Full Name: Gaius Marius
Dates: c.157–January 13, 86 B.C.
Birthplace: Arpinum, in Latium
Occupation: Military leader, Statesman
Origins and Early Career of Marius:
As tribune, Marius proposed a bill that effectively limited the influence of aristocrats on elections. In passing the bill, he temporarily alienated the Metelli. As a consequence, he failed in his bids to become aedile, although he did (barely) manage to become praetor.
Marius and the Family of Julius Caesar:
Marius as Military Legate:
Marius Runs for Consul:
Against the wishes of his patron, Metellus (who may have feared replacement), Marius ran for consul, winning for the first time in 107 B.C., and then realizing his patron's fears by replacing Metellus as head of the army. To honor his service, "Numidicus" was added to Marius' name in 109 as conqueror of Numidia.
Since Marius needed more troops to defeat Jugurtha, he instituted new policies that were to change the complexion of the army. Instead of requiring a minimum property qualification of his soldiers, Marius recruited poor soldiers who would require a grant of property of him and the senate upon ending their service.
Since the Senate would oppose distribution of these grants, Marius would need (and did receive) the troops' support.
Capturing Jugurtha was harder than Marius had thought, but he won, thanks to a man who would soon cause him endless trouble. Marius' quaestor, the patrician Lucius Cornelius Sulla, induced Bocchus, Jugurtha's father-in-law, to betray the Numidian. Since Marius was in command, he received the honor of the victory, but Sulla maintained that he deserved the credit. Marius returned to Rome with Jugurtha at the head of a victory procession at the beginning of 104. Jugurtha was then killed in prison.
Marius Runs for Consul, Again:
From 104 to 100 he was repeatedly elected consul because only as consul would he be in command of the military. Rome needed Marius to defend its borders from Germanic, Cimbri, Teutoni, Ambrones, and Swiss Tigurini tribes, following the death of 80,000 Romans at the Arausio River in 105 BC. In 102-101, Marius defeated them at Aquae Sextiae and, with Quintus Catulus, on the Campi Raudii.
Marius' Downward Slide:
Agrarian Laws and Saturninus RiotTo ensure a 6th term as consul, in 100 B.C., Marius bribed the voters and made an alliance with tribune Saturninus who had passed a series of agrarian laws which provided land for veteran soldiers from Marius' armies. Saturninus and the senators had come into conflict because of the agrarian laws' provision that the senators must take an oath to uphold it, within 5 days of the passage of the law. Some honest senators, like Metellus (now, Numidicus), refused to take the oath and left Rome.
When Saturninus was returned as tribune in 100 with his colleague, a spurious member of the Gracchi, Marius had him arrested for reasons we don't know, but possibly to ingratiate himself with the senators. If that was the reason, it failed. Furthermore, Saturninus' supporters freed him.
Saturninus supported his associate C. Servilius Glaucia in the consular elections for 99 by being involved in the murder of the other candidates. Glaucia and Saturninus were supported by the rural plebs, but not by the urban. While the pair and their adherents seized the Capitol, Marius persuaded the senate to pass an emergency decree to prevent the senate from being harmed. The urban plebs were given arms, Saturninus' supporters were removed, and the water pipes were cut -- to make a hot day intolerable. When Saturninus and Glaucia surrendered, Marius assured them they would not be harmed.
We can't say for sure that Marius meant them any harm, but Saturninus, Glaucia, and their followers were killed by the mob.
After the Social War:
Marius Seeks the Mithridates Command
In Italy, poverty, taxation, and discontent led to the rebellion known as the Social War in which Marius played an unappreciated role. The allies (socii, hence Social War) won their citizenship at the end of the Social War (91-88 B.C.), but by being put into, perhaps, 8 new tribes, their votes wouldn't count for much. They wanted to be distributed among the 35 pre-existing ones.
In 88 B.C., P. Sulpicius Rufus, tribune of the plebs, favored giving the allies what they wanted and enlisted Marius' support, with the understanding that Marius would get his Asian command (against Mithridates of Pontus).
Sulla returned to Rome to oppose Sulpicius Rufus' bill about distribution of the new citizens among the pre-existing tribes. With his consular colleague, Q. Pompeius Rufus, Sulla officially declared business suspended. Sulpicius, with armed supporters, declared the suspension illegal. A riot broke out during which Q. Pompeius Rufus' son was murdered and Sulla fled to Marius' house. After striking some sort of deal, Sulla fled to his army in Campania (where they had fought during the Social War).
Sulla had already been given what Marius wanted -- command of the forces against Mithridates, but Sulpicius Rufus had a law passed to create a special election to put Marius in charge. Similar measures had been taken before.
Sulla told his troops that they would lose out if Marius were put in charge, and so, when envoys from Rome came to tell them of a change in leadership, Sulla's soldiers stoned the envoys. Sulla then led his army against Rome.
The senate tried to order Sulla's troops to stop, but the soldiers, again, threw stones. When Sulla's opponents fled, he seized the city. Sulla then declared Sulpicius Rufus, Marius, and others enemies of the state. Sulpicius Rufus was killed, but Marius and his son fled.
In 87, Lucius Cornelius Cinna became consul. When he tried to register the new citizens (acquired at the end of the Social War) in all 35 tribes, rioting broke out. Cinna was driven from the city. He went to Campania where he took over Sulla's legion. He led his troops towards Rome, recruiting more along the way. Meanwhile, Marius gained military control of Africa. Marius and his army landed in Etruria (north of Rome), raised more troops from among his veterans and went on to capture Ostia. Cinna joined forces with Marius; together they marched on Rome.
When Cinna took the city, he revoked Sulla's law against Marius and the other exiles. Marius then took revenge. Fourteen prominent senators were killed. This was a slaughter by their standards.
Cinna and Marius were both (re-)elected consuls for 86, but a few days after taking office, Marius died. L. Valerius Flaccus took his place.