Upon deliberation, the magistrates and councillors of Minturnae decided not to delay, but to put Marius to death. No one of the citizens, however, would undertake the task, so a horseman, either a Gaul or a Cimbrian (for the story is told both ways), took a sword and went into to the room where Marius was.
Now, that part of the room where Marius happened to be lying had not a very good light, but was gloomy, and we are told that to the soldier the eyes of Marius seemed to shoot out a strong flame, and that a loud voice issued from the shadows saying:
‘Man, dost thou dare to slay Caius Marius?’ At once, then, the Barbarian fled from the room, threw his sword down on the ground, and dashed out of doors, with this one cry:
‘I cannot kill Caius Marius.’
Consternation reigned, of course, and then came pity, a change of heart, and self-reproach for having come to so unlawful and ungrateful a decision against a man who had been the saviour of Italy, and who ought in all decency to be helped.
‘So, then,’ the talk ran,
‘let him go where he will as an exile, to suffer elsewhere his allotted fate. And let us pray that the gods may not visit us with their displeasure for casting Marius out of our city in poverty and rags.’ Moved by such considerations, they rushed into his room in a body, surrounded him, and began to lead him forth to the sea.
But although this one and that one were eager to do him some service and all made what haste they could, still there was delay. For the grove of Marica, as it was called, which was held in veneration, and from which nothing was permitted to be carried out that had ever been carried in, lay between them and the sea as they were going, and if they went round it they must needs lose time. At last, however, one of the older men cried out and said that no path could forbid men's steps and passage if it were the path of safety for Marius. And the speaker himself was the first to take some of the things that were being carried to the ship arid pass through the holy place.