After his tribuneship, he became a candidate for the higher aedileship. For there are two classes of aediles, one taking its name of
‘curule’ from the chairs with curving feet on which the magistrates sit in the exercise of their functions, the other, and the inferior, being called
‘plebeian.’ When the superior aediles have been elected, the people cast a second vote for the others.
Accordingly, when it was clear that Marius was losing his election to the higher office, he immediately changed his tactics and applied for the other. But men thought him bold and obstinate, and he was defeated; nevertheless, although he had met with two failures in one day, a thing which had never happened to any candidate before, he did not lower his assurance in the least, but not long afterwards became a candidate for the praetorship 1
and narrowly missed defeat; he was returned last of all, and was prosecuted for bribery.
Suspicion was chiefly aroused by the sight of a servant of Cassius Sabaco inside the palings among the voters; for Sabaco was an especial friend of Marius. Sabaco was therefore summoned before the court, and testified that the heat had made him so thirsty that he had called for cold water, and that his servant had come in to him with a cup, and had then at once gone away after his master had drunk.
Sabaco, however, was expelled from the senate by the censors of the next year, and it was thought that he deserved this punishment, either because he had given false testimony, or because of his intemperance. But Caius Herennius also was brought in as a witness against Marius, and pleaded that it was contrary to established usage for patrons (the Roman term for our representatives at law) to bear witness against clients, and that the law relieved them of this necessity; and not only the parents of Marius but Marius himself had originally been clients of the house of the Herennii.
The jurors accepted this plea in avoidance of testimony, but Marius himself contradicted Herennius, declaring that as soon as he had been elected to his magistracy he had ceased to be a client; which was not altogether true. For it is not every magistracy that frees its occupants (as well as their posterity) from their relations to a patron, but only that to which the law assigns the curule chair. However, although during the first days of the trial Marius fared badly and found the jurors severe towards him, on the last day, contrary to all expectation, there was a tie vote and he was acquitted.