The Jugurthine, Cimbric, and Social Wars - Marius and Sulla

In the year of the first tribuneship of Caius Gracchus, the Belearic islands were added to the Roman dominion; and six years afterwards (B.C. 117), Dalmatia was reduced to a Roman province. About this time the famous Jugurtha, the illegitimate son of one of the sons of Masinissa, already mentioned as a king of Numidia in the Roman interest, was left heir to that kingdom, in conjunction with his two cousins, by Micipsa, their father and his uncle. Aspiring to the undivided sovereignty, he killed one of his cousins, and drove the other to Rome. Interfering in behalf of the expelled prince, the Romans compelled Jugurtha to share Numidia with him. By bribing the commissioners, however, who were sent to effect the division, Jugurtha obtained the best part for himself; and not long after (B.C. 112), he showed his contempt for the Romans by invading his cousin's dominions, and putting him to death. Bribes and wily tactics protected him for a while from the vengeance of the Romans; but at length, in the year B.C. 109, the brave consul Metellus who was proof against bribes, went over to Numidia to conduct the war which his predecessors had mismanaged. After he had carried on the war successfully for two years, he was supplanted by his second in command, Caius Marius, a man of humble birth, and nearly fifty years of age, who, although almost without education, had raised himself to high rank by his military talents, and whose. services under Metellus had been so favorably represented at Rome, that he was appointed consul (B.C. 107), with the express intention that he should end the Jugurthine war. This he speedily accomplished, greatly assisted by his quaestor, a young man of high patrician family and unusual literary accomplishments, named Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Jugurtha was sent to Rome, where he was starved in prison (B.C. 106); and the services of Marius were at the disposal of the Romans for a war of an infinitely more formidable character than that which had been waged against this ill-fated African.

About the year B.C. 113, a numerous tribe of savages, called Cimbri, but who were most probably Celts, had been set in motion in the southeast of Europe; and emigrating westward, they had communicated their restlessness to the Tutones, and undoubtedly German race, through whose territories they must have passed. Roving about in quest of settlements, sometimes together, and sometimes separately, the two barbarian hosts, consisting of men, women, and children, had thrown all Gaul into consternation; and as the Romans had already colonized the portion of Gaul contiguous to the Alps, the duty of checking the savages devolved on them, the more especially as there was some danger that Italy would be invaded. But such a moving mass of human beings, driven by that hardest of forces, hunger, was not easily to be checked; and army after army sent by the Romans to oppose them had been shivered to pieces. All Italy began to tremble, and there was a universal cry among the Romans, 'Make Marius again consul.' Accordingly Marius was chosen consul a second time in his absence (B.C. 104), that he might drive back the Cimbri. Meanwhile the poor homeless creatures had made a general rush towards Spain; and the Romans, to secure the services of Marius when they should be required, reelected him to the consulship in B.C. 102. In the latter year, when Marius was consul for the fourth time, the barbarians, repulsed from Spain, directed their march towards the Alps. Fortunately, they divided themselves into two masses - the Teutones taking one route, the Cimbri another. The former, amounting to about 300,000 men, were met by Marius, and slaughtered, all except 90,000, who were made prisoners, and sold as slaves. Meanwhile the Cimbri had been making progress in their route, and to oppose them, Marius was elected to a fifth consulship (B.C. 101). Another bloody field, in which about 140,000 were slain, and 60,000 taken prisoners, delivered Italy from its fears. Strange and affecting thought, that half a million of human beings, women and children, should be wandering through Europe for years, poor outcasts, with their little carts and cooking-kettles, and that a civilized nation should have been compelled, by the necessity of self-preservation, to take means to sweep them out of existence!

Marius was rewarded for his exertions with a sixth consulship (B.C. 100), which, there being now no enemy to call forth his military activity, he employed in political schemes for the humiliation of the aristocratic or senatorial party, to which, both by the accident of birth and on principle, he was a determined enemy. The efforts of the nobles, however, assisted by the violent conduct of the partisans of Marius, especially a tribune named Saturninus, occasioned a reaction and on the expiry of his consulship, Marius withdrew from Rome, and undertook a journey to the East, where the Roman influence was extending itself. During the following ten years the political agitations were incessant, the liberal spirit of that party of which Marius was the head developing itself every year in fresh manifestations, and the aristocratic party becoming every year more fierce and dogged in their opposition. On the aristocratic side, the ablest and most earnest man, although not yet the most distinguished, was Sulla - the former quaestor of Marius, and who had since been employed in various capacities both military and civil. At length, in the year B.C. 90, a storm which had been long gathering burst out in that war which is denominated in history 'the Social or Marsic War,' or 'the War of Italian Independence.'