Born of parents who were altogether obscure—poor people who lived by the labour of their own hands (Marius was his father's name, Fulcinia that of his mother), it was not till late that he saw the city or got a taste of city ways. In the meantime he lived at Cirrhaeaton, 1
a village in the territory of Arpinum, in a manner that was quite rude when compared with the polished life of a city, but temperate, and in harmony with the rearing which the ancient Romans gave their children.
His first service as a soldier was in a campaign against the Celtiberians, when Scipio Africanus was besieging Numantia, 2
and he attracted the notice of his general by excelling the other young men in bravery, and by his very cheerful acceptance of the changed regimen which Scipio introduced into his army when it was spoiled by luxury and extravagance. It is said, too, that he encountered and laid low an enemy in the sight of his general.
Therefore he was advanced by his commander to many honours; and once, when the talk after supper had to do with generals, and one of the company (either because he really wished to know or merely sought to please) asked Scipio where the Roman people would find any such chieftain and leader to follow him, Scipio, gently tapping Marius on the shoulder as he reclined next him, said
‘Here, perhaps.’ So gifted by nature were both men; the one in showing himself great while still a young man, and the other in discerning the end from the beginning.