Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

Metellus Is Driven from Rome

Marius had been Consul five times already, but he was not yet content. He wished to be elected for the sixth time, and he determined to do all he could to gain his end.

But it was no easy task, for now that no enemy threatened Rome, she was ready to cast Marius aside.

Moreover, although on the battlefield Marius was brave above all others, in the Senate or the Assembly of the people his courage deserted him. He knew that he was not eloquent, and he no sooner stood up to speak than he grew timid and ill at ease.

Yet he did his best, and to the people he tried to behave more pleasantly than he felt, and that is at no time an easy thing to do, nor even, it may be, a right thing to attempt. But Marius smiled when he would much rather have frowned, and spoke kindly when a cross answer was hidden in his heart.

Metellus, from whom he had wrested the command of the army, was the man he feared most, and he thought if only he could have him banished from Rome all would be well. Although Marius at once began to plot and plan, it took a long time to get rid of Metellus. But this is how in the end he succeeded.

First, Marius joined Glaucia and Saturninus, who were popular with the people, but too daring not to be hated by the Optimates.

Saturninus had been tribune in 101 B.C., and wished to be re-elected for the following year. When he found that the people had not voted for him, he was so angry that he did not scruple to order his successful rival to be put to death.

The people, subdued by the violence of Saturninus, then gave him the post he coveted without more ado.

Glaucia became prætor for the same year, while Marius achieved his ambition, and was made Consul for the sixth time.

Saturninus now brought forward a bill regarding the division of land. The people would, as usual, be asked to vote for or against this bill, but the tribune added an important clause to his measure, saying that whatever the people voted, to that the senators must take an oath to agree.

Marius, as Consul, pretended to be very angry with Saturninus for adding this clause to his bill, and he said that he, for one, would never take such an oath. The senators, he added, needed to take no oath to make them agree to anything that was for the good of the State.

The other members, among whom was Metellus, were equally indignant, and swore that they would never take the oath demanded by Saturninus. Marius was now satisfied that he had entrapped Metellus.

He himself had promised Saturninus secretly that he would take the oath, and as soon as the people had voted in favour of the bill he did so. Nor did he make any worthy excuse for breaking his word, but, as Consul, advised the other members of the Senate also to agree to the clause which before they had sworn to reject.

When Marius took the oath the people could not control their delight, but broke out into loud applause. But the nobles were angry with the Consul for saying one thing and doing another, yet, because they were afraid of the people, they took the oath, all save Metellus, who refused to break his word.

This was just what Marius had hoped would happen, for he knew that Metellus was too upright a man to stoop to act as he and the other senators had done.

Saturninus now demanded that the Consul should punish Metellus for refusing to confirm the vote of the people. He wished that the senator should be forbidden to stay under the shelter of any roof in the city, that he should be refused the use of fire or water.

The mob went even further, and would have killed Metellus had his friends not defended him.

But Metellus would not allow his friends to fight, telling them that he would leave the city rather than cause strife. 'For,' said he, 'either, when the position of affairs is mended and the people repent, I shall be recalled, or if things remain in their present position it will be best to be absent.'

Thus Marius, with the help of Saturninus, succeeded in driving Metellus from the city. But the price he had to pay for his success was heavy.

For Saturninus and Glaucia were determined that the bills which they brought forward, for the good of the people as they believed, should be passed. If any one ventured to oppose their measures or to become their rivals, they speedily perished. Saturninus hired assassins to slay such insolent folk.

At length even the people grew angry with the tribune and with Glaucia, and threatened to put them to death, so that the two men were forced to flee for refuge to the Capitol.

The Senate at once condemned them and their followers as public enemies, and called upon the Consuls to punish them.

Marius was now in a difficult position. He did not wish to punish those who had helped him to banish Metellus, yet as Consul he could not ignore the crimes that these men had committed. So at length he ordered them to be arrested, but he still hoped to save their lives.

Saturninus and Glaucia, however, continued to defy the Senate, until Marius was forced to order the water-pipes on the Capitol to be cut, and their thirst soon compelled the rebels to surrender.

Marius sent them for safety to the Senate-house. But it was useless to try to protect such evildoers. The Consul found that he was but turning the people's rage against himself, without doing his friends any good. For the mob broke in the door and took the tiles off the roof of the Senate-house, and rushing in, killed Saturninus and his friends.

The Senate not only did not punish the people for this deed, it approved of it.

Marius had now made himself hated by the nobles, because he had taken the oath he had declared he would never take, and by the people, because he had been the friend of Saturninus, and had tried to protect him from the just punishment of his cruel deeds.

When the Consul found that the people were clamouring for the return of Metellus, of whose honesty they had had proof, he left Rome. He could not bear to see the return of his rival.

He journeyed to Asia, and here he tried to rouse Mithridates, King of Pontus, to fight against an ally of Rome. For he thought that if war broke out he would once more be called upon to deliver his country from her foes.


Front Matter

The Lady Roma
The She-Wolf
The Twin Boys
Numitor's Grandson
The Sacred Birds
The Founding of Rome
The Sabine Maidens
The Tarpeian Rock
The Mysterious Gate
The King Disappears
The Peace-Loving King
Horatius Slays His Sister
Pride of Tullus Hostilius
King Who Fought and Prayed
The Faithless Friend
A Slave Becomes a King
Cruel Deed of Tullia
Fate of the Town of Gabii
Books of the Sibyl
Industry of Lucretia
Death of Lucretia
Sons of Brutus
Horatius Cocles
Mucius Burns Right Hand
The Divine Twins
The Tribunes
Coriolanus and His Mother
The Roman Army in a Trap
The Hated Decemvirs
The Death of Verginia
The Friend of the People
Camillus Captures Veii
The Statue of the Goddess
Schoolmaster Traitor
Battle of Allia
The Sacred Geese
The City Is Rebuilt
Volscians on Fire
Battle on the Anio
The Curtian Lake
Dream of the Two Consuls
The Caudine Forks
Caudine Forks Avenged
Fabius among the Hills
Battle of Sentinum
Son of Fabius Loses Battle
Pyrrhus King of the Epirots
Elephants at Heraclea
Pyrrthus and Fabricius
Pyrrhus is Defeated
Romans Build a Fleet
Battle of Ecnomus
Roman Legions in Africa
Regulus Taken Prisoner
Romans Conquer the Gauls
The Boy Hannibal
Hannibal Invades Italy
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
Battle of Trebia
Battle of Lake Trasimenus
Hannibal Outwits Fabius
Fabius Wins Two Victories
Battle of Cannae
Despair of Rome
Defeat of Hasdrubal
Claudius Enjoy a Triumph
Capture of New Carthage
Scipio Sails to Africa
Romans Set Fire to Camp
Hannibal Leaves Italy
The Battle of Zama
Scipio Receives a Triumph
Flamininus in Garlands
Death of Hannibal
Hatred of Cato for Carthage
The Stern Decree
Carthaginians Defend City
Destruction of Carthage
Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi
Tiberius and Octavius
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Death of Gaius Gracchus
The Gold of Jugurtha
Marius Wins Notice of Scipio
Marius Becomes Commander
Capture of Treasure Towns
Capture of Jugurtha
Jugurtha Brought to Rome
Marius Conquers Teutones
Marius Mocks the Ambassadors
Metellus Driven from Rome
Sulla Enters Rome
The Flight of Marius
Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius
Marius Returns to Rome
The Orator Aristion
Sulla Besieges Athens
Sulla Fights the Samnites
The Proscriptions of Sulla
The Gladiators' Revolt
The Pirates
Pompey Defeats Mithridates
Cicero Discovers Conspiracy
Death of the Conspirators
Caesar Captured by Pirates
Caesar Gives up Triumph
Caesar Praises Tenth Legion
Caesar Wins a Great Victory
Caesar Invades Britain
Caesar Crosses Rubicon
Caesar and the Pilot
The Flight of Pompey
Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr
Caesar is Loaded with Honours
Nobles Plot against Caesar
The Assassination of Caesar
Brutus Speaks to Citizens
Antony Speaks to Citizens
The Second Triumvirate
Battle of Philippi
Death of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
Battle of Actium
Antony and Cleopatra Die
Emperor Augustus