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c. 157 BCE - 86 BCE
112 BCE - 106 BCE
Jugurthine War between Rome and Jugurtha of Numidia.
107 BCE - 100 BCE
Gaius Marius reforms the Roman army.
First consulship of Gaius Marius.
Marius, after reforming the Roman army, defeats the Teutons and Ambrones at Aquae Sextiae.
88 BCE - 87 BCE
First Civil War between Marius and Sulla. First march on Rome by Sulla.
Gaius Marius was the Savior of Ancient Rome, but was he a Hero or Villain?
Gaius Marius was easily one of the Roman Republic’s most accomplished men. He was a beloved general, influential military reformer, and a massively successful politician but later in his career, he tarnished his once sterling reputation. As a result, his legacy suffered - but was Marius a hero or a villain? The answer is nuanced.
Marius was born in 157 BC to a family of supposed rustic origins. After he served honorably in Rome’s legions, he ascended the political ladder, fulfilling each post’s duty with distinction. He was even elected to the state’s highest post, the consulship, in 107 BC. He subsequently took command of a war with one of Rome’s recalcitrant client kings, Jugurtha, who had previously frustrated multiple Roman generals. By 105 BC. Marius concluded the simmering conflict, prompting his popularity to surge, but he was quickly called back into action.
So-called "Marius". Marble, Roman artwork of the 1st century BC, restored by Alexander Trippel. (Marie-Lan Nguyen/ CC BY 3.0 )
Gaius Marius (Latin: [ˈɡaːijʊs ˈmarijʊs] c. 157 BC – 13 January 86 BC) was a Roman general, politician, and statesman. Victor of the Cimbric and Jugurthine wars, he held the office of consul an unprecedented seven times during his career.  He was also noted for his important reforms of Roman armies. He set the precedent for the shift from the militia levies of the middle Republic to the professional soldiery of the late Republic he also improved the pilum, a javelin, and made large-scale changes to the logistical structure of the Roman army. 
Rising from a well-off provincial Italian family in Arpinum, Marius rose to high office on his excellent record of military victories. For his victory over invading Germanic tribes in the Cimbrian War, he was dubbed "the third founder of Rome" (the first two being Romulus and Camillus).    His life and career, by breaking with many of the precedents that bound the ambitious upper class of the Roman Republic together and instituting a soldiery loyal not to the Republic but to their commanders, was highly significant in Rome's transformation from Republic to Empire.  After losing a short civil war against Sulla, being exiled, returning, and then militarily seizing Rome in 87 BC, Marius became consul for the seventh time and died shortly after assuming office.
In 157 BC, Marius was born in Cereatae, a small village near the Latin town of Arpinum in southern Latium.    The town had been conquered by the Romans in the late 4th century BC and was initially given Roman citizenship without voting rights (Civitas sine suffragio). Only in 188 BC, thirty years before his birth, did the town receive full citizenship.  Although Plutarch claims that Marius's father was a labourer, this is almost certainly false since Marius had connections with the nobility in Rome, he ran for local office in Arpinum, and he had marriage relations with the local nobility in Arpinum, which all combine to indicate that he was born into a locally important family of equestrian status.    While many of the problems he faced in his early career in Rome show the difficulties that faced a "new man" (novus homo) in being accepted into the stratified upper echelons of Roman society, Marius – even as a young man – was not poor or even middle class, he was most assuredly born into inherited wealth gained, most likely, from large land holdings.  In fact, his family's resources were definitely large enough to support not just one member of the family in Roman politics: Marius's brother, Marcus Marius, [a] would also enter Roman public life. 
There is a legend that Marius, as a teenager, found an eagle's nest with seven chicks in it – eagle clutches hardly ever have more than three eggs even if two females used the same nest – and finding seven offspring in a single nest would be exceptionally rare. Since eagles were considered sacred animals of Jupiter, the supreme god of the Romans, it was later seen as an omen predicting his accession to the consulship seven times.  Later, as consul, he decreed that the eagle would be the symbol of the Senate and People of Rome.  
In 134 BC, he joined the personal legion of Scipio Aemilianus as an officer for the expedition to Numantia.  It is unclear whether or not Marius was already present and serving in Numantia with the previous commander, Quintus Pompeius, the consul for 141 BC, when Aemilianus arrived.  However it is, while he was serving with the army at Numantia, his good services brought him to the attention of Scipio Aemilianus. According to Plutarch, during a conversation after dinner, when the conversation turned to generals, someone asked Scipio Aemilianus where the Roman people would find a worthy successor to him, the younger Scipio gently tapped on Marius's shoulder, saying "Perhaps this is the man".  
It would seem that even at this early stage in his army career, Marius had ambitions for a political career in Rome. According to Plutarch, as a hereditary client of the Caecilii Metelli, one of the noble families which was then emerging as the dominant faction in Rome,  Marius ran for election as one of the twenty-four special military tribunes of the first four legions who were elected (the rest were appointed by the magistrate who raised the legion). Sallust tells us that he was unknown by sight to the electors but was returned by all the tribes on the basis of his accomplishments. After election, he likely served Quintus Caecilius Metellus Balearicus on the Balearic Islands helping him win a triumph. 
Next, he possibly ran for the quaestorship after losing an election for local office in Arpinum. The military tribunate shows that he was already interested in Roman politics before the quaestorship. Perhaps he simply ran for local office as a means of gaining support back home, and lost to some other local worthy. It is possible, however, that Marius never ran for the quaestorship at all, jumping directly to plebeian tribune.  He likely, however, participated in the major Roman victory of 121 BC which permanently cemented Roman control over southern Gaul. 
In 120 BC, Marius was returned as a plebeian tribune for the following year. He won with the support of the Metelli faction,  specifically Lucius Caecilius Metellus Dalmaticus.  While Plutarch says the Metelli were one of his family's hereditary patrons, this connection may be a latter-day exaggeration,  it was not uncommon for prospective consuls to campaign for their candidates for the tribunate and lower the possibility of opposition tribunes exercising their vetoes. 
Plutarch relates that against the wishes of his patrons, he pushed through a law that restricted the interference of the wealthy in elections.  In the 130s, voting by ballot had been introduced in elections for choosing magistrates, passing laws and deciding legal cases, replacing the earlier system of oral voting. The wealthy continued to try to influence the voting by inspecting ballots and Marius passed a law narrowing the passages down which voters passed to cast their votes in order to prevent outsiders from harassing the electors or seeing who was voted for.   It is not clear, however, whether Plutarch's narrative history properly reflects how controversial this proposal in fact was Cicero, writing at least during the Republic, describes this lex Maria as quite straightforward and uncontroversial.  But while the election procedures were supported by the plebs in Rome, Marius shortly thereafter alienated them by vetoing a bill for the expansion of the ever-popular grain dole, citing high cost. 
Soon thereafter, in 117 BC, Marius ran for the aedileship  and lost.  It seems clear that by this time, simply due to the enormous financial difficulties that any prospective aedile would have to shoulder, Marius had either amassed or was availed of significant financial resources.  This loss was at least in part due to the enmity of the Metelli.  In 116 BC he barely won election as praetor for the following year, coming in last,  and was promptly accused of ambitus (electoral corruption).  Being accused of electoral corruption was common during the middle and late Republic and details of the trial are sketchy or apocryphal.  Marius, however, was able to win acquittal on this charge,  and spent an uneventful year as praetor in Rome,  likely as either praetor peregrinus or as president of the corruption court.  In 114 BC, Marius's imperium was prorogued and, as a propraetor, he was sent to govern the highly sought-after province of Further Spain (Latin: Hispania Ulterior),   where he engaged in some sort of minor military operation to clear brigands from untapped mining areas.  Due to his success in Spain, Marius almost certainly returned to Rome in 113 BC with his personal wealth greatly enlarged.  
He received no triumph on his return, but he did marry Julia, the aunt of Julius Caesar.  The Julii Caesares were a patrician family, but at this period seem to have found it hard to advance beyond the praetorship into the consulship. The Julii had done so only once in the 2nd century, in 157 BC. The match was advantageous to both sides: Marius gained respectability by marrying into a patrician family and the Julii received a great injection of energy and money.  Sources are unclear on whether Marius joined the annual race of former praetors for the consulship, but it is likely that he failed to be elected at least once. 
Subordinate to Metellus
The Jugurthine War started due to "Roman exasperation with the ambitions of Jugurtha",  who had killed his half-brothers, massacred Italians in his civil war against them, and bribed many prominent Romans to support him in the Senate.  After the start of hostilities, the first army sent to Numidia was apparently bribed to withdraw and the second army was defeated and forced to march under the yoke.  These debacles eroded trust in the ability of the aristocracy to adequately manage foreign affairs. 
While Marius had seemingly broken with the Caecilii Metelli during his time as tribune and praetor, the Metellii did not seem to hold this rupture against him so much as to pass over him for selection as legate in the opening phases of the Jugurthine War.  In 109 BC, likely to improve his chances for the consulship,  Marius joined then-consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus in his campaign against Jugurtha.  Legates (legati) were originally simply envoys sent by the senate, but men appointed as legates by the senate were used by generals as subordinate commanders, usually becoming the general's most trusted lieutenant. Hence, Metellus had to have asked the senate to appoint Marius as legate to allow him to serve as Metellus's subordinate.
In Sallust's long account of Metellus's campaign, no other legates are mentioned, so it is assumed that Marius was Metellus's senior subordinate and right-hand man. Metellus was using Marius's strong military experience, while Marius was strengthening his position to run for the consulship.
During the Battle of the Muthul, Marius's actions probably saved the army of Metellus from annihilation. Jughurtha had cut the Romans off from the River Muthul where they wanted to refill their water reserves. The Romans had to fight Jugurtha in the desert where the Numidian light cavalry had an advantage. The Numidian cavalry scattered the Romans into small detachments and soon had control of the battle field. Each group of Romans was fighting for their survival. At this point Marius re-organized a few detachments, and led a column of 2,000 men through the Numidans and linked up with Metellus. Together they led their men against the Numidian infantry who occupied a hill. After gaining control of the hill Marius and Metellus led their men against the rear of the Numidian cavalry. The Romans gained the initiative and the Numidians had no choice but to withdraw. 
Run for the consulship
By 108 BC, Marius expressed his desire to run for the consulship.  Metellus did not give Marius his blessing to return to Rome,  allegedly advising Marius to wait and run with Metellus's son (who was only twenty, which would signify a campaign 20 years in the future). Undeterred, Marius began to campaign for the consulship.  Sallust claims that this was catalyzed, in part, by a fortune-teller in Utica who "declared that a great and marvellous career awaited him the seer accordingly advised him, trusting in the gods, to carry out what he had in mind and put his fortune to the test as often as possible, predicting that all his undertakings would have a happy issue".  
Marius soon earned the respect of the troops by his conduct towards them, eating his meals with them and proving he was not afraid to share in any of their labours.  He also won over the Italian traders by claiming that he could capture Jugurtha in a few days with half of Metellus's troops.  Both groups wrote home in praise of him, suggesting that he could end the war quickly unlike Metellus, who was pursuing a policy of methodically subduing the countryside. 
In early 109 BC, a detachment of Roman soldiers serving as the garrison of Vaga was ambushed and cut down almost to a man. The commander of the garrison, one Titus Turpilius Silanus, a client of Metellus, escaped unharmed. Marius allegedly urged Metellus to sentence Silanus to death on charges of cowardice, but then apparently turned on Metellus, arguing that the sentence was disproportionate and overly harsh.  Also sending letters back to Rome claiming that Metellus had become enamoured with the unlimited powers associated with his imperium,  Metellus, wary of an increasingly disgruntled and resentful subordinate, permitted Marius to return to Rome. According to Plutarch, with barely enough time to make it back for the consular elections   but according to Sallust, enough time to effectively canvass for votes. 
With growing political pressure towards a quick and decisive victory over Jugurtha, Marius was elected consul for 107 BC,  campaigning against Metellus's apparent lack of swift action against Jugurtha, with Lucius Cassius Longinus as his colleague.  Because of the repeated military debacles from 113 BC to 109 BC and the accusations that the ruling oligarchy was open to flagrant bribery, it became easier for the virtuous new man who had worked with difficulty up the ladder of offices to be elected as an alternative to the inept or corrupt nobility.
The Senate prorogued Metellus's command in Numidia,  thereby preventing Marius from assuming command. Yet, Marius got around this by inducing an ally of his, then-tribune Titus Manlius Mancinus , to have the Assembly override the Senate's decision and appoint him in command.  Metellus shed bitter tears when he learned of the decision refusing to personally hand over command to Marius, Metellus was surprised at a positive welcome. Metellus's family arranged for thronging crowds to greet his ship and induced the Senate to vote Metellus a triumph and the agnomen Numidicus. 
War in Numidia
Seeking troops to bolster the forces in Numidia and win his promised quick victory, Marius found Rome's traditional manpower reserves to be depleted. As inequality increased, fewer men of military age met the property requirements to serve in the legions.  Yet, thousands of poor Italians sat idly in Rome, ineligible to serve. Seeking to use them, and with precedent for waiving the property requirements during the existential crisis that was the Second Punic War, Marius was exempted from the requirements.  With more troops mustering in southern Italy, Marius sailed for Africa, leaving his cavalry in the hands of his newly elected quaestor, Lucius Cornelius Sulla. 
Marius found that ending the war was more difficult than he had claimed.  Jugurtha was fighting a guerrilla war, it appeared that no strategy would work better than Metellus's strategy of denying Jugurtha reinforcement and support.  He arrived comparatively late in 107 BC but still fought and won a battle near Cirta.  At the end of 107 he surprised Jugurtha by a dangerous desert march to Capsa in the far south where, after the town surrendered, he put all the survivors to the sword.  Keeping up the pressure he drove Jugurtha's forces southwards and westwards into Mauretania. Marius was supposedly unhappy at receiving the dissolute and libertine Lucius Cornelius Sulla as his quaestor, but he proved a highly competent officer, well liked by the men. 
Meanwhile, Jugurtha was trying to get his father-in-law king Bocchus of Mauretania to join him in the war against the Romans. In 106, Marius marched his army far to the west, capturing a fortress near the river Molochath. Unfortunately, this advance had brought him near the dominions of Bocchus finally provoking the Mauretanian into action in the deserts just west of Serif, Marius was taken by surprise by a combined army of Numidians and Mauretanians under the command of the two enemy kings.  For once, Marius was unprepared for action and in the melee all he could do was form defensive circles.  The attack was pressed by Gaetulian and Mauretanian horsemen and for a time Marius and his main force found themselves besieged on a hill, while Sulla and his men were on the defensive on another hill nearby.  However, the Romans managed to hold off the enemy until evening and the Africans retired. The next morning at dawn the Romans surprised the Africans's insufficiently guarded camp and completely routed the Numidian-Mauretanian army.  Marius then marched east to winter quarters in Cirta. The African kings harried the retreat with light cavalry, but were beaten back by Sulla whom Marius had put in command of the cavalry.   It was by now evident that Rome would not defeat Jugurtha's guerrilla tactics through military means. Therefore, Marius resumed negotiations with Bocchus, who, though he had joined in the fighting, had not yet declared war. 
Ultimately, Marius reached a deal with Bocchus whereby Sulla, who was friendly with members of Bocchus's court, would enter Bocchus's camp to receive Jugurtha as a hostage. In spite of the possibility of treachery on the Mauritanian's part, Sulla agreed Jugurtha's remaining followers were treacherously massacred, and he himself handed over in chains to Sulla by Bocchus.  In the aftermath, Bocchus annexed the western part of Jugurtha's kingdom, and was made a friend and ally of the Roman people. Jugurtha was thrown into an underground prison (the Tullianum) in Rome, and ultimately died after gracing Marius's triumph in 104 BC. 
Since Marius held the imperium and Sulla was acting as his subordinate, the honour of capturing Jugurtha belonged strictly to Marius. But Sulla had clearly been immediately responsible and had a signet ring made for himself commemorating the event.  Sulla and his aristocratic allies encouraged this narrative to discredit Marius. This was to be one of the main causes of the eventual rivalry between Marius and Sulla that would end in civil war.  
Cimbri and Teutones
The arrival of the Cimbri in Gaul in 109 BC and their complete defeat of Marcus Junius Silanus had crippled Roman prestige, resulted in unrest among the Celtic tribes recently conquered by the Romans in southern Gaul.  In 107 the consul Lucius Cassius Longinus was completely defeated by the Tigurini, and the senior surviving officer (one Gaius Popillius, son of the consul of 132) had saved what was left only by surrendering half the baggage and suffering the humiliation of having his army "march under the yoke".  The next year, 106 BC, another consul, Quintus Servilius Caepio, marched to Gaul with another new army to salvage the situation.  There, he captured the town community of Tolosa (modern day Toulouse), where he discovered a great treasure cache called the Gold of Tolosa, believed to be stolen from the Greek temple of Delphi.  It was stolen when being transported to Massilia (modern day Marseille), with Caepio suspected of having organised the theft.  While Caepio was prorogued into the next year, the new consul for 105 BC Gnaeus Mallius Maximus,  was also assigned to southern Gaul with another army. Caepio's disdain for Mallius – a new man like Marius and hunger for glory – made it impossible for them to cooperate. 
The Cimbri and the Teutones (both migrating Germanic tribes) appeared on the Rhône, and while Caepio was on the west bank he refused to come to the aid of Mallius on the left.  The Senate was unable to induce Caepio in cooperate with Mallius, which proved both generals's undoing. The Cimbri, at the Battle of Arausio, overwhelmed and overran Caepio's legions with massively overwhelming numbers. Caepio's routed men crashed into Mallius's troops, which led to both armies being pinned against the River Rhône and annihilated by the numerically dominant Cimbrian warriors. 
The losses in the preceding decade had been bad enough, but this defeat, apparently caused by the arrogance of the nobility and its refusal to co-operate with talented non-nobles, thoroughly discredited the aristocracy's management of foreign threats. Not only had huge numbers of Romans lost their lives but Italy itself was now exposed to invasion from barbarian hordes.
The Republic, altogether lacking generals who had recently successfully concluded military campaigns,  took the illegal step of electing Marius in absentia for a second consulship in three years.  While his election was not unprecedented, as Quintus Fabius Maximus had been elected for consecutive consulships  and it was not unheard of for consuls to be elected in absentia, it certainly was not with recent precedent.  Yet, since the Assembly had the ability to overturn any law, it simply set aside the requirements and made Marius consul. 
Marius was still in Africa when the Assembly elected him consul for 104 BC.  At the start of his consulship, Marius returned from Africa in spectacular triumph, bringing Jugurtha and the riches of North Africa to awe the citizenry.  Jugurtha, who had prophesied the purchase and destruction of Rome, met his end in the Roman prison after having been led through the streets of the city in chains.  Marius was assigned – it is unclear whether by the Assembly or sortition – the province of Gaul to deal with the Cimbric threat. 
The Cimbri, after their decisive victory at Arausio, marched west into Hispania.  Marius was tasked with rebuilding, effectively from scratch, the Gallic legions.  Basing his army around a core of trained legionaries from the last year, Marius again secured exemption from the property requirements and with his newly-minted reputation for glorious and profitable victory, raised an army of some thirty thousand Romans and forty thousand Italian allies and auxiliaries.  He established a base around the town of Aquae Sextiae and trained his men. 
One of his legates was his old quaestor, Sulla, which shows that at this time there was no ill-will between them. In 104 BC, Marius was returned as consul again for 103 BC. Though he could have continued to operate as proconsul, it is likely that the people reelected him as consul so to avoid another incident of disputed command à la Caepio and Mallius.  While Plutarch – possibly referencing the memoirs of Rutilius Rufus – jibed that Marius' consular colleagues were his servants, Evans dismisses this. 
In 103 BC, the Germans still did not emerge from Hispania, and Marius's colleague died, requiring Marius to return to Rome to call elections.  Lacking a decisive conclusion to the Cimbrian conflict over the last two years, it was not a foregone conclusion that Marius would win reelection.  An appeal by a young tribune, Lucius Appuleius Saturninus, in a public meeting before the vote – along with a field of candidates without great name recognition – allowed Marius to be returned as consul again in 102 BC.  His colleague was Quintus Lutatius Catulus.  Over his successive consulships, Marius was not idle. He trained his troops, built his intelligence network, and conducted diplomacy with the Gallic tribes on the provincial frontiers. And beyond building allies in anticipation for the return of the Cimbri, he executed significant and wide-ranging reforms to the legions. 
Over this time, while the Republic raised men and prepared for the Cimbric threat, a slave revolt engulfed Sicily. The revolt was tangentially related to the Republic's attempts to raise more troops by appeasing the Italians by emancipating Italians who had been enslaved for failure to pay tax. In 104 BC, a praetor by the name of Publius Licinius Nerva was instructed to establish a tribunal to identify and emancipate enslaved Italians.  The premature closure of the tribunal due to local pressure caused unrest and ignited an uprising that would consume the island until 100 BC. 
In the years preceding Marius, there was an increasing popular movement for the redistribution of land from the wealthy aristocracy to the urban poor. The Gracchian agrarian reforms had been premised on the traditional Roman levy, which excluded from service those whose property qualification fell below the minimum property qualification for the fifth census class. One of the major arguments for these land reforms was to rebuild the manpower pool from which the legions recruited.
While the Gracchi had tried to restore the smallholders who would constitute the majority of those qualified to serve, their land legislation did little to alleviate the growing manpower shortage that gave rise to that legislation. It seems that the minimum qualification for the fifth census class (the lowest one eligible for military service) was lowered from 11,000 to 3,000 sesterces of property. Due to the reappearance of the Cimbri and the need for manpower, in 109 BC the senate called for repeal of Gaius Gracchus' restrictions on the levy's term of service.  In 107 BC, Marius was granted authorisation to ignore property qualifications altogether for the war against Jugurtha.  While enrolment of volunteers without property provoked disapproval, because none had been enrolled against their will, legal action could not be taken.  Modern historians view this enrolment in near-sighted political terms: 'to avoid losing popularity by conscripting men against their will, he took unqualified volunteers'  J. W. Rich adds that Marius may have broken with tradition not to avoid backlash, but to indulge the eagerness of those willing to serve.  With the threat of the Cimbri from 105–101, he was granted another exemption. 
After the repeated disasters of the Cimbrian war, this need for men became ever more acute. Marius and his contemporaries's need for soldiers cemented a paradigmatic shift away from the levy-based armies of the middle Republic towards open recruitment. It may have taken some time, however, for recruitment of the urban poor to become common,  perhaps only becoming common practice by the Social War.  Recruitment of the urban poor by itself did not change the social background of the legions: 'the abandonment of the property qualification may not have greatly changed the social composition of the legion. a high proportion of those impoverished peasants who stayed in the country. may still have had enough property to qualify'.  The armies of the late republic still were predominantly rural and conscripted therefrom.  But the need for men writ large and recruitment of the rural and urban poor found soldiers strongly loyal not to the republic, but to their generals whom would be perceived as comrades, benefactors, and patrons. 
Marius, however, in his successive consulships, also overhauled the training and logistical organisation of his men. Instead of baggage trains, Marius had his troops carry all their weapons, blankets, clothes, and rations.  This led to Roman soldiers of the time being referred to as Marius's mules. He also improved the pilum, a javelin which (after improvement) when thrown and impacting the enemy, would bend so to be unusable.  While Marius is credited for many of the reforms in his period, there is no evidence to support the claim that it was Marius who changed the tactical unit of the army from the maniple to the cohort. 
The decision to re-elect Marius as consul for 102 BC was vindicated when the Cimbri returned from Hispania in 102 BC and,  with a number of other tribes, returned from Spain to move on Italy. The Teutones and their allies the Ambrones were to head south and advance toward Italy from the west along the coast  the Cimbri were to attempt to cross the Alps into Italy from the north by the Brenner Pass and the Tigurini (the allied Celtic tribe who had defeated Longinus in 107) were to cross the Alps from the northeast.  The two consuls divided their forces, with Marius heading west into Gaul and Catulus holding the Italian Alps.
In the west, Marius denied the Teutones and Ambrones battle, staying inside a fortified camp and fighting off their attempts to storm it. Failing to take his camp, the Teutones and their allies moved on. Marius shadowed them, waiting for an opportune moment to attack.  An accidental skirmish between Roman camp servants, getting water, and bathing Ambrones turned into a spontaneous battle between Marius's army and the Ambrones in which the Romans defeated some 30 thousand Ambrones.  [b] The next day, the Teutones and the Ambrones counterattacked up a hill against the Roman position. Marcus Claudius Marcellus flanked their advance with a column of three thousand men, turning the battle into a slaughter:  estimates vary from 100,000 to 200,000 being slain or captured. Marius sent Manius Aquillius with a report to Rome that said 37,000 superbly trained Romans had succeeded in defeating over 100,000 Germans in two engagements. 
Marius's consular colleague in 102 BC, Quintus Lutatius Catulus, who Marius may have expected to 'spend a fruitless year employed in garrison duty',  did not fare so well. He suffered some casualties in a minor engagement up in one of the mountain valleys near Tridentum.  Catulus then withdrew and the Cimbri entered northern Italy.  The Cimbri paused in northern Italy to regroup and await expected reinforcements from the other Alpine passes. 
Shortly after Marius had vanquished the western invaders at Aquae Sextiae, Marius received news that he had been re-elected to his fourth consecutive consulship (and fifth consulship as a whole) as consul for 101 BC.  His colleague would be his friend Manius Aquillius.  After election, he returned to Rome to announce his victory at Aquae Sextiae, deferred a triumph, and promptly marched north with his army to join Catulus,   whose command was prorogued since Marius's consular colleague was dispatched to defeat the slave revolt in Sicily. 
In late July 101 BC,  during a meeting with the Cimbri, the invading tribesmen threatened the Romans with the advance of the Teutones and Ambrones. After informing the Cimbri of their allies's destruction, both sides prepared for battle.  In the ensuring battle – Battle of Vercellae (or the Raudine Plain) – Rome decisively defeated the Cimbri. Caught off guard by Sulla's cavalry, pinned down by Catulus's infantry and flanked by Marius, the Cimbri were slaughtered and the survivors enslaved.  Once again, Roman discipline overcame a larger barbarian force. Upwards of 120,000 Cimbri perished.  The Tigurini gave up their efforts to enter Italy from the northeast and went home. 
After fifteen days of thanksgiving, Catulus and Marius celebrated a joint triumph,  but it was Marius who was hailed as 'the third founder of Rome'.   In the popular imagination, it was Marius who 'deserved to be the sole beneficiary of the two triumphs awarded for the decisive conclusion of the war'.  At the same time, Marius's consular colleague, Manius Aquillius, defeated the Sicilian slave revolt in the Second Servile War.  Having saved the Republic from destruction and at the height of his political powers, Marius desired another consulship to secure land grants for his veteran volunteers and to ensure he received appropriate credit for his military successes.  Marius was duly returned as consul for 100 BC with Lucius Valerius Flaccus  according to Plutarch, he also campaigned on behalf of his colleague so to prevent his rival Metellus Numidicus from securing a seat. 
During the year of Marius's sixth consulship (100 BC), Lucius Appuleius Saturninus was tribune of the plebs for the second time and advocated reforms like those earlier put forth by the Gracchi. Saturninus, after assassinating one of his political opponents to the tribunate,  pushed for bills that would drive Marius' former commanding officer Metellus Numidicus into exile,   lower the price of wheat distributed by the state,  and give colonial lands to the veterans of Marius's recent war.  Saturninus's bill gave lands to all veterans of the Cimbric wars, including those of Italian allies, which was resented by some of the plebs urbana.  At the same time, Marius, an Italian, was supportive of the allies' rights, generously granting citizenship for acts of valour. 
Marius and Saturninus were allied in the years prior to 100 BC, with the latter supporting Marius' multiple re-elections to the consulship.  In the year 100, Marius fervently attempted to pass a bill to give land to his landless veterans. [c] Marius and Saturninus' agrarian measure may have been proposals to shift practice of the Roman state permanently into setting aside land for veterans.  Opposition to the measure – itself three interrelated bills – seems to have been focused on (1) upsetting the balance between the senate and the people by forcing senators to take an oath to uphold agrarian law  and (2) concentrating the power to create large numbers of new citizens into single people. 
Badian argues that Marius sought to remove himself from this political alliance, as his partners, Saturninus and Saturninus' ally Glaucia, had 'long-term aims would have crippled [Marius] politically' and 'within an ace of attaining supreme rule at Rome'.  Marius broke with his allies  around the start of the annual campaign season for the consulship, attempting to disqualify Glaucia from standing for consul.  Because other candidates would lower the chances of Glaucia's victory, Saturninus and Glaucia had an opponent – Gaius Memmius – assassinated in the middle of the voting for the consular elections for 99 BC.  The elections then were delayed.  The senate responded Saturninus's attempt to force through Glaucia's candidacy, regardless of Marius' disqualification, with armed force, issuing a senatus consultum ultimum, and – for the first time – ordered the magistrates to take whatever actions they felt necessary to end unrest by other Roman magistrates.  
Rallying volunteers from the urban plebs and his veterans, Marius cut the water supply to the Capitoline hill and put Saturninus's barricades under a short and decisive siege.  After Saturninus and Glaucia surrendered, Marius attempted to keep Saturninus and his followers alive by locking them safely inside the senate house, where they would await prosecution according to the law.  Possibly with Marius's implied consent,  an angry mob broke into the building and, by dislodging the roof tiles and throwing them at the prisoners below, lynched those inside.  Glaucia too was dragged from his house and killed in the street. 
In complying with the Senate's wishes, Marius tried to show the Senate, who had always been suspicious of his motives, that he was one of them instead of the outsider that Quintus Metellus said he was in 108 BC. Marius's overall concern, for his part, was always how to maintain the Senate's esteem: in the words of the scholar A.N. Sherwin-White, Marius 'wanted to end his days as vir censorius, like the other great worthies among the novi homines of the second century'. 
At the end of his consulship, Plutach states that Marius' reputation was in tatters.  It is, however, unlikely that – as Plutarch claims – Marius was abandoned by his clients and peers.  Evans tells us that Marius entered a semi-retirement as an elder statesman, a role which 'precluded a more active participation in public life'. 
After the events of 100 BC, Marius at first tried to oppose the recall of Metellus Numidicus, who had been exiled by Saturninus in 103. However, seeing that opposition was impossible, Marius decided to travel to the east to Galatia in 98 BC, ostensibly to fulfill a vow he had made to the goddess Magna Mater.  
Plutarch portrays this voluntary exile as a great humiliation for the six-time consul: 'considered obnoxious to the nobles and to the people alike', he was even forced to abandon his candidature for the censorship of 97.  Plutarch also reports that while in the East, Marius attempted to goad Mithridates VI of Pontus into declaring war on Rome – telling Mithridates to either become stronger than Rome or obey her commands  – so that the Roman people might be forced to rely on Marius's military leadership once more.  This anecdote, however, is discounted by Evans, dismissing it as 'nothing more than a malicious rumour' perhaps created by Rutilius Rufus or Sulla.  Other scholars have argued that the mission was instead planned by the senate with the support of the princeps senatus Marcus Aemilius Scaurus for the purpose of investigating Mithridates' campaigns in Cappadocia without arousing too much suspicion. 
However, scholars have pointed out that Marius's supposed 'humiliation' cannot have been too long-lasting. In c. 98–97 BC, he was given the unprecedented honour of being elected in absentia to the college of priestly augurs whilst away in Asia Minor.  Furthermore, Marius's mere presence at the trial of Manius Aquillius in 98 BC, his friend and former colleague as consul in 101 BC, was enough to secure acquittal for the accused, even though he was apparently guilty.   Marius also successfully acted as sole defence for T Matrinius in 95 BC, an Italian from Spoletium who had been granted Roman citizenship by Marius and who was now accused under the terms of the Lex Licinia Mucia. 
While Marius was away in the east and after he returned, Rome had several years of relative peace. But in 95 BC, Rome passed a decree, the lex Licinia Mucia, expelling from the city all residents who were not Roman citizens. In 91 BC, Marcus Livius Drusus was elected tribune and proposed a greater division of state lands, the enlargement of the Senate, and a conferral of Roman citizenship upon all freemen of Italy.  Marius seemed not to have an opinion on Drusus' Italian question.  But after Drusus was assassinated,  many of the Italian states then revolted against Rome in the Social War of 91–87 BC, named after the Latin word for ally, socii. 
Marius was recalled to served as a legate with his nephew, the consul Publius Rutilius Lupus. After Lupus died in a Marsic ambush on the River Tolenus,  Marius, who was leading another column of men, crossed the river at a different location and captured the Marsic camp.    He then marched on the Marsi while they were busy stripping the corpses and dealt with them accordingly.  With Marius in command of their camp and supplies the Marsi had to withdraw.  Marius then sent the corpses of Lupus and his officers back to Rome.  Following this, Marius took command of and regrouped Lupus's army. The Senate then decided to give joint command to Marius and the praetor Quintus Servilius Caepio the Younger.  Marius had expected sole command and he did not get along with Caepio with disastrous results.  After having dealt with a raiding legion of Marsi at Varnia, Caepio attempted to give Marius instructions, but Marius ignored them.  Caepio left on his own and was then obliged to move his legions back towards Caeoli. Once they reached the Arno at Sublaqueum they were attacked by the Marsi. Caepio's column perished to the last man.  It is said he was killed by Quintus Poppaedius Silo himself.  
Marius now in sole command continued the fight against the Marsi and their allies. After a lot of maneuvering the Marsi and Marruncini were defeated in a battle where Marius worked in tandem with Lucius Cornelius Sulla, his old subordinate from the Jugurthine and Cimbri wars, together they killed 6,000 rebels, including the Marruncini general Herius Asinus, and captured 7,000.     Marius failed to follow up on this success for unknown reasons (probably because he did not trust his men's morale), he steadfastly refused to engage the enemy. This led Poppaedius Silo, one of the Marsi generals, to challenge him: 'So if you are such a great general, Marius, why not come down [from your fortifications] and fight it out?' To this Marius retorted, 'Well, if you think you are any good a general, why don't you try to make me?' 
By 89 BC Marius had or had been retired from the war. Either he had withdrawn under the pretext of ill-health because he felt he was being under-appreciated or he was genuinely ill. There is also the possibility that when his command lapsed at the end of 90 BC the government simply did not renew it – due to a lack of success – or they may have offered him a face-saving deal: retire and claim infirmities.  
The Italian war for citizenship was hard-fought. And in 90 BC, the Assembly carried a law, the lex Julia de civitate latinis et sociis danda to grant citizenship to Italians not yet under arms. In early 89 BC, with the expansion of the war slowing, the Senate dispatched Lucius Porcius Cato to take over the troops under Marius's command. Shortly after arriving, he forced Marius to resign his legateship by claiming he was in poor health. 
Marius's experience in the conflict brought him few honors, though he served at a senior level and won at least a few victories. In all likelihood, this experience rekindled his desire for further commands and glory, embarking on a path towards seeking command in the east. 
Sulla and the First Civil War
During the Social War, one of Marius's clients and friends, Manius Aquillius, had apparently encouraged the kingdoms of Nicomedia and Bithynia to invade Pontus.  In response, King Mithridates of Pontus responded by invading both kingdoms and Roman holdings in Asia (modern day western Asia minor).  Defeating the meagre forces at Aquillius's disposal, Mithridates marched across the Bosphorus and Aquillius retreated to Lesbos.  With the Social War concluded and with the prospects of a glorious and fabulously rich conquest, there was significant competition in the consular elections for 88 BC. Eventually, Lucius Cornelius Sulla was elected consul, and received command of the army being sent to Pontus. 
After news of Mithridates' atrocities reached Rome, Marius may have considered a seventh term as consul. A tribune, Publius Sulpicius Rufus also was working on proposals to distribute the new Italian citizens into the thirty-five voting tribes. Marius was likely the one pushing for this most, while also positioning himself for a seventh consulship and – when bundled with Sulpicius' other voting reforms – a long-lasting political base.  Sulpicius' proposals raised a furore in the forum, leading to a riot in which the consul – Sulla – was forced to shelter in Marius' house, where a compromise was reached allowing the voting bill to pass through and for Sulla to prepare to go east. 
After Sulla left Rome for his army in Nola to depart for the east, Sulpicius had his measures passed into law and tacked on a rider which unprecedentedly appointed Marius – a private citizen lacking any office in the republic  – to the command in Pontus.  Marius then sent two of his legates to take the command from Sulla.  These moves were foolish: Evans notes 'Marius' political ingenuity seems to have deserted him' and calls Marius' actions rash.  Sulla refused to relinquish his post, even though all but one of his own subordinates opposed Sulla's course of action.  After killing Marius' legate, Sulla rallied his troops to his personal banner and called upon them to defend him against the insults of the Marian faction.  The ancient sources say that Sulla's soldiers pledged their loyalty because were worried that they would be kept in Italy while Marius raised troops from his own veterans who would then proceed to plunder great riches.   Marius's faction sent two tribunes to Sulla's legions in eastern Italy, who were promptly murdered by Sulla's troops.
Sulla then ordered his troops to begin a slow march on Rome.  This was a momentous event, unforeseen by Marius, as no Roman army had ever marched upon Rome: it was forbidden by law and ancient tradition. Once it became obvious that Sulla was going to defy the law and seize Rome by force, Marius attempted to organize a defense of the city with gladiators. Unsurprisingly Marius's ad hoc force was no match for Sulla's legions.  Marius was defeated and fled the city. Marius narrowly escaped capture and death on several occasions and eventually found safety with his veterans in Africa.  Sulla and his supporters in the Senate proscribed twelve men, including a death sentence passed on Marius, Marius' son, Sulpicius and a few other allies.   A few men – including Sulpicius – were executed but, according to Plutarch, many Romans disapproved of Sulla's actions.
Some who opposed Sulla were elected to office in 87 BC – Gnaeus Octavius, a supporter of Sulla, and Lucius Cornelius Cinna, a supporter of Marius and member of Sulla's extended family,  were elected consuls – as Sulla wanted to demonstrate his republican bona fides.  Regardless, Sulla was again confirmed as the commander of the campaign against Mithridates, so he took his legions out of Rome and marched east to war.
Seventh consulship and death
While Sulla was on campaign in Greece, fighting broke out between the conservative supporters of Sulla, led by Octavius, and the popular supporters of Cinna over voting rights for the Italians.  When Cinna was forced to flee the city by Octavius's gangs, he was able to rally significant Italian support: some 10 legions including the Samnites.  Marius along with his son then returned from exile in Africa to Etruria with an army he had raised there and placed themselves under consul Cinna's command to oust Octavius.  Marius demanded the tribunes lift his banishment by passage of law.  Cinna's vastly superior army coerced the senate into opening the gates of the city. 
They entered Rome and started murdering the leading supporters of Sulla, including Octavius.  Their heads were exhibited in the Forum. Fourteen of the victims, including six former consuls, were noteworthy individuals:   Lucius Licinius Crassus (older brother of the triumvir), Gaius Atilius Serranus, Marcus Antonius Orator, Lucius Julius Caesar, his brother Caesar Strabo, Quintus Mucius Scaevola the Augur, Publius Cornelius Lentulus, Gaius Nemotorius, Gaius Baebius and Octavius Ruso.  A number of those targeted by the purge were not immediately killed: show trials were set up before the victims committed suicide.  Marius and Cinna also declared Sulla an enemy of the state and stripped him of his proconsular command in the east. 
While Marius and Cinna were both responsible for the deaths and the headed pikes in the forum, it is unlikely that Marius and his men killed everyone in their paths, as reported in Cassius Dio and Plutarch.  The killings, more likely, served to terrorise the political opposition.  Competitors suitably frightened, show elections were held for 86, [d] with Marius and Cinna being elected by the comitia centuriata irregularly.  Within a fortnight of assuming the consulship for the seventh time, Marius was dead.  
Plutarch relates several opinions on the end of Marius: one, from Posidonius, holds that Marius contracted pleurisy Gaius Piso has it that Marius walked with his friends and discussed all of his accomplishments with them, adding that no intelligent man ought leave himself to fortune.  Plutarch then anonymously relates that Marius, having gone into a fit of passion in which he announced in a delusionary manner that he was in command of the Mithridatic War, began to act as he would have on the field of battle finally, Plutarch relates, that ever an ambitious man, Marius lamented, on his death bed, that he had not achieved all of which he was capable, despite his having acquired great wealth and having been chosen consul more times than any man before him.
After his death, Lucius Valerius Flaccus, another patrician like Cinna, was elected as sole candidate to succeed Marius as consul  Flaccus was dispatched immediately with two legions to fight Mithridates alongside (but not with) Sulla.  While Marius is at times blamed for the purges, his sudden death more than likely as used to deflect blame rather than an actual change in policy.  Cinna and one of his later consular colleagues, Carbo, would lead their faction into the civil war, which continued until their defeat (and that of Marius' son) by Sulla's army, eventually allowing Sulla to make himself dictator.
Marius was an extremely successful Roman general and politician.  In ancient sources, he is repeatedly characterised as having unending ambition and opportunism. [e] Plutarch says of him:
if Marius could have been persuaded to sacrifice to the Greek Muses and Graces, he would not have put the ugliest possible crown upon a most illustrious career in field and forum, nor have been driven by the blasts of passion, ill-timed ambition, and insatiable greed upon the shore of a most cruel and savage old age. 
This characterisation is not viewed by modern historians as entirely fair,  for Marius's attempts to win the consulship and for self-aggrandisement were not out of the norm of politicians of the middle to late Republic.  Marius's legacy is heavily defined by his example: his five successive consulships, while seen contemporaneously as necessary for the survival of Roman civilisation, gave unprecedented power into the hands of a single man over a never-before-seen length of time. 
However, that Marius died "so hated by contemporaries is really rather unremarkable, because to his unrealistic, even senile, dreams of further triumphs may be laid the prime cause for the disastrous civil war of 87 [BC]. His unquenchable ambitio overcame an unusually astute sense of judgement the result, the beginning of the Roman revolution".  Broadly, "traditional republican culture had been based on the principles of equality between colleagues in office and short terms of office holding. the inherited republic could not survive Marius and his ambitions". 
Reforms to the legions
In the traditional narratives, his reforms to the recruitment process for the Roman legions are roundly criticised for creating a soldiery wholly loyal to their generals and beholden to their beneficence of ability to secure payment from the state.  However, Richard J. Evans argues this development did not emerge from Marius, and it was likely initially envisioned as nothing more than a temporary measure to meet the extraordinary threats of Numidia and the Cimbrian tribes.  Moreover, the armies in the late republic were broadly similar with those of the middle republic: "the composition of the post-Marian armies. did not differ markedly from the past".  
"The property qualification for army service had become nearly meaningless by 107" with exemptions from the property qualifications becoming commonplace and recurrent.  Marius's recruitment reforms simply made plain what had been for some time commonplace,  out of need for men or simply the expediency of calling up urban volunteers rather than conscripting farmers.  The willingness of the soldiers to kill fellow Romans changed after the Social War: "if Sulla's army had been unwilling to march on Rome. then the outcome would obviously have been completely different, no matter how power-hungry Marius or Sulla were".  But it is unclear as to whether this willingness was the result of the reforms themselves or the environment created during and after the Social war,  which had the related effect of breaking down the Roman government's legitimacy. 
There were political effects, however, to the promise of land after service: the decision to call up the proletarii would not be fully felt until the time to draw down the troops. As the spoils of war became increasingly inadequate as compensation for the soldiers – the spoils of war do not guarantee a long term stream of income – it became common practice to allocate land for the foundation of veteran colonies (generally abroad).  While obstructionism in the senate over veteran land grants does not appear in Marius' lifetime,  later passage of the legislation necessary to establish these colonies became an "increasingly irksome chore [dogging] the footsteps of senior politicians on their return . from service overseas". 
Assemblies and foreign affairs
Marius's repeated use of the Assemblies to overturn the Senatorial commands had significant negative effects on the stability of the state.  The senate generally used sortition to choose generals for command posts, removing the conflict of interest between consuls.  In the late 120s BC, Gaius Gracchus passed a lex Sempronia de provinciis consularibus which required that commands be assigned before the election of consuls. Evans writes of this lex Sempronia:
The legislation is generally seen as popular legislation for foiling senatorial contrivance of commands, and for reducing the political intrigue which often accompanied the selection of generals. It was also a sound administrative device which cracked down on the ambitions of senators who sought the leadership of special military ventures. 
Marius's use of the Assemblies to remove Metellus from command in Numidia spelled an end for collective governance in foreign affairs.  In later years, use of plebiscita became the main means by which commands were granted (or stolen) from other generals, adding to personal rivalries and diminishing the ability to govern the state.  The size of the rewards gained from manipulating the Assemblies was irresistible to future generations of ambitious politicians. 
The similar use of the Assemblies in an attempt to replace Sulla with Marius for the Mithridatic War was unprecedented, as never before had laws been passed to confer commands on someone lacking any official title in the state.  Marius' legal strategy misfired disastrously because he failed to predict Sulla's reaction of marching on the city to protect his command: 
It was plainly expected that Sulpicius' bill and the sanctity of the law, even if much abused, would be obeyed without question. Sulla's unforeseen rejection of the 'popular' will, which he must surely have believed to have been of equivocal legality, was made from a position of great strength since he had the means and the opportunity to impose his will on the situation. 
While political violence had been increasingly normalised throughout the middle and late Republic, starting with the murder of the Gracchi brothers, the passage of the senatus consultum ultimum against Saturninus and Glaucia in Marius's sixth consulship normalised the use of force not only against private citizens, but also "against properly elected magistrates in order to preserve [the Senate's] own position". 
Moreover, Marius's attempts to undermine Sulla's command at the start of the First Mithridatic War massively expanded the scope of that violence. No longer would only mobs clash in the streets of Rome. No longer would personal grudges just be pursued by political prosecutions in the courts: [f] political enemies would be killed.  [g] While at a broad level, the use of the Assemblies eroded senatorial control which, along with Sulla's decision to march on Rome, created significant and prolonged instability,  only resolved by the destruction of the Republican form of government and the transition to the empire.
Meanwhile, senatorial leaders had failed to meet a threat to northern Italy from migrating Cimbri and Teutons. In reaction the people turned to Marius, whom they elected in absentia against all constitutional practice to the consulship for 104 and to four successive consulships from 103 to 100. For the northern war, Marius recruited another popular army. He also introduced major reforms in the training and organization of the Roman legions, making the cohort, instead of the smaller maniple, the chief tactical unit. His reorganization continued in effect through the early empire. Again Marius was victorious. He slaughtered the Teutons and Ambrones at Aquae Sextiae in 102 and the Cimbri at Vercellae in 101 to save Italy.
But Marius had won his six consulships not without a price. In 103 the demagogue L. Appuleius Saturninus had attached himself to Marius's cause by passing legislation benefiting Marius's African veterans. In 101 Marius used his veterans to secure the consulship for himself and a second tribunate for Saturninus. As tribune in 100, Saturninus then rammed through an agrarian-colonial bill with the help of the veterans. The bill provided for allotments to veterans in Gaul and called for the establishment of colonies in Sicily and Greece open to Italians as well as veterans and city poor.
When Metellus Numidicus refused to swear the oath attached to the measure, Marius and Saturninus forced him into exile and so got rid of a mutual enemy. But when Saturninus tried for a third tribunate and attempted to install C. Servilius Glaucia in the consulship for 99 by murdering his competitor, Marius abandoned him and cooperated with the Senate in restoring public order.
Marius failed, however, to prevent the lynching of Saturninus and Glaucia and so lost political credit among the city crowd. When Metellus Numidicus was recalled from exile in 98, Marius left for a tour of the East. He returned in 97, but although he still commanded a large following among his veterans and the Italians, he found himself outmaneuvered in Rome by the senatorial leaders whom he had antagonized.
Cimbri and Teutons
Just as Marius was coming to power as Consul in 107 BC, a major migration by Germanic (perhaps Celtic) Cimbri was causing consternation along Rome's northern frontier. Apparently under threat of starvation from poor harvests and from external threats by other tribes, the Cimbri were on the move looking for new, more promising land. By 113 BC, the Germanics made their first appearance in Roman written history. These movements, and associated great losses in the Roman army stood as the main reason for Marius' military reforms, and not some great advocacy for the plebes, as the people of the time generally believed.
There is some evidence that the Germanics wanted little to do with the Romans, and that they simply sought safe passage to better lands. Others argue that they were an aggressive army looking for plunder. The Roman generals of the time, ambitious and politically motivated in a time of great change and opportunity for personal glory, may very well have provoked the Cimbri at every step. Regardless, the Cimbri did wander the Danube region for several years, involved in a number of engagements with local Celts. At some point a Roman army was sent to meet them in Noricum, modern Carinthia. Under Gnaeus Paprius Carbo, the Romans were routed and sent scrambling home (112 BC), while the Cimbri continued to move west towards Gaul.
After the defeat of Carbo, the Cimbri crossed the Rhine and threatened territory belonging to the Roman allied Allobroges. Tribal leaders attempted to negotiate land rights for their people, but all such requests were denied. By 109 BC, the Romans sent another force under the Consul Marcus Junius Silanus but again were soundly defeated, losing as many as 30,000 men. The Cimbri, however, not showing any desire to invade or cause trouble, went about their own business, looking for land in Gaul. In 107 BC another Roman army under the command of Longinus met up with the Cimbri near modern Tolosa. In addition to fresh recruits Longinus also led the veterans of Metellus' army from Africa, whose ultimate defeat along with the earlier losses, forced Marius to recruit from the Roman head count. Longinus was initially successful, but was eventually caught in an ambush. Killed in action, his subordinate, Laenas was forced to surrender his position and return to Rome with fewer than 4,000 survivors.
As if the crisis were not dire enough, the following two years were more disastrous still. In 106 BC, Quintus Servilius Caepio marched a fresh army towards Tolosa to enact revenge. When he arrived he was sidetracked by the discovery of the infamous 'Gold of Tolosa', a vast treasure. Winning a minor engagement, he let the Germanics move off, while he secured the treasure and prepared it to be returned to Rome. While en route, it 'mysteriously' disappeared, and the Caepio family suddenly became very wealthy and was the target of suspicion and accusations from that point on.
While he sat idle, the Senate was apparently unsatisfied with Caepio's performance and authorized another army to be raised. This time, a force of over 6 legions was hastily prepared under Mallius Maximus, and he was given imperium over both armies. He marched to join Caepio, but Caepio, feeling that Mallius was inferior in social position, refused to obey or join his command. Bitter in-fighting between the two men, and armies, would prove to be disastrous. In 105 BC, the Cimbri returned and came across the Romans arranged in two separate camps, with two full armies functioning completely independent of one another. At the battle of Aurasio (modern Orange), the Cimbri crushed both Roman armies, killing nearly 80,000 men while sustaining minimal losses of their own.
Despite this monumental victory, and the opening of the doorway to invade Italy, the Cimbri were still only interested in finding new land. They then divided their force, with some remaining in southern Gaul, but with the bulk moving on towards the Pyrenees and Spain. Bitter resistance by Celtibereans in Spain would eventually force the Germanics to return, but for the time being, Rome was granted a brief respite.
It was at this time that the opportunistic Marius returned to Rome to celebrate his triumph over Jugurtha. Rome, feeling the pinch of several successful military disasters, essentially granted complete military authority to Marius. In a breach of the Roman Republican constitution, 104 BC saw his election as Consul for the second time in only a few short years. The law required at least 10 years intervals between elections as Consul, but his election was proof of the faith that both the Senate and the people had in Marius' ability. A generally unpopular figure among the Senate, he was elected to an unprecedented 5 straight terms as Consul from 104 to 100 BC in order to deal with the Germanic threat.
In 104 BC however, the Cimbri had moved on, and Marius spent the time reforming his legions, building roads and generally improving the condition of the provincial public works. Within 2 years, the Cimbri had joined up with more Germanics, including the Teutons, Helvetii and Ambrones. Failing to win new land in Spain from the Celts, they returned to what they may have thought would be easier adversaries in the Romans. In 102 BC, the Cimbri moved around the Alps to the eastern side of Italy preparing to invade. The Teutones moved to the west and followed the Alps south along the coast into Italy. Marius caught the Teutones and Ambrones at the battle of Aquae Sextiae late in the year 102 BC. This time, under competent Roman command, the Germanics were annihilated, and the Romans could focus on their other enemy, the Cimbri.
By early 101 BC, the Cimbri moved down from the Alps and started to press into eastern Italy. An army, technically under the command of Q. Lutatius Catulus, but practically led by Marius' subordinate Sulla, met the Cimbri at Vercellae. Again, the Germanic invaders were crushed with losses approaching 100,000. Two great Germanic tribes were nearly routed completely from historical existence, and the three Roman commanders bickered over who could claim the victory. In the end, Marius shared a joint triumph with Catulus, but it was Marius who was heaped with the credit by the Roman people, and he was named the 'savior of Rome'. Perhaps, even more significant than the victory, was the political and personal impact. While Marius, without an enemy to fight, would soon prove his inability as a politician, the personal rivalry between Marius and Sulla grew ever more fractured.
Gaius Marius (/ˈ☞ɪəs ˈmɛəriəs, ˈmær-/ 157-January 13, 86 BC) was a Roman general and statesman. He held the office of consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his important reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the structure of the legions into separate cohorts. Marius defeated the invading Germanic tribes (the Teutones, Ambrones, and the Cimbri), for which he was called "the third founder of Rome." His life and career were significant in Rome's transformation from Republic to Empire.
Life Early career
Marius was born in 157 BC in the town of Arpinum in southern Latium. The town had been conquered by the Romans in the late 4th century BC and was given Roman citizenship without voting rights. Only in 188 BC did the town receive full citizenship. Although Plutarch claims that Marius' father was a labourer, this is almost certainly false since Marius had connections with the nobility in Rome, he ran for local office in Arpinum, and he had marriage relations with the local nobility in Arpinum, which all combine to indicate that he was born into a locally important family of equestrian status. The problems he faced in his early career in Rome show the difficulties that faced a "new man" (novus homo).
There is a legend that Marius, as a teenager, found an eagle's nest with seven chicks in it – eagle clutches hardly ever have more than 3 eggs even if two females used the same nest, finding 7 offspring in a single nest would be exceptionally rare. Since eagles were considered sacred animals of Jupiter, the supreme god of the Romans, it was later seen as an omen predicting his election to the consulship seven times. Later, as consul, he decreed that the eagle would be the symbol of the Senate and People of Rome.
In 134 BC, he was serving with the army at Numantia and his good services brought him to the attention of Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus. Whether he arrived with Scipio Aemilianus or was already serving in the demoralized army that Scipio Aemilianus took over at Numantia is not clear. According to Plutarch, during a conversation after dinner, when the conversation turned to generals, someone asked Scipio Aemilianus where the Roman people would find a worthy successor to him. Aemilianus then gently tapped on Marius' shoulder, saying: "Perhaps this is the man." It would seem that even at this early stage in his army career, Marius had ambitions for a political career in Rome. He ran for election as one of the twenty-four special military tribunes of the first four legions who were elected (the rest were appointed by the magistrate who raised the legion). Sallust tells us that he was unknown by sight to the electors but was returned by all the tribes on the basis of his accomplishments.
Next, he ran for the quaestorship after losing an election for local office in Arpinum. The military tribunate shows that he was already interested in Roman politics before the quaestorship. Perhaps he simply ran for local office as a means of gaining support back home, and lost to some other local worthy. Nothing is known of his actions while quaestor.
In 120 BC, Marius was returned as plebeian tribune for the following year. He won with the support of Quintus Caecilius Metellus (later known as Metellus Numidicus), who was an inherited patronus. The Metelli, though neither ancient nor patrician, were one of the most powerful families in Rome at this time. During his tribunate, Marius pursued a populares line. He passed a law that restricted the interference of the wealthy in elections. In the 130s voting by ballot had been introduced in elections for choosing magistrates, passing laws and deciding legal cases, replacing the earlier system of oral voting. The wealthy continued to try to influence the voting by inspecting ballots and Marius passed a law narrowing the passages down which voters passed to cast their votes in order to prevent outsiders from harassing the electors. In the passage of this law, Marius alienated the Metelli, who opposed it.
Soon thereafter, Marius ran for the aedileship and lost. This loss was at least in part due to the enmity of the Metelli. In 116 BC he barely won election as praetor for the following year (presumably coming in sixth) and was promptly accused of ambitus (electoral corruption). He barely won acquittal on this charge, and spent an uneventful year as praetor in Rome (as Urban Praetor, Peregrine Praetor or President of the extortion court). In 114 BC, Marius' imperium was prorogued and he was sent to govern Lusitania, where he engaged in some sort of minor military operation: according to Plutarch, he cleared away the robbers whilst robbery was still considered a noble occupation by the local people. During this period in Roman history governors seem regularly to have served two years in Hispania, so he was probably replaced in 113 BC.
He received no triumph on his return and did not apparently run for the consulship, but he did marry Julia, the aunt of Julius Caesar. The Julii Caesares were a patrician family, but at this period seem to have found it hard to advance above the praetorship. (Only once in the 2nd century – in 157 BC – did a member of the family become consul.) To judge by this marriage, Marius had apparently achieved some substantial political or financial influence by this point (possibly from his governship in Hispania).
The Marii were the inherited clients of the Caecilii Metelli and a Caecilius Metellus had aided Marius' campaign for the tribunate. Although he seems to have had a break with the Metelli as a result of the laws he passed while tribune, the rupture was not permanent, since in 109 BC Quintus Caecilius Metellus took Marius with him as his legate on his campaign against Jugurtha. Legates (legati) were originally simply envoys sent by the Senate, but men appointed as legates by the Senate were used by generals as subordinate commanders, usually becoming the general's most trusted lieutenant. Hence, Metellus had to have asked the Senate to appoint Marius as legate to allow him to serve as Metellus' subordinate. In Sallust's long account of Metellus' campaign no other legates are mentioned, so it is assumed that Marius was Metellus's senior subordinate and right-hand man. Thus Metellus was using Marius' military experience, while Marius was strengthening his position to run for the consulship. The rupture in 119 BC may have been exaggerated after the fact in light of his later and much more serious disagreement with Metellus about Numidia.
By 108 BC, Marius conceived the desire to run for the consulship. Despite lack of approval from Metellus (brought on by Marius' status as a novus homo) who instead advised Marius to wait and run with Metellus' son (who was only twenty, which would signify a campaign 20 years in the future) Marius began to campaign for the consulship. Sallust claims that this was catalyzed, in part, by a fortune-teller who "told him that great and wonderful things were presaged to him that he might therefore pursue whatever designs he had formed trusting to the gods for success, and that he might try fortune as often as he pleased for that all his undertakings would prosper." Marius soon earned the respect of the troops by his conduct towards them, eating his meals with them and proving he was not afraid to share in any of their labours. He also won over the Italian traders by claiming that he could capture Jugurtha in a few days with half Metellus' troops. Both groups wrote home in praise of him, suggesting that he could end the war quickly unlike Metellus, who was pursuing a policy of methodically subduing the countryside. Eventually Metellus gave in, realizing that it was counterproductive to have a resentful subordinate.
Under these circumstances, later that year, Marius was triumphantly elected consul for 107 BC. He was campaigning against Metellus's apparent lack of swift action against Jugurtha. Because of the repeated military debacles from 113 BC to 109 BC and the accusations that the oligarchy was open to flagrant bribery, it became easier for the virtuous new man who had worked with difficulty up the ladder of offices to be elected as an alternative to the inept or corrupt nobility. The Senate had a trick up its sleeve, however. In accordance with the provisions of the Lex Sempronia on Consular provinces, which dictated that the Senate in a given year was to determine the Consular provinces for the next year at the end of year before the elections, the Senate decided not to make the war against Jugurtha one of the provinces and to prorogue Metellus in Numidia. Marius got around this through a ploy that had been used in 131 BC. In that year there was a dispute as to who should command the war against Aristonicus in Asia, and a tribune had passed a law authorizing an election to select the commander (there was precedent for this procedure from the Second Punic War). A similar law was passed in 108 BC and Marius was voted the command by the People in this special election. Metellus shed bitter tears when he learned of the decision. Upon returning home, he avoided meeting Marius, and was granted a Triumph and the agnomen Numidicus (conqueror of Numidia).
The most dramatic and influential changes Marius made to the Roman army were named the Marian Reforms. In 107 BC, shortly after being elected as Consul, Marius, fearing barbarian invasion, saw the dire need for an increase in troop numbers. Until this time, the standard requirements to become a Roman soldier were very strict. To be considered a soldier in the service of the republic, an individual was required to provide his own arms and uniform for combat. Marius relaxed the recruitment policies by removing the necessity to own land, and allowed all Roman citizens entry, regardless of social class. The benefits to the army were numerous, with the unemployed masses enlisting for military service alongside the more fortunate citizens. Poorer citizens were drawn to lifelong service, as they were rewarded with the prospect of settlement in conquered land. This also 'Romanized' the population in newly subjugated provinces, thus reducing unrest and lowering the chance of revolt against the Roman Republic. The new Roman army, its numbers vastly bolstered by lower class citizens whose future was tied to their permanent career, was always able to provide reserves in times of disaster. In addition, the growth of the army ensured continued military success due to the high number of recruits available for each campaign. Even though the army increased in size considerably, Marius also sought to improve organization among his troops.
Marius needed more troops, and to this effect he made a change in procedure used for recruiting troops, probably unaware of the momentous implications of this change. All of the Gracchian agrarian reforms had been premised on the traditional Roman levy, which excluded from service those whose property qualification fell below the minimum property qualification for the fifth census class. The Gracchi had tried to restore the smallholders who would constitute the majority of those qualified to serve. The end of the Gracchian land legislation did nothing to change the military crisis that gave rise to that legislation. It seems that the minimum qualification for the fifth census class (the lowest one eligible for military service) was lowered from 11,000 to 3000 sesterces of property, and already in 109 BC the consuls had had to seek suspension of Gaius Gracchus' restrictions on the levy. In 107 BC Marius decided to ignore the census qualification altogether and recruited with no inquiry into the property of the potential soldier. From now on Rome's legions would largely consist of poor citizens (the "capite censi" or "head count") whose future after service could only be assured if their general could somehow bring about a land distribution on their behalf. Thus the soldiers had a very strong personal interest in supporting their general against the Senate (i.e., the oligarchy) and the "public interest" that was often equated with the Senate. Marius did not avail himself of this potential source of support, but in less than two decades Marius' ex-quaestor Sulla would use it against the Senate and Marius.
Marius found that it wasn't as easy to end the war as he had claimed. He arrived comparatively late in 107 BC and in that year and the next he forced Jugurtha to the south and west toward Mauretania. Marius' quaestor in 107 BC had been Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix, the son of a patrician family that had fallen on hard times. Marius was supposedly unhappy at receiving the dissolute youth as his subordinate, but Sulla proved a competent military leader. By 105 the king of Mauretania, Bocchus I, who was also Jugurtha's father-in-law and reluctant ally, was worried about the approaching Romans. After receiving word that an accommodation with them was possible, Bocchus insisted that Sulla make the hazardous journey to his capital, where Sulla induced Bocchus to betray Jugurtha, who was duly handed over to Sulla, thus ending the war. Since Marius held the imperium and Sulla was acting as his subordinate, the honor of capturing Jugurtha belonged strictly to Marius, but Sulla had clearly been immediately responsible and had a signet ring made for himself commemorating the event. Sulla would later claim that the credit for ending the war was his. Meanwhile, Marius was the hero of the hour, and his services would be needed in another emergency.
The arrival of the Cimbri in Gaul in 109 BC and their complete defeat of Marcus Junius Silanus had resulted in unrest among the Celtic tribes recently conquered by the Romans in southern Gaul. In 107 the consul Lucius Cassius Longinus was completely defeated by the Tigurini clan, and the senior surviving officer (Gaius Popillius Laenas, son of the consul of 132) had saved what was left only by surrendering half the baggage and suffering the humiliation of having his army "march under the yoke." The next year (106 BC) another consul, Quintus Servilius Caepio, marched to Gaul and captured the disloyal community of Tolosa (Toulouse), where a huge sum of money (the Gold of Tolosa), was taken from shrines. The larger part of it mysteriously vanished when being transported to Massilia (Marseille). Caepio was prorogued into the next year, when one of the new consuls, Gnaeus Mallius Maximus, also operated in southern Gaul. Mallius was a new man like Marius, and he and the noble Caepio found it impossible to co-operate.
The Cimbri and the Teutones (both migrating Germanic tribes) appeared on the Rhône, and while Caepio was on the west bank he refused to come to the aid of Mallius on the left. Eventually the Senate got Caepio's reluctant agreement to co-operate, but even when he crossed the river to help the threatened Mallius, he refused to join forces and kept his own at a fair distance. First the Germans routed Caepio and then destroyed Mallius's army on October 6, 105 BC at Arausio. Since the Romans fought with the river at their back, flight was not possible and reportedly 80,000 were killed. The losses in the preceding decade had been bad enough, but this defeat, apparently caused by the arrogance of the nobility and its refusal to co-operate with talented non-nobles, was the last straw. Not only had huge numbers of Romans lost their lives but Italy itself was now exposed to invasion from barbarian hordes. The failure to deal with this threat marked the start of a period when dissatisfaction with the oligarchy (and thus, conflict between the optimates and the populares) was becoming increasingly, and dangerously, bitter. Sometime during this war Marius participated in the Trial of Trebonius.
In late 105 BC Marius was elected consul again while still in Africa. Election in absentia was unusual enough, but at some time after 152 BC a law had been passed dictating a ten-year interval between consulships, and there is even some evidence to indicate that by 135 BC a law had been passed that prohibited second consulships altogether. Nonetheless by this time news of a new advancing tribe known as the Cimbri had reached Rome and in the emergency Marius was again chosen consul. The law was either repealed or set aside under the circumstances of emergency, as Marius was then elected to an unprecedented five successive consulships (104-100 BC). He returned to Rome by January 1, 104 BC, when he celebrated his triumph over Jugurtha, who was first led in the procession, then killed in the public prison.
The Cimbri conveniently marched into Hispania and the Teutoni milled around in northern Gaul, leaving Marius to prepare his army. One of his legates was his old quaestor, Sulla, which shows that at this time there was no ill-will between them. In 104 BC, Marius was returned as consul again for 103 BC. Though he could have continued to operate as proconsul, it seems that the position as consul would make his position as commander unassailable and avoid any problems with the consuls if he was only a proconsul. Marius seems to have been able to get exactly what he wanted, and it even seems that his support determined whom the people would elect as his colleagues (his choice was apparently determined, on several occasions, on the basis of their malleability: only Catulus in 102 BC, and Flaccus in 100 BC, would have been serious candidates in their own right without his support, and even Flaccus was described as more servant than partner in the office.) In 103 BC, the Germans still did not emerge from Hispania, and conveniently Marius's colleague (L. Aurelius Orestes, son of C. Gracchus's commander in Sardinia in 126 BC BC) died, so Marius had to return to Rome to oversee the elections, being re-elected for 102 BC.
Battle with the Germanic tribes
In 102 BC the Cimbri returned from Hispania into Gaul and together with the Teutones decided to invade Italy. The Teutones were to head south and advance toward Italy along the Mediterranean coast the Cimbri were to attempt to cross the Alps into Italy from the north by the Brenner Pass and the Tigurini (the allied Celtic tribe who had defeated Longinus in 107) were to cross the Alps from the northeast. This decision proved fatally flawed. The Germanic soldiers divided their forces, making each contingent manageable, and the Romans could use their shorter lines of communication and supply to concentrate their forces at will.
First, Marius had to deal with the Teutones, who were in the province of Narbonensis marching toward the Alps. He refused to give them a battle where they wanted, and withdrew to Aquae Sextiae (a settlement founded by Gaius Sextius Calvinus in 124 BC), which blocked their path. The leading contingent of the Germanic warriors, the Ambrones, foolishly attacked the Roman position without waiting for reinforcements and 30,000 were killed. Marius then hid 3,000 troops in ambush, so when the main Germanic contingent finally attacked, the hidden Roman troops could fall on them from behind. In the ensuing defeat, the Teutones were completely annihilated, to the number of something over 100,000.
Marius' colleague Quintus Lutatius Catulus in 102 BC did not have as much luck. He botched the holding of the Brenner Pass, allowing the Cimbri to advance into northern Italy by late 102 BC. Marius was in Rome, and after becoming elected consul for 101 BC and deferring his Triumph over the Teutones, he marched north to join Catulus, whose command was prorogued into 101. Finally, in the summer of that year a battle was fought at Vercellae in Cisalpine Gaul. Once again, Roman discipline overcame a larger barbarian force. At least 65,000 were killed (perhaps as many as 100,000 again) and all the remainder enslaved. The Tigurini gave up their efforts to enter Italy from the northeast and went home. Catulus and Marius celebrated a joint Triumph, but in popular thinking all the credit went to Marius, who was praised as "the third founder of Rome." Catulus became alienated from Marius and would later become one of his chief opponents. As a sort of reward (the danger was now gone) Marius was returned as consul for 100 BC. This year would not go at all well for Marius.
During this year Lucius Appuleius Saturninus was tribune for the second time (having apparently had Marius's support on both this occasion and the previous one), and advocated reforms like those earlier put forth by the Gracchi. He pushed for a bill that gave colonial lands to the veterans of the recent war and offered to lower the price of wheat distributed by the state. The Senate, however, opposed these measures and violence broke out. The Senate then ordered Marius, as consul, to put down the revolt. Marius, although he was generally allied with the radicals, complied with the request and put down the revolt in the interest of public order. He then went to the east and into retirement.
What is important in this incident is that instead of seizing the opportunity to establish himself as supreme ruler and reformer of the state, Marius showed the senate, who had always been suspicious of his motives, that he was one of them instead of the outsider that Quintus Metellus said he was in 108 BC. Marius' overall concern, for his part, was how to maintain the Senate's esteem.
While Marius was away and after he returned, Rome had several years of relative peace. But in 95 BC, Rome passed a decree expelling from the city all residents who were not Roman citizens. In 91 BC Marcus Livius Drusus was elected tribune and proposed a greater division of state lands, the enlargement of the Senate, and a conferral of Roman citizenship upon all freemen of Italy. But Drusus was assassinated, and many of the Italian states then revolted against Rome in the Social War of 91 BC. Marius took command (following the deaths of the consul, Publius Rutilius Lupus, and the praetor Quintus Servilius Caepio) and fought along with Sulla against the rebel cities, but retired from the war in its early stages – probably due to poor health (it has been suggested that he suffered a stroke.)
Sulla and the First Civil War
After the Social War, King Mithridates of Pontus began his bid to conquer Rome's eastern provinces and invaded Greece. In 88 BC, Lucius Cornelius Sulla was elected consul. The choice before the Senate was to put either Marius or Sulla in command of an army which would aid Rome's Greek allies and defeat Mithridates. The Senate chose Sulla, but Marius induced tribune Publius Sulpicius Rufus to call an assembly that subsequently appointed Marius. (In this unsavory episode of low politics, Marius had promised to erase the tribune's debts.) Sulla refused to acknowledge the validity of the assembly's action.
Sulla left Rome and travelled to the army waiting in Nola, the army that the Senate had asked him to lead against Mithridates. Sulla urged his legions to defy the assembly's orders and accept him as their rightful leader. Sulla was successful and the legions stoned the representatives from the assembly. Sulla then commanded six legions to march with him to Rome and institute a civil war. This was a momentous event, and was unforeseen by Marius, as no Roman army had ever marched upon Rome—it was forbidden by law and ancient tradition.
Once it became obvious that Sulla was going to defy the law and seize Rome by force, Marius attempted to organize a defense of the city using gladiators. Unsurprisingly Marius' ad-hoc force was no match for Sulla's legions. Marius was defeated and fled Rome. Marius narrowly escaped capture and death on several occasions and eventually found safety in Africa. Sulla and his supporters in the Senate passed a death sentence on Marius, Sulpicius and a few other allies of Marius. A few men were executed but (according to Plutarch), many Romans disapproved of Sulla's actions some who opposed Sulla were actually elected to office in 87 BC. (Gnaeus Octavius, a supporter of Sulla, and Lucius Cornelius Cinna, a supporter of Marius, were elected consul). Regardless, Sulla was confirmed again as the commander of the campaign against Mithridates, so he took his legions out of Rome and marched east to the war.
Seventh consulship and death
While Sulla was on campaign in Greece, fighting broke out between the conservative supporters of Sulla, led by Octavius, and the popular supporters of Cinna. Marius along with his son then returned from exile in Africa with an army he had raised there and combined with Cinna to oust Octavius. This time it was the army of Marius that entered Rome.
Some of the soldiers went through Rome killing the leading supporters of Sulla, including Octavius. Their heads were exhibited in the Forum. All told some dozen Roman nobles had been murdered. The Senate passed a law exiling Sulla, and Marius was appointed the new commander in the eastern war. Cinna was chosen for his second consulship and Marius to his seventh consulship. After five days, Cinna and the populares general Quintus Sertorius ordered their more disciplined troops to kill the rampaging soldiers.
In his Life of Marius, Plutarch writes that Marius's return to power was a particularly brutal and bloody one, saying that the consul's "anger increased day by day and thirsted for blood, kept on killing all whom he held in any suspicion whatsoever." Among these included former consul Q. Lutatius Catulus and the orator Marcus Antonius, grandfather of Mark Antony. Plutarch writes that "whenever anybody else greeted Marius and got no salutation or greeting in return, this of itself was a signal for the man's slaughter in the very street, so that even the friends of Marius, to a man, were full of anguish and horror whenever they drew near to greet him."
Plutarch relates several opinions on the end of C. Marius: one, from Posidonius, holds that Marius contracted pleurisy Gaius Piso has it that Marius walked with his friends and discussed all of his accomplishments with them, adding that no intelligent man ought leave himself to Fortune. Plutarch then anonymously relates that Marius, having gone into a fit of passion in which he announced a delusion that he was in command of the Mithridatic War, began to act as he would have on the field of battle finally, ever an ambitious man, Marius lamented, on his death bed, that he had not achieved all of which he was capable, despite his having acquired great wealth and having been chosen consul more times than any man before him.
Marius died on January 13, 86 BC, just seventeen days into his seventh consulship.
Marius was a successful Roman general and military reformer, but also known as a harsh, ambitious man harboring contempt for the nobility (who occupied the Senate). He played a critical role in the destruction of the Roman Republic, and the birth of the Roman Empire. Plutarch says of him
just as Plato was wont to say often to Xenocrates the philosopher, who had the reputation of being rather morose in his disposition, "My good Xenocrates, sacrifice to the Graces," so if Marius could have been persuaded to sacrifice to the Greek Muses and Graces, he would not have put the ugliest possible crown upon a most illustrious career in field and forum, nor have been driven by the blasts of passion, ill-timed ambition, and insatiable greed upon the shore of a most cruel and savage old age.
His improvements to the structure and organization of the Roman legion were profound and effective. However, he was, in part, responsible for the breakdown in relations with Sulla which led to Sulla's march on Rome. He himself had broken with tradition on previous occasions and his effort to reverse the Senate's appointment of Sulla as commander of the Mithridatic War was highly questionable under Roman constitutional tradition. The five days of terror upon his return to Rome saw many hundreds slaughtered in his name.
The Marian reforms to the legions, recruiting among un-propertied urban citizens, was a pivotal step leading in short order to the collapse of the Republic. Marius set the precedent of recruiting among the poor and then granting these veterans land upon the conclusion of the campaign. Thus the legions became more loyal to their generals than to the state. The loyalty of such legions is what allowed Marius himself, Sulla, and about 40 years later Marius' nephew Julius Caesar to march on Rome itself.
The struggle between Marius and Sulla led to the deaths of numerous distinguished Roman senators, equestrians and unknown thousands of Roman soldiers and citizens. It set a precedent for the civil wars to come that led ultimately to the destruction of the Republican form of government and thus to the establishment of the principate system of the Empire.
Gaius Marius (157 &ndash 86 BC) was a general who saved Rome from extinction and a statesman who headed the populares, Rome&rsquos political faction that leant towards the rising middle and lower classes. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times, and was the first general to illustrate that political support and power could be secured from the votes of veterans.
Marius was not an aristocrat, but a plebeian from an equestrian or knightly family who entered Rome&rsquos political power structure as novus homo, or &ldquonew man&rdquo &ndash a term for those who are the first of their family to serve in the Senate. He owed his rise to his talents as a soldier, riding criticism of the bungling by incompetent aristocratic commanders of war against Numidia in North Africa into election to his first consulship for 107 BC, and appointment to command of the war.
He initiated revolutionary military changes that came to be known as the &ldquoMarian Reforms&ldquo. Germanic tribes had crossed the Alps, entered southern Gaul, and threatened Italy. They wiped out two Roman armies sent to meet them &ndash sending Rome and Italy, always fearful of barbarians since ever since an invasion by Gauls had sacked Rome and devastated Italy in 387 BC, into a panic. To meet the crisis, Marius opened the ranks of the Roman legions, hitherto restricted to propertied citizens who could afford to arm and equip themselves, to all citizens, including the poorest, with the government now paying for their weapons and armor, as well as salaries.
An unforeseen knock-on effect was the transformation of the Roman army&rsquos character from a middle class and patrician institution into a professional army for whose legionaries military service became a career, and who came to look upon their generals, not the government in Rome, for rewards during service and severance pay and retirement benefits upon their discharge.
Marius&rsquo reforms and his competence as a commander enabled him to win the war against Numidia, and more importantly, raise and train an army that utterly crushed the Germanic barbarians and removed their threat to Rome by 101 BC. That made him the most popular politician of the era, and by 100 BC, he been elected consul 6 times. With the barbarian threat removed, however, Marius&rsquo limitations as a politician, which had hitherto been masked by his brilliance as a military man at a time when Rome was in desperate need of one, emerged. With the emergency over, Marius&rsquo political star dimmed as Rome&rsquos traditional power brokers reasserted themselves.
In 91 BC the Social War between Rome and her Italian allies broke out. Marius was called back into service, but had to quit due to poor health. Sulla, a former subordinate, prosecuted the war to a successful conclusion, and the rise of his star while that of Marius fell led to friction and jealousy that broke into the open in 88 BC. That year, Sulla was elected consul and appointed by the Senate to command a war against Pontus. However, Marius got a tribune to call a popular assembly that overrode the Senate and gave command to Marius, instead &ndash a move that was technically legal, but highly unusual and controversial.
Sulla surprised Marius and everybody by marching on Rome &ndash something no Roman general had ever tried. Marius and his supporters were forced to flee, and Sulla entered Rome, where he got the Senate to pass a death sentence against the Marians, then marched off to the war against Pontus in 87 BC. When he left, Marius, who by then had raised an army in North Africa, returned to Rome, and had about a dozen leading Sullans executed, with their heads displayed on pikes in the Forum. Marius was then elected consul for the 7th time, but died just 17 days into his term, in 86 BC.
In the fall of 105 Marius was elected consul again while still in Africa. Election in absentia was unusual enough, but at some time after 152 a law had been passed dictating a ten-year interval between consulships, and there is even some evidence to indicate that by 135 a law prohibited second consulships altogether. Nonetheless by this time news of a new advancing tribe known of as the Cimbri had reached Rome and in the emergency Marius was again chosen consul. The law was repealed, as Marius was then elected to an unprecedented five successive consulships (104-100). He returned to Rome by January 1, 104, when he celebrated his triumph over Jugurtha, who was first led in the procession, then killed in the public prison. The Cimbri conveniently marched into Spain and the Teutoni milled around in northern Gaul, leaving Marius to prepare his army. One of his legates was his old quaestor L. Sulla, which shows that at this time there was no ill-will between them. In 104 Marius was returned as consul again for 103. Though he could have continued to operate as proconsul, it seems that the position as consul would make his position as commander unassailable and avoid any problems with the consuls if he was only a proconsul. Marius seems to have been able to get exactly what he wanted and it even seems that his support determined whom the People would elect as his colleagues (his choice was apparently determined on the basis of their malleability). In 103 the Germans still did not emerge from Spain, and conveniently Marius's colleague (L. Aurelius Orestes, son of C. Gracchus's commander in Sardinia in 126-24) died, so Marius had to return to Rome to oversee the elections, being re-elected for 102.
Gaius Marius Timeline - History
January 13, 15 7 B.C.E. - 86 B.C.E.
Note: Gaius Marius was a real person. His decisions and actions affected the political turmoil of the age that led to the civil wars that brought down the Roman Republic and made possible the Empire. This first scene is imagined, but the rest of the story is true.
"Please be still, Master Gaius," The servant whispered. "It would not do for you to enter manhood with a bloody face.
The servant held the slender blade a scant inch from Gaius' cheek. He was a body slave of the Caecilius Metellus household assigned to give young Gaius his first shave. The elder Gaius Marius shot his son a glance from his place on one of the lower couches on the far side of the triclinum, or dining hall, though this room in the magnificent household of the Caecilius Metellus family held far more than three couches. Gaius' mother, Fulcinia, watched, turned sideways in the straight chair across the low table from his father. She held her head high and her mouth smiled, but her eyes looked like she was going to weep. Gaius sat up very straight and held the silver dish up close under his chin to catch the tiny hairs as they fell.
The Metellus house was very full, and the Marius family, Gaius, his mother and his father shared a small cella, or sleeping room at the corner of the peristyle garden nearest the servants' quarters. Still, it was an honor to be invited to stay in the household of the family's patron for New Year's festivities. This year was particularly fortuitous, as one member of the Metellus family had been one of the two consuls elected the previous year and another was a consul for the coming year.
Fulcinia had objected to her husband's idea that young Gaius, at not quite fifteen years old, was ready to wear his manly toga. This was one time, however, that Marius insisted on his right as head of the household to make the decision.
The following morning, young Gaius joined his father in the throng of clients escorting the leaders of the Metellus household in the long procession from their domus on the Palatine, down the clivius, the shallow stairway down the hillside to the Roman Forum, up the via Sacra to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. Gaius carried his shorn whiskers in a covered silver dish, clutching it tightly to keep the downy whisps from floating away. His father carried a creamy white toga folded over his arm, twin to the one he wore himself. Both togas were gifts from the Metellus family. The togas the Metellus men wore were whiter, with crimson borders to match the broad crimson stripe down the left side of their tunics, and they wore crimson leather boots like all members of the Roman Senate.
"Will Metellus give me my toga?" Gaius asked his father.
"Oh, no. He will be much too busy for that," the elder Marius said. "We can be grateful just to be in his escort this important day."
"Someday, I will be the one who is so important," Gaius said. Someday, I will be so important Metellus would be glad to hand me my toga, he thought.
Gaius' mother waved to him from the podium of the Temple of Saturn . She had to lean far over to see from her place in the back of the group of women from the Metellus household. Some of them had young children with them, the boys dressed in tiny crimson-trimmed togas like their fathers. Gaius didn't remember having a toga when he was little, certainly not a crimson-trimmed one.
By the time Gaius and his father reached the top of the Capitoline Hill, the sacrifices were almost over. Smells of roasting meat doused with wine and herbs, of sheeps and pigs and even oxen, rose from the altar on the steps of Jupiter's Temple and others scattered around the huge plaza. After the flames had consumed the blood and the fat from the internal organs, the parts the gods were said to prefer, and the savor from the sacrifice had risen to the heavens, the leftover meat would be served to the people. Long tables were already set up in the Forum and people brought other foods to go with what was essentially a barbecue.
Gaius and his father were far back in the crowd, too far to see the actual ceremony to recognize the new consuls. But, as his father reminded him, at least they were present when two members of their patron family were honored. The food smells were tempting, but nothing could have convinced Gaius that his sacrifice and his toga could wait for another day. So, they waited in the long line as it snaked its way to the main altar on the temple steps. Certainly having his ceremony of manhood at Jupiter's central temple and on such an important day would bring good fortune.
A minor priest accepted the silver dish from Gaius' hands, splashed in some wine and oil and flamed the mixture with a sliver from the altar fire, then dropped the dish in a sack at his feet and waved them off. Gaius' father said his own prayer for his son's honor and carefully draped the toga around his body himself.
In the afternoon, after the sacred barbecue was reduced to scraps, the citizens of Rome , the males from seventeen to mid-forties, gathered on the Capitoline to find out who would serve in the legion for the coming year. The aristocrats and nobles would serve in positions of command, of course, and their postings were already decided. The twenty-four military tribunes, six junior officers for each of the four legions to be filled, were splendid in their polished bronze cuirass, molded to look like the chest muscles of a Greek statue. They stood at attention flanking the officers overseeing the lots or carried documents from one official to another.
First the volunteers were called up. They were mostly veterans, many already wearing their coppery pectorale or chain mail, or young men eager to earn a reputation and defend the honor of Rome . After that, the lots were drawn and lists posted of the names of the men serving in each class within each legion.
The classes of legionary were distinguished by the different armament they carried. Since the Roman legionaries supplied their own equipment and armor, the class they served in was determined by what they could afford to buy. Marius did not want to think what it would be like to go into battle as those from the poorest classes, armed only with a light buckler, a sword a few javelins and a helmet covered with animal skin. Instead, he imagined himself as one of the shining tribunes.
Gaius Marius was not a Roman noble. But, his father's connections with the Metelli made it possible for him to make himself one. It was possible for a new man to rise from plebian status to the nobility, but not at all easy.
As the Marius family readied themselves to return to their home outside Arpinum, and the elder Marius thanked their patron for his hospitality, an offer was extended for young Gaius to remain in Rome and further his education. Gaius was happy for the opportunity to remain in the capital city, but he already knew he was not interested in spending his time becoming a philosopher.
By the time he was 23, Gaius Marius was serving with the legion at Numantia. Things were not going well with the Roman campaign to conquer the Celtic tribes in Spain , when the new general Scipio Aemilianus arrived. Under his leadership, however, the Romans enjoyed more success. Gaius Marius gained attention by courage and good service. Some said he defeated an enemy in single combat and was seen by his commander. He used this attention to launch his military and political career. He ran for election as one of 24 special military tribunes (junior officers) of the first four legions, and was elected by a healthy margin. He was not known by sight to the electors, but was included by all the tribes on the basis of his reputation. Romans serving in rich provinces expected to bring home wealth from this service, so Marius likely also increased his fortunes in Spain .
It was an auspicious beginning to a career that would see both incredible success and occasional failure. Marius was not always successful in politics, and his successes seem all to have been connected to his military ability.
Upon his return from Spain , he ran for a local office in his home town of Arpinum and lost. Perhaps he was trying to gain support back home, but was unsuccessful. Next, he ran for a questorship in Rome . These magistrates performed a variety of duties, from supervising the financial affairs in Rome to serving as assistants to generals or as lieutenant governors of provinces. He was elected, but we know nothing of what his duties were.
At the age of 37, Marius was elected a tribune of the plebs, likely with the help of the Metellus family. This board of ten men, annually elected, shared a great deal of power as a group and as individuals. Attempting to interfere with any one of them in performance of their duties carried a sentence of death. A tribune could convene the Senate and lay proposals before it. He could also veto actions of the Senators. This power only continued for the one year the man held office, however, and only within the precinct of Rome , so the wise man was careful how he used his authority.
Whatever his ambitions to be a member of the Roman nobility, while he was tribune, Marius served the interests of the common people. He brought forward a law making it more difficult for anyone to influence or harass people as they were voting. The law was opposed by the consul Cotta and by Metellus, but Marius used his power to threaten both men and to confirm his law, winning great support from the common people. Even with this support, Marius lost in the next two elections where he ran for aedilships, or to be an administrative magistrate. Even though the Romans allowed all male citizens to vote, the Roman system gave more power to the upper classes in electing officials, so Metellus' lack of support may have taken its toll.
In 116 B.C.E., when he was 41, Marius won election as one of six praetors. These magistrates shared many of the powers of the consuls, and might preside at trials, but were often sent to govern Roman provinces. He was accused of corruption, but won acquittal on the charge, and apparently spent an uneventful year in Rome . His power was extended the next year by the senate and he was sent to govern Lusitania , a province including much of what is Portugal today. As governors generally served two years at this time, he likely returned to Rome in 113 B.C.E.
Consuls or praetors were sometimes honored with a triumph celebration upon their return to Rome . In order to qualify, the governor must have acted as a general in a foreign war where over 5,000 enemies were killed, must bring his army home indicating the war was over, and must be approved by the senate. The parade included the victorius general's troops, wagons of captured goods and banners with paintings depicting the victory. The defeated leaders, or people dressed to represent them, were marched in the parade and executed at its end.
Marius was not honored with a triumph on his return from Lusitania , and apparently did not run for consul. During the next couple of years, however, Marius did marry a woman from the Julius family. Marriages at this time were often arranged by the father, or pater familias, rather than between the two people to be married, and agreements might include promises of money or power. The Julii Caeares were one of the oldest and most respected of the patrician families. However, they were not particularly powerful at this time, and only one member of the family had held the office of consul in the previous century. Marius was apparently very wealthy by this time, however, and money in Rome brought its own kind of power. By this marriage, Marius was to be the uncle of the famous Julius Caesar the dictator. By the time the young Caesar was born, Gaius Maius was at the height of his power, and so must have been an influence on his nephew's ambitions.
Marius' break with the Caecilii Metelli was not permanent. In fact the Caecilius Metellus family was of plebian or common origins, having become noble by members' election to high office, so there may have been some sympathy for Marius' popular values. In 109 B.C.E., Quintus Caecilius Metellius took Marius with him to Numidia , north Africa, as legate in his campaign against a leader named Jugurtha. Legates were originally envoys sent by the senate, but by this time they were appointed at the general's request and were often used as junior commanders. Since no other legate is mentioned for Metellus at this time, it seems that Marius was his right hand man or most trusted lieutenant. Metellus may have been using Marius' military talent, and Marius was certainly strengthening his position to run for consul.
In 108 B.C.E., Marius requested permission of his commander to return to Rome to run for consul. At first Metellus refused and attempted to convince Marius to wait until a later time, when he promised his support. Marius, however, set about making himself popular with the troops, by relaxing military discipline, and with the traders, by claiming that he could capture Jugurtha very quickly if he were in command. Both groups wrote home praising Marius. and saying that Marius could win the war quickly. Finally Metellus gave in, realizing that it did him no good to have a resentful lieutenant.
Marius campaigned for consul as a new man who had worked his way up the cursus honorium, or ladder of honor, by competence and honesty. The people were weary of wars led by often inept or corrupt members of the aristocracy, and Marius was elected consul for the following year. The senate was in charge of assigning provinces, however, and decided to leave Metellus where he was in Numidia . Marius got around the senateby invoking a law that allowed a special election to select military commanders. Marius was voted the command of the campaign in Numidia in this special election. Metellus was very displeased. He refused to meet with Marius and applied for a triumph upon his return to Rome . His request was granted, and, as was the requirement, he brought his army home and released his troops.
Marius needed more troops if he were to continue the campaign in Africa . The disbanding of Metellus' legions, and a series of campaigns in which many Roman lives from the landed classes were lost, left him to depend on volunteers. With the system that demanded the legionaries purchase their own equipment and support themselves, many that were willing to volunteer were not eligible to serve. A generation earlier, the Grachi had tried to solve the problem by distributing public land to the poor, hoping to increase the number of Roman landholders. More recently, the minimum qualification for military service had been lowered to one-third its former level.
In 107 B.C.E. Marius decided to ignore the property qualifications altogether and recruit from the landless poor. In order to make this system work, of course, the government would be required to equip each legionary and to provide a regular paycheck. Marius was able to push through legislation to accomplish this. Perhaps Marius saw these reforms as only a temporary way to deal with the immediate crisis. However, from this time on, the Roman legion was made up primarily of professional soldiers, most of whom served 25 years and depended on the legion for their security and support.
Dealing with Jugartha in north Africa took longer than Marius anticipated. In the end it was Marius' quaestor, or paymaster, who bribed the king of Mauretania , Brocchus, to betray Jugartha. As general, however, it was Marius who took credit for the victory and rode in the victor's chariot in the triumph parade in Rome .
In late 105 B.C.E., while still in Africa , Marius was again elected consul. There was a law on the Roman books that required a ten year interval between terms if a man served as consul more than once. Another that forbad two terms altogether. Another required that a man be present in order to run for office. However, the Roman Senate had the power to set aside laws in an emergency, and the senators must have believed that the situation required it.
Since 109 B.C.E., for the previous five years, tribes of people considered to be either Celtic or German had been migrating around Gaul defeating every Roman legion that came against them, then retreating to wander some more. Marius took time to prepare an army, and in 103 B.C.E., left for Gaul , taking as one of his legates Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Sulla was a young patrician whose family had fallen on hard times, but it was he who had served as Marius' questor and captured Jugartha. It seems not to have mattered much at the time, as they were again serving together. However, Sulla is said to have had a ring made commemorating his role in that campaign, and he would be Marius' enemy in the civil wars that marked the end of the Republic.
The Cimbri and their allies continued to defeat Roman armies that they encountered, until they came up against Marius. In 102 B.C.E. Marius practically annihilated a tribe called the Teutoni at Aquae Sextae in what is now southern France . He deferred his triumph, perhaps because he had distributed most of the captured treasure (which was needed to make an impressive show in a triumph parade) to his legionaries. Instead, he marched north to reinforce his colleague from the previous year, Quintus Lutatius Catulus who was facing a much larger force of Cimbri at Vercellae. Again, with Marius in command, the Romans were victorious. Catulus and Marius triumphed together, but the people gave Marius credit for the victory.
Marius was re-elected for five successive terms as consul (104 - 100 B.C.E.), totally against Roman law and custom. His successes in Gaul , and the perception that there was still threat of an invasion, explain all but his last election. Perhaps his return in 100 B.C.E. was something of a reward, though it didn't turn out that way.
During Marius' sixth consulship, a tribune Saturnius pushed for reforms to distribute public land to the poor and to lower the price of government distributed grain. Although these positions were very like what Marius himself had advocated, he complied with the wishes of the Senate and put down the revolt. He then retired to and estate east of Rome he was 58 years old.
After Marius' retirement, Rome enjoyed a few years of relative peace. In 95 B.C.E., however, the Senate passed a decree that all citizens of other Italian cities be expelled from Rome . This decree seems to have been the final slap in the face for Italian cities whose citizens had long been expected to send troops and money to support wars they had no power to affect. After several years of agitation, tribune Marcus Livius Drusus proposed reforms that included full Roman citizenship for all freemen of Italy . He was assassinated, however, before his laws could be enacted. The Italian cities then revolted against Rome in what is called the Social War (91-88 B.C.E.) Marius again took command along with Sulla against the rebel cities.
In 88 B.C.E., Sulla was elected consul and took command of an army in Nola, just east of present day Naples , Italy . He expected to lead them against Mithradates of Pontus (modern day Turkey .) However, Marius again invoked a special election and won command of the army from the Assembly. This time Sulla urged his troops to defy the order and accept him as their commander. Sulla was successful and representatives sent from the Assembly were killed.
Sulla then commanded the legions to march with him and take over Rome by force. No army had ever marched against Rome before (though Julius Caesar would do it a generation later) it was forbidden by law and by ancient custom. Marius tried to organize a defense of the city using gladiators, but they were no match for trained legionaries. Sulla and his supporters in the Senate passed a death sentence on Marius and his supporters.
Marius narrowly escaped capture and death several times before he found relative safety in Africa . Many years before, when Marius was serving in north Africa with Metellus, he consulted a soothsayer in Utica , in present day Tunisia . The prophetess had told him he would serve as leader of Rome seven times. Perhaps he was seeking the comfort of that prophecy as, unprecedented as it already was, he had served only six terms as consul. More likely, he sought the support of veterans of his legions, many of whom were living on land he had secured for them in the colony.
Conflict between supporters of Marius and supporters of Sulla continued, with neither party clearly gaining the upper hand. In 87 B.C.E., the two consuls included one from each faction. Sulla was confirmed as commander in the war against Mithridates and marched east.
While Sulla was on campaign, Marius, along with his son, returned to Rome with an army he had raised from among his veterans. Based on his orders, some of his soldiers rampaged through Rome for five days, killing supporters of Sulla. They were finally stopped by troops of Cinna, another supporter of Marius. Cinna and Marius were elected consuls for the year 86 B.C.E., but Marius died suddenly, only one month into his seventh consulship.
The years of Marius' leadership marked a pivotal point in Roman history. In many ways, he himself was the pivot point between the Roman Republic and the excesses of the Empire. He provoked Sulla into marching on Rome , the first time in history any Roman leader had dared to do so, setting a precedent followed by Julius Caesar a generation later and others after.
His reforms of the legion changed it from essentially a National Guard composed of citizen soldiers who served year to year and owed their allegiance to the state, to a professional fighting force with primary loyalty to their general. This change in the nature of the legion, and the fact that many from the provinces, and even newly conquered areas, saw the legion as a path to adventure and the privileges of Roman citizenship, may be said to have made the Empire possible.
Gaius Marius and his Contribution to the Fall of the Roman Republic - History bibliographies - in Harvard style
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In-text: (Gaius Marius, 2006)
Your Bibliography: Antiquitatis.com. 2006. Gaius Marius. [online] Available at: <http://antiquitatis.com/rome/biographies/bio_marius.html> [Accessed 20 October 2016].
Gaius Marius Facts
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In-text: (Gaius Marius Facts, 2010)
Your Bibliography: Biography.yourdictionary.com. 2010. Gaius Marius Facts. [online] Available at: <http://biography.yourdictionary.com/gaius-marius> [Accessed 9 November 2016].
Internet History Sourcebooks
In-text: (Cicero, 2016)
Your Bibliography: Cicero, 2016. Internet History Sourcebooks. [online] Sourcebooks.fordham.edu. Available at: <http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/Halsall/ancient/cicero-republic1.asp> [Accessed 31 October 2016].
In-text: (Covino, 2016)
Your Bibliography: Covino, R., 2016. Caecilii Metelli. [online] Wiley Online Library. Available at: <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah20017/abstract> [Accessed 21 October 2016].
Biography for Kids: Gaius Marius
In-text: (Biography for Kids: Gaius Marius, 2016)
Your Bibliography: Ducksters.com. 2016. Biography for Kids: Gaius Marius. [online] Available at: <http://www.ducksters.com/history/ancient_rome/gaius_marius.php> [Accessed 20 October 2016].
Ancient Rome | ancient state, Europe, Africa, and Asia
In-text: (ancient Rome | ancient state, Europe, Africa, and Asia, 2016)