Gaius Marius (157 BC – January 13, 86 BC) was a Roman general and statesman. He held the office of consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his important reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the structure of the legions into separate cohorts. Marius defeated the invading Germanic tribes (the Teutones, Ambrones, and the Cimbri), for which he was called “the third founder of Rome.” His life and career were significant in Rome’s transformation from Republic to Empire.
When you travel to Rome, you’ll see the letters SPQR almost everywhere. If you look down, you’ll see them on manhole covers; if you look up, you’ll spot them on buildings. The letters appear on pamphlets and papers, menus, taxis, on public buildings and other sites to remind us of Rome’s once-great strength as an empire and its place today as the Eternal City.
What do these letters mean? SPQR is short for a Latin phrase – Senatus Populusque Romanus, meaning the “Senate and the People of Rome”. Through these letters we are reminded as to whom Rome truly belongs: THE PEOPLE.
The words were symbolic of Rome’s identity as a state belonging to the people and the Senate, whose members were selected by the Roman citizens. So important was the marking SPQR, that the very letters inspired foreign nations and protected Roman citizens from harm based on their affiliation with the great city.
Sometimes I get down on myself for how little I’ve accomplished. But then I remember Lucius Cornelius Sulla didn’t start his path to the dictatorship of Rome until he was 31.
The poet seeks what is nowhere in all the world, And yet – somewhere he finds it.”