Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
GAIUS MARIUS WINS THE NOTICE OF SCIPIO AFRICANUS
 GAIUS Marius was born in 157 B.C. His parents were humble
folk, who had to work for their daily bread.
Marius grew up knowing nothing of the indolence and
luxury that surrounded so many Roman youths of noble
His boyhood was lived in a mountain village, where, if
his training made him rough and uncouth, it also taught
him to endure hardness, and to eat and drink only what
was needful for his health. It was many long years
before Marius knew anything of the polished manners and
indulgent ways of the city.
From his youth Gaius Marius was bold and active. As he
grew older, his temper would often flash out in
ungovernable passion when there was little to provoke
The lad first served as a soldier under the younger
Scipio Africanus. He was used to frugal fare, and to
him the simple manner in which Scipio insisted that his
soldiers should live seemed only natural.
soldier's bravery gained the attention of his commander
more than once, and it is easy to believe that such
notice awoke his pride and roused his ambition.
One evening, as he sat at supper, Scipio was asked
where the Romans would find another leader when he was
no longer with them.
"Perhaps here," answered Scipio, and as he spoke he
touched Marius lightly on the shoulder.
At these words the ambition of Marius leaped to greater
heights than ever before.
 When he was thirty-eight years of age he became a
tribune, and he at once set himself to win the favour
of the people by bringing forward a measure to keep the
election of magistrates free from bribery, but the
Senate refused to allow the bill to be put to the vote.
Marius, nothing daunted, threatened that the Consuls
should be imprisoned if they did not compel the Senate
to let the bill take its course. So determined was he
that he gained his end. The bill came before the
people, and they, well pleased that Marius had
compelled the Senate to yield, voted for it, and the
bill became law.
In 115 B.C. he became a prætor, and was sent to
service in Spain. Here he showed that he was a leader
of men, for under him the Roman army speedily cleared
the land of the robbers that had for long infested it.
At this time those who rose to fame in Rome were almost
always either rich or eloquent.
But Marius was poor, and he had no gift of speech, yet
these things did not prevent him from looking forward
to the days when he, too, would be famous.
And already the people believed in him. He worked so
hard and lived so simply that they looked on the
uncouth soldier with goodwill.
A little later he married into the family of the
illustrious Cæsars, and this improved his position,
and added to his growing influence in the State. His
wife Julia was the aunt of the great Roman, Julius
This was the lieutenant Metellus took with him to the
war against Jugurtha.