Roman general, statesman, and military reformer Gaius Marius was instrumental in the city of Rome’s modernization. Seven times, including five consecutive terms, he was chosen to serve as consul. Additionally, he had a hand in starting important Roman reforms like giving landless people jobs, cohorting and building massive military formations, etc. He began his military career in Spain as a soldier under the legendary Scipio Aemilianus. Gaius quickly won the admiration of his troopmates and was acclaimed as a bold, competent, and enthusiastic man. He started off as a valiant soldier and worked his way up to become a respected general. He carried on with his lucrative voyage and eventually rose to seven powerful terms as Rome’s consul! Gaius, who is frequently referred to as “The Savior of Rome,” also routed Germanic tribes that had encroached on Rome in the vicinity of 102 B.C., including the Ambrones, Teutones, and Cimbri. Though Marius was adored and appreciated for his tireless efforts in establishing the Roman Empire, his reputation later in his career was tarnished.
Early Childhood & Life
In the Roman Republic, at a place called Arpinum, Marius was born in 157 B.C. According to the Greek writer Plutarch, Marius came from a low-income household, and his father worked as a laborer.
But it can be inferred that Marius came from a well-known family in Arpinum based on the fact that he was connected to important figures in Rome.
Prior to beginning his career as a soldier in 134 B.C., Marius had to face hardship. Scipio Aemilianus, a well-known Roman general, was impressed by his diligence and took him under his wing.
Career of Gaius Marius
Gaius increased his prospects of becoming a successful politician, which was his goal from the start, by maintaining a positive attitude and work ethic. He even ran for a municipal position, which he ultimately lost, before making a clear-cut bid for the quaestorship.
He worked as a plebeian tribune under Metellus Numidicus in 120 B.C. Metellus Numidicus was from one of Rome’s most illustrious families.
Gaius proposed law in 119 BC to rein in the nobles, who frequently overstepped their bounds to sway people’s votes. He had the notion to construct a corridor so that each voter could cast his ballot without being interrupted.
Even though he was threatened and asked to obstruct the bill, Marius declared that he would imprison anyone who attempted to convince him otherwise. However, the bill was introduced over objections.
Gaius and Metellus Numidicus, who opposed the law, fell out over it. He was appointed Governor of Spain due to his nobility, but his career was in danger.
Before staging a stunning comeback, he then spent a few years doing nothing.
Judith War of Gaius Marius
Metellus sent Marius to Africa in 109 B.C. for his campaign against Jugurtha, a king of Numidia, following their brief quarrel in 119 B.C. While Metellus made use of Marius’ military background, Marius improved his case for a potential future consulship.
After a year, Marius dropped a hint that he was considering running for consul. Additionally, he asserted that if he had been the consul, he could have defeated Jugurthus with the help of half of Metellus’ army.
Metellus was first opposed to the idea of his subordinate running for office. He believed Marius should have waited until his son declared for the consulship since it was too early for Marius to compete. At the time, Metellus’ son was only 20 years old, and Marius thought he was too young to compete.
Metellus decided to set aside his personal feelings and let Marius contest for the consulship when he began to receive plaudits from everyone. Marius was the first outsider to be chosen as consul in 35 years in 107 B.C.
Consular Relations & Marian Reforms
After being elected consul, Marius sought to bolster his army because he was concerned about a barbarian invasion. He then began to assemble an army by enlisting soldiers who had previously been rejected by the legion. The army was strengthened by this action, one of the most significant Marian reforms, and it took Jugurtha’s army only two years to defeat it.
Even though Marius had won the war and was principally in charge of capturing Jugurtha, it was actually his lieutenant Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix who had forced Jugurtha to submit. There was resentment between the two since it was claimed that Lucius had taken advantage of Marius’ victory.
The Cimbri and Teutonic Wars (105 – 101 B.C.)
Marius was chosen as the Chief of Command against the Cimbri and Teutones because he was regarded as a valiant and daring leader. Under the command of Mallius Maximus, the Germanic tribes Cimbri and Teutones had annihilated the Roman armies in the North.
In need of assistance, the North warriors resorted to Marius. Marius then made the decision to raise a new army to handle the issues in the North. In the meantime, Marius was chosen to serve as consul once more in 105 B.C.
To increase their prospects of success, the armies of Cimbri and Teutones chose to launch their respective assaults from the south and north, respectively. Their strategy, however, failed when Marius intercepted and killed the Teutones army men at Aquae Sextiae in 102 BC.
The army of Ambrones also engaged Marius’ army in combat. But Marius’ warriors ambushed and overcame them all. Marius marched to the north and defeated the army of the Cimbri at Vercellae in Cisalpine Gaul after being re-elected as consul in 101 B.C.
The Cimbri tribe lost about 60,000 of its members, and Marius’ army captured the remainder. Marius then provided his people with consular services for five consecutive years.
The Sixth Consulship and Marius’ Demise
Lucius Appuleius Saturninus, Marius’ tribune, pushed for a colonial plan in 100 B.C. that would have given recent combat veterans lands as well as other advantages. Then, Saturninus and his buddy Glaucia made a few crucial choices. Numidicus, an adversary of Marius, was banished by Saturninus and Glaucia.
Additionally, Glaucia’s primary rival who was preparing to run for the next consulship was assassinated by Saturninus and Glaucia. People began to doubt Marius’ leadership abilities as a result of these circumstances, which raised some worries. It was imperative that the Senate reinstate order in the community.
Then Marius attempted to defend Saturninus and his adherents from a sizable crowd of demonstrators who were attempting to seize Saturninus. But eventually, Saturninus and a few of his supporters were lynched by an enraged mob. Marius soon lost his influence in the political sphere, but he later claimed to be a member of the crowd.
In 98 B.C., when Numidicus came home from exile, Marius realized it was time for him to go. In 97 B.C., he tried once more to retake power, but he soon understood that his time was running out.
Social War (91 – 88 B.C)
A law known as the “Lex Licinia Mucia” was enacted in 95 B.C. All non-Romans were to be driven out of the city, according to the decree. Marcus Livius Drusus was appointed as the new tribune in 91 BC.
Marcus advocated for changes including the Senate’s expansion and the granting of Roman citizenship to all free persons in Italy. Marcus was murdered, nevertheless, and as a result, numerous Italian states launched a social war against Rome.
Marius returned to assist Lucius Cornelius, one of his subordinates, in handling the insurrection of the Italian states against Rome, but he soon retired because of his failing health.
The Civil War and the Return of Marius
Lucius was appointed consul in 88 B.C. Marius, however, appointed Publius Sulpicius Rufus as a tribune and put forth his name for the consulship during a meeting.
The decision of the assembly was rejected by Lucius. Following his election as leader, Lucius disobeyed all the rules and attempted to annex Rome by inciting a civil war.
Marius assembled a squad of gladiators in an effort to defend Rome. Unfortunately, Lucius’ troops crushed Marius’ forces. Marius had no choice but to flee to Africa in search of protection.
When a brawl broke out between Cornelius Cinna’s followers and Lucius’ supporters, Marius returned to Rome. Cinna and Marius worked together to defeat Lucius.
The seventh consulate
Cinna wished to thank Marius for his assistance in Cinna’s conflict with Lucius. In 86 B.C., he offered him the Eastern command and selected him to be a consular associate.
The sixth time Marius served as consul of Rome, he was unable to hold the position for very long. He had to take time off work due to his failing health.
Marius passed away at the age of 71, thus he never made it back to the office. Lucius disinterred and disposed of Marius’ body after his return to Rome.
Personal Legacy & Life
Julia, a patrician who subsequently married Julius Caesar’s aunt, was married to Marius. Marius and Julia received a son as a gift.
At the age of 71, Marius passed away on January 13, 86 B.C. After being chosen as the consul for the seventh time, he passed away on the seventh day.
Estimated net worth
The estimated net worth of Gaius Marius is unknown.