And now, as it would seem, a great piece of good fortune befell Marius. For the Barbarians had a reflux, as it were, in their course, and streamed first into Spain. This gave Marius time to exercise the bodies of his men, to raise their spirits to a sturdier courage, and, what was most important of all, to let them find out what sort of a man he was.
For his sternness in the exercise of authority and his inflexibility in the infliction of punishment appeared to them, when they became accustomed to obedience and good behaviour, salutary as well as just, and they regarded the fierceness of his temper, the harshness of his voice, and that ferocity of his countenance which gradually became familiar, as fearful to their enemies rather than to themselves.
But it was above all things the uprightness of his judicial decisions that pleased the soldiers; and of this the following illustration is given.
Caius Lusius, a nephew of his, had a command under him in the army. In other respects he was a man of good reputation, but he had a weakness for beautiful youths. This officer was enamoured of one of the young men who served under him, by name Trebonius, and had often made unsuccessful attempts to seduce him.
But finally, at night, he sent a servant with a summons for Trebonius. The young man came, since he could not refuse to obey a summons, but when he had been introduced into the tent and Caius attempted violence upon him, he drew his sword and slew him. Marius was not with the army when this happened; but on his return he brought Trebonius to trial.
Here there were many accusers, but not a single advocate, wherefore Trebonius himself courageously took the stand and told all about the matter, bringing witnesses to show that he had often refused the solicitations of Lusius and that in spite of large offers he had never prostituted himself to anyone. Then Marius, filled with delight and admiration, ordered the customary crown for brave exploits to be brought, and with his own hands placed it on the head of Trebonius, declaring that at a time which called for noble examples he had displayed most noble conduct.
Tidings of this were brought to Rome and helped in no small degree to secure for Marius his third consulship; 1
at the same time, too, the Barbarians were expected in the spring, and the Romans were unwilling to risk battle with them under any other general. However, the Barbarians did not come as soon as they were expected, and once more the period of Marius's consulship expired.
As the consular elections were at hand, and as his colleague in the office had died, Marius left Manius Aquillius in charge of the forces and came himself to Rome. Here many men of great merit were candidates for the consulship, but Lucius Saturninus, who had more influence with the people than any other tribune, was won over by the flattering attentions of Marius, and in his harangues urged the people to elect Marius consul. Marius affected to decline the office and declared that he did not want it, but Saturninus called him a traitor to his country for refusing to command her armies at a time of so great peril.
Now, it was clear that Saturninus was playing his part at the instigation of Marius, and playing it badly, too, but the multitude, seeing that the occasion required the ability as well as the good fortune of Marius, voted for his fourth consulship, 2
and made Catulus Lutatius his colleague, a man who was esteemed by the nobility and not disliked by the common people.