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VICTORIES OF MARIUS was kept perpetually in the field, watching for the moment when the enemy should at last make up their minds to deliver their great stroke. It was not till they had wandered far and wide in Spain and Gaul, spreading devastation around them, that the barbarians turned back at last to the true objective, and marched in two vast columns against Italy, the Teutons by the nearer route through Provence, the Cimbri by the longer sweep that leads through Southern Germany, by the Brenner Pass and the line of the Adige, down to Verona.
Marius now showed that at least his reputation as a soldier had not been exaggerated. We must not linger over the details of his two great victories. In 102 he warred down the Teutons in a long running fight among the hills of Provence, which ended with their complete destruction at the battle of Aquae Sextiae. In the following spring he crossed the Alps into Italy to meet the Cimbri, who had at last completed their long circular march, and had descended into the plains of the Po. At Vercellae he annihilated them, with a slaughter as great as that of his Teutonic victory in the preceding year. The disaster of Mallius and Caepio was revenged, and Rome was safe from the Northern invader for another five hundred years.
The man who had put an end to the long nightmare of fear which had hung over the city from the day of Arausio to that of Vercellae, might have asked and obtained from the people any reward that he might choose. They offered libations to him, as if he were a god, and hailed him as “the third founder of Rome :" he might have been her eighth king had he known the right way in which to sue for the sceptre and the diadem. But the great general was the most bungling and incompetent of politicians. His naïve vanity and clumsy ostentation made him ero long ridiculous—a grave fault in a pretender to supreme power. The Optimates sneered at his solecisms in grammar and in dress : these might have been imperceptible to the multitude, but even they were forced to laugh at a consul who was always trying to make great political harangues and breaking down hopelessly in the middle. “The firmness which he displayed in battle did not accompany him into the assembly, and the least interruption or distraction disconcerted him, so that he promptly became incoherent.” Moreover, even the rabble would have preferred a leader who did not mix vulgar familiarity and vainglorious ostentation in such a curious measure, and who could have concealed more successfully his growing addiction to the wine-cup.
But, in spite of all his obvious defects, Marius was firmly convinced that he was to be not only the preserver of Rome from the barbarians, but also the destined “saviour of society," who was to take up the task of the Gracchi and to tear the administration of the empire from the incapable hands of the Senate. A little experience convinced him that he was not really suited for the work of a mob orator, nor for the drawing up of an elaborate political programme of reforms. But the only result of this discovery was to make him resolve to take into his pay useful persons capable of writing his speeches and drafting his bills for him. He must find tools and mouthpieces who would act as his agents in the work of revolution.
Unskilful in every political action, Marius enlisted as his managing partners two able and reckless scoundrels, whose disreputability was to be the ruin both of himself and of the Democratic cause. These two choice spirits, L. Appuleius Saturninus and C. Servilius Glaucia, were the Roman counterparts of the Cleophons and Hyperboli of Athens. The former was a contentious, obstinate man, SATURNINUS AND HIS LAWS 99 who (as quaestor in 104) had a quarrel with the Senate, in which he considered that he was ill-treated. Since then he had devoted himself to the career of malcontent and exposer of abuses. In B.C. 103 he had obtained the tribunate, and had used its powers by bringing perpetual charges of bribery or misconduct against unpopular Optimates, by raising mobs, and by sweeping the streets whenever the spirit seized him. He was now anxious to take another turn of tribunicial power. His colleague, Glaucia, seems to have been a shade less violent, but even more insolent and disreputable. His special talent lay in the direction of vulgar and indecent stump oratory, with which he could always keep the multitude on the
Having enlisted the support of this precious pair, Marius started on his career as a Democratic reformer. He allowed Saturninus to draw up the programme for him; he for his part was to support it with the majesty of his military reputation, and, if necessary, by calling in the aid of his disbanded veterans, who were loafing about the city by thousands, living on the great donatives which they had received at the end of the Cimbric war. The “platform” of the revived Democratic party consisted of a reproduction, with some slight variations, of the schemes of Caius Gracchus. The permanent support of the urban mob was to be bought by a grotesque exaggeration of that statesman's detestable corn-law. The dole had been issued to the citizens since B.C. 122 at the rate of 61 asses per modius. Saturninus proposed to sell the corn for the ridiculous price of five-sixths of an as; he might as well have given it away for nothing. Less objectionable by far was the revival of Gracchus's great scheme for transmarino colonisation. Saturninus had already proposed to revive the Gracchan scheme of colonising Africa, for the benefit
1 As early as B.C. 103, it would appear.
for they were were also to hot of the
of the veterans of the Jugurthine war. Now he produced a grandiose plan for transmarine colonisation on the largest scale. It included a law for the planting of colonies in Achaia, Macedonia, and Sicily, and another for the distribution of great regions both in Gaul and in Africa among the victorious soldiery of the Cimbric war. Marius was to be entrusted with the execution of the whole vast scheme. The Italians were also to be pacified by this measure, for they were to be included in the Gallic distribution, and each settler was to receive full burgess rights. Saturninus had grasped the fact that the city rabble, on whose votes he had to subsist, objected to the enfranchised Italians at home, who might cram the Forum and scramble for doles, but had no objection to the enfranchised Italian who had been packed off to Africa or Central Gaul. Out of sight would be out of mind. His colonisation scheme, therefore, was contrived to play a double part, in satisfying the veterans and in pacifying the allies. In strict accordance with Gracchan precedents, bills were added to strengthen the already over-great power of the Equites in the law-courts. But there was a most original novelty included in the Appuleian Law: the reckless tribune subjoined to it a clause compelling every senator to swear obedience to the whole code within five days of its passing the Comitia, on pain of losing his seat. For intolerant suppression of adverse opinion no more stringent device had ever been invented. The Senate as a power in the state would have been annihilated, if it had been forced to submit to such ordinances.
But it was not so much the contents of the Appuleian Laws which proved fatal to their framer and his patron, as the way in which the laws were carried. Saturninus's whole career was a carnival of violence and outrage. He habitually went about attended by turbulent mobs, who OUTRAGES COMMITTED BY SATURNINUS 101
beat or slow any one who dared to differ from their idol. His followers were capable of anything: in the tribunicial elections for B.C. 100 it seemed probable that he would fail to be chosen. Thereupon a band of his satellites fell upon and stoned to death Q. Nonius, one of the successful candidates. Saturninus was elected to fill the vacant place. It was just possible to look upon this sinister coincidence as the work of chance; but no one could mistake its meaning when precisely the same thing happened at the consular elections for the succeeding year. Glaucia was a candidate under the protection of Saturninus and Marius. It seemed likely that he might be beaten by Caius Memmius, a man who, though now a moderate member of the Optimate party, had been a very popular Tribune of the Plebs eleven years before, and had headed the agitation against the mismanagement of the Jugurthine war. The moment that his candidature was seen to be dangerous, Memmius was set upon by a gang of ruffians and beaten to death.
These were perhaps the most shocking of the deeds of Marius's enterprising lieutenant, but his general behaviour was quite in keeping with them. When the law dealing with the corn-dole and the Gallic colonies was before the Comitia, some Optimate tribunes tried to interpose their veto. Saturninus did not take the trouble to deal with them as Tiberius Gracchus had dealt with Octavius; he simply had them thrown off the rostra and went on with the proceedings. The evicted magistrates, though much knocked about, struggled to the front and began crying that “they heard thunder on the left," which should have brought the meeting to an end. But Saturninus, pointing with a menacing gesture to the stones which his followers were gathering up, told them that they had better beware, or it would not only rain but hail. The tribunes discreetly fled; but a hot-headed