A modern parallel lives: military reform and political opportunism in the lives of Gaius Marius and Philip of Macedon

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University of New Brunswick


There can be no doubt that both Philip II of Macedon and Gaius Marius of the Roman Republic were significant military reformers, and, in broad terms, significant historical persons in general. However, both Philip and Marius both tend be overshadowed by those who succeeded them, whether it be Alexander in Philip’s case, or Sulla and Caesar among others after Marius. This paper aims first to demonstrate the similarities between Philip and Marius, and then to highlight the importance of both of these historical figures by emphasizing the significance of their military reforms, and particularly by highlighting their fairly distinct skill of seizing upon opportunities as they arise, and furthering their own power by whatever means they are able to use. This is particularly important for Marius, who is generally relegated to the role of a purely military figure. His political skills and methods are significant, and worthy of acknowledgement.