The Trouble with Armies

Now by this time you’d expect the Romans to be pretty tired of all this fighting, and the Germanic tribes thought so too. So they snuck into Gaul and the Po valley until they were thicker than rabbits. But the Romans just couldn’t overlook this and quickly decided that something must be done. So the consul, Gaius Marius changed a few laws so that anyone and not just the landholders could be soldiers. Of course, he went on and won the battle since he had righteousness and the gods on his side not to mention more men, but the integrity of the army was lost forever. Now the soldiers were loyal to their commander (and his promise to grant them settlements in the newly conquered areas) rather than the state of Rome, and patriotism was taking a definite down-swing.  

Sulla, who thought he was a pretty good general, thank you very much, quickly became put out with the fame that Marius was generating. Sulla was known for his blazing red hair and two canine teeth he would bare when angry. This would have been great for cartoonists if they weren’t so afraid of him.

Having run out of foreigners, he went after the next best thing: Romans. After seizing Rome and kicking Marius out, he decided that all non-Romans should go too. Marius, of course, was not so fond of this. So they fought it out in the good old-fashioned way, smashing through cities and killing anyone who suggested that perhaps violence wasn’t the answer after all. In time, Sulla came out on top; he had directed Marius’s armies in the first place, and Marius discovered that finding a trusted lieutenant was hard work—apparently the effort of it killed him before Sulla did. Thus ended Rome’s first civil war.


2 comments on “The Trouble with Armies

  1. Anonymous says:

    Is this where the word sullen comes from?

  2. Hi. While that would be an awesome root for the word, it’s more likely that Sullen comes from the Middle English word “soleyn.” This derived from soul or sole, and initially meant solitary, but slowly shifted more towards morose.

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