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About the same time, as Caius Marius, who happened to be at Utica, was sacrificing to the gods,1 an augur told him that great and wonderful things were presaged to him; that he might therefore pursue whatever designs he had formed, trusting to the gods for success; and that he might try fortune as often as he pleased, for that all his undertakings would prosper. Previously to this period an ardent longing for the consulship had possessed him; and he had, indeed, every qualification for obtaining it, except antiquity of family; he had industry, integrity, great knowledge of war, and a spirit undaunted in the field; he was temperate in private life, superior to pleasure and riches, and ambitious only of glory. Having been born at Arpinum, and brought up there during his boyhood, he employed himself, as soon as he was of age to bear arms, not in the study of Greek eloquence, nor in learning the refinements of the city, but in military service; and thus, amid the strictest discipline, his excellent genius soon attained full vigor. When he solicited the people, therefore, for the military tribuneship, he was well known by name, though most were strangers to his face, and unanimously elected by the tribes. After this office he attained others in succession, and conducted himself so well in his public duties, that he was always deemed worthy of a higher station than he had reached. Yet, though such had been his character hitherto (for he was afterward carried away by ambition), he had not ventured to stand for the consulship. The people, at that time, still disposed of2 other civil offices, but the nobility transmitted the consulship from hand to hand among themselves. Nor had any commoner appeared, however famous or distinguished by his achievements, who would not have been thought unworthy of that honor, and, as it were, a disgrace to it.3

1 LXIII. Sacrificing to the gods] “Per hostias dîs supplicante.” Supplicating or worshiping the gods with sacrifices, and trying to learn their intentions as to the future by inspection of the entrails. “"Marius was either a sincere believer in the absurd superstitions and dreams of the soothsayers, or pretended to be so, from a knowledge of the nature of mankind, who are eager to listen to wonders, and are more willing to be deceived than to be taught."” Bernouf. See Plutarch, Life of Marius. He could interpret omens for himself, according to Valerius Maximus, i. 5.

2 The people--disposed of, etc.] “Etiam tum alios magistratus plebes, consulatum nobilitas, inter se per manus tradebat.” The commentators have seen the necessity of understanding a verb with plebes. Kritzius suggests habebat; Gerlach grebat or accipiebat.

3 A disgrace to it] “Pollutus.” He was considered, as it were, unclean. See Cat., c. 23, fin.

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