CHAPTER VII. SATURNINUS AND DRUSUS.
[Attitude of Marius.] With such a weapon in his hand Marius came back to Rome, intoxicated with success. He thought his marches in two continents worthy to be compared with the progresses of Bacchus, and had a cup made on the model of that of the god. He spoke badly; he was easily disconcerted by the disapproval of an audience; he had no insight into the evils, or any project for the reformation, of the State. But the scorn of men like Metellus had made him throw himself on the support of the people from whom he sprang; and they, idolising him for his dazzling exploits as a soldier, looked to him as their natural leader, and the creator of a new era. Indeed it needed no stimulus from without to whet his ambitious cravings. That seventh consulship which superstition whispered would be surely his he had yet to win; and in all his after conduct he seems to have been guided by the most vulgar selfishness, which in the end became murderous insanity. But while he hoped to use all parties for his own advancement - a game in which he of all men was least qualified to succeed - other and abler politicians were bent on using him for the overthrow of the optimates.
[Saturninus.] The harangues of Memmius had shown that the spirit of the Gracchi was still alive in Rome; and now Lucius Apuleius Saturninus took up their revolutionary projects with a violence to which they had been averse, but for which the acts of their adversaries had become a fatal precedent. Of Saturninus himself we do not know much more than that he was an eloquent speaker, and a resolute though not over-scrupulous man at a time when to be scrupulous was equivalent to self-martyrdom or self-effacement. [Glaucia.] In something of the same relation in which Camille Desmoulins stood to Danton, Caius Servilius Glaucia, a wit and favourite of the people, stood towards the sombre and imperious Saturninus, and both hoped to effect their aims by the aid of Marius. If they are to be judged by their acts alone we can hardly condemn them. [Defence of their policy.] They tried to do what the Gracchi had attempted before them, what Drusus attempted after them, and what, when they and Drusus had fallen, as the Gracchi had fallen, the Social War finally effected. No historian has given sufficient prominence to the fact that it was primarily a country movement of which each of these men was the leader; a movement of unbroken continuity, though each used his own means and had his own special temperament. If this is kept in view, we shall no longer consider with some modern historians that no event perhaps in Roman history is so sudden, so unconnected, and accordingly so obscure in its original causes as this revolt or conspiracy of Saturninus.
Like Caius Gracchus, Saturninus represented rural as opposed to urban interests, and the interests of the provinces as opposed to those of the capital. Like Caius, too, he endeavoured to conciliate the equites; but they had all the Roman prejudice against admitting Italians to a level with themselves, and the attempt to play off party against party utterly failed. In vain Saturninus tried to defy opposition by enlisting the support of the Marian veterans. The rich, the noble, and the city mob united against him; and when he seized the Capitol, it was to defend himself against all three. In the year 100 B.C. Marius was consul for the sixth time, Glaucia was praetor, and Saturninus was a second time tribune. A triumvirate so powerful might, if united, have overthrown the Constitution. But the vanity and vacillation of Marius were the best allies of the optimates; and it was no grown man, but Caius Julius Caesar, a child born in that same year, who was destined to subvert their rule. [The Lex Servilia. The equites and the judicia.] Saturninus had been instrumental in securing the election of Marius to his fifth consulship in 102, and it was about that time that the Lex Servilia was carried. This law defined the liability of Roman officials to trial for extortion in the provinces, and, by a process of elimination (for senators, workers for hire, and others were expressly declared ineligible), practically left to the equites the jurisdiction in such trials. Whether or no the law of Gracchus had been repealed by another Servilian law - that of Q. Servilius Caepio - we cannot say for certain. If so, the second Servilian law repealed the first. But, whether it restored power to the equites or only confirmed them in it, in theory it left the office of judex open to all citizens, for, while it excluded so many citizens that in practice the judicia were closed to all but the equestrian class, it did not assign the office to any one class in particular. It also provided that anyone not a citizen who won his suit against an official should by virtue of doing so obtain the citizenship. [Threefold purpose of the Lex Servilia.] So that we may trace in this law a threefold policy - an attempt (1) to relieve the provincials, by making prosecutions for extortion easy, and even putting a premium on them; (2) to conciliate the equites; (3) to pave the way for the overthrow of class jurisdiction by, nominally at least, leaving the judicia open to all who did not come under specified restrictions. Cicero inveighs against Glaucia as a demagogue of the Hyperbolus stamp. But there was more of the statesman than the demagogue in this law.