The Ancient Library

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that Marius was assisted in gaining this office by Caecilius Metellus, of whose house the family of Marius had long been adherents, which would almost seem to imply that the relation of clientship to the Herennian family had for all practical pur­poses fallen into disuse, although Plutarch himself a little further on (c. .5) says that C. Herennius refused to give testimony against Marius, when the latter was accused of bribery, on the ground of his being his client. In his tribunate Marius proposed a law to give greater freedom to the people at the elections. Of the provisions of this law we know nothing, except that it contained a clause for making the ponies narrower which led into the septa or inclosures where the people voted (Cic. De Leg. iii. 17) ; but as its object seems to have been to prevent intimidation on the part of the nobles, it was strongly opposed by the senate. Only four years had elapsed since the death of C. Gracchus, and the aristocratical party at Rome, flushed with victory, and undisputed masters of the state, resolved to put down with a high hand the least invasion of their privileges and power. Tiie senate, accordingly, on the proposition of the consul L. Cotta, summoned Marius before them to account for his conduct, probably thinking that any tribune, and especially one who had no experience in political life, with the fate of the Gracchi before his eyes, might be easily frightened into submission. They little knew, however, with what stern stuff they had to deal. When he appeared before the senate, far from being overawed, as they had an­ticipated, he threatened to send Cotta to prison, unless the decree was rescinded ; and when the latter asked the opinion of his colleague Metellus, and the latter bade him adhere to the decree, Marius straightway sent for his officer, who was outside the senate-house, and ordered him to carry off Metellus himself to prison. The consul im­plored in vain the interposition of the other tribunes, and the senate, unprepared for such an act of vigorous determination, dropped their unconstitu­tional decree, and allowed the law to be carried. The favour, however, which Marius acquired with the people by his firmness in this matter, was somewhat damped a short time after in the same year, by his opposing a measure for the distribution of corn among the people, which, he rightly thought, would have only the tendency of fostering those habits of idleness and licentiousness which were spreading bo rapidly among the population of the city.

Still the general conduct of Marius in his tri­bunate had earned for him the goodwill of the people and the hatred of the aristocracy. The latter resolved to oppose him with all their might ; and accordingly, when he became a candidate for the curule aedileship, they used every effort to frustrate his election. Seeing on the day of election that he had no chance of obtaining the curule aedileship, he offered himself as a candidate for the plebeian aedileship, but likewise failed in obtaining the latter. The proud and haughty spirit of Marius was deeply galled by this repulse ; and it must have tended to foster and augment those feelings of bitter personal hatred to the aristocracy which were constantly apparent in his subsequent life. It was with great difficulty that he gained his election to the praetorship ; he had the smallest number of votes of those who were elected ; and he was still further exasperated by being prosecuted



for bribery. Here he had a very narrow escape ; the nobles seem to have felt sure of his conviction, and, contrary to all expectation, he was acquitted, but simply through the votes of the judges being equal. It appears, from a passage of Cicero (de Off. iii. 20. § 79), that seven years elapsed between the praetorship and the first consulship of Marius ; and he must, therefore, have filled the former office in b.c. 115, when he was now forty-two years of age. During his praetorship Marius either remained at Rome as the praetor urbanus or peregrinus, or had some province in Italy; and as his talents were not adapted for civil life, it is not surprising that he should have gained but little credit in this office, as Plutarch tells us was the case. In the following year he obtained a stage more suitable to his abilities ; for he went as pro­praetor into the province of Further Spain, which he cleared of the robbers and marauders who swarmed in that country.

From the moment that Marius obtained the praetorship, he no doubt kept his eyes steadily fixed upon the consulship ; but he fe'lt that his time was not yet come. The nobles jealously guarded the highest dignity of the state against the intrusion of any new men ; but their venality and corruption, which were shortly to be displayed with more than usual shamelessness in the war with Jugurtha, were gradually raising at Rome a storm of popular indignation, and preparing the way for Marius. Although he possessed neither wealth nor eloquence, by which the Roman people were chiefly influenced, yet he gained much popu­larity by his well-known energy of character, his patient endurance of toil and hardship, and his simple mode of life, which formed a striking con­trast to the extravagant and voluptuous habits of his noble contemporaries. It was about this time too that he strengthened his connections, and gained additional consequence in the eyes of the people, by forming an alliance with the illustrious Julian house, by marrying Julia, the sister of C. Julius Caesar, who was the father of the subsequent ruler of Rome.

We have no information of the occupations of Marius for the next few years, and we do not read of him again till b. c. 109, in which year he went into Africa as the legate of the consul Q. Caecilius Metellus, who had previously assisted him in obtaining the tribunate of the plebs. Here, fa the war against Jugurtha, the military genius of Marius had ample opportunity of displaying itself, and he was soon regarded as the most distinguished officer in the army. The readiness with which he shared the toils of the common soldiers, eating of the same food and working at the same trenches as they did, endeared him to their hearts, and through their letters to their friends at Rome, his praises were in every body's mouth. His increasing reputa­tion fired him with a stronger desire, and presented him with better hopes than he had hitherto had, of obtaining the long-cherished object of his ambition. These desires and hopes were still further inflamed and increased by a circumstance which happened to him at Utica. Marius was not tainted by the fashionable infidelity which was gaining rapid ground among the higher circles at Rome ; he was on the contrary very superstitious, and, in his wars with the Cimbri, always carried with him a Syrian or Jewish prophetess of the name of Martha ; and while he was sacrificing on one occasion at Utica,

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