confer on the soldiers of Marius, Italians as well as Romans, the lands of which the Cimbri had obtained possession in Gaul, to devote to it the plundered treasures of the temple at Tolosa, which Cæpio and his associates had been sentenced to refund, and to place the distribution in the hands of Marius, whose continued re-election to the consulship was doubtless contemplated. In order to carry the measure, the people were bribed with a bill for a new distribution of corn at a nominal price which would have caused a national bankruptcy; an extension of judicial power was offered, to prevent the Equites from making common cause with the Senate; and the proposal to overawe the latter by the prospective sentence of expulsion and a heavy fine against any senator who refused to take an oath of obedience within five days, was expressly designed to secure the ruin of Metellus. A contest ensued, such as had never been seen in the Comitium. When the opposing tribunes uttered their veto, Saturninus ordered the voting to go on. When the Senate sent a messenger to say that thunder had been heard—a portent which always dissolved the assembly

-they were told to keep quiet, or hail would follow. The command of the prætor Cæpio to the city bands to disperse the meeting was the signal for bringing forward the force which had been provided for such an event in the armed soldiers of Marius, and so the laws were carried. Saturninus now called the Senators to the Rostra to swear obedience to measures carried thus manifestly by means that made them null and void. Even Marius made the reservation, that he would obey the Appuleian laws so far as they were valid, and the rest of the Senate followed his example. Metellus alone refused; and the next day he was dragged from his seat in the Senate by order of the tribune. Not content with this humiliation, Saturninus proposed the exile of Metellus, who retired privately from the city, declining the offers of his friends to protect him by force. Of the tribune's other measures for carrying out the Gracchan scheme of colonization it is needless to speak, since all the Appuleian laws shared the fate of their author. With the political indecision that so often marks the mere soldier, Marius had kept aloof from these scenes of illegal violence, and he soon came to an open rupture with his associates. They found it necessary to pursue their headlong course without him. In spite of his remonstrances, Saturninus again offered himself for the tribuneship, and Glaucia, disregarding the interval of two years which the law demanded after the prætorship, came forward for the consulship. The candidates of the opposite party were M. Antonius, and Memmius, once the popular tribune. The mob that re-elected Saturninus proved their spurious enthusiasm for the memory of the Gracchi by releasing from prison a runaway slave, who claimed to be the son of Tiberius, and choosing him also for a tribune. The consular elections were still to be decided ; and Antonius being safe, Memmins was got rid of, like Nonius the year before, by a murderous assault. The Senate had only waited for a pretext to resort to force; this outrage enabled them to do it with the approval of all who cared for the public safety; and their political victory was already gained when the popular consul himself was required to see that the Republic sustained no harm."* Marius professed no reluctance for the duty; and, at the head of the Senate and the young men of the civic force, he attacked Saturninus and his followers, who had broken open the prisons and armed their inmates and the slaves. Driven out from the Forum to the Capitol, the insurgents were compelled to capitulate, and the fury of the young nobles took their fate out of the consul’s hands. They stripped off the tiles of the Curia Hostilia, where Marius had placed the prisoners, and stoned them to death. Thus perished Saturninus, one of his colleagues, and the quæstor Saufeius, with their chief adherents : while a fourth magistrate, the prætor Glaucia, was dragged from a hiding-place and put to death. The Senate ratified the deed by conferring the citizenship on a slave named Scæva, who was believed to have given Saturninus the mortal blow (B.C. 100). Nearly forty years later, the popular party, which was again struggling for the ascendancy under C. Julius Cæsar, almost succeeded in taking vengeance on an aged Senator, C. Rabirius, for his alleged part in the death of Saturninus. He was tried before Cæsar himself and his relative Lucius, as “Duumviri Perduellionis." Being condemned by them, he appealed to the people, and was defended by Cicero, who was then consul. But his life was only saved by the courage of the prætor, Q. Metellus Celer, who broke up the Comitia by lowering the flag on M. Janiculus—the ancient, though now unmeaning sign of danger, which called the citizens to man the wall against an approaching enemy (B.C. 63).

Meanwhile the events of that one day had restored the complete ascendancy of the Optimates, who exulted in seeing Marius commit political suicide with the sword he was compelled to draw against his own party. He found an excuse for leaving Rome before the recal of his hated rival Metellus, in a pilgrimage to the shrines of the Great Mother in Asia Minor. There is no sufficient

Concerning this formula, see p. 36.

ground for the charge that he went to plot with Mithridates against his country. That course seems to have been pursued by several of the democratic exiles; but Marius more probably used the occasion to view the fields on which he hoped to recover his true prestige as a soldier. When he returned to Rome, he was left by both parties in a solitude amidst which he nursed the hopes he would not abandon, of revenge and fame. The prediction of the Utican seer had thus far been realized; but the promise that he should be consul seven times still remained to be fulfilled; and its ultimate accomplishment formed one of the strangest examples of the destiny of men. He returned to it from scenes of imminent death and hopeless exile through seas of blood, to die quietly in his bed almost at the moment of its fruition.

The violent course of Saturninus had made a complete breach between the Equites and the popular party; and the alarm of the capitalists was shown in the unsparing judicial condemnation of all who had the remotest connection with the fallen leaders. The reaction extended even to the city mob, which tore in pieces a tribune who opposed the recal of Metellus. The foreign government of the Optimates was redeemed by the victories of the consuls Didius and Crassus over the insurgent Celtiberians and Lusitanians (B.C. 98—97)—a war in which the celebrated Sertorius served as military tribune—and by those energetic measures in the East which will presently claim our notice. On the southern shore of the Mediterranean the beautiful territory of Cyrene was bequeathed to Rome by its last Egyptian viceroy, Apion, and erected, with Crete, into the province of Cyrenaica (B.C. 95). The laws of Saturninus were of course repealed; and the consuls of B.C. 98 imposed a most important check on the legislative power of the tribes, by the Lex Cecilia Didia, which forbad the enactment of any law containing provisions on different subjects, and restored the old rule, that seven days must elapse between the proposing and passing of a bill. It seemed as if the aristocratic government was completely restored at home; but it remained to rescue the provinces from the control which the possession of the judicial power gave to the Equites. In fact the abuses of the capitalists had become so intolerable, that the men distinguished for their weight of character and their legal learning-men who were never wanting in the Roman Senate-resolved to attempt their suppression.

Such was Q. Mucius Scævola, the worthy son and grandson of Q. Scævola the augur and P. Scævola, the Pontifex Maximus-a dignity which he also attained-and a man lauded by Cicero, who

heard him in his youth, as the most eloquent speaker of all the jurists, and the most learned jurist among orators. The moral purity and strict integrity, for which he was no less distinguished, were manifested in his government of Asia as proprætor, in B.C. 98.* That wealthy province was the richest field for the extortions of the tax-gatherers, merchants, and contractors, who had hitherto secured the connivance of the governors by interest or terror. But Scavola was neither to be bribed nor frightened. His tribunal was open to all complaints: nobles and commons, Italians and provincials, met with equal justice: and the most guilty suffered crucifixion. The enraged equestrian order did not dare to attack Scævola, whose conduct was held forth by the Senate as a pattern for all governors; but they found a victim in his legate, the consular P. Rutilius Rufus, a man of kindred spirit, who added to the fame of being the first tactician of his day, † that of a jurist and historian. Apicius, a man of infamous character, accused Rufus himself of extortion in his province (B.C. 92). Condemned by the equestrian judges, and stripped of his moderate property, he retired to Asia, and spent his life in literature amidst the honours conferred by those he was said to have plundered. Prosecutions and judgments fell thick upon Senators, while every guilty capitalist was sure to escape; and when it came to the turn of M. Scaurus, who had now reached the age of seventy, his former corruption by Jugurtha, already overshadowed by time and the splendour of his censorship, was forgotten in the indignation at such an attack on the venerable father of the Senate. He was once more fortunate enough to be acquitted ; and in the course of his defence he summoned by name the man who was regarded as the fittest in all the state to wrest the judicial power from the hands of the equestrian order. The call was answered in a manner far beyond his expectation,

MARCUS Livius Drusus was still a young man when he came forward as tribune of the plebs to attempt a new revolution (B.C. 91). The son of that Drusus who had been the successful opponent of C. Gracchus, his entire devotion to the aristocratic party was tempered by the strictest purity, integrity, and justice. Anxious to perform the old patrician duties, he opened his door and purse to the people, but his haughty bearing made him less beloved than he was respected. The career of reform, on which his father had entered as a party measure to outbid Caius Gracchus, seems

* Or, as some authorities say, as proconsul in B.C. 95. The province of Asia was at one time prætorian, at another consular. † See Chap. XXXII. p. 56.

to have been followed by him from an honest conviction of its necessity, a conviction shared by a few moderate men, like Scaurus and Crassus, who unfortunately stood almost alone amidst the interested selfishness of the Senators and Knights; and the very comprehensiveness of the reform made it offensive to all parties. Drusus proposed to restore the judicial functions to the Senators; but, by way of compensation to the Equites, the Senate, which was now reduced below its proper three hundred, was to be filled up with an equal number from the equestrian order; and the punishment of corrupt jurymen was to be entrusted to a special commission. The people were to be conciliated by a fresh distribution of corn; and the ignorance of economical science, so inveterate at Rome, was again shown in the proposal to meet the expense by a new coinage of copper denarii, plated to resemble those of silver, and to circulate (it would seem) at the same value! The whole of the arable public land still undivided—including the rich fields of Campania and the fertile plains of Sicily—was to be devoted to the foundation of new colonies. Lastly, Drusus ventured to revive the final proposal of the Gracchi for the cure of the worst internal evil—the gift of the Roman citizenship to the Italian Allies. The scheme was, in its essential features, the Gracchan reform bill brought in afresh by the aristocracy; and Drušus declared it to be his object to leave nothing for future demagogues to distribute, but the dirt and the daylight."

Aware of the jealousy which his last proposal would excite among the people, Drusus kept it in the background ; and when he found his other measures vehemently opposed by the capitalists, and but feebly supported by the aristocracy, he comprised them all in one enactment, which was carried by the populace and the Italians. This violation of a recent law gave the consul, L. Marcius Philippus, who had been the furious opponent of the Livian Rogations, a constitutional pretext for demanding their repeal; and the discovery of Drusus's intentions on behalf of the Italians united against him all those who dreaded revolution. After a tumultuous agitation, in the course of which Crassus died with a suspicious suddenness, the Senate decreed the abrogation of the laws; and Drusus proudly abstained from using his tribunitian intercession, saying that it was the Senate that riveted the equestrian yoke upon its own neck. But the victory could not be securely enjoyed while he lived,* and he fell on his own threshold, as he was taking

* It appears hardly possible now to determine the truth respecting the secret revo. lutionary, conspiracy which Drusus was accused of having formed with the Italians ;

« ForrigeFortsett »