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
attempt. Sulpicius straightway brought
forward a law for
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.