Gaius Marius was one of the most remarkable and significant figures of the late Roman Republic. At a time when power tended to be restricted to a clique of influential families, he rose from relatively humble origins to attain the top office of consul. He even went on to hold the post an unprecedented seven times. His political career flourished but was primarily built on military success. First serving in the Numantine War in Spain, he later rose to high command and brought a long-running war in North Africa to a successful conclusion, bringing the Numidian King Jurgurtha back in chains. His return was timely as northern barbarian tribes threatened Italy and had previously defeated several Roman armies. Marius reformed and retrained the Republic's forces and decisively defeated the invaders that had easily overpowered his predecessors.
Marius' subsequent career was primarily that of an elder statesman, but it was dominated by his rivalry with his erstwhile subordinate, Sulla, which ultimately led to the latter's bloody coup. Marius, once hailed as the saviour of Rome, eventually became a desperate fugitive, literally fleeing for his life from his pursuers. However, after several harrowing brushes with death, Marius seized an opportunity to return to Rome and mete out justice to his enemies, which tarnished his once-enviable reputation.
According to legend, Romulus was born to a Vestal Virgin and left for dead as an infant near the Tiber River. His life nearly ended as quickly as it began, but fate had other plans. A humble shepherd rescued the child and helped raise him into manhood. As Romulus grew older, he fearlessly engaged in a series of perilous adventures that ultimately culminated in Rome’s founding, and he became its fabled first king.
Establishing a new city had its price, and Romulus was forced to defend the nascent community. As he tirelessly safeguarded Rome, Romulus proved that he was a competent leader and talented general. Yet, he also harbored a dark side, which reared its head in many ways and tainted his legacy, but despite all of his misdeeds, redemption and subsequent triumphs were usually within his grasp. Indeed, he is an example of how greatness is sometimes born of disgrace.
Regardless of his foreboding flaws, Rome allegedly existed because of him and became massively successful. As the centuries passed, the Romans never forgot their celebrated founder.
This is the story that many ancient Romans believed.
From Ancient Origins
"The book follows the very detailed life of Marius, through his every documented exploit in both the Republic and on the battlefield, protecting Rome from some of its most threatening enemies bordering its empire. Even after his death, the book continues with the story that immediately follows and the legacy Marius left behind to influence that history."
"I was very impressed with Hyden’s attention to detail. He has done a wonderful job in putting this topic to words. Through his words, the reader is able to visualize a lot of the content within, although a few images would have also helped. Aside from the maps at the beginning of the book, the book contains no additional photographs. Regardless, this was an excellent book depicting an excellent historical figure. I highly recommend it."
“Hyden does a masterful job of tracing Marius’s rise to power through his successful military campaigns… Summing Up: Recommended. Most levels/libraries.”
From History of War
"Hyden has done an impressive job of staying open minded about his subject, a rare achievement in biographies of figures from this period. His conclusion makes it clear that he sees Marius as a flawed figure, operating in a flawed system, but also unlucky in that he survived just long enough to tarnish his own reputation with the brutality of the last period of his life."
"Marc Hyden has given us the best extant account of Gaius Marius’ leading role in the history of late Roman Republic. It is required reading for those interested in the period and highly recommended for the general reader."
From Ancient Origins
"This is not your typical research novel. It recounts a tale of epic proportions. However, the accounts written of its main protagonist do not stem from a single source. From Cicero to Pliny, Plutarch, Vergil and many more, Hyden relies on the ancient authors themselves to get as close to the source of the events as possible. And when there is doubt or a need to confirm any aspects to the narrative, the author provides the archaeological evidence."
"...I immensely enjoyed reading Romulus and would highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in either Roman history or general Greco-Roman mythology."
From Roman History Blog
"This is a splendid book and very informative. The author, Marc Hyden has done his research and presented different narratives to recreate this interesting time period of which we see the first legendary King of Rome elevated to power, which the Romans believed in. If you are passionate about the Romans and classics then this book is a must have edition for your library! Its really is an inspiring read!"
“Hyden leans into a tone reminiscent of a bard regaling those around a campfire with stories of a hero’s great exploits… [It provides] a fascinating origin story.”
From Midwest Book Review
“As inherently fascinating a read as it is an impressive work of meticulous scholarship, historian Marc Hyden's "Romulus: The Legend of Rome's Founding Father" is a truly extraordinary, expressly informative, and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Roman History & Culture collections and supplemental curriculum studies reading lists.”