Not much time had elapsed, however, when a din and tumult at the hut fell upon the ears of Marius. For Geminius had sent a number of men from Terracina in pursuit of him, some of whom had chanced to come to the old man's hut, and were frightening and berating him for having received and hidden an enemy of Rome.
Marius therefore rose from his hiding-place, stripped off his clothes, and threw himself into the thick and muddy water of the marsh. Here he could not elude the men who were in search of him, but they dragged him out all covered with slime, led him naked to Minturnae, and handed him over to the magistrates there. Now, word had already been sent to every city that Marius was to be pursued by the authorities and killed by his captors.
But nevertheless, the magistrates decided to deliberate on the matter first; so they put Marius for safe-keeping in the house of a woman named Fannia, who was thought to be hostile to him on account of an ancient grievance.
Fannia, that is, had been married to Titinnius; but she had separated herself from him and demanded back her dowry, which was considerable. Her husband, however, had accused her of adultery; and Marius, who was serving in his sixth consulship, had presided over the trial.
When the case was pleaded, and it appeared that Fannia had been a dissolute woman, and that her husband had known this and yet had taken her to wife and lived with her a long time, Marius was disgusted with both of them, and decreed that the husband should pay back his wife's dowry, while at the same time he imposed upon the woman, as a mark of infamy, a fine of four coppers.
However, at the time of which I speak, Fannia did not act like a woman who had been wronged, but when she saw Marius, she put far from her all resentment, cared for him as well as she could, and tried to encourage him. Marius commended her, and said he was of good courage; for an excellent sign had been given him. And this sign was as follows.
When, as he was led along, he had come to the house of Fannia the door flew open and an ass ran out, in order to get a drink at a spring that flowed hard by;
with a saucy and exultant look at Marius the animal at first stopped in front of him, and then, giving a magnificent bray, went frisking past him triumphantly. From this Marius drew an omen and concluded that the Deity was indicating a way of escape for him by sea rather than by land; for the ass made no account of its dry fodder, hut turned from that to the water.
After explaining this to Fannia, Marius lay down to rest alone, after ordering the door of the apartment to be closed.