CHAPTER X. MARIUS AND CINNA.
[A massacre at Rome.] When Cinna entered the city, Marius, with savage irony, said that an outlaw had no business within the walls, and he would not come in till the sentence had been formally rescinded by a meeting of the people in the Forum. But the gates, when once he had passed them, were closed, and for five days and five nights Rome became a shambles. Appian says that Marius and Cinna had both sworn to spare the life of Octavius. But Marius was never a liar, and the story is false on the face of it; for just before this Appian relates how, when Cinna had promised to be merciful, Marius would make no sign. [Death of Octavius.] Octavius is said to have seated himself in his official chair, dressed in his official robes, on the Janiculum, and to have awaited the assassins there. His head was fastened up in front of the Rostra in emulation of the ghastly precedent set by Sulla. He was an obstinate, dull man; and if this burlesque of the conduct of the senators when the Gauls took Rome was really enacted, the theatrical display must have been cold comfort for those of his party on whom his incapacity brought ruin. [Sidenote: Chief victims of the massacre.] [The Caesars.] Among the latter were the brothers Caesar, Caius, who had sought to be consul before he was praetor, and had been denounced for it by Sulpicius, and Lucius, the conqueror at Acerrae and author of the Julian law. [Publius Crassus.] Publius Crassus, consul in 97, and one of Caesar's lieutenants in the Social War, fled with his son, and when overtaken first stabbed his son and then himself. [Marcus Antonius.] Marcus Antonius, the great forensic orator, was so odious to Marius that the latter, on hearing that he was taken, wished, so the story runs, to go and kill him with his own hand. Antonius was in hiding, and was betrayed by the indiscretion of a slave, who, being questioned by a wine-seller why he was buying more or better wine than usual, whispered to him that it was for Marcus Antonius. On the soldiers coming to kill him, he pleaded so eloquently for his life that they wept and would not touch him. But their officer, who was waiting below, impatiently came up and cut off his head with his own hand. Lucius Merula opened his veins, and so bled to death. His crime was that he had been made consul when Cinna was deposed. His last act seems odd to us, but pathetically bespoke the man's piety and recalls the last scene in the life of Demosthenes. He wrote on a tablet that he had taken off his official cap when opening his veins, so as to avoid the sacrilege of a flamen of Jupiter dying with it on his head. [Sidenote: Catulus.] Marius had behaved generously once to Q. Lutatius Catulus, his old colleague against the Cimbri; but Catulus had helped to drive him into exile, and there was to be no second mistake of that sort. 'He must die,' he said, when the relatives of Catulus pleaded for his life. It is not unlikely that disease, and drinking, and his late hardships had made the old man insane. He had been occasionally good-natured in former days; now he seemed to gloat in carnage. For every sneer cast at him, for every wrong done to him in past years, he took a horrible revenge. When Cinna had summoned him, he had said that he would settle the question of enrolment in the tribes once for all. He wished not to select victims, but to massacre all the leading optimates. Sertorius begged Cinna to check the slaughter. Cinna did try to curb the outrages of the slave bands; but he dared not break with Marius, whom he named as joint consul with himself for the year 86. But as soon as his colleague was dead, he and Sertorius surrounded the ruffians and killed them to a man.
[Death of Marius.] Marius did not live much longer. He had had his revenge. He had gained his seventh consulship. It is said that, telling his friends that after such vicissitudes it would be wrong to tempt fate further, he took to his bed and after seven days died. He drank hard, was seized with pleurisy, and in his last hours became delirious. He fancied that he was in Asia, and by shouts and gestures cheered on the army of his dreams, and with 'such a stern and iron-clashing close' died January 13 or 17. He was more than seventy years old, and had enjoyed his seventh consulship for either thirteen or seventeen days.
Lucius Valerius Flaccus succeeded Marius as consul, and passed a law making one-fourth of a debt legal tender for payment of it; and probably in the same year the denarius was restored to its standard value. A census was also held, which would include the new Italian citizens, and Philippus, whose opposition to Drusus on this very question had helped to kindle the Social War, was censor. [Sidenote: Settlement of Italian disabilities by Cinna.] Cinna, as he was pledged to do so, must have carried some measure for enrolling the Italians in the old tribes; but we can only conjecture what was actually done. Sulpicius had already carried such a measure, but it had been probably revoked by Sulla before he left Italy. In 84, just before his return, the Senate, it is said, gave the Italians the right of voting, and distributed the libertini, or freed slaves, among the thirty-five tribes. Perhaps this was a formal ratification of what had been passed before under Cinna's coercion.