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THE WARS OF MARIUS.
After the death of Massinissa, king of Numidia, the ally of the Romans,
there were disputes among his grandsons, and Jugurtha, whom they held to
have the least right, obtained the kingdom. The commander of the army
sent against him was Caius Marius, who had risen from being a free Roman
peasant in the village of Arpinum, but serving under Scipio Æmilianus,
had shown such ability, that when some one was wondering where they
would find the equal of Scipio when he was gone, that general touched
the shoulder of his young officer and said, "Possibly here."
Rough soldier as he always was, he married Julia, of the high family of
the Cæsars, who were said to be descended from Æneas; and though he was
much disliked by the Senate, he always carried the people with him. When
he received the province of Numidia, instead of, as every one had done
before, forming his army only of Roman citizens, he offered to enlist
whoever would, and thus filled his ranks with all sorts of wild and
desperate men, whom he could indeed train to fight, but who had none of
the old feeling for honor or the state, and this in the end made a great
change in Rome.
Jugurtha maintained a wild war in the deserts of Africa with Marius, but
at last he was betrayed to the Romans by his friend Bocchus, another
Moorish king, and Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Marius' lieutenant, was sent
to receive him—a transaction which Sulla commemorated on a signet ring
which he always wore. Poor Jugurtha was kept two years to appear at the
triumph, where he walked in chains, and then was thrown alive into the
dungeon under the Capitol, where he took six days to die of cold and
Marius was elected consul for the second time even before he had quite
come home from Africa, for it was a time of great danger. Two fierce and
terrible tribes, whom the Romans called Cimbri and Teutones, and who
were but the vanguard of the swarms who would overwhelm them six
centuries later, had come down through Germany to the settled countries
belonging to Rome, especially the lands round the old Greek settlements
in Gaul, which had fallen of course into the hands of the Romans, and
were full of beautiful rich cities, with houses and gardens round them.
The Province, as the Romans called it, would have been grand plundering
ground for these savages, and Marius established himself in a camp on
the banks of the Rhone to protect it, cutting a canal to bring his
provisions from the sea, which still remains. While he was thus engaged,
he was a fourth time elected consul.
The enemy began to move. The Cimbri meant to march eastward round the
Alps, and pour through the Tyrol into Italy; the Teutones to go by the
West, fighting Marius on the way. But he would not come out of his camp
on the Rhone, though the Teutones, as they passed, shouted to ask the
Roman soldiers what messages they had to send to their wives in Italy.
When they had all passed, he came out of his camp and followed them as
far as Aquæ Sextiæ, now called Aix, where one of the most terrible
battles the world ever saw was fought. These people were a whole
tribe—wives, children, and everything they had with them—and to be
defeated was utter and absolute ruin. A great enclosure was made with
their carts and wagons, whence the women threw arrows and darts to help
the men; and when, after three days of hard fighting, all hope was over,
they set fire to the enclosure and killed their children and themselves.
The whole swarm was destroyed. Marius marched away, and no one was left
to bury the dead, so that the spot was called the Putrid Fields, and is
still known as Les Pourrieres.
ONE OF THE TROPHIES, CALLED OF MARIUS, AT THE CAPITOL AT ROME.
While Marius was offering up the spoil, tidings came that he was a fifth
time chosen consul; but he had to hasten into Italy, for the other
consul, Catulus, could not stand before the Cimbri, and Marius met him
on the Po retreating from them. The Cimbri demanded lands in Italy for
themselves and their allies the Teutones. "The Teutones have all the
ground they will ever want, on the other side the Alps," said Marius;
and a terrible battle followed, in which the Cimbri were as entirely cut
off as their allies had been.
Marius was made consul a sixth time. As a reward to the brave soldiers
who had fought under him, he made one thousand of them, who came from
the city of Camerinum, Roman citizens, and this the patricians disliked
greatly. His excuse was, "The din of arms drowned the voice of the law;"
but the new citizens were provided for by lands in the Province, which
the Romans said the Gauls had lost to the Teutones and they had
reconquered. It was very hard on the Gauls, but that was the last thing
a Roman cared about.
The Italians, however, were all crying out for the rights of Romans, and
the more far-sighted among the Romans would, like Caius Gracchus, have
granted them. Marcus Livius Drusus did his best for them; he was a good
man, wise and frank-hearted. When he was having a house built, and the
plan was shown him which would make it impossible for any one to see
into it, he said, "Rather build one where my fellow-countrymen may see
all I do." He was very much loved, and when he was ill, prayers were
offered at the temples for his recovery; but no sooner did he take up
the cause of the Italians than all the patricians hated him bitterly.
"Rome for the Romans," was their watchword. Drusus was one day
entertaining an Italian gentleman, when his little nephew, Marcus
Porcius Cato, a descendant of the old censor, and bred in stern
patrician views, was playing about the room. The Italian merrily asked
him to favor his cause. "No," said the boy. He was offered toys and
cakes if he would change his mind, but he still refused; he was
threatened, and at last he was held by one leg out of the window—all
without shaking his resolution for a moment; and this constancy he
carried with him through life.
People's minds grew embittered, and Drusus was murdered in the street,
crying as he fell, "When will Rome find so good a citizen!" After this,
the Italians took up arms, and what was called the Social War began.
Marius had no high command, being probably too much connected with the
enemy. Some of the Italian tribes held with Rome, and these were
rewarded with the citizenship; and after all, though the consul Lucius
Julius Cæsar, brother-in-law to Marius, gained some victories, the
revolt was so widespread, that the Senate felt it wisest, on the first
sign of peace, to offer citizenship to such Italians as would come
within sixty days to claim it. Citizenship brought a man under Roman
law, freed him from taxation, and gave him many advantages and openings
to a rise in life. But he could only give his vote at Rome, and only
there receive the distribution of corn, and he further became liable to
be called out to serve in a legion, so that the benefit was not so great
as at first appeared, and no very large numbers of Italians came to
apply for it.