Front Page Titles (by Subject) PYRRHUS AND CAIUS MARIUS - Plutarch's Lives (Dryden trans.) vol. 3
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PYRRHUS AND CAIUS MARIUS - Plutarch, Plutarch’s Lives (Dryden trans.) vol. 3 
Plutarch’s Lives. The Translation called Dryden’s. Corrected from the Greek and Revised by A.H. Clough, in 5 volumes (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1906).
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PYRRHUS AND CAIUS MARIUS
Of the Thesprotians and Molossians after the great inundation, the first king, according to some historians, was Phaethon, one of those who came into Epirus with Pelasgus. Others tell us that Deucalion and Pyrrha, having set up the worship of Jupiter at Dodona, settled there among the Molossians. In after time, Neoptolemus, Achilles’s son, planting a colony, possessed these parts himself, and left a succession of kings, who, after him, were named Pyrrhidæ; as he in his youth was called Pyrrhus, and of his legitimate children, one born of Lanassa, daughter of Cleodæus, Hyllus’s son, had also that name. From him, Achilles came to have divine honors in Epirus, under the name of Aspetus, in the language of the country. After these first kings, those of the following intervening times becoming barbarous, and insignificant both in their power and their lives, Tharrhypas is said to have been the first, who by introducing Greek manners and learning, and humane laws into his cities, left any fame of himself. Alcetas was the son of Tharrhypas, Arybas of Alcetas, and of Arybas and Troas his queen, Æacides: he married Phthia, the daughter of Menon, the Thessalian, a man of note at the time of the Lamiac war, and of highest command in the confederate army next to Leosthenes. To Æacides were born of Phthia, Deidamia and Troas daughters, and Pyrrhus a son.
The Molossians, afterwards falling into factions, and expelling Æacides, brought in the sons of Neoptolemus, and such friends of Æacides as they could take were all cut off; Pyrrhus, yet an infant, and searched for by the enemy, had been stolen away and carried off by Androclides and Angelus; who, however, being obliged to take with them a few servants, and women to nurse the child, were much impeded and retarded in their flight, and when they were now overtaken, they delivered the infant to Androcleon, Hippias, and Neander, faithful and able young fellows, giving them in charge to make for Megara, a town of Macedon, with all their might, while they themselves, partly by entreaty, and partly by force, stopped the course of the pursuers till late in the evening. At last, having hardly forced them back, they joined those who had the care of Pyrrhus; but the sun being already set, at the point of attaining their object they suddenly found themselves cut off from it. For on reaching the river that runs by the city they found it looking formidable and rough, and endeavoring to pass over, they discovered it was not fordable; late rains having heightened the water, and made the current violent. The darkness of the night added to the horror of all, so that they durst not venture of themselves to carry over the child and the women that attended it; but, perceiving some of the country people on the other side, they desired them to assist their passage, and showed them Pyrrhus, calling out aloud, and importuning them. They, however, could not hear for the noise and roaring of the water. Thus time was spent while those called out, and the others did not understand what was said, till one recollecting himself, stripped off a piece of bark from an oak, and wrote on it with the tongue of a buckle, stating the necessities and the fortunes of the child, and then rolling it about a stone, which was made use of to give force to the motion, threw it over to the other side, or, as some say, fastened it to the end of a javelin, and darted it over. When the men on the other shore read what was on the bark, and saw how time pressed, without delay they cut down some trees, and lashing them together, came over to them. And it so fell out, that he who first got ashore, and took Pyrrhus in his arms, was named Achilles, the rest being helped over by others as they came to hand.
Thus being safe, and out of the reach of pursuit, they addressed themselves to Glaucias, then king of the Illyrians, and finding him sitting at home with his wife, they laid down the child before them. The king began to weigh the matter, fearing Cassander, who was a mortal enemy of Æacides, and, being in deep consideration, said nothing for a long time; while Pyrrhus, crawling about on the ground, gradually got near and laid hold with his hand upon the king’s robe, and so helping himself upon his feet against the knees of Glaucias, first moved laughter, and then pity, as a little humble, crying petitioner. Some say he did not throw himself before Glaucias, but catching hold of an altar of the gods, and spreading his hands about it, raised himself up by that; and that Glaucias took the act as an omen. At present, therefore, he gave Pyrrhus into the charge of his wife, commanding he should be brought up with his own children; and a little after, the enemies sending to demand him, and Cassander himself offering two hundred talents, he would not deliver him up; but when he was twelve years old, bringing him with an army into Epirus, made him king. Pyrrhus in the air of his face had something more of the terrors, than of the augustness of kingly power; he had not a regular set of upper teeth, but in the place of them one continued bone, with small lines marked on it, resembling Page 4 the divisions of a row of teeth. It was a general belief he could cure the spleen, by sacrificing a white cock, and gently pressing with his right foot on the spleen of the persons as they lay down on their backs, nor was any one so poor or inconsiderable as not to be welcome, if he desired it, to the benefit of his touch. He accepted the cock for the sacrifice as a reward, and was always much pleased with the present. The large toe of that foot was said to have a divine virtue; for after his death, the rest of the body being consumed, this was found unhurt and untouched by the fire. But of these things hereafter.
Being now about seventeen years old, and the government in appearance well settled, he took a journey out of the kingdom to attend the marriage of one of Glaucias’s sons, with whom he was brought up; upon which opportunity the Molossians again rebelling, turned out all of his party, plundered his property, and gave themselves up to Neoptolemus. Pyrrhus, having thus lost the kingdom, and being in want of all things, applied to Demetrius the son of Antigonus, the husband of his sister Deidamia, who, while she was but a child, had been in name the wife of Alexander, son of Roxana, but their affairs afterwards proving unfortunate, when she came to age, Demetrius married her. At the great battle of Ipsus, where so many kings were engaged, Pyrrhus, taking part with Demetrius, though yet but a youth, routed those that encountered him, and highly signalized himself among all the soldiery; and afterwards, when Demetrius’s fortunes were low, he did not forsake him then, but secured for him the cities of Greece with which he was intrusted; and upon articles of agreement being made between Demetrius and Ptolemy, he went over as an hostage for him into Egypt, where both in hunting and other exercises, he gave Ptolemy an ample proof of his courage and strength. Here observing Berenice in greatest power, and of all Ptolemy’s wives highest in esteem for virtue and understanding, he made his court principally to her. He had a particular art of gaining over the great to his own interest, as on the other hand he readily overlooked such as were below him; and being also well-behaved and temperate in his life, among all the young princes then at court, he was thought most fit to have Antigone for his wife, one of the daughters of Berenice by Philip, before she married Ptolemy.
After this match, advancing in honor, and Antigone being a very good wife to him, having procured a sum of money, and raised an army, he so ordered matters as to be sent into his kingdom of Epirus, and arrived there to the great satisfaction of many, from their hate to Neoptolemus, who was governing in a violent and arbitrary way. But fearing lest Neoptolemus should enter into alliance with some neighboring princes, he came to terms and friendship with him, agreeing that they should share the government between them. There were people, however, who, as time went on, secretly exasperated them, and fomented jealousies between them. The cause chiefly moving Pyrrhus is said to have had this beginning. It was customary for the kings to offer sacrifice to Mars, at Passaro, a place in the Molossian country, and that done to enter into a solemn covenant with the Epirots; they to govern according to law, these to preserve the government as by law established. This was performed in the presence of both kings, who were there with their immediate friends, giving and receiving many presents; here Gelo, one of the friends of Neoptolemus, taking Pyrrhus by the hand, presented him with two pair of draught oxen. Myrtilus, his cup-bearer, being then by, begged these of Pyrrhus, who not giving them to him, but to another, Myrtilus extremely resented it, which Gelo took Page 6 notice of, and, inviting him to a banquet, (amidst drinking and other excesses, as some relate, Myrtilus being then in the flower of his youth,) he entered into discourse, persuading him to adhere to Neoptolemus, and destroy Pyrrhus by poison. Myrtilus received the design, appearing to approve and consent to it, but privately discovered it to Pyrrhus, by whose command he recommended Alexicrates, his chief cup-bearer, to Gelo, as a fit instrument for their design, Pyrrhus being very desirous to have proof of the plot by several evidences. So Gelo being deceived, Neoptolemus, who was no less deceived, imagining the design went prosperously on, could not forbear, but in his joy spoke of it among his friends, and once at an entertainment at his sister Cadmea’s, talked openly of it, thinking none heard but themselves. Nor was any one there but Phænarete the wife of Samon, who had the care of Neoptolemus’s flocks and herds. She, turning her face towards the wall upon a couch, seemed fast asleep, and having heard all that passed, unsuspected, next day came to Antigone, Pyrrhus’s wife, and told her what she had heard Neoptolemus say to his sister. On understanding which Pyrrhus for the present said little, but on a sacrifice day, making an invitation for Neoptolemus, killed him; being satisfied before that the great men of the Epirots were his friends, and that they were eager for him to rid himself of Neoptolemus, and not to content himself with a mere petty share of the government, but to follow his own natural vocation to great designs, and now when a just ground of suspicion appeared, to anticipate Neoptolemus by taking him off first.
In memory of Berenice and Ptolemy, he named his son by Antigone, Ptolemy, and having built a city in the peninsula of Epirus, called it Berenicis. From this time he began to revolve many and vast projects in his thoughts; but his first special hope and design lay near home, and he found means to engage himself in the Macedonian affairs under the following pretext. Of Cassander’s sons, Antipater, the eldest, killed Thessalonica his mother, and expelled his brother Alexander, who sent to Demetrius entreating his assistance, and also called in Pyrrhus; but Demetrius being retarded by multitude of business, Pyrrhus, coming first, demanded in reward of his service the districts called Tymphæa and Parauæa in Macedon itself, and, of their new conquests, Ambracia, Acarnania, and Amphilochia. The young prince giving way, he took possession of these countries, and secured them with good garrisons, and proceeded to reduce for Alexander himself other parts of the kingdom which he gained from Antipater. Lysimachus, designing to send aid to Antipater, was involved in much other business, but knowing Pyrrhus would not disoblige Ptolemy, or deny him any thing, sent pretended letters to him as from Ptolemy, desiring him to give up his expedition, upon the payment of three hundred talents to him by Antipater. Pyrrhus, opening the letter, quickly discovered the fraud of Lysimachus; for it had not the accustomed style of salutation, “The father to the son, health,” but “King Ptolemy to Pyrrhus, the king, health;” and reproaching Lysimachus, he notwithstanding made a peace, and they all met to confirm it by a solemn oath upon sacrifice. A goat, a bull, and a ram being brought out, the ram on a sudden fell dead. The others laughed, but Theodotus the prophet forbade Pyrrhus to swear, declaring that Heaven by that portended the death of one of the three kings, upon which he refused to ratify the peace.
The affairs of Alexander being now in some kind of settlement, Demetrius arrived, contrary, as soon appeared, to the desire and indeed not without the alarm of Alexander. After they had been a few days together, their mutual jealousy led them to conspire against each other; and Demetrius taking advantage of the first occasion, was beforehand with the young king, and slew him, and proclaimed himself king of Macedon. There had been formerly no very good understanding between him and Pyrrhus; for besides the inroads he made into Thessaly, the innate disease of princes, ambition of greater empire, had rendered them formidable and suspected neighbors to each other, especially since Deidamia’s death; and both having seized Macedon, they came into conflict for the same object, and the difference between them had the stronger motives. Demetrius having first attacked the Ætolians and subdued them, left Pantauchus there with a considerable army, and marched direct against Pyrrhus, and Pyrrhus, as he thought, against him; but by mistake of the ways they passed by one another, and Demetrius falling into Epirus wasted the country, and Pyrrhus, meeting with Pantauchus, prepared for an engagement. The soldiers fell to, and there was a sharp and terrible conflict, especially where the generals were. Pantauchus, in courage, dexterity, and strength of body, being confessedly the best of all Demetrius’s captains, and having both resolution and high spirit, challenged Pyrrhus to fight hand to hand; on the other side Pyrrhus, professing not to yield to any king in valor and glory, and esteeming the fame of Achilles more truly to belong to him for his courage than for his blood, advanced against Pantauchus through the front of the army. First they used their lances, then came to a close fight, and managed their swords both with art and force; Pyrrhus receiving one wound, but returning two for it, one in the thigh, the other near the neck, repulsed and overthrew Pantauchus, but did not kill him outright, as he was rescued by his friends. But the Epirots exulting in the victory of their king, and admiring his courage, forced through and cut in pieces the phalanx of the Macedonians, and pursuing those that fled, killed many, and took five thousand prisoners.
This fight did not so much exasperate the Macedonians with anger for their loss, or with hatred to Pyrrhus, as it caused esteem, and admiration of his valor, and great discourse of him among those that saw what he did, and were engaged against him in the action. They thought his countenance, his swiftness, and his motions expressed those of the great Alexander, and that they beheld here an image and resemblance of his rapidity and strength in fight; other kings merely by their purple and their guards, by the formal bending of their necks, and lofty tone of speech, Pyrrhus only by arms, and in action, represented Alexander. Of his knowledge of military tactics and the art of a general, and his great ability that way, we have the best information from the commentaries he left behind him. Antigonus, also, we are told, being asked who was the greatest soldier, said, “Pyrrhus, if he lives to be old,” referring only to those of his own time; but Hannibal of all great commanders esteemed Pyrrhus for skill and conduct the first, Scipio the second, and himself the third, as is related in the life of Scipio. In a word, he seemed ever to make this all his thought and philosophy, as the most kingly part of learning; other curiosities he held in no account. He is reported, when asked at a feast whether he thought Python or Caphisias the best musician, to have said, Polysperchon was the best soldier, as though it became a king to examine and understand only such things. Towards his familiars he was mild, and not easily incensed; zealous, and even vehement in returning kindnesses. Thus when Aeropus was dead, he could not bear it with moderation, saying, he indeed had suffered what was common to human nature, but condemning and blaming himself, that by puttings off and delays he had not returned his kindness Page 10 in time. For our debts may be satisfied to the creditor’s heirs, but not to have made the acknowledgment of received favors, while they to whom it is due can be sensible of it, afflicts a good and a worthy nature. Some thinking it fit that Pyrrhus should banish a certain illtongued fellow in Ambracia, who had spoken very indecently of him, “Let him rather,” said he, “speak against us here to a few, than rambling about to a great many.” And others who in their wine had made reflections upon him, being afterward questioned for it, and asked by him whether they had said such words, on one of the young fellows answering, “Yes, all that, king; and should have said more if we had had more wine;” he laughed and discharged them. After Antigone’s death, he married several wives to enlarge his interest and power. He had the daughter of Autoleon, king of the Pæonians, Bircenna, Bardyllis the Illyrian’s daughter, Lanassa, daughter of Agathocles the Syracusan, who brought with her in dower the city of Corcyra which had been taken by Agathocles. By Antigone he had Ptolemy, Alexander by Lanassa, and Helenus, his youngest son, by Bircenna; he brought them up all in arms, hot and eager youths, and by him sharpened and whetted to war from their very infancy. It is said, when one of them, while yet a child, asked him to which he would leave the kingdom, he replied, to him that had the sharpest sword, which indeed was much like that tragical curse of Oedipus to his sons: —
So unsocial and wild-beast-like is the nature of ambition and cupidity.
After this battle Pyrrhus, returning gloriously home, enjoyed his fame and reputation, and being called “Eagle” by the Epirots, “By you,” said he, “I am an eagle; for how should I not be such, while I have your arms as wings to sustain me?” A little after, having intelligence that Demetrius was dangerously sick, he entered on a sudden into Macedonia, intending only an incursion, and to harass the country; but was very near seizing upon all, and taking the kingdom without a blow. He marched as far as Edessa unresisted, great numbers deserting, and coming in to him. This danger excited Demetrius beyond his strength, and his friends and commanders in a short time got a considerable army together, and with all their forces briskly attacked Pyrrhus, who, coming only to pillage, would not stand a fight, but retreating lost part of his army, as he went off, by the close pursuit of the Macedonians. Demetrius, however, although he had easily and quickly forced Pyrrhus out of the country, yet did not slight him, but having resolved upon great designs, and to recover his father’s kingdom with an army of one hundred thousand men, and a fleet of five hundred ships, would neither embroil himself with Pyrrhus, nor leave the Macedonians so active and troublesome a neighbor; and since he had no leisure to continue the war with him, he was willing to treat and conclude a peace, and to turn his forces upon the other kings. Articles being agreed upon, the designs of Demetrius quickly discovered themselves by the greatness of his preparation. And the other kings, being alarmed, sent to Pyrrhus ambassadors and letters, expressing their wonder that he should choose to let his own opportunity pass by, and wait till Demetrius could use his; and whereas he was now able to chase him out of Macedon, involved in designs and disturbed, he should expect till Demetrius at leisure, and grown great, should bring the war home to his own door, and make him fight for his temples and sepulchres in Molossia; especially having so lately, by his means, lost Corcyra and his wife together. For Lanassa had taken offence at Pyrrhus for too great an inclination to those wives of his that were barbarians, and so withdrew to Corcyra, and desiring to marry some king, invited Demetrius, knowing of all the kings he was most ready to entertain offers of marriage; so he sailed thither, mar ried Lanassa, and placed a garrison in the city. The kings having written thus to Pyrrhus, themselves likewise contrived to find Demetrius work, while he was delaying and making his preparations. Ptolemy, setting out with a great fleet, drew off many of the Greek cities. Lysimachus out of Thrace wasted the upper Macedon; and Pyrrhus, also, taking arms at the same time, marched to Berœa, expecting, as it fell out, that Demetrius, collecting his forces against Lysimachus, would leave the lower country undefended. That very night he seemed in his sleep to be called by Alexander the Great, and approaching saw him sick abed, but was received with very kind words and much respect, and promised zealous assistance. He making bold to reply: “How, Sir, can you, being sick, assist me?” “With my name,” said he, and mounting a Nisæan horse, seemed to lead the way. At the sight of this vision he was much assured, and with swift marches overrunning all the interjacent places, takes Berœa, and making his head-quarters there, reduced the rest of the country by his commanders. When Demetrius received intelligence of this, and perceived likewise the Macedonians ready to mutiny in the army, he was afraid to advance further, lest coming near Lysimachus, a Macedonian king, and of great fame, they should revolt to him. So returning, he marched directly against Pyrrhus, as a stranger, and hated by the Macedonians. But while he lay encamped there near him, many who came out of Berœa infinitely praised Pyrrhus as invincible in arms, a glorious warrior, who treated those he had taken kindly and humanely. Several of these Pyrrhus himself sent privately, pretending to be Macedonians, and saying, now was the time to be delivered from the severe government of Demetrius, by coming over to Pyrrhus, a gracious prince, and a lover of soldiers. By this artifice a great part of the army was in a state of excitement, and the soldiers began to look every way about, inquiring for Pyrrhus. It happened he was without his helmet, till understanding they did not know him, he put it on again, and so was quickly recognized by his lofty crest, and the goat’s horns he wore upon it. Then the Macedonians, running to him, desired to be told his password, and some put oaken boughs upon their heads, because they saw them worn by the soldiers about him. Some persons even took the confidence to say to Demetrius himself, that he would be well advised to withdraw, and lay down the government. And he, indeed, seeing the mutinous movements of the army to be only too consistent with what they said, privately got away, disguised in a broad hat, and a common soldier’s coat. So Pyrrhus became master of the army without fighting, and was declared king of the Macedonians.
But Lysimachus now arriving, and claiming the defeat of Demetrius as the joint exploit of them both, and that therefore the kingdom should be shared between them, Pyrrhus, not as yet quite assured of the Macedonians, and in doubt of their faith, consented to the proposition of Lysimachus, and divided the country and cities between them accordingly. This was for the present useful, and prevented a war; but shortly after they found the partition not so much a peaceful settlement, as an occasion of further complaint and difference. For men whose ambition neither seas nor mountains, nor unpeopled deserts can limit, nor the bounds dividing Europe from Asia confine their vast desires, it would be hard to expect to forbear from injuring one another when they touch, and are close together. These are ever naturally at war, envying and seeking advantages of one another, and merely make use of those two words, peace and war, like current coin, to serve their occasions, not as justice but as expediency suggests, and are really better men when they openly enter on a war, than when they give to the mere forbearance from doing wrong, for want of opportunity, the sacred names of justice and friendship. Pyrrhus was an instance of this; for setting himself against the rise of Demetrius again, and endeavoring to hinder the recovery of his power, as it were from a kind of sickness, he assisted the Greeks, and came to Athens, where, having ascended the Acropolis, he offered sacrifice to the goddess, and the same day came down again, and told the Athenians he was much gratified by the good-will and the confidence they had shown to him; but if they were wise, he advised them never to let any king come thither again, or open their city gates to him. He concluded also a peace with Demetrius, but shortly after he was gone into Asia, at the persuasion of Lysimachus, he tampered with the Thessalians to revolt, and besieged his cities in Greece; finding he could better preserve the attachment of the Macedonians in war than in peace, and being of his own inclination not much given to rest. At last, after Demetrius had been overthrown in Syria, Lysimachus, who had secured his affairs, and had nothing to do, immediately turned his whole forces upon Pyrrhus, who was in quarters at Edessa, and falling upon and seizing his convoy of provisions, brought first a great scarcity into the army; then partly by letters, partly by spreading rumors abroad, he corrupted the principal officers of the Macedonians, reproaching them that they had made one their master who was both a stranger and descended from those who had ever been servants to the Macedonians, and that they had thrust the old friends and familiars of Alexander Page 15 out of the country. The Macedonian soldiers being much prevailed upon, Pyrrhus withdrew himself with his Epirots and auxiliary forces, relinquishing Macedon just after the same manner he took it. So little reason have kings to condemn popular governments for changing sides as suits their interests, as in this they do but imitate them who are the great instructors of unfaithfulness and treachery; holding him the wisest that makes the least account of being an honest man.
Pyrrhus having thus retired into Epirus, and left Macedon, fortune gave him a fair occasion of enjoying himself in quiet, and peaceably governing his own subjects; but he who thought it a nauseous course of life not to be doing mischief to others, or receiving some from them, like Achilles, could not endure repose,
and gratified his inclination by the following pretext for new troubles. The Romans were at war with the Tarentines, who, not being able to go on with the war, nor yet, through the foolhardiness, and the viciousness of their popular speakers, to come to terms and give it up, proposed now to make Pyrrhus their general, and engage him in it, as of all the neighboring kings the most at leisure, and the most skilful as a commander. The more grave and discreet citizens opposing these counsels, were partly overborne by the noise and violence of the multitude; while others, seeing this, absented themselves from the assemblies; only one Meton, a very sober man, on the day this public decree was to be ratified, when the people were now seating themselves, came dancing into the assembly like one quite drunk, with a withered garland and a small lamp in his hand, and a woman playing on a flute before him. And as in great multitudes met at such popular assemblies, no decorum can be well observed, some clapped him, others laughed, none forbade him, but called to the woman to play, and to him to sing to the company, and when they thought he was going to do so, “’T is only right of you, O men of Tarentum,” he said, “not to hinder any from making themselves merry, that have a mind to it, while it is yet in their power; and if you are wise, you will take out your pleasure of your freedom while you can, for you must change your course of life, and follow other diet when Pyrrhus comes to town.” These words made a great impression upon many of the Tarentines, and a confused murmur went about, that he had spoken much to the purpose; but some who feared they should be sacrificed if a peace were made with the Romans, reviled the whole assembly for so tamely suffering themselves to be abused by a drunken sot, and crowding together upon Meton, thrust him out. So the public order was passed, and ambassadors sent into Epirus, not only in their own names, but in those of all the Italian Greeks, carrying presents to Pyrrhus, and letting him know they wanted a general of reputation and experience; and that they could furnish him with large forces of Lucanians, Messapians, Samnites, and Tarentines, amounting to twenty thousand horse, and three hundred and fifty thousand foot. This did not only quicken Pyrrhus, but raised an eager desire for the expedition in the Epirots.
There was one Cineas, a Thessalian, considered to be a man of very good sense, a disciple of the great orator Demosthenes, who of all that were famous at that time for speaking well, most seemed, as in a picture, to revive in the minds of the audience the memory of his force and vigor of eloquence; and being always about Pyrrhus, and sent about in his service to several cities, verified the saying of Euripides, thatPage 17
And Pyrrhus was used to say, that Cineas had taken more towns with his words, than he with his arms, and always did him the honor to employ him in his most important occasions. This person, seeing Pyrrhus eagerly preparing for Italy, led him one day when he was at leisure into the following reasonings: “The Romans, sir, are reported to be great warriors and conquerors of many warlike nations; if God permit us to overcome them, how should we use our victory?” “You ask,” said Pyrrhus, “a thing evident of itself. The Romans once conquered, there is neither Greek nor barbarian city that will resist us, but we shall presently be masters of all Italy, the extent and resources and strength of which any one should rather profess to be ignorant of, than yourself.” Cineas, after a little pause, “And having subdued Italy, what shall we do next?” Pyrrhus not yet discovering his intention, “Sicily,” he replied, “next holds out her arms to receive us, a wealthy and populous island, and easy to be gained; for since Agathocles left it, only faction and anarchy, and the licentious violence of the demagogues prevail.” “You speak,” said Cineas, “what is perfectly probable, but will the possession of Sicily put an end to the war?” “God grant us,” answered Pyrrhus, “victory and success in that, and we will use these as forerunners of greater things; who could forbear from Libya and Carthage then within reach, which Agathocles, even when forced to fly from Syracuse, and passing the sea only with a few ships, had all but surprised? These conquests once perfected, will any assert that of the enemies who now pretend to despise us, any one will dare to make further resistance?” “None,” replied Cineas, “for then it is manifest we may with such mighty forces regain Macedon, and make an absolute conquest of Greece; and when all these are in our power, what shall we do then?” Said Pyrrhus, smiling, “we will live at our ease, my dear friend, and drink all day, and divert ourselves with pleasant conversation.” When Cineas had led Pyrrhus with his argument to this point: “And what hinders us now, sir, if we have a mind to be merry, and entertain one another, since we have at hand without trouble all those necessary things, to which through much blood and great labor, and infinite hazards and mischief done to ourselves and to others, we design at last to arrive?” Such reasonings rather troubled Pyrrhus with the thought of the happiness he was quitting, than any way altered his purpose, being unable to abandon the hopes of what he so much desired.
And first, he sent away Cineas to the Tarentines with three thousand men; presently after, many vessels for transport of horse, and galleys, and flat-bottomed boats of all sorts arriving from Tarentum, he shipped upon them twenty elephants, three thousand horse, twenty thousand foot, two thousand archers, and five hundred slingers. All being thus in readiness, he set sail, and being half way over, was driven by the wind, blowing, contrary to the season of the year, violently from the north, and carried from his course, but by the great skill and resolution of his pilots and seamen, he made the land with infinite labor, and beyond expectation. The rest of the fleet could not get up, and some of the dispersed ships, losing the coast of Italy, were driven into the Libyan and Sicilian Sea; others not able to double the Cape of Japygium, were overtaken by the night; and, with a boisterous and heavy sea, throwing them upon a dangerous and rocky shore, they were all very much disabled except the royal galley. She, while the sea bore upon her sides, resisted with her bulk and strength, and avoided the force of it, till the wind coming about, blew directly in their teeth from the shore, and the vessel keeping up with her head against it, was in danger of going to pieces; yet on the other hand, to suffer themselves to be driven off to sea again, which was thus raging and tempestuous, with the wind shifting about every way, seemed to them the most dreadful of all their present evils. Pyrrhus, rising up, threw himself overboard. His friends and guards strove eagerly who should be most ready to help him, but night and the sea with its noise and violent surge, made it extremely difficult to do this; so that hardly, when with the morning the wind began to subside, he got ashore, breathless, and weakened in body, but with high courage and strength of mind resisting his hard fortune. The Messapians, upon whose shore they were thrown by the tempest, came up eagerly to help them in the best manner they could; and some of the straggling vessels that had escaped the storm arrived; in which were a very few horse, and not quite two thousand foot, and two elephants.
With these Pyrrhus marched straight to Tarentum, where Cineas, being informed of his arrival, led out the troops to meet him. Entering the town, he did nothing unpleasing to the Tarentines, nor put any force upon them, till his ships were all in harbor, and the greatest part of the army got together; but then perceiving that the people, unless some strong compulsion was used to them, were not capable either of saving others or being saved themselves, and were rather intending, while he engaged for them in the field, to remain at home bathing and feasting themselves, he first shut up the places of public exercise, and the walks where, in their idle way, they fought their country’s battles and conducted her campaigns in their talk; he prohibited likewise all festivals, revels, and drinking-parties, as unseasonable, and summoning them to arms, showed himself rigorous and inflexible in carrying out the conscription for service in the war. So that many, not understanding what it was to be commanded, left the town, calling it mere slavery not to do as they pleased. He now received intelligence that Lævinus, the Roman consul, was upon his march with a great army, and plundering Lucania as he went. The confederate forces were not come up to him, yet he thought it impossible to suffer so near an approach of an enemy, and drew out with his army, but first sent an herald to the Romans to know if before the war they would decide the differences between them and the Italian Greeks by his arbitrament and mediation. But Lævinus returning answer, that the Romans neither accepted him as arbitrator, nor feared him as an enemy, Pyrrhus advanced, and encamped in the plain between the cities of Pandosia and Heraclea, and having notice the Romans were near, and lay on the other side of the river Siris, he rode up to take a view of them, and seeing their order, the appointment of the watches, their method and the general form of their encampment, he was amazed, and addressing one of his friends next to him: “This order,” said he, “Megacles, of the barbarians, is not at all barbarian in character; we shall see presently what they can do;” and, growing a little more thoughtful of the event, resolved to expect the arriving of the confederate troops. And to hinder the Romans, if in the mean time they should endeavor to pass the river, he planted men all along the bank to oppose them. But they, hastening to anticipate the coming up of the same forces which he had determined to wait for, attempted the passage with their infantry, where it was fordable, and with the horse in several places, so that the Greeks, fearing to be surrounded, were obliged to retreat, and Pyrrhus, perceiving this and being much surprised, bade his foot officers draw their men up in line of battle, and continue in arms, while he himself, with three thousand horse, advanced, hoping to attack the Romans as they were coming over, scattered and disordered. But when he saw a vast number of shields appearing above the water, and the horse following them in good order, gathering his men in a closer body, himself at the head of them, he began the charge, conspicuous by his rich and beautiful armor, and letting it be seen that his reputation had not outgone what he was able effectually to perform. While exposing his hands and body in the fight, and bravely repelling all that engaged him, he still guided the battle with a steady and undisturbed reason, and such presence of mind, as if he had been out of the action and watching it from a distance, passing still from point to point, and assisting those whom he thought most pressed by the enemy. Here Leonnatus the Macedonian, observing one of the Italians very intent upon Pyrrhus, riding up towards him, and changing places as he did, and moving as he moved: “Do you see, sir,” said he, “that barbarian on the black horse with white feet? he seems to me one that designs some great and dangerous thing, for he looks constantly at you, and fixes his whole attention, full of vehement purpose, on you alone, taking no notice of others. Be on your guard, sir, against him.” “Leonnatus,” said Pyrrhus, “it is impossible for any man to avoid his fate; but neither he nor any other Italian shall have much satisfaction in engaging with me.” While they were in this discourse, the Italian, lowering his spear and quickening his horse, rode furiously at Pyrrhus, and run his horse through with his lance; at the same instant Leonnatus ran his through. Both horses falling, Pyrrhus’s friends surrounded him and brought him off safe, and killed the Italian, bravely defending himself. He was by birth a Frentanian, captain of a troop, and named Oplacus.
This made Pyrrhus use greater caution, and now seeing his horse give ground, he brought up the infantry against the enemy, and changing his scarf and his arms with Megacles, one of his friends, and, obscuring himself, as it were, in his, charged upon the Romans, who received and engaged him, and a great while the success of the battle remained undetermined; and it is said there were seven turns of fortune both of pursuing and being pursued. And the change of his arms was very opportune for the safety of his person, but had like to have overthrown his cause and lost him the victory; for several falling upon Megacles, the first that gave him his mortal wound was one Dexous,* who, snatching away his helmet and his robe, rode at once to Lævinus, holding them up, and saying aloud he had killed Pyrrhus. These spoils being carried about and shown among the ranks, the Romans were transported with joy, and shouted aloud; while equal discouragement and terror prevailed among the Greeks, until Pyrrhus, understanding what had happened, rode about the army with his face bare, stretching out his hand to his soldiers, and telling them aloud it was he. At last, the elephants more particularly began to distress the Romans, whose horses, before they came near, not enduring them, went back with their riders; and upon this, he commanded the Thessalian cavalry to charge them in their disorder, and routed them with great loss. Dionysius affirms near fifteen thousand of the Romans fell; Hieronymus, no more than seven thousand. On Pyrrhus’s side, the same Dionysius makes thirteen thousand slain, the other under four thousand; but they were the flower of his men, and amongst them his particular friends as well as officers whom he most trusted and made use of. However, he possessed himself of the Romans’ camp which they deserted, and gained over several confederate cities, and wasted the country round about, and advanced so far that he was within about thirty-seven miles of Rome itself. After the fight many of the Lucanians and Samnites came in and joined him, whom he chid for their delay, but yet he was evidently well pleased and raised in his thoughts, that he had defeated so great an army of the Romans with the assistance of the Tarentines alone.
The Romans did not remove Lævinus from the consulship; though it is told that Caius Fabricius said, that the Epirots had not beaten the Romans, but only Pyrrhus, Lævinus; insinuating that their loss was not through want of valor but of conduct; but filled up their legions, and enlisted fresh men with all speed, talking high and boldly of war, which struck Pyrrhus with amazement. He thought it advisable by sending first to make an experiment whether they had any inclination to treat, thinking that to take the city and make an absolute conquest was no work for such an army as his was at that time, but to settle a friendship, and bring them to terms, would be highly honorable after his victory. Cineas was despatched away, and applied himself to several of the great ones, with presents for themselves and their ladies from the king; but not a person would receive any, and answered, as well men as women, that if an agreement were publicly concluded, they also should be ready, for their parts, to express their regard to the king. And Cineas, discoursing with the senate in the most persuasive and obliging manner in the world, yet was not heard with kindness or inclination, although Pyrrhus offered also to return all the prisoners he had taken in the fight without ransom, and promised his assistance for the entire conquest of all Italy, asking only their friendship for himself, and security Page 24 for the Tarentines, and nothing further. Nevertheless, most were well-inclined to a peace, having already received one great defeat, and fearing another from an additional force of the native Italians, now joining with Pyrrhus. At this point Appius Claudius, a man of great distinction, but who, because of his great age and loss of sight, had declined the fatigue of public business, after these propositions had been made by the king, hearing a report that the senate was ready to vote the conditions of peace, could not forbear, but commanding his servants to take him up, was carried in his chair through the forum to the senate house. When he was set down at the door, his sons and sons-in-law took him up in their arms, and, walking close round about him, brought him into the senate. Out of reverence for so worthy a man, the whole assembly was respectfully silent.
And a little after raising up himself: “I bore,” said he, “until this time, the misfortune of my eyes with some impatience, but now while I hear of these dishonorable motions and resolves of yours, destructive to the glory of Rome, it is my affliction, that being already blind, I am not deaf too. Where is now that discourse of yours that became famous in all the world, that if he, the great Alexander, had come into Italy, and dared to attack us when we were young men, and our fathers, who were then in their prime, he had not now been celebrated as invincible, but either flying hence, or falling here, had left Rome more glorious? You demonstrate now that all that was but foolish arrogance and vanity, by fearing Molossians and Chaonians, ever the Macedonian’s prey, and by trembling at Pyrrhus who was himself but an humble servant to one of Alexander’s life-guard, and comes here, not so much to assist the Greeks that inhabit among us, as to escape from his enemies at home, a wanderer about Italy, and yet dares to promise you the conquest of it all by that army which has not been able to preserve for him a little part of Macedon. Do not persuade yourselves that making him your friend is the way to send him back, it is the way rather to bring over other invaders from thence, contemning you as easy to be reduced, if Pyrrhus goes off without punishment for his outrages on you, but, on the contrary, with the reward of having enabled the Tarentines and Samnites to laugh at the Romans.” When Appius had done, eagerness for the war seized on every man, and Cineas was dismissed with this answer, that when Pyrrhus had withdrawn his forces out of Italy, then, if he pleased, they would treat with him about friendship and alliance, but while he stayed there in arms, they were resolved to prosecute the war against him with all their force, though he should have defeated a thousand Lævinuses. It is said that Cineas, while he was managing this affair, made it his business carefully to inspect the manners of the Romans, and to understand their methods of government, and having conversed with their noblest citizens, he afterwards told Pyrrhus, among other things, that the senate seemed to him an assembly of kings, and as for the people, he feared lest it might prove that they were fighting with a Lernæan hydra, for the consul had already raised twice as large an army as the former, and there were many times over the same number of Romans able to bear arms.
Then Caius Fabricius came in embassy from the Romans to treat about the prisoners that were taken, one whom Cineas had reported to be a man of highest consideration among them as an honest man and a good soldier, but extremely poor. Pyrrhus received him with much kindness, and privately would have persuaded him to accept of his gold, not for any evil purpose, but calling it a mark of respect and hospitable kindness. Upon Fabricius’s refusal, he pressed him no further, but the next day, having a mind to discompose him, as he had never seen an elephant before, he commanded one of the largest, completely armed, to be placed behind the hangings, as they were talking together. Which being done, upon a sign given the hanging was drawn aside, and the elephant, raising his trunk over the head of Fabricius, made an horrid and ugly noise. He, gently turning about and smiling, said to Pyrrhus, “neither your money yesterday, nor this beast to-day make any impression upon me.” At supper, amongst all sorts of things that were discoursed of, but more particularly Greece and the philosophers there, Cineas, by accident, had occasion to speak of Epicurus, and explained the opinions his followers hold about the gods and the commonwealth, and the object of life, placing the chief happiness of man in pleasure, and declining public affairs as an injury and disturbance of a happy life, removing the gods afar off both from kindness or anger, or any concern for us at all, to a life wholly without business and flowing in pleasures. Before he had done speaking, “O Hercules!” Fabricius cried out to Pyrrhus, “may Pyrrhus and the Samnites entertain themselves with this sort of opinions as long as they are in war with us.” Pyrrhus, admiring the wisdom and gravity of the man, was the more transported with desire of making friendship instead of war with the city, and entreated him, personally, after the peace should be concluded, to accept of living with him as the chief of his ministers and generals. Fabricius answered quietly, “Sir, this will not be for your advantage, for they who now honor and admire you, when they have had experience of me, will rather choose to be governed by me, than by you.” Such was Fabricius. And Pyrrhus received his answer without any resentment or tyrannic passion; nay, among his friends he highly commended the great mind of Fabricius, and intrusted the prisoners to him alone, on condition that if the senate should not vote a peace, after they had conversed with their friends and celebrated the festival of Saturn, they should be remanded. And, accordingly, they were sent back after the holidays; it being decreed pain of death for any that stayed behind.
After this, Fabricius taking the consulate, a person came with a letter to the camp written by the king’s principal physician, offering to take off Pyrrhus by poison, and so end the war without further hazard to the Romans, if he might have a reward proportionable to his service. Fabricius, hating the villany of the man, and disposing the other consul to the same opinion, sent despatches immediately to Pyrrhus to caution him against the treason. His letter was to this effect: “Caius Fabricius and Quintus Æmilius, consuls of the Romans, to Pyrrhus the king, health. You seem to have made an ill judgment both of your friends and enemies; you will understand by reading this letter sent to us, that you are at war with honest men, and trust villains and knaves. Nor do we disclose this to you out of any favor to you, but lest your ruin might bring a reproach upon us, as if we had ended the war by treachery, as not able to do it by force.” When Pyrrhus had read the letter, and made inquiry into the treason, he punished the physician, and as an acknowledgment to the Romans sent to Rome the prisoners without ransom, and again employed Cineas to negotiate a peace for him. But they, regarding it as at once too great a kindness from an enemy, and too great a reward of not doing an ill thing to accept their prisoners so, released in return an equal number of the Tarentines and Samnites, but would admit of no debate of alliance or peace until he had removed his arms and forces out of Italy, and sailed back to Epirus with the same ships that brought him over. Afterwards, his affairs demanding a second fight, when he had refreshed his men, he decamped, and met the Romans about the city Asculum, where, however, he was much incommoded by a woody country unfit for his horse, and a swift river, so that the elephants, for want of sure treading, could not get up with the infantry. After many wounded and many killed, night put an end to the engagement. Next day, designing to make the fight on even ground, and have the elephants among the thickest of the enemy, he caused a detachment to possess themselves of those incommodious grounds, and, mixing slingers and archers among the elephants, with full strength and courage, he advanced in a close and well-ordered body. The Romans, not having those advantages of retreating and falling on as they pleased, which they had before, were obliged to fight man to man upon plain ground, and, being anxious to drive back the infantry before the elephants could get up, they fought fiercely with their swords among the Macedonian spears, not sparing themselves, thinking only to wound and kill, without regard of what they suffered. After a long and obstinate fight, the first giving ground is reported to have been where Pyrrhus himself engaged with extraordinary courage; but they were most carried away by the overwhelming force of the elephants, not being able to make use of their valor, but overthrown as it were by the irruption of a sea or an earthquake, before which it seemed better to give way than to die without doing any thing, and not gain the least advantage by suffering the utmost extremity, the retreat to their camp not being far. Hieronymus says, there fell six thousand of the Romans, and of Pyrrhus’s men, the king’s own commentaries reported three thousand five hundred and fifty lost in this action. Dionysius, however, neither gives any account of two engagements at Asculum, nor allows the Romans to have been certainly beaten, stating that once only, after they had fought till sunset, both armies were unwillingly separated by the night, Pyrrhus being wounded by a javelin in the arm, and his baggage plundered by the Samnites, that in all there died of Pyrrhus’s men and the Romans above fifteen thousand. The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory, that one other such would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the losses they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.
Among these difficulties he fell again into new hopes and projects distracting his purposes. For at the same time some persons arrived from Sicily, offering into his hands the cities of Agrigentum, Syracuse, and Leontini, and begging his assistance to drive out the Carthaginians, and rid the island of tyrants; and others brought him news out of Greece that Ptolemy, called Ceraunus, was slain in a fight, and his army cut in pieces by the Gauls, and that now, above all others, was his time to offer himself to the Macedonians, in great need of a king. Complaining much of fortune for bringing him so many occasions of great things all together at a time, and thinking that to have both offered to him, was to lose one of them, he was doubtful, balancing in his thoughts. But the affairs of Sicily seeming to hold out the greater prospects, Africa lying so near, he turned himself to them, and presently despatched away Cineas, as he used to do, to make terms beforehand with the cities. Then he placed a garrison in Tarentum, much to the Tarentines’ discontent, Page 30 who required him either to perform what he came for, and continue with them in a war against the Romans, or leave the city as he found it. He returned no pleasing answer, but commanded them to be quiet and attend his time, and so sailed away. Being arrived in Sicily, what he had designed in his hopes was confirmed effectually, and the cities frankly surrendered to him; and wherever his arms and force were necessary, nothing at first made any considerable resistance. For advancing with thirty thousand foot, and twenty-five hundred horse, and two hundred ships, he totally routed the Phœnicians, and overran their whole province, and Eryx being the strongest town they held, and having a great garrison in it, he resolved to take it by storm. The army being in readiness to give the assault, he put on his arms, and coming to the head of his men, made a vow of plays and sacrifices in honor to Hercules, if he signalized himself in that day’s action before the Greeks that dwelt in Sicily, as became his great descent and his fortunes. The sign being given by sound of trumpet, he first scattered the barbarians with his shot, and then brought his ladders to the wall, and was the first that mounted upon it himself, and, the enemy appearing in great numbers, he beat them back; some he threw down from the walls on each side, others he laid dead in a heap round about him with his sword, nor did he receive the least wound, but by his very aspect inspired terror in the enemy; and gave a clear demonstration that Homer was in the right, and pronounced according to the truth of fact, that fortitude alone, of all the virtues, is wont to display itself in divine transports and frenzies. The city being taken, he offered to Hercules most magnificently, and exhibited all varieties of shows and plays.
A sort of barbarous people about Messena, called Mamertines, gave much trouble to the Greeks, and put several of them under contribution. These being numerous and valiant (from whence they had their name, equivalent in the Latin tongue to warlike* ), he first intercepted the collectors of the contribution money, and cut them off, then beat them in open fight, and destroyed many of their places of strength. The Carthaginians being now inclined to composition, and offering him a round sum of money, and to furnish him with shipping, if a peace were concluded, he told them plainly, aspiring still to greater things, there was but one way for a friendship and right understanding between them, if they, wholly abandoning Sicily, would consent to make the African sea the limit between them and the Greeks. And being elevated with his good fortune, and the strength of his forces, and pursuing those hopes in prospect of which he first sailed thither, his immediate aim was at Africa; and as he had abundance of shipping, but very ill equipped, he collected seamen, not by fair and gentle dealing with the cities, but by force in a haughty and insolent way, and menacing them with punishments. And as at first he had not acted thus, but had been unusually indulgent and kind, ready to believe, and uneasy to none; now of a popular leader becoming a tyrant by these severe proceedings, he got the name of an ungrateful and a faithless man. However, they gave way to these things as necessary, although they took them very ill from him; and especially when he began to show suspicion of Thœnon and Sosistratus, men of the first position in Syracuse, who invited him over into Sicily, and when he was come, put the cities into his power, and were most instrumental in all he had done there since his arrival, whom he now would neither suffer to be about his person, nor leave at home; and when Sosistratus out of fear withdrew himself, and then he charged Thœnon, as in a conspiracy with the other, and put him to death, with this all his prospects changed, not by little and little, nor in a single place only, but a mortal hatred being raised in the cities against him, some fell off to the Carthaginians, others called in the Mamertines. And seeing revolts in all places, and desires of alterations, and a potent faction against him, at the same time he received letters from the Samnites and Tarentines, who were beaten quite out of the field, and scarce able to secure their towns against the war, earnestly begging his help. This served as a color to make his relinquishing Sicily no flight, nor a despair of good success; but in truth not being able to manage Sicily, which was as a ship laboring in a storm, and willing to be out of her, he suddenly threw himself over into Italy. It is reported that at his going off he looked back upon the island, and said to those about him, “How brave a field of war do we leave, my friends, for the Romans and Carthaginians to fight in,” which, as he then conjectured, fell out indeed not long after.
When he was sailing off, the barbarians having conspired together, he was forced to a fight with the Carthaginians in the very road, and lost many of his ships; with the rest he fled into Italy. There, about one thousand Mamertines, who had crossed the sea a little before, though afraid to engage him in open field, setting upon him where the passages were difficult, put the whole army in confusion. Two elephants fell and a great part of his rear was cut off. He, therefore, coming up in person, repulsed the enemy, but ran into great danger among men long trained and bold in war. His being wounded in the head with a sword, and retiring a little out of the fight, much increased their confidence, and one of them advancing a good way before the rest, large of body and in bright armor, with an haughty voice challenged him to come forth if he were alive. Pyrrhus, in great anger, broke away violently from his guards, and, in his fury, besmeared with blood, terrible to look upon, made his way through his own men, and struck the barbarian on the head with his sword such a blow, as with the strength of his arm, and the excellent temper of the weapon, passed downward so far that his body being cut asunder fell in two pieces. This stopped the course of the barbarians, amazed and confounded at Pyrrhus, as one more than man; so that continuing his march all the rest of the way undisturbed, he arrived at Tarentum with twenty thousand foot and three thousand horse, where, reinforcing himself with the choicest troops of the Tarentines, he advanced immediately against the Romans, who then lay encamped in the territories of the Samnites, whose affairs were extremely shattered, and their counsels broken, having been in many fights beaten by the Romans. There was also a discontent amongst them at Pyrrhus for his expedition into Sicily, so that not many came in to join him.
He divided his army into two parts, and despatched the first into Lucania to oppose one of the consuls there, so that he should not come in to assist the other; the rest he led against Manius Curius, who had posted himself very advantageously near Beneventum, and expected the other consul’s forces, and partly because the priests had dissuaded him by unfavorable omens, was resolved to remain inactive. Pyrrhus, hastening to attack these before the other could arrive, with his best men, and the most serviceable elephants, marched in the night toward their camp. But being forced to go round about, and through a very woody country, their lights failed them, and the soldiers lost their way. A council of war being called, while they were in debate, the night was spent, and, at the break of day, his approach, as he came down the hills, was discovered by the enemy, and put the whole camp into disorder and tumult. But the sacrifices being auspicious, and the time absolutely obliging them to fight, Manius drew his troops out of the trenches, and attacked the vanguard, and, having routed them all, put the whole army into consternation, so that many were cut off, and some of the elephants taken. This success drew on Manius into the level plain, and here, in open battle, he defeated part of the enemy; but, in other quarters, finding himself overpowered by the elephants and forced back to his trenches, he commanded out those who were left to guard them, a numerous body, standing thick at the ramparts, all in arms and fresh. These coming down from their strong position, and charging the elephants, forced them to retire; and they in the flight turning back upon their own men, caused great disorder and confusion, and gave into the hands of the Romans the victory, and the future supremacy. Having obtained from these efforts and these contests the feeling, as well as the fame of invincible strength, they at once reduced Italy under their power, and not long after Sicily too.
Thus fell Pyrrhus from his Italian and Sicilian hopes, after he had consumed six years in these wars, and though unsuccessful in his affairs, yet preserved his courage unconquerable among all these misfortunes, and was held, for military experience, and personal valor and enterprise much the bravest of all the princes of his time, only what he got by great actions he lost again by vain hopes, and by new desires of what he had not, kept nothing of what he had. So that Antigonus used to compare him to a player with dice, who had excellent throws, but knew not how to use them. He returned into Epirus with eight thousand foot and five hundred horse, and for want of money to pay them, was fain to look out for a new war to maintain the army. Some of the Gauls joining him, he invaded Macedonia, where Antigonus, son of Demetrius, governed, designing merely to plunder and waste the country. But after he had made himself master of several towns, and two thousand men came over to him, he began to hope for something greater, and adventured upon Antigonus himself, and meeting him at a narrow passage, put the whole army in disorder. The Gauls, who brought up Antigonus’s rear, were very numerous and stood firm, but after a sharp encounter, the greatest part of them were cut off, and they who had the charge of the elephants being surrounded every way, delivered up both themselves and the beasts. Pyrrhus, taking this advantage, and advising more with his good fortune than his reason, boldly set upon the main body of the Macedonian foot, already surprised with fear, and troubled at the former loss. They declined any action or engagement with him; and he, holding out his hand and calling aloud both to the superior and under officers by name, brought over the foot from Antigonus, who, flying away secretly, was only able to retain some of the seaport towns. Pyrrhus, among all these kindnesses of fortune, thinking what he had effected against the Gauls the most advantageous for his glory, hung up their richest and goodliest spoils in the temple of Minerva Itonis, with this inscription: —
After this victory in the field, he proceeded to secure the cities, and having possessed himself of Aegæ, beside other hardships put upon the people there, he left in the town a garrison of Gauls, some of those in his own army, who, being insatiably desirous of wealth, instantly dug up the tombs of the kings that lay buried there, and took away the riches, and insolently scattered about their bones. Pyrrhus, in appearance, made no great matter of it, either deferring it on account of the pressure of other business, or wholly passing it by, out of a fear of punishing those barbarians; but this made him very ill spoken of among the Macedonians, and his affairs being yet unsettled and brought to no firm consistence, he began to entertain new hopes and projects, and in raillery called Antigonus a shameless man, for still wearing his purple and not changing it for an ordinary dress; but upon Cleonymus, the Spartan, arriving and inviting him to Lacedæmon, he frankly embraced the overture. Cleonymus was of royal descent, but seeming too arbitrary and absolute, had no great respect nor credit at home; and Areus was king there. This was the occasion of an old and public grudge between him and the citizens; but, beside that, Cleonymus, in his old age, had married a young lady of great beauty and royal blood, Chilonis, daughter of Leotychides, who, falling desperately in love with Acrotatus, Areus’s son, a youth in the flower of manhood, rendered this match both uneasy and dishonorable to Cleonymus, as there was none of the Spartans who did not very well know how much his wife slighted him; so these domestic troubles added to his public discontent. He brought Pyrrhus to Sparta with an army of twenty-five thousand foot, two thousand horse, and twenty-four elephants. So great a preparation made it evident to the whole world, that he came not so much to gain Sparta for Cleonymus, as to take all Peloponnesus for himself, although he expressly denied this to the Lacedæmonian ambassadors that came to him at Megalopolis, affirming he came to deliver the cities from the slavery of Antigonus, and declaring he would send his younger sons to Sparta, if he might, to be brought up in Spartan habits, that so they might be better bred than all other kings. With these pretensions amusing those who came to meet him in his march, as soon as ever he entered Laconia, he began to plunder and waste the country, and on the ambassadors complaining that he began the war upon them before it was proclaimed: “We know,” said he, “very well, that neither do you Spartans, when you design any thing, talk of it beforehand.” One Mandroclidas, then present, told him, in the broad Spartan dialect: “If you are a god, you will do us no harm, we are wronging no man; but if you are a man, there may be another stronger than you.”
He now marched away directly for Lacedæmon, and being advised by Cleonymus to give the assault as soon as he arrived, fearing, as it is said, lest the soldiers, entering by night, should plunder the city, he answered, they might do it as well next morning, because there were but few soldiers in town, and those unprovided against his sudden approach, as Areus was not there in person, but gone to aid the Gortynians in Crete. And it was this alone that saved the town, because he despised it as not tenable, and so imagining no defence would be made, he sat down before it that night. Cleonymus’s friends, and the Helots, his domestic servants, had made great preparation at his house, as expecting Pyrrhus there at supper. In the night the Lacedæmonians held a consultation to ship over all the women into Crete, but they unanimously refused, and Archidamia came into the senate with a sword in her hand, in the name of them all, asking if the men expected the women to survive the ruins of Sparta. It was next resolved to draw a trench in a line directly over against the enemy’s camp, and, here and there in it, to sink wagons in the ground, as deep as the naves of the wheels, that, so being firmly fixed, they might obstruct the passage of the elephants. When they had just begun the work, both maids and women came to them, the married women with their robes tied like girdles round their underfrocks, and the unmarried girls in their single frocks only,* to assist the elder men at the work. As for the youth that were next day to engage, they left them to their rest, and undertaking their proportion, they themselves finished a third part of the trench, which was in breadth six cubits, four in depth, and eight hundred feet long,† as Phylarchus says; Hieronymus makes it somewhat less. The enemy beginning to move by break of day, they brought their arms to the young men, and giving them also in charge the trench, exhorted them to defend and keep it bravely, as it would be happy for them to conquer in the view of their whole country, and glorious to die in the arms of their mothers and wives, falling as became Spartans. As for Chilonis, she retired with a halter about her neck, resolving to die so rather than fall into the hands of Cleonymus, if the city were taken.
Pyrrhus himself, in person, advanced with his foot to force through the shields of the Spartans ranged against him, and to get over the trench, which was scarce passable, because the looseness of the fresh earth afforded no firm footing for the soldiers. Ptolemy, his son, with two thousand Gauls, and some choice men of the Chaonians, went around the trench, and endeavored to get over where the wagons were. But they, being so deep in the ground, and placed close together, not only made his passage, but also the defence of the Lacedæmonians very troublesome. Yet now the Gauls had got the wheels out of the ground, and were drawing off the wagons toward the river, when young Acrotatus, seeing the danger, passing through the town with three hundred men, surrounded Ptolemy undiscerned, taking the advantage of some slopes of the ground, until he fell upon his rear, and forced him to wheel about. And thrusting one another into the ditch, and falling among the wagons, at last with much loss, not without difficulty, they withdrew. The elderly men and all the women saw this brave action of Acrotatus, and when he returned back into the town to his first post, all covered with blood, and fierce and elate with victory, he seemed to the Spartan women to have become taller and more beautiful than before, and they envied Chilonis so worthy a lover. And some of the old men followed him, crying aloud, “Go on, Acrotatus, be happy with Chilonis, and beget brave sons for Sparta.” Where Pyrrhus himself fought was the hottest of the action, and many of the Spartans did gallantly, but in particular one Phyllius signalized himself, made the best resistance, and killed most assailants; and when he found himself ready to sink with the many wounds he had received, retiring a little out of his place behind another, he fell down among his fellow-soldiers, that the enemy might not carry off his body. The fight ended with the day, and Pyrrhus, in his sleep, dreamed that he threw thunderbolts upon Lacedæmon, and set it all on fire, and rejoiced at the sight; and waking, in this transport of joy, he commanded his officers to get all things ready for a second assault, and relating his dream among his friends, supposing it to mean that he should take the town by storm, the rest assented to it with admiration, but Lysimachus was not pleased with the dream, and told him he feared, lest as places struck with lightning are held sacred, and not to be trodden upon, so the gods might by this let him know the city should not be taken. Pyrrhus replied, that all these things were but idle talk, full of uncertainty, and only fit to amuse the vulgar; their thought, with their swords in their hands, should always be
The one good omen is king Pyrrhus’ cause,*
and so got up, and drew out his army to the walls by break of day. The Lacedæmonians, in resolution and courage, made a defence even beyond their power; the women were all by, helping them to arms, and bringing bread and drink to those that desired it, and taking care of the wounded. The Macedonians attempted to fill up the trench, bringing huge quantities of materials and throwing them upon the arms and dead bodies, that lay there and were covered over. While the Lacedæmonians opposed this with all their force, Pyrrhus, in person, appeared on their side of the trench and the wagons, pressing on horseback toward the city, at which the men who had that post calling out, and the women shrieking and running about, while Pyrrhus violently pushed on, and beat down all that disputed his way, his horse received a shot in the belly from a Cretan arrow, and, in his convulsions as he died, threw off Pyrrhus on slippery and steep ground. And all about him being in confusion at this, the Spartans came boldly up, and making good use of their missiles, forced them off again. After this Pyrrhus, in other quarters also, put an end to the combat, imagining the Lacedæmonians would be inclined to yield, as almost all of them were wounded, and very great numbers killed outright; but the good fortune of the city, either satisfied with the experiment upon the bravery of the citizens, or willing to prove how much even in the last extremities such interposition may effect, brought when the Lacedæmonians had now but very slender hopes left, Aminias, the Phocian, one of Antigonus’s commanders, from Corinth to their assistance, with a force of mercenaries; and they were no sooner received into the town, but Areus, their king, arrived there himself, too, from Crete, with two thousand men more. The women upon this went all home to their houses, finding it no longer necessary for them to meddle with the business of the war; and they also were sent back, who, though not of military age, were by necessity forced to take arms, while the rest prepared to fight Pyrrhus.
He, upon the coming of these additional forces, was indeed possessed with a more eager desire and ambition than before, to make himself master of the town; but his designs not succeeding, and receiving fresh losses every day, he gave over the siege, and fell to plundering the country, determining to winter thereabout. But fate is unavoidable, and a great feud happening at Argos between Aristeas and Aristippus, two principal citizens, after Aristippus had resolved to make use of the friendship of Antigonus, Aristeas, to anticipate him, invited Pyrrhus thither. And he always revolving hopes upon hopes, and treating all his successes as occasions of more, and his reverses as defects to be amended by new enterprises, allowed neither losses nor victories to limit him in his receiving or giving trouble, and so presently went for Argos. Areus, by frequent ambushes, and seizing positions where the ways were most unpracticable, harassed the Gauls and Molossians that brought up the rear. It had been told Pyrrhus by one of the priests that found the liver of the sacrificed beast imperfect, that some of his near relations would be lost; in this tumult and disorder of his rear, forgetting the prediction, he commanded out his son Ptolemy with some of his guards to their assistance, while he himself led on the main body rapidly out of the pass. And the fight being very warm where Ptolemy was, (for the most select men of the Lacedæmonians, commanded by Evalcus, were there engaged,) one Oryssus of Aptera in Crete, a stout man and swift of foot, running on one side of the young prince, as he was fighting bravely, gave him a mortal wound and slew him. On his fall those about him turned their backs, and the Lacedæmonian horse, pursuing and cutting off many, got into the open plain, and found themselves engaged with the enemy before they were aware, without their infantry; Pyrrhus, who had received the ill news of his son, and was in great affliction, drew out his Molossian horse against them, and charging at the head of his men, satiated himself with the blood and slaughter of the Lacedæmonians, as indeed he always showed himself a terrible and invincible hero in actual fight, but now he exceeded all he had ever done before in courage and force. On his riding his horse up to Evalcus, he, by declining a little to one side, had almost cut off Pyrrhus’s hand in which he held the reins, but lighting on the reins, only cut them; at the same instant Pyrrhus, running him through with his spear, fell from his horse, and there on foot as he was, proceeded to slaughter all those choice men that fought about the body of Evalcus; a severe additional loss to Sparta, incurred after the war itself was now at an end, by the mere animosity of the commanders. Pyrrhus having thus offered, as it were, a sacrifice to the ghost of his son, and fought a glorious battle in honor of his obsequies, and having vented much of his pain in action against the enemy, marched away to Argos. And having intelligence that Antigonus was already in possession of the high grounds, he encamped about Nauplia, and the next day despatched a herald to Antigonus, calling him a villain, and challenging him to descend into the plain field and fight with him for the kingdom. He answered, that his conduct should be measured by times as well as by arms, and that if Pyrrhus had no leisure to live, there were ways enough open to death. To both the kings, also, came ambassadors from Argos, desiring each party to retreat, and to allow the city to remain in friendship with both, without falling into the hands of either. Antigonus was persuaded, and sent his son as a hostage to the Argives; but Pyrrhus, although he consented to retire, yet, as he sent no hostage, was suspected. A remarkable portent happened at this time to Pyrrhus; the heads of the sacrificed oxen, lying apart from the bodies, were seen to thrust out their tongues and lick up their own gore. And in the city of Argos, the priestess of Apollo Lycius rushed out of the temple, crying she saw the city full of carcasses and slaughter, and an eagle coming out to fight, and presently vanishing again.
In the dead of the night, Pyrrhus, approaching the walls, and finding the gate called Diamperes set open for them by Aristeas, was undiscovered long enough to allow all his Gauls to enter and take possession of the marketplace. But the gate being too low to let in the elephants, they were obliged to take down the towers which they carried on their backs, and put them on again in the dark and in disorder, so that time being lost, the city took the alarm, and the people ran, some to Aspis the chief citadel, and others to other places of defence, and sent away to Antigonus to assist them. He, advancing within a short distance, made an halt, but sent in some of his principal commanders, and his son with a considerable force. Areus came thither, too, with one thousand Cretans, and some of the most active men among the Spartans, and all falling on at once upon the Gauls, put them in great disorder. Pyrrhus, entering in with noise and shouting near the Cylarabis,* when the Gauls returned the cry, noticed that it did not express courage and assurance, but was the voice of men distressed, and that had their hands full. He, therefore, pushed forward in haste the van of his horse that marched but slowly and dangerously, by reason of the drains and sinks of which the city is full. In this night engagement, there was infinite uncertainty as to what was being done, or what orders were given; there was much mistaking and straggling in the narrow streets; all generalship was useless in that darkness and noise and pressure; so both sides continued without doing any thing, expecting daylight. At the first dawn, Pyrrhus, seeing the great citadel Aspis full of enemies, was disturbed, and remarking, among a variety of figures dedicated in the market-place, a wolf and bull of brass, as it were ready to attack one another, he was struck with alarm, recollecting an oracle that formerly predicted fate had determined his death when he should see a wolf fighting with a bull. The Argives say, these figures were set up in record of a thing that long ago had happened there. For Danaus, at his first landing in the country, near the Pyramia in Thyreatis, as he was on his way towards Argos, espied a wolf fighting with a bull, and conceiving the wolf to represent him, (for this stranger fell upon a native, as he designed to do,) stayed to see the issue of the fight, and the wolf* prevailing, he offered vows to Apollo Lycius, and thus made his attempt upon the town, and succeeded; Gelanor, who was then king, being displaced by a faction. And this was the cause of dedicating those figures.
Pyrrhus, quite out of heart at this sight, and seeing none of his designs succeed, thought best to retreat, but fearing the narrow passage at the gate, sent to his son Helenus, who was left without the town with a great part of his forces, commanding him to break down part of the wall, and assist the retreat if the enemy pressed hard upon them. But what with haste and confusion, the person that was sent delivered nothing clearly; so that quite mistaking, the young prince with the best of his men and the remaining elephants marched straight through the gates into the town to assist his father. Pyrrhus was now making good his retreat, and while the market-place afforded them ground enough both to retreat and fight, frequently repulsed the enemy that bore upon him. But when he was forced out of that broad place into the narrow street leading to the gate, and fell in with those who came the other way to his assistance, some did not hear him call out to them to give back, and those who did, however eager to obey him, were pushed forward by others behind, who poured in at the gate. Besides, the largest of his elephants falling down on his side in the very gate, and lying roaring on the ground, was in the way of those that would have got out. Another of the elephants already in the town, called Nicon, striving to take up his rider, who, after many wounds received, was fallen off his back, bore forward upon those that were retreating, and, thrusting upon friends as well as enemies, tumbled them all confusedly upon one another, till having found the body, and taken it up with his trunk, he carried it on his tusks, and, returning in a fury, trod down all before him. Being thus pressed and crowded together, not a man could do any thing for himself, but being wedged, as it were, together into one mass, the whole multitude rolled and swayed this way and that all together, and did very little execution either upon the enemy in their rear, or on any of them who were intercepted in the mass, but very much harm to one another. For he who had either drawn his sword or directed his lance, could neither restore it again, nor put his sword up; with these weapons they wounded their own men, as they happened to come in the way, and they were dying by mere contact with each other.
Pyrrhus, seeing this storm and confusion of things, took off the crown he wore upon his helmet, by which he was distinguished, and gave it to one nearest his person, and trusting to the goodness of his horse, rode in among the thickest of the enemy, and being wounded with a lance through his breastplate, but not dangerously, nor indeed very much, he turned about upon the man who struck him, who was an Argive, not of any illustrious birth, but the son of a poor old woman; she was looking upon the fight among other women from the top of a house, and perceiving her son engaged with Pyrrhus, and affrighted at the danger he was in, took up a tile with both hands, and threw it at Pyrrhus. This falling on his head below the helmet, and bruising the vertebræ of the lower part of the neck, stunned and blinded him; his hands let go the reins, and sinking down from his horse, he fell just by the tomb of Licymnius. The common soldiers knew not who it was; but one Zopyrus, who served under Antigonus, and two or three others running thither, and knowing it was Pyrrhus, dragged him to a door way hard by, just as he was recovering a little from the blow. But when Zopyrus drew out an Illyrian sword, ready to cut off his head, Pyrrhus gave him so fierce a look, that confounded with terror, and sometimes his hands trembling, and then again endeavoring to do it, full of fear and confusion, he could not strike him right, but cutting over his mouth and chin, it was a long time before he got off the head. By this time what had happened was known to a great many, and Alcyoneus hastening to the place, desired to look upon the head, and see whether he knew it, and taking it in his hand rode away to his father, and threw it at his feet, while he was sitting with some of his particular favorites. Antigonus, looking upon it, and knowing it, thrust his son from him, and struck him with his staff, calling him wicked and barbarous, and covering his eyes with his robe, shed tears, thinking of his own father and grandfather, instances in his own family of the changefulness of fortune, and caused the head and body of Pyrrhus to be burned with all due solemnity. After this, Alcyoneus, discovering Helenus under a mean disguise in a threadbare coat, used him very respectfully, and brought him to his father. When Antigonus saw him, “This, my son,” said he, “is better; and yet even now you have not done wholly well in allowing these clothes to remain, to the disgrace of those who it seems now are the victors.” And treating Helenus with great kindness, and as became a prince, he restored him to his kingdom of Epirus, and gave the same obliging reception to all Pyrrhus’s principal commanders, his camp and whole army having fallen into his hands.
We are altogether ignorant of any third name of Caius Marius; as also of Quintus Sertorius, that possessed himself of Spain; or of Lucius Mummius that destroyed Corinth, though this last was surnamed Achaicus from his conquests, as Scipio was called Africanus, and Metellus, Macedonicus. Hence Posidonius draws his chief argument to confute those that hold the third to be the Roman proper name, as Camillus, Marcellus, Cato; as in this case, those that had but two names would have no proper name at all. He did not, however, observe that by his own reasoning he must rob the women absolutely of their names; for none of them have the first, which Posidonius imagines the proper name with the Romans. Of the other two, one was common to the whole family, Pompeii, Manlii, Cornelii, (as with us Greeks, the Heraclidæ, and Pelopidæ,) the other titular, and personal, taken either from their natures, or actions, or bodily characteristics, as Macrinus, Torquatus, Sylla; such as are Mnemon, Grypus, or Callinicus among the Greeks. On the subject of names, however, the irregularity of custom, would we insist upon it, might furnish us with discourse enough.
There is a likeness of Marius in stone at Ravenna, in Page 49 Gaul,* which I myself saw, quite corresponding with that roughness and harshness of character that is ascribed to him. Being naturally valiant and warlike, and more acquainted also with the discipline of the camp than of the city, he could not moderate his passion when in authority. He is said never to have either studied Greek, or to have made use of that language in any matter of consequence; thinking it ridiculous to bestow time in that learning, the teachers of which were little better than slaves. So after his second triumph, when at the dedication of a temple he presented some shows after the Greek fashion, coming into the theatre, he only sat down and immediately departed. And, accordingly, as Plato often used to say to Xenocrates the philosopher, who was thought to show more than ordinary harshness of disposition, “I pray you, good Xenocrates, sacrifice to the Graces”; so if any could have persuaded Marius to pay his devotions to the Greek Muses and Graces, he had never brought his incomparable actions, both in war and peace, to so unworthy a conclusion, or wrecked himself, so to say, upon an old age of cruelty and vindictiveness, through passion, ill-timed ambition, and insatiable cupidity. But this will further appear by and by from the facts.
He was born of parents altogether obscure and indigent, who supported themselves by their daily labor; his father of the same name with himself, his mother called Fulcinia. He had spent a considerable part of his life before he saw and tasted the pleasures of the city; having passed previously in Cirrhæaton, a village of the territory of Arpinum, a life, compared with city delicacies, rude and unrefined, yet temperate, and conformable to the ancient Roman severity. He Page 50 first served as a soldier in the war against the Celtiberians, when Scipio Africanus besieged Numantia where he signalized himself to his general by courage far above his comrades, and, particularly, by his cheerfully complying with Scipio’s reformation of his army, before almost ruined by pleasures and luxury. It is stated, too, that he encountered and vanquished an enemy in single combat, in his general’s sight. In consequence of all this he had several honors conferred upon him; and once when at an entertainment a question arose about commanders, and one of the company (whether really desirous to know, or only in complaisance) asked Scipio where the Romans, after him, should obtain such another general, Scipio, gently clapping Marius on the shoulder as he sat next him, replied, “Here, perhaps.” So promising was his early youth of his future greatness, and so discerning was Scipio to detect the distant future in the present first beginnings. It was this speech of Scipio, we are told, which, like a divine admonition, chiefly emboldened Marius to aspire to a political career. He sought, and by the assistance of Cæcilius Metellus, of whose family he as well as his father were dependents, obtained the office of tribune of the people. In which place, when he brought forward a bill for the regulation of voting, which seemed likely to lessen the authority of the great men in the courts of justice, the consul Cotta opposed him, and persuaded the senate to declare against the law, and call Marius to account for it. He, however, when this decree was prepared, coming into the senate, did not behave like a young man newly and undeservedly advanced to authority, but, assuming all the courage that his future actions would have warranted, threatened Cotta, unless he recalled the decree, to throw him into prison. And on his turning to Metellus, and asking his vote, and Metellus rising up to concur with the consul, Marius, calling for the officer outside, commanded him to take Metellus into custody. He appealed to the other tribunes, but not one of them assisted him; so that the senate, immediately complying, withdrew the decree. Marius came forth with glory to the people and confirmed his law, and was henceforth esteemed a man of undaunted courage and assurance, as well as a vigorous opposer of the senate in favor of the commons. But he immediately lost their opinion of him by a contrary action; for when a law for the distribution of corn was proposed, he vigorously and successfully resisted it, making himself equally honored by both parties, in gratifying neither, contrary to the public interest.
After his tribuneship, he was candidate for the office of chief ædile; there being two orders of them, one the curules, from the stool with crooked feet on which they sat when they performed their duty; the other and inferior, called ædiles of the people. As soon as they have chosen the former, they give their voices again for the latter. Marius, finding he was likely to be put by for the greater, immediately changed and stood for the less; but because he seemed too forward and hot, he was disappointed of that also. And yet though he was in one day twice frustrated of his desired preferment, (which never happened to any before,) yet he was not at all discouraged, but a little while after sought for the prætorship, and was nearly suffering a repulse, and then, too, though he was returned last of all, was nevertheless accused of bribery.
Cassius Sabaco’s servant, who was observed within the rails among those that voted, chiefly occasioned the suspicion, as Sabaco was an intimate friend of Marius; but on being called to appear before the judges, he alleged, that being thirsty by reason of the heat, he called for cold water, and that his servant brought him a cup, and as soon as he had drunk, departed; he was, however, excluded from the senate by the succeeding censors, and not undeservedly either, as was thought, whether it might be for his false evidence, or his want of temperance. Caius Herennius was also cited to appear as evidence, but pleaded that it was not customary for a patron, (the Roman word for protector,) to witness against his clients, and that the law excused them from that harsh duty; and both Marius and his parents had always been clients to the family of the Herennii. And when the judges would have accepted of this plea, Marius himself opposed it, and told Herennius, that when he was first created magistrate he ceased to be his client; which was not altogether true. For it is not every office that frees clients and their posterity from the observance due to their patrons, but only those to which the law has assigned a curule chair. Notwithstanding, though at the beginning of the suit it went somewhat hard with Marius, and he found the judges no way favorable to him; yet, at last, their voices being equal, contrary to all expectation, he was acquitted.
In his prætorship he did not get much honor, yet after it he obtained the further Spain; which province he is said to have cleared of robbers, with which it was much infested, the old barbarous habits still prevailing, and the Spaniards, in those days, still regarding robbery as a piece of valor. In the city he had neither riches nor eloquence to trust to, with which the leading men of the time obtained power with the people, but his vehement disposition, his indefatigable labors, and his plain way of living, of themselves gained him esteem and influence; so that he made an honorable match with Julia, of the distinguished family of the Cæsars, to whom that Cæsar was nephew who was afterwards so great among the Romans, and, in some degree, from his relationship, made Marius his example, as in his life we have observed.
The consul Cæcilius Metellus, being declared general in the war against Jugurtha in Africa, took with him Marius for lieutenant; where, eager himself to do great deeds and services that would get him distinction, he did not, like others, consult Metellus’s glory and the serving his interest, and attributing his honor of lieutenancy not to Metellus, but to fortune, which had presented him with a proper opportunity and theatre of great actions, he exerted his utmost courage. That war, too, affording several difficulties, he neither declined the greatest, nor disdained undertaking the least of them; but surpassing his equals in counsel and conduct, and matching the very common soldiers in labor and abstemiousness, he gained great popularity with them; as indeed any voluntary partaking with people in their labor is felt as an easing of that labor, as it seems to take away the constraint and necessity of it. It is the most obliging sight in the world to the Roman soldier to see a commander eat the same bread as himself, or lie upon an ordinary bed, or assist the work in the drawing a trench and raising a bulwark. For they do not so much admire those that confer honors and riches upon them, as those that partake of the same labor and danger with themselves; but love them better that will vouchsafe to join in their work, than those that encourage their idleness.
Marius thus employed, and thus winning the affections of the soldiers, before long filled both Africa and Rome with his fame, and some, too, wrote home from the army that the war with Africa would never be brought to a conclusion, unless they chose Caius Marius consul. All which was evidently unpleasing to Metellus; but what more especially grieved him was the calamity of Turpillius. This Turpillius had, from his ancestors, been a friend of Metellus, and kept up constant hospitality with him; and was now serving in the war, in command of the smiths and carpenters of the army.* Having the charge of a garrison in Vaga, a considerable city, and trusting too much to the inhabitants, because he treated them civilly and kindly, he unawares fell into the enemy’s hands. They received Jugurtha into the city; yet, nevertheless, at their request, Turpillius was dismissed safe and without receiving any injury; whereupon he was accused of betraying it to the enemy. Marius, being one of the council of war, was not only violent against him himself, but also incensed most of the others, so that Metellus was forced, much against his will, to put him to death. Not long after the accusation proved false, and when others were comforting Metellus, who took heavily the loss of his friend, Marius, rather insulting and arrogating it to himself, boasted in all companies that he had involved Metellus in the guilt of putting his friend to death.†
Henceforward they were at open variance; and it is reported that Metellus once, when Marius was present, Page 55 said, insultingly, “You, sir, design to leave us to go home and stand for the consulship, and will not be content to wait and be consul with this boy of mine?” Metellus’s son being a mere boy at the time. Yet for all this Marius being very importunate to be gone, after several delays, he was dismissed about twelve days before the election of consuls; and performed that long journey from the camp to the seaport of Utica, in two days and a night, and there doing sacrifice before he went on shipboard, it is said the augur told him, that heaven promised him some incredible good fortune, and such as was beyond all expectation. Marius, not a little elated with this good omen, began his voyage, and in four days, with a favorable wind, passed the sea; he was welcomed with great joy by the people, and being brought into the assembly by one of the tribunes, sued for the consulship, inveighing in all ways against Metellus, and promising either to slay Jugurtha or take him alive.
He was elected triumphantly, and at once proceeded to levy soldiers, contrary both to law and custom, enlisting slaves and poor people; whereas former commanders never accepted of such, but bestowed arms, like other favors, as a matter of distinction, on persons who had the proper qualification, a man’s property being thus a sort of security for his good behavior. These were not the only occasions of ill-will against Marius; some haughty speeches, uttered with great arrogance and contempt, gave great offence to the nobility; as, for example, his saying that he had carried off the consulship as a spoil from the effeminacy of the wealthy and high-born citizens, and telling the people that he gloried in wounds he had himself received for them, as much as others did in the monuments of dead men and images of their ancestors. Often speaking of the commanders that had been unfortunate in Africa, naming Bestia, for example, and Albinus, men of very good families, but unfit for war, and who had miscarried through want of experience, he asked the people about him, if they did not think that the ancestors of these nobles had much rather have left a descendant like him, since they themselves grew famous not by nobility, but by their valor and great actions? This he did not say merely out of vanity and arrogance, or that he were willing, without any advantage, to offend the nobility; but the people always delighting in affronts and scurrilous contumelies against the senate, making boldness of speech their measure of greatness of spirit, continually encouraged him in it, and strengthened his inclination not to spare persons of repute, so he might gratify the multitude.
As soon as he arrived again in Africa, Metellus, no longer able to control his feelings of jealousy, and his indignation that now when he had really finished the war, and nothing was left but to secure the person of Jugurtha, Marius, grown great merely through his ingratitude to him, should come to bereave him both of his victory and triumph, could not bear to have any interview with him; but retired himself, whilst Rutilius, his lieutenant, surrendered up the army to Marius, whose conduct, however, in the end of the war, met with some sort of retribution, as Sylla deprived him of the glory of the action, as he had done Metellus. I shall state the circumstances briefly here, as they are given at large in the life of Sylla. Bocchus was king of the more distant barbarians, and was father-in-law to Jugurtha, yet sent him little or no assistance in his war, professing fears of his unfaithfulness, and really jealous of his growing power; but after Jugurtha fled, and in his distress came to him as his last hope, he received him as a suppliant, rather because ashamed to do otherwise, than out of real kindness; and when he had him in his power, he openly entreated Marius on his behalf, and interceded for him with bold words, giving out that he would by no means deliver him. Yet privately designing to betray him, he sent for Lucius Sylla, quæstor to Marius, and who had on a previous occasion befriended Bocchus in the war. When Sylla, relying on his word, came to him, the African began to doubt and repent of his purpose, and for several days was unresolved with himself, whether he should deliver Jugurtha or retain Sylla; at length he fixed upon his former treachery, and put Jugurtha alive into Sylla’s possession. Thus was the first occasion given of that fierce and implacable hostility which so nearly ruined the whole Roman empire. For many that envied Marius, attributed the success wholly to Sylla; and Sylla himself got a seal made on which was engraved Bocchus betraying Jugurtha to him, and constantly used it, irritating the hot and jealous temper of Marius, who was naturally greedy of distinction, and quick to resent any claim to share in his glory, and whose enemies took care to promote the quarrel, ascribing the beginning and chief business of the war to Metellus, and its conclusion to Sylla; that so the people might give over admiring and esteeming Marius as the worthiest person.
But these envyings and calumnies were soon dispersed and cleared away from Marius, by the danger that threatened Italy from the west; when the city, in great need of a good commander, sought about whom she might set at the helm, to meet the tempest of so great a war, no one would have any thing to say to any members of noble or potent families who offered themselves for the consulship, and Marius, though then absent, was elected.
Jugurtha’s apprehension was only just known, when the news of the invasion of the Teutones and Cimbri began. The accounts at first exceeded all credit, as to the number and strength of the approaching army; but in the end, report proved much inferior to the truth, as they were three hundred thousand effective fighting men, besides a far greater number of women and children. They professed to be seeking new countries to sustain these great multitudes, and cities where they might settle and inhabit, in the same way as they had heard the Celti before them had driven out the Tyrrhenians, and possessed themselves of the best part of Italy. Having had no commerce with the southern nations, and travelling over a wide extent of country, no man knew what people they were, or whence they came, that thus like a cloud burst over Gaul and Italy; yet by their gray eyes and the largeness of their stature, they were conjectured to be some of the German races dwelling by the northern sea; besides that, the Germans call plunderers Cimbri.
There are some that say, that the country of the Celti, in its vast size and extent, reaches from the furthest sea and the arctic regions to the lake Mæotis eastward, and to that part of Scythia which is near Pontus, and that there the nations mingle together; that they did not swarm out of their country all at once, or on a sudden, but advancing by force of arms, in the summer season, every year, in the course of time they crossed the whole continent. And thus, though each party had several appellations, yet the whole army was called by the common name of Celto-Scythians. Others say that the Cimmerii, anciently known to the Greeks, were only a small part of the nation, who were driven out upon some quarrel among the Scythians, and passed all along from the lake Mæotis to Asia, under the conduct of one Lygdamis; and that the greater and more warlike part of them still inhabit the remotest regions lying upon the outer ocean. These, they say, live in a dark and woody country hardly penetrable by the sunbeams, the trees are so close and thick, extending into the interior as far as the Hercynian forest; and their position on the earth is under that part of heaven, where the pole is so elevated, that by the declination of the parallels, the zenith of the inhabitants seems to be but little distant from it; and that their days and nights being almost of an equal length, they divide their year into one of each. This was Homer’s occasion for the story of Ulysses calling up the dead,* and from this region the people, anciently called Cimmerii, and afterwards, by an easy change, Cimbri, came into Italy. All this, however, is rather conjecture than an authentic history.
Their numbers, most writers agree, were not less, but rather greater than was reported. They were of invincible strength and fierceness in their wars, and hurried into battle with the violence of a devouring flame; none could withstand them; all they assaulted became their prey. Several of the greatest Roman commanders with their whole armies, that advanced for the defence of Transalpine Gaul, were ingloriously overthrown, and, indeed, by their faint resistance, chiefly gave them the impulse of marching towards Rome. Having vanquished all they had met, and found abundance of plunder, they resolved to settle themselves nowhere till they should have razed the city, and wasted all Italy. The Romans, being from all parts alarmed with this news, sent for Marius to undertake the war, and nominated him the second time consul, though the law did not permit any one that was absent, or that had not waited a certain time after his first consulship, to be again created. But the people rejected all opposers; for they considered this was not the first time that the law gave place to the common interest; nor the present occasion less urgent than that when, contrary to law, they made Scipio consul, not in fear for the destruction of their own city, but desiring the ruin of that of the Carthaginians.
Thus it was decided; and Marius, bringing over his legions out of Africa on the very first day of January, which the Romans count the beginning of the year, received the consulship, and then, also, entered in triumph, showing Jugurtha a prisoner to the people, a sight they had despaired of ever beholding, nor could any, so long as he lived, hope to reduce the enemy in Africa; so fertile in expedients was he to adapt himself to every turn of fortune, and so bold as well as subtle. When, however, he was led in triumph, it is said that he fell distracted, and when he was afterwards thrown into prison, where some tore off his clothes by force, and others, whilst they struggled for his golden ear-ring, with it pulled off the tip of his ear, and when he was, after this, cast naked into the dungeon, in his amazement and confusion, with a ghastly laugh, he cried out, “O Hercules! how cold your bath is!” Here for six days struggling with hunger, and to the very last minute desirous of life, he was overtaken by the just reward of his villanies. In this triumph was brought, as is stated, of gold three thousand and seven pounds weight, of silver bullion five thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, of money in gold and silver coin two hundred and eighty-seven thousand drachmas After the solemnity, Marius called together the senate in the capitol, and entered, whether through inadvertency or unbecoming exultation with his good fortune, in his triumphal habit; but presently observing the senate offended at it, went out, and returned in his ordinary purple-bordered robe.
On the expedition he carefully disciplined and trained his army whilst on their way, giving them practice in long marches, and running of every sort, and compelling every man to carry his own baggage and prepare his own victuals; insomuch that thenceforward laborious soldiers, who did their work silently without grumbling, had the name of “Marius’s mules.” Some, however, think the proverb had a different occasion; that when Scipio besieged Numantia, and was careful to inspect not only their horses and arms, but their mules and carriages too, and see how well equipped and in what readiness each one’s was, Marius brought forth his horse which he had fed extremely well, and a mule in better case, stronger and gentler than those of others; that the general was very well pleased, and often afterwards mentioned Marius’s beasts; and that hence the soldiers, when speaking jestingly in the praise of a drudging, laborious fellow, called him Marius’s mule.
But to proceed; very great good fortune seemed to attend Marius, for by the enemy in a manner changing their course, and falling first upon Spain, he had time to exercise his soldiers, and confirm their courage, and, which was most important, to show them what he himself was. For that fierce manner of his in command, and inexorableness in punishing, when his men became used not to do amiss or disobey, was felt to be wholesome and advantageous, as well as just, and his violent spirit, stern voice, and harsh aspect, which in a little while grew familiar to them, they esteemed terrible not to themselves, but only to their enemies. But his uprightness in judging more especially pleased the soldiers, one remarkable instance of which is as follows. One Caius Lusius, his own nephew, had a command under him in the army, a man not in other respects of bad character, but shamefully licentious with young men. He had one young man under his command called Trebonius, with whom notwithstanding many solicitations he could never prevail. At length one night, he sent a messenger for him, and Trebonius came, as it was not lawful for him to refuse when he was sent for, and being brought into his tent, when Lusius began to use violence with him, he drew his sword and ran him through. This was done whilst Marius was absent. When he returned, he appointed Trebonius a time for his trial, where, whilst many accused him, and not any one appeared in his defence, he himself boldly related the whole matter, and brought witness of his previous conduct to Lusius, who had frequently offered him considerable presents. Marius, admiring his conduct and much pleased, commanded the garland, the usual Roman reward of valor, to be brought, and himself crowned Trebonius with it, as having performed an excellent action, at a time that very much wanted such good examples.
This being told at Rome, proved no small help to Marius towards his third consulship; to which also conduced the expectation of the barbarians at the summer season, the people being unwilling to trust their fortunes with any other general but him. However, their arrival was not so early as was imagined, and the time of Marius’s consulship was again expired. The election coming on, and his colleague being dead, he left the command of the army to Manius Aquilius, and hastened to Rome, where, several eminent persons being candidates for the consulship, Lucius Saturninus, who more than any of the other tribunes swayed the populace, and of whom Marius himself was very observant, exerted his eloquence with the people, advising them to choose Marius consul. He playing the modest part, and professing to decline the Page 63 office, Saturninus called him traitor to his country, if, in such apparent danger, he would avoid command. And though it was not difficult to discover that he was merely helping Marius in putting this pretence upon the people, yet, considering that the present juncture much required his skill, and his good fortune too, they voted him the fourth time consul, and made Catulus Lutatius his colleague, a man very much esteemed by the nobility, and not unagreeable to the commons.
Marius, having notice of the enemy’s approach, with all expedition passed the Alps, and pitching his camp by the river Rhone, took care first for plentiful supplies of victuals; lest at any time he should be forced to fight at a disadvantage for want of necessaries. The carriage of provision for the army from the sea, which was formerly long and expensive, he made speedy and easy. For the mouth of the Rhone, by the influx of the sea, being barred and almost filled up with sand and mud mixed with clay, the passage there became narrow, difficult, and dangerous for the ships that brought their provisions. Hither, therefore, bringing his army, then at leisure, he drew a great trench; and by turning the course of a great part of the river, brought it to a convenient point on the shore where the water was deep enough to receive ships of considerable burden, and where there was a calm and easy opening to the sea. And this still retains the name it took from him.
The enemy dividing themselves into two parts, the Cimbri arranged to go against Catulus higher up through the country of the Norici, and to force that passage; the Teutones and Ambrones to march against Marius by the sea-side through Liguria. The Cimbri were a considerable time in doing their part. But the Teutones and Ambrones with all expedition passing over the interjacent country, soon came in sight, in numbers beyond belief, of a terrible aspect, and uttering strange cries and shouts. Taking up a great part of the plain with their camp, they challenged Marius to battle; he seemed to take no notice of them, but kept his soldiers within their fortifications, and sharply reprehended those that were too forward and eager to show their courage, and who, out of passion, would needs be fighting, calling them traitors to their country, and telling them they were not now to think of the glory of triumphs and trophies, but rather how they might repel such an impetuous tempest of war, and save Italy.
Thus he discoursed privately with his officers and equals, but placed the soldiers by turns upon the bulwarks to survey the enemy, and so made them familiar with their shape and voice, which were indeed altogether extravagant and barbarous, and he caused them to observe their arms, and way of using them, so that in a little time what at first appeared terrible to their apprehensions, by often viewing, became familiar. For he very rationally supposed, that the strangeness of things often makes them seem formidable when they are not so; and that by our better acquaintance, even things which are really terrible, lose much of their frightfulness. This daily converse not only diminished some of the soldiers’ fear, but their indignation warmed and inflamed their courage, when they heard the threats and insupportable insolence of their enemies; who not only plundered and depopulated all the country round, but would even contemptuously and confidently attack the ramparts.
Complaints of the soldiers now began to come to Marius’s ears. “What effeminacy does Marius see in us, that he should thus like women lock us up from encountering our enemies? Come on, let us show ourselves men, and ask him if he expects others to fight for Italy; and means merely to employ us in servile offices, when he would dig trenches, cleanse places of mud and dirt, and turn the course of rivers? It was to do such works as these, it seems, that he gave us all our long training; he will return home, and boast of these great performances of his consulships to the people. Does the defeat of Carbo and Cæpio, who were vanquished by the enemy, affright him? Surely they were much inferior to Marius both in glory and valor, and commanded a much weaker army; at the worst, it is better to be in action, though we suffer for it like them, than to sit idle spectators of the destruction of our allies and companions.” Marius, not a little pleased to hear this, gently appeased them, pretending that he did not distrust their valor, but that he took his measures as to the time and place of victory from some certain oracles.
And, in fact, he used solemnly to carry about in a litter, a Syrian woman, called Martha, a supposed prophetess, and to do sacrifice by her directions. She had formerly been driven away by the senate, to whom she addressed herself, offering to inform them about these affairs, and to foretell future events; and after this betook herself to the women, and gave them proofs of her skill, especially Marius’s wife, at whose feet she sat when she was viewing a contest of gladiators, and correctly foretold which of them should overcome. She was for this and the like predictings sent by her to Marius and the army, where she was very much looked up to, and, for the most part, carried about in a litter. When she went to sacrifice, she wore a purple robe lined and buckled up, and had in her hand a little spear trimmed with ribbons and garlands. This theatrical show made many question, whether Marius really gave any credit to her himself, or only played the counterfeit, when he showed her publicly, to impose upon the soldiers.
What, however, Alexander the Myndian relates about Page 66 the vultures, does really deserve admiration; that always before Marius’s victories there appeared two of them, and accompanied the army, which were known by their brazen collars, (the soldiers having caught them and put these about their necks, and so let them go, from which time they in a manner knew and saluted the soldiers,) and whenever these appeared in their marches, they used to rejoice at it, and thought themselves sure of some success. Of the many other prodigies that then were taken notice of, the greater part were but of the ordinary stamp; it was, however, reported that at Ameria and Tuder, two cities in Italy, there were seen at nights in the sky, flaming darts and shields, now waved about, and then again clashing against one another, all in accordance with the postures and motions soldiers use in fighting; that at length one party retreating, and the other pursuing, they all disappeared westward. Much about the same time came Bataces, one of Cybele’s priests, from Pessinus,* and reported how the goddess had declared to him out of her oracle, that the Romans should obtain the victory. The senate giving credit to him, and voting the goddess a temple to be built in hopes of the victory, Aulus Pompeius, a tribune, prevented Bataces, when he would have gone and told the people this same story, calling him impostor, and ignominiously pulling him off the hustings; which action in the end was the main thing that gained credit for the man’s story, for Aulus had scarce dissolved the assembly, and returned home, when a violent fever seized him, and it was matter of universal remark, and in everybody’s mouth, that he died within a week after.
Now the Teutones, whilst Marius lay quiet, ventured to attack his camp; from whence, however, being encountered with showers of darts, and losing several of their men, they determined to march forward, hoping to reach the other side of the Alps without opposition, and, packing up their baggage, passed securely by the Roman camp, where the greatness of their number was especially made evident by the long time they took in their march, for they were said to be six days continually going on in passing Marius’s fortifications; they marched pretty near, and revilingly asked the Romans if they would send any commands by them to their wives, for they would shortly be with them. As soon as they were passed and had gone on a little distance ahead, Marius began to move, and follow them at his leisure, always encamping at some small distance from them; choosing also strong positions, and carefully fortifying them, that he might quarter with safety. Thus they marched till they came to the place called Sextilius’s Waters,* from whence it was but a short way before being amidst the Alps, and here Marius put himself in readiness for the encounter.
He chose a place for his camp of considerable strength, but where there was a scarcity of water; designing, it is said, by this means, also, to put an edge on his soldiers’ courage; and when several were not a little distressed, and complained of thirst, pointing to a river that ran near the enemy’s camp: “There,” said he, “you may have drink, if you will buy it with your blood.” “Why, then,” replied they, “do you not lead us to them, before our blood is dried up in us?” He answered, in a softer tone, “let us first fortify our camp,” and the soldiers, though not without repining, proceeded to obey. Now a great company of their boys and camp-followers, having neither drink for themselves nor for their horses, went down to that river; some taking axes and hatchets, and some, too, swords and darts with their pitchers, resolving to have water though they fought for it. These were first encountered by a small party of the enemies; for most of them had just finished bathing, and were eating and drinking, and several were still bathing, the country thereabouts abounding in hot springs; so that the Romans partly fell upon them whilst they were enjoying themselves, and occupied with the novel sights and pleasantness of the place. Upon hearing the shouts, greater numbers still joining in the fight, it was not a little difficult for Marius to contain his soldiers, who were afraid of losing the camp-servants; and the more warlike part of the enemies, who had overthrown Manlius and Cæpio, (they were called Ambrones, and were in number, one with another, above thirty thousand,) taking the alarm, leaped up and hurried to arms.
These, though they had just been gorging themselves with food, and were excited and disordered with drink, nevertheless did not advance with an unruly step, or in mere senseless fury, nor were their shouts mere inarticulate cries; but clashing their arms in concert, and keeping time as they leapt and bounded onward, they continually repeated their own name, “Ambrones!” either to encourage one another, or to strike the greater terror into their enemies. Of all the Italians in Marius’s army, the Ligurians were the first that charged; and when they caught the word of the enemy’s confused shout, they, too, returned the same, as it was an ancient name also in their country, the Ligurians always using it when speaking of their descent. This acclamation, bandied from one army to the other before they joined, served to rouse and heighten their fury, while the men on either side strove, with all possible vehemence, the one to overshout the other.
The river disordered the Ambrones; before they could draw up all their army on the other side of it, the Ligurians presently fell upon the van, and began to charge them hand to hand. The Romans, too, coming to their assistance, and from the higher ground pouring upon the enemy, forcibly repelled them, and the most of them (one thrusting another into the river) were there slain, and filled it with their blood and dead bodies. Those that got safe over, not daring to make head, were slain by the Romans, as they fled to their camp and wagons; where the women meeting them with swords and hatchets, and making a hideous outcry, set upon those that fled as well as those that pursued, the one as traitors, the other as enemies; and, mixing themselves with the combatants, with their bare arms pulling away the Romans’ shields, and laying hold on their swords, endured the wounds and slashing of their bodies to the very last, with undaunted resolution. Thus the battle seems to have happened at that river rather by accident than by the design of the general.
After the Romans were retired from the great slaughter of the Ambrones, night came on; but the army was not indulged, as was the usual custom, with songs of victory, drinking in their tents, and mutual entertainments, and (what is most welcome to soldiers after successful fighting) quiet sleep, but they passed that night, above all others, in fears and alarm. For their camp was without either rampart or palisade, and there remained thousands upon thousands of their enemies yet unconquered; to whom were joined as many of the Ambrones as escaped. There were heard from these, all through the night, wild bewailings, nothing like the sighs and groans of men, but a sort of wild-beastlike howling and roaring, joined with threats and lamentations rising from the vast multitude, and echoed among the neighboring hills and hollow banks of the river. The whole plain was filled Page 70 with hideous noise, insomuch that the Romans were not a little afraid, and Marius himself was apprehensive of a confused tumultuous night engagement. But the enemy did not stir either this night or the next day, but were employed in disposing and drawing themselves up to the greatest advantage.
Of this occasion Marius made good use; for there were beyond the enemies some wooded ascents and deep valleys thickly set with trees, whither he sent Claudius Marcellus, secretly, with three thousand regular soldiers, giving him orders to post them in ambush there, and show themselves at the rear of the enemies, when the fight was begun. The others, refreshed with victuals and sleep, as soon as it was day he drew up before the camp, and commanded the horse to sally out into the plain, at the sight of which the Teutones could not contain themselves till the Romans should come down and fight them on equal terms, but hastily arming themselves, charged in their fury up the hill-side. Marius, sending officers to all parts, commanded his men to stand still and keep their ground; when they came within reach, to throw their javelins, then use their swords, and, joining their shields, force them back; pointing out to them that the steepness of the ground would render the enemy’s blows inefficient, nor could their shields be kept close together, the inequality of the ground hindering the stability of their footing.
This counsel he gave them, and was the first that followed it; for he was inferior to none in the use of his body, and far excelled all in resolution. The Romans accordingly stood for their approach, and, checking them in their advance upwards, forced them little by little to give way and yield down the hill, and here, on the level ground, no sooner had the Ambrones begun to restore their van into a posture of resistance, but they found their rear disordered. For Marcellus had not let slip the opportunity; but as soon as the shout was raised among the Romans on the hills, he, setting his men in motion, fell in upon the enemy behind, at full speed, and with loud cries, and routed those nearest him, and they, breaking the ranks of those that were before them, filled the whole army with confusion. They made no long resistance after they were thus broke in upon, but having lost all order, fled.
The Romans, pursuing them, slew and took prisoners above one hundred thousand, and possessing themselves of their spoil, tents, and carriages, voted all that was not purloined to Marius’s share, which, though so magnificent a present, yet was generally thought less than his conduct deserved in so great a danger. Other authors give a different account, both about the division of the plunder and the number of the slain. They say, however, that the inhabitants of Massilia made fences round their vineyards with the bones, and that the ground, enriched by the moisture of the putrified bodies, (which soaked in with the rain of the following winter,) yielded at the season a prodigious crop, and fully justified Archilochus, who said, that the fallows thus are fattened. It is an observation, also, that extraordinary rains pretty generally fall after great battles; whether it be that some divine power thus washes and cleanses the polluted earth with showers from above, or that moist and heavy evaporations, steaming forth from the blood and corruption, thicken the air, which naturally is subject to alteration from the smallest causes.
After the battle, Marius chose out from amongst the barbarians’ spoils and arms, those that were whole and handsome, and that would make the greatest show in his triumph; the rest he heaped upon a large pile, and offered a very splendid sacrifice. Whilst the army stood Page 72 round about with their arms and garlands, himself attired (as the fashion is on such occasions) in the purple-bordered robe, taking a lighted torch, and with both hands lifting it up towards heaven, he was then going to put it to the pile, when some friends were espied with all haste coming towards him on horseback. Upon which every one remained in silence and expectation. They, upon their coming up, leapt off and saluted Marius, bringing him the news of his fifth consulship, and delivered him letters to that effect. This gave the addition of no small joy to the solemnity; and while the soldiers clashed their arms and shouted, the officers again crowned Marius with a laurel-wreath, and he thus set fire to the pile, and finished his sacrifice.
But whatever it be, which interferes to prevent the enjoyment of prosperity ever being pure and sincere, and still diversifies human affairs with the mixture of good and bad, whether fortune or divine displeasure, or the necessity of the nature of things, within a few days Marius received an account of his colleague, Catulus, which as a cloud in serenity and calm, terrified Rome with the apprehension of another imminent storm. Catulus, who marched against the Cimbri, despairing of being able to defend the passes of the Alps, lest, being compelled to divide his forces into several parties, he should weaken himself, descended again into Italy, and posted his army behind the river Adige; where he occupied the passages with strong fortifications on both sides the river, and made a bridge, that so he might cross to the assistance of his men on the other side, if so be the enemy, having forced their way through the mountain passes, should storm the fortresses. The barbarians, however, came on with such insolence and contempt of their enemies, that to show their strength and courage, rather than out of any necessity, they went naked in the showers of snow. and through the ice and deep snow climbed up to the tops of the hills, and from thence, placing their broad shields under their bodies, let themselves slide from the precipices along their vast slippery descents.
When they had pitched their camp at a little distance from the river, and surveyed the passage, they began to pile it up, giant-like, tearing down the neighboring hills; and brought trees pulled up by the roots, and heaps of earth to the river, damming up its course; and with great heavy materials which they rolled down the stream and dashed against the bridge, they forced away the beams which supported it; in consequence of which the greatest part of the Roman soldiers, much affrighted, left the large camp and fled. Here Catulus showed himself a generous and noble general, in preferring the glory of his people before his own; for when he could not prevail with his soldiers to stand to their colors, but saw how they all deserted them, he commanded his own standard to be taken up, and running to the foremost of those that fled, he led them forward, choosing rather that the disgrace should fall upon himself than upon his country, and that they should not seem to fly, but, following their captain, to make a retreat. The barbarians assaulted and took the fortress on the other side the Adige; where much admiring the few Romans there left, who had shown extreme courage, and had fought worthily of their country, they dismissed them upon terms, swearing them upon their brazen bull, which was afterwards taken in the battle, and carried, they say, to Catulus’s house, as the chief trophy of victory.
Thus falling in upon the country destitute of defence, they wasted it on all sides. Marius was presently sent for to the city; where, when he arrived, every one supposing he would triumph, the senate, too, unanimously voting it, he himself did not think it convenient; whether that he were not willing to deprive his soldiers and officers of their share of the glory, or that to encourage the people in this juncture, he would leave the honor due to his past victory on trust, as it were, in the hands of the city and its future fortune; deferring it now, to receive it afterwards with the greater splendor. Having left such orders as the occasion required, he hastened to Catulus, whose drooping spirits he much raised, and sent for his own army from Gaul: and as soon as it came, passing the river Po, he endeavored to keep the barbarians out of that part of Italy which lies south of it.
They professed they were in expectation of the Teutones, and, saying they wondered they were so long in coming, deferred the battle; either that they were really ignorant of their defeat, or were willing to seem so. For they certainly much maltreated those that brought them such news, and, sending to Marius, required some part of the country for themselves and their brethren, and cities fit for them to inhabit. When Marius inquired of the ambassadors who their brethren were, upon their saying, the Teutones, all that were present began to laugh; and Marius scoffingly answered them, “Do not trouble yourselves for your brethren, for we have already provided lands for them, which they shall possess forever.” The ambassadors, understanding the mockery, broke into insults, and threatened that the Cimbri would make him pay for this, and the Teutones, too, when they came. “They are not far off,” replied Marius, “and it will be unkindly done of you to go away before greeting your brethren.” Saying so, he commanded the kings of the Teutones to be brought out, as they were, in chains; for they were taken by the Sequani among the Alps, before they could make their escape. This was no sooner made known to the Cimbri, but they with all expedition came against Marius, who then lay still and guarded his camp.
It is said, that against this battle, Marius first altered the construction of the Roman javelins. For before, at the place where the wood was joined to the iron, it was made fast with two iron pins; but now Marius let one of them alone as it was, and pulling out the other, put a weak wooden peg in its place, thus contriving, that when it was driven into the enemy’s shield, it should not stand right out, but the wooden peg breaking, the iron should bend, and so the javelin should hold fast by its crooked point, and drag. Bœorix, king of the Cimbri, came with a small party of horse to the Roman camp, and challenged Marius to appoint the time and place, where they might meet and fight for the country. Marius answered, that the Romans never consulted their enemies when to fight; however, he would gratify the Cimbri so far; and so they fixed upon the third day after, and for the place, the plain near Vercellæ, which was convenient enough for the Roman horse, and afforded room for the enemy to display their numbers.
They observed the time appointed, and drew out their forces against each other. Catulus commanded twenty thousand three hundred, and Marius thirty-two thousand, who were placed in the two wings, leaving Catulus the centre. Sylla, who was present at the fight, gives this account; saying, also, that Marius drew up his army in this order, because he expected that the armies would meet on the wings, since it generally happens that in such extensive fronts the centre falls back, and thus he would have the whole victory to himself and his soldiers, and Catulus would not be even engaged. They tell us, also, that Catulus himself alleged this in vindication of his honor, accusing, in various ways, the enviousness of Marius. The infantry of the Cimbri marched quietly out of their fortifications, having their flanks equal to their front; every side of the army taking up thirty furlongs. Their horse, that were in number fifteen thousand, made a very splendid appearance. They wore helmets, made to resemble the heads and jaws of wild beasts, and other strange shapes, and heightening these with plumes of feathers, they made themselves appear taller than they were. They had breastplates of iron, and white glittering shields; and for their offensive arms, every one had two darts, and when they came hand to hand, they used large and heavy swords.
The cavalry did not fall directly upon the front of the Romans, but, turning to the right, they endeavored to draw them on in that direction by little and little, so as to get them between themselves and their infantry, who were placed in the left wing. The Roman commanders soon perceived the design, but could not contain the soldiers; for one happening to shout out that the enemy fled, they all rushed to pursue them, while the whole barbarian foot came on, moving like a great ocean. Here Marius, having washed his hands, and lifting them up towards heaven, vowed an hecatomb to the gods; and Catulus, too, in the same posture, solemnly promised to consecrate a temple to the “Fortune of that day.” They say, too, that Marius, having the victim showed to him as he was sacrificing, cried out with a loud voice, “the victory is mine.”
However, in the engagement, according to the accounts of Sylla and his friends, Marius met with what might be called a mark of divine displeasure. For a great dust being raised, which (as it might very probably happen) almost covered both the armies, he, leading on his forces to the pursuit, missed the enemy, and having passed by their array, moved, for a good space, up and down the field; meanwhile the enemy, by chance, engaged with Catulus, and the heat of the battle was chiefly with him and his men, among whom Sylla says he was; adding, that the Romans had great advantage of the heat and sun that shone in the faces of the Cimbri. For they, well able to endure cold, and having been bred up, (as we observed before,) in cold and shady countries, were overcome with the excessive heat; they sweated extremely, and were much out of breath, being forced to hold their shields before their faces; for the battle was fought not long after the summer solstice, or, as the Romans reckon, upon the third day before the new moon of the month now called August, and then Sextilis. The dust, too, gave the Romans no small addition to their courage, inasmuch as it hid the enemy. For afar off they could not discover their number; but every one advancing to encounter those that were nearest to them, they came to fight hand to hand, before the sight of so vast a multitude had struck terror into them. They were so much used to labor, and so well exercised, that in all the heat and toil of the encounter, not one of them was observed either to sweat, or to be out of breath; so much so, that Catulus himself, they say, recorded it in commendation of his soldiers.
Here the greatest part and most valiant of the enemies were cut in pieces; for those that fought in the front, that they might not break their ranks, were fast tied to one another, with long chains put through their belts. But as they pursued those that fled to their camp, they witnessed a most fearful tragedy; the women, standing in black clothes on their wagons, slew all that fled, some their husbands, some their brethren, others their fathers; and strangling their little children with their own hands, threw them under the wheels, and the feet of the cattle, and then killed themselves. They tell of one who hung herself from the end of the pole of a wagon, with her children tied dangling at her heels. The men, for want of trees, tied themselves, some to the horns of the oxen, others by the neck to their legs, that so pricking them on, by the starting and springing of the beasts, they might be torn and trodden to pieces. Yet for all they thus massacred themselves, above sixty thousand were taken prisoners, and those that were slain were said to be twice as many.
The ordinary plunder was taken by Marius’s soldiers, but the other spoils, as ensigns, trumpets, and the like, they say, were brought to Catulus’s camp; which he used for the best argument that the victory was obtained by himself and his army. Some dissensions arising, as was natural, among the soldiers, the deputies from Parma being then present, were made judges of the controversy; whom Catulus’s men carried about among their slain enemies, and manifestly showed them that they were slain by their javelins, which were known by the inscriptions, having Catulus’s name cut in the wood. Nevertheless, the whole glory of the action was ascribed to Marius, on account of his former victory, and under color of his present authority; the populace more especially styling him the third founder of their city, as having diverted a danger no less threatening than was that when the Gauls sacked Rome; and every one, in their feasts and rejoicings at home with their wives and children, made offerings and libations in honor of “The Gods and Marius;” and would have had him solely have the honor of both the triumphs. However, he did not do so, but triumphed together with Catulus, being desirous to show his moderation even in such great circumstances of good fortune; besides, he was not a little afraid of the soldiers in Catulus’s army, lest, if he should wholly bereave their general of the honor, they should endeavor to hinder him of his triumph.
Marius was now in his fifth consulship, and he sued for his sixth in such a manner as never any man before him had done, even for his first; he courted the people’s favor and ingratiated himself with the multitude by every sort of complaisance; not only derogating from the state and dignity of his office, but also belying his own character, by attempting to seem popular and obliging, for which nature had never designed him. His passion for distinction did, indeed, they say, make him exceedingly timorous in any political matters, or in confronting public assemblies; and that undaunted presence of mind he always showed in battle against the enemy, forsook him when he was to address the people; he was easily upset by the most ordinary commendation or dispraise. It is told of him, that having at one time given the freedom of the city to one thousand men of Camerinum who had behaved valiantly in this war, and this seeming to be illegally done, upon some one or other calling him to an account for it, he answered, that the law spoke too softly to be heard in such a noise of war; yet he himself appeared to be more disconcerted and overcome by the clamor made in the assemblies. The need they had of him in time of war procured him power and dignity; but in civil affairs, when he despaired of getting the first place, he was forced to betake himself to the favor of the people, never caring to be a good man, so that he were but a great one.
He thus became very odious to all the nobility; and, above all, he feared Metellus, who had been so ungratefully used by him, and whose true virtue made him naturally an enemy to those that sought influence with the people, not by the honorable course, but by subservience and complaisance. Marius, therefore, endeavored to banish him from the city, and for this purpose he contracted a close alliance with Glaucia and Saturninus, a couple of daring fellows, who had the great mass of the indigent and seditious multitude at their control; and by their assistance he enacted various laws, and bringing the soldiers, Page 80 also, to attend the assembly, he was enabled to overpower Metellus. And as Rutilius relates, (in all other respects a fair and faithful authority, but, indeed, privately an enemy to Marius,) he obtained his sixth consulship by distributing vast sums of money among the tribes, and by this bribery kept out Metellus, and had Valerius Flaccus given him as his instrument, rather than his colleague, in the consulship. The people had never before bestowed so many consulships on any one man, except on Valerius Corvinus only, and he, too, they say, was forty-five years between his first and last; but Marius, from his first, ran through five more, with one current of good fortune.
In the last, especially, he contracted a great deal of hatred, by committing several gross misdemeanors in compliance with the desires of Saturninus; among which was the murder of Nonius, whom Saturninus slew, because he stood in competition with him for the tribuneship. And when, afterwards, Saturninus, on becoming tribune, brought forward his law for the division of lands, with a clause enacting that the senate should publicly swear to confirm whatever the people should vote, and not to oppose them in any thing, Marius, in the senate, cunningly feigned to be against this provision, and said that he would not take any such oath, nor would any man, he thought, who was wise; for if there were no ill design in the law, still it would be an affront to the senate, to be compelled to give their approbation, and not to do it willingly and upon persuasion. This he said, not that it was agreeable to his own sentiments, but that he might entrap Metellus beyond any possibility of escape. For Marius, in whose ideas virtue and capacity consisted largely in deceit, made very little account of what he had openly professed to the senate; and knowing that Metellus was one of a fixed resolution, and, as Pindar has it, esteemed “Truth the first principle of heroic virtue,” he hoped to ensnare him into a declaration before the senate, and on his refusing, as he was sure to do, afterwards to take the oath, he expected to bring him into such odium with the people, as should never be wiped off. The design succeeded to his wish. As soon as Metellus had declared that he would not swear to it, the senate adjourned. A few days after, on Saturninus citing the senators to make their appearance, and take the oath before the people, Marius stepped forth, amidst a profound silence, every one being intent to hear him, and bidding farewell to those fine speeches he had before made in the senate, said, that his back was not so broad that he should think himself bound, once for all, by any opinion once given on so important a matter; he would willingly swear and submit to the law, if so be it were one, a proviso which he added as a mere cover for his effrontery. The people, in great joy at his taking the oath, loudly clapped and applauded him, while the nobility stood by ashamed and vexed at his inconstancy; but they submitted out of fear of the people, and all in order took the oath, till it came to Metellus’s turn. But he, though his friends begged and entreated him to take it, and not to plunge himself irrecoverably into the penalties which Saturninus had provided for those that should refuse it, would not flinch from his resolution, nor swear; but, according to his fixed custom, being ready to suffer any thing rather than do a base, unworthy action, he left the forum, telling those that were with him, that to do a wrong thing is base, and to do well where there is no danger, common; the good man’s characteristic is to do so, where there is danger.
Hereupon Saturninus put it to the vote, that the consuls should place Metellus under their interdict, and forbid him fire, water, and lodging. There were enough, too, of the basest of people ready to kill him. Nevertheless, when many of the better sort were extremely concerned, and gathered about Metellus, he would not suffer them to raise a sedition upon his account, but with this calm reflection left the city, “Either when the posture of affairs is mended and the people repent, I shall be recalled, or if things remain in their present condition, it will be best to be absent.” But what great favor and honor Metellus received in his banishment, and in what manner he spent his time at Rhodes, in philosophy, will be more fitly our subject, when we write his life.
Marius, in return for this piece of service, was forced to connive at Saturninus, now proceeding to the very height of insolence and violence, and was, without knowing it, the instrument of mischief beyond endurance, the only course of which was through outrages and massacres to tyranny and the subversion of the government. Standing in some awe of the nobility, and, at the same time, eager to court the commonalty, he was guilty of a most mean and dishonest action. When some of the great men came to him at night to stir him up against Saturninus, at the other door, unknown to them, he let him in; then making the same pretence of some disorder of body to both, he ran from one party to the other, and staying at one time with them and another with him, he instigated and exasperated them one against another. At length when the senate and equestrian order concerted measures together, and openly manifested their resentment, he did bring his soldiers into the forum, and driving the insurgents into the capitol, and then cutting off the conduits, forced them to surrender by want of water. They, in this distress, addressing themselves to him, surrendered, as it is termed, on the public faith. He did his utmost to save their lives, but so wholly in vain, that when they came down into the forum, they were all basely murdered. Thus he had made himself equally odious both to the nobility and commons, and when the time was come to create censors, though he was the most obvious man, yet he did not petition for it; but fearing the disgrace of being repulsed, permitted others, his inferiors, to be elected, though he pleased himself by giving out, that he was not willing to disoblige too many by undertaking a severe inspection into their lives and conduct.
There was now an edict preferred to recall Metellus from banishment; this he vigorously, but in vain, opposed both by word and deed, and was at length obliged to desist. The people unanimously voted for it; and he, not able to endure the sight of Metellus’s return, made a voyage to Cappadocia and Galatia; giving out that he had to perform the sacrifices, which he had vowed to Cybele; but actuated really by other less apparent reasons. For, in fact, being a man altogether ignorant of civil life and ordinary politics, he received all his advancement from war; and supposing his power and glory would by little and little decrease by his lying quietly out of action, he was eager by every means to excite some new commotions, and hoped that by setting at variance some of the kings, and by exasperating Mithridates, especially, who was then apparently making preparations for war, he himself should be chosen general against him, and so furnish the city with new matter of triumph, and his own house with the plunder of Pontus, and the riches of its king. Therefore, though Mithridates entertained him with all imaginable attention and respect, yet he was not at all wrought upon or softened by it; but said, “O king, either endeavor to be stronger than the Romans, or else quietly submit to their commands.” With which he left Mithridates astonished, as he indeed had often heard the fame of the bold speaking of the Romans, but now for the first time experienced it.
When Marius returned again to Rome, he built a house close by the forum, either, as he himself gave out, that he was not willing his clients should be tired with going far, or that he imagined distance was the reason why more did not come. This, however, was not so; the real reason was, that being inferior to others in agreeableness of conversation and the arts of political life, like a mere tool and implement of war, he was thrown aside in time of peace. Amongst all those whose brightness eclipsed his glory, he was most incensed against Sylla, who had owed his rise to the hatred which the nobility bore Marius; and had made his disagreement with him the one principle of his political life. When Bocchus, king of Numidia, who was styled the associate of the Romans, dedicated some figures of Victory in the capitol, and with them a representation in gold, of himself delivering Jugurtha to Sylla, Marius upon this was almost distracted with rage and ambition, as though Sylla had arrogated this honor to himself, and endeavored forcibly to pull down these presents; Sylla, on the other side, as vigorously resisted him; but the Social War then on a sudden threatening the city, put a stop to this sedition, when just ready to break out. For the most warlike and best-peopled countries of all Italy formed a confederacy together against Rome, and were within a little of subverting the empire; as they were indeed strong, not only in their weapons and the valor of their soldiers, but stood nearly upon equal terms with the Romans, as to the skill and daring of their commanders.
As much glory and power as this war, so various in its events and so uncertain as to its success, conferred upon Sylla, so much it took away from Marius, who was thought tardy, unenterprising, and timid, whether it were that his age was now quenching his former heat and vigor, (for he was above sixty-five years old,) or that having, as he himself said, some distemper that affected his muscles, and his body being unfit for action, he did service above his strength. Yet, for all this, he came off victor in a considerable battle, wherein he slew six thousand of the enemies, and never once gave them any advantage over him; and when he was surrounded by the works of the enemy, he contained himself, and though insulted over, and challenged, did not yield to the provocation. The story is told that when Publius* Silo, a man of the greatest repute and authority among the enemies, said to him, “If you are indeed a great general, Marius, leave your camp and fight a battle,” he replied, “If you are one, make me do so.” And another time, when the enemy gave them a good opportunity of a battle, and the Romans through fear durst not charge, so that both parties retreated, he called an assembly of his soldiers and said, “It is no small question whether I should call the enemies, or you, the greater cowards, for neither did they dare to face your backs, nor you to confront theirs.” At length, professing to be worn out with the infirmity of his body, he laid down his command.
Afterwards, when the Italians were worsted, there were several candidates suing, with the aid of the popular leaders, for the chief command in the war with Mithridates. Sulpicius, tribune of the people, a bold and confident man, contrary to everybody’s expectation, brought forward Marius, and proposed him as proconsul and general in that war. The people were divided; some were on Marius’s side, others voted for Sylla, and jeeringly bade Marius go to his baths at Baiæ, to cure his body, worn out, as himself confessed, with age and catarrhs. Marius had, indeed, there, about Misenum, a villa more effeminately and luxuriously furnished than seemed to become one that had seen service in so many and great wars and expeditions. This same house Cornelia bought for seventy-five thousand drachmas, and not long after Lucius Lucullus, for two million five hundred thousand; so rapid and so great was the growth of Roman sumptuosity. Yet, in spite of all this, out of a mere boyish passion for distinction, affecting to shake off his age and weakness, he went down daily to the Campus Martius, and exercising himself with the youth, showed himself still nimble in his armor, and expert in riding; though he was undoubtedly grown bulky in his old age, and inclining to excessive fatness and corpulency.
Some people were pleased with this, and went continually to see him competing and displaying himself in these exercises; but the better sort that saw him, pitied the cupidity and ambition that made one who had risen from utter poverty to extreme wealth, and out of nothing into greatness, unwilling to admit any limit to his high fortune, or to be content with being admired, and quietly enjoying what he had already got: why, as if he still were indigent, should he at so great an age leave his glory and his triumphs to go into Cappadocia and the Euxine Sea, to fight Archelaus and Neoptolemus, Mithridates’s generals? Marius’s pretences for this action of his seemed very ridiculous; for he said he wanted to go and teach his son to be a general.
The condition of the city, which had long been unsound and diseased, became hopeless now that Marius found so opportune an instrument for the public destruction as Sulpicius’s insolence. This man professed, in all other respects, to admire and imitate Saturninus; only he found fault with him for backwardness and want of spirit in his designs. He, therefore, to avoid this fault, got six hundred of the equestrian order about him as his guard, whom he named anti-senators; and with these confederates he set upon the consuls, whilst they were at the assembly, and took the son of one of them, who fled from the forum, and slew him. Sylla, being hotly pursued, took refuge in Marius’s house, which none could suspect, by that means escaping those that sought him, who hastily passed by there, and, it is said, was safely conveyed by Marius himself out at the other door, and came to the camp. Yet Sylla, in his memoirs, positively denies that he fled to Marius, saying he was carried thither to consult upon the matters to which Sulpicius would have forced him, against his will, to consent; that he, surrounding him with drawn swords, hurried him to Marius, and constrained him thus, till he went thence to the forum and removed, as they required him to do, the interdict on business.*
Sulpicius, having thus obtained the mastery, decreed the command of the army to Marius, who proceeded to make preparations for his march, and sent two tribunes to receive the charge of the army from Sylla. Sylla hereupon exasperating his soldiers, who were about thirty-five thousand full-armed men, led them towards Rome. First falling upon the tribunes Marius had sent, they slew them; Marius having done as much for several of Sylla’s friends in Rome, and now offering their freedom to the slaves on condition of their assistance in the war; of whom, however, they say, there were but three who accepted his proposal. For some small time he made head against Sylla’s assault, but was soon overpowered and fled; those that were with him, as soon as he had escaped out of the city, were dispersed, and night coming on, he hastened to a country-house of his, called Solonium. Hence he sent his son to some neighboring farms of his father-in-law, Mucius, to provide necessaries; he went himself to Ostia, where his friend Numerius had prepared him a ship, and hence, not staying for his son, he took with him his son-in-law Granius, and weighed anchor.
Young Marius, coming to Mucius’s farms, made his preparations; and the day breaking, was almost discovered by the enemy. For there came thither a party of horse that suspected some such matter; but the farm steward, foreseeing their approach, hid Marius in a cart full of beans, then yoking in his team and driving toward the city, met those that were in search of him. Marius, thus conveyed home to his wife, took with him some necessaries, and came at night to the sea-side; where, going on board a ship that was bound for Africa, he went away thither. Marius, the father, when he had put to sea, with a strong gale passing along the coast of Italy, was in no small apprehension of one Geminius, a great man at Terracina, and his enemy; and therefore bade the seamen hold off from that place. They were, indeed, willing to gratify him, but the wind now blowing in from the sea, and making the waves swell to a great height, they were afraid the ship would not be able to weather out the storm, and Marius, too, being indisposed and seasick, they made for land, and not without some difficulty reached the shore near Circeium.
The storm now increasing and their victuals failing, they left their ship and wandered up and down without any certain purpose, simply as in great distresses people shun the present as the greatest evil, and rely upon the hopes of uncertainties. For the land and sea were both equally unsafe for them; it was dangerous to meet with people, and it was no less so to meet with none, on account of their want of necessaries. At length, though late, they lighted upon a few poor shepherds, that had not any thing to relieve them; but knowing Marius, advised him to depart as soon as might be, for they had seen a little beyond that place a party of horse that Page 89 were gone in search of him. Finding himself in a great straight, especially because those that attended him were not able to go further, being spent with their long fasting, for the present he turned aside out of the road, and hid himself in a thick wood, where he passed the night in great wretchedness. The next day, pinched with hunger, and willing to make use of the little strength he had, before it were all exhausted, he travelled by the sea-side, encouraging his companions not to fall away from him before the fulfilment of his final hopes, for which, in reliance on some old predictions, he professed to be sustaining himself. For when he was yet but very young, and lived in the country, he caught in the skirt of his garment an eagle’s nest, as it was falling, in which were seven young ones, which his parents seeing and much admiring, consulted the augurs about it, who told them that he should become the greatest man in the world, and that the fates had decreed he should seven times be possessed of the supreme power and authority. Some are of opinion that this really happened to Marius, as we have related it; others say, that those who then and through the rest of his exile heard him tell these stories, and believed him, have merely repeated a story that is altogether fabulous; for an eagle never hatches more than two; and even Musæus was deceived, who, speaking of the eagle, says that, —
“She lays three eggs, hatches two, and rears one.”
However this be, it is certain Marius, in his exile and greatest extremities, would often say, that he should attain a seventh consulship.
When Marius and his company were now about twenty furlongs distant from Minturnæ, a city in Italy, they espied a troop of horse making up toward them with all speed, and by chance, also, at the same time, two ships under sail. Accordingly, they ran every one with what speed and strength they could to the sea, and plunging into it, swam to the ships. Those that were with Granius, reaching one of them, passed over to an island opposite, called Ænaria; Marius himself whose body was heavy and unwieldy, was with great pains and difficulty kept above the water by two servants, and put into the other ship. The soldiers were by this time come to the sea-side, and from thence called out to the seamen to put to shore, or else to throw out Marius, and then they might go whither they would. Marius besought them with tears to the contrary, and the masters of the ship, after frequent changes, in a short space of time, of their purpose, inclining, first to one, then to the other side, resolved at length to answer the soldiers, that they would not give up Marius. As soon as they had ridden off in a rage, the seamen, again changing their resolution, came to land, and casting anchor at the mouth of the river Liris, where it overflows and makes a great marsh, they advised him to land, refresh himself on shore, and take some care of his discomposed body, till the wind came fairer; which, said they, will happen at such an hour, when the wind from the sea will calm, and that from the marshes rise. Marius, following their advice, did so, and when the seamen had set him on shore, he laid him down in an adjacent field, suspecting nothing less than what was to befall him. They, as soon as they had got into the ship, weighed anchor and departed, as thinking it neither honorable to deliver Marius into the hands of those that sought him, nor safe to protect him.
He thus, deserted by all, lay a good while silently on the shore; at length collecting himself, he advanced with pain and difficulty, without any path, till, wading through deep bogs and ditches full of water and mud, he came upon the hut of an old man that worked in the fens, and falling at his feet besought him to assist and preserve one who, if he escaped the present danger, would make him returns beyond his expectation. The poor man, whether he had formerly known him, or were then moved with his superior aspect, told him that if he wanted only rest, his cottage would be convenient; but if he were flying from anybody’s search, he would hide him in a more retired place. Marius desiring him to do so, he carried him into the fens and bade him hide himself in an hollow place by the river side, where he laid upon him a great many reeds, and other things that were light, and would cover, but not oppress him. But within a very short time he was disturbed with a noise and tumult from the cottage, for Geminius had sent several from Terracina in pursuit of him; some of whom, happening to come that way, frightened and threatened the old man for having entertained and hid an enemy of the Romans. Wherefore Marius, arising and stripping himself, plunged into a puddle full of thick muddy water; and even there he could not escape their search, but was pulled out covered with mire, and carried away naked to Minturnæ, and delivered to the magistrates. For there had been orders sent through all the towns, to make public search for Marius, and if they found him to kill him; however, the magistrates thought convenient to consider a little better of it first, and sent him prisoner to the house of one Fannia.
This woman was supposed not very well affected towards him upon an old account. One Tinnius had formerly married this Fannia; from whom she afterwards being divorced, demanded her portion, which was considerable, but her husband accused her of adultery; so the controversy was brought before Marius in his sixth consulship. When the cause was examined thoroughly, it appeared both that Fannia had been incontinent, and that her husband knowing her to be so, had married and lived a considerable time with her. So that Marius was severe enough with both, commanding him to restore her portion, and laying a fine of four copper coins upon her by way of disgrace. But Fannia did not then behave like a woman that had been injured, but as soon as she saw Marius, remembered nothing less than old affronts; took care of him according to her ability, and comforted him. He made her his returns and told her he did not despair, for he had met with a lucky omen, which was thus. When he was brought to Fannia’s house, as soon as the gate was opened, an ass came running out to drink at a spring hard by, and giving a bold and encouraging look, first stood still before him, then brayed aloud and pranced by him. From which Marius drew his conclusion, and said, that the fates designed him safety, rather by sea than land, because the ass neglected his dry fodder, and turned from it to the water. Having told Fannia this story, he bade the chamber door to be shut and went to rest.
Meanwhile the magistrates and councillors of Minturnæ consulted together, and determined not to delay any longer, but immediately to kill Marius; and when none of their citizens durst undertake the business, a certain soldier, a Gaulish or Cimbrian horseman, (the story is told both ways,) went in with his sword drawn to him. The room itself was not very light, that part of it especially where he then lay was dark, from whence Marius’s eyes, they say, seemed to the fellow to dart out flames at him, and a loud voice to say, out of the dark, “Fellow, darest thou kill Caius Marius?” The barbarian hereupon immediately fled, and leaving his sword in the place rushed out of doors, crying only this, “I cannot kill Caius Marius.” At which they were all at first astonished, and presently began to feel pity, and remorse, and anger at themselves for making so unjust and ungrateful a decree against one who had preserved Italy, and whom it was bad enough not to assist. “Let him go,” said they, “where he please to banishment, and find his fate somewhere else; we only entreat pardon of the gods for thrusting Marius distressed and deserted out of our city.”
Impelled by thoughts of this kind, they went in a body into the room, and taking him amongst them, conducted him towards the sea-side; on his way to which, though every one was very officious to him, and all made what haste they could, yet a considerable time was likely to be lost. For the grove of Marica, (as she is called,) which the people hold sacred, and make it a point of religion not to let any thing that is once carried into it be taken out, lay just in their road to the sea, and if they should go round about, they must needs come very late thither. At length one of the old men cried out and said, there was no place so sacred, but they might pass through it for Marius’s preservation; and thereupon, first of all, he himself, taking up some of the baggage that was carried for his accommodation to the ship, passed through the grove, all the rest immediately, with the same readiness, accompanying him. And one Belæus, (who afterwards had a picture of these things drawn, and put it in a temple at the place of embarkation,) having by this time provided him a ship, Marius went on board, and, hoisting sail, was by fortune thrown upon the island Ænaria, where meeting with Granius, and his other friends, he sailed with them for Africa. But their water failing them in the way, they were forced to put in near Eryx, in Sicily, where was a Roman quæstor on the watch, who all but captured Marius himself on his landing, and did kill sixteen of his retinue that went to fetch water. Marius, with all expedition loosing thence, crossed the sea to the isle of Meninx, where he first heard the news of his son’s escape with Cethegus, and of his going to implore the assistance of Hiempsal, king of Numidia.
With this news, being somewhat comforted, he ventured to pass from that isle towards Carthage. Sextilius, a Roman, was then governor in Africa; one that had never received either any injury or any kindness from Marius; but who from compassion, it was hoped, might lend him some help. But he was scarce got ashore with a small retinue, when an officer met him, and said, “Sextilius, the governor, forbids you, Marius, to set foot in Africa; if you do, he says, he will put the decree of the senate in execution, and treat you as an enemy to the Romans.” When Marius heard this, he wanted words to express his grief and resentment, and for a good while held his peace, looking sternly upon the messenger, who asked him what he should say, or what answer he should return to the governor? Marius answered him with a deep sigh: “Go tell him that you have seen Caius Marius sitting in exile among the ruins of Carthage;” appositely applying the example of the fortune of that city to the change of his own condition.
In the interim, Hiempsal, king of Numidia, dubious of what he should determine to do, treated young Marius and those that were with him very honorably; but when they had a mind to depart, he still had some pretence or other to detain them, and it was manifest he made these delays upon no good design. However, there happened an accident that made well for their preservation. The hard fortune which attended young Marius, who was of a comely aspect, touched one of the king’s concubines, and this pity of hers, was the beginning and occasion of love for him. At first he declined the woman’s solicitations, but when he perceived that there was no other way of escaping, and that her offers were more serious than for the gratification of intemperate passion, he accepted her kindness, and she finding means to convey them away, he escaped with his friends and fled to his father. As soon as they had saluted each other, and were going by the sea-side, they saw some scorpions fighting, which Marius took for an ill omen, whereupon they immediately went on board a little fisher-boat, and made toward Cercina, an island not far distant from the continent. They had scarce put off from shore when they espied some horse, sent after them by the king, with all speed making toward that very place from which they were just retired. And Marius thus escaped a danger, it might be said, as great as any he ever incurred.
At Rome news came that Sylla was engaged with Mithridates’s generals in Bœotia; the consuls, from factious opposition, were fallen to downright fighting, wherein Octavius prevailing, drove Cinna out of the city for attempting despotic government, and made Cornelius Merula consul in his stead; while Cinna, raising forces in other parts of Italy, carried the war against them. As soon as Marius heard of this, he resolved, with all expedition, to put to sea again, and taking with him from Africa some Mauritanian horse, and a few of the refugees out of Italy, all together not above one thousand, he, with this handful, began his voyage. Arriving at Telamon, in Etruria, and coming ashore, he proclaimed freedom for the slaves; and many of the countrymen, also, and shepherds thereabouts, who were already freemen, at the hearing his name flocked to him to the sea-side. He persuaded the youngest and strongest to join him, and in a small time got together a competent force with which he filled forty ships. Knowing Octavius to be a good man and willing to execute his office with the greatest justice imaginable, and Cinna to be suspected by Sylla, and in actual warfare against the established government, he determined to join himself and his forces with the latter. He, therefore, sent a message to him, to let him know that he was ready to obey him as consul.
When Cinna had joyfully received his offer, naming him proconsul, and sending him the fasces and other ensigns of authority, he said, that grandeur did not become his present fortune; but wearing an ordinary habit, and still letting his hair grow as it had done, from that very day he first went into banishment, and being now above threescore and ten years old, he came slowly on foot, designing to move people’s compassion; which did not prevent, however, his natural fierceness of expression from still predominating, and his humiliation still let it appear that he was not so much dejected as exasperated, by the change of his condition. Having saluted Cinna and the soldiers, he immediately prepared for action, and soon made a considerable alteration in the posture of affairs. He first cut off the provision ships, and plundering all the merchants, made himself master of the supplies of corn; then bringing his navy to the seaport towns, he took them, and at last, becoming master of Ostia by treachery, he pillaged that town, and slew a multitude of the inhabitants, and, blocking up the river, took from the enemy all hopes of supply by the sea; then marched with his army toward the city, and posted himself upon the hill called Janiculum.
The public interest did not receive so great damage from Octavius’s unskilfulness in his management of affairs, as from his omitting needful measures, through too strict observance of the law. As when several advised him to make the slaves free, he said that he would not give slaves the privilege of the country from which he then, in defence of the laws, was driving away Marius. When Metellus, son to that Metellus who was general in the war in Africa, and afterwards banished through Marius’s means, came to Rome, being thought a much better commander than Octavius, the soldiers, deserting the consul, came to him and desired him to take the command of them and preserve the city; that they, when they had got an experienced valiant commander, should fight courageously, and come off conquerors. But when Metellus, offended at it, commanded them angrily to return to the consul, they revolted to the enemy. Metellus, too, seeing the city in a desperate condition, left it; but a company of Chaldæans, sacrificers, and interpreters of the Sibyl’s books, persuaded Octavius that things would turn out happily, and kept him at Rome. He was, indeed, of all the Romans the most upright and just, and maintained the honor of the consulate, without cringing or compliance, as strictly in accordance with ancient laws and usages, as though they had been immutable mathematical truths; and yet fell, I know not how, into some weaknesses, giving more observance to fortune-tellers and diviners, than to men skilled in civil and military affairs. He therefore, before Marius entered the city, was pulled down from the rostra, and murdered by those that were sent before by Marius; and it is reported there was a Chaldæan writing found in his gown, when he was slain. And it seemed a thing very unaccountable, that of two famous generals, Marius should be often successful by the observing divinations, and Octavius ruined by the same means.
When affairs were in this posture, the senate assembled, and sent a deputation to Cinna and Marius, desiring them to come into the city peaceably and spare the citizens. Cinna, as consul, received the embassy, sitting in the curule chair, and returned a kind answer to the messengers; Marius stood by him and said nothing, but gave sufficient testimony by the gloominess of his countenance, and the sternness of his looks, that he would in a short time fill the city with blood. As soon as the council arose, they went toward the city, where Cinna entered with his guards, but Marius stayed at the gates, and, dissembling his rage, professed that he was then an exile and banished his country by course of law; that if his presence were necessary, they must, by a new decree, repeal the former act by which he was banished; as though he were, indeed, a religious observer of the laws, and as if he were returning to a city free from fear or oppression. Hereupon the people were assembled, but before three or four tribes had given their votes, throwing up his pretences and his legal scruples about his banishment, he came into the city with a select guard of the slaves who had joined him, whom he called Bardyæi. These proceeded to murder a number of citizens, as he gave command, partly by word of mouth, partly by the signal of his nod. At length Ancharius, a senator, and one that had been prætor, coming to Marius, and not being resaluted by him, they with their drawn swords slew him before Marius’s face; and henceforth this was their token, immediately to kill all those who met Marius and saluting him were taken no notice of, nor answered with the like courtesy; so that his very friends were not without dreadful apprehensions and horror, whensoever they came to speak with him.
When they had now butchered a great number, Cinna grew more remiss and cloyed with murders; but Marius’s rage continued still fresh and unsatisfied, and he daily sought for all that were any way suspected by him. Now was every road and every town filled with those that pursued and hunted them that fled and hid themselves; and it was remarkable that there was no more confidence to be placed, as things stood, either in hospitality or friendship; for there were found but a very few that did not betray those that fled to them for shelter. And thus the servants of Cornutus deserve the greater praise and admiration, who, having concealed their master in the house, took the body of one of the slain, cut off the head, put a gold ring on the finger, and showed it to Marius’s guards, and buried it with the same solemnity as if it had been their own master. This trick was perceived by nobody, and so Cornutus escaped, and was conveyed by his domestics into Gaul.
Marcus Antonius, the orator, though he, too, found a true friend, had ill-fortune. The man was but poor and a plebeian, and as he was entertaining a man of the greatest rank in Rome, trying to provide for him with the best he could, he sent his servant to get some wine of a neighboring vintner. The servant carefully tasting it and bidding him draw better, the fellow asked him what was the matter, that he did not buy new and ordinary wine as he used to do, but richer and of a greater price; he, without any design, told him as his old friend and acquaintance, that his master entertained Marcus Antonius, who was concealed with him. The villanous vintner, as soon as the servant was gone, went himself to Marius, then at supper, and being brought into his presence, told him, he would deliver Antonius into his hands. As soon as he heard it, it is said he gave a great shout, and clapped his hands for joy, and had very nearly risen up and gone to the place himself; but being detained by his friends, he sent Annius, and some soldiers with him, and commanded him to bring Antonius’s head to him with all speed. When they came to the house, Annius stayed at the door, and the soldiers went up stairs into the chamber; where, seeing Antonius, they endeavored to shuffle off the murder from one to another; for so great it seems were the graces and charms of his oratory, that as soon as he began to speak and beg his life, none of them durst touch or so much as look upon him; but hanging down their heads, every one fell a weeping. Page 100 When their stay seemed something tedious, Annius came up himself and found Antonius discoursing, and the soldiers astonished and quite softened by it, and calling them cowards, went himself and cut off his head.
Catulus Lutatius, who was colleague with Marius, and his partner in the triumph over the Cimbri, when Marius replied to those that interceded for him and begged his life, merely with the words, “he must die,” shut himself up in a room, and making a great fire, smothered himself. When maimed and headless carcasses were now frequently thrown about and trampled upon in the streets, people were not so much moved with compassion at the sight, as struck into a kind of horror and consternation. The outrages of those that were called Bardyæi, was the greatest grievance. These murdered the masters of families in their own houses, abused their children, and ravished their wives, and were uncontrollable in their rapine and murders, till those of Cinna’s and Sertorius’s party, taking counsel together, fell upon them in the camp and killed them every man.
In the interim, as if a change of wind was coming on, there came news from all parts that Sylla, having put an end to the war with Mithridates, and taken possession of the provinces, was returning into Italy with a great army. This gave some small respite and intermission to these unspeakable calamities. Marius and his friends believing war to be close at hand, Marius was chosen consul the seventh time, and appearing on the very calends of January, the beginning of the year, threw one Sextus Lucinus,* from the Tarpeian precipice; an omen, as it seemed, portending the renewed misfortunes both of their party and of the city. Marius, himself now worn out with labor and sinking under the burden of anxieties, could not sustain his spirits, which shook within him with the apprehension of a new war and fresh encounters and dangers, the formidable character of which he knew by his own experience. He was not now to hazard the war with Octavius or Merula, commanding an inexperienced multitude or seditious rabble; but Sylla himself was approaching, the same who had formerly banished him, and since that, had driven Mithridates as far as the Euxine Sea.
Perplexed with such thoughts as these, and calling to mind his banishment, and the tedious wanderings and dangers he underwent, both by sea and land, he fell into despondency, nocturnal frights, and unquiet sleep, still fancying that he heard some one telling him, that
Above all things fearing to lie awake, he gave himself up to drinking deep and besotting himself at night in a way most unsuitable to his age; by all means provoking sleep, as a diversion to his thoughts. At length, on the arrival of a messenger from the sea, he was seized with new alarms, and so what with his fear for the future, and what with the burden and satiety of the present, on some slight predisposing cause, he fell into a pleurisy, as Posidonius the philosopher relates, who says he visited and conversed with him when he was sick, about some business relating to his embassy. Caius Piso, an historian, tells us, that Marius, walking after supper with his friends, fell into a conversation with them about his past life, and after reckoning up the several changes of his condition, that from the beginning had happened to him, said, that it did not become a prudent man to trust himself any longer with fortune; and, thereupon, taking leave of Page 102 those that were with him, he kept his bed seven days, and then died.
Some say his ambition betrayed itself openly in his sickness, and that he ran into an extravagant frenzy, fancying himself to be general in the war against Mithridates, throwing himself into such postures and motions of his body as he had formerly used when he was in battle, with frequent shouts and loud cries. With so strong and invincible a desire of being employed in that business had he been possessed through his pride and emulation. Though he had now lived seventy years, and was the first man that ever was chosen seven times consul, and had an establishment and riches sufficient for many kings, he yet complained of his ill fortune, that he must now die before he had attained what he desired. Plato, when he saw his death approaching, thanked the guiding providence and fortune of his life, first, that he was born a man and a Grecian, not a barbarian or a brute, and next, that he happened to live in Socrates’s age. And so, indeed, they say Antipater of Tarsus, in like manner, at his death, calling to mind the happiness that he had enjoyed, did not so much as omit his prosperous voyage to Athens; thus recognizing every favor of his indulgent fortune with the greatest acknowledgments, and carefully saving all to the last in that safest of human treasure-chambers, the memory. Unmindful and thoughtless persons, on the contrary, let all that occurs to them slip away from them as time passes on. Retaining and preserving nothing, they lose the enjoyment of their present prosperity by fancying something better to come; whereas by fortune we may be prevented of this, but that cannot be taken from us. Yet they reject their present success, as though it did not concern them, and do nothing but dream of future uncertainties; not indeed unnaturally; as till men have by reason and education laid a good foundation for external superstructures, in the seeking after and gathering them they can never satisfy the unlimited desires of their mind.
Thus died Marius on the seventeenth day of his seventh consulship, to the great joy and content of Rome, which thereby was in good hopes to be delivered from the calamity of a cruel tyranny; but in a small time they found, that they had only changed their old and wornout master for another young and vigorous; so much cruelty and savageness did his son Marius show in murdering the noblest and most approved citizens. At first, being esteemed resolute and daring against his enemies, he was named the son of Mars, but afterwards, his actions betraying his contrary disposition, he was called the son of Venus. At last, besieged by Sylla in Præneste, where he endeavored in many ways, but in vain, to save his life, when on the capture of the city there was no hope of escape, he killed himself with his own hand.
[* ]Thus written in the manuscripts. Dexius, or Dexter, is one form that has, since Amyot’s translation, been received; and Decius is a recent conjecture. For Lævinus also, which is the correct name in the manuscripts we have with scarcely any exception Albinus, which Niebuhr inclines to think was Plutarch’s own writing.
[* ]Mamers being another and older form for Mars. The Mamertines were the descendants of Campanian or Oscan mercenaries, speaking a language almost identical with Latin.
[* ]The married women wearing two pieces of dress, the unmarried, one only; see the description in the life of Lycurgus, vol. i. p. 163.
[† ]Cubits of eighteen inches; and Greek feet, 101 to 100 English.
[* ]Parodying, by the change of a word, the famous line of the Iliad, xii. 243, “You bid me,” says Hector to Polydamas, “be guided by the flight of birds. I heed them not, whether they pass to the right hand towards the morning and the sun, or to the left hand to the vapor and the darkness. The one only best omen is to be defending one’s country. “The one good omen is one’s country’s cause.”
[* ]This was an exercise ground, a gymnasium, near one of the city gates; the tomb of Licymnius, mentioned presently, was also near it. “As you follow a straight road towards the gymnasium of Cylarabes, so called from the son of Sthenelus, stands the tomb of Licymnius, the son of Electryon. . . . In the gymnasium, there is a statue of Athena called Pania, and they show a tomb of Sthenelus, and one of Cylarabes himself: and not far off, there is a monument in memory of the Argives, who sailed with the Athenians on the expedition for subjugating Syracuse and Sicily.” Pausanias, ii. 22. Cylarabes, son of the Homeric hero Sthenelus, ruled in Argos, while Orestes did in Mycenæ.
[* ]Lukos or Lycus, in Greek, is a wolf, and Lukeios, or Lycius, a common epithet of Apollo, who as the archer-god was conceived of as the slayer of wolves, and who was also the tutelar deity of Lycia. The word lukē, however, is found in Greek vocabularies, corresponding to lux, light, and this, it is very possible, was the original significance of lukeios, though in after times more obvious meanings were attached to it.
[* ]Cisalpine Gaul. — The name of Italy, originally belonging only to the southernmost districts, was but slowly extended northwards.
[* ]The Fabri, or corps of engineers, who accompanied a Roman army.
[† ]More literally, “had brought upon him an avenging deity or genius,” an alastor; had put him, as it were, within the range of the punishment divinely attaching to particular acts, however committed.
[* ]When Ulysses bade Circe fulfil her promise, and send him on his way, she told him he must first visit the home of the dead and consult Tiresias; crossing the ocean, he would come to a shore and to the woods of Persephone. Accordingly, “through the whole day the sails of the ship, travelling through the seas, were stretched; and the sun set and all ways were darkening, and she came to the ends of the deep-flowing ocean; there is the people and town of the Cimmerians, hidden in mist and cloud; the shining sun never looks on them with his rays, either when he climbs the starry heaven, or when he turns again from heaven to the earth; darkness is spread over unhappy mortals. There we brought our ship to shore.”
[* ]In Galatia of Asia Minor, the chief seat of the worship of the Great Mother, the goddess Cybele.
[* ]Aquæ Sextiliæ, more correctly Aquæ Sextiæ, the modern Aix of Provence, a little north of Marseilles.
[* ]More correctly Pompædius.
[* ]The Roman Justitium, during which no public proceedings could be lawfully carried on. Such is the meaning of the probable text.
[* ]Thus it stands in all the manuscripts but one, and it may very likely have thus been written by Plutarch. The true name is undoubtedly Licinius.
Life of Pyrrhus,page 4 . — The affairs of Alexander, called Ægus, son by Roxana, and lawful heir of Alexander the Great, proved unfortunate, as did those of all the blood royal of the old Macedonian family, in the time of Cassander. Alexander and Roxana were both put to death by his orders. Olympias, with whom they had acted, was cousin to Pyrrhus’s father, Æacides. For the great battle of Ipsus where all the kings, or as one reading has it, all the kings of the earth were engaged, see the life of Demetrius in Volume V.
Page 6 . — The only peninsula or chersonese of Epirus that appears to be mentioned, is that on which Buthrotum stands. Niebuhr suggests the peninsula in the lake of Janina. Tymphæa and Parauæa are corrections of Niebuhr’s for Nymphæa and Paralia. They are districts commanding the passage from Macedonia to the Greek city, Ambracia, which Strabo tells us became Pyrrhus’s capital.
Page 10 . — Not by the lot decide, But with the sword the heritage divide, is from the Phœnissæ of Euripides, (66).
Page 15 . — But sat and languished far. — Iliad, I. 491, 492.
Page 17 . — The saying of Euripides, that the force of words, Can gain whate’er is done by conquering swords, is in the Phœnissæ, 516, 517.
Page 24 . — The translation of the first sentence should be, Yet most were well inclined to a peace. Cineas was not listened to with any delight or eagerness, when he made his moderate proposals; nevertheless, it was evident that the when number were prepared to make concessions for peace.
Page 30 . — Homer uses such words as madness or frenzy, for example, of Hector, who rages beyond all further withstanding, and bold in Zeus, is possessed with a terrible frenzy. Fortitude, through the Latin, has become the cardinal name of the virtue, which in the Greek has not chiefly to do with the endurance of pain, but is exercised in the encounter of all danger, and is more properly bravery, courage, or intrepidity, etymologically manliness. It is in the Greek ethics the virtue or excellence of the active part, as temperance is of the passive, and wisdom in its two divisions, practical and scientific, of the intellectual part, of the human soul. This classification of the elements of our nature into the active impulses, the sensibilities or appetites, and the reason or mind, occurs everywhere in Greek. It is the basis, for example, of the whole system of Plato’s republic with its triple division, corresponding to this, of soldiers, artisans, and governors.
Life of Marius,page 49 . — Cirrhæaton is simply a corruption for Cirrhæatæ, equivalent to Cereatæ or Cereate, a little town in the district of Arpinum, which in Pliny’s time was a municipality whose people, the Cereatini Mariani, still bore Marius’s name; of which, if the site be correctly identified with the monastery of Casa Mara or Casamari, some traces may be thought to remain even now.
Page 50 . — The bill for the regulation of voting had no natural connection with the courts of justice. A very slight correction of a single word would change courts of justice into elections: but it is of course always possible for Plutarch to make a mistake about Roman matters, or a slip of a word in copying from his authorities.
Page 55 . — The images of ancestors are emphatically the imagines, the busts, in wax or other material, of those of their ancestry who had borne office and gained distinction, which it was the pride of a Roman family to accumulate in the hall (the atrium), and to display on great occasions.
Page 63 . — The great trench or canal bore the name of Fossa Mariana. The phrase just below, to march against Marius by the seaside through Liguria, is an incorrect one, but the incorrectness seems to be Plutarch’s. Marius was on the Rhone, to oppose any march into Liguria. What the Teutones and Ambrones proposed to do was to beat him, and so enter Italy by Liguria.
Page 66 . — In the sixth line, the soldiers might be omitted and them substituted. The text is as the translation, but it must be corrected. It was certainly the soldiers who recognized the birds, not the birds who saluted the soldiers.
Page 70 . — The others refreshed with victuals and sleep is more correctly translated, the others who got their supper in good time and went to bed.
Page 72 . — Plutarch’s words, attired in the purple-bordered robe (which might be more closely rendered, girding himself, and taking up, or wearing the purple-bordered robe), are meant to describe the cinctus Gabinus or Gabine cincture used by officiating persons on great occasions; when the purple-bordered or purple-striped robe, the prœtexta or trabea, was gathered up, and tied like a girdle round the body. As in Virgil: “Ipse Quirinali trabea cinctuque Gabine Insignis reserat stridentia limina consul.”
Page 80 . — The passage in which Pindar calls Truth the first principle of heroic virtue is a fragment of a lost and unknown composition, found, however, at a little greater length elsewhere. “First beginning of great virtue, queen Truth, shipwreck not my faith on any rock of falsehood;” i. e. let not my promise ever come to be broken by me; keep me ever faithful to my engagements (Boeckh, Fragm. Incerta, 118.)
Page 89 . — The line about the eagle’s young, ascribed to Musæus, is cited also by Aristotle in his History of Animals.
Page 100 . — A part of the ceremonial of the consul’s appearing on his first assuming office on the calends of January was to go up and offer sacrifice in the Capitoline Temple, attended apparently by the senate, a full meeting of which took place immediately after. The words, a little above, as if a change of wind were coming on, are more expressive in the original: it is, as if the wind, which had been blowing steadily from the one quarter, were setting in from the opposite. The word tropaia (the turn or return wind), according to a passage of Aristotle (quoted by Coray), was specially applied to the wind which set from the sea after it had blown for its regular time from the shore; the sea breeze, succeeding the land breeze.
Page 102 . — The story of Plato’s thanks to the providence and fortune of his life is told a little more fully by Lactantius (Instit. III., 19). “Plato returned thanks,” he says, “that he had been born, first, a human and not a brute creature; secondly, a man and not a woman; thirdly, a Greek and not a barbarian; lastly, an Athenian, and in the age of Socrates;” as if, adds Lactantius, scornfully, had he been born a barbarian, a woman, or an ass, he would still have been the same Plato.