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ROME-THE IMPERIAL REPUBLIC.

provinces for contingents of troops that they had none to give. The reason

was that the Roman publicans of the frontiers, in the character of

kidnapers, had sold nearly the whole class eligible for service into

slavery. The abuse had become so outrageous as to be no longer endured. A

decree was accordingly passed that every native freeman of a country in

alliance with Rome, who might now be held in servitude, should be liberated

and permitted to return to his own country. Multitudes at once applied for

manumission. Most of them were the property of the Roman knights. Of

course, it was not to be expected that the masters would quietly surrender

the means by which they cultivated their estates. So the law could not be

enforced, and the servile race were doomed to the bitter disappointment of

seeing a freedom which they could not taste. A slave insurrection broke out

on every hand.

In Sicily the insurgents found two able leaders in Salvius and Athenion.

The former had commanded in the eastern, and the latter in the western part

of the island. Both proved to be capable commanders. They drilled their

troops according to the Roman tactics, and armed only those who were able

to act as soldiers. The old mistake of Ennus in shutting himself in

fortresses where he could be besieged and starved into submission was now

avoided, the slave army keeping to the open country. During the progress of

the war with the Cimbri, the Romans were three times defeated by the rebel

serfs; but after the victory of Marius at Vercellae, the consul Marius

Aquilius was in B. C. 101, sent against them and they were finally

subjugated. This result, however, was not reached until after two years of

war and a vast deal of bloodshed. The slaves who were taken were either

destroyed, resold into bondage, or sent to fight with wild beasts in the

Roman amphitheaters. Those who were assigned to the latter fate defeated

the purpose of them who thought to witness their struggles by taking one

another's lives.

Such was the desperate condition of affairs in Roman society, precipitated

as it had been by the selfishness of that oligarchy whom the gods, wishing

to destroy, had first made mad. To Marius, now in the full tide of his

renown, the people looked as to a deliverer. Strongly imbued with respect

for the constitution and the laws he avoided the short road to reform which

would have been by way of a military despotism on the ruins of the

aristocracy, and undertook by constitutional means to bring order out of

chaos. For this work he was incompetent. He had neither learning nor

experience in civil affairs, and was not even well versed in the history of

his country. So the sincere, honest, savage old man fell into the hands of

the politicians and demagogues of Rome.

Two of the latter named, Lucins Appuleius Saturninus and Caius Servilius

Glaucia, obtained a great ascendancy over the mind of Marius. They were

both ambitious and unprincipled leaders who had their own ends to subserve

at the expense of the state. Through their agency Marius, assisted by his

own overwhelming popularity, was elected to the consulship for the sixth

time, and at the same election the praetorship fell to Glaucia. Saturninus,

who desired to be tribune, was defeated; but Aulus Nonius, his successful

opponent, was presently set upon and killed by a band of the veterans of

Marius. The office was then assumed by Saturninus.

Two new laws were now brought forward by the tribune. The first provided

for the revival of one of the statutes of Caius Gracchus, by which the

public grain should be sold at a nominal price to the people; and the

second, that the lands lately held by the Cimbri in Cisalpine Gaul should

be parceled out to Italian and Roman citizens, thus providing a vent for

the ever accumulating forces of the capital. These measures were opposed to

the bitterest extreme by the alarmed and angered oligarchy. There were

several disgraceful riots, but the satellites of the nobility stood in

dread of the old soldiers of Marius, who now thronged the city, and the

proposed laws were adopted. The senators were thereupon summoned by the

tribune Saturninus to take an oath to support the new statutes.

Now it was that Marius found himself embroiled between the conflicting

parties. In order to extricate himself from his embarrassing