There were two parties in the city, that of Sulla, which had been all powerful since his day, and that of Marius, which at that time was in an altogether lowly state, being cowed and scattered. This party Caesar wished to revive and attach to himself, and therefore, when the ambitious efforts of his aedileship were at their height, he had images of Marius secretly made, together with trophy-bearing Victories, and these he ordered to be carried by night and set up on the Capitol.
At day-break those who beheld all these objects glittering with gold and fashioned with the most exquisite art (and they bore inscriptions setting forth the Cimbrian successes of Marius1
) were amazed at the daring of the man who had set them up (for it was evident who had done it), and the report of it quickly spreading brought everybody together for the sight.
But some cried out that Caesar was scheming to usurp sole power in the state when he thus revived honours which had been buried by laws and decrees, and that this proceeding was a test of the people, whose feelings towards him he had previously softened, to see whether they had been made docile by his ambitious displays and would permit him to amuse himself with such innovations. The partisans of Marius, however, encouraged one another and showed themselves on a sudden in amazing numbers, and filled the Capitol with their applause.
Many, too, were moved to tears of joy when they beheld the features of Marius, and Caesar was highly extolled by them, and regarded as above all others worthy of his kinship with Marius. But when the senate met to discuss these matters, Catulus Lutatius, a man of the highest repute at that time in Rome, rose up and denounced Caesar, uttering the memorable words:
‘No longer, indeed, by sapping and mining, Caesar, but with engines of war art thou capturing the government’ Caesar, however, defended himself against this charge and convinced the senate, whereupon his admirers were still more elated and exhorted him not to lower his pretensions for any man, since the people would be glad to have him triumph over all opposition and be the first man in the state.