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Our Young Folks' Plutarch by  Rosalie Kaufman

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CAIUS MARIUS

CAIUS MARIUS was born of poor but worthy parents, who earned their living by daily labor. They spent their days in an obscure country town, where their son was brought up in a quiet, humble manner.

Nevertheless his nature was warlike, and all through his early years nothing interested him so much as the exploits of warriors, whom he longed to imitate. He first served in the army when Scipio Africanus besieged Numantia, and fought so bravely that he was honored with an invitation to dine at the general's table.

[344] In course of conversation one evening Scipio was asked, "Where shall we Romans find another brave general when you are gone?" "Here, perhaps," replied Scipio, placing his hand on the shoulder of Marius, who sat next to him. The young man was so flattered that he decided then and there upon a political life, and it was not very long before he obtained the office of tribune of the people.

His first act after his election was to propose a change in the system of voting, which lessened the authority of the Patricians. This made him popular with the Plebeians; but when, on the other hand, he opposed certain laws regarding the distribution of corn that favored the people, he lost their good will, but gained favor with the Patricians. So he was honored by both parties as a man who worked only for the public good, and not for the interest of any particular party.

When his tribuneship came to an end, Marius stood candidate for the office of chief ædile; that is, the one called curules, on account of the chair with crooked feet in which those officers sat while attending to business. The other was inferior, and was known as the plebeian ædile. Marius did not get the higher office, but he lost no time in applying for the lower one; failing to get that also, he waited a short time and stood for the prætorship. Then his perseverance was crowned with success, though it was said that he managed it by bribery. However, he was tried and acquitted, so probably the accusation was false.

While he was prætor he did nothing to distinguish himself, but when his term of office expired he was sent to Spain in command of an army, and did excellent service there in clearing the country of robbers. At that period the Spaniards were so uncivilized that robbery was not considered dishonorable, and so their country was filled with brigands, until Marius drove them out. On his return to Rome he was anxious to take part in the government, but he had neither wealth nor eloquence to recommend him. However, he increased his popularity among the common people by his industry, high spirit, and plain manner of living to such a degree that he gained offices which gave him power. Thus he was enabled to make a very lofty marriage with no less a person than Julia, a member of the illustrious Cæsar family. She was [345] aunt to the celebrated Julius Cæsar, whose story is told in a later chapter.

Marius showed much fortitude in enduring pain when undergoing a surgical operation. Both his legs were covered with tumors, and he determined to have them cut out; so, refusing to be bound, he held out one limb and submitted to the painful operation without flinching; but when the surgeon was about to begin on the other he refused, saying, "I see the cure is not worth the pain."

When Metellus was made general in the war against Jugurtha, in Africa, he chose Marius for his lieutenant. That was a most difficult war, and gave Marius opportunities not only to distinguish himself by deeds of bravery, but to win the love of the soldiers by sharing their labors, their privations, and their dangers. Before long both Africa and Rome were sounding his praises, and many of the soldiers went so far as to write home that the war would never be brought to a close until Caius Marius was chosen consul. It is needless to say that Metellus became jealous of a man who was in such high favor, and when Marius announced that he was going home to stand for consul, the general said, "You ought to be content to wait for the consulship until this son of mine gets it too." But Marius thought otherwise, particularly as the son of Metellus was then but a boy, and went to Rome in time for the election.

He was received with open arms, and when he told the people that if he were made consul he would promise either to kill Jugurtha or to take him alive, they all voted for him. But he made himself disagreeable to the Patricians by enlisting in his army slaves and poor people, which Roman generals had never done, and by boasting of his own powers and speaking with contempt of the nobles. This pleased the populace, who considered him a very bold, high-spirited man, and encouraged him in his abuse of people who had won fame in the state, and excited their envy in consequence.

Now, when Marius went back to Africa it made Metellus angry to think that after he had almost brought the war to an end, and nothing remained but to take the person of Jugurtha, another should come to deprive him of that glory; so he retired, and left one of his officers to deliver up the Roman forces to Marius. It was not Marius, however, but Lucius Sylla who had the honor of [346] receiving Jugurtha, an account of which is given in the life of Sylla. Marius could bear no rival in glory, and when his enemies declared that it was Metellus who began and carried on the war, and Sylla who gave it the finishing stroke, they sowed the first seeds of a violent quarrel which almost ruined the Roman empire.

The public attention was soon attracted towards another channel, however, for an army of more than three hundred thousand warriors, with their wives and children, came like a devouring flame from the shores of the North Sea, treading down, and driving before them like a drove of wild beasts, all that came in their way. Many generals and armies employed by the Romans to guard the northern part of Italy were shamefully routed, and this encouraged the advancing barbarians to push on towards Rome and possess themselves of the whole of Italy.

The reports that came to Rome from all sides were so alarming that Marius was ordered home to undertake the war. Though the law did not permit an absent man, or one that had not waited a given time after his first consulship, to be re-elected, the people would have no one but Marius; he was accordingly made consul a second time.

On his return, Marius was honored with a triumphal procession, in which Jugurtha in chains was led before the car of the conqueror. So great was the agony of the African captive that he lost his senses, and when, after the triumph, his ornaments and robes were dragged off of him and he was cast into a dark, damp dungeon, where he was starved to death, he exclaimed, with an idiotic smile, "O Hercules! how cold is this bath of yours!"

While marching, Marius trained his men to hardships by accustoming them to long, tiresome tramps, compelling every man to carry his own baggage and provide his victuals: so that afterwards "Marius's Mules" was a term applied to all hard workers who were patient and ready. Marius was fortunate in this: for some unknown reason the enemy changed their course and went first to Spain, which gave him ample time to exercise his soldiers, and to prove to them what he himself was. By his fierce manners when commanding, his stentorian voice and stern expression, they learned to obey, and their confidence in him increased to such an extent that they believed him to be the general of all others to [347] inspire terror in the enemy. But what they put most faith in was his sense of justice, of which he gave several remarkable proofs. So well pleased were the Roman people with Marius that they elected him consul a third time, and as the year closed before the expected enemy came on, he was again re-elected, and Lutatius Catulus, a man highly esteemed both by nobles and commons, became his colleague.

Shortly after, the approach of the enemy was announced, and Marius passed the Alps and pitched his camp by the river Rhone. He took good care to station his army where they could be amply supplied with food and water, but remained perfectly quiet as long as possible. His reason was this: The enemy's soldiers were fierce-looking men, whose arms and mode of fighting were different from any the Romans had ever seen, and, like a prudent general, he wanted his men to become familiar with them, in order that they might not be awed merely because of their strangeness. When complaints of inaction reached his ears, Marius always replied that he was guided as to the time and place for fighting entirely by the oracles. And, in fact, he used to carry about in a litter a Syrian woman, named Martha, supposed to be a prophetess, who directed him with regard to sacrifices. This woman had given so many proofs of her skill that Marius's wife had sent her to be with the army, thinking that her prophecies would be of service. Whenever she went to sacrifice, Martha wore a purple robe, and carried in her hand a little spear trimmed with ribbons and garlands. Some people doubted whether Marius really believed Martha to be a prophetess, or only pretended to do so, in order to impress his soldiers, but she was certainly regarded with veneration by the entire army.

When the enemy ventured to attack Marius, they were received with a shower of darts and lost several of their men. Then they determined to march forward to the other side of the Alps, and so enormous was their number that they were six whole days in passing by the Roman fortifications. Whenever they were close enough to be heard, they would tauntingly ask whether Marius's men had any messages to send to Rome, because they expected to be there in a few days. As soon as they had passed, Marius began to follow, always encamping at some distance, and choosing safe, strong [348] positions. The first serious battle took place at Sextilius's Waters, and after many hours of hard fighting the Romans gained a splendid victory. They killed or took prisoners a hundred thousand men, and got possession of their tents, wagons, and baggage. Many of these were voted a present to their general, who had shown extraordinary skill and courage.

But Marius chose such arms and other spoils as would make the greatest show in his triumph; the rest he piled up for a splendid sacrifice. The army stood about in festive attire with garlands on their heads, and Marius, in a purple-bordered robe, had just taken a lighted torch and raised both arms towards heaven, when a party was seen approaching on horseback with great speed. Every one was silent and expectant. The men, who proved to be Romans, jumped from their horses, walked towards Marius, saluted him respectfully, and then announced that they brought news of his fifth consulship. The soldiers clashed their arms and shouted, the officers crowned Marius again with a laurel-wreath, and then he set fire to the pile and finished the sacrifice.

The rejoicings of the Romans were considerably dampened within a few days, however, when bad news came from Catulus. He was, as we know, consul at the same time with Marius, and though the latter had had no easy task in overcoming the barbarians, Catulus's had been a far more difficult one. He had crossed the Alps and posted his part of the army in Italy, placing the Adige River between him and the enemy, part of whose forces had continued on their way, though leaving quite enough in Gaul to oppose Marius. Catulus blocked up the river on both sides with strong fortifications, built a bridge, and put everything in readiness that he might not be taken by surprise.

But he soon found that all his efforts had been in vain, for the barbarians, who had come from a cold region, were so hardy and so strong that they felt a contempt for the Romans, and exposed themselves naked in a snow-storm just to make a display of their courage. It seemed easy for them to push their way through ice and snow to the very tops of the mountains, and then, using their broad shields for sleds, they slid down the slippery sides. They next set to work, like a body of giants, to fill up the channel of the river, pulling up trees by the roots and throwing them in, adding besides huge rocks [349] and piles of earth. These with other bulky objects were forced by the current against the bridge that the Romans had built, and dashed upon the timbers with such violence as to shake their foundation. The Roman soldiers watched these proceedings with perfect astonishment, and when they saw their bridge going to pieces before their eyes, many of them were so discouraged that they left their camp and drew back. Catulus tried to persuade them to keep their post, but, finding it impossible to make them listen to him, he determined to do his utmost to save the honor of his country. It should never be said that a Roman army had fled if he could help it; so, ordering his standard to be pulled up, he ran to the front of the retreating soldiers and commanded them to follow him. He preferred to disgrace himself by deserting his camp rather than have his soldiers appear like cowards.

The enemy crossed the river, took all the spoils in the Roman camp, and spread themselves over the country, doing great damage wherever they went. Then Marius was recalled to Rome, and, instead of waiting for his triumph, he made all haste to get his army in order and join Catulus near the river Po, to prevent the enemy from advancing to the very centre of Italy.

Now, the part of the northern army that had so frightened the soldiers of Catulus were called the Cimbri, and the part that Marius had defeated were called the Teutones. The Cimbri either had not heard of the fate of the Teutones, or pretended ignorance, for they sent ambassadors to Marius to ask for lands and cities enough to accommodate them and their brethren, whom they were daily expecting to join them.

"Who are your brethren?" asked Marius of the ambassadors.

"The Teutones," was the reply.

"Oh, do not trouble yourselves about your brethren," replied Marius, with a taunting laugh; "we have already given them land enough, which they may keep forever."

"The Cimbri will punish you immediately, and so will the Teutones when they join us," returned the ambassadors, angrily.

"But they are not far off," said Marius; "surely you would not be so unkind as to go away without saluting your brethren." As he spoke he gave a signal, and the Teutone commanders were led forth in chains.

[350] No sooner did the Cimbri hear what had happened than they marched against Marius, and their king rode with a small party to the Roman camp, with a challenge to the general to decide by arms to whom Italy should belong. "The Romans never consult their enemies when to fight," said Marius; "however, the Cimbri shall be indulged on that point, and we will name the third day from this and the plain of Vercelli."

On the appointed day the forces were drawn up, and presented a magnificent array. Catulus had twenty thousand men, and Marius had thirty-two thousand. The Cimbrian infantry marched out of their trenches noiselessly, and spread themselves over a square mile, then the cavalry, to the number of fifteen thousand, came forth in great splendor. Their helmets represented the heads and open jaws of strange and frightful wild beasts, and these were surmounted by high plumes, making the men appear taller than they really were. Their breastplates were of polished steel, and their shields were white and glittering. Each man carried two-edged darts, to be used at a distance, and a broad, heavy sword for hand-to-hand fighting.

Just before going into battle, Marius lifted his hands to heaven and vowed a hecatomb, which meant a hundred oxen, to the gods; Catulus vowed to consecrate a temple to the fortune of the day. Then the sacrifice was offered. As soon as Marius beheld the entrails of the animal he shouted, "The victory is mine!" and made the charge. It so happened that the chief part of the conflict fell to the legions of Catulus, which was a great disappointment to Marius. The battle took place in the summer, and the Cimbri, who had been bred in cold countries, could not stand the heat. The sun annoyed them dreadfully, they could scarcely breathe the hot air, and were forced to hold up their shields to shade their faces. The perspiration poured from them, and they were almost suffocated, while the Romans suffered scarcely any inconvenience. Then, too, the dust was so thick that the Romans could not distinguish the vast multitude of the enemy, and so were not appalled by it. In short, everything favored them that day, and at the very first charge the enemy's troops were cut to pieces.

Those that fled were followed by the Romans to their camp, where a shocking scene was enacted. The Cimbrian women met [351] their husbands, fathers, and brothers, and murdered them as they ran in. That done, they strangled their little ones with their own hands, threw them under the horses' feet, and then killed themselves. A number of the men who were not killed by the women tied themselves by the neck to the horns or legs of the oxen, then goaded them on so that they were either strangled or torn to pieces. Nevertheless, about sixty thousand were taken prisoners.

Although it was clearly proved that Catulus had left more of the enemy dead upon the field than Marius had, by the larger number of shafts having his name inscribed on them, yet the honor of the day was given to Marius, because of his former victory, and the applause he got at home was so great that he was called the third founder of Rome. He had indeed rescued his country from as great a danger as that which threatened her at the invasion of the Gauls, and the women and children drank to him and to the gods at the same time. The honor of the two triumphs would have been accorded to him, but either generosity or fear of opposition from Catulus's soldiers prompted him to share one with their general.

The war with the Cimbri brought Marius's fifth consulship to a close; then he was anxious to be elected again; but he was not an able statesman in time of peace: he was not popular with the nobility; besides, he preferred to be great rather than good, and showed plainly that, unless he held an office which gave him dignity, he would do nothing for his country's cause. He was not a true patriot, but he would make any sacrifice for position, and worked as hard for his sixth consulship as any man had ever done for his first one. He did not care how low he stooped if only he could gain favor with the people; that meant to him votes, for which he even resorted to bribery. And so he was elected, with Valerius Flaccus as his colleague.

But it would have been better if he had rested on his laurels, for by his conduct in his sixth consulship he excited the hatred of all parties. He had made an enemy of Metellus by his ungenerous behavior towards him in the African war against Jugurtha, and by means of bribery had kept him from being elected consul. Then he accepted a couple of lawless fellows named Glaucia and Satur- [352] ninus for his friends, and with their aid committed many misdemeanors, the very worst of which was during the tribuneship of the latter. Saturninus proposed a law for the division of lands, and added a clause requiring the senate to swear to agree to any vote the people should carry, and never to oppose them. Marius had really been instrumental in the wording of this law, but pretended in the senate to oppose it, and said that no wise man could take such an oath. Metellus was the last senator to vote, and as he was a thoroughly honest man, and knew that such a law would lead to the ruin of the Roman constitution, he declared that he would not swear to support it. This was exactly what Marius wanted, because he knew it would make Metellus unpopular. A few days later, when Saturninus took the votes of the senators on his law, Marius stepped out and hypocritically declared that he was not so conceited as to believe that he could not make a mistake, so if the law met with favor he would willingly submit to it. This was the step he had intended to take from the start, but he wanted to produce a theatrical effect. The people clapped and applauded him, but the nobility were much displeased. However, fear of the populace led each senator to take the oath until it came to Metellus's turn. His friends begged him to do likewise; but, to a man who esteemed truth the first principle of heroic virtue, that was impossible. He left the Forum, saying to those who stood near him, "To do an ill action is base; to do a good one in which there is no danger is nothing more than common; but it is the duty of a good man to do great and good things, though he risk much by it." Metellus knew that he would be banished, and so he was; but he preferred banishment to dishonor.

After a time Saturninus was guilty of such outrages that the principal men of Rome met at the house of Marius to see whether they could not find some means of punishing him. Then Marius was guilty of a mean, dishonest action, for he hid Saturninus and his friends behind a curtain, so that they might hear what was said, and, pretending to be ill, passed in and out from one party to the other, creating all the mischief he could between them. At last the senators became so violent that Saturninus and his set fled to the Capitol for protection. Soldiers were called out, and by order of the infuriated senators, who had discovered the trick, the friends [353] of Marius, who were shut up in the Capitol, were besieged. The water pipes were cut, and, as no food had been provided, the prisoners could not hold out long. They called on Marius to save them, and he promised to do so if he could, whereupon the besieged men came down into the Forum, where, as they appeared, the people stoned and clubbed them to death. The consequence of all this was that Marius was thoroughly despised both by the nobles and commons, so much so that when the time came for the election of censors he dared not offer himself. So he built a house close to the Forum, and lived quietly for a long time, praying for war to break out, so that he might not remain entirely neglected and forgotten.

Sylla was now one of the consuls, and Marius hated him because he was popular with the nobles. The time came when the affairs of Rome were in such a state of disorder that Sulpicius, a bad man, who imitated Saturninus in his lawless deeds, formed a guard of six hundred, whom he called anti-senators, and set upon the consuls. This happened when the most warlike people of Italy had united to fight against Rome. Then Marius, who was sixty-five years old, wanted to command the army, but Sylla had been placed in his stead. Sulpicius drove out the consuls and gave the command to Marius, who immediately began his preparations by sending two tribunes to relieve Sylla of his command.

Thereupon, with thirty-five thousand armed men, Sylla marched towards Rome, slew the tribunes Marius had sent, and made an assault, which forced Marius from the field. He made his escape from the city with a small party, and embarked on board a ship that happened to sail along just in the nick of time. A dreadful storm came up, and the party left the ship and wandered about on shore until they met a few poor shepherds, who relieved their hunger, but told Marius that a troop of horsemen were searching for him. That night was passed in the woods, and when day dawned Marius proceeded on foot, urging his companions not to desert him. Towards noon he approached a city on the sea-coast of Italy just as a cavalry company came in sight. He knew that they were searching for him, but fortunately there were two ships under sail in the harbor, so the whole party plunged into the sea and swam towards them. They were reached with little difficulty [354] by all except poor Marius, who with age had become fat and unwieldy. However, two of his men kept his head above water until he got to one of the ships, the rest of the party having been taken on board the other.

By that time the soldiers arrived at the sea-shore, and called out to the seamen either to bring Marius back or throw him overboard; but he entreated them, with tears in his eyes, not to obey; and, after consulting among themselves, they decided that it would be cruel to place the old man in the hands of his enemies. So the soldiers rode off in a rage. A few hours later the seamen changed their minds; they did not intend to deliver Marius over to those that pursued him, neither did they feel safe in protecting him, so they solved the difficulty by steering for land and casting anchor at the mouth of the river Liris. They then advised him to go on shore and refresh himself, and rest until the wind was fairer, which, they said, would be the case at about sunset. Marius landed, and walked to a field near by, where he lay down and soon fell asleep. When he awoke, the ship was nowhere to be seen.

Alone, and deserted by all the world, the poor old general felt stupefied for some time. At last he collected himself, and on looking about discovered a hut in the distance. He raised himself with difficulty, for his limbs were stiff and sore, and waded through bog, ditch, and mud until he reached the hut, where an old man lived who worked in the fens. Falling on his knees, Marius implored him to protect one who, if he escaped his present danger, would reward him beyond anything he dreamed of. "If you want only to rest," said the man, who probably recognized his visitor, "my cottage will answer; but if you are flying from anybody's search, I can hide you in a more retired place." Marius desired him to do so by all means, so he led him to a little cave in the fen near the river-side, where he covered him with reeds.

Meanwhile, orders had been sent throughout Italy for a public search to be made for Marius, and whoever found him was to kill him. He had not been long in his hiding-place when he heard a tumult in the old man's hut, and, knowing that he must be the cause of it, he plunged into a puddle of thick, muddy water. But instead of escaping he only put himself in the way of his pursuers, who dragged him out all covered with dirt, and led him naked [355] to the magistrates of Minturnæ, the nearest town. A Cimbrian horseman was selected to put the prisoner to death, and for that purpose he entered his chamber sword in hand. A dim light made the corner where Marius lay on the couch appear dark, but the Cimbrian saw the prisoner's eyes flash as a terrible voice that had no human sound exclaimed, "Fellow, darest thou kill Caius Marius?" The barbarian dropped his sword and fled, crying, as he rushed into the street, "I cannot kill Caius Marius!"

Suddenly, as if by magic, everybody's anger was turned to pity and remorse. "How can we be so ungrateful towards the preserver of Italy? ought we not rather to assist and protect him?" they asked. "Let him go where he pleases to banishment, while we entreat the gods to pardon us for thrusting Marius, distressed and deserted, out of our city." So they went in a body to his room and conducted him to the sea-side, where lay a ship that had been provided for him. He set sail for Africa, where he hoped for a friendly reception; but he made a mistake, for the governor of Carthage was a Roman, who sent him this message: "Sextilius, the governor, forbids you, Marius, to set foot in Africa; if you do, you will be treated as a public enemy." On hearing this the exile was struck with grief and disappointment, but after a few days he sailed for the island of Cercina, there to await changes in public affairs at Rome.

When he was a child he lived in the country, and one day he caught in the skirt of his garment an eagle's nest as it was falling. It contained seven young eagles, and this was considered so remarkable that the augurs were consulted, and they said that not only should Marius become one of the greatest men in the world, but that he should be seven times in a place of high power. He never forgot this prophecy, and when his fate looked dark and gloomy he was buoyed up by the recollection that he had been consul only six times; so, with perfect faith in the augurs, he waited patiently at Cercina for his recall to Rome.

News came to him at last that Cinna, the consul, had been driven out of the city by Octavius and his party because he had ruled too despotically, and that Cornelius Merula had been elected consul instead; also that Cinna had raised forces in other parts of Italy to oppose them. Nothing could have pleased Marius bet- [356] ter. Not a moment was to be lost; he gathered about him a thousand Africans and Italian refugees, and with these set sail for his native land. He went ashore at Etruria, where so many of his countrymen flocked to greet him that, persuading the youngest and strongest to join him, he got together enough to fill forty ships, and then sent a messenger to Cinna to say that he was at his service.

Cinna was so delighted that he named Marius proconsul and sent him the fasces and insignia of office. "Grandeur does not become my present position," said Marius, whose role it was just then to appear humble. So, in the plainest of attire, and with an air of dejection that excited pity, he went to Cinna, saluted him and the soldiers, and prepared for action.

The first thing he did was to seize the provision-ships, take the seaport towns one after another, pillaging them, and slaying the inhabitants by thousands; then he blocked up the river so that no supplies could come by sea, marched with his army towards Rome, and posted himself on the hill called Janiculum.

Now, Octavius was one of the most upright Romans that ever lived, but he was so strict in his observance of the ancient laws and customs that the soldiers did not like him; so when Marius came on the scene they went to join him, and just before he entered the city Octavius was dragged from the rostrum and murdered.

Then the senate assembled and despatched a messenger to request Cinna and Marius to enter peacefully and spare the citizens. The former complied, but on arriving at the gate Marius stood still and declared that he would go no farther until his sentence of banishment was recalled. That was forthwith done, and he went into the city surrounded by a guard of Illyrian slaves, who had made their escape from the pens in Etruria and fled to him.

Without even the form of an election Cinna declared himself and Marius consuls, and then for five days there was nothing but massacre and bloodshed in the streets of Rome. At a word, or merely a nod of his head, the slaves of Marius would draw their swords and kill whoever failed to show him deference, so that even his friends approached him in fear and trembling. The most distinguished men of the state were butchered, and every town and [357] road was filled with the soldiers, who hunted down those that fled or hid themselves. One betrayed another in order to shield himself; all friendship and confidence was destroyed; still Marius required fresh victims every day, and revelled in the scenes of blood.

The servants of a prominent citizen named Cornutus showed their affection for him at this trying time thus: hearing that he was to become a victim to the consul's fury, they concealed him in his own house, then took the body of a man about his size, cut off the head, put a ring that belonged to Cornutus on the finger, showed the body to Marius's guards, and then buried it with all the ceremonies they would have observed had it really been that of their master. The trick was successful, and Cornutus escaped in disguise to Gaul.

Mark Antony, the great orator, found a faithful friend in a plebeian, who would have protected him if he could have done so. The man was so pleased to have one of the most famous of Romans as his guest that he often sent to a neighboring tavern for some of the best wine kept there. One day the tavern-keeper asked the servant why he had suddenly become so particular about the wine he bought as to select the dearest. "Because we have Mark Antony at our house," answered the servant, innocently. No sooner was he gone than the tavern-keeper ran to Marius, who was then at supper, and told him where the orator was concealed. Marius clapped his hands with joy, and immediately sent an officer named Annius with some soldiers to bring him the head of the noble Roman without delay.

Arriving at the house, Annius stationed himself at the door while his soldiers went up a ladder and climbed into Mark Antony's chamber. He pleaded with them for his life, and exerted his powers of eloquence to such an extent that they were spell-bound and forgot their errand. Annius began to wonder at the delay after a few moments, and ascended the ladder himself. On looking in at the window he found his soldiers in tears, and the orator still addressing them. He jumped in, taunted them with their weakness, and, raising his sword, struck off the head of Mark Antony with one blow.

Catulus, who had fought with Marius against the Cimbri, tried [358] very hard to stop the butchery that was going on in Rome, but, finding himself unable to gain any influence, he shut himself up in a small room and suffocated himself with the fumes of a charcoal fire. The horrible deeds committed by Marius's guard grew worse and more numerous, until Cinna's party, being struck with horror, killed every man of them in their camp.

Then news came that Sylla was advancing with a great army, and Marius was chosen consul the seventh time, in order that he might manage the war that must inevitably result. But he was getting old, and he feared Sylla so much, that the very idea of being obliged to fight him filled him with anxiety. He was wretched by day, and would start up from horrible dreams at night that would keep him awake for hours after. Like many a man before and since, he sought relief in drink, which only made his condition worse; for he was seized with a delirious fever, and died on the seventeenth day of his seventh consulship, despised by all. Rome was thus relieved of a cruel tyrant, who, though he was past seventy, was the first man who had been consul seven times, and had wealth enough to support the dignity of more than one king, complained of the ill fortune that caused him to die before he had got all that he had worked for.


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