Life of Marius, 46

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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46Plato, however, when he was now at the point of death, lauded his guardian genius and Fortune because, to begin with, he had been born a man and not an irrational animal; again, because he was a Greek and not a Barbarian; and still again, because his birth had fallen in the times of Socrates. 2And indeed they say that Antipater of Tarsus, when he was in like manner near his end and was enumerating the blessings of his life, did not forget to mention his prosperous voyage from home to Athens, just as though he thought that every gift of a benevolent Fortune called for great gratitude, and kept it to the last in his memory, which is the most secure storehouse of blessings for a man. 3Unmindful and thoughtless persons, on the contrary, let all that happens to them slip away as time goes on; therefore, since they do not hold or keep anything, they are always empty of blessings, but full of hopes, and are looking away to the future while they neglect the present. 4And yet the future may be prevented by Fortune, while the present cannot be taken away; nevertheless these men cast aside the present gift of Fortune as something alien to them, while they dream of the future and its uncertainties. And this is natural. For they assemble and heap together the external blessings of life before reason and education have enabled them to build any foundation and basement for these things, and therefore they cannot satisfy the insatiable appetite of their souls.

5So, then, Marius died, seventeen days after entering upon his seventh consulship. And immediately Rome was filled with great rejoicing and a confident hope that she was rid of a grievous tyranny; but in a few days the people perceived that they had got a new and vigorous master in exchange for the old one; such bitterness and cruelty did the younger Marius display, putting to death the best and most esteemed citizens. 6He got the reputation of being bold and fond of danger in fighting his enemies, and in the beginning was called a son of Mars; but his deeds soon showed what he really was, and he was called instead a son of Venus. And finally he was shut up in Praeneste by Sulla, and after many vain attempts to save his life, when the city was captured and he could not escape, he slew himself.[42]

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  • [42] See the Sulla, xxxii. 1.


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