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Ave UNRV family!

I have a question that has been bothering me for years.

For those of you whom I haven't met yet, I am writing a series about Quintus Sertorius, the famous Marian general who led a rebellion against the Sullan government. More recently, however, I've begun a spinoff series from the POV of Gaius Marius, detailing his early life which hasn't been addressed often enough in fiction.

So far the only book in the series "Son of Mars" details his youth and service in Spain under Scipio Aemilianus, and it's time for the next installment.

As I move forward, there is a nagging question which I have to answer.

How did Marius feel about Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus?

He obviously displayed a tendency for Populare politics later on in his career, but at this time he worshipped the ground that Scipio Aemilianus walked on. The latter was brother-in-law to the Gracchi brothers, but also vehemently opposed them, leaving a muddy picture for how Marius may have looked on these revolutionaries.

What do you think? I'm not sure there are many sources detailing Marius' personal thoughts of these two men, or his activities during this time, but I'd love to hear your input.

Thanks, guys!


Vincent B. Davis II

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I did discover that during Marius' Praetorship he opposed a law which would have continued Gaius Gracchus' grain reforms. This could have been simply to placate the aristocrats who he enraged during his Tribuneship, or it could have been his personal stance. If the latter is true, he might very well have stood opposed to the revolutionaries, although that brings his later political decisions into question.

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I cannot comment on this period of Roman history as my knowledge of these events is fuzzy at best. You certainly know a lot more on this subject than I.

That said, all politics (especially in ancient cultures) were personal, based on patronage, blood relations, and extended family  (through marriage and adoption). This helps explain the ever-shifting alliances in the late Roman Republic.

For example, Caesar's aunt was married to Gaius Marius. Also, Caesar's marriage to the daughter of Marius' ally Cinna did not help to ingratiate himself with Sulla. Caesar's relationship with Marius would obviously impact negatively on Sulla's later view of Casear.

The Gracchi brothers were near-contemporaries with Marius. Marius was 24 when Tiberius Gracchus died and 36 when Gaius Gracchus died.

So, the question remains: Did Marius have any relationship with the Gracchi brothers, either personally or through patronage and family? 

Marius' admiration for Scipio Aemilianus complicates the politics even more.

The Gracchi brothers were the grandchildren of Scipio Africanus. (Here, the history gets confusing for me.) Scipio Aemilianus was the adopted grandson of Scipio Africanus as well as the brother-in-law of the Gracchi brothers. Scipio Aemilanus' death is suspicious. Did he die of natural causes or was he murdered (as rumored) by his mother-in-law and wife for political reasons in order to defend the Gracchi brothers' reforms? Way too complicated for my simple mind.


Just like modern times, all politics are personal.




guy also known as gaius



Edited by guy

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There is nothing specific in the sources about Marius' attitude toward the Gracchan reforms, but during his tribunate (119BC) Marius proposed a "popularis" law that altered the procedure in elections.  Apparently, it involved narrowing the pontes over which the voters approached the ballot boxes with the intention of reducing the ability of the nobles or their agents to pressure the voters.  The measure was violently opposed by the consul L Aurelius Cotta who demanded Marius appear before the senate and explain his action (possibly Marius had not previously obtained senatorial approval).  This resulted in an angry debate during which the other consul L Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus (Marius' erstwhile patron) supported Cotta.  Marius is said to have ordered Metellus' arrest, whereupon the opposition collapsed and the bill passed.  Possibly this irritated the nobility enough that they used their influence to defeat Marius' election to the aedileship, and to prosecute him for bribery after he won the last place in the praetorian election (115BC).

The sources don't specifically say whether Marius ever met his nephew either

Edited by Pompieus

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As you say, Roman political alliances were personal, various and shifting.  Several prominent men supported Tiberius Gracchus. Appius Claudius Pulcher the princeps senatus was his father in law, Publius Licinius Crassus Dives cos 131 and soon to be pontifex maximus  was Gaius Gracchus' father in law.  Other prominent supporters were Marcus Fulvius Flaccus (cos 125), Gaius Porcius Cato (cos 114) grandson of the censor,  Publius Mucius Scaevola (cos 133) and Gaius Papirius Carbo (cos 120).

It is possible that the enmity between Scipio and Tiberius Gracchus dated from the Mancinus episode in 137.  Gaius Cato and the Metelli had also once been friends of Scipio but had become estranged for some reason according to Cicero.  In 138 Scipio personally prosecuted Lucius Aurelius Cotta, the father of Marius' opponent in 119 for bribery, and Metellus Macedonicus, the father of Delmaticus, defended him.

If Marius was originally a client of the Metelli (as Plutarch says) he could possibly have served under Metellus Belearicus in 123-122.  Sallust says Marius was elected military tribune, but not when (134-133?).  Broughton (Magistrates of the Roman Republic) says he was probably quaestor in 121 or 120.

Edited by Pompieus

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