Saturday, May 30, 2009

Roman General: Gaius Marius

Gaius Marius (157-86 BC), Roman general and statesman, born at Arpinum. He served under Scipio Africanus at Numantia (134), was tribune of the plebs in 119 and later married Julia, aunt of Julius Caesar. By this time he had established himself as a leading popularis at Rome.

As a distinguished Roman general he was seven times elected consul. He was elected consul for the first time in 107 and received command of the war against Jugurtha.

The brilliance of his quaestor Sulla, to whom Jugurtha surrendered in 106, marked the beginning of that rivalry between the two men which led to civil war.

Marius's next task was military reform. Meanwhile Italy was threatened by the Cimbri and Teutones, and Marius was elected consul a second time for 104. The menace was postponed, but he was consul a third and fourth time in 103 and 102. In the latter year he defeated the Teutones and their allies at Aquae Sextiae, and in 101, with his colleague, A. Lutatius Catulus, the Cimbri at Campi Raudii near Vercellae.

He was elected consul for the fifth time in 101. In order to secure the consulship a sixth time, he associated himself with two demagogues, Saturninus and Glaucia.

In his sixth consulship (100), he put down the insurrection of Saturninus, and by a popular vote was chosen to displace Sulla in command against Mithridates. Sulla marched upon Rome and took Marius prisoner, but he escaped to Africa, returned to Italy and joined Cinna in his revolt against Sulla. The two entered Rome, and Marius was elected consul for the seventh time in 86; but he died shortly afterwards.

In 88, anxious for command in the Mithridatic war, Marius obtained a vote of the people conferring on him the command already bestowed on Sulla by the Senate. Sulla joined his legions in Campania and marched on Rome; Marius fled and eventually reached Africa. In 87, however, he returned to Italy, and with the consul L. Cornelius Cinna made a new bid for power. Without an election Marius and Cinna nominated themselves consuls for the next year; but on the 18th day of his seventh consulship Marius died of pleurisy.

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