CHAPTER V. THE CIMBRI AND TEUTONES.
The Jugurthine war ended in 105 B.C. In one way it had been of real service to Rome. A terrible crisis was at hand, and this war had given her both soldiers and a general worthy of the name. Before, however, the story of the struggle with the Cimbri is told, something must be said about what had been going on at Rome, about the man who had now most influence there, and about his rivals. [Recommencement of the social struggle at Rome.] The great social struggle had recommenced. The personal rivalry between Marius and Sulla had begun before the Cimbric war. During that war men held as it were their breath in terror, but nevertheless it was as if only an interlude in that deadly civil strife, for which each of the contending parties was already arrayed. C. Marius was now fifty years old. Cato, the censor, was of opinion that no man can endure so much as he who has turned the soil and reaped the harvest. Marius was such a man. His family were clients of the Herennii. His father was a day-labourer of Cereatae, called today Casamare, after his illustrious son, and he himself served in the ranks in Spain. [Previous career and present position of Marius.] Soon made an officer, he won Scipio's favour as a brave, frugal, incorruptible, and trusty soldier, who never quarrelled with his general's orders, even when they ran as counter to his own inclinations as the expulsion of all soothsayers from the camp before Numantia. On coming home he was lucky enough to marry the aunt of Julius Caesar, whose high birth and wealth opened the door to State honours, which to a man of his origin was at this time otherwise virtually closed. In 119 B.C. he was tribune, and had by the measures previously noticed won the reputation of an upright and patriotic politician, who would truckle neither to the nobles nor the mob. From this time, however, the feud with the Metelli began; for he ordered L. Caecilius Metellus, the consul, to be cast into prison for resisting his ballot-law, though, as the Senate yielded, the order was not carried into effect. In 115 he gained the praetorship, and an absurd charge of bribery trumped up against him indicated a rising disposition among the nobles to snub the aspiring plebeian. He was propraetor in Spain the next year, and showed his usual vigour there in putting down brigandage. With the soldiers he was as popular as Ney was with Napoleon's armies, for he was one of them, rough-spoken as they were, fond of a cup of wine, and never scorning to share their toils. While he was with Metellus at Utica, a soothsayer prophesied that the gods had great things in store for him, and he asked Metellus for leave to go to Rome and stand for the consulship. Metellus replied that when his own son stood for it it would be time enough for Marius. The man at whom he sneered resented sneers. There is evidence that the simple nature of the rough soldier was becoming already spoiled by constant success. He was burning with ambition, and would ascribe the favours of heaven to his own merits. He at once set to work to undermine the credit of his commander with the army, the Roman merchants, and Gauda, saying that he himself would soon bring the war to an end if he were general. Metellus can hardly have been a popular man anywhere, and his strictness must have made him many enemies. Thus he scornfully refused Gauda a seat at his side, and an escort of Roman horse. Gauda and the rest wrote to Rome, urging that Marius should have the army. Metellus with the worst grace let him go just twelve days before the election. But the favourite of the gods had a fair wind, and travelled night and day. The artisans of the city and the country class from which he sprang thronged to hear him abuse Metellus, and boast how soon he would capture or kill Jugurtha, and he was triumphantly elected consul for the year 107.