|The Story of Rome|
|by Mary Macgregor|
|A vivid account of the story of Rome from the earliest times to the death of Augustus, retold for children, chronicling the birth of a city and its growth through storm and struggle to become a great world empire. Gives short accounts of battles and campaigns, and of the men who expanded the borders of the Roman empire to include all lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Ages 10-14 |
GAIUS MARIUS BECOMES COMMANDER OF THE ARMY
 WHEN Metellus reached Africa, he found that the discipline
of the army was so lax that it was unfitted to fight
with any hope of success.
So he drilled and trained his men with great strictness
and persistency, until he believed that they were again
worthy to fight for their country.
Meanwhile Jugurtha found that here at length was a
Roman who scorned to touch his gold. This same Roman,
too, had so disciplined his troops that Jugurtha now
distrusted his power to meet them. He therefore
offered to submit, if Metellus would promise to spare
his life and the lives of his children.
But the general paid no attention to this offer, and
led his army into Numidia. Gaius Marius was with the
Consul, in command of the cavalry.
Now Marius did not love his general, and he cared less
that Metellus should be successful in battle than that
he himself should win glory by his deeds.
But already the soldiers adored Marius, for he shared
their life, giving up his own comfortable quarters to
sleep, as did they, on a rough camp bed; often, too,
eating their hard bread. When they found him even
digging in the trenches their enthusiasm knew no
Jugurtha, meanwhile, had encamped in a strong position,
but Metellus dislodged him, and at length defeated him,
so that he was forced to flee.
The king determined that he would not risk another
 battle, so for a time he took refuge among the hills of
his native land.
But even as he had bribed the Romans, so now he found
that Metellus had won some of his officers from their
allegiance, either with gold or with promises. This
made him gradually suspicious of all who surrounded
Growing more and more uneasy, Jugurtha at length
marched across the desert to a town named Thala.
Metellus, however, hastened after him and besieged the
town, which after forty days was in his hands. But the
Roman general was not satisfied, for it was Jugurtha
himself whom he wished to capture, and the king and his
children had escaped from the town by night.
Jugurtha knew that Metellus was more than a match for
him alone, but if he could secure a powerful ally the
Romans might yet be driven from his land.
So, in 108 B.C., Jugurtha persuaded his father-in-law,
Bocchus, King of Upper Numidia, to join him, and
together they marched upon Cirta, near which town the
Romans were encamped.
It was here that Metellus learned that he had not been
elected Consul for the following year.
Meanwhile, Marius had begun to show his dislike of his
The general had entrusted the care of an important town
in Numidia to a friend of his own named Turpulius.
Turpulius was honest and kind, but he was not clever,
and he did not see that the inhabitants of the town
were taking advantage of his kindness.
Before he was aware, they had succeeded in betraying
the town into the hands of Jugurtha, while he, owing to
the goodwill of the townsfolk, was allowed to escape
Among the Roman officers there were some ready to blame
Turpulius, not only for negligence, but for actually
giving the town up to Jugurtha.
A council of war was held, and on this council was
 He attacked Turpulius more fiercely than any other
officer, and this he did knowing that he was the
trusted friend of Metellus.
It was due to the influence of Marius that the other
members condemned Turpulius, and Metellus was forced to
sentence his friend to death.
Soon after the unfortunate man was executed it was
clearly proved that he was innocent.
Metellus was overpowered with grief, and his officers
did what they could to comfort him, all save Marius.
He was heard to boast that he had caused the
catastrophe, and he showed no sympathy for the distress
of his general.
It was natural that from this time Metellus should look
on Marius with aversion, and the two men were soon open
enemies. Marius did not disguise that he hoped some
day to supplant the general in his command.
During the winter of 108 B.C., Marius applied for
leave, that he might go home to stand for election as
Metellus was indignant at what seemed to him the
presumption of his officer, and he refused to let him
Marius was not disturbed by the refusal. He knew that
in due time he would go to Italy, and meanwhile he
wrote home unfavourable reports of his general,
hinting, too, that if he had been in command of the
army, Jugurtha would have been captured long ago.
The soldiers, he knew well, adored him, and when they
sent messages home would say nothing but good of him.
After some time had passed, Marius again asked for
leave to go to Rome.
Then Metellus scoffed at his desire, saying: "Will
you not be content to wait and be Consul with this
little son of mine?"
As the son of the general was a lad of about twenty,
and as Marius was already forty-nine years of age, the
taunt was not easy to bear.
But at length, as Marius persisted in asking leave,
 Metellus was forced to let him go. Only a short time
was now left before those who intended to stand for the
Consulships must be in Rome.
The journey from the camp to the coast was a long one,
but Marius accomplished it in two days and a night.
In spite of the need for haste, he waited to offer a
sacrifice before he sailed. And it seemed to him well
that he had done so, for the priest bade him go his
way, assured that success, greater than he had dreamed,
would be his.
So in great good temper Marius went on board ship, and
in four days landed on Italian soil.
In Rome he was received with favour, and before long
his ambition was satisfied. He was elected Consul, and
given the command of the army of Africa.
When Marius returned to take up his new position in
Africa, Metellus had already left the army in charge of
an officer. His pride would not let him stay to
receive his erstwhile subordinate, who, as he said in
anger, had now usurped his command.
Soon after this Metellus sailed for Rome, with the
miserable feeling that he had been disgraced. He was,
however, surprised by the welcome the people gave to
him. They had not forgotten that he had refused to
touch the gold of Jugurtha.
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