Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

The Flight of Marius

With the battle-loving Romans, the end of one war was generally a signal for the beginning of another. So, as soon as the Social War was finished, they sent out an army against Mithridates, the most powerful king in the East at that time.

Marius had been preparing for this war, and hoped to be the general; but, to his great disappointment, the command was given to his rival, Sulla. The army had no sooner started than the envious Marius began to do all he could to have Sulla recalled. His efforts were successful, for the Romans soon sent orders for Sulla to come home, and gave the command of the army to Marius instead.

When the officers came to tell Sulla that he must give up his position, he was so angry that he had the messengers put to death. Then, as his soldiers were devoted to him, they all asked him to lead them back to Rome, so that they might punish his enemies for slandering him behind his back.

This change of programme suited Sulla very well. Instead of going to Asia, he soon entered Rome, sword in hand, routed Marius and his party, and, after forcing them to seek safety in flight, took the lead in all public affairs.

Marius was declared an enemy of his country, and closely pursued by some of Sulla's friends. Although seventy years of age, he fled alone and on foot, and made his way down to the seashore. He then tried to escape on a vessel which he found there; but, unfortunately, the captain was a mean man, who, in fear of punishment, soon set Marius ashore and sailed away. The aged fugitive was then obliged to hide in the marshes; and for a long time he stood there buried in a quagmire up to his chin. Finally he was captured, and fell into the hands of the governor of Minturnæ.

Marius, the man who had enjoyed two triumphs, and had six times been consul of Rome, was now thrust into a dark and damp prison. A slave—one of the vanquished Cimbri—was then sent to his cell to cut off his head. But when the man entered, the prisoner proudly drew himself up, and, with flashing eye, asked him whether he dared lay hands upon Marius.

Terrified by the gaunt and fierce old man, the slave fled, leaving the prison door open. The governor, who was very superstitious, now said it was clear that the gods did not wish Marius to perish; so he not only set the prisoner free, but helped him find a vessel which would take him to Carthage.

There, amid the ruins of that once mighty city, the aged Marius sat mourning his fate, until ordered away by the Roman guard, a man whom he had once befriended. Again Marius embarked, to go in search of another place of refuge; but, hearing that Cinna, one of his friends, had taken advantage of Sulla's absence from Rome to rally his party, he decided to return at once to Italy.


Front Matter

The First Settlers
Escape from the Burning City
The Clever Trick
The Boards Are Eaten
The Wolf and the Twins
Romulus Builds Rome
The Maidens Carried Off
Union of Sabines and Romans
Death of Romulus
Strange Signs of the Romans
The Quarrel with Alba
The Horatii and Curiatii
Tarquin and the Eagle
The Roman Youths
The King Outwitted
The Murder of Tarquin
The Ungrateful Children
The Mysterious Books
Tarquin's Poppies
The Oracle of Delphi
The Death of Lucretia
The Stern Father
A Roman Triumph
A Roman Triumph (Cont.)
Defense of the Bridge
The Burnt Hand
The Twin Gods
The Wrongs of the Poor
Fable of the Stomach
The Story of Coriolanus
The Farmer Hero
The New Laws
Death of Virginia
Plans of a Traitor
A School-Teacher Punished
Invasion of the Gauls
The Sacred Geese
Two Heroes of Rome
Disaster at Caudine Forks
Pyrrhus and His Elephants
The Elephants Routed
Ancient Ships
Regulus and the Snake
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
The Romans Defeated
The Inventor Archimedes
The Roman Conquests
Destruction of Carthage
Roman Amusements
The Jewels of Cornelia
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Caius Gracchus
Jugurtha, King of Numidia
The Barbarians
The Social War
The Flight of Marius
The Proscription Lists
Sertorius and His Doe
Revolt of the Slaves
Pompey's Conquests
Conspiracy of Catiline
Caesar's Conquests
Crossing of the Rubicon
Battle of Pharsalia
The Death of Caesar
The Second Triumvirate
The Vision of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
The Poisonous Snake
The Augustan Age
Death of Augustus
Varus Avenged
Death of Germanicus
Tiberius Smothered
The Wild Caligula
Wicked Wives of Claudius
Nero's First Crimes
Christians Persecuted
Nero's Cruelty
Two Short Reigns
The Siege of Jerusalem
The Buried Cities
The Terrible Banquet
The Emperor's Tablets
The Good Trajan
Trajan's Column
The Great Wall
Hadrian's Death
Antoninus Pius
The Model Pagan
Another Cruel Emperor
An Unnatural Son
The Senate of Women
The Gigantic Emperor
Invasion of the Goths
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra
A Prophecy Fulfulled
First Christian Emperor
Roman Empire Divided
An Emperor's Penance
Sieges of Rome
End of the Western Empire