Marius lived in Rome during the Imperial Age, which was during the rule of Augustus 'Octavian' Caesar, the first emperor of Rome. It was a time of great peace for the Roman Empire, and thus Augustus was thought to be a God among men for bringing stability to the growing empire. It was Augustus who turned Rome, as he boasted, from clay into marble. They modeled their culture around that of Ancient Greece, mimicking their art styles and taking it to a new height of realism and structure. Most popular are the architectural achievements of the Colosseum and the Forum, which are preserved aspects of Roman history.
Roman's respected bravery and honor, and Ares (Mercury) was their most respected God. A lot of Rome was carried through to today's society: architecture, law, and even certain practices like weddings rings placed on the finger, and the mid day siestas that are popular in Spain. Rome encompassed much of the known world. Though it was said that Rome created a desert and called it peace, the empire during the first century was stable and peaceful. To be a Roman citizen was to be bestowed with the highest honor.
Roman's enjoyed games such as chariot races and gladiator battles. Music was of little importance to them, and was only an aspect of theater, which they also enjoyed. Games lasted for days, sometimes even months! They went to baths, different times given to men and women (the men, of course, had more time), where they could also exercise, listen to poets hoping for invitations to dinner, and food. Imagine a shopping mall with large pools to bathe and sweat in. There was no such thing as soap, so Roman's scraped their bodies clean. Roman men liked to be clean shaven... they even went so far as to have their armpit hair plucked from their bodies! Ouch.
Roman's descended from the Etruscans, off of seven hills. They believed that a set of Twins, Romulus and Remus, who had been fed from wolves, were the beginnings of their civilization. Virgil wrote in The Aeneid that Aeneas founded Rome as the Trojans new home after the Greeks destroyed their city. It was just another way for the Roman's to connect themselves to the Greeks that they so adored!
Marius' time was a very male dominated society, the republic and senate struggling to retain the power that it had before the rise of Augustus. The military was very important, and intellectual things were not, in fact, as important as military, conquest, and bravery.