Definition: The optimates were, literally, the "best" men in Rome. They were the conservative faction and were in contrast with the populares. Optimates wished to extend the power of the Senate. In the conflict between Marius and Sulla, Sulla represented the old established aristocracy and the optimates, while the new man Marius represented the populares. Since Marius married into the house of Julius Caesar, Caesar had family reasons for supporting the populares. Pompey and Cato were among the optimates.
Also Known As: The best men, the boni
Examples:The optimates wished to shrink the power of the popular assemblies.