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Marius having thus wasted much time and labor, began seriously to consider whether he should abandon the attempt as impracticable, or wait for the aid of Fortune, whom he had so often found favorable. While he was revolving the matter in his mind, during several days and nights, in a state of much doubt and perplexity, it happened that a certain Ligurian, a private soldier in the auxiliary cohorts,1 having gone out of the camp to fetch water, observed, near that part of the fort which was furthest from the besiegers, some snails crawling among the rocks, of which, when he had picked up one or two, and afterward more, he gradually proceeded, in his eagerness for collecting them, almost to the top of the hill. When he found this part deserted, a desire, incident to the human mind, of seeing what he had never seen,2 took violent possession of him. A large oak chanced to grow out among the rocks, at first, for a short distance, horizontally,3 and then, as nature directs all vegetables,4 turning and shooting upward. Raising himself sometimes on the boughs of this tree, and sometimes on the projecting rocks, the Ligurian, as all the Numidians were intently watching the besiegers, took a full survey of the platform of the fortress. Having observed whatever he thought it would afterward prove useful to know, he descended the same way, rot unobservantly, as he had gone up, but exploring and noticing all the peculiarities of the path. He then hastened to Marius, acquainted him with what he had done, and urged him to attack the fort on that side where he had ascended, offering himself to lead the way and the attempt. Marius sent some of those about him, along with the Ligurian, to examine the practicability of his proposal, who, according to their several dispositions, reported the affair as difficult or easy. The consul's hopes, however, were somewhat encouraged; and he accordingly selected, from his band of trumpeters and bugle-men, five of the most nimble, and with them four centurions for a guard;5 all of whom he directed to obey the Ligurian, appointing the next day for commencing the experiment.

1 XCIII. A certain Ligurian--in the auxiliary cohorts] The Ligurians were not numbered among the Italians or socii in the Roman army, but attached to it only as auxiliaries.

2 A desire--of seeing what he had never seen] “More humani ingenii, cupido ignara visundi invadit.” This is the reading of Cortius, to which Müller and Allen adhere. Gerlach inserted in his text, More humani ingeni, cupidio difficilia faciundi animum vortit; which Kritzius, Orelli, and Dietsch, have adopted, and which Cortius acknowledged to be the reading of the generality of the manuscripts, except that they vary as to the last two words, some having animadvortit. The sense of this reading will be, "the desire of doing something difficult, which is natural to the human mind, drew off his thoughts from gathering snails, and led him to contemplate something of a more arduous character." But the reading of Cortius gives so much better a sense to the passage, that I have thought proper to follow it. Burnouf, with Havercamp and the editions antecedent to Cortius reads more humanœ cupidinis ignara visundi animum vortit, of which the first five words are taken from a quotation of Aulus Gellius, ix. 12, who, however, may have transcribed them from some other part of Sallust's works, now lost.

3 Horizontally] “Prona.” This word here signifies forward, not downward, as Anthon and others interpret, for trees growing out of a rock or bank will not take a descending direction.

4 As nature directs all vegetables] “Quò cuncta gignentium natura, fert.” It is to be observed that the construction is natura fert cuncta gignentium, for cuncta gignentia. On gignentia, i.e. vegetable, or whatever produces any thing, see c. 79, and Cat., c. 53.

5 Four centurions for a guard] “Prœsidio qui forest, quatuor centuriones.” It is a question among the commentators whether the centurions were attended by their centuries or not; Cortius thinks that they were not, as ten men were sufficient to cause an alarm in the fortress, which was all that Marius desired. But that Cortius is in the wrong, and that there were common soldiers with the centurions, appears from the following considerations: 1. Marius would hardly have sent, or Sallust have spoken of, four men as a guard to six. 2. Why should centurions only have been selected, and not common soldiers as well as their officers? 3. An expression in the following chapter, laqueis--quibus allevati milites facilius escenderent, seems to prove that there were others present besides the centurions and the trumpeters. The word milites is indeed wanting in the text of Cortius, but appears to have been omitted by him merely to favor his own notion as to the absence of soldiers, for he left it out, as Kritzius says, summâ libidine, ne uno quidem codice assentiente, "purely of his own will, and without the authority of a single manuscript." Taking a fair view of the passage, we seem necessarily led to believe that the centurions were attended by a portion, if not the whole, of their companies. See the following note.

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