Those might be deemed fortunate who met death in the battle, as most did, including the brave king Boiorix; more fortunate at least than those who afterwards in despair laid hands on themselves, or were obliged to seek in the slave-market of Rome the master who might retaliate on the individual Northman for the audacity of having coveted the beauteous south before it was time. The Tigorini, who had remained behind in the passes of the Alps with the view of subsequently following the Cimbri, ran off on the news of the defeat to their native land. The human avalanche, which for thirteen years had alarmed the nations from the Danube to the Ebro, from the Seine to the Po, rested beneath the sod or toiled under the yoke of slavery; the forlorn hope of the German migrations had performed its duty; the homeless people of the Cimbri and their comrades were no more.

The Victory And The Parties

The political parties of Rome continued their pitiful quarrels over the carcase, without troubling themselves about the great chapter in the world's history the first page of which was thus opened, without even giving way to the pure feeling that on this day Rome's aristocrats as well as Rome's democrats had done their duty. The rivalry of the two generals--who were not only political antagonists, but were also set at variance in a military point of view by the so different results of the two campaigns of the previous year--broke out immediately after the battle in the most offensive form. Catulus might with justice assert that the centre division which he commanded had decided the victory, and that his troops had captured thirty-one standards, while those of Marius had brought in only two, his soldiers led even the deputies of the town of Parma through the heaps of the dead to show to them that Marius had slain his thousand, but Catulus his ten thousand. Nevertheless Marius was regarded as the real conqueror of the Cimbri, and justly; not merely because by virtue of his higher rank he had held the chief command on the decisive day, and was in military gifts and experience beyond doubt far superior to his colleague, but especially because the second victory at Vercellae had in fact been rendered possible only by the first victory at Aquae Sextiae. But at that period it was considerations of political partisanship rather than of military merit which attached the glory of having saved Rome from the Cimbri and Teutones entirely to the name of Marius. Catulus was a polished and clever man, so graceful a speaker that his euphonious language sounded almost like eloquence, a tolerable writer of memoirs and occasional poems, and an excellent connoisseur and critic of art; but he was anything but a man of the people, and his victory was a victory of the aristocracy. The battles of the rough farmer on the other hand, who had been raised to honour by the common people and had led the common people to victory, were not merely defeats of the Cimbri and Teutones, but also defeats of the government: there were associated with them hopes far different from that of being able once more to carry on mercantile transactions on the one side of the Alps or to cultivate the fields without molestation on the other. Twenty years had elapsed since the bloody corpse of Gaius Gracchus had been flung into the Tiber; for twenty years the government of the restored oligarchy had been endured and cursed; still there had risen no avenger for Gracchus, no second master to prosecute the building which he had begun. There were many who hated and hoped, many of the worst and many of the best citizens of the state: was the man, who knew how to accomplish this vengeance and these wishes, found at last in the son of the day-labourer of Arpinum? Were they really on the threshold of the new much-dreaded and much-desired second revolution?

Chapter VI

The Attempt Of Marius At Revolution And The Attempt Of Drusus At Reform


Gaius Marius, the son of a poor day-labourer, was born in 599 at the village of Cereatae then belonging to Arpinum, which afterwards obtained municipal rights as Cereatae Marianae and still at the present day bears the name of "Marius' home" (Casamare). He was reared at the plough, in circumstances so humble that they seemed to preclude him from access even to the municipal offices of Arpinum: he learned early--what he practised afterwards even when a general--to bear hunger and thirst, the heat of summer and the cold of winter, and to sleep on the hard ground. As soon as his age allowed him, he had entered the army and through service in the severe school of the Spanish wars had rapidly risen to be an officer. In Scipio's Numantine war he, at that time twenty-three years of age, attracted the notice of the stern general by the neatness with which he kept his horse and his accoutrements, as well as by his bravery in combat and his decorous demeanour in camp. He had returned home with honourable scars and warlike distinctions, and with the ardent wish to make himself a name in the career on which he had gloriously entered; but, as matters then stood, a man of even the highest merit could not attain those political offices, which alone led to the higher military posts, without wealth and without connections. The young officer acquired both by fortunate commercial speculations and by his union with a maiden of the ancient patrician clan of the Julii. So by dint of great efforts and after various miscarriages he succeeded, in 639, in attaining the praetorship, in which he found opportunity of displaying afresh his military ability as governor of Further Spain. How he thereafter in spite of the aristocracy received the consulship in 647 and, as proconsul (648, 649), terminated the African war; and how, called after the calamitous day of Arausio to the superintendence of the war against the Germans, he had his consulship renewed for four successive years from 650 to 653 (a thing unexampled in the annals of the republic) and vanquished and annihilated the Cimbri in Cisalpine, and the Teutones in Transalpine, Gaul--has been already related.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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