Marius Vs Sulla

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Marius Vs Sulla

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Fri Nov 08, 2002 10:41 pm

Salvete,


Can somebody explain me a little more about Marius and Sulla. I almost forgotten all about it. It has been 6 years I've really read something about it.


Valete,



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Marius and Sulla

Postby Publius Dionysius Mus on Sat Nov 09, 2002 1:03 am

Salve Locate!

Caius Marius (156-86 BC) was known for his great skills and ambition in the military, and therefor he led the war against the Numidian king Jugurtha (as consul, in 107 BC). He also won a great victory against the tribes of the Cimbri and Teutones, and he re-organised the army. The popularity he gained through these actions made him the leader of the 'populares' (opposition against the senate party). But when some of his followers tried to reform the republic (like the Gracchi tried before), he chose the side of the senate in the city riots that followed. This way he became unpopular on both sides, while the popularity of his senate opponent, Sulla, rose further.

Then the war against Mithridates broke out (88 BC), and Sulla got the command. But the populares tried to give Marius the command, and a new riot broke out. Sulla used his own loyal troops to restore the order, and many of Marius' followers were killed. Then Sulla embarked to fight Mithridates. When he was away, Marius returned to Rome and he took power, but he soon died.

When Sulla returned to Rome, Marius' followers (Cinna,...) were terrorizing the city. Sulla violently put an end to this: proscriptions killed 5000 Roman citizens, and he installed a private guard (40000 men). He became 'dictator' for several years, but he left this office again (79 BC), one year before he died.


These are the simple facts, but much has been discussed on this matter. The (terrible?) battle between optimates and populares... Which side was the good side? etc. I can't think of any literature on this now, from the top of my head. Maybe other people here have some suggestions? Or some additions to what I've told here?


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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sat Nov 09, 2002 1:13 pm

I'd like to jump in and give a quick remark about Cinna.

As in most cases, ancient history is seen from the perspective of the winner, in this case Sulla. I don't doubt that Cinna and his followers did some "bad" things to the Roman citizens, but Sulla wasn't known for his compassion either. Piscinus, who is more the expert in this matter, has frequently given a description of Sulla and his actions which reminds me of a mentally disordered person; allegedly he *ordered* his troops to rape women?!

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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Mon Nov 11, 2002 2:23 pm

Salvete

WHOA! Sulla the Usurper, Sulla the Butcher, Sulla the boy toy of Metrobius the female impersonator, vs Marius the Mad? Yes, we should go into that and some related things on Roman political history to clear up some misunderstandings.

Mus scripsit: Then the war against Mithridates broke out (88 BC), and Sulla got the command.
Not really. By 88 all power was invested in the Comitia. Beginning in 311 BCE Tribunes militum (junior officers of the army) were elected by the Comitia Plebis Tributa. The commanding general of an army was dertermined by the Comitia Centuriata, but at least by 106 BCE if not earlier, it was the Comitia Plebis Tributa that appointed army commanders. The Senate would give its advice on who should command which armies, but the Comitia did not have to follow that advice. What happened in 106 was that Marius was elected consul, given imperium by the Comitia Centuriata, assigned to the armies in Numidia by the Comitia Plebis against the advice of the Senate. The Senate tried to prevent Marius from raising an army through the Comitia Centuriata or pay for the army. Marius circumvented the Senate by going through the Comitia Plebis instead. The whole reason why Marius was able to bring into the army the capiti censi was because the Centuriata was not used, and thus the censi classis sytem that designated the assidui. In 88 the same problem arose when the Senate advised that Sulla should receive the command, but the Comitia selected Marius, which it had every right and power to do. Telling in this episode is the fact that when Sulla showed up, all but one of the army's officers refused to obey Sulla and instead returned to Rome. The simple fact being that these officers, from the Senatorial and Equites classes, were appointed by the Comitia and owed their allegiance to the state, the legitimate government, which was the Comitia, not the Senate.

Mus Scripsit: But the populares tried to give Marius the command, and a new riot
There were no Optimes or Populares at that time. That political division came later when Sulla executed 150 of 300 Senatores and then appointed his own supporters to an increased Senate of 600. The Optimes represented those sullatoriones placed in the Senate after 88. The Comitia did not try, they did give legitimate command to Marius, and Sulla usurped his authority over the army, then marched on Rome in a rebellion. What riot is referred to I have no idea, unless it is the bloodbath Sulla unleashed by slaughtering thousands in the Forum.

Mus scripsit: Then Sulla embarked to fight Mithridates. When he was away, Marius returned to Rome and he took power, but he soon died.
Sulla went East. One has to wonder if it was to fight Mithradates. He sacked Athens and Delphi. Another army was sent out by the Comitia to fight Mithradates. Sulla was still in rebellion at that point and attacked the Roman army. Then once more, rather than fight Mithradates Sulla turned on the Roman cities in the East.

Mus scripsit: When Sulla returned to Rome, Marius' followers (Cinna,...) were terrorizing the city. Sulla violently put an end to this: proscriptions killed 5000 Roman citizens, and he installed a private guard (40000 men). He became 'dictator' for several years, but he left this office again (79 BC), one year before he died.
When Sulla attacked Rome the first time is where he murdered 5, 000 political opponents. Cinna was the consul who managed to escape with his followers. He retook Rome when Sulla departed. Marius was in North Africa and returned later, placing himself under Cinna. Then Marius was elected consul. It was Marius who is said to have gone mad, roaming the streets of Rome with his slaves and randomly killing his political opponents. Estimates range from 300 to 5,000. Cinna broke with Marius and attempted to stop him. Marius died shortly after, possibly of siphylus, which would also explain his madness.
When Sulla returned he executed 30, 000 in Rome alone. Another 30,000 in Preaneste, on top of his attempt to exterminate all male Samnites. The Samnites did not rebell against Rome, they were Roman citizens by then, and were the only ones who tried to defend Rome against Sulla. After taking Rome the second time is when Sulla issued the proscriptions that murdered tens of thousands in addition to those he had executed outright the first two times..

Mus scripsit: These are the simple facts, but much has been discussed on this matter. The (terrible?) battle between optimates and populares... Which side was the good side? etc. I can't think of any literature on this now, from the top of my head. Maybe other people here have some suggestions? Or some additions to what I've told here?

respondeo:
Political history in more recent times would be complex enough to consider. Here you have to go over a series of events beginning really with Aemilianus Scipio Africanus, and could carry it on to Julius Caesar in order to get the full political dimensions. Then you would need to reconsider what has been written by modern historians who distorted Rome's political history to promote their own political perspectives, beginning with Mommsen. Literature to begin with, probably Plutarch's life of Marius.
My suggestion would be to go back to the reform movement that began with Scipio Africanus in order to try to sort out what social classes were involved on both sides. It is really an over simplification to speak of upper, lower and middle classes in such a stratified society as Rome's. For example the Gracchi are most commonly portrayed promoting reforms to benefit the urban poor against the aristocracy, which is not true at all. It was the very highest echelons of Roman society among the Nobiles, who Mommsen called the "genteel aristocracy," that began the reforms, supported the Gracchi, and exiled those who murdered the Gracchi. The beneficiaries of the Gracchan reforms were the Equites Equo Publica, ie the highest level of the Equites, and then too the lowest level of Equites along with the Prima Classis from whom, together, were drawn the magistrates vicorum and the publicani. One Gracchan reform was aimed at the assidui, the census classes below the Prima Classis that formed the army, in an attempt to gain their support in the Comitia. The the proletarii, the capiti censi and lower classes got nothing from the Gracchan reforms. Who opposed the Gracchi was a minority in the Senate that represented the middle echelon among the Equites. Marius in the Saturninus affair, and then with Sulla, still involved the same social groups basically. The Populares were those who came from or supported Scipio's circle of Nobiles, ie they were the traditional highest level among the Nobiles who had been displaced by the sullatoriones in Sulla's proscriptions. Cicero originally was a Populares, at the time he prosecuted Verres, and had been taught within the Scipio circle, which is why he posed them as characters in some of his treatises. Perhaps he also referred to them because at the time he wrote, Caesar, heir of Marius and of the Scipio reform tradition, was already in power. In the end, with Caesar, it is the Scipios, Gracchans, and Marians that won the struggle for control of the Republic, but it is not a revolution as the Optimes tried to pose it. Rather it is the legitimate line of authority carrying on the Republican tradition against such usurpers as Sulla.
A little while ago I had begun a series of posts to some friends on the Scipio circle and the Gracchi. I'll forward these to this list and try to take up where I left off, then bring it down to the struggle between Marius and Sulla.

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thanks

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Mon Nov 11, 2002 5:34 pm

Salve Marce,


Thanks a lot! A much more complete answer than I expected!


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Re: thanks

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Mon Nov 11, 2002 10:57 pm

Salve Locate

Quintus Claudius Locatus wrote:Salve Marce,


Thanks a lot! A much more complete answer than I expected!


Loc


Well, you know me, nothing is ever smple! :D
It's about to get more complex when I begin to post my musings on the political history of the Republic.

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Postby Anonymous on Tue Jan 14, 2003 10:15 pm

Salvete,

I have just read Piscinus' text on Marius and Sulla and I must say I have learned a lot.
I am reading a fiction on this period from Colleen Mc Cullough covering Marius' rise to power to the avent of Caesar (the series of books is called "the masters of Rome"). Can anyone tell me if these books are historically accurate in the sense that they portray the said events as faithfully as possible ?
In any case I think they make for good, relaxed reading but could benefit from others' opinions.

Opime Valete

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Roman history and fiction

Postby Xantippe Helia Allegra on Tue Jan 14, 2003 10:40 pm

Salve Laurete,

Although I have not read McCullough's series, I do enjoy historical fiction on the Republic and Imperial Rome and have wanted to begin a collection of reviews for the ColArt for some time. Would you be interested in reviewing McCullough's work for such a project?


Vale optime,
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Postby Anonymous on Wed Jan 15, 2003 12:10 am

Salve Allegra,

I'll be happy to contribute in some small way to your project; But first I have got to finish reading the bleeming thing ! :evil:
There 4 or 5 books, i believe, in the series and each book is like a thousand pages or something !

In the mean time I can send you something in the near future about a "private investigator", Marcus Didius Falco, in the Rome of Vepasian. The books from Lynsey Davis, A british author, are well documented and very funny. I'll get back to you as soon as I can put something together about it...

Vale

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Falco, P.I.

Postby Xantippe Helia Allegra on Wed Jan 15, 2003 12:33 am

Salve Laureate,

I have the first of the Marcus Didius Falco series...it is one, among the next in line on my reading list. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on that series as well as McCullough's. (I imagine it will be more exciting than her novel, The Thorn Birds, nonne?)

Vale,
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Postby Horatius Piscinus on Wed Jan 15, 2003 5:42 am

Salvete

It's no secret; I can't stand to read fiction. I tried McCullough twice, got through only a few pages each time, so I couldn't comment on historical accuracy. I tried one in the Falco series, the one on Cataline, and did better, about twenty pages. Not far enough into it to say it was unhistorical, but there was not enough history to hold my interest. I am the kind of reader who likes to pour over charts of the compositional ingredients of a pottery shard and try to determine from where the potters received their resources. Give me a dry archaeological report on some dig and I'm happy, but dialogue I can't follow. I really hated McCullough's books.

Allegra, if what you reviews of history books...but then you have to be a little nuts to read some of the things I get into.

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