Marius and the New Roman Army

  • M. Cary
  • H. H. Scullard


After the death of Gaius Gracchus and the massacre of his partisans the senatorial aristocracy returned to power unopposed. In 120 a doubtful constitutional point was settled in its favour, when L. Opimius was prosecuted in a popular court by a tribune for putting citizens to death without a trial, but overawed the people into granting a sentence of absolution. His acquittal virtually legalised the Senate’s Emergency Decree and gave it confidence to make regular use of this weapon in domestic crises. In truth, so long as Rome lacked a properly constituted police force the Senatus Consultum Ultimum was not only a justifiable but a necessary means of defence against armed attacks upon the government.1


Armed Attack Voluntary Enlistment Greek City Roman Province Winter Campaign 
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Notes and References

  1. K. Johannsen, Die lex agraria des Jahres III. v. Chr. (Munich, 1971 ).Google Scholar
  2. On Sallust see D. C. Earl, The Political Thought of Sallust (1961), esp. ch. v; R. Syme, Sallust (1964), chs x and xi. For political repercussions cf. E. S. Gruen, Roman Politics… 149–78 B.C. (1968), ch. v.Google Scholar
  3. See Brunt, Manpower, 402 ff. On the army the later Republic see R. E. Smith, Service in the Post-Marian Army (1958)Google Scholar
  4. and J. Harmand, L’Armée et le soldat. Harmand, L’Armée et le soldat ‘a Rome de 107 à 50 avant notre ère (1967).Google Scholar
  5. On some aspects of war in general see Problemes de la guerre à Rome, by J. P. BrisCÖn (1969). See also E. Gabba, Esercito e società nella tarda repubblica romana 1973. The reading by F. Stahelin (Die Schweiz in römischer Zeit 2 (1931), 49) in Livy, Epitome, lxv, of ‘in fini-bus Nitobrigum’ for ‘Allobrogum’ may be accepted.Google Scholar
  6. Traces of the Fossa Mariana, which ran from Fos to Arles, have been found by underwater exploration: see P. Diole, 4000 Years under the Sea (1954), ch. 5.Google Scholar
  7. Vercellae was a common Celtic place-name and the battle was probably fought near Ferrara or Rovigo: see J. Zennari, I Vercelli dei Celti (1956). No reliance can be put in Orosius’s figure (v. 16.21) of nearly half a million German casualties (including women and children). The fact that Marius engaged the Cimbri on an open plain suggests that they did not greatly outnumber his force of 55,000 men.Google Scholar
  8. The Livian tradition that the court was shared between Equites and senators is probably to be preferred to the view of Tacitus (Ann. xii. 60.4) that Caepio’s bill restored the quaestio to the Senate. If other iudicia publica, beside the de repetundis, had been established at this time, they were probably included in the bill. For this measure and that of Glaucia (see especially J. P. V. D. Balsdon, PBSR 1938, 98 ff.=Seager, Crisis Rom. Rep. 132 ff.).Google Scholar
  9. A fragment of Roman law, found at Bantia in southern Italy (Riccobono, Fontes, p. 82), has been identified with Saturninus’s lex Appuleia de maiestate (cf. Stuart Jones, IRS 1926), but this is not certain. On maiestas see R. A. Bauman, The Crimen Maiestatis in the Roman Republic and Augustan Principale (1967), who argues for an earlier possible use of the crime maiestas by tribunes.Google Scholar
  10. On the price of the corn H. Last (CAH, ix. 165, n. 1) suggests that it was 6; asses (senis et trientibus), not the derisory sum of 6 as (semissibus et trientibus) a peck. On the dating of a corn-law carried by a certain M. Octavius see J. G. Schovanek, Historia 1972, 235 ff.Google Scholar
  11. Saturninus’s legislation of 100 was either abandoned or limited, but there is some doubt as to whether it was formally declared invalid by the Senate on the ground that it had been carried by force (per vim). See A. W. Lintott, Violence in Republican Rome (1968), 152 ff.Google Scholar
  12. the land-route to Gallia Narbonensis or to watch over the gold-mines at Victimulae. See U. Ewins, PBRS 1952, 70 ff. Traces of the land-distribution (centuriation) survive: see P. Fraccaro, Opuscula, iii (1957), 93 ff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The representatives of the estate of the late M. Cary and H. H. Scullard 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Cary
    • 1
  • H. H. Scullard
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LondonUK

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