Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman who lived 157-86BC. He was uncle to Julius Caesar through marriage to Caesar’s aunt and greatly acclaimed for his military career. His numerous campaigns and victories, including in the orient, earned him 7 consulships.
Marius was a highly successful Roman general. He implemented radical military reforms in 107BC extending the professional army model:
Creating a regular standing army of professionals.
Enabling relatively poor plebeians to enter the army.
Linking the army more closely to the general who led it than to the Senate.
His conscripts came to be known as “Marius’ Mules” because of the equipment and baggage they each carried great distances.
He was particularly known for victories against two Germanic (possibly Celtic) tribes called the Cimbri and Teutones which around 106BC heavily defeated the Romans and in 102BC threatened to enter northern Italy.
He held a leading part in the civil wars, leading the Plebeian “populares” against the Patrician “optimates” whose forces were led by his ex lieutenant, general Sulla. The civil war ended in great bloodshed and proscriptions. Marius’ war trophies were removed from the temples. The young Julius Caesar barely survived and soon had himself noticed when he took public office by restoring Marius’ war trophies to the temples.