« ElőzőTovább »
broader and more rapid than the Rhone; behind you are the Alps, over which, even when your numbers were undiminished, you were hardly able to force a passage. Here, then, soldiers, you must either conquer or die, the very first hour you meet the enemy. But the same fortune, which has thus laid you under the necessity of fighting, has set before your eyes those rewards of victory, than which no man was ever wont to wish for greater from the immortal Gods. Should we by our valour recover only Sicily and Sardinia, which were ravished from our fathers, these would be no inconsiderable prizes. Yet what are these? The wealth of Rome, whatever riches she has heaped together in the spoils of nations, all these, with the masters of them, will be yours. You have been long enough employed in driving the cattle upon the vast mountains of Lusitania and Celtiberia; you have hitherto met with no reward worthy of the labours and dangers you have undergone. The time is now come, to reap the full recompense of your toilsome marches over so many mountains and rivers; and through so many nations, all of them in arms. This is the place which fortune has appointed to be the limits of your labours: it is here that you will finish your glorious warfare, and receive an ample recompense of your completed service. For I would not have you imagine, that victory will be as difficult, as the name of a Roman war is great and sounding. It has often happened, that a despised enemy has given a bloody battle, and the most renowned kings and nations have by a small force been overthrown. And if you but take away the glitter of the Roman name, what is there wherein they may stand in competition with you? For (to say nothing of your service in war for twenty years together with so much valour and success) from the very pillars of Hercules, from the ocean, from the utmost bounds of the earth, through so many warlike nations of Spain and Gaul, are you not come hither victorious? And with whom are you now to fight? With raw soldiers, an undisciplined army, beaten, vanquished, besieged by the Gauls the very last summer, an army unknown to their leader, and unacquainted with him.
Or, shall I, who was born I might almost say, but certainly brought up, in the tent of my father, that most excellent general; shall I, the conqueror of Spain and Gaul, and not
only of the Alpine nations, but, which is greater yet, of the Alps themselves; shall I compare myself with this half year captain? A captain before whom should one place the two armies without their ensigns, I am persuaded he would not know to which of them he is consul? I esteem it no small advantage, soldiers, that there is not one among you, who has not often been an eyewitness of my exploits in war; not one, of whose valour I myself have not been a spectator, so as to be able to name the times and places of his noble achievements; that with soldiers, whom I have a thousand times praised and rewarded, and whose pupil I was before I became their general, I shall march against an army of men, strangers to one another.
On what side soever I turn my eyes, I behold all full of courage and strength; a veteran infantry; a most gallant cavalry you, my allies, most faithful and valiant; you, Carthaginians, whom not only your country's cause, but the justest anger impels to battle. The hope, the courage of assailants, is always greater than of those who act upon the defensive. With hostile banners displayed, you are come down upon Italy; you bring the war. Grief, injuries, indignities fire your minds, and spur you forward to revenge!-First they demanded me; that I, your general, should be delivered up to them; next, all of you, who had fought at the siege of Saguntum; and we were to be put to death by the extremest tortures. Proud and cruel nation! Every thing must be yours, and at your disposal! you are to prescribe to us with whom we shall make war, with whom we shall make peace! You are to set us bounds; to shut us up within hills and rivers but you-you are not to observe the limits which ourselves have fixed. Pass not the Iberus. What next? Touch not the Saguntines. Saguntum is upon the Iberus, move not a step toward that city. Is it a small matter, then, that you have deprived us of our ancient possessions, Sicily and Sardinia; you would have Spain too? Well, we shall yield Spain! and then-you will pass into Africa. Will pass, did I say? This very year they ordered one of their consuls into Africa, the other into Spain. No, soldiers, there is nothing left for us, but what we can vindicate with our swords. Come on, then. Be men. The Romans may with more safety be cowards; they have their own country behind them, have places of refuge to flee to, and are secure from
danger in the roads thither; but for you there is no middle fortune between death and victory. Let this be but well fixed in your minds, and once again I say, you are con
C. MARIUS TO THE ROMANS, ON THEIR HESITATING TO APPOINT HIM GENERAL IN THE EXPEDITION AGAINST JUGURTHA, MERELY ON ACCOUNT OF HIS EXTRACTION.
It is but too common, my countrymen, to observe a material difference between the behaviour of those, who stand candidates for places of power and trust, before and after their obtaining them. They solicit them in one manner, and execute them in another. They set out with a great appearance of activity, humility, and moderation: and they quickly fall into sloth, pride, and avarice. It is, undoubtedly, no easy matter to discharge, to the general satisfaction, the duty of a supreme commander in troublesome times. I am, I hope, duly sensible of the importance of the office I propose to take upon me, for the service of my country. To carry on, with effect, an expensive war, and yet be frugal of the public money; to oblige those to serve, whom it may be delicate to offend; to conduct, at the same time, a complicated variety of operations; to concert measures at home answerable to the state of things abroad; and to gain every valuable end, in spite of opposition from the envious, the factious, and the disaffected; to do all this, my countrymen, is more difficult than is generally thought. And, beside the disadvantages which are common to me with all others in eminent stations, my case is, in this respect, peculiarly hard; that whereas a commander of patrician rank, if he is guilty of a neglect, or breach of duty, has his great connections, the antiquity of his family, the important services of his ancestors, and the multitudes he has by power engaged in his interest, to screen him from condign punishment; my whole safety depends upon myself, which renders it the more
indispensably necessary for me to take care, that my conduct be clear and unexceptionable. Besides, I am well aware, my countrymen, that the eye of the public is upon me: and that, though the impartial, who prefer the real advantages of the commonwealth to all other considerations, favour my pretensions, the patricians want nothing so much as an occasion against me. It is therefore my fixed resolution, to use my best endeavours, that you be not disappointed in me, and that their indirect designs against me may be defeated. I have, from my youth, been familiar with toils and with dangers. Í was faithful to your interest, my countrymen, when I served you for no reward but that of honour. It is not my design to betray you now that you have conferred upon me a place of profit. You have committed to my conduct the war against Jugurtha. The patricians are offended at this. But where would be the wisdom of giving such a command to one of their honourable body, a person of illustrious birth, of ancient family, of innumerable statues, but-of no experience? What service would his long line of dead ancestors, or his multitude of motionless statues, do his country in the day of battle? What could such a general do, but, in his trepidation and inexperience, have recourse to some inferior commander for direction in difficulties, to which he was not himself equal? Thus, your patrician general would, in fact, have a general over him; so that the acting commander would still be a plebeian. So true is this, my countrymen, that I have myself known those, who have been chosen consuls, begin then to read the history of their own country, of which till that time they were totally ignorant; that is, they first obtained the employment, and then bethought themselves of the qualifications necessary for the proper discharge of it. I submit to your judgment, Romans, on which side the advantage lies, when a comparison is made between patrician haughtiness and plebeian experience. The very actions, which they have only read, I have partly seen, and partly myself achieved. What they know by reading I know by action. They are pleased to slight my mean birth; I despise their mean characters. Want of birth and fortune is the objection against me: want of personal worth, against them. But are not all men of the same species? What can make a difference between one man and another, but the endowments of
the mind? For my part, I shall always look upon the bravest man as the noblest man. Suppose it were inquired of the fathers of such patricians as Albinus and Bestia, whether, if they had their choice, they would desire sons of their character, or of mine; what would they answer, but that they should wish the worthiest to be their sons? If the patricians have reason to despise me, let them likewise despise their ancestors, whose nobility was the fruit of their virtue. Do they envy the honours bestowed upon me? Let them envy likewise my labours, my abstinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my country; by which I have acquired them. But those worthless men lead such a life of inactivity, as if they despised any honours you can bestow; while they aspire to honours, as if they had deserved them by the most industrious virtue. They arrogate the rewards of activity for their having enjoyed the pleasures of luxury. Yet none can be more lavish than they are in praise of their ancestors. And they imagine they honour themselves by celebrating their forefathers: whereas they do the very contrary. For, as much as their ancestors were distinguished for their virtues, so much are they disgraced by their vices. The glory of ancestors casts a light, indeed, upon their posterity; but it only serves to show what the descendants It alike exhibits to public view their degeneracy, and their worth. I own I cannot boast of the deeds of my forefathers: but I hope I may answer the cavils of the patricians, by standing up in defence of what I have myself done. Observe now, my countrymen, the injustice of the patricians. They arrogate to themselves honours on account of the exploits done by their forefathers, while they will not allow me the due praise for performing the very same sort of actions in my own person. He has no statues, they cry, of his family. He can trace no venerable line of ancestors.- What then! Is it matter of more praise to disgrace our illustrious ancestors, than to become illustrious by our own good behaviour? What if I can show no statues of my family! I can show the standards, the armour, and the trappings, which I have myself taken from the vanquished; I can show the scars of those wounds, which I have received by facing the enemies of my country. These are my statues. These are the honours I boast of; not left me by inheritance, as theirs; but earned