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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Caius Marius

  • [A Roman general; born near Arpinum, 157 B.C.; consul, 107; defeated Jugurtha, and the Cimbri and Teutones, 102; driven from Rome by Sulla, 88, but returned the next year, and ordered a general massacre of his opponents; consul for the seventh time, 86, but died in that year.]
  • Go and tell him that thou hast seen the exile Marius sitting on the ruins of Carthage.

  • When the officer of Sextilius, governor of Africa, had carried his superior’s order to Marius not to land at Carthage, and asked what answer he should take back.—PLUTARCH: Life. The Abbé Delille (1738–1813), in his poem “Les Jardins,” Canto IV., speaks of “ancient Carthage seeing the ill-fated Marius seated upon her crumbling walls, and these two great ruins consoled one another” (Et ces deux grands debris se consolaient entre eux). This line was vigorously attacked and defended. It is certainly striking, but seems too forced to be sublime.
  • Although possessed of great fortitude, Marius would not permit a second operation to be performed on his legs, saying, “I see the cure is not worth the pain;” equivalent to, “The remedy is worse than the disease.”
  • When Silo, an eminent officer of Sulla’s army, said to him, “If you are a great general, Marius, come down and fight us,” he answered, “If you are a great general, Silo, make me come down and fight.”
  • The magistrates of Minturnæ took Marius prisoner before he sailed for Carthage, and determined that he should be put to death. A Gallic or Cimbrian soldier undertook to carry their sentence into effect, and entered the gloomy room in which he lay. A light glanced from the eyes of the captive; and a voice was heard to say, “Dost thou dare to kill Marius?” The soldier threw down his sword, and fled. Marius was allowed to depart.—Ibid.
  • Mirabeau said, “The mother of the Gracchi cast the dust of her murdered sons into the air, and out of it sprang Caius Marius.”
  • Napoleon was thinking of the possibility of his own return to power, when he remarked during the Hundred Days, “If Marius had fallen on his sword amid the marshes of Minturnæ, he would never have enjoyed his seventh consulate.”—LOCKHART: Life.