Mm towards Rome. Marius now landed on the coast of Etruria, and his little band of 500 exiles and mercenary Numidian cavalry soon swelled to a force of 6000 men. Forty vessels which he seized blockaded the mouth of the Tiber and cut off the ships that supplied Rome with corn, while he reduced the places on the coast, and finally took Ostia, which he gave up to massacre and pillage. In spite of the reluctance of Sertorius and others to identify their cause with the personal revenge of Marius, Cinna invested him, as proconsul, with the supreme command on the coast. Both armies were soon encamped on the right bank of the Tiber, over against the Janiculan Mount, while Pompeius Strabo took post opposite to them on the left bank. His attitude was ambiguous, though he had • a smart skirmish with Sertorius and repulsed an attack of Marius on the Janiculum; and it was a relief to the Senate when his sudden death, either by pestilence or a stroke of lightning, enabled them to incorporate his army with the force collected under Octavius for the defence of the city. The recal of the army under Metellus enabled the Sanmites to resume the offensive and to send troops to the aid of the insurgents, whose capture of Ariminum also cut off the supplies and reinforcements expected from Cisalpine Gaul. Famine and desertion soon made the city indefensible, and Rome capitulated to a besieging army of her own citizens. "When the envoys of the Senate appeared before Cinna, he granted their sole condition, that he would abstain from bloodshed, but the stern silence of Marius, who stood by his chair, showed the meaning of the consul's refusal to confirm his promise with an oath. How resolved the real victor was to have his full revenge was seen in his insisting on the reversal of his outlawry by an assembly convened for that purpose before he would enter the city. The gates were then closed, and the soldiers were let loose for a massacre which lasted five days and nights. Octavius, arrayed in his consular robes, came forward to Janiculum to await the assassin's stroke; and those who sought the flight which he refused were hunted down for months all over Italy. Among the most memotable deaths were those of the late consul L. Julius Caesar and his brother Caius (surnamed Strabo Vopiscus), one of the chief orators and poets of the age;—of the great forensic speakers M. Antonius and PubliuB Crassus;—of L. Merula, who was impeached before the people for the sole crime of having been elected against his will to the consulship in the place of Cinna, and who opened his own veins in the temple of Jupiter, and died there after reverently laying aside the sacred fillet which was the badge of his priest^

hood;—of Q. Catulus, who at last atoned for the distinction of sharing in the triumph of Marius over the Cimbri by obeying the stern command to die. Nor was the death of the noblest Romans enough to slake the thirst of Marius for revenge. They might have said with the victims of Domitian, "prsecipua miseriarum pars erat, videre et aspici, cum suspiria nostra subscriberentur." Many who came to salute him, doubtful of their reception, read their sentence in his silence or his averted look. The bodies of the murdered were denied burial, and in some cases dragged with insult through the streets. Sulla had set the example of affixing the heads of his victims to the Rostra; but we do not read of his rising from table to salute the assassins who brought the ghastly offerings.* In short, Marius was possessed with a frenzy of destruction, to which there is scarcely a parallel in history except Marat, and which Sertorius and the few moderate men of the party in vain entreated Cinna to check.

On these waves of blood Marius was at length borne forward to the seventh consulship he had so long expected; but still it needed a contempt for all constitutional forms to fulfil the prophecy. Without even the show of an election, Cinna reappointed himself as consul for the ensuing year, and named Marius as his colleague. But when, after those long years of waiting which had hardened his heart and envenomed his revenge, he attained the summit of his wishes, not as the chosen head of a free state but as the usurping chief of a band of assassins, his hope seemed to have been granted but in mockery. After twelve days spent in a delirium alternately of fever and drunkenness, he expired on the 13th of January, B.c. 86. "He died, more than seventy years old, in the full possession of what he called power and honour, and in his bed; hut Nemesis assumes various shapes, and does not always expiate blood with blood. Was there no sort of retaliation in the fact, that Rome and Italy now breathed more freely on the news of the death of the famous deliverer of the people, than at the tidings of the battle on the Raudine plain?" (Mommsen). The organized system of murder was at once put down by the energy of Sertorius, who found a pretext for calling 4000 of the bandits together, and then cut them down with the swords of his trusty Celts. But the government, or rather tyranny, remained in the hands of Cinna, till he was overthrown in his fourth consulship (b.c. 84) by the return of Sulla. Meanwhile, L. Valerius Flaccus was ap

* It is recorded that Marius thus showed his delight at receiving the head of the orator Antonius.


pointed consul in the place of Marius, and was sent out to supersede Sulla, if he could, in the command of the Mithridatic War. It is time now to trace the course of that renewed contest for the dominion of the East.

We have already seen that when the western part of Asia Minor fell under the power of the Romans, the northern and eastern provinces of Bithynia, Paphlagonia, Pontus, and Cappadocia, remained under the rule of the princes, who, having originally governed them as satraps of Persia, had gradually acquired the power and style of independent kings. In the contest with Antiochus, these princes had naturally inclined to the side of Rome, and in those with the Galatians and the usurper Aristonicus, they had taken the same side in the common interest of civilization and self-defence. The latter war, especially, had Drought these lands into close connection with the Romans,* who treated them very much as dependent states. The extortions of the Roman tax-gatherers, the chicanery of mercantile adventurers, and the oppression of speculators in slaves, were already felt in these countries as well as in the Province. The most remote of these kingdoms, in the north-east of the peninsula,—extending along the Euxine Sea, (from which it obtained its Greek name of Pontus, the Sea-province), from the Halys to the mountainous shore of Colchis, and divided on the east and south from the table-land of Armenia and Cappadocia by the chain of Anti-Taurus,—possessed some of the first requisites for an independent kingdom. The fertile western plains, watered by the Iris and Thermodon and the eastern tributaries of the Halys, produced abundant crops of corn and wine and oil, besides being rich in fruits, some of which were first brought into Europe from this region, f The barren highlands in the east, where the mountains approach the sea, are rich in mineral wealth; and here especially Greek tradition placed the earliest known iron works, where the inhospitable Chalybes, the most laborious of men, neglected the ploughing of oxen and the planting of sweet fruit, to dig into the hard iron-bearing earth and busy themselves about works of iron, enduring grievous labour with the black smut and smoke, t Known to the Greeks by the earliest maritime intercourse, this region was the scene of some of their choicest heroic fables. It was the abode of the Amazons, and was visited by the

• See VoL II. p. 552.

t The cherry derives its name from the Pontic city of Cerasus, whenco it is commonly said to have been brought by Lucullus; but there is no doubt that it was known in Europe earlier.

J See iEschylus, Prometh. 714; and Apollon. Rhod. Argonaut. Lib. ii.( v. 1000.

Argonauts; and Xenophon, who passed along its coast on his celebrated retreat, was the first to compare these legends with the actual state of things. He found the country peopled, like the adjoining table-land, by the Cappadocians or "White Syrians"— so called to distinguish them from the swarthy inhabitants of Syria, Assyria, and Babylonia—who, the extreme outpost of the Semitic race towards the west, were among the most hardy of the whole family.* The land, thus rich in its own resources, was placed between the more fertile and civilized regions in the west of the peninsula, whose boundless wealth invited the enterprise of the conqueror, and the mountains of Armenia and the coasts of the eastern Euxine, which offered temptations to hardy adventure and refuge in case of adversity. About the very time when Xenophon visited the country—the beginning of the fourth century B.c.—its independence was won by the satrap Ariobarzanes, a lineal descendant of Darius Hystaspis, and the kingdom is considered to have been founded by his son Mithridates L,| from whom the sceptre descended through eight generations to MithRidates VI., surnamed Eupator and the Great. The family, which was thus of the purest Persian blood, formed marriage alliances with the Greek kings of Syria, and adopted much of the mixed Hellenic civilization which prevailed in Western Asia.

Mithridates was a boy in his twelfth year, when his father, Mithridates V. Euergetes, who has been mentioned as an ally of Rome, was cut off by the dagger of an assassin; but his natural powers and his early training had already prepared him to cope with the dangers that at once beset him. "His guardian, and even as it would seem his own mother, called to take a part in the government by his father's will, conspired against the boy-king's life. It is said that, in order to escape from the daggers of his legal protectors, he became of his own accord a wanderer; and, a fugitive in his own kingdom during seven years, changing his resting-place night after night, he led the life of a homeless hunter. Thus the boy grew into a mighty man. Although our accounts regarding him are in substance traceable to written records of contemporaries, yet the legendary tradition which is generated with the rapidity of lightning in the East early adorned the mighty king with many of the traits of a Samson and a Rustem. These traits, B C. 120 fol.J CHARACTER OF MITHRIDATES. 103

* Some ethnographers caiitend for a mixture of Aryan Wood in the peoples of the north and east of Asia Minor.

t This name, more correctly spelt Mithradatcs, is a saered appellation belonging to the royal family of Persia, and signifying "given by the Sun " (from Mithra, the Sim, and the root da, give).

however, belong to his character just as the crown of clouds belongs to the character of the highest mountain-peaks; the outline of the figure appears in both cases only more coloured or fantastic, not disturbed or essentially altered. The armour which fitted the gigantic frame of King Mithridates excited the wonder of the Asiatics, and still more that of the Italians. As a runner, he overtook the swiftest deer; as a rider, he broke in the wild steed, and was able by changing horses to accomplish 120 miles in a day; as a charioteer, he drove sixteen in hand, and gained in competition many a prize—it was dangerous, no doubt, in such sport to carry off victory from the king. In hunting on horseback, he hit the game at full gallop, and never missed his aim. He challenged competition at table also—he arranged banquetting matches, and carried off in person the prizes proposed for the most substantial eater and the hardest drinker. His intellectual wants he satisfied by the wildest superstition—the interpretation of dreams and the Greek mysteries occupied not a few of the king's hours—and by a rude adoption of Hellenic civilization. He was fond of Greek art and music; that is to say, he collected precious articles, rich furniture, old Persian and Greek objects of luxury—his cabinet of rings was famous; he had constantly Greek historians, philosophers, and poets in his train, and proposed prizes at his court-festivals, not only for the greatest eaters and drinkers, but also for the merriest jester and the best singer. * * * He prosecuted the experimental study of poisons and antidotes as an important branch of the business of government, and tried to inure his body to particular poisons. * * * What really distinguishes Mithridates amidst the multitude of similar sultans is his boundless activity. He disappeared one morning from his palace and remained unheard of for months, so that he was given over as lost. When he returned, he had wandered incognito through all Asia Minor, and reconnoitred everywhere the country and the people. He was not only generally fluent in speech, but he administered justice to each of the twenty-two nations over which he ruled, in its own language, without needing an interpreter. * * * Of higher elements—desire to advance civilization, earnest leadership of the national opposition, special gifts of genius—there are found, in our traditional accounts at least, no distinct traces in Mithridates, and we have no reason to place him on a level even with the great rulers of the Osmans, such as Mahomet II. and Suleiman. Notwithstanding his Hellenic culture, which sat on him not much better than the Roman armour on his Cappadocians, he

« ForrigeFortsett »