THE CITY INVITES HER SOLDIERS TO RULE

THE fate of the Gracchi proved that reform by constitutional means was impossible. Henceforth the popular leaders were to be soldiers, not politicians. The first of these was Marius (155-86 B.C.), who had risen from the ranks by sheer merit. He proved himself a great general by crushing two barbarian hordes which were threatening Rome from the north (102-101 B.C.). His military innovations were revolutionary. Conscription and the property qualifications for service were replaced by voluntary enlistment. The army was composed of professional soldiers, who took the oath of loyalty to the general and not to the State, and who looked to him for their reward in war and peace. When Marius returned to Rome in 100 B.C. he failed to produce any constructive policy, and went into retirement. The discontent of the Italian allies boiled over into open war (90-88 B.C.), which Rome ended by granting citizenship to all who wanted it. The effect of the concession was nullified because the new citizens were crowded into a few tribes and could not exercise influence proportionate to their numbers. In any case, most of them lived too far from Rome to be able to come there for the elections, so that disproportionate political power lay in the hands of the dwellers in Rome. The fact was that a city-state had developed into a nation without knowing it. There were two ways in which this state of affairs could have been remedied-by the personal rule of one man or by a system of representative government. The widespread anarchy made the first solution inevitable. The next military leader was Sulla, a brilliant general and a champion of the Senate, who had himself elected Consul (88 B.C.). After defeating Mithridates, an oriental king who had invaded the Roman province of Asia Minor, he returned to Rome and became dictator. A reign of terror followed, in which party hatred was glutted by confiscations and licensed murder (82-81 B.C.). Sulla tried to turn back the clock by passing laws which made the Senate ruler of the State (we must remember that senatorial rule had up to now rested only on the custom of the constitution). The powers of the assembly of the people and of the tribunes were made ineffective. The people found a leader in Pompey, a stolid but conscientious and able organiser who, ten years afterwards (70 B.C.), succeeded in repealing the Sullan legislation. Pompey then put down piracy in the Mediterranean and crushed Mithridates, who had renewed the war in the East (67-62 B.C.).