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in rallying the Democratic faction for a new attack on the Senate. As the constitution then stood, a single omnipotent leader, provided with the tribunate or some other important magistracy, was needed to galvanise the sovereign people into activity. It could only put forth its strength if guided by an autocratic chief, using the “one-man power” which a democracy really loves. And the chief was long in coming.
Meanwhile the main thread of the annals of Rome consists of the history of two long foreign wars, both grossly mismanaged by the Senate at home and by the incapable oligarchs who were sent out to bear rule in the provinces. These were the lingering Jugurthine troubles [B.C. 117–105] and the dangerous Cimbrian war [B.C. 113-101]. It is unfortunate that while we possess an elaborate (if not altogether trustworthy) narrative of the African affair in Sallust's Jugurtha, the story of the far more important Cimbrian campaigns has to be gathered from imperfect notes in Plutarch, Appian, and the Epitome of Livy.
It was in consequence of the Jugurthine war that the Democrats first began to raise their heads again. The facts of the Senate's maladministration were sufficiently disgraceful. The king of a not very powerful subject state had broken all his treaties, slain off the cousins whom the Senate had made his colleagues, and done whatever he pleased in Africa, without paying the least attention to the commands of the suzerain power. When embassies of remonstrance were sent him, he had merely quieted the envoys by judicious bribes combined with lavish promises of submission. He carried on this shameless policy for five years (B.C. 117–112), and might have persisted even longer in it, if he had not let the savage break out in him at an inauspicious moment. When he crushed his last surviving cousin by the capture
THE JUGURTHINE WAR
of Cirta in B.C. 112, he massacred not only the Numidian garrison, but a great number of Roman and Italian residents in the place. This atrocity so much aroused the anger of the Roman people that the Senate was forced to declare war on Jugurtha. It was abominably mismanaged; of the two imbecile generals to whom the subjection of Numidia was first entrusted, one granted the king terms of peace which the indignant people refused to ratify. The second so misconducted himself that his army was scattered, beaten, and sent under the yoke.
These disasters roused a tempest of wrath at Rome; public opinion was so strongly excited that under a temporary leader—one Mamilius Limetanus--the people created a Court of High Commission, which raged against the prominent members of the Optimate ring, sent into exile the two incapable generals Bestia and Albinus, and revenged an old grudge by packing off after them Opimius, the consul who in B.C. 121 had put down Gracchus and his friends with such cruel zeal. But in spite of this outburst the Senate was not yet deprived of the control of foreign affairs, and was allowed to send forth against Jugurtha its best fighting man, Q. Caecilius Metellus (B.C. 109].
The new general was fairly successful, but he did not work quickly enough to please the angry critics of the forum. He took most of Jugurtha's fortresses, but the king fled into the Atlas and the Sahara, and maintained a desperate guerilla warfare which seemed likely to linger on for ever. The people were, perhaps unjustly, dissatisfied; they did not understand (as we understand only too well in this year of grace 1902) the difficulties of hunting down elusive bands of marauding light horse.
It was at this moment that there at last appeared a serious candidate for the headship of the Democratic party. Caius Marius was a man of a very different type from his predecessors in that post; he was a rude soldier who had risen from the ranks by his hard head and undaunted courage. He had none of the literary polish, the philosophic training, or the lofty eloquence of the two Gracchi. As a politician he can only be described as a blatant demagogue; he had not the brains or the imagination to sketch out a political programme. He was no more than a discontented and ambitious veteran, with à personal grievance. His simple method of achieving notoriety was to declaim to the multitude concerning the very real abuses of the senatorial government, and to promise to set all to rights if he were made consul. He most unjustly blamed Metellus for the protraction of the war, and promised to end everything in a year if only he were placed in office. He had been provoked by the aristocratic hauteur and quiet insolence of the proconsul, and was thinking quite as much of revenging personal slights to himself as of giving the Democratic party an opportunity of seizing the reins of power.
The vulgar self-assertion and coarse invective of Marius did not disgust the multitude; he was duly elected, and straightway went over to Africa to supersede Metellus. The province was not assigned to him by the Senate. In spite of their opposition he had a bill passed in the Assembly, which gave him charge of the Numidian war. But though he took large reinforcements with him, legions raised on a new system, by volunteers from the lower orders of the city, he was not at first much more successful than his predecessor. He scoured the whole country-side with movable columns, but he could not catch the evasive Jugurtha. His reputation might have been wrecked if chance had not come in to his aid. His quaestor, L. Cornelius Sulla, at last succeeded in capturing the Numidian king, not by force of arms, but by treachery. He bribed Jugurtha's Moorish allies to seize and sur
MARIUS AND THE CIMBRI
render their guest; the king was kidnapped and made over to Marius, and then the war came suddenly to an end (B.C. 105]
Marius had redeemed his promise to put an end to the Numidian struggle, though the method in which it closed was neither glorious nor dignified. But he had saved his reputation, and was able to celebrate a triumph, and to pose before his supporters as a successful general. At the moment of his return he had the state at his
for the Senate was cowed, and the people would have been ready to grant him anything he asked. Moreover, he had legions at his back; the democracy for the first time was armed with sword and shield, and did not depend on the stones and staves of riotous mobs.
If external troubles had not intervened there must have been a political explosion of some sort in B.C. 105-104; it might very possibly have ended in the installation of Marius as temporary ruler of Rome. But neither he nor the Senate had the leisure to turn their attention to domestic politics. For the first time since the fall of Hannibal a serious danger from without was impending over Italy. The year B.C. 105 witnessed the most dreadful disaster to the Roman arms, with the possible exception of Cannæ, that ever occurred in the days of the Republic. For the last eight years there had been unrest along the northern frontier of the empire, both in the Balkan Peninsula and in the Alpine lands. All the unknown barbarism of Central Europe was on the move; tribe was thrusting against tribe, and the outer waves of the seething whirlpool of nations were washing against the borders of the provinces of Macedonia and Narbonese Gaul At first the troubles were not serious; the attention of Rome was distracted to the Jugurthine war, and little attention was paid to the raids of the Celts or Germans. But things gradually grew worse : several
small Roman armies were cut to pieces: there were mishaps of some importance in 113, 109, and 107. At last the situation grew so threatening that the Senate despatched two large armies—a dozen legions of raw recruits — to defend the frontiers of Gaul. For the originators of all the stress and turmoil, the great mass of migratory bands whom we vaguely know under the name of the Cimbri and Teutons, had thrust aside the lesser tribes and were marching against Italy itself.
An awful disaster ensued : the two incapable and quarrelsome generals, Mallius and Caepio, found the invaders on the Lower Rhone, and attacked them with foolhardy confidence. They did not even combine their forces, though their camps were less than a day's march apart. Caepio, in disobedience to the orders of his superior, attacked the enemy's camp in the morning: he was defeated and his legions annihilated. In the afternoon the Germans threw themselves upon Mallius, slow him, and cut to pieces the whole of the second Roman army. Eighty thousand men fell in the two battles of Arausio [Oct. 6, 105]: not a cohort remained to guard the passes of the Alps : the only hope of Rome was in the army which Marius was bringing home from Africa. If the barbarians had marched at once for Turin or Genoa, it is hard to say what they might not have accomplished. But they lingered long in the valley of the Rhone, and then, to the surprise of all men, drifted away towards the Pyrenees instead of crossing the Alps.
Thus Rome was given the chance of re-organising the defence of her frontiers, and Marius, instead of practising demagogy in the Forum, hurried northward with his troops, to interpose between the barbarians and the gates of Italy. The Cimbrian war,
The Cimbrian war, contrary to all expectation, was protracted for five summers (B.C. 105-101), and Marius, re-elected year after year to the consulship,