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And thus spake one, to justify his fears:
' No other deeds the fates laid up in store
' When Marius,1 victor over Teuton hosts,
' Afric's high conqueror, cast out from Rome,
'Lay hid in marshy ooze, at thy behest,
' O Fortune! by the yielding soil concealed
' And waving rushes; but ere long the chains
' Of prison wore his weak and aged frame,
' And lengthened squalor: thus he paid for crime
' His punishment beforehand; doomed to die
' Consul in triumph over wasted Rome.
'Death oft refused him; and the very foe,
' In act of slaughter, shuddered in the stroke
' And dropped the weapon from his nerveless hand.
' For through the prison gloom a flame of light
' He saw; the deities of crime abhorred;
' The Marius to come. A voice proclaimed
' Mysterious, " Hold! the fates permit thee not
' " That neck to sever. Many a death he owes
' " To time's predestined laws ere his shall come;
' " Cease from thy madness. If ye seek revenge
' " For that he blotted out your Cimbrian tribes,
' " Let this man live, live out his fated days."
' Not as their darling did the gods protect
' The man of blood, but for his ruthless hand
' Fit to prepare that sacrifice of gore
' Which fate demanded. By the sea's despite
' Borne to our foes, Jugurtha's wasted realm
' He saw, now conquered; there in squalid huts
' Awhile he lay, and trod the hostile dust
' Of Carthage, and his ruin matched with hers:
' Each from the other's fate some solace drew,
' And prostrate, pardoned heaven. On Libyan2 soil
' Fresh fury gathering,3 next, when Fortune smiled
'The prisons he threw wide and freed the slaves.
' Forth rushed the murderous bands, their melted chains
' Forged into weapons for his ruffian needs.
' No charge he gave to mere recruits in guilt
' Who brought not to the camp some proof of crime.
' How dread that day when conquering Marius seized
' The city's ramparts! with what fated speed
' Death strode upon his victims! plebs alike 4
' And nobles perished; far and near the sword
' Struck at his pleasure, till the temple floors
'Ran wet with slaughter and the crimson stream
' Befouled with slippery gore the holy walls.
' No age found pity: men of failing years,
' Just tottering to the grave, were hurled to death;
' From infants, in their being's earliest dawn,5
' The growing life was severed. For what crime?
'Twas cause enough for death that they could die.
' The fury grew : soon 'twas a sluggard's part
' To seek the guilty: hundreds died to swell
'The tale of victims. Shamed by empty hands,
' The bloodstained conqueror snatched a reeking head
' From neck unknown. One way of life remained,
' To kiss with shuddering lips the red right hand.6
' Degenerate people! Had ye hearts of men,
' Though ye were threatened by a thousand swords,
' Far rather death than centuries of life
' Bought at such price; much more that breathing space
' Till Sulla comes again.7 But time would fail
' In weeping for the deaths of all who fell.
'Encircled by innumerable bands
' Fell Baebius, his limbs asunder torn,
' His vitals dragged abroad. Antonius too,
' Prophet of ill, whose hoary head8 was placed,
' Dripping with blood, upon the festal board.
' There headless fell the Crassi; mangled frames
'Neath Fimbria's falchion: and the prison cells
' Were wet with tribunes' blood. Hard by the fane
' Where dwells the goddess and the sacred fire,
' Fell aged Scaevola, though that gory hand 9
' Had spared him, but the feeble tide of blood
' Still left the flame alive upon the hearth.
' That selfsame year the seventh time restored 10
' The Consul's rods; that year to Marius brought
' The end of life, when he at Fortune's hands
' All ills had suffered; all her goods enjoyed.
' And what of those who at the Sacriport11
' And Colline gate were slain, then, when the rule
' Of Earth and all her nations almost left
' This city for another, and the chiefs
' Who led the Samnite hoped that Rome might bleed
' More than at Caudium's Forks she bled of old?
' Then came great Sulla to avenge the dead,
' And all the blood still left within her frame
' Drew from the city; for the surgeon knife
' Which shore the cancerous limbs cut in too deep,
' And shed the life stream from still healthy veins.
' True that the guilty fell, but not before
' All else had perished. Hatred had free course
' And anger reigned unbridled by the law.
' The victor's voice spake once; but each man struck
' Just as he wished or willed. The fatal steel
' Urged by the servant laid the master low.
' Sons dripped with gore of sires; and brothers fought
' For the foul trophy of a father slain,
' Or slew each other for the price of blood.
' Men sought the tombs and, mingling with the dead,
' Hoped for escape; the wild beasts' dens were full.
' One strangled died; another from the height
' Fell headlong down upon the unpitying earth,
' And from the encrimsoned victor snatched his death:
' One built his funeral pyre and oped his veins,
' And scaled the furnace ere his blood was gone.
' Borne through the trembling town the leaders' heads
' Were piled in middle forum: hence men knew
' Of murders else unpublished. Not on gates
' Of Diomedes,12 tyrant king of Thrace,
' Nor of Antaeus, Libya's giant brood,
' Were hung such horrors; nor in Pisa's hall
'Were seen and wept for when the suitors died.
' Decay had touched the features of the slain
' When round the mouldering heap, with trembling steps
' The grief-struck parents sought and stole their dead.
' I, too, the body of my brother slain
' Thought to remove, my victim to the peace
' Which Sulla made, and place his loved remains
' On the forbidden pyre. The head I found,
' But not the butchered corse.
Why now renew
' The tale of Catulus's shade appeased?
' And those dread tortures which the living frame
' Of Marius 13 suffered at the tomb of him
' Who haply wished them not? Pierced, mangled, torn-
' Nor speech nor grasp was left: his every limb
' Maimed, hacked and riven; yet the fatal blow
' The murderers with savage purpose spared.
''Twere scarce believed that one poor mortal frame
' Such agonies could bear ere death should come.
' Thus crushed beneath some ruin lie the dead;
' Thus shapeless from the deep are borne the drowned.
' Why spoil delight by mutilating thus,
' The head of Marius? To please Sulla's heart
' That mangled visage must be known to all.
' Fortune, high goddess of Praeneste's fane,
' Saw all her townsmen hurried to their deaths
' In one fell instant. All the hope of Rome,
' The flower of Latium, stained with blood the field
' Where once the peaceful tribes their votes declared.
' Famine and Sword, the raging sky and sea,
' And Earth upheaved, have laid such numbers low :
' But ne'er one man's revenge. Between the slain
' And living victims there was space no more,
' Death thus let slip, to deal the fatal blow.
' Hardly when struck they fell; the severed head
' Scarce toppled from the shoulders; but the slain
' Blent in a weighty pile of massacre
' Pressed out the life and helped the murderer's arm.
' Secure from stain upon his lofty throne,
' Unshuddering sat the author of the whole,
' Nor feared that at his word such thousands fell.
'At length the Tuscan flood received the dead
' The first upon his waves; the last on those
' That lay beneath them; vessels in their course
' Were stayed, and while the lower current flowed
' Yet to the sea, the upper stood on high
Dammed back by carnage. Through the streets meanwhile
' In headlong torrents ran a tide of blood,
' Which furrowing its path through town and field
'Forced the slow river on. But now his banks
' No longer held him, and the dead were thrown
' Back on the fields above. With labour huge
'At length he struggled to his goal and stretched
' In crimson streak across the Tuscan Sea.
' For deeds like these, shall Sulla now be styled
' " Darling of Fortune," " Saviour of the State "?
' For these, a tomb in middle field of Mars
' Record his fame? Like horrors now return
' For us to suffer; and the civil war
' Thus shall be waged again and thus shall end.
'Yet worse disasters may our fears suggest,
' For now with greater carnage of mankind
' The rival hosts in weightier battle meet.
' To exiled Marius, the prize of war
' Was Rome regained; triumphant Sulla knew
' No greater joy than on his hated foes
' To wreak his vengeance with unsparing sword.
'But these more powerful rivals Fortune calls
' To worse ambitions; nor would either chief
'For such reward as Sulla's wage the war.'
Thus, mindful of his youth, the aged man
Wept for the past, but feared the coming days.
1 When dragged from his hiding place in the marsh, Marius was sent by the magistrates of Minturnae to the house of a woman named Fannia, and there locked up in a dark apartment. It does not appear that he was there long. A Gallic soldier was sent to kill him; 'and the eyes of Marius appeared to him to dart a strong flame, and a loud voice issued from the gloom, "Man, do you dare to kill Caius Marius?"' He rushed out exclaiming, 'I cannot kill Caius Marius.' (Plutarch, ' Marius,' 38.)
2 The Governor of Libya sent an officer to Marius, who had landed in the neighbourhood of Carthage. The officer delivered his message, and Marius replied, 'Tell the Governor you have seen Caius Marius, a fugitive sitting on the ruins of Carthage,' a reply in which he not inaptly compared the fate of that city and his own changed fortune. (Plutarch, 'Marius,' 40.)
3 In the 'gathering of fresh fury on Libyan soil,' there appears to be an allusion to the story of Antaeus, in Book IV.
4 These lines are quoted by Holinshed in his 'Chronicles' as descriptive of the horrors of a Scottish inroad which took place in 1296.
5 See Ben Jonson's 'Catiline,' Act i., scene 1, speaking of the Sullan massacre.
Not infants in the porch of life were free. Catiline.
'Twas crime enough that they had lives: to strike but only those that could do hurt was dull and poor: some fell to make the number as some the prey.”
6 Whenever he did not salute a man, or return his salute, this was a signal for massacre. (Plutarch, 'Marius,' 43.)
7 The Marian massacre was in B.C. 87-86; the Sullan in 82-81.
8 The head of Antonius was struck off and brought to Marius at supper. He was the grandfather of the triumvir.
9 Scaevola, it would appear, was put to death after Marius the elder died, by the younger Marius. He was Pontifex Maximus, and slain by the altar of Vesta.
10 B.C. 86, Marius and Cinna were Consuls. Marius died seventeen days afterwards, in the seventieth year of his age.
11 The Battle of Sacriportus was fought between Marius the younger and the Sullan army in B.C. 82. Marius was defeated with great loss, and fled to Praeneste, a town which afterwards submitted to Sulla, who put all the inhabitants to death (line 215). At the Colline gate was fought the decisive battle between Sulla and the Samnites, who, after a furious contest, were defeated.
12 Diomedes was said to feed his horses on human flesh. For Antaeus see Book IV., 660. OEnomaus was king of Pisa in Elis. Those who came to sue for his daughter's hand had to compete with him in a chariot race, and if defeated were put to death.
13 The brother of the Consul.
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