Roman Military Leaders

Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa.


Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa

(56-12 B.C.)

Agrippa was a renowned Roman general and close friend of Octavian (Augustus). Agrippa was consul first in 37 B.C. He was also governor of Syria.
As general, Agrippa defeated the forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium. Upon his victory, Augustus awarded his niece Marcella to Agrippa for a wife. Then, in 21 B.C., Augustus married his own daughter Julia to Agrippa. By Julia, Agrippa had a daughter, Agrippina, and three sons, Gaius and Lucius Caesar and Agrippa Postumus (so named because Agrippa was dead by the time he was born).


Lucius Junius Brutus

(6th C. B.C.)

According to legend, Brutus led the revolt against Tarquinius Superbus, an Etruscan king of Rome, and proclaimed Rome a Republic in 509 B.C. Brutus is listed as one of the first two consuls of Republican Rome. He is not to be confused with Marcus Brutus, the first century B.C. statesman made famous by the Shakespearean line "et tu Brute." There are other legends about Brutus including his having his own sons executed.


Marcus Furius Camillus

(fl. c. 396 B.C.)

Marcus Furius Camillus led the Romans into battle when they defeated the Veientians, but was soon afterward sent into exile because of how he distributed the spoils. Camillus was later recalled to act as dictator and led the Romans (successfully) against the invading Gauls following the defeat at the Battle of the Allia. Tradition says Camillus, arriving at the time the Romans were weighing out their ransom for Brennus, defeated the Gauls.


Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

(fl. 458 B.C.)

Another of the military leaders known mostly through legend, Cincinnatus was plowing his field, when he learned he had been appointed dictator. The Romans had appointed Cincinnatus dictator for six months so he could defend the Romans against the neighboring Aequi who had surrounded the Roman army and the consul Minucius in the Alban Hills. Cincinnatus rose to the occasion, defeated the Aequi, made them pass under the yoke to show their subjugation, gave up the title of dictator sixteen days after it had been granted, and promptly returned to his farm.


(late 6th C. B.C.)

Horatius was a legendary heroic leader of the Roman forces against the Etruscans. He deliberately stood alone against the Etruscans on a bridge while the Romans were destroying the bridge from their side to keep the Etruscans from using it to get across the Tiber. In the end, when the bridge was destroyed, Horatius jumped into the river and swam armed to safety.


Gaius Marius

(155-86 B.C.)

Neither from the city of Rome, nor a pedigreed patrician, Arpinum-born Gaius Marius still managed to be consul 7 times, marry into the family of Julius Caesar, and reform the army.
When serving as a legate in Africa, Marius so ingratiated himself with the troops they wrote to Rome to recommend Marius as consul, claiming he would quickly end the conflict with Jugurtha.
When Marius needed more troops to defeat Jugurtha, he instituted new policies that changed the complexion of the army.

Scipio Africanus:

Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus Major

(235-183 B.C.)

Scipio Africanus is the Roman commander who defeated Hannibal at the Battle of Zama in the Second Punic War using tactics he'd learned from the Carthaginian military leader. Since Scipio's victory was in Africa, following his triumph he was allowed to take the agnomen Africanus. He later received the name Asiaticus when serving under his brother Lucius Cornelius Scipio against Antiochus III of Syria in the Seleucid War.


Flavius Stilicho

(died A.D. 408)

A Vandal, Stilicho was a great military leader during the reigns of Theodosius I and Honorius. Theodosius made Stilicho magister equitum and then made him supreme commander of the western armies. Although Stilicho accomplished much in the fight against Goths and other invaders, Stilicho was eventually beheaded and other members of his family were also killed.


Lucius Cornelius Sulla

(138-78 B.C.)

Sulla was a Roman general who vied successfully with Marius for leadership of the command against Mithridates VI of Pontus. In the following civil war Sulla defeated the followers of Marius, had the soldiers of Marius killed, and had himself declared dictator for life in 82 B.C. He had proscription lists drawn up. After he had made the changes he thought necessary to the government of Rome -- to bring it back in line with the old values -- Sulla stepped down in 79 B.C. and died a year later.

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Your Citation
Gill, N.S. "Roman Military Leaders." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Gill, N.S. (2020, August 26). Roman Military Leaders. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "Roman Military Leaders." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 22, 2021).