Ancient and modern

What Julius Caesar would have done about Nigel Farage

To find out, follow the career of general Marius

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

Our politicians are desperately keen to turn the toast of the people, Nigel Farage, into toast himself. But is that wise? Time to consider the career of the Roman general Marius (157–86 BC).

Noble families — i.e. those who had held high office — dominated Roman politics. Marius did not come from a noble family, but it was wealthy, and it did have good connections, which Marius later improved by marrying an aunt of Julius Caesar. Thanks largely to his considerable military prowess, he worked his way up the slippery pole, and made his mark in 107 BC when he became consul on a people’s programme, and six times subsequently.


First, he made it clear that he was no toff. The historian Sallust gives him a cracking speech on the subject: ‘Compare me, the outsider, with these high and mighty ones. What they have learned out of books I have learned on the battlefield … It is for you to judge whether words or deeds are more to the point …The privilege they claim on the strength of other people’s merits they will not allow me in right of my own merits, just because I am a newcomer to the nobility of office. Yet surely it is better to have ennobled oneself than to have disgraced a nobility that one has inherited…’, and so on.

Second, a life in the army was a pretty good one, but the poor had always been debarred because they could not afford the kit. Marius not only started to recruit among them, providing the kit too, but he also kept them in arms, offering them a ‘pension’ of money and land after 16 years’ service. He therefore began the process by which soldiering would eventually become a full-time career.

Marius was no populist revolutionary. He was a people’s hero, and the establishment knew what they were doing when they embraced him. Today’s establishment must find a way of embracing Farage. Butter him up e.g. with a job negotiating immigrant numbers, vel sim. That’s what you do with toast.

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  • global city

    It is clear that Farage understands the EU institutions, it’s rules and treaty obligations more than anyone in the cabinet and probably most Westminster parliamentarians.

    Merkel has just said that it is clear that ‘the British’ do not understand the rules that they have signed up to (this was with regards to the Juncker fake row)……well, we know that most who voted for the Lisbon treaty had not read or understood most part of it.

    Perhaps the main party leaders should bring Farage into the camp?

    • you_kid

      The BBc subsidiary apostles that are the BBart groupies just keep flocking to this site like a flock of seagulls. Wishing that other place was more fun, innit?

      • global city

        Not really sure if that is meant as satire, but for me, BBart is too slow and too reactive.

        • you_kid

          It does not stop there, but never mind, that will do for me.

          Oh no wait, now try stating what you state here on their site and see what happens.
          Fascists are called fascists for a reason.

          • global city

            As you state above, many who used BBart visit this site also. They see what I write. I seldom suffer opprobrium, despite stating my views on the negatives of UKIP, conservative thinking and lots of other things.

            Perhaps you are so eager to expose fascism that you have ended up seeing it everywhere?

          • you_kid

            Tee hee, yes perhaps you are right. That must be it indeed.

  • Blindsideflanker

    That requires the massive leap of imagination to turn Cameron Clegg or Miliband into Caesar. In the way they have handed away our sovereignty then a more close comparison with be to Tiberius who wasn’t interested in running the Roman Empire and left it to the Senate,

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    You write as if Farage is a problem to be ‘solved.’

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