Images de page

But he had no matured policy, and no skill in adapting means to ends. He allied himself with two unprincipled demagogues, Saturni ́nus and Glau'cia, to secure his election, and then abandoned them to the vengeance of the Senate, when their crimes had become too bold for endurance.

The government candidate for the consulship was assailed and beaten to death; and the party which procured the murder, proclaiming Saturninus its chief, broke open the prison doors and gave freedom and arms to both prisoners and slaves. This armed rabble fought the guards of Marius in the very market-place of the city; but it was driven at length to the Capitol, cut off from water, and forced to surrender. Without waiting the forms of trial, some young nobles climbed to the roof of the building where the rioters were imprisoned, tore off the tiles, and stoned them to death. In this disgraceful manner perished four high officers of the Roman people: a prætor, a quæstor, and two tribunes.

137. The beautiful island of Sicily was a second time the scene of a servile war, B. C. 102-99. Its fertility and importance as a grain market to Rome had attracted speculators, who farmed their vast estates by means of multitudes of slaves. In the First Servile War (B. C. 134–132), 200,000 rebels were in arms; the second taxed the best exertions of three successive consuls, and though it was ended, B. C. 99, in victory to Rome, the terror it had excited did not soon die away. The slaves not only outnumbered the ruling class, but surpassed it in strength, and even, in some rare instances, in military talent. They were treated with such inhuman cruelty, that they never lacked a motive for revolt, and thus the rural districts were always liable to outbreaks when the governing force was removed.

The Roman slave-code, it may be hoped, has never been equaled in barbarity by that of any civilized state. The slave was "nothing" in law; his master might torture or kill him with no other punishment than the loss of his property; and when, after such a victory as that of Vercellæ, captives could be bought, as we are told, for less than a dollar a head, that motive could have had no weight against the passion of revenge. Happily, society is sometimes better than its laws. Household servants commonly enjoyed the confidence and affection of their masters; physicians and teachers were usually Greek slaves, and their learning and talents caused them to be respected in spite of the misfortune of their condition.


Though plebeians enjoy political equality, the poor suffer for want of land and employment. Tiberius Gracchus passes the Agrarian laws, but becomes a martyr to his zeal for reform. Scipio Emilianus, trying to moderate the Agrarian movement, is also murdered. Caius Gracchus founds colonies in Italy and

abroad; provides for the poor by a public distribution of grain; gives to the rich plebeians the collection of provincial revenues, and thus creates a class of great bankers and publicans. He is opposed with armed violence and slain, B. C. 121. The crimes of Jugurtha occasion the Numidian war, B. C. 111-106. Metellus is succeeded in command by Marius, who becomes consul, B. C. 107. Jugurtha is captured by the address of Sulla. Marius defeats the Teutones in a great battle near Aix, B. C. 102; and the Cimbri, the next year, at Vercellæ. A sedition at Rome is followed by the death of several magistrates. Sicily is twice devastated by servile insurrections, B. C. 134–132, and B. C. 102–99.


138. Meanwhile, Rome was shaken by the efforts and death of another reformer, M. Livius Drusus, son of the opponent of Gracchus. As a noble, he was filled with shame for the corruptions of his order, and sought to revive the safest and best of the laws of the Gracchi, by giving the franchise to all Italians, and by taking the judicial power from the knights, who had greatly abused it. He was murdered at his own door by an unknown assassin, B. C. 91, and both of his laws repealed. The allies in the south and center of Italy, disappointed in all their hopes by the death of their champion, now flew to arms. Eight nations, the Marsi, Marrucini, Peligni, Vestini, Picenti'ni, Samnites, Apu'li, and Lucani, formed a federal republic under the name of Italia, chose two consuls, and fixed their capital at Corfinʼium, in the Apennines.

The first movements in the "Social War" were disastrous to Rome. L. Cæsar, the consul, Perper'na, his legate, and Postu'mius, a prætor, were defeated. A consular army under Cæpio was destroyed; Campania was overrun, and the northern Italians were almost ready to join the league. But a late concession saved Rome. The coveted rights of citizenship were conferred on all who had taken no part in the war, and on all who would now withdraw from it. The confederate ranks were thus divided; and, at length, even the Samnites and Lucanians, who were the last to submit, were won by a promise of all that they had asked.

139. The slow and cautious conduct of Marius in this war had been eclipsed by the brilliant activity of Sulla, who was now consul; and the Senate, choosing to consider the old general unequal to the hardships of a campaign, conferred the command against Mithridates upon the young patrician officer. The jealousy which had long ago supplanted the ancient confidence between Marius and Sulla, now broke out into violent opposition. To defeat his rival, Marius persuaded Rufus, the tribune, to propose a law for distributing the newly enfranchised Italians among all the tribes. The old citizens would thus be greatly outnumbered, and the appointment of Sulla reversed, for all the new voters

regarded Marius as their friend and benefactor. The consuls interfered, but Marius and his ally occupied the Forum with an armed force, compelled the consuls to withdraw their interdict, passed the law by intimidation, and easily obtained a vote of the tribes appointing Marius to the command of the Pontic War.

140. This brutal interference with the forms of law was naturally met by an opposing force. The military tribunes sent by Marius to take command, in his name, of the army at Nola, were stoned to death by the soldiers of Sulla, who instantly marched upon Rome at the head of six legions. The city was unprepared for resistance; Sulla became its master, and Marius, with his son and partisans, fled. He wandered, a fugitive and outlaw, along the coast of southern Italy; now half starved in a wood, now buried all night to his chin in a swamp; again indebted for a few hours' sleep to the charity of a ship-master or to a peasant, who refused the reward offered by Sulla for the head of the outlaw, and enabled him to elude his pursuers.

At Minturnæ he was sheltered by a woman to whom he had formerly rendered some kindness; but the officers of the town resolved to comply with the orders of the government at Rome, and with difficulty prevailed upon a Gallic or Cimbrian soldier to undertake the work of despatching him. But no sooner had the barbarian entered the room where the old general, unarmed and defenseless, lay upon a bed, than his courage failed, his drawn sword fell from his hand, and he rushed from the house, exclaiming, "I can not kill Caius Marius!"

141. The people of Minturnæ now took more generous counsel, and resolved not to destroy the deliverer of Italy. They provided him with a ship, and conducted him with good wishes to the sea, where he embarked for Africa. Here, too, he was warned by the governor to leave the country, or be treated as an enemy of Rome. But a revolution had by this time taken place in Rome itself, which favored the return of Marius. Cinņa, one of the new consuls, was of the Marian party, and wished to enforce the laws of Rufus. The aristocrats armed, under the command of the other consul, Octavius, and a battle was fought in the Forum, in which Cinna was defeated and expelled from the city. Like Sulla, he appealed to the army; and as the army was now composed of Italians, who could not but favor that party which promised them supreme power in the Roman elections, the tide was turned against the aristocrats.

Marius returned, seized upon Ostia and other ports on the Latin coast, captured the corn ships, and thus starved Rome into surrender. This time the captured city was given up to a reign of terror. As Marius walked through the streets, his guards stabbed all persons whom he did not salute. Fresh lists were made out every day of those whom he either feared or hated, as victims for the dagger. Marius and Cinna A. H.-39.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

declared themselves consuls for B. C. 86, in contempt of the usual form of election. But the unrelenting master of Rome did not long enjoy his seventh consulship, which he had all his life superstitiously expected, and now so unscrupulously obtained. He died on the eighteenth day of his magistracy, and in the seventy-first year of his age.

142. Sulla had brought the Mithridatic War to a victorious conclusion, having conducted five difficult and costly campaigns at his own expense, and recovered for Rome the revolted territories of Greece, Macedonia, and Asia Minor. But he never forgot that the Republic which he was serving had declared him a public enemy, confiscated his wealth, and murdered his best friends for their adherence to him. If his vengeance was delayed, it was only the more bitter and effectual, He now returned with a powerful army devotedly attached to his person, and laden with treasure collected from the conquered cities of Asia.

To disarm the enmity of the Italians, who formed the most valuable part of his opponents' forces, he proclaimed that he would not interfere with the rights of any citizen, old or new. He suffered no injury to be done to either the towns or fields of the Italians, and he made separate treaties with many of their cities, by which he guaranteed their full enjoyment of Roman privileges so long as they should favor his interests. The Samnites alone held out against Sulla, and in concert with the Marian party renewed their old hostilities. Cinna was murdered by his own troops, on his way to meet Sulla in Dalma'tia.

143. Landing at Brundis'ium, Sulla marched without opposition through Calabria, Apulia, and Campania; defeated one consul near Capua, and won over the entire army of the other by means of emissaries well supplied with gold. He was reinforced by three legions, under Cneius Pompey, and by the adherence of many distinguished citizens, among whom were Metellus Pius, Crassus, and Lucullus. He was still outnumbered by the Marians, who, in 82 B. C., brought into the field an army of 200,000 men, under the two consuls Papir'ius Carbo and the younger Marius. The latter was defeated, however, with great loss at Sacripor tus, and took refuge in Præneste, where he had deposited his military chest, enriched by the treasures of the Capitoline temples. This town was blockaded, while Sulla marched upon Rome. Marius had secretly ordered his partisans in the city to put to death the most illustrious of the Cornelian faction; and thus perished the pontifex maximus, and many others whose sacred office or exalted character would, in more virtuous times, haye made them secure from violence.

144. The army of Samnites and Lucanians, by the request of Marius, moved toward Rome, Telesi'nus, their leader, declaring that he would raze the city to the ground. A furious battle was fought near the Colline Gate, in which Sulla was victorious; and, with a cold-blooded

ferocity too common in those fearful times, ordered 6,000 prisoners to be cut to pieces in the Campus Martius. Sulla was now master of Rome and of Italy, and his vengeance had begun. A "proscription list" of his enemies was exhibited in the Forum, and a reward of two talents was offered to all who would kill these outlawed persons, or even show the place of their concealment. As usual, private hatred and even the meanest avarice found indulgence under the name of political enmity. Any friend of Sulla was permitted to add names to the list; and as the property of the proscribed usually went to his accuser, the possession of a house, a field, or even a piece of silver plate was often enough to mark a man as a public enemy.

Sulla was appointed dictator, with unlimited power to "restore order to the Republic." The constitutional changes which he made, were designed to re-instate the Senate and nobles in the preeminence which they had enjoyed in the earliest years after the expulsion of the kings. He limited the sway of the tribunes of the people, and lowered the dignity of their office by prohibiting those who had held it from becoming consuls. Though himself a man of dissolute morals, Sulla clearly saw that the worst miseries of the Roman people proceeded from their own corruption, and he tried to check luxury and crime by the most stringent enactments. But the attempt was hopeless; the character of the nation was so far degraded that no rank or class was fit to rule, and its subjection to the will of a tyrant had become a necessity.

145. Sulla increased the number of the Senate by 300 new members chosen from the knights, all, of course, adherents of his own. He gained, also, a sort of body-guard, by giving the rights of citizenship to 10,000 slaves of those whom he had proscribed. These freedmen all received his own clan-name, Cornelius, and became his clients. He rewarded his veterans with the confiscated lands of the Marian party, thus replacing honest and industrious farmers with too often lawless and thriftless military communities. When Sulla had held the dictatorship three years, he surprised the world by suddenly resigning it, and retiring to his country-seat at Pute'oli. Here he devoted his days to the amusements of literature, mingled, unhappily, with less ennobling pleasures. He died B. C. 78, the year following his abdication. Two days before his death he completed the history of his own life and times, in twenty-two volumes, in which he recorded the prediction of a Chaldæan soothsayer, that he should die, after a happy life, at the very height of his prosperity.

146. A remnant of the Marian faction still held out in the west of Spain. Sertorius had been sent to command that province, chiefly because, as the most honest and keen-sighted of the Marians, he was troublesome to his brother officers. During the proscription by Sulla,

« PrécédentContinuer »