Plutarch's The Life Of Marius Analysis

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The Life of Marius, written by Plutarch, is a fascinating ancient source detailing the career of the Roman Gaius Marius, 127-86BC. While there are interpretive and reliability issues, the Life of Marius is a particularly useful and significant source. It is our only extensive primary source on Marius, who was a key political figure of late Republican Rome. Additionally, Plutarch’s work indicates not only many crucial military and political development in Rome in the time period, but also gives a reflection of Plutarch’s own Rome and its values and political climate. In order to complete any analysis of the Life of Marius, it is necessary to understand the author and context of the work. Plutarch himself was a Greek who lived from 46-127AD,…show more content…
Firstly, the issue noted above that we do not know the order of the Parallel Lives, makes interpretation difficult because we therefore can’t understand how Plutarch’s themes developed and interacted with each other throughout the entire series. This is an issue in Life of Marius because of how singularly negative Plutarch is about Marius, to the point where it has been noted as his most critical work on any character. Secondly, the genre of biography itself and its focus on character rather than fact, inherently suggests that Plutarch may exaggerate some events and omit others, in order to communicate his lessons on morality. For example, Plutarch is far more descriptive of political events in which Marius can be portrayed as immoral and ambitious. However, he says little on the political platform on which Marius ran for consulship, and downplays the political acumen Marius, as a novus homo, or even if he had been nobilis, must have had to gain consulship for 6 straight years. This feat had never been accomplished in the surrounding 300 years of the Roman Republic. Plutarch makes it seem as if this was mostly luck due to the necessity of a military leader, when the unprecedented nature of the deed makes it obviously more difficult than Plutarch is willing to
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