1. C. Marius
, was born in B. C. 157, at the village of Cereatae 1
, near Arpinum. His father's name was C. Marius, and his mother's Fulcinia; and the family, according to the almost concurrent voice of antiquity, was in very humble circumstances. His parents, as well as Marius himself, are said to have been the clients of the nobleplebeian house of the Herennii. So indigent, indeed, is the family represented to have been from which the future saviour of Rome arose, that young Marius is stated to have worked as a common peasant for wages, before he entered the ranks of the Roman army (comp. Juv. 8.246
; Plin. Nat. 33.11
; Aurel. Vict. Cues.
But although Marius undoubtedly sprang from an obscure family, yet it seems probable that his immediate ancestors could not have been in such mean circumstances as is usually represented. From his first entrance into public life, Marius never seems to have been in want of money, and it is difficult to imagine how he could have acquired it so early, except by inheritance from his family.
In addition to which, his marriage with Julia, the aunt of the celebrated Julius Caesar, throws discredit upon the common stories about his origin; as it is unlikely that such an ancient patrician family should have given their daughter to one who had been a labourer in the fields.
There is, on the contrary, no difficulty in understanding how these stories should have arisen. The Roman nobles would naturally upbraid the aspirant to the higher dignities of the state with his mean and lowly birth; and the latter, instead of betraying that weakness on this point which has often characterized men who have risen from humble life, never attempted to deny the fact, but rather made it a glory and a boast, that mean as was his origin he could excel his high-born adversaries in virtue, ability, and courage.
At the same time we can hardly give credit to the statement of Velleius Paterculus (2.11) that Marius was of an equestrian family (natus equestri loco);
and we ought probably to read aqresti
in this passage, instead of equestri.
Still, whatever may have been the exact condition of the Marian family, it was certainly one of no importance. Marius was born at a time when a large number of the Roman aristocracy, of whom the Scipios may be regarded as the type, were introducing into Rome a taste for Greek literature, refinement, and art.
These innovations were strongly resisted by the elder Cato and the friends of the old Roman habits and mode of life, as having a tendency to corrupt and degrade the Roman character. If the father of Marius was not a poor man, he certainly belonged to the oldfashioned party, and accordingly brought up his son in his native village, in ignorance of the Greek language and literature, and with a perfect contempt for the new-fangled habits and opinions which characterised the politer society of Rome. Marius thus grew up with the distinguishing virtues and vices of the old Sabine character.
He was characterised at first by great integrity and industry; he had a perfect command over his passions and desires, and was moderate in all his expenses; he possessed the stern and severe virtues of an ancient Roman, and if he had lived in earlier times, would have refused, like Fabricius, the gold of Pyrrhus, or have sacrificed his life, like Decius, to save his country.
But, cast as he was in an age of growing licentiousness and corruption, the old Roman virtues degenerated into vices; love of country became love of self; patriotism, ambition ; sternness of character produced cruelty, and personal integrity unmitigated contempt for the corruption of his contemporaries.
The character of Marius needed, above that of most men, the humanizing influences of literature and art, and there is much truth in the remark of Plutarch (Plut. Mar. 2
), " that if Marius could have been persuaded to sacrifice to the Grecian muses and graces, he would never have terminated a most illustrious career in an old age of cruelty and ferocity."
Marius first served in Spain, and was present at the siege of Numantia in B. C. 134. Here lie distinguished himself so much by his courage and his readiness to submit to the severer discipline which Scipio Africanus introduced into the army, that he attracted the notice of this great general, and received from him many marks of honour. Scipio, indeed, even admitted him to his table; and on a certain occasion, when one of the guests asked Scipio where the Roman people would find such another general after his death, he is related to have laid his hand on the shoulder of Marius and said, " Perhaps here."
The military genius of Marius must have been very conspicuous to have called forth such a remark from the conqueror of Carthage and Numantia, and his natural abilities for war were no doubt greatly improved by the experience he obtained under so great a master of the art.
It happened strangely enough that Jugurtha, who was afterwards to measure his abilities against Marius, was serving at the same time with equal distinction in the Roman army.
The name of Marius does not occur again in history for the space of fifteen years, of the wars of which period, however, we have very little information.
He doubtless continued to serve in the army, was unanimously elected military tribune by all the tribes, and became so much distinguished that he was at length raised to the tribunate of the plebs, in B. C. . 119, but not until he had attained the age of thirty-eight years. Plutarch tells us (Mar.
4) that Miarius was assisted in gaining this office by Caecilius Metellus, of whose house the family of Marius had long been adherents, which would almost seem to imply that the relation of clientship to the Herennian family had for all practical purposes fallen into disuse, although Plutarch himself a little further on (100.5) says that C. Herennius refused to give testimony against Marius, when the latter was accused of bribery, on the ground of his being his client.
In his tribunate Marius proposed a law to give greater freedom to the people at the elections. Of the provisions of this law we know nothing, except that it contained a clause for making the pontes
narrower which led into the septa or inclosures where the people voted (Cic. De Leg.
3.17); but as its object seems to have been to prevent intimidation on the part of the nobles, it was strongly opposed by the senate. only four years had elapsed since the death of C. Gracchus, and the aristocratical party at Rome, flushed with victory, and undisputed masters of the state, resolved to put down with a high hand the least invasion of their privileges and power.
The senate, accordingly, on the proposition of the consul L. Cotta, summoned Marius before them to account for his conduct, probably thinking that any tribune, and especially one who had no experience in political life, with the fate of the Gracchi before his eyes, might be easily frightened into submission. They little knew, however, with what stern stuff they had to deal. When he appeared before the senate, far from being overawed, as they had anticipated, he threatened to send Cotta to prison, unless the decree was rescinded; and when the latter asked the opinion of his colleague Metellus, and the latter bade him adhere to the decree, Marius straightway sent for his officer, who was outside the senate-house, and ordered him to carry off Metellus himself to prison.
The consul implored in vain the interposition of the other tribunes, aid the senate, unprepared for such an act of vigorous determination, dropped their unconstitutional decree, and allowed the law to be carried.
The favour, however, which Marius acquired with the people by his firmness in this matter, was somewhat damped a short time after in the same year, by his opposing a measure for the distribution of corn among the people, which, he rightly thought, would have only the tendency of fostering those habits of idleness and licentiousness which were spreading so rapidly among the population of the city.
Still the general conduct of Marius in his tribunate had earned for him the goodwill of the people and the hatred of the aristocracy.
The latter resolved to oppose him with all their might; and accordingly, when he became a candidate for the curule aedileship, they used every effort to frustrate his election. Seeing on the day of election that he had no chance of obtaining the curule aedileship, he offered himself as a candidate for the plebeian aedileship, but likewise failed in obtaining the latter.
The proud and haughty spirit of Marius was deeply galled by this repulse; and it must have tended to foster and augment those feelings of bitter personal hatred to the aristocracy which were constantly apparent in his subsequent life.
It was with great difficulty that he gained his election to the praetorship; he had the smallest number of votes of those who were elected; and he was still further exasperated by being prosecuted for bribery. Here he had a very narrow escape; the nobles seem to have felt sure of his conviction, and, contrary to all expectation, he was acquitted, but simply through the votes of the judges being equal.
It appears, from a passage of Cicero (de Off.
3.20.79), that seven years elapsed between the praetorship and the first consulship of Marius; and he must, therefore, have filled the former office in B. C. 115, when he was now forty-two years of age. During his praetorship Marius either remained at Rome as the praetor orbanus or peregrinus, or had some province in Italy; and as his talents were not adapted for civil life, it is not surprising that he should have gained but little credit in this office, as Plutarch tells us was the case.
In the following year he obtained a stage more suitable to his abilities; for he went as propraetor into the province of Further Spain, which he cleared of the robbers and marauders who swarmed in that country.
From the moment that Marius obtained the praetorship, he no doubt kept his eyes steadily fixed upon the consulship; but he felt that his time was not yet come.
The nobles jealously guarded the highest dignity of the state against the intrusion of any new men; but their venality and corruption, which were shortly to be displayed with more than usual shamelessness in the war with Jugurtha, were gradually raising at Rome a storm of popular indignation, and preparing the way for Marius. Although he possessed neither wealth nor eloquence, by which the Roman people were chiefly influenced, yet he gained much popularity by his well-known energy of character, his patient endurance of toil and hardship, and his simple mode of life, which formed a striking contrast to the extravagant and voluptuous habits of his noble contemporaries.
It was about this time too that he strengthened his connections, and gained additional consequence in the eyes of the people, by forming an alliance with the illustrious Julian house, by marrying Julia, the sister of C. Julius Caesar, who was the father of the subsequent ruler of Rome.
We have no information of the occupations of Marius for the next few years, and we do not read of him again till B. C. 109, in which year he went into Africa as the legate of the consul Q. Caecilius Metellus, who had previously assisted him in obtaining the tribunate of the plebs. Here, in the war against Jugurtha. the military genius of Marius had ample opportunity of displaying itself, and he was soon regarded as the most distinguished officer in the army.
The readiness with which he shared the toils of the conmmon soldiers, eating of the same food and working at the same trenches as they did, endeared him to their hearts, and through their letters to their friends at Rome, his praises were in every body's mouth. His increasing reputation fired him with a stronger desire, and presented him with better hopes than he had hitherto had, of obtaining the long-cherished object of his ambition.
These desires and hopes were still further inflamed and increased by a circumstance which happened to him at Utica. Marius was not tainted by the fashionable infidelity which was gaining rapid ground among the higher circles at Rome; he was on the contrary very superstitious, and, in his wars with the Cimbri, always carried with him a Syrian or Jewish prophetess of the name of Martha; and while he was sacrificing on one occasion at Utica, the officiating priest told him that the victims predieted some great and wonderful events, and therefore bade him, with full reliance upon the aid of the gods, to execute whatever purpose he had in his mind. Marius regarded this as a voice from heaven; he was then, as ever, thinking of the consulship, and he therefore resolved at once to apply to Metellus for leave of absence, that he might proceed to Rome and offer himself as a candidate.
This, however, Metellus, who belonged to a family of the highest nobility, would not grant.
He at first tried to dissuade him from his presumptuous attempt, by pointing out the certainty of failure; and when he could not prevail upon him to abandon his design, he civilly evaded his request by pleading the exigencies of the public service, which required the presence and assistance of his legate.
But, as Marius still continued to press him for leave of absence, Metellus had the imprudence to say to him on one occasion, "You need not be in such a hurry to go to Rome; it will be quite time enough for you to apply for the consulship along with my son."
The latter, who was then serving with the army, was only a youth of twenty years of age, and could not, therefore, become a candidate for the consulship for upwards of twenty years more. Such an insult was not likely to be forgotten by a man like Marius.
He forth with began to intrigue against his general, and himself, to represent that the war was purposely prolonged by Metellus to gratify his own vanity and love of military power.
He openly declared, that with one half of the army he would soon have Jugurtha in chains; and as all his remarks were carefully reported at Rome, the people began to regard him as the only person competent to finish the war. Metellus, wearied out with his importunity, and perceiving that he was exciting intrigues against him in the army, at last allowed him to go, but, according to Plutarch, only twelve days before the election. Meeting with a favourable wind, he arrived at Rome in time, and was elected consul with an enthusiasm which bore down all opposition before it.
Marius entered upon his first consulship in B. C. 107, at the age of fifty, and received from the people the province of Numidia, although the senate had previously decreed that Metellus should continue in his command.
The exultation of Marius knew no bounds. Instead of deserting the popular party, as has been constantly done by popular leaders when they have once been enrolled in the ranks of the aristocracy, Marius gloried in his humble origin, and took every opportunity of insulting and trampling upon the party which had for so many years been trying to put him down.
He told them that he regarded his election as a victory over their effeminacy and licentiousness, and that he looked upon the consulship as a trophy of his conquest; and he proudly compared his own wounds and military experience with their indolent habits and ignorance of war.
It was a great triumph for the people, and a great humiliation for the aristocracy, and Marius made the latter drink to the dregs the bitter cup which they had to swallow. His was no forgiving temper, but a stern, a fierce, and almost savage one; and he well earned the reputation of being a "good hater." XWrhile engaged in these attacks upon the nobility, he
at the same time carried on a levy of troops with great activity, and enrolled any persons who chose to offer for the service, however poor and mean, instead of taking them from the five classes according to ancient custom. Having thus collected a larger number of troops than had been decreed, he crossed over into Africa. Metellus, not bearing to see the man who had robbed him of the glory of bringing the war to a conclusion, privately sailed from Africa, and left P. Rutilius, one of his legates, to deliver up the army to Marius.
As soon as he had received the army, Marius continned the war with great vigour; but the history of his operations are related elsewhere. [JUGURTHA.] It is sufficient to state here that he was unable to bring the war to a conclusion in the first campaign, and it was not till the beginning of the next year (B. C. 106) that Jugurtha was betrayed by Boochus, king of Mauritania, into the hands of Marius, who sent his quaestor L. Sulla to receive him from the Mauritanian king. Thus it happened that Marius gave to his future enemy and the destroyer of his family and party, the first opportunity of distinguishing himself; and this very circumstance sowed the seeds of the personal hatred which afterwards existed between them, and which was still further increased by political causes.
The enemies of Marius claimed for Sulla the glory of the betrayal of Jugurtha, and the young patrician nobleman appropriated the credit of it to by always wearing a signet-ring on which he had had engraved the surrender of Jugurtha by Bocchus. "By constantly wearing this ring," says Plutarch, "Sulla irritated Marius, who was an ambitious and quarrelsome man, and could endure no partner in his glory."
Though the war against Jugurtha was thus brought to a close, Marius did not immediately return to Italy, but remained nearly two years longer in Numidia, during which time he was probably engaged in completely subjugating the country, and establishing the Roman power on a firmer basis. Meantime, a far greater danger than Rome had experienced since the time of Hannibal was now threatening the state. Vast numbers of barbarians, such as spread over the south of Europe in the later times of the Roman empire, had collected together on the northern side of the Alps, and were ready to pour down upon Italy.
The two leading nations of which they consisted are called Cimbri and Teutones, the former of whom are supposed to have been Celts, of the same race as the Cymri (comp. Arnold, Hist. of Rome,
vol. i. p. 519, &c.; Niebuhr, Lectures on Roman History,
vol. i. p. 365), and the latter Gauls; but the exact parts of Europe from which they came is quite uncertain. To these two great races were added the Ambrones, who are conjectured, though on somewhat slight grounds, to have been Ligurians (comp. Plut. Mar. 19
) and some of the Swiss tribes, such as the Tigurini.
The whole host is said to have contained 300,000 fighting men, besides a much larger number of women and children; and though the exact calculations of the numbers of such barbarians is little worthy of credit, yet it is certain that there was an immense and almost incredible multitude hanging on the frontiers of Italy.
The general alarm at Rome was still further increased by the ill success which had hitherto attended the arms of the republic against these barbarians. Army after army had fallen before them. They were first heard of in B. C. 113, in Noricum, whence they descended into Illyricum, but probably did not penetrate into Italy, as is stated by some ancient writers. (Eutrop. 4.25
; Obsequ. 98.) The Romans sent an army to defend Illyricum, under the command of Cn. Papirius Carbo, but he was defeated by the barbarians [CARBO, No. 3], who did not, however, follow up their victory, but for some causes unknown to us, retired into Noricum, and marched westward into Switzerland.
In the invasion of Illyricum, mention is made of the Cimlbri alone; and when and where they were joined by the Teutones is uncertain. In Switzerland their forces were still further augmented by the Tigurini and the Ambrones; and the barbarians now poured over Gaul, and seem to have plundered and ravaged it in every direction. The Romans sent army after army to defend at least the southwestern part of the country, which was now a province of the Roman state; but all in vain. In B. C. 109 the consul, M. Junius Silanus, was defeated by the Cimbri; in B. C. 107 the Tigurini cut in pieces, near the lake of Geneva, the army of Marius's colleague, the consul L. Cassius Longinus, who lost his life in the battle; and shortly afterwards M. Aurelius Scanrus was also defeated and taken prisoner.
But the most dreadful loss was still to come. In B. C. 105 two consular armies, commanded by the consul Cn. Mallius Maximus and the proconsul Cn. Servilius Caepio, consisting of 80,000 men, were completely annihilated by the barbarians: only two men are said to have escaped the slaughter. [CAEPIO, No. 7.]
These repeated disasters hushed all party quarrels. Every one at Rome felt that Marius was the only man capable of saving the state, and he was accordingly elected consul by the unanimous votes of all parties, while he was still absent in Africa.
He entered Rome in triumph on the 1st of January, B. C. 104, which was also the first day of his second consulship, leading Jugurtha in chains in the procession. On this day he gave a striking instance of his arrogance, by entering the senate-house in his triumphal robes. Meanwhile, the threatened danger was for a while averted. Instead of crossing the Alps, and pouring down upon Italy, as had been expected, the Cimbri marched into Spain, which they ravaged for the next two or three years.
This interval was advantageously employed by Marius in training the new troops, and accustoming them to hardships and toil.
It was probably during this time that he introduced the various changes into the organization of the Roman army, which are usually attributed to him. Notwithstanding the stermness and severity with which he punished the least breach of discipline, he gradually became a great favourite with his new troops, who learnt to place implicit confidence in their general, and were especially delighted with the strict impartiality with which he visited the offences of the officers as well as of the privates.
As the enemy still continued in Spain, Marius was elected consul a third time for the year B. C. 103; but since they did not make their appearance even during the latter year, the Romans began to recover a little from their panic, and several candidates of distinction offered themselves for the consulship. Under these circumstances Marius repaired to Rome, where he gained over L. Saturninus, the most popular of the tribunes, who persuaded the people to confer the consulship upon Marius again, who was accordingly elected for the fourth time (B. C. 102), although, to save appearaces, he pretended to be anxious to be released from the honour. And fortunate was it for Rome that the supreme command was still entrusted to him; for in this very year the long-expected barbarians at length arrived. The Cimbri, who had returned from Spain, united their forces with the Teutones, though where the latter people had been meantime is quite uncertain.
It is, moreover, exceedingly difficult to make out clearly the movements of the different armies, since the records of this period of history are very scanty and often contradictory.
It appears, however, that Marius first took up his position in a fortified camp on the Rhone, probably in the vicinity of the modern Aries; and as the entrance of the river was nearly blocked up by mud and sand, he employed his soldiers in digging a canal from the Rhone to the Mediterranean, that he might the more easily obtain his supplies from the sea. From thence he marched northwards, and stationed himself at the junction of the Rhone and the Isara (Isere). (Oros. 5.16
.) Meantime, the barbarians had divided their forces. The Cimlbri quitted the Tentones and Ambrones, and marched round the northern foot of the Alps, in order to enter Italy by the northeast, crossing the Tyrolese Alps by the defiles of Tridentum (Trent). The Teutones and Ambrones on the other hand marched against Marius, intending, as it seems, to penetrate into Italy by Nice and the Riviera of Genoa. Marius, anxious to accustom his soldiers to the savage and strange appearance of the barbarians, would not give them battle at first.
The latter accordingly resolved to attack the Roman camp; but as they were repulsed in this attempt, they broke up their encampment, and pressed on at once for Italy. So great were their numbers, that they are said to have been six days in marching by the Roman camp.
As soon as they had advanced a little way, Marius also quitted his station and followed them ; and thus the armies continued to march for a few days, the barbarians in the front and Marius behind, till they came to the neighbourhood of Aquae Sextiae (Aix). Here the decisive battle was fought. Marius had pitched his camp in a spot which was badly supplied with water, and is said to have done so intentionally.
The necessity which the Roman soldiers were under of obtaining their water in the neighbourhood of the barbarians' camp, led to a fierce skirmish between the two armies; and this was followed, after the lapse of two or three days, by a general engagement.
The battle was fiercely contested; but an ambush of 3000 soldiers, which Marius had stationed under the command of Claudius Marcellus, in the rear of the barbarians, and which fell upon them when they were already retreating before Marius, decided the fortune of the day. Attacked both in front and rear, and also dreadfully exhausted by the excessive heat of the weather, they at length broke their ranks and fled.
The carnage was dreadful; some writers speak of 200,000 slain, and 80,000 taken prisoners (Liv. Epit. 68
; Oros. 5.16
); others state the number of the slain at 150,000 (Vell. 2.12
); while another statement reduces the number to 100,000 (Plut. Mar. 21
); but whatever may have been the number that fell, the whole nation was annihilated, for those who escaped put an end to their lives, and their wives followed their example. Immediately after the battle, as Marius was in the act of setting tire to the vast heap of broken arms which had been collected together, and which was intended as an offering to the gods, horsemen rode up to him, and greeted him with the news of his being elected consul for the fifth time.
The Cimbri, in the mean time, had forced their way into Italy.
The colleague of Marius, Q. Lutatius Catulus, despairing of defending the passes of the Tyrol, had taken up a strong position on the Athesis (Adige); but in consequence of the terror of his soldiers at the approach of the barbarians. he was obliged to retreat even beyond the Po, thus leaving the whole of the rich plain of Lombardy exposed to the ravages of the barbarians. Marius was thereupon recalled to Rome.
The senate offered him a triumph for his victory over the Teutones, which he declined while the Cimbri were in Italy, and proceeded to join Catulus, who now commanded as proconsul, B. C. 101.
The army of Marius had also marched into Italy, and with their united forces Marius and Catulus hastened in search of the enemy. They came up with them near Vercellae (Vercelli), westward of Milan, and the decisive battle was fought on the 30th of July, in a plain called the Raudii Campi. the exact position of which is uncertain, but which must have been in the neighbourhood of Vercellae. The Cimbri met with the same fate as the Teutones; the slain are again spoken of as between one and two hundred thousand; and the women, like those of the Teutones, put an end to their lives. Tigurini, who had been stationed at the passes of the Tyrolese Alps, took to flight and dispersed, as soon as they heard of the destruction of their brethren in arms.
The details of this battle are given elsewhere [CATULUS, No. 3], where it is shown that there are strong reasons for doubting the account of Plutarch, which assigns the glory of this victory to Catulus. At Rome, at all events, the whole credit was given to Marius; he was hailed as the saviour of the state; his name was coupled with the gods in the libations and at banquets, and he received the title of third founder of Rome.
He celebrated his victories by the most brilliant triumph, in which Catulus, however, was allowed to share.
Hitherto the career of Marius had been a glorious one, and it would have been fortunate for him, as Nieluhr has remarked, if he had died on the day of his triumph. Tihe remainder of his life is full of horrors, and brings out into prominent relief the worst features of his character.
As the time for the consular elections approached, Marius was eager to obtain this dignity for the sixth time, and was therefore obliged, contrary to his inclination and character, to play the part of a popular man, and to court the favour of the electors.
He wished to be first in peace as well as in war, and to rule the state as well as the army.
But he did not possess the qualities requisite for a popular leader at Rome ; he had no power of oratory, and lost his presence of mind in the noise and shouts of the popular assemblies.
In order to secure his election, he entered into close connection with two of the worst demagogues that ever appeared at Rome, Saturninus and Glaucia, the former of whom was a candidate for the tribunate, and the latter for the praetorship, and by their means, as well as by bribing the tribes, he secured his election to the consulship for the sixth time. Saturninus and Glaucia also carried their elections; and the former, in order to gain the tribunate, did not hesitate to assassinate A. Nonius, because he was a rival candidate.
Marius in his sixth consulship (B. C. 100) was guilty of an act of the deepest perfidy, in order to ruin his old enemy Metellus. Saturninus had proposed an agrarian law [SATURNINUS], and had added to it the clause, that if the people passed the law, the senate should swear obedience to it within five days, and whoever refused to do so should be expelled from the senate, and pay a fine of twenty talents.
In order to entrap Metellus, Marius got up in his place in the senate, and decleared that he would never take the oath, and Aletellus made the same declaration; but when the tribune summoned the senators to the rostra to comply with the demand of the law, Marius, to the astonishment of all, immediately took the oath, and advised the senate to follow his example. Metellus alone refused compliance, and was in consequence banished from the city.
The next act of Marius was one of equal treachery.
He had availed himself of the services of Saturninus to gain the consulship and ruin Metellus, and had supported him in all his violent and unconstitutional proceedings; but when he found that Saturninus had gone too far, and had excited a storm of universal indignation and hatred, Marius deserted his companion in guilt; and being applied to by the senate to crush Saturninus and his crew, he complied with the request. Invested by the senate with absolute The power, by the well-known decree, Videret, nequid res publica detrimrenti caperet,
he collected an armed force, and laid siege to the capitol, where Saturninus, Glaucia, and their confederates, had taken refuge. Marius cut off the pipes which supplied the capitol with water, and obliged the conspirators to surrender at discretion; and though he made some efforts to save their lives, they were put to death immediately they had descended into the forum.
By the share which he had taken in this transaction, Marius lost the favour of a great part of the people, without gaining that of the senate; and, accordingly, when the time for the election of the censors came, he did not venture to offer himself as a candidate, but allowed persons of far inferior pretensions to gain this dignity, to which his rank and position in the state would seem to have entitled him.
The sixth consulship of Marius ended in disgrace and shame.
In the following year (B. C. 99) he left Rome, in order that he might not witness the return of Metellus from exile, a measure which he had been unable to prevent, and set sail for Cappadocia and Galatia, under the pretence of offering sacrifices which he had vowed to the Great Mother.
He had however a deeper purpose in visiting these countries. Finding that he was losing his influence and popularity while the republic was in a state of peace, he was anxious to recover his lost ground by gaining fresh victories in war, and accordingly repaired to the court of Mithridates, in hopes of rousing him to make war upon the Romans.
It was during his absence that he was elected augur.
Marius on his return to Rome built a house near the forum, that the people might not have to come so far to pay their respects to him; but all his efforts were vain to regain his lost popularity ; and the hopes he had entertained of obtaining the command of the war in Asia were also frustrated by the ability with which Sulla repressed all disturbances in the East in B. C. 92.
The disappointment which Marius felt at losing his influence in the state was still further exasperated by the growing popularity and power of Sulla; and when Bocchus erected in the capitol gilded figures, representing the surrender of Jugurtha to Sulla, Marius was so inflamed with rage, that he resolved to pull them down by force. Sulla was making preparations to resist him; and both parties would probably have come to open violence, had not the Social War broken out just at that time (B. C. 90).
This war required all the services of all the generals that Rome possessed, and, accordingly, both Marius and Sulla were actively employed in it.
But although Marius showed great military abilities in the manner in which he conducted his share of the war, yet he was considered to be over cautious and too slow; and his achievements were thrown into the shade by the superior energy and activity of Sulla. Marius was now in his sixty-seventh year: his body had grown stout and unwieldy, and he was incapable of enduring the fatigue of very active service.
He served as the legate of the consul P. Rutilius Lupus; and after the latter had fallen in battle [LUPUS, RUTILIUS], the chief command of the northern scene of the war devolved upon Marius.
He defeated the Marsi in two successive battles, after which he gave up the command, and returned to Rome, on the ground that his weakness rendered him unable to endure the toils of the campaign. His services, however, had been most important, for he had defeated the most warlike and the most dangerous of all the allies.
An anecdote preserved by Plutarch respecting the conduct of Marius in this campaign is characteristic of the veteran general. Marius had strongly intrenched himself in a fortified camp, and neither the stratagems nor the taunts of the enemy could entice him from his favourable position.
At length Pompaedius Silo, the leader of the Marsi, endeavoured to draw him out by appealing to his military pride. " If you are a great general, Marius, come down and fight;" to which the veteran replied, "Nay, do you, if you are a great general, compel me to fight against my will."
In B. C. 88 the ambition of Marius at length involved Rome in a civil war, which was attended with the most frightful horrors. Insatiably fond of power and distinction, Marius was anxious to obtain the command of the war against Mithridates; and as he was supposed to be incapable of enduring the fatigues of a campaign, he actually went daily to the Campus Martius, to go through the usual exercises with the young men.
It was a melancholy sight to see the old man so lost to all true dignity and greatness; and the wiser part, says Plutarch, " lamented to witness his greediness after gain and distinction; and they pitied a man, who, having risen from poverty to enormous wealth, and to the highest station from a low degree, knew not when to put bounds to his good fortune, and was not satisfied with being an object of admiration, and quietly enjoying what he had; but as if he was in want of every thing, after his triumphs and his honours was setting out to Cappadocia and the Euxise to oppose himself in his old age to Archelaus and Neoptolenlms, the satraps of Mithridates."
But all his efforts were in vain: his great enemy Sulla obtained the consulship (B. C. 88), and the senate gave him the command of the war against Mithridates. Thereupon Marius resolved to make a desperate attempt to deprive his rival of this opportunity for distinction, and obtain it for himself.
He got the tribune, P. Sulpicius Rufus, to bring forward a law for distributing the Italian allies, who had just obtained the Roman franchise, among all the tribes; and as they greatly exceeded the old citizens in number, they would of course be able to carry whatever they pleased in the comitia. If this law were passed, they would of course, out of gratitude to Marius, annul the resolution of the senate, and give the command of the Mithridatic war to their benefactor.
This law met with the most vehement opposition from the old citizens; and the consuls, to prevent it from being carried, declared a justitium, during which no business could be legally transacted. But Marius and Sulpicius were resolved to have recourse to the last extremities sooner than lose their point. They entered the forum with an armed force, and called upon the consuls to withdraw the justitium: in the tumult which followed the young son of Pompeius, the colleague of Sulla, was murdered, and Sulla himself only escaped by taking refuge in the house of Marius, which was close to the forum. To save their lives the consuls were obliged to withdraw the justitium: the law of Sulpicius was carried; and the tribes, in which the new citizens now had the majority, appointed Marius to the command of the war against Mithridates.
Marius had now gained the great object of his ambition; but it was hardly to be expected that a power which had been violently obtained should be peacefully surrendered.
The army destined for the Mithridatic war was stationed at Nola, and thither Marius sent two military tribunes, to take the command of the troops and bring them to him. But Sulla, who had previously joined the army, encouraged the soldiers to disobey the orders: they murdered the tribunes whom Marius had sent; and when Sulla declared his intention of marching to the city, and of putting down force by force, they readily responded to his call. Marius had not expected this daring step, and was not prepared to meet it. Sulla was marching at the head of six legions; and in order to obtain troops to oppose the latter, Marius attempted to raise a force by the abominable expedient of offering freedom to all slaves who would join him.
But it was all in vain. Sulla entered the city without mush difficulty, and Marius, with his son and a few companions, were obliged to take to flight. Sulla used his victory with comparative moderation. Marius, Sulpicius, and a few others, were declared enemies of the state, and condemned to death; their property was confiscated, and a price set upon their heads; but no attempt was made against the lives of any others. Marius and his son left Rome together, but afterwards separated, and the latter escaped in safety to Africa. Marius with his stepson Granius embarked on board ship at Ostia, and thence sailed southward along the coast of Italy, exposed to the greatest dangers, and enduring the greatest hardships. At Circeii Marius and his companions were obliged to land, on account of the violence of the wind and the want of provisions; but they could obtain nothing to eat, and after wandering about for a long time, they learnt from some peasants that a number of horsemen had been in search of them, and they accordingly turned aside from the road, and passed the night in a deep wood in great suffering and want.
But the indomitable spirit of the old man did not fail him; and he consoled himself and encouraged his companions by the assurance that he should still live to see his seventh consulship, in accordance with a prediction that had been made to him in his youth: he told them that when a child an eagle's nest with seven young ones had fallen into his lap, and that the soothsayers had informed his parents that the prodigy intimated that he should obtain the supreme command and magistracy seven times. Marius and his friends wandered on to Minturnae, and when they were within two miles from the city, they saw a party of horsemen galloping towards them.
In great haste they hurried down to the sea, and swan off to two merchant vessels, which received them on board.
The horsemen bade the sailors bring the ship to land, or throw Marius overboard; but moved by the tears and entreaties of the old man, they refused to comply with the request.
As soon, however, as the horsemen had ridden off, the sailors, fearing to keep Marius, and yet not choosing to betray him, landed him at the mouth of the river Liris, and immediately sailed away. Marius was now quite alone amid the swamps and marshes through which the Liris flows, and with difficulty waded through them to the hut of an old man, who concealed him in a hole near the river, and covered him with reeds.
But hearing shortly afterwards the noise of his pursuers in the hut of the old man, he crept out of his hiding-place, stript off his clothes, and threw himself into the thick and muddy water of the marsh. Here he was discovered, dragged out of the water, and covered with mud, and with a rope round his neck was delivered up to the authorities of Minturnae. They placed him for security in the house of a woman named Fannia, who was supposed to be a personal enemy of his [FANNIA], and then deliberated whether they should comply with the instruction that had been sent from Rome to all the municipal towns, to put Marius to death as soon as they found him.
After some consultation they resolved to obey it, but at first they could find no one to carry it into execution.
At length a Gallic or Cimbrian horse-soldier undertook the horrible duty, and with a drawn sword in his hand entered the apartment where Marius was confined.
The part of the room in which Marius lay was in the shade; and to the frightened barbarian the eyes of Marius seemed to dart out fire, and from the darkness a terrible voice shouted out, " Man, dost thou dare to murder C. Marius?"
The barbarian immediately threw down his sword, and rushed out of the house, exclaiming, "I cannot kill C. Marius." Straightway there was a revulsion of feeling among the inhabitants of Minturnae. They repented of their ungrateful conduct towards a man who had saved Rome and Italy; they got ready a ship for his departure, provided him with every thing necessary for the voyage, and with prayers and wishes for his safety conducted him to the sea, and placed him on board. From Minturnae the wind carried him to the island of Aenaria (now Ischia), where he found Granius and the rest of his friends; and from thence he set sail for Africa, which he reached in safety, after narrowly escaping death at Eryx in Sicily, where he was obliged to land to take in water. At Carthage Marius landed; but he had scarcelyput his foot on shore before the Roman governor Sextilius sent an officer to bid him leave the country, or else he would carry into execution the decree of the senate, and treat him as an enemy of the Roman people.
This last blow almost unmanned Marius; grief and indignation for a time deprived him of utterance; and at last his only reply was, "Tell the praetor that you have C. Marius a fugitive sitting on the ruins of Carthage." Meanwhile, the younger Marius, who had been to Numidia to implore the assistance of Hiempsal, had been detained by the Numidian king, but had escaped by the assistance of one of the concubines of Hiempsal, who had fallen in love with him, and joined his father just at this time. They forthwith got on board a small fishing-boat, and crossed over to the island of Cercina, as some Numidian horsemen were riding up to apprehend them.
During this time a revolution had taken place at Rome, which prepared the way for the return of Marius to Italy.
The consuls for the year B. C. 87 were Cn. Octavius and L. Cornelius Cinna, of whom the former belonged to the aristocratical and the latter to the Marian party. Sulla, however, had made Cinna swear that he would not attempt to make any alteration in the state; but as soon as the former had left Italy to prosecute the war against Mithridates, Cinna, paying no regard to the oaths he had taken, brought forward again the law of Sulpicius for incorporating the new Italian citizens among the thirty-five tribes.
The two consuls had recourse to arms, Octavius to oppose and Cinna to carry the law.
A dreadful conflict took place in the forum; the party of Octavius obtained the victory, and Cinna was driven out of the city with great slaughter.
The senate forthwith passed a decree, declaring that Cinna had forfeited his citizenship and consulship, and appointing L. Cornelius Merula consul in his stead. But Cinna would not relinquish his power without another struggle; and by means of the new citizens, whose cause he espoused, he was soon at the head of a formidable army.
As soon as Marius heard of these changes he set sail from Africa, landed at Telamo in Etruria, and proclaiming freedom to the slaves began to collect a large force.
He sent to Cinna, offering to obey him as consul. Cinna accepted his proposal, and named Marius proconsul. but Marius would not accept the title nor the insignia of office, observing that such marks of honour were not suited to his condition and fortune.
The sufferings and privations he had endured had exasperated his proud and haughty spirit almost to madness, and nothing but the blood of his enemies could appease his resentment.
The old man proceeded slowly to join Sulla, inspiring mingled respect and horror, as he went along: he was clad in a mean and humble dress, and his hair and beard had not been cut from the day he had been driven out of Rome.
After joining Cinna, Marius proceeded to prosecute the war with great vigour.
He first captured the corn ships, and thus cut off Rome from its usual supply of food.
He next took Ostia, and the other towns on the seacoast, and moving down the Tiber, encamped on the Janiculus. Famine began to rage in the city, and the senate was obliged to yield. They sent a deputation to Cinna and Marius, inviting them into the city, but entreating them to spare the citizens. Cinna received the deputies sitting in his chair of office, and gave them a kind answer: Marius stood by the consul's chair without speaking, but his looks spoke louder than words.
After the audience was over, they marched to the city: Cinna entered it with his guards; but when Marius came to the gates he affected to have scruples, and observed with contempt, that it was illegal for him as an exile to enter the city, and that if they wished for his presence, they must summon the comitia and repeal the law which banished him.
The comitia were accordingly summoned; but before three or four tribes had voted, Marius became tired of the farce, threw off the mask, and entered the city, surrounded by his body-guard, which he had formed out of the slaves who had flocked to him.
The most frightful scenes followed. His guards stabbed every one whom he did not salute, and the streets ran with the blood of the noblest of the Roman aristocracy. Every one whom Marius hated or feared was hunted out and put to death; and no consideration either of rank, talent, or former friendship induced him to spare the victims of his vengeance.
The great orator M. Antonius fell by the hands of his assassins; and his former colleague Q. Catulus, who had triumphed with him over the Cimbri, was obliged to put an end to his own life. Cinna was soon tired of the butchery; but the appetite of Marius seemed only whetted by the slaughter, and daily required fresh victims for its gratification. Without going through the form of an election, Marius and Cinna named themselves consuls for the following year (B. C. 86), and thus was fulfilled the prediction that Marius should be seven times consul.
But he did not long enjoy the honour: he was now in his seventy-first year; his body was quite worn out by the fatigues and sufferings he had recently undergone; and on the eighteenth day of his consulship he died of an attack of pleurisy, after seven days' illness.
According to Plutarch, his last illness was brought on by dread of Sulla's return, and he is said to have been troubled with terrific dreams; but these statements are probably derived from the Memoirs of Sulla, and should be received with great caution.
The ashes of Marius were subsequently thrown into the Anio by command of Sulla. (Plut. Life of Marius;
the passages of Cicero in Orelli's Onomasticon Tullian.
vol. ii. pp. 384-386; Sal. Jug. 46
; Appian, App. BC 1.29
; Liv. Epit. 66
; Vell. 2.9
; Flor. 3.1
; Oros. 5.19
.) All the ancient authorities are collected by F. Weiland, C. Marii VII. Cos. Vit.,
in the Programme of the Collége Royal Français,
Berlin, 1845; and much useful information is given by G. Long in the notes to his translation of Plutarch's Life of Marius, London, 1844.