Marius vs. Sulla: Rome's Social Wars
Marius vs. Sulla: Rome's Social Wars
After the fall of the Gracchi, the conservative Optimates were in charge of the Senate
- The conservative faction controlled the Senate.
- Some questions remained about the senatus consultum ultimum; was it constitutional or not?
- The lex agraria and Tiberius’ Land Commission continued to operate.
Rome's Wars 111-84 BCE
Against Numidia in northern Africa
Against German tribes,
|Against Rome's Italian Allies
||Against King Mithridates of Pontus (Asia Minor)
- He had been a novus homo, the first man in his family to hold high office.
- He was with with Scipio Aemilianus at the siege of Numantia in Spain.
- He was elected tribune of the people in 119 BCE, with the help of Quintus Metellus.
- He comes across as popularis, by pushing through legislation protecting clients from their patrons' intimidation during voting, legislation which causes enmity between Marius and Metellus
- He appears to be an optimate when he opposes extension of Gaius Gracchus' grain act.
- He is barely elected praetor, and is accused (but acquitted) of bribery in 115 BCE.
- He then goes to Farther Spain to be provincial governor, and becomes wealthy.
- He marries into a patrician family, marrying the aunt of Julius Caesar.
- He eventually mends his relationship with Q. Metellus,
- Was fought in Numidia, against its king, Jugurtha.
- Numidia's rule had been left to three brothers, who fought for control.
- In the process, Jugurtha, one rival, took Cirta, an important port city for grain, massacring many Roman merchants there.
- Rome tried to settle dispute by dividing the territory, but to no avail.
- In 111, people in Rome grew incensed over lack of action, so the consuls and senate were shamed into declaring war. Accusations of bribery had been leveled.
- Roman generals, at first, were unable to defeat the wily Jugurtha.
- Metellus took command, was more successful, but could not capture the king.
- Metellus blamed for prolonging the war, which tradesmen wanted ended as soon as possible.
- Marius encouraged such thinking, hoping to win a consulship.
First consulship 107 BCE
- Marius won the election, although Metellus tried to obstruct it by detaining him in Africa.
- The Plebeian Assembly vote him command of Africa.
- This move seriously changed the status of the army within the Roman political system.
- The soldier became more loyal to general, not to the state.
- Successful generals gained more political clout, making military command more desirable.
- Powerful commanders could then resort to civil war in order to achieve their ambition.
- Marius led Jugurtha through the streets of Rome in chains in his triumph at the end of the war.
- Second consulship: 104 BCE (very soon after first, because of threat of northern invasion).
- Celtic neighbors to the north were pushed out of their territory, and had petitioned Rome for land, but were rejected.
- In 105 BC, Rome lost 80,000 men in a battle at the Arausio.
- This led to panic, which led to Marius' second consulship (104).
- Marius reorganizes the legion.
- He increased the size of the legion from 4000 men to 5000-6000 men, all heavily armed, with no class distinctions.
- He divided the legion into tactical units called cohorts, of 500-600 men (1/10 of legion).
- Each cohort was divided into 5 or 6 centuries with a seasoned leader.
- The cohort was much stronger than the old maniple (120 men), and so could be independent on the battlefield.
- Marius also trained his men in one-on-one style, dualists (a thrust and parry style), like gladiators.
- He eliminated property distinctions in formations, since soldiers no longer provided their own weapons.
- Aquae Sextiae 102 BCE: The decisive victory against Celts.
- In 101, near Turin, the final battle took place,
- A noteworthy competition for glory occurred between Marius and his co-consul, Catulus.
Marius' Poltical Fall 100-86 BCE
- Sixth consulship 100 BCE; Marius rode a wave of popularity because of his victories.
- Lacking a political agenda, he relied on a tribune, Satuninus, who used violence to achieve his aims.
- Saturninus' crimes forced Marius to invoke a senatus consultum ultimum to have Saturninus captured and executed.
- Shamed by association with Saturninus, Marius retired from Rome to Asia where he allegedly tried to instigate a war with Mithridates.
- Sulla was from a patrician family that had fallen on hard times.
- He had a reputation for always supporting the senate.
- He was an officer in Jugurthine and Celtic wars.
- He became consul in 88 BCE
- Social War: commander of southern campaign against Samnites.
- Marched on Rome to secure command.
- Proscriptions (lists of political enemies to be killed)
- Political reforms.
- Discontent of Allies : They want more rights.
- They could not hold office, and could not govern the new provinces.
- They were not equal according to Roman Law, and had no right of appeal before Roman courts.
- More of the wealth from the conquests went to Rome, which Rome used for funding more wars.
- The allies, however, had to tax themselves to pay for the wars.
- The Gracchan land reforms had encroached on their territory.
- 95 BCE, consuls established special courts to expel Italians from citizenship rolls.
- Before this, individual Italians with connections to powerful Romans were regularly on rolls.
Attempted reforms of Livius Drusus Jr., tribune 91 BC
- The son of Drusus who had opposed Gaius Gracchus.
- He expanded the number of equestrians in the senate.
- He staffed the juries in extortion courts with this new, mixed senate.
- He passed legislation for public distribution of grain at reduced prices.
- He created Roman colonies in Sicily.
- Unsuccessfully tried to grant citizenship to all Italians.
- Drusus assassinated.
- Italians revolt: create confederacy of "Italia."
- Strategic advantages for Romans
- Rome controlled the sea and could import troops from the provinces.
- Rome controlled the roads and commerce within Italy.
- Rome had pockets of loyal allies within enemy territory.
- Strategic advantages for Allies
- Perhaps had the moral high ground
- Were as well trained as the Roman legions and knew their tactics.
- Rome gradually grants citizenship to most allies in Italy
- The Julian Law, 90 BCE, and the
- Plautian-Papirian Law of 89 BCE
- Results of War
- Economic devastation:
- It disrupted farming and trade
- Debtors increased in number.
- Grain prices increased.
- Dangerous precedent for future civil wars.
- More unified Italian peninsula
- Italo-Roman culture begins to form
- Latin language spreads more
- Rome becomes a regional state, no longer a city state.
- Mithridates (134-63 BCE), King of Pontus
- He was an old style Hellenistic monarch, who, like Alexander the Great, wanted an empire.
- Sulla and Senate vs. Marius and People's Assembly
- Marius uses a tribune, Sulpicius, to pass a law giving him command.
- Sulla had been promised command by his senate friends.
- Sulla marches on Rome to wrest command from Marius, creating first outright civil war.
He sets fire to the city, killing many innocent city dwellers.
- Continued civil unrest 87-86 BCE
- The election of a censor never takes place, leaving an issue of which tribes to enroll new citizens into.
- There were 35 tribes, or 31 regular and 4 urban tribes, each with one vote (majority ruled).
- New citizens were enrolled in 4 urban tribes, only in order to dilute the strength of their votes.
- Sulla settles war with a lenient peace, in hopes of returning quickly to Rome.
Sulla's Reign of Terror, 83-80 BCE
- Civil War between Sulla and Populares
- Crassus and Pompey - young officers in Sulla's army.
- Battle at Rome's Colline Gate: Sulla nearly defeated.
- Sulla's proscriptions of his political opponents
- Plutarch recounts that 6000 equites were killed in the Circus.
- Rewards were given for heads of enemies.
- People with money were targeted, because Sulla needed land and money for his soldiers.
- Sulla proclaimed Dictator by Centuriate Assembly.
(see Romans pp 120-121)
- Enlarged membership of Senate
- Reformed court system
- Abolished trials before Public Assemblies
- Separate courts for different types of crimes
- New courts staffed by Senate members only.
- Restricted access to consulship.
- Stripped tribuneship of its power.
- Restricted powers of provincial governors.
Although their politics may seem very different, what do Marius and Sulla have in common as Roman senators?