Although Consul Gaius Marius (157-86 BCE)1 of Ancient Rome is known as one of the most controversial players on the stage of Ancient Roman history, he is likewise perhaps the greatest contributor to the increased battlefield proficiency that became what people today think of when we think of the powerful Roman Army. In fact, in many ways Marius set the standard by which most future successful military forces were to operate on at the tactical and logistical levels.
The Marian Reforms played a pivotal
role in the future of the Roman military, economy, political and social cores of Roman society. While his Reforms took care of some problems, a whole new problem took hold. That problem came when
during the Jugurthan War in Numidia, Gaius Marius raised the first Roman volunteer army in 107 BCE.2 The army was made up of mostly poor, landless, and or unemployed men. He trained them and then defeated an enemy that had been fighting well against the Roman Army.3 Not only did this make Marius a hero because he defeated the enemy with his volunteer army, he managed to relieve a
great portion of Rome’s economic problem of rampant unemployment by accepting men for service that were previously not allowed into the Roman armed forces due to societal status. Ironically, some of these men had once been lower class land owners who farmed, and while away on military service their homes had been confiscated and sold off by the wealthier classes of Roman citizenry. Once they had served, but
now homeless, landless, and unemployed, without Marius they no longer were qualified for service. Marius changed that by allowing them into service in spite of their societal position. (more…)