|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 |
METELLUS IS DRIVEN FROM ROME
 MARIUS had been Consul five times already, but he was not yet
content. He wished to be elected for the sixth time,
and he determined to do all he could to gain his end.
But it was no easy task, for now that no enemy
threatened Rome, she was ready to cast Marius aside.
Moreover, although on the battlefield Marius was brave
above all others, in the Senate or the Assembly of the
people his courage deserted him. He knew that he was
not eloquent, and he no sooner stood up to speak than
he grew timid and ill at ease.
Yet he did his best, and to the people he tried to
behave more pleasantly than he felt, and that is at no
time an easy thing to do, nor even, it may be, a right
thing to attempt. But Marius smiled when he would much
rather have frowned, and spoke kindly when a cross
answer was hidden in his heart.
Metellus, from whom he had wrested the command of the
army, was the man he feared most, and he thought if
only he could have him banished from Rome all would be
well. Although Marius at once began to plot and plan,
it took a long time to get rid of Metellus. But this
is how in the end he succeeded.
First, Marius joined Glaucia and Saturninus, who were
popular with the people, but too daring not to be hated by
Saturninus had been tribune in 101 B.C., and wished to
be re-elected for the following year. When he found
that the people had not voted for him, he was so angry
 he did not scruple to order his successful rival to be
put to death.
The people, subdued by the violence of Saturninus, then
gave him the post he coveted without more ado.
Glaucia became prætor for the same year, while Marius
achieved his ambition, and was made Consul for the
Saturninus now brought forward a bill regarding the
division of land. The people would, as usual, be asked
to vote for or against this bill, but the tribune added
an important clause to his measure, saying that
whatever the people voted, to that the senators must
take an oath to agree.
Marius, as Consul, pretended to be very angry with
Saturninus for adding this clause to his bill, and he
said that he, for one, would never take such an oath.
The senators, he added, needed to take no oath to make
them agree to anything that was for the good of the
The other members, among whom was Metellus, were
equally indignant, and swore that they would never take
the oath demanded by Saturninus. Marius was now
satisfied that he had entrapped Metellus.
He himself had promised Saturninus secretly that he
would take the oath, and as soon as the people had
voted in favour of the bill he did so. Nor did he make
any worthy excuse for breaking his word, but, as
Consul, advised the other members of the Senate also to
agree to the clause which before they had sworn to
When Marius took the oath the people could not control
their delight, but broke out into loud applause. But
the nobles were angry with the Consul for saying one
thing and doing another, yet, because they were afraid
of the people, they took the oath, all save Metellus,
who refused to break his word.
This was just what Marius had hoped would happen, for
he knew that Metellus was too upright a man to stoop to
act as he and the other senators had done.
 Saturninus now demanded that the Consul should punish
Metellus for refusing to confirm the vote of the
people. He wished that the senator should be forbidden
to stay under the shelter of any roof in the city, that
he should be refused the use of fire or water.
The mob went even further, and would have killed
Metellus had his friends not defended him.
But Metellus would not allow his friends to fight,
telling them that he would leave the city rather than
cause strife. "For," said he, "either, when the
position of affairs is mended and the people repent, I
shall be recalled, or if things remain in their present
position it will be best to be absent."
Thus Marius, with the help of Saturninus, succeeded in
driving Metellus from the city. But the price he had
to pay for his success was heavy.
For Saturninus and Glaucia were determined that the
bills which they brought forward, for the good of the
people as they believed, should be passed. If any one
ventured to oppose their measures or to become their
rivals, they speedily perished. Saturninus hired
assassins to slay such insolent folk.
At length even the people grew angry with the tribune
and with Glaucia, and threatened to put them to death,
so that the two men were forced to flee for refuge to
The Senate at once condemned them and their followers
as public enemies, and called upon the Consuls to
Marius was now in a difficult position. He did not
wish to punish those who had helped him to banish
Metellus, yet as Consul he could not ignore the crimes
that these men had committed. So at length he ordered
them to be arrested, but he still hoped to save their
Saturninus and Glaucia, however, continued to defy the
Senate, until Marius was forced to order the
water-pipes on the Capitol to be cut, and their thirst
soon compelled the rebels to surrender.
 Marius sent them for safety to the Senate-house. But
it was useless to try to protect such evildoers. The
Consul found that he was but turning the people's rage
against himself, without doing his friends any good.
For the mob broke in the door and took the tiles off
the roof of the Senate-house, and rushing in, killed
Saturninus and his friends.
The Senate not only did not punish the people for this
deed, it approved of it.
Marius had now made himself hated by the nobles,
because he had taken the oath he had declared he would
never take, and by the people, because he had been the
friend of Saturninus, and had tried to protect him from
the just punishment of his cruel deeds.
When the Consul found that the people were clamouring
for the return of Metellus, of whose honesty they had
had proof, he left Rome. He could not bear to see the
return of his rival.
He journeyed to Asia, and here he tried to rouse
Mithridates, King of Pontus, to fight against an ally
of Rome. For he thought that if war broke out he would
once more be called upon to deliver his country from
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