Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

Suers

an

re

when snow, and cold, and want of food would harass the pursuers as well as the pursued; but the Roman legions pressed forward, and at length overtook a large body of their wretched foes, motionless, as though determined to escape their miseries by breaking through the lines of the enemy or else by surrendering themselves in the extremity of despair. Some were seen, as the Romans advanced, to be lying on the ground, but others stood firm, leaning upon their arms; 57 yet, as the pursuing party came up, none stirred to keep them off or to beg for mercy, for they were dead, all frozen stiff, as they had fled homeward. Vettius Scato, their leader, taken prisoner either in combat or in flight, was dragged by his captor before the Roman general. But a slave who had hurried with him drew out the soldier's sword, either at Scato's bidding or by his own impulse, and having stabbed his lord dead, slew himself, exulting that he had set his master free. 58

Ferocious, indeed, was the war, in which a chief would like better to perish by the blow of his slave, and a whole troop prefer death amongst the mountain-snows, than to fall into the hands of their enemies. Nor is it for a moment to be imagined that the cruelty of the strife was on the part of the Romans alone. The Italians were equally dreadful to their foes ; 59 and their thirst for freedom led them

man

57 - In modum viventium.” Oros., the philosopher, “ qui magnificenV. 18.

tius dominum servarit!” 58 Senec., De Benef., III. 23. 59 See the short fragment of Dion “ Da mihi quemquam,” exclaims Cassius (CXIII.), in which a world with hoarse outcry and reeking weapons to the waters by which the Romans sat, armed and infuriated, as if to drain the draught themselves.

The Roman Consuls, confident in themselves, but with little judgment concerning the valor of the allies, took the field, at first only to be defeated. Rutilius Lupus was routed and slain by the forces under Vettius Scato; and had it not been for Marius, who succeeded to the command, the broken army would have been entirely destroyed. Julius Cæsar, the other Consul, was several times worsted; but by persevering spirit and the constancy of his troops he gained at last a victory, which, together with one obtained by Marius over the Marsians,61 and another achieved by Porcius Cato, the Censor's grandson, over the Etruscans,62 or a small part of that nation which had taken arms, composed the Roman triumphs for the year. On the other hand, there was a large list of losses and deficiencies, in respect, not merely to the armies, but to the general exigencies of the Commonwealth, and the year was ending dark and threatful.63 The allies were in better spirits; yet their advantages, though more numerous, were counterbalanced by the want of many resources, and of those concerted energies without which they would never attain the freedom they desired, however glittering might be their trophies.

of misery is described, or the ac- he ended the action which Marius count of the death of the Roman began. App., Bell. Civ., I. 43 et officers by order of Papius Mutilus. seq. Liv., Epit. LXXIII. App., Bell. Civ., I. 42.

62 Oros., V. 18. Flor., III. 18. 60 Liv., Epit. LXXIII.

63 Liv., Epit. LXXIII., LXXIV. 61 Of whose defeat, however, the Oros., V. 18. Flor., III. 18. praise was given to Sulla, because

While these uncertainties were thickening on either side, the surviving Consul, Julius Cæsar, returned to Rome, instructed in the difficulties of the contest, and resolved to expound and to meet them before his countrymen. It would be hard, he may have said, to conquer the Italians at all; but it would be impossible even to resist them, if the allies hitherto faithful should on any account join their countrymen in rebellion. This did not need expatiation; and when the Consul proposed, with the consent of the Senate, that citizenship, entire and complete, should be given to Latins, Etruscans, Campanians, and whatsoever other states or towns there were that still stood firm to Rome,64 the law providing and declaring the grant was passed without the slightest apparent controversy. Some of the allies to whom the offer of citizenship was thus wisely made declined it altogether, but with gratitude ; 65 while others, and the greater part, accepted it with joyful earnestness, and repaid it with more steadfast attachment. The effect of the Julian law, as it was called, after its author, was not confined to the faithful, but extended even to the hostile Italians, — not, indeed, with such force as to disarm them, but with such whispers of citizenship to themselves as to make many hope for reconciliation.

64 'Italiwowy dè tous ēti év û 65 As the Heracleans and the ovppaxla napapévovras cival trolitas. Neapolitans. Cic., Pro Balbo, 8. App., Bell. Civ., I. 49. The law included all, native or naturalized Italians, of the faithful. :

The war still continued; but the second year 66 was much less deeply dyed with wrath and outrage. Such water-colors, to use the poet's words, as the fiercer Italian leaders had found to impaint the cause of their insurrection, were greatly faded in presence of their own expedients 67 and dissensions, as well as before the light let in, as has been noticed, by the Julian law from Rome. For once, the truth was revealed through the darkness of the conflict, that it was unprofitable to peril a just cause upon the doubtful accidents and accursed woes of warfare.68 The Romans entered upon the new campaign confident of victory; the new Consuls being Pompeius Strabo, ás already mentioned, and Porcius Cato, whose command, however, in consequence of his death, soon devolved upon Sulla.69 It mattered little who the generals might be, or what were the glories that they claimed." The defeat of Vettius Scato at the very beginning of the year was followed by the fall of Asculum ;' and even Italica was afterwards abandoned for the humbler and safer town of Æsernia

m

66 A. C. 89.

69 App., Bell. Civ., I. 50. 67 Such as the attempted alliance 70 See Sulla's exploits in App., with Mithridates of Pontus, at that Bell. Civ., I. 50, 51 ; Diod. Sic.. time the nominal ally of the Com- Reliq., XXXVII. 2; Liv., Epit. monwealth. Diod. Sic., Reliq., LXXV. And Pompeius Strabo's XXXVII. 2.

in App., Bell. Civ., I. 50, 52; Liv., 68 In such sense, all will agree Epit. LXXIV., LXXVI. ; and Diod. with Niebuhr, that “ this war is one Sic., loc. cit. of the greatest in all antiquity.” 71 Liv., Epit. LXXVI. Lect. XXXIII. on Rom. History. VOL. II.

42

ere no

in Samnium.? But there were no disasters on the Italian, no triumphs on the Roman side, that would of themselves have decided the contest; nor can the terms on which the Romans conquered and the Italians yielded be accounted for by the interpretation apparently adopted by the victors.

This seeming mystery is easily explained. In the army of the Consul Pompeius, before the engagement took place with the troops under Vettius Scato, a youth of seventeen, serving his first campaign, was present at a conference between the Italian leader and the Consul's brother, Sextus Pompeius, who, as an old friend of Scato, came forward to urge his acceptance of the proffered truce. “What shall I call you?” asked the Roman. “ Your friend in will, but of necessity your enemy,” replied the Italian. Long afterwards, when the youth was known throughout the world of Rome as Marcus Tullius Cicero, the noblest citizen who bore her name, he repeated the story of the interview, adding, that he had witnessed no fear and but little enmity betwixt the foes, for all that the allies were seeking, as he says, was, not to deprive the Romans of their rights, but merely to obtain the same rights for themselves."3 Desire for reconciliation, sheltered by former attachments and not altogether concealed by present passions, on both sides, stole forth with soft-falling steps to save both Italy and Rome from further desolation. The Ro

[ocr errors][merged small]
« НазадПродовжити »