THE EXILE AND REVENGE OF MARIUS
 MARIUS and Sulla, the heroes of the Jugurthine War, in
later years led in greater wars, in which they gained
much fame. They ended their careers in frightful
massacres, in which they gained great infamy. Rome,
which had made the world its slaughter-house, was
itself turned into a slaughter-house by these cruel and
There was rarely any lack of work for the swords of
Rome. While Marius was absent in Africa a frightful
peril threatened the Roman state. A vast horde of
barbarians was sweeping downward from the north. The
Germans of Central Europe had ravaged Switzerland and
invaded Gaul. Every army sent against them had been
defeated with great slaughter. Italy was in immediate
danger of invasion, Rome in imminent peril. Marius was
sadly needed, and on his return from Africa was hailed
as the only man who could save the state.
Instantly he gathered an army and set out for Gaul,
Sulla going with him as a subordinate officer. Two
years were spent in marches and counter-marches, and
then (B.C. 102) he met the enemy and defeated them with
immense slaughter. Reserving the richest of the spoils,
he devoted the remainder
 to the gods, and, as he stood in a purple robe, torch
in hand, about to apply the flame to the costly funeral
pile, horsemen dashed at full speed through the open
lines of the troops, and announced that for a fifth
time he had been elected consul of Rome.
In this war Sulla also showed valor and won fame. But
he had grown jealous of the glory of Marius, and left
his army to join that of the consul Catulus, who was
being driven backward by another great horde of
barbarians. Marius, having beaten his own foes,
hastened to the relief of his associate; the flight was
stopped, and a battle ensued in which the invading army
was swept from the face of the earth, and Rome freed
for centuries from danger of barbarian invasion.
Sulla and Catulus had their share in this victory, but
the people gave Marius the whole honor, called him the
third founder of their city (as Camillus had been the
second), and gathered in rejoicing multitudes to
witness his triumph.
While this war was going on there was dreadful work at
home. The slaves had, for the second time, broken into
insurrection. This servile war was mainly in Sicily,
where thousands of slaves were slain. Of the captives,
many were taken to Rome to fight with wild beasts in
the arena, but they disappointed the eager spectators
by killing each other. This outbreak only made slavery
at Rome harder and harsher than before.
Years passed on, and then another war broke out. The
Italian allies, who had helped to make Rome greats
claimed rights of citizenship and suffrage.
 These were denied, and what is known as the Social War
began. Sulla and Marius took part in this conflict,
which ended in favor of Rome, though the franchise
fought for was in large measure gained. It was of
little value, however, since all who held it were
obliged to go to the city of Rome to vote.
During these various conflicts the rivalry between
Marius and Sulla grew steadily more declared. The old
plebeian, now seventy years of age, was jealous of the
honors which his aristocratic rival had gained in the
Social War, and a spirit of bitter hatred, which was to
bear dire results, arose in his heart.
Events to come were to blow this spark of hatred into a
glowing flame. A new war threatened Rome. Mithridates
the Great, king of Pontus, in Asia Minor, was pursuing
a career of conquest, and the Roman provinces in Asia
were in danger. War was determined on, and Sulla, who
had already held successful command in the East,
claimed the command of the new army. Marius, old as he
was, wanted it too, and by his influence with the new
citizens of Rome succeeded in defeating Sulla and
gaining the appointment of general in the war against
This vote of the tribes precipitated a contest. The
Social War was not yet fully ended, and Sulla hastened
to the camp where his soldiers were besieging a Samnite
town. It was his purpose to set sail for the East
before he could be superseded. He was too late.
Officials from Rome reached the camp almost as soon as
he, bearing a commission from Marius to assume the
command. It was a critical moment. Sulla must either
yield or inaugurate a civil war.
 He chose the latter. Calling the soldiers together, he
told them that he had been insulted and injured, and
that, unless they supported him, they would be left at
home, and a new army raised by Marius would obtain the
spoils of the Mithridatic war. Stirred by this appeal
to their avarice, the legions stoned to death the
officers sent by Marius, and loudly demanded to be led
Their coming took Marius by surprise, and threw the
city into consternation. No one had dreamed of such
daring and audacity. To lead a Roman army against Rome
was unprecedented. The senate sent an embassy asking
Sulla to halt till the Fathers could come to some
decision. He promised to do so, but as soon as the
envoys had gone he sent a force that seized the Colline
Gate and entered the city streets. Here their progress
was stopped by the people, who hurled tiles and stones
upon their heads from the house-tops.
The whole army soon followed, and Sulla entered the
city with two legions at his back. The people again
opposed their march, but Sulla seized a torch and
threatened to burn the city if any hostility were
shown. This ended all opposition, except that made by
Marius, who retreated to the Capitol, where he
proclaimed liberty to all slaves who would join his
banner. This did him much more harm than good; his
adherents dispersed; he and his chief supporters were
forced to seek safety in flight.
And now we have a story of striking interest to tell.
It would need the powers of invention of a
 romancer to devise a series of adventures as remarkable
as those which befell old Marius in his flight. It is
one of the strangest stories in all the annals of
history, a marked illustration of the saying that fact
is often stranger than fiction.
Marius fled to Ostia, at the mouth of the Tiber, in
company with Granius, his son-in-law, and five slaves.
He proposed to take ship there for Africa, where his
influence was great. His son followed him by a
different route, and arrived at Ostia to find that his
father had put to sea. There was another vessel about
to sail, which the son took, and in which he succeeded
in reaching Africa.
The older fugitive had no such good fortune. The
elements pronounced against him, and a storm drove the
vessel ashore near Circeii. Here the party wandered in
distress along the desolate coast, in imminent danger
of capture, for emissaries of Sulla were scouring the
shores of Italy in his pursuit. Fortunately for the old
general, he was recognized by some herdsmen, who warned
him that a troop of cavalry was approaching. Not
knowing who they were, and fearing their purpose, the
fugitives hastily left the road and sought shelter in
the forest that there came down near to the coast.
Here the night was miserably passed, the fugitives
suffering for want of food and shelter. When the dawn
of the next day broke, their forlorn walk was resumed,
there being no enemy in sight. By this time the whole
party, with the exception of Marius, was greatly
depressed. He alone kept up his spirits, telling his
followers that he had been six times
 consul of Rome, and that a seventh consulship would yet
There seemed little hope of such a turn of fortune as
the hungry fugitives dragged wearily onward. For two
days they kept on, making about forty miles of
distance. At the end of that time peril of capture came
frightfully near. A body of horsemen was visible at a
distance, coming rapidly on. No friendly forest here
offered shelter. The only hope of escape lay in two
merchant vessels, which were moving slowly close in
Calling loudly for aid, Marius and those with him
plunged into the water and swam for these vessels.
Granius reached one of them. Marius was so exhausted
that he could not swim, and was supported with
difficulty above the water by two slaves till the
seamen of the other vessel drew him on board.
He had barely reached the deck when the troop of
horsemen rode to the water's edge, and their leader
called to the captain of the vessel, telling him that
it was the proscribed Marius he had rescued, and
bidding him at once to deliver him up.
What to do the captain did not know. The officer on
shore threatened him with the vengeance of Sulla if he
failed to yield the fugitive. Marius, with tears in his
eyes, earnestly begged for protection from the captain
and crew. The captain wavered in purpose, but finally
yielded to Marius and sailed on. But he did so in doubt
and fear, and on reaching the mouth of the river Liris
he persuaded Marius to go ashore, saying that the
vessel must lie to till the land-wind rose. The instant
the boat returned
 the faithless captain sailed away, leaving the aged
fugitive absolutely alone on the beach.
Walking wearily to the sorry hut of an old peasant,
which stood near, Marius told him who he was, and
begged for shelter. The old man hid him in a bole near
the river, and covered him with reeds. While he lay
there the horsemen, who had followed the vessel along
the shore, came up, and asked the tenant of the hut
where Marius was.
The shivering fugitive, in fear of being betrayed, rose
hastily from his hiding-place and dashed into the
stream. Some of the horsemen saw him, he was pursued,
and, covered with mud and nearly naked, the old
conqueror was dragged from the river, placed on a
horse, and carried as a captive to the neighboring town
of Miturnæ. Here he was confined in the house of a
woman named Fannia till his fate could be determined.
A circular letter had been received by the magistrates
from the consuls at Rome, ordering them to put Marius
to death if he should fall into their hands. This was
more than they cared to do on their own responsibility,
and they called a meeting of the town council to decide
the momentous question. The council decided that Marius
should die, and sent a Gaulish slave to put him to
It was dark when the executioner entered the house of
Fannia. The slave, little relishing the task committed
to his hands, entered the room where Marius lay. All
the trembling wretch could see in the darkness were the
glaring eyes of the old man fixed fiercely on him,
while a deep voice came from
 the couch, "Fellow, darest thou slay Caius Marius?"
Throwing down his sword, the Gaul fled in terror from
those accusing eyes, crying out, loudly, "I cannot slay
The magistrates made no further effort to put their
prisoner to death. They managed that he should escape,
and he made his way to the island of Ischia, which
Granius had already reached. Here a friendly ship took
them on board, and they sailed for Africa.
But the perils of the fugitive were not yet at an end.
The ship was forced to stop at Erycina, in Sicily, for
water. Here a Roman official recognized Marius, fell
upon the party with a company of soldiers, and slew
sixteen of them. Marius was nearly taken, but managed
to escape, the vessel hastily setting sail. He now
reached Africa without further adventure.
His son and other friends had arrived earlier, and,
encouraging news being told him, he landed near the
site of ancient Carthage. The prætor, learning of his
presence, and advised of the revolution at Rome, sent
him word to quit the province without delay. As the
messenger spoke Marius looked at him with silent
"What answer shall I take back to the prætor?" asked
"Tell him," said the old general, with impressive
dignity, "that you have seen Caius Marius sitting among
the ruins of Carthage."
Meanwhile his son had reached Numidia, where he was
outwardly well received by the king, yet
 held in captivity. He was at length enabled to escape
by the aid of the king's daughter, and joined his
father. Marius was not further molested.
Yet it would have been well for the fame of Caius
Marius had his life ended here. He would have escaped
the infamy of his later years, and the flood of blood
and vengeance in which his career reached its end. He
had friends still in Rome. Sulla had made many foes by
his capture of the city. Among the new consuls elected
was Cornelius Cinna, who quickly made trouble for the
ruler of Rome. Sulla, finding his power abating, and
fearing assassination by friends of Marius, concluded
to let the senate fight its own battles, and shipped
his troops for Greece, leaving Rome to its own devices,
while he occupied himself with fighting its enemy in
No sooner had he gone than civil war began. Fighting
took place in the streets of Rome. Cinna moved in the
senate that Marius should be restored to his rights.
Failing in this, he gathered an army and threatened his
enemies in Rome.
News of all this soon reached old Marius in Africa. At
the head of a thousand desperate men be took ship and
landed in Etruria. Here he proclaimed liberty to all
slaves who would join him, and soon had a large force.
He also gained a small fleet. He and Cinna now joined
forces and marched on Rome.
The senate, which stood for Sulla, had meanwhile been
gathering an army for the defence of the city. But few
of those ordered from afar reached the gates, and of
the principal force the greater part deserted to
Marius. The city was soon invested on
 all sides. The ships of Marius captured the
corn-vessels from Sicily and Africa. A plague broke out
in the city, which decimated the army of the senate. In
the end beleaguered Rome was forced to open its gates
to a new conqueror.
All the senate asked for was that Cinna would not
permit a general massacre. This he promised. But behind
his chair, in which he sat in state as consul, stood
old Marius, whose face threatened disaster. He was
dressed in mean attire; his hair and beard hung down
rough and long, for neither had been cut since the day
he fled from Rome; on his brow was a sullen frown that
boded only evil to his foes.
Evil it was, evil without stint. Rome was treated as a
conquered city. The slaves and desperadoes who followed
Marius were let loose to plunder at their will.
Octavius, the consul who had supported the senate, was
slain in his consular Chair. A series of horrible
butcheries followed. Marius was bent on dire vengeance,
and his enemies fell in multitudes. Followed by a band
of ruffians known as the Bardiæi, the remorseless old
man roamed in search of victims through the city
streets, and any man of rank whom he passed without a
salute was at once struck dead.
The senators who had opposed his recall from exile fell
first. Others followed in multitudes. Those who had
private wrongs to revenge followed the example of their
chief. The slaves of the army killed at will all whom
they wished to plunder. So great became the licentious
outrages of these slaves that in the end Cinna, who had
taken no part in the
 massacres, fell upon them with a body of troops and
slew several thousands. This reprisal in some measure
restored order in Rome.
Sulla, meanwhile, was winning victories in the East,
and the news of them somewhat disturbed the ruthless
conquerors. But for the present they were absolute, and
the saturnalia of blood went on. It ended at length in
the death of Marius.
Since his return he had given himself to wine and
riotous living. This, after the privations and
hardships he had recently suffered, sapped his iron
constitution. He was elected to the seventh consulship,
which he had predicted while wandering as a fugitive on
the south Italian shores. But he fell now into an
inflammatory fever, and in two weeks after his election
he ceased to breathe. Great and successful soldier as
he had been, his late conduct had won him wide-spread
detestation, and he died hated by his enemies and
feared even by his friends.