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Caius Marius

Caius Marius


Caius MariusThe history of Republican Rome consisted internally of the struggles between the Patricians and the Plebeians. In spite of many triumphs of the latter, the Patricians long and tenaciously held all the important offices. The first requisite for a public career came to be powerful family connections. Wherever the eye turned, it incountered abuse of power and decay of constitutional rights. At such a time arose Caius Marius, the most determined opponent of the Patrician order, yet one who could more easily defeat hosts of barbarians than overcome the relentless persecution of the ruling class.Caius Marius was born B.C. I57. at the village of Careate near Arpinum, the birthplace of Cicero. He was of obscure and illiterate parents. At one time he worked as a hired peasant, but forsook agriculture to follow a military career. He first served in Spain, at the siege of Numantia, under Scipio, B.C. 134. Here he gained that general's approval as much by his ready submission to discipline as by his prowess in the field. When Scipio was asked where Rome should find another general when he was gone, he is said to have touched Marius on the shoulder and remarked, "Possibly here." :Marius, though of humble descent, married Julia, who was of the family of the Caesars. During the campaign of Zama he had saved his division from a sudden attack, and had successfully scattered the Numidian cavalry which enveloped it. The readiuess with which he shared the toils of the common soldiers, working in the same trenches with them, endeared him to their hearts. His praises were in every mouth. In B.C. 119, he was raised to the Tribunate. The general conduct of Marius in his Tribunate earned for him the good-will of the people and the hatred of the aristocracy. He gained with great difficulty his election to the Praetorship, and was even prosecuted for bribery but he was acquitted, simply by the votes of the judges being equal.At the age of forty-eight, Marius became a candidate for the Consulship. This office had of late been confined to a few of the most illustrious families. Marius was bitterly opposed, especially by Metellus and the nobles. Marius observed, " I can display in my halls no ancestral images and ensigns of honor i but with my own hand I have won the trophies of war." Despite all opposition he carried his election, B.C. 107, and was appointed by the people to finish the war against Jugurtha. This was in defiance of the Senate, who proposed to prolong the command of Metellus. Jugurtha was at last betrayed iuto the hands of the Romans. Marius remained in Africa to regulate the conditions of his conquests. When he returned, 104 B.C., be received a splendid triumph. jugurtha, loaded with chains, was led in the procession, after which, he was cast into the dungeons under the Capitol, where in six days he died of cold and hunger.When the provinces of northern Italy were invaded by an army of 300,000 barbarians, Marius was the only general whose activity and boldness could resist so powerful an enemy. He was again elected Consul and sent against these Teutons. In two battles he slew 200,000 of the barbarians, and 80,000 were taken prisoners. The Cimbri then invaded central Italy; but in the fierce battle of Campi Raudii they were completely overthrown. Marius now entered Rome, and, with his colleague Catulus, shared a most brilliant triumph. He was now eager to obtain for the sixth time the Consulship. In order to secure his election, he employed two of Rome's worst demagogues, Satuminus and Glaucia. By their meaus and by bribing the tribes he won the election.


In the year B.C. 99, Marius set sail for Cappadocia and Galatia, under the pretence of offering sacrifices, but really to endeavor to stir upp Mithridates to make war on the Romans. He feared that he was getting unpopular, and hoped by fresh victories to regain influence. Marius had a powerful rival in Sulla, a general of renown, who had been his lieutenant in the war against Jugurtha. Rome had never been exposed to greater danger than at this time. Those Italian tribes who had been her bravest defenders now rose against her. The nations which composed this formidable conspiracy against Rome were eight in number, the Marsians being chief. This conflict, called the Social or Marsian war, opened B.C. 90, and lasted for three campaigns. Both Marius and Sulla were engaged in this strife but the former seems not to have been trusted with extensive command. He was now in his sixty-seventh year, incapable of enduring the fatigue of very active service. He intrenched himself in a fortified camp, and when the enemy taunted him with the words, "If you are a great general, Marins, come down and fight." He replied, " Nay; do you, if you are a great general, compel me to fight against my will. ' Marius quitted the camp at the most critical moment of the war, and Sulla brought the contest to a close. The arrangements for peace were hastened by threats of a war with Mithridates, King of Poutus.


While the nobles complained of their want of influence, the commonalty were dissatisfied with the paltry price their suffrages commanded. Marius, availing himself of this dissatisfaction, altered the Italians the means of acquiring a predominating influence in the tribes, and recommenced his old device of popular agitation. With the aid of a demagogue, he raised a violent tumult in the city, aud got himself nomi. nated to the Eastern command in place of his rival, Sulla. Sulla refused to give up the command, and determined to put down force by force. At the head of six legions he marched on Rome. Marius bad not expected such a step he sent two unarmed praetors to require them to halt; but Sulla slew the prretors, and the Civil War actually began. Sulla entered the city without much difficulty, and Marius fled.The Plebeian leader first retired to his private farm at Solonium. Then he went to Campania, where he was discovered in a marsh, taken before the magistrates in the town of Minturnae, and sentence of death was passed on him. A Gaul was commanded to cut off his head in the prison. The room in which the old general was confined was dark; and to the frightened barbarian the eyes of Marius seemed to dart forth fire, whilst from the darkness a terrible voice shouted, "Wretch, dare you slay Caius Marius?" The barbarian Bed in terror exclaiming, "I cannot kill Caius Marius I" Marius was released, and made good his escape to Africa. Landing near the site of Carthage, he beheld with keen emotion the ruins of a once powerful city, which, like himself, had been exposed to calamity, and felt the cruel vicissitude of fortuue. ;the place of his retreat was soon known, and the Govemor or Africa compelled him to Bee to the island of Cercina.


During this time a revolution had occurred in Rome. The Consuls for the year B.C. 87 were Cn. Octavins and L. Cornelius Ciuna. Octavius belonged to the aristocratical party, and Cinna to the Marians. The latter was deprived of the Consulship, for again bringing forward the Sulpician law, by which the Italians were to be distributed among the thirtyfive tribes. Marius now set sail to Africa and joined Cinna, who had Bed thither. They cut off the supplies from Rome, reducing that city to famine. The citizens sent a deputation to Marius and Ciuna begging for peace. The two exiles now returned to the city, and a most dreadful scene of carnage followed. Octavius was seized and beheaded. Marius gave instruction to his guards to spare those only whom he saluted. His old comrade in arms, Cattulus, on his knees, begged that his life might be spared; but Marius sternly replied, "You must die," and this brave man was compelled to suffocate himself with charcoal. The slaughter was fearful; the swords of the assassins being directed against the adherents of Sulla and the aristocratic party. Marins and Ciuna proclaimed themselves Consuls, B.C. 86; but the veteran general, who had become the grim butcher of his fellow citizens, did not long enjoy the honor, which he now held for the seventh time. After seven days illness, in the eighteenth day of bis Cousulship, and the seventy-first year of his life, Caius Marius succumbed to an attack of pleurisy.Caius Marius, in bis military position, administered justice impartially, disposed of tile spoil with rare honesty, and was thoroughly incorruptible. He was a skillful organizer, who brought the military system once more into a state of efficiency an able general who kept the soldiers under discipline, but won their affection by comrade-like intercourse. But as a ruler of the Republic, Marius, though full of wily stratagems to gain his object, dashed from him every hard won advantage by his reckless brutality.




The Romans had no sooner received the news that Jugurtha was taken, than reports were spread of an invasion from the Teutones and the Cimbri. Although the account of the Humber and strength of their armies seemed at first incredible, it afterwards appeared short of the truth. For 300,000 well-armed warriors were upon the march, and the women and children, whom they had brought with them, were said to be much more numerous. This vast multitude wanted lands on which they might subsist, and cities wherein to settlej as they had heard the Celtre, before them, had expelled the Tuscans, and possessed themselves of the best part of Italy. As for these, who now hovered like a cloud over Gaul and Italy, it was not known who they were, or whence they came, on account of the small commerce which they had with the rest of the world, and the length of way they had marched. It was conjectured, indeed, from the largeness of their stature and the blueness of their eyes, as well as because the Germans call banditti cimbri that they were some of those German nations who dwell by the Northern Sea.Most historians agree that their numbers, instead of being less, were rather greater than we have related. As to their courage, their spirit, and the force and vivacity with which they made an impression, we may compare them to a devouring flame. Nothing could resist their impetuosity all that came in their way were trodden down, or driven before them like cattle. Many armies and generals employed by the Romans to guard the Transalpine Gaul were shamefully routed; and the feeble resistance they made to the first efforts of the barbarians, was the chief thing that drew them towards Rome. For, having beaten all they met, and loaded themselves with plunder, tlley detennined to settle nowhere, till they had destroyed Rome and laid waste all Italy.The Romans, alarmed from all quarters with this news, called Marius to the command, and elected him a second time Consul. It was, indeed, unconstitutional for any one to be chosen who was absent, or who had not waited the regular time between a first aud second Consulship but the people overruled all that was said against him.


On this occasion, it was a very fortunate circumstance for Marius that the barbarians, turning their course, like a reflux of the tide, first invaded Spain. Fort is gave him time to strengthen his men by exercise, and to raise and confirm their courage and what was still of greater importance, to show them what he himself was. His severe behavior, aud inflexibility in punishing, when it had once accustomed them to guard their conduct and be obedient, appeared both just and salutary. When they were a little used to his hot and violent spirit, to the harsh tone of his voice and the fierceness of his countenance, they no longer considered him as terrible to themselves, but to the enemy. Above all, the soldiers were charmed with his integrity in judging; and this contributed not a little to procure Marius a third Consulate. Besirles, the barbarians were expected in the spring, and the people were not willing to meet them under any other general. They did not, however, come so soon as they were looked for, and the year expired without his getting a sight of them. The time of a new election coming on, and his colleague being dead, Marius left the command of the army to Manius Aquilius, and went himself to Rome. Several persons of great merit stood for the Consulate; but the people, considering that the present juncture required both bis capacity and good fortune, created him Consul a fourth time, and appointed Tutetius Catulus his colleague.


Marius being informed of the enemy's approach, passed the Alps with the utmost expedition; and having marked out his camp by the River Rhone, fortified it and brought into it a large supply of provisions that the want of necessaries might never compel him to fight at a disadvantage. But as the carriage of provisions by sea was tedious and very expensive, he found a way to make it easy and very expeditious. The month of the Rhone was at that time choked up with mud and sand, which. the beating of the sea had lodged there so that it was very dangerous, if not impracticable, for vessels of burden to enter it. Marius, therefore, set his army, now quite at leisure, to work there and having cansed a cut to be made capable of receiving large ships, he turned a great part of the river into it thus drawing it to a coast, where the opening to the sea is easy and secure. This cut still retains his name.The barbariaus dividing themselves into two bodies, the Cimbri marched the npper way through Noriculll against Cahdusj while the 1'eutolles and Ambrones took the ro..1.d through Liguria along the sea-coast, in order to reach Marius. The Cimbri spent some time in preparing for their march: but the Teutones aud Ambrones set out immediately and pushed forward with great expedition so that they soon traversed the intermediate country, and presented to the view of the Romans an incredible number of enemies, terrible ill their aspect, and ill their voice and shouts of war different from all other men. They spread themselves over a vast extent of ground near Marius, and when they had encamped, they challenged him to battle.


The Consul, for his part, kept his soldiers within the trenches, rebuking the vanity and rashness of those who wanted to be in action, and calling them traitors to their country. He told them, "Their ambition should not now bc for triumphs and trophies, but to dispel the dread ful storm that hung over them, and to save Italy from destruction." These things he said privately to his chief officers and men of the first rank. As for the common soldiers, he made them mount guard by turns upon the ramparts, to accustom them to bear the dreadful looks of the enemy, and to hear their savage voices without fear, as wen as to make them acquainted with their arms and their way of using them. The daily sight of the barbarians not only lessened the fears of the soldiers, but the menacing behavior and intolerable vanity of tl1e enemy provoked their resentment, and inflamed their courage. For they not only plundered and ruined the adjacent country but advanced to the very trenches with the greatest insolence and contempt.

Marius at last was told that the soldiers vented their grief in such complaints as these: "What effemil1ac.y has Marins discovered in us, that he thus keeps us locked up, like so many women, and restrains us from fighting? Come on; let us, with the spirit of freemen, ask him if he waits for others to fight for the liberties of Rome, and intends to make use of US only as the vilest laborers, in digging trenches, in carrying out loads of dirt and turning the course of rivers?"Marius, delighted with these speeches, talked to them in a soothing way. He told them, "It was 110t from any distrust of them that he sat still, but that, by order of certain oracles, be waited both for the time and place which were to ensure 11im the victory. n For he had with him a Syrian woman, named Martha, who was said to have the gift of prophecy. She was carried about in a litter with great respect and solemnity, and the sacrifices he offered were all by her direction. When she went to sacrifice, she wore a purple robe, and beld in her hand a spear adorned with ribbons and ~lauds. "Vhell they saw this pompous scene, many doubted whether Marius was really persuaded of her prophetic abilities, or only pretended to be so.


Marius still keeping close, the Teutones attempted to force his entrenchments i but being received with a shower of dads from the camp, by which they lost a number of men, they resolved to march forward, concluding that they might pass the Alps in full security. They packed up their baggage, therefore, and marched by the Roman camp. Then it was that the immensity of their numbers appeared from the length of their train, and the time they took up in passing; for, it is said, that though they moved on without intermission, they were six days in going by Marins' camp. Indeed, they went very near it, and asked the Romans by way of insult, "Whether they had any commands to their wives, for tIley should be shortly with them?" As soon as the barbarians had all passed by, Marius likewise decamped, and followed always taking care to keep near them, and choosing strong places at some small distance for his camp, which he also for tified, in order that he might pass the nights in safety. Thus they moved on till they came to Aqme Sextire, from whence there is but a short march to the Alps.There Marius prepared for battle; having pitched upon a place for his camp, which was unexceptionable in point of strength, but afforded little water. By this circumstance he wanted to excite the soldiers to action; and when many of them complained of thirst, he pointed to a river which ran close by the enemy's camp, and told them, "They must purchase water with their blood." Why, then," said they, "do you not lead us thither immediately, before our blood is quite parched up?" To which he answered in a softer tone, "I will lead you thither, but first let us fortify our camp."


The soldiers obeyed, though with some reluctance. But the servants of the army, being in great need of water, both for themselves and their cattle, ran in crowds to the stream. These at first were encountered by a small party of the enemy, when some having bathed were engaged at dinner, and others were still bathing in the hot wells. This gave the Romans an opportunity of cutting off a number of them, and the cry of those brought others to their assistance, so that it was now difficult for Marius to restrain the impetuosity of his soldiers, who were anxious for their servants. Besides, the Ambrones, to the number of 30,ooo, who were the best troops the enemy had, and who had already defeated Manlius and Crepio, were drawn out, and stood to their anus. Though they had over~ charged themselves with eating, yet the wine they had drank bad given them fresh spirits; and they advanced, not in a wild and disvrderly manner, or with a confused and inarticulate noise; but beating their arms at regular intervals, and all keeping time with the tunc, they come on crying out,"Ambrones ! Ambrones!" This they did, either to encourage each other, or to terrify the enemy with their name. The Ligurians were the first of the Italians that moved against them; and when they beard the enemy cry" Ambrones" they echoed back the word, which was indeed their own ancient name. Thus the shont was often returned from one army to the other before they charged.


The Ambrones were obliged to pass the river, and this broke their order; so that, before they could form again, the Ligurians charged the foremost of them and thus began the battle. The Romans came to support the Liguriaus, and pouring down from the higher ground, pressed the enemy so hard, that they soon put them in disorder. Many of them, jostling each other on the banks of the river, were slain there, and the river itself was filled with dead bodies. Those who had got safe over, not daring to advance, were cut off by the Romans, as they fled to their camp and wagons. There the women meeting them with swords and axes, and setting up a horrid and hideous cry, fell upon the fugitives, as well as the pursuers, the former as traitors, and the latter as enemies. Mingling with the combatants, they laid hold on the Roman shields, snatched at their swords with their naked hands, and obstinately suffered themselves to be hacked in pieces. Thus the battle is said to have been fought on the banks of the river, rather by accident than any design of the general.The Romans, after having destroyed so many of the Ambrones, retired as it grew dark; but the camp did not resound with songs of victory, as might have been expected upon such success. There were no entertainments, no mirth in their tents, nor, what is the most agreeable circumstance to the soldier after victory, any sonnd and refreshing sleep. The night was passed in the greatest dread and perplexity. The camp was without trench or rampart. The Romans felt the impressions of terror, and Marius himself was fitled with astonishment at the apprehension of a tumultuolls nightengagement. However, the barbarians did not attack them, either that night or next day, but spent the time in COIlsnIting how to dispose and draw themselves up to the best advantage.


In the meantime Marins, observing the sloping hills and woody hollows that hung over the enemy's camp, dispatched Claudius Marcellus with 3,000 men, to lie in ambush there till the fight was begun, and then to fall upon the enemy's rear. The rest of his troops he ordered to sup and go to rest in good time. Next morning as soon as it was light, he drew up before the camp, and commanded the cavalry to march into the plain. The Teutones seeing this, could not contain themselves, nor stay till all the Romans were come down into the plain, where they might fight them upon equal terms but arming hastily, through thirst of vengeance, advanced up to the hill. Marius dispatched his officers through the whole anny, with orders that they should stand still and wait for the enemy. 'When the barbarians were within reach, the Romans were to throw their javelins, then come to sword in hand, and pressing upon them with their shields, push them with all their force. For he knew the place was so slippery, that the enemy's blows could have no great weight, nor could they preserve any close order; where the declivity of the ground continually broke their ranks. At the same time that he gave these directions, he was the first that set the example. For he was inferior to noue in personal agility, and in resolution he far exceeded them all. The Romans, by their firmness and united charge, kept the barbarians from ascending the hill, and by little and little forced them down into the plain. There the foremost battallions were beginning to form again, when the utmost confusion dicovered itself in the rear. For Marcellus, who had watched bis opportunity, as soon as be fonud, by the noise which reached the hills where he lay, that the battle was begun, with great impetuosity and loud shouts fell upon the enemy's rear, and destroyed a considerable number of them. The hindmost being pushed upon those before, the whole anny was soon put in disorder. Thus attacked both in front and rear, they could not stand the double shock, but forsook their ranks and fled. The Romans, pursuing, either killed or took prisoners above 100,000 and having made themselves masters of their tents, carriages and baggage, voted as many of them as were not plundered, a present to Marius.


After the battle, Marius selected from among the arms and other spoils, such as were elegant and entire, and likely to make the greatest show in his triumph. The rest he piled together, and offered them as a splendid sacrifice to the gods. The army stood round the pile, crowned with laurel; and he himself, arrayed in his purple robe, and girt after the manner of the Romans, took a lighted torch. He had just lifted it up with both hands towards heaven and was going to set fire to the pile, when some friends were seen galloping towards him. Great silence and expectation followed. When they were come near, they leaped from their horses, and saluted Marins as Consul the fifth time, delivering letters to the saUle purpose. This added great joy to the solemnity, which the soldiers expressed by acclamations and by clanking their arms and while the officers were presenting Marius with new crowns of laurel, he set fire to the pile, and finished the sacrifice.But a few days after this joyful solemnity, the sad news was brought to Marius of what had befallen his colleague, Catulus. An event, which, like a cloud in the midst of a calm, brought fresh alarms upon Rome, and threatened her with another tempest. Catulus, who had the Cimbri to oppose, came to the resolution to give up the defence of the heights, lest he should weaken himself by being obliged to divide his force into many parts. He therefore descended quickly from the Alps iuto Italy, and posted his army behind the river Athesis Adige; where he blocked up the fords with strong fortifications on both sides, and threw a bridge over it; that so he might be in a condition to succor the garrisons beyond  if the barbarians should make their way through the narrow passes of the mountains, and attempt to storm them. The barbarians held their enemies in such contempt, and came on with so much insolence, that rather to show their strength and courage, than out of any necessity, they exposed themselves naked to the showers of snow and, having pushed through the ice and deep drifts of snow to the tops of the mountains, they put their broad shields under them, and so slid down, in spite of the broken rocks and vast slippery descents.


When they had encamped near the river, and taken a view of the channel, they determined to fin it up. Then they tore up the neighboring hills, like the giants of old they pulled up trees by the roots" they broke off massy rocks and rolled in huge heaps of earth. These were to dam up the current Other bulky materials, besides these, were thrown in, to force away the bridge, which being carried down the stream with great violence, beat against the timber, and shook the fouudation. At the sight of this the Roman
soldiers were struck with terror, and great part of them quitted the camp and drew back. On this occasion Catulus, like an able and excellent general, showed that he preferred
the glory of his country to his own. For when he found that he could not persuade his men to keep their post, and that they were deserting it ill a very dastardly manner, he ordered his standard to be taken up, and running to the foremost of the fugitives, led them in himself; choosing rather that the disgrace should fall upon him than upon his country, and that his soldiers should not seem to fly, but to follow their general.The barbarians now assaulted aud took the fortress on the other side of the Athesis; but admiring the bravery of the garrison, who had behaved in a manner suitable to the glory of Rome, they dismissed them upon certain conditions, having first made them swear to them upon a brazen bull. In the battle that followed this bull was taken among the spoils, and is said to have been earned to Catulus' house, as the first· fruits of the victory. The country then being without de· fence, the Cimbri spread themselves over it, and committed great depredations.


Hereupon Marius was called home. When he arrived, everyone expected that he would enjoy a triumph, and the Senate readily passed a decree for that purpose. However, he declined it, and having made an oration suitable to the time, went to join Catulus, who was much encouraged by his coming. He then sent for his anny out of Gaul, and when it had arrived, he crossed the Po, with a design to keep the barbarians from penetrating into the interior parts of Italy. But they deferred the combat, on pretence that they expected the Teutones, and that they wondered at their delay-either being really ignorant of their fate, or choosing to seem so i for they punished those who brought them that account with stripes, and sent to ask Marius for lands and cities, sufficient both for them and their brethren. When Marius inquired of the am· bassadors who their brethren were, they told him "the Teu· tones," The assembly laughed, and Marins replied in a taunt .iog manner, It Do not trouble yourselves about your bretltren, for they have laud enough, which we have already given them, and they shall have it forever." The ambassadors, perceiving the irony, answered in sbarp terms, assuring him that the Cimbri would chastise him immediately. and the Tcutoncs when they came." And they are not far off, said Marius; "it will be very unkind, therefore, in you to go away without saluting your brethren." At the same time he ordered the Kings of the Teutones to be brought out, loaded as they were with chains; for they had been taken by the Sequani, as they were endeavoring to escape over the Alps. As soon as the ambassadors had infofmed the Cimbri with what had passedd, they marched directly against Marius, who at that time lay still, and kept within his trenches. Boiorix, King of the Cimbri, came now with a small party of horse to the Roman camp, and challenged Marius to appoint the time and place where they should meet and decide by arms to whom the country should belong. Marius answered is that the Romans never consulted their enemies whell to fight however, he would indulge the Cimbri in this point." Accordingly, they agreed to fight the third day after, and that the plain of Vercellae should be the field of battle, which was fit for the Roman cavalry to act on, and convenient for the barbarians to display their number.


Both parties kept their day, and drew up their forces over against each other. Catulus had under his command 20,300 men; Marius had 32,000. The latter were drawn up in the two wings, and Catulus was in the center. The Cimbrian infantry marched out of their trenches without noise, and formed so as to have their flanks equal to their front, each side of the square extending to 30 furlongs. Their cavalry, to the number of 15,000, issued forth in great splendor. Their helmets represented the heads and open jaws of strange and frightful wild beasts on these were fixed high plumes, which made the men appear taller. Their breast-plates were of polished iron, and their shields were white and glittering. Each man had two-edged darts to fight with at a distance, and when they came hand to hand, they used broad, heavy swords. In this engagement they did not fall directly upon the front of the Romans; but, wheeling to the right, they endeavored to enclose the enemy between them and their infantry, who were posted on the left. The Roman generals perceived their artful design, but were not able to restrain their own men. One happened to cry out that the enemy fled, and they all set off upon the pursuit. In the meantime the barbarian foot came on like a vast sea. Marius huving purified, lifted his hands towards heaven, and vowed a hecatomb to the gods and Catulus, in the same posture, promised to consecrate a temple to the fortune of that day. As Marius sacrificed on this occasion, it is said that the entrails were no sooner shown him, than he cried out with a voice, "The victory is mine.


Caius Marius

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