do whatever the exigency might require, and not to spare the consuls themselves upon occasion. When everything was in readiness he denounced the vacation as illegal and ordered the consuls, Cornelius Sulla and Quintus Pompeius, to put an end to it at once, in order to proceed to the enactment of laws. A tumult arose, and those who had been armed drew their daggers and threatened to kill the consuls, who were making opposition. Finally Pompeius escaped secretly and Sulla withdrew on the pretext of taking advice. In the meantime the son of Pompeius, who was the son-in-law of Sulla, and who was speaking his mind rather freely, was killed by the Sulpicians. Presently Sulla returned and annulled the vacation, but hurried away to Capua, where his army was stationed, in order to cross over to Asia to take command of the war against Mithridates, for he knew nothing as yet of the designs against himself. As the vacation was annulled and Sulla had left the city, Sulpicius enacted his law, and Marius, for whose sake it was done, was forthwith chosen commander of the war against Mithridates in place of Sulla.

[57] When Sulla heard of this he resolved to decide the question by war. He called the army together in a conference. They were eager for the war against Mithridates because it promised much plunder, and they feared that Marius would enlist other soldiers instead of themselves. Sulla spoke of the indignity put upon him by Sulpicius and Marius, and while he did not openly allude to anything else (for he did not dare as yet to mention this kind of a war), he urged them to be ready to obey his orders. They understood what he meant, and as they feared lest they should miss the campaign they spoke boldly what Sulla had in his mind, and told him to be of good courage, and to lead them to Rome. Sulla was overjoyed and led six legions thither forthwith, but all of his superior officers, except one quæstor, left him and hastened to the city, because they would not submit to the idea of leading an army against their country. Envoys met him on the road and asked him why he was marching with armed forces against his country. "To deliver her from her tyrants," he replied. He gave the same answer to a second and a third embassy that came to him, one after another, but he announced to them finally that the Senate and Marius and Sulpicius might meet him in the Campus Martius if they liked, and that he would do whatever might be agreed upon after consultation. As he was approaching, his colleague, Pompeius, came to meet him and praised him for what he had done, for Pompeius was delighted, and coöperated with him in every way. As Marius and Sulpicius needed some short interval for preparation, they sent other messengers, in the guise of envoys from the Senate, directing him not to move his camp nearer than forty stades from the city until they could consider of the business in hand. Sulla and Pompeius understood their game perfectly and promised to comply, but as soon as the envoys were returning they followed them.

[58] Sulla took possession of the Cœlian gate and of the adjoining wall with one legion of soldiers, and Pompeius occupied the Colline gate with another. A third advanced to the Sublician bridge, and a fourth remained on guard in front of the walls. With the remainder Sulla entered the city, being in appearance and in fact an enemy. The inhabitants round about tried to fight him off by hurling missiles from the roofs until he threatened to burn the houses; then they desisted. Marius and Sulpicius went, with some forces they had hastily armed, to meet the invaders near the Æsquiline forum, and here a battle took place between the contending parties, the first that was regularly fought in Rome with trumpet and signal under the rules of war, and not at all in the similitude of a faction fight. To such extremity of evil had the recklessness of party strife progressed among them. Sulla's forces were beginning to waver when Sulla seized a standard and exposed himself to danger in the foremost ranks. Out of regard for their general and fear of ignominy if they should abandon their standard, they rallied at once. Sulla ordered up fresh troops from his camp and sent others around by the socalled Suburran road to take the enemy in the rear. The Marians fought feebly against these new-comers, and as they feared lest they should be surrounded they called to their aid the other citizens who were still fighting from the houses, and proclaimed freedom to slaves who would share their labors. As nobody came forward they fell into utter despair and fled at once out of the city, together with those of the nobility who had coöperated with them.

[59] Sulla advanced to the so-called Via Sacra and there, in sight of everybody, punished certain soldiers who had plundered persons on the road. He stationed guards at intervals throughout the city, he and Pompeius keeping watch by night. Each kept moving about his own command to see that no calamity was brought about either by the frightened people or by the victorious troops: They summoned the people to an assembly at daybreak and lamented the condition of the republic, which had been so long given over to demagogues, and said that they had done what they had done as a matter of necessity. They proposed that no question should ever again be brought before the people which had not been previously considered by the Senate, an ancient practice which had been abandoned long ago. Also that the voting should not be by tribes, but by centuries, as King Servius Tullius had ordained. They thought that by these two measures--namely, that no law should be brought before the people unless it had been previously before the Senate, and that the voting should be controlled by the well-to-do and sober-minded rather than by the pauper and reckless classes--there would no longer be any starting-point for civil discord. They proposed many other measures for curtailing the power of the tribunes, which had become extremely tyrannical. They enrolled 300 of the best citizens at once in the list of senators, who had been reduced at that time to a very small number and had fallen into contempt for that reason. They annulled all the acts performed by Sulpicius after the vacation had been proclaimed by the consuls, as being illegal.

[60] Thus the seditions proceeded from strife and contention to murder, and from murder to open war, and now the first army of her own citizens had invaded Rome as a hostile country.1 From this time the civil dissensions were decided only by the arbitrament of arms. There were frequent attacks upon the city and battles before the walls and other calamities incident to war. Henceforth there was no restraint upon violence either from the sense of shame, or regard for law, institutions, or country. Now Sulpicius, who still held the office of tribune, together with Marius, who had been consul six times, and his son Marius, also Publius Cethegus, Junius Brutus, Gnæus and Quintus Granius, Publius Albinovanus, Marcus Lætorius, and others with them, about twelve in number, fled from Rome, because they had stirred up the sedition, had borne arms against the consuls, had incited slaves to insurrection, had been voted enemies of the Roman people, and anybody meeting them had been authorized to kill them with impunity or to drag them before the consuls, and their goods had been confiscated. Detectives were in pursuit of these men. They caught Sulpicius and killed him.

[61] Marius escaped them and fled to Minturnæ without a companion or a servant. While he was resting in a secluded house the magistrates of the city, whose fears were excited by the proclamation of the Roman people, but who hesitated to be the murderers of a man who had been six times consul and had performed so many brilliant exploits, sent a Gaul who was living there to kill him with a sword. It is said that as the Gaul was approaching the pallet of Marius in the dusk he thought he saw the gleam and flash of fire darting from his eyes, and that Marius rose from his bed and shouted to him in a thundering voice, "Do you dare to kill Gaius Marius? " The Gaul turned and fled out of doors like a madman, exclaiming, "I cannot kill Gaius Marius." As the magistrates had come to their previous decision with reluctance, so now a kind of religious awe came over them as they remembered the prophecy uttered while he was a boy, that he should be consul seven times. It was said that while he was a boy seven young eaglets alighted on his breast, and that the soothsayers predicted that he would attain the highest office seven times.

[62] Bearing these things in mind and believing that the Gaul had been inspired with fear by divine influence, the magistrates of Minturnæ sent Marius out of the town forthwith, to seek safety wherever he could. As he knew that Sulla was searching for him and that horsemen were pursuing him, he moved toward the sea by unfrequented roads and came to a hut where he rested, covering himself up with leaves. Hearing a noise, he concealed himself more carefully with the leaves. Hearing a somewhat louder noise, he rushed to the boat of an old fisherman, overpowered him, leaped into it, and, although a storm was raging, he cut the rope, spread the sail, and committed himself to chance. He was driven to an island where he found a ship navigated by his own friends, and sailed thence to Africa. He was prohibited from landing there by the governor, Sextius, because he was an enemy, and he passed the winter in his ship a little beyond the province of Africa, along the shore of Numidia. While he was sailing thither he was joined by Cethegus, Granius, Albinovanus, Lætorius, and others, including the son of Marius himself, who had gained tidings of his approach. They had fled from Rome to Hiempsal, prince of Numidia, and now they had run away from him, fearing lest they should be delivered up. They were ready to do just as Sulla had done, that is, to master their country by force, but as they had no army they waited for some opportunity.

[63] In Rome Sulla, who had been the first one to seize the city by force of arms, and was now able perhaps to wield supreme power, having rid himself of his enemies, desisted from violence of his own accord. He sent his army forward to Capua and resumed his functions as consul. The faction under banishment, especially the rich ones, and many wealthy women, who now found a respite from the terror of arms, bestirred themselves for the return of their male relatives from exile. They spared neither pains nor expense to this end, even conspiring against the persons of the consuls when they thought they could not secure the recall of their friends while the consuls survived. Sulla's army furnished ample protection for himself even after he should cease to be consul, since he had been voted commander of the war against Mithridates. The people commiserated the fears of the other consul, Quintus Pompeius, for his personal safety, and gave him the command of Italy and of the army appertaining to it, which was then under Gnæus Pompeius. When the latter learned this fact he was greatly displeased. Nevertheless he received Quintus in the camp, and, after transacting the necessary business with him the following day, withdrew for a short time as a private person, but a little later a crowd that had collected around the consul under pretence of listening to him killed him. After the guilty ones had fled, Gnæus came to the camp in a high state of indignation over the killing of a consul contrary to law. Notwithstanding his displeasure he forthwith resumed his command over them.2

1 This is what Mommsen aptly terms "the interference of the sabre with the constitutional rule of the bludgeon."

2 The Epitome of Livy (lxxvii.) says that Gnæus Pompeius the proconsul procured the murder of Quintus Pompeius the consul, when the latter came to supersede him.

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