Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

Sulla Enters Rome with His Troops

During the absence of Marius the influence of Sulla grew by leaps and bounds. It was this, it may be, that drew Marius back to Rome.

He came, hoping once again to win the goodwill of the people, and he even took a house near the Forum so as to be in their midst.

But the people paid little attention to the general whom in time of war they had courted and admired. In time of peace they had no use for one who was above all else a soldier.

Sulla, too, had proved himself a great general, but he, unlike Marius, was an educated man and an Optimate, and was useful in time of peace as in time of war.

The ever-ready jealousy of Marius was roused when he noticed that Sulla was now much more powerful in Rome than was he.

Nor were his feelings soothed when he saw on the Capitol a new statue of victory, which had been erected by Bocchus, King of Numidia. By the side of the chief figure were others in gold, representing Bocchus delivering Jugurtha to Sulla.

To Sulla! Marius was very angry when he saw that. Jugurtha would never have been captured but for him. It was he, Marius, who should have stood in the place Sulla had been given!

The old general determined to pull down the statue. But Sulla heard what Marius meant to do, and refused to allow it, so that a struggle between them was inevitable. But at this very time a new war broke out, and all private quarrels were laid aside.

The war that began in 89 B.C. was called the Social War. It was caused by the discontent of the Italian people, to whom the full rights of Roman citizens had not been given. Marius and Sulla both fought in this war.

As of old, Marius was never to be enticed to fight against his will. So slow, indeed, was he to lead his men to battle, that one of the generals on the other side doubted his courage. 'If you are indeed a great general, Marius,' he said, 'leave your camp and fight a battle.'

But all Marius answered was: 'If you are one, make me do so against my will.'

Although Marius was now sixty-six years of age, he was as good a commander as ever, and won a great battle, in which six thousand of the enemy was slain. But at the end of a year, although the war was not yet over, Marius resigned his command, saying that his health was not good.

Sulla also gained many victories in this Social War, which came to an end in 88 B.C., for the Senate then granted the Italians the rights of citizens, and to obtain this had been the object of the war. But while all the Italian cities enjoyed new privileges, Rome was still to continue the centre of the Republic, where magistrates were elected and laws were ratified.

Sulla returned to Rome in time to be elected Consul for the year 88 B.C. He was also appointed by the Senate to take command of the army which was now to go to Asia. For war had broken out against Mithridates, King of Pontus.

Now one of the tribunes, named Sulpicius, was not satisfied that Sulla should have this honour, and he proposed that Marius should be made pro-Consul and general of the war.

Marius, you remember, had laid down his command in the Social War on account of his health. So now those who wished Sulla to be commander of the army jeered at Marius, bidding him stay at home to tend his worn-out frame.

Marius was too eager to oust his rival to give heed to these taunts. He laid himself, indeed, open to more. For now he was to be seen out each day taking exercises with the youths of the city.

He had grown stout and heavy, but he soon showed that, in spite of this and of his infirmities, he could vault lightly enough into his saddle, and could claim still to be 'nimble,' even when he wore his armour.

Sulpicius now brought forward a series of laws, bribed, so said some, by Marius. It is certain that one of the laws proposed that Marius should be commander of the war.

As these laws, if they were passed, would make the Populares, or party of the people, powerful, the Optimates determined to overthrow them. But Sulpicius was not a man to yield without a struggle. He sent armed men to attack the Consuls, for they were on the side of the Optimates.

Rufus, the colleague of Sulla, escaped from the city, but in the riot raised by the people his son was killed.

Sulla saved his life only by hiding in the house of Marius, where no one dreamed of looking for him. When the riot was over, he escaped to the camp at Nola.

With the Consuls absent, and the Optimates for the time cowed, the laws which had caused all this trouble were passed, and became known as the Sulpician Laws.

By one of these laws Marius became commander of the army, and he at once sent two tribunes to Nola to warn Sulla that he would soon arrive at the camp to take over the command.

But, as Marius might have foreseen, Sulla did not mean to submit to such a defeat.

He, Sulla, had been appointed by the Senate, while it was by violence that Marius had been proclaimed commander.

Sulla knew that the army was devoted to him, and would do anything to win his favour. So he assembled the troops, and told them the story of his defeat, and how Marius was coming to lead them to Asia.

They at once broke out into loud shouts of protest, crying that none but he should be their leader. If it was his will they would follow him to Rome and overcome his enemies. In the meantime, they would put to death the two tribunes who had been sent by Marius to the camp.

Thus it was that before long Sulla was marching toward Rome, at the head of his troops, being joined on the way by Rufus.

Marius and Sulpicius, when they heard that Sulla had appealed to the army, had at once tried to raise a force to oppose him, even offering freedom to the slaves if they would fight faithfully.

But their efforts were vain, and they fled from the city before Sulla entered it.

From the people Sulla received but a sorry welcome, for so angry were they with him for bringing his army within the walls of the city, that they climbed to the roofs of the houses and flung stones and every missile that they could find upon the troops. But the Senate welcomed the Consuls with open arms.

Marius, Sulpicius, and twelve of their followers were at once declared public enemies. This meant that it was not only the right, but the duty, of every one to kill them.

Sulpicius, who had found shelter in a house in the country, was put to death by a slave.

Sulla gave the slave his freedom, and then, in dislike of his treachery, he ordered him to be hurled from the Tarpeian Rock.


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