The Marian Army Reforms , What did Gaius Marius do to change Rome ?

Gaius Marius

Gaius Marius comes from a latin family, that lived  in a village close to the town of Arpinum. His parents didn’t give him any education. In his youth he served in the army and was characterized with bravery at the time of the Numantian War, when Scipio Aelimilianus turned his attention to the young Marius. In 119 B.C.E. Marius became a tribune and he carried a law in favor of the plebs. To put himself into contact with the Aristocracy he married Julia from the house of the Julii. Soon he had been given a curial Magistrate. He was chosen as praetor and later governed Spain. In the times of the war with Jugurtha, Marius was a legatus to Caecilius Metellus. He proved himself a capable soldier and a great commander. As a homo novus he was very close with the soldiers, he often dined with them, he always talked about how he would quickly end the war with Jugurtha and bring glory to the soldiers if only he would have full command of the army. In 108 B.C.E against the will of Metellus, Marius conceived the desire to run for consulship. He enjoyed a lot of popularity and support from the Populares, the Equities and the plebs. This popular support to the surprise of Metellus gave Marius what he wanted a consulship for the year 107 B.C.E. After he became a consular he was given the command over the army against Jogurtha, and he sticked to his words by giving Jogurtha decisive defeats on the battlefield which broth the end to the Numidian war.

Marian reforms

When Marius was given the command over the army he really didn’t have an army to give any commands to, because most of the army under Metellus left with him and the main source of manpower eligible to be a Roman soldier was drained. So Marius had introduced his first reform.  Those landless masses that before were not allowed to enlist in the army now could freely enlist into the Roman ranks. This were the Capite censi, people that didn’t own any lands or owned lands but were not fulfilling the minimal requirement to be a part of the five classes in roman society at the time. Because they owned no land they could not afford to equip themselves with any armaments so Marius made it possible for the state to equip every soldier in the Roman Army. The classes in the Roman society no longer dictated the status of the soldiers in the army.Every soldiers weaponry and position in the lines was determent by the commanders,property no longer determined the position in the ranks. Aside from the equipment, every soldier had been given wages for his service in the Roman army and the possibility to acquire vast amounts of riches. Under these conditions a large number of people flocked into the ranks of Marius’s army. The serves in the army was set to sixteen years.

A professional Army

Second most important reform was the formation of  a professional, standardized army.  Mobilization, equipment, training all was standardized. The drilling and marching were to be done regularly and as often as possible not just when war threatened but at peace times also. Marius organized the army in a way that one Legion consisted of 6000 men from which 4,800 were actual legionaries the rest were non-combatants ( servants etc…). The Legion itself consisted of 10 cohorts, consisting of 6 centuries each. One century consisted of 100 men, from which only 80 were legionaries and the rest were non-combatants. The first cohort wasn’t standardized and it consisted of 5 centuries each with double their strength to 160 men. Every century had been further divided into 10 contubernia which were led by a decanus. This contubernia consisted of 10 men, 8 of which were legionaries and the rest servants. The centuries fought like a single unit, marched like a single unit and they camped as a unit. The century was responsible for carrying its own equipment, its own weapons and its own rations for an estimated few days march. This was a huge advantage, by reorganizing the army Marius made the army faster, more mobile, they had to drag less baggage carts. When 2 to 6 legions grouped together they formed an army. All this changes led to the Roman army being one of the greatest military forces of the Ancient World

The rest of Marius’s reforms guaranteed land grants to veterans. After the soldier had finished their 16 years of service they were guaranteed a pension from their general as well as, a plot of land in the conquered regions where they could retire. Officers were often given 10 to 25 times more monetary rewards then the common soldier. Marius also granted full citizenship to the Italian allies  who fought for Rome and had completed a period of service in the Roman Army. Before the reforms there were standardized army banners, but Marius gave the army new banners. The roman standard featured five animal figures: the eagle, the ox, the horse, the wolf and the boar. But Marius made it so that the only standard of every Roman Legion would be the Aquila or in other words the Eagle which would become the most important symbol of the Roman Legions. Every legion was given a new banner and a silver eagle.

Results of these reforms

All these reforms resulted in creating a professional army, a better army, a more efficient one and  a force not to be taken lightly on the battlefield. The Roman General, when the republic was threatened with war no longer had to quickly gather men from the citizens that were eligible to serve. He then had to train them and teach them to follow commands. These soldiers when  faced with the enemy were nothing more but raw recruits. Now Rome had a standardized professional army. After the reforms the soldiers no longer looked to end the conflict as  quickly as possible and then return to farming their lands, now they wanted  new conquests because they promised them new riches. The division of land to the veterans also attributed to the Romanization of the conquered regions. The bad side to these reforms was loyalty shifting from the state to the Generals. This would eventually attribute to the downfall of the Roman Republic.