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[87] The consuls for the following year were Papirius Carbo again and Marius, the nephew of the great Marius, then twenty-seven years of age. At first the winter and severe frost kept the combatants apart. At the beginning of spring, on the banks of the river Æsis, there was a severe engagement lasting from early morning till noon between Metellus and Carinas, Carbo's lieutenant. Carinas was put to flight after heavy loss, whereupon all the country thereabout seceded from the consuls to Metellus. Carbo came up with Metellus and besieged him until he heard that Marius, the other consul, had been defeated in a great battle near Præneste, when he led his forces back to Ariminum. Pompey hung on his rear doing damage. The defeat at Præneste was in this wise. Sulla captured the town of
B.C. 82
Setia. Marius, who was encamped near by, drew a little farther away. When he arrived at the so-called sacred lake (Sacriportus) he gave battle and fought bravely. When his left wing began to give way five cohorts of foot and two of horse decided not to wait for open defeat, but lowered their standards together and went over to Sulla. This was the beginning of a terrible disaster to Marius. His shattered army fled to Præneste with Sulla in hot pursuit. The Præestians gave shelter to those who arrived first, but when Sulla pressed upon them the gates were closed, and Marius was hauled up by ropes. There was another great slaughter around the walls by reason of the closing of the gates. Sulla captured a large number of prisoners. All the Samnites among them he killed, because they were always ill-affected toward the Romans.

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