Young Folks' History of Rome HTML version

23. The Wars Of Marius, 106-98
After the death of Massinissa, king of Numidia, the ally of the Romans, there were
disputes among his grandsons, and Jugurtha, whom they held to have the least right,
obtained the kingdom. The commander of the army sent against him was Caius Marius,
who had risen from being a free Roman peasant in the village of Arpinum, but serving
under Scipio Æmilianus, had shown such ability, that when some one was wondering
where they would find the equal of Scipio when he was gone, that general touched the
shoulder of his young officer and said, "Possibly here."
Rough soldier as he always was, he married Julia, of the high family of the Cæsars, who
were said to be descended from Æneas; and though he was much disliked by the Senate,
he always carried the people with him. When he received the province of Numidia,
instead of, as every one had done before, forming his army only of Roman citizens, he
offered to enlist whoever would, and thus filled his ranks with all sorts of wild and
desperate men, whom he could indeed train to fight, but who had none of the old feeling
for honor or the state, and this in the end made a great change in Rome.
Jugurtha maintained a wild war in the deserts of Africa with Marius, but at last he was
betrayed to the Romans by his friend Bocchus, another Moorish king, and Lucius
Cornelius Sulla, Marius' lieutenant, was sent to receive him—a transaction which Sulla
commemorated on a signet ring which he always wore. Poor Jugurtha was kept two years
to appear at the triumph, where he walked in chains, and then was thrown alive into the
dungeon under the Capitol, where he took six days to die of cold and hunger.
Marius was elected consul for the second time even before he had quite come home from
Africa, for it was a time of great danger. Two fierce and terrible tribes, whom the
Romans called Cimbri and Teutones, and who were but the vanguard of the swarms who
would overwhelm them six centuries later, had come down through Germany to the
settled countries belonging to Rome, especially the lands round the old Greek settlements
in Gaul, which had fallen of course into the hands of the Romans, and were full of
beautiful rich cities, with houses and gardens round them. The Province, as the Romans
called it, would have been grand plundering ground for these savages, and Marius
established himself in a camp on the banks of the Rhone to protect it, cutting a canal to
bring his provisions from the sea, which still remains. While he was thus engaged, he was
a fourth time elected consul.
The enemy began to move. The Cimbri meant to march eastward round the Alps, and
pour through the Tyrol into Italy; the Teutones to go by the West, fighting Marius on the
way. But he would not come out of his camp on the Rhone, though the Teutones, as they
passed, shouted to ask the Roman soldiers what messages they had to send to their wives
in Italy.
When they had all passed, he came out of his camp and followed them as far as Aquæ
Sextiæ, now called Aix, where one of the most terrible battles the world ever saw was
fought. These people were a whole tribe—wives, children, and everything they had with
them—and to be defeated was utter and absolute ruin. A great enclosure was made with
their carts and wagons, whence the women threw arrows and darts to help the men; and
when, after three days of hard fighting, all hope was over, they set fire to the enclosure
and killed their children and themselves. The whole swarm was destroyed. Marius