In the late 2nd and early 1st centuries BCE, the Roman army underwent major reforms which changed both its organizational structure and ideological orientation. Foremost among these was the recruitment of men from among the capite censi, a class of landless urban peasants who had previously been exempted from military service. Although there is evidence to suggest that capite censi — like slaves — had previously been enrolled as soldiers in the army, it has become something nearing scripture to see the year 107 BCE as a watershed moment. In that year, Marius, having experienced difficulty filling the ranks of the army bound to fight Jugurtha, admitted members of the capite censi. It is as that moment, the narrative continues, that the aspirations of the peasant-soldiery for land first began to hold the state hostage to their demands in a cycle that would bring about the series of disastrous civil wars which ultimately undid the republic.
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