CHAPTER XXV. MARIUS AND SULLA.-CINNA.
With the name of MARIUS is usually coupled that of LUCIUS CORNELIUS SULLA (138-78). "He was a patrician of the purest blood, had inherited a moderate fortune, and had spent it, like other young men of rank, lounging in theatres and amusing himself with dinner parties. He was a poet, an artist, and a wit. Although apparently indolent, he was naturally a soldier, statesman, and diplomatist. As Quaestor under Marius in the Jugurthine War, he had proved a most active and useful officer." In these African campaigns he showed that he knew how to win the hearts and confidence of his soldiers; and through his whole subsequent career, the secret of his brilliant successes seems to have been the enthusiastic devotion of his troops, whom he always held well under control, even when they were allowed to indulge in plunder and license. It was to Sulla's combined adroitness and courage that Marius owed the final capture of Jugurtha. He served again under Marius in the campaigns against the Cimbri and Teutones, and gave efficient help towards the victory. But the Consul became jealous of his rising power, and all friendly feeling between the two ceased.
After this campaign Sulla lived at Rome for some years, taking no part in politics, and during this time his name and that of his rival are almost unheard. He appeared before the public again in 93, when he was elected Praetor, and increased his popularity by an exhibition of a hundred lions in the arena, matched against Numidian archers. In 92 he went as Propraetor to govern the province of Asia, and here he first met MITHRADÁTES.
This monarch, who ruled over Pontus, was an extraordinary man. He spoke many languages, was the idol, of his subjects, and had boundless ambition. He doubted the durability of the Roman Empire, and began to enlarge his own territory, with no apparent fear of Rome's interference.
Cappadocia, a neighboring country, was under Roman protection, and was ruled by a prince, ARIOBARZÁNES, that Rome had recognized. This country Mithradátes attacked. He killed the prince, and placed on the throne his own nephew.
Rome interfered, and Sulla was instructed to visit the monarch. He accomplished his mission with his usual adroitness, and returned to Rome with new honors. He took an active part in the Social War, eclipsing the fame of his rival, Marius. He was now the recognized leader of the conservative and aristocratic party. The feeling between the rivals was more bitter than ever, for Marius, though old, had by no means lost his prestige with the popular party.
It was at this time that Mithradátes, learning of the Social War, thought it a good opportunity to advance his own interests and extend his realm. He collected all his available forces, and invaded Bithynia. With his fleets he sailed through the Dardanelles into the Archipelago. The extortions of the Roman governors had been so great, that Ionia, Lydia, and Caria, with all the islands near Asia Minor, gladly revolted from Rome, and accepted his protection. All the Roman residents with their families were massacred on a single day. It is said that 80,000 persons perished. Mithradátes himself next crossed the Bosphorus, and marched into Northern Greece, which received him with open arms.
Such was the condition in the East when Sulpicius Rufus carried the bills mentioned in the last chapter. One of these bills was that Marius have charge of the war against Mithradátes. This was not to Sulla's liking. He was in Campania with the legions that had served in the Social War. The soldiers were devoted to him, and ready to follow him anywhere. Sulla, therefore, taking matters into his own hands, marched into the city at the head of his troops. The people resisted; Sulpicius was slain; Marius fled for his life, and retired to Africa, where he lived for a time, watching the course of events.
Sulla could not remain long at the capital. The affairs of the East called him away; and no sooner was he gone than the flames of civil war burst out anew (87).
LUCIUS CORNELIUS CINNA, a friend of Marius, was Consul that year. He tried to recall Marius, but was violently opposed and finally driven from the city. The Senate declared him deposed from his office. He invoked the aid of the soldiers in Campania, and found them ready to follow him. The neighboring Italian towns sent him men and money, and Marius, coming from Africa, joined him with six thousand troops. They marched upon Rome. The city was captured. Cinna was acknowledged Consul, and the sentence of outlawry which had been passed on Marius was revoked.
The next year Marius was made Consul for the seventh time, and Cinna for the second. Then followed the wildest cruelties. Marius had a body-guard of slaves, which he sent out to murder whomever he wished. The houses of the rich were plundered, and the honor of noble families was exposed to the mercy of the slaves. Fortunately Marius died sixteen days after he entered office, and the shedding of blood ceased.
For the next three years Cinna ruled Rome. Constitutional government was practically suspended. For the years 85 and 84 Cinna himself and a trusty colleague were Consuls, but no regular elections were held. In 84, he was murdered, when on the eve of setting out against Sulla in Asia.
Sulla left Italy for the East with 30,000 troops. He marched against Athens, where Archeláus, the general of Mithradátes, was intrenched. After a long siege, he captured and pillaged the city, March 1, 86. The same year he defeated Archeláus at CHAERONÉA in Boeotia, and the next year at ORCHOMENOS.