All posts tagged Gaius Marius

Lucius Cornelius Sulla – Career and Reforms


The career of Lucius Cornelius Sulla remains an enigma on the political landscape of the Roman Republic. An aristocrat that achieved the ultimate power of the dictatorship and yet abdicated at the height of power (Julius Caesar later labelled him a fool for doing so).

On one hand, Sulla’s exemplary career has been overshadowed by the brutality and illegality of his actions that undermined the authority of the Senate.

On the other hand, Sulla’s legislative reforms were aimed at restoring that same authority, depriving the tribunate of its power and making his own career a political impossibility.

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Marius, Cato, and Roman Class Conflict


In the second century BC, the Roman aristocracy promoted a value system that emphasised the customs, traditions and reverence of ancestors. The military and political achievements of a man’s lineage permitted entry into a ruling elite that valued name over virtue.

In exceptional circumstances, these credentials could be acquired through patronage, adoption or marriage, albeit with the stigma of a novus homo or ‘new man’ attached to their authority.

Gaius Marius, an ambitious novus homo criticised the aristocracy for the advantages inherited by birth, the political system that supported it and the general avarice of their character. These protestations found a receptive audience among the people, proclaiming the ruling elites unworthy of the professed virtues of their noble lineage.

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