Page images
PDF
EPUB

absurd laws prepared the way for the class of people named delatores (informers), who under the empire were the terror of every body.” The political conflicts of the last ten years of the century were concerned, as we have seen, rather with foreign administration than constitutional reforms; but we have an example of the latter in the law carried by the tribune Cn. Domitius Ahenobarbus, that the priests should be elected by the people, instead of by their own colleges (B.C. 104).

Of the relapse of Italy into the social and agrarian evils which the Gracchi had tried in vain to cure, the most striking proof is furnished by the servile insurrections which broke out almost every year. It was a new feature of the social declension when the insurgents in the territory of Thurii found a leader in a Roman knight, Titus Vettius, who, overwhelmed with debt, manumitted his slaves in a body, and declared himself their king, and was only subdued by the urban prætor through treachery (B.C. 104). The sufferings of the provinces are well described in a few words by Dr. Mommsen:-“ We shall have an idea of the condition of Sicily and Asia, if we endeavour to realize what would be the aspect of affairs in the East Indies, if the English aristocracy were like the Roman aristocracy of that day. The legislation which entrusted the commercial class with control over the magistrates compelled the latter to make common cause to a certain extent with the former, and to purchase for themselves unlimited liberty to plunder, and protection from impeachment, by unconditional indulgence towards the capitalists in the provinces.” Nor could it be expected that a government so disorderly on the land should maintain an efficient control over the great sea of which Rome had now become the mistress, or that the provincial governors should care for the security of their coasts. It was only when piracy grew to such a height as to endanger all maritime commerce, that an effort was made to check it. The sheltered creeks and caves on the rocky southern shore of Asia Minor were a complete nest of corsairs; and in B.C. 102 the prætor M. Antonius was sent to Cilicia with a powerful fleet. It was found necessary to occupy the country itself; and it was probably at this time that Western Cilicia became a Roman province, while the great eastern plain remained a part of the Syrian kingdom.

In the provinces, too, the revolts of the slaves often assumed the dimensions of petty wars; and Sicily, in particular, was the scene of a second servile war scarcely less formidable than the first.*

* See Vol. II. p. 545.

On that occasion we have seen that the wretched state of the lowest class of freemen drove them to make common cause with the insurgents; and, in the reaction that ensued, the landholders and capitalists revenged themselves by claiming many freemen as their slaves. A decree of the Senate was directed against this outrage, and the governor of Sicily, P. Licinius Nerva, established a court of enquiry, which in a short time restored freedom to eight hundred persons, and new claims were pouring in every day (B.C. 104). The alarmed planters intimidated the proprætor into sending the applicants back to their masters. The slaves flew to arms; but the first body of revolters was put down by a strange league between the governor and a captain of banditti, who betrayed them for the price of his own pardon. Another band, however, gained a victory over the garrison of Henna ; and being thus provided with weapons, they swelled to an army of 20,000 foot and 2000 horse, under a leader named Salvius. Like Eunoüs in the first insurrection, he was saluted king by his followers, who were for the most part Syrians, and he assumed the name of Tryphon, who had usurped the throne of Syria about forty years before. The slaves became masters of the open country about Henna and Leontini, and had laid siege to Morgantia, when the prætor hastened to its relief, with an army consisting of the island militia, which dispersed during the engagement. The city was saved by the fidelity of the slaves within it on the promise of their freedom, which Nerva immediately declared null and void, as having been made under compulsion.

The insurrection in the west of the island was headed by a far abler leader, Athenion. Like Cleon in the first revolt, he had been a leader of banditti in Cilicia, where he had been captured and sold as a slave into Sicily. Like Eunoüs, he gained ascendancy over the superstitious Greeks and Syrians by prophecies and conjuring tricks. But he was vastly superior to both, as well as to Tryphon, in ability and moderation. Of the numbers who flocked to him, he only armed as many as he could form into a compact force, in which he preserved the strictest discipline. He permitted no excesses against the peaceful inhabitants, and treated his prisoners with kindness. His crowning proof of capacity was given by his cheerful submission to the orders of Tryphon. The whole plain country of the island fell into the power of the insurgents; and its rich produce was cut off from the people of the towns, who had to be fed from Rome. The force at the disposal of the governor barely sufficed to protect these cities, where the inhabitants were shut up with the domestic slaves whose revolt they daily dreaded; and Messana almost fell into the hands of Athenion.

In the midst of their preparations to meet the Cimbri in Gaul, the Romans sent an army of 14,000 men into Sicily under the prætor L. Lucullus, who gained a complete victory near Sciacca. But, while he neglected to follow up his success, Athenion, who had been left for dead upon the field, rejoined the remains of the army under Tryphon, and animated them to fresh resistance. The fact that such a force could be thus rallied proves the success of his previous discipline. Neither Lucullus, nor his successor C. Servilius (B.c. 102), achieved anything further; and both were prosecuted for wilful negligence. It seemed as if the island, like Hayti in modern times, were about to become an independent state of self-emancipated slaves under Athenion, who suceeeded to the royal title on the death of Tryphon (B.C. 102). At length the Romans made efforts commensurate with the danger. Manius Aquillius, who had distinguished himself under Marius in Gaul, was elected as his colleague in the consulship, and appointed to the province of Sicily (B.C. 101). It took him two years of an incessant and exterminating war to subdue the insurrection. Athenion is said to have fallen in battle by the hand of Aquillius. The prisoners were sent to Rome and condemned to fight with wild beasts; but they disappointed the spectators in the Circus by falling upon one another till all were slain. In B.C. 99, after five

In B.C. 99, after five years of war, the province was restored to tranquillity, and Aquillius returned to Rome laden with the spoils of his extortions.

Such was the state of the Roman republic, when, on the first day of the first century before Christ, Caius Marius entered on his sixth consulship, with the purpose of finally overthrowing the government of the nobles. How he fell from the height on which he now stood, will be related in the next chapter; and this may be closed by referring to the great men whose entrance on the world marks the present epoch. Marcus Tullius CICERO was born on the 3rd of January, B.c. 106; CNEIUS POMPEIUS MAGNUS on the last day of September in the same year;* and the sixth consulship of Marius was the natal year of his illustrious nephew, who was destined to achieve the work in which he failed. CAIUS JULIUS CÆSAR was born on the 12th of Quinctilis, the month which was afterwards called in his honour July, B.c. 100.

* When Pompey is said to have been born on the 30th of September, the date is adapted to the reformed calendar which did not yet exist. The 29th was the last day of September. T. Pomponius Atticus, the friend of Cicero, was born in B.c. 109.

CHAPTER XXXIII.

FIRST PERIOD OF CIVIL WARS.-MARIUS AND SULLA.

B.C. 100 TO B.C. 78.

[merged small][ocr errors]

MARIUS IS HONOURED AS A SECOND CAMILLUS-HIS DEFECTS-HE CREATES A STANDING

ARYY-HIS LEAGUE WITH GLAUCIA AND SATURNINUS-THE APPULEIAN LAWS BASISHMENT OF METELLUS-- SEDITION AND DEATH OF SATURNINUS-TRIUMPH OF THE OPTIMATES-RETIREMENT OP MARIUS-FOREIGN AFFAIRS : SPAIN AND CYRENELEX CÆCILIA - JUDICIAL ABUSES BY THE EQUITES-Q. SCAVOLA IN ASIA---CONDEMNATION OF RUTILIUS RUFUS-PROSECUTION OF SCAURUS-TRIBUNATE OF M. LIVIUS DRUSUS -HIS MEASURES OF REFORM-THEIR PASSAGE AND REPEAL-ASSASSINATION OF DRUSUS --REVOLT OF THE ALLIES--THE SOCIAL OR MARSIC WAR-THE ITALIAN CONFEDERATION, AND ITS NEW CAPITAL-THE STATES FAITHFUL TO ROME-THE TWO SCENES OP THE WAR-SUCCESSES OF THE INSURGENTS IN CAMPANIA-L. JULIUS CÆSARDEFEAT AND DEATH OF RUTILIUS LUPUS-SUCCESSES OF MARIUS, SULLA, AND POMFEIUS STRABO-THE ROMANS GRANT THE CITIZENSHIP TO THE ALLIES-THE LEX JULIA AND LEX PLAUTIA PAPIRIA-THE PRANCHISE IN CISALPINE GAUL-SECOND YEAR OF THE WAR-SUCCESSES OF POMPEIUS STRABO AND SULLA — RESISTANCE OP THE SAMNITES --WAR WITH MITHRIDATES-CONSULSHIP OF SULLA-JEALOUSY OP MARIUS-TRIBUNATE AND LAWS OF SULPICIUS RUFUS-MARIUS APPOINTED TO THE COMMAND AGAINST MITHRIDATES- SULLA MARCHES UPON ROME-FLIGHT AND ADVENTURES OF MARIUS-PROCEEDINGS OF SULLA-CINNA ELECTED CONSUL- SULLA DEPARTS POR ASIA-ATTEMPT AT A COUNTER-REVOLUTION-CINNA DRIVEN OUT OF ROME-HE COLLECTS AN ARMY RETURN OF MARIUS TO ITALY-SIEGE AND OAPITULATION OF ROME-MASSACRE OF THE OPTIMATES-SEVENTH CONSULSHIP OF MARIUS - THE FIRST MITHRIDATIV WAR — CHARACTER OF MITHRIDATES VI. - AFFAIRS OF CAPPADOCIA AND BITHYNIA-INVASION OF ASIA, AND MASSACRE OF THE ITALIANS -INSURRECTIOX OF

GREECE-SULLA LANDS IN EPIRUS, TAKES ATHENS, AND DEPEATS ARCHELAUS--PEACE WITH MITIIRIDATES-THE CIVIL WAR EXTENDS TO ASIA - DEATHS OF PLACCUS AND FIMBRIA-SULLA RETURNS TO ITALY--GOVERNMENT AND DEATI OF CINNA-PREPARATIONS FOR WAR- SULLA DEFEATS NORBANUS-IS JOINED BY POMPEY AND OTHER LEADERS OF THE OPTIMATES-MARIUS THE YOUNGER AND PAPIRITS CARBO-DEFEAT OP MARIUS-MASSACRE AT ROME-SULLA DEFEATS THE SAMNITES BEFORE THE COLLINE GATE-DEATII OF MARIUS-AUTOCRACY OF SULLATHE FIRST GREAT PROSCRIPTION-TRIUMPH, DICTATORSHIP, AND LEGISLATION OF SULLA-HIS RETIREMENT, DEATH, AND FUNERAL.

Since the day when Camillus, having rescued the city from the Gauls, consecrated the restored harmony between the orders of the state, no Roman had occupied a prouder position than Caius Darius, when he celebrated his double triumph (B.C. 101). Not only had he saved Rome : he was confessed to be the only man who could have saved her. In the libations at banquets his name Was coupled with the gods, and men called him the third founder of Rome. While family legends invested Camillus with the glory

[merged small][ocr errors]

of that deliverance, which had in fact been purchased by a heavy ransom, and which secured only the retreat of the invaders, Marius had annihilated one barbarian host on its march to cross the Alps, and a second on the soil of Italy itself. But he was utterly destitute of those qualities which gave the ancient hero the right to set up the altar of Concord, the ingenium civile,” which the old Roman aristocracy, with all its faults, so conspicuously possessed. His long military career had made him almost a stranger at Rome, and his blunt nature was uncongenial with the society to the head of which he had now risen. His inability to converse in Greek, and his impatience of Greek plays, his growing addiction to deep drinking and the still more unpardonable fault of keeping a bad cook, and his contempt for official etiquette, exposed him to sarcasms, which were envenomed by his arrogance in prosperity. He was wont to compare his marches from Africa to Gaul, and from Gaul to Italy, to the processions of Bacchus from continent to continent, and he had a cup made after the model of that which the Greek poet calls “ the shield of Dionysus.” Nor was he endowed with the eloquence which at Rome commanded the respect of all parties; and he seems to have been alike ignorant of legal and political culture. This personal severance from the class among which he remained a stranger, after he had risen to its ranks, confirmed his hostility to their vices of corruption and extravagance, and threw him entirely into the arms of the people, who already idolized him for having humbled the oligarchy in conquering Jugurtha and the barbarians. The peculiar position in which he was thus placed, acting upon a nature undisciplined by polite culture, will go far to account for the horrors which marked the last period of his career. His military work being finished, he was now expected to complete the victory of the people over the Optimates, and he seemed to be furnished with an irresistible force in the new standing army which his changes had created. How little he was likely to be restrained from its use by constitutional scruples he had already shown, when he excused the act of giving the Roman franchise to two Italian cohorts, as the reward of their bravery at the Raudine plain, by declaring that he could not hear the laws amidst the din of arms.

“If once,

in more important questions, the interest of the army and that of the general should concur to produce unconstitutional demands, who could be security that then other laws would not cease to be heard ? They had now the standing army, the soldier-class, the body-guard (or privileged prætorian cohort). As in the civil con

« PreviousContinue »