The Roman general and politician Marius was one of the most important figures in the Roman Republic. He was a controversial figure during his lifetime, and his contributions have been fiercely debated since then. Many historians have argued that he helped to save the Roman Republic and laid the foundation for an army that was almost invincible for centuries.
Marius’s reforms also had important social-political implications, and he dramatically expanded citizenship in the Republic. Still, his reforms changed the nature of the Roman army which weakened the democratic character of the republic. These reforms allowed generals to take control of Rome with their troops. Because of his changes, the legions of Rome increasingly came under the control of ambitious leaders such as Pompey or Sulla. The Marian reforms that were initiated during a crisis became an essential factor in the decline and the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Imperial system in Rome.
Rome in 100 BC was a fast-growing power. Originally, Rome was only a small settlement on the Tiber. However, by force of arms, it was able to expand its power across much of Italy. The defeat of the Carthaginian Empire meant that Rome no longer had any serious enemy in the Mediterranean. The city-state’s armies were the most formidable in the region, and they created a huge Empire. The Roman army was made up of citizens, and they supplied their arms and armor. Wealth and slaves flowed into Rome.