Зображення сторінки

mere enactment have held fast, this one of Plautius would, perhaps, a little longer have preserved the liberty of Rome. But the waves rose higher; laws parted; peace and freedom sank together; and wild was the triumph of the fathomless sea. At the close of the same year in which these things were done and feared, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, then in his fiftieth year, was elected Consul,” in defiance of opposition as bitter as if he had been recognized for what he was or was to be amongst his countrymen. A youth of the deepest debauchery had been succeeded by a manhood of the highest ambition; and the quaestorship of Sulla in Africa, his lieutenancy under Marius and Lutatius Catulus, followed by a praetorship in Rome,” a mission to the East, and latterly by brilliant services against the Italians, were all inadequate to cover the stories of his profligacy, or to counteract the evil look he wore, as of one who fed his soul upon depravity, after the same system that gave his body up to licentiousness. At the same time, he was full of that imposing condescension which makes the timid confident and the worthless active in behalf of its possessor; and although the factions of Rome were anxious, and the prospects out of Rome were fearful, there was a sufficiently numerous party to make Sulla Consul, notwithstanding the rivalry of such as Marius, who hated him on personal, and such as his competitor, Caius Caesar, who opposed him perhaps on political grounds. The primary element in his own character was his selfishness; the secondary one was his passion, so strong against his adversaries, that, had it not been tempered by policy, it would have involved him with them in ruin. This passion at the time of his election to the consulship was concentrated on a single object, from which its glare was reflected upon himself with equal fierceness. Between Marius and Sulla there had been burning enmity from the time when Sulla went to Africa, as Quaestor to Marius's army, which he left with the claim of having obtained the surrender of Jugurtha when the victories of his general had failed to entrap their restless enemy. The same contrast in principle and in education, that had rendered Cato the Censor and Scipio Africanus foes, existed, though in a much more fatal degree, – the Commonwealth being near a century older, — between the superstitious ruggedness of Marius and the voluptuous cultivation of Sulla. The difference, besides, of a generation divided them, and it was further aggravated at the present period by the determination of Sulla to prove that Marius's day was over, while Marius was equally resolved to baffle the insolence, as he called it, with which he was jostled and pushed aside. The younger of the antagonists, however, was victorious; and the charge, sought by both, of the war just then WOL. II. 43 -

5 For A. C. 88.

6 A. C. 93. “The Praetor was right,” said one of Sulla's opponents, “to call the office his, for he had bought it dear.” Plut., Sull., 5. Set this anecdote by the side

of his earlier debaucheries and his intervening military services, when, as Drumann says, “Raffteer sich von den Trinkgelagen auf,” and we have the manhood of Cornelius


declared against Mithridates of Pontus, after years of boding contentions, was given to Sulla. The abyss opened at his departure. “From a clear and quiet sky,” wrote Plutarch, as anxiously as if he had lived in these distracted times, “there came a sound of trumpet so shrill and solemn, that men were stupefied.” The sound was soon echoed upon the earth. In the eagerness” of Marius to obtain the command of the war with Mithridates, he persuaded the most eloquent" of the Tribunes, Sulpicius Rufus, until then a strong partisan of Sulla, to bring forward a law that the citizens lately admitted into the new Tribes should be distributed over the five-andthirty ancient Tribes, on exactly the same footing with the native Romans." As soon as Sulla, who was then halting in Campania to assist in the siege of Nola,” still in possession of the Samnite forces, received intelligence of the movement at Rome, he understood its object as plainly as though he had seen straight into the mind of his ambitious enemy. Were the Tribes once crowded with the new citizens, it would be easy for Marius to procure from them the authority and the opportunity of fame he so much desired, by recalling the Consul from the expedition on which he had departed. Sulla acordingly hastened back to Rome. He found his colleague, Pompeius Rufus, as anxious as himself to resist the law proposed; but Sulpicius was more firmly supported than Sulla had anticipated. Six hundred armed Knights attended upon him as a body-guard;" the city was packed with crowds from the country, and behind these threatening throngs appeared the form of Marius, dilated with exultation at the prospects of his passionate old age. Sulla, nevertheless, was not so easily to be overawed. The consulship had seemed to him the seal of his prečminence in the Commonwealth, and he had no thought of wasting its authority, now that it was assailed. He and his colleague ordered a Justitium," so called, in which, as if in a civil excommunication, both private and public business were, for the time, suspended. The suspension of other occupations, however, served only as the aggravation of hostilities. Sulpicius, with three thousand men” at his heels, attacked the Consuls, who refused to revoke their recent edict, in the open Forum. Pompeius fled; his son was slain; and Sulla took refuge in the house of Marius, who, not so savage as to betray him, on the contrary, assisted his escape." The resumption of affairs and the passage of the law concerning the registry of the new citizens, as well as of another to bestow the command against Mithridates upon Marius, were the immediate consequences” of the outrage which had thus succeeded. A fiercer triumph soon ensued. Full of rage, not merely that he had been forced to yield, but that he had owed his safety to his hated adversary, Sulla returned to his army, panting for revenge. Two military Tribunes, sent to notify to him his deposition, were murdered; and, with thirty-five thousand men,” gained over to his cause, whatever it might be, but abandoned by every officer save one,” he began to march towards Rome. Against such a force there was no protection, even had Marius been prepared for the catastrophe at hand. Two of the Praetors were sent out to delay the Consul’s approach; but they came back with broken fasces and disordered robes, to tell how he was advancing, as he said, “to free his country from its tyrants.” The embassies of the Senate, and from Marius and Sulpicius, met with no better treatment; and the worst was feared by Sulla's partisans, who knew his temper, as well as by his enemies, who knew their own helplessness. Marius called the very slaves to arms;” but it was in a moment of frenzy, and he was not yet nerved to shed the blood of his countrymen. The greater ferocity of Sulla prevailed; trumpets blew in the streets; swords were drawn at the doors; but when the day had been far enough spent in fight and

7 A. C. 88. The character of Liv., Epit. LXXVII., where not this new enemy will be presently only the new citizens, but the freed

touched upon. men, are mentioned. Another law 8 Plut., Sull., 7. proposed the recall of the exiles * “Inexplebilis honorum Marii under the Varian law, p. 318.

fames.” Flor., III. 21. 12 The account of Welleius Pater10 Cic., Brut., 55. culus (II. 18) is here followed.

* App., Bell. Civ., I. 55. Cf.

13 Plut., Mar., 35. Sulpicius 14 App., Bell. Civ., I. 55. gave them the name of the Oppo- 15 Plut., Sull., 8. sition Senate. Ibid., Sull., 8. 16 Plut., Mar., 35; Sull., 8, 10. 17 App., Bell. Civ., I. 56. 19 App., Bell. Civ., I. 57.

18 Plut., Mar., 35. Six legions, 20 Ibid.; and Plut., Sull., 9. say App., Bell. Civ., I. 57, and 21 App., Bell. Civ., I. 58. Plut., Sull., 9.

« НазадПродовжити »