The Italians, however, were all crying out for the rights of Romans, and the more far-sighted among the Romans would, like Caius Gracchus, have granted them. Marcus Livius Drusus did his best for them; he was a good man, wise and frank-hearted. When he was having a house built, and the plan was shown him which would make it impossible for any one to see into it, he said, “Rather build one where my fellow-countrymen may see all I do.” He was very much loved, and when he was ill, prayers were offered at the temples for his recovery; but no sooner did he take up the cause of the Italians than all the patricians hated him bitterly. “Rome for the Romans,” was their watchword. Drusus was one day entertaining an Italian gentleman, when his little nephew, Marcus Porcius Cato, a descendant of the old censor, and bred in stern patrician views, was playing about the room. The Italian merrily asked him to favor his cause. “No,” said the boy. He was offered toys and cakes if he would change his mind, but he still refused; he was threatened, and at last he was held by one leg out of the window—all without shaking his resolution for a moment; and this constancy he carried with him through life.
People’s minds grew embittered, and Drusus was murdered in the street, crying as he fell, “When will Rome find so good a citizen!” After this, the Italians took up arms, and what was called the Social War began. Marius had no high command, being probably too much connected with the enemy. Some of the Italian tribes held with Rome, and these were rewarded with the citizenship; and after all, though the consul Lucius Julius Caesar, brother-in-law to Marius, gained some victories, the revolt was so widespread, that the Senate felt it wisest, on the first sign of peace, to offer citizenship to such Italians as would come within sixty days to claim it. Citizenship brought a man under Roman law, freed him from taxation, and gave him many advantages and openings to a rise in life. But he could only give his vote at Rome, and only there receive the distribution of corn, and he further became liable to be called out to serve in a legion, so that the benefit was not so great as at first appeared, and no very large numbers of Italians came to apply for it.
THE ADVENTURES OF MARIUS.
The chief foe of Marius was almost always his second in command, Publius Cornelius Sulla, one of the men of highest family in Rome. He had all the high culture and elegant learning that the rough soldier Marius despised, spoke and wrote Greek as easily as Latin, and was as well read in Greek poetry and philosophy as any Athenian could be; but he was given up to all the excesses of luxury in which the wealthy Romans indulged, and his way of life had made him frightful to look at. His face was said to be like a mulberry sprinkled with salt, with a terrible pair of blue eyes glaring out of it.