The elder Marius, after putting to sea was borne by a favouring wind along the coast of Italy; but since he was afraid of one Geminius, who was a powerful man in Terracina and an enemy of his, he told his sailors to keep clear of Terracina. The sailors were willing enough to do as he wished, but the wind veered round and blew towards the shore, bringing in a heavy surge, and it was thought that the vessel would not hold out against the beating of the waves besides, Marius was in a wretched plight from sea-sickness, and therefore they made their way, though with difficulty, to the coast near Circeii.
Then, as the storm was increasing and their provisions were failing, they landed from the vessel and wandered about. They had no definite object in view, but, as is usual in cases of great perplexity, sought always to escape the present evil as the most grievous and fixed their hopes on the unknown future. For the land was their enemy, and the sea an enemy as well; they were afraid they might fall in with men, and they were afraid they might not fall in with men because they had no provisions.
However, late in the day they came upon a few herdsmen; these had nothing to give them in their need, but they recognized Marius and bade him go away as fast as he could; for a little while before numerous horsemen had been seen riding about there in search of him.
Thus at his wits' end, and, what was worst of all, his companions fainting with hunger, he turned aside for the while from the road, plunged into a deep forest, and there spent the night in great distress. But the next day, compelled by' want, and wishing to make use of his strength before it failed him altogether, he wandered along the shore, trying to encourage his companions, and begging them not to give up the struggle before his last hope could be realized, for which he was still reserving himself in reliance on ancient prophecies.
When, that is, he was quite young and living in the country, he had caught in his cloak a falling eagle's nest, which had seven young ones in it; at sight of this, his parents were amazed, and made enquiries of the seers, who told them that their son would be most illustrious of men, and was destined to receive the highest command and power seven times.
Some say that this really happened to Marius; but others say that those who heard the story from him at this time and during the rest of his flight, believed it, and recorded it, though it was wholly fabulous. For, they say, an eagle does not lay more than two eggs at one time, and Musaeus also was wrong when, speaking of the eagle, he says:
Three indeed she layeth, and two hatcheth, but one only doth she feed.
However, that Marius, during his flight and in his extremest difficulties, often said that he should attain to a seventh consulship, is generally admitted.