Marius, Cicero and Populares

Irene Hahn has written a thought-provoking post about Cicero and the term populares at Roman History Books and More, which came out of their book chat about Colleen McCullough's Caesar's Women:

My answer was quick but I disagreed with her agreeing with Robin Seager that Cicero did not popularise the term ... I'd put my book about and thoughts regarding Marius on hold during my recovery, so hats off to Irene for getting me thinking about him again! This was my comment, which is worth sharing with those who don't read Irene's blog:
"Colleen McCullough may write novels, but they are remarkably well researched and she's clearly got a great brain and has given the various issues and ideas in them a lot of thought.

"I've been working on Marius, Cicero's slightly older cousin, who was The Big Man in Rome at the start of Cicero's career. Although many modern sources describe Marius as a Populares, I don't think he himself would have - partly as the concept of formal political parties was alien to his period, and mostly because the term was not used.

"So did Cicero coin the term? I think it's highly likely - or at the very least he popularised a term that came to be used in the post-Marius generation: after Sulla, in the days of Marius' nephew Julius Caesar.

"I think Seagar is wrong in that Crassus may well have used the term popularis, and may well have exploited the "notion of the sovereignty of the whole people" but ... so did Brutus the elder, so did Scipio Aemilianus, so did the Gracchi, so did Marius ... but harnessing the will of the people and having a more formal political party or movement are two different things ....

"Brilliant post Irene - it's been a while since I've felt able to think about these sorts of things, and this post really did make me think."


  1. Nice to meet you.

    I was going to paste the link without permission because I had very felt the interest for your blog.

    Please link me with the blog if it is good.



  2. I'm so glad to see you posting again. I hope that your health issues are completely resolved. I'm taking a seminar in Roman History this semester so your comments on Cicero are of particular interest to me.

  3. Just a note, hope you are getting better. Let us know that you are ok.

  4. I echo anonymous in wishing you well. I check daily hoping to read something from you that lets those who follow you know you are alright.

    I hope you realise that there are those of us who may not know you outside of cyberspace, but who truly care.

  5. from another anon:

    yes, we do care. and hope you are able to post again soon.

  6. Bonjour j'aimerais savoir quelle revanche contre Cicéron le parti des populares obtient-il quatre ans après l'arrestation de Catilina?


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