Lucius Cornelius Sulla

Lucius Cornelius Sulla

Overview
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (c. 138 BC – 78 BC), known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 and statesman
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 twice, as well as that of dictator
Roman dictator
In the Roman Republic, the dictator , was an extraordinary magistrate with the absolute authority to perform tasks beyond the authority of the ordinary magistrate . The office of dictator was a legal innovation originally named Magister Populi , i.e...

. He was one of the canonical great men of Roman history, included in the biographical collections of leading generals and politicians, originating in the biographical compendium of famous Romans, published by Marcus Terentius Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro was an ancient Roman scholar and writer. He is sometimes called Varro Reatinus to distinguish him from his younger contemporary Varro Atacinus.-Biography:...

.
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Quotations

I forgive the many for the sake of the few, the living for the dead.

On calling an end to the sacking of Athens, after a plea on its behalf by two Athenians loyal to Rome, as quoted in The Story of Rome : From the Earliest Times to the Death of Augustus (1900) by Mary Macgregor; also said to be in a translation of Plutarch|Plutarch's works.

No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full.

His self-made epitaph, as quoted in Heroes of History : A Brief History of Civilization from Ancient Times to the Dawn of the Modern Age (2001) by Will Durant; variant translation: "...nor enemy harmed me"
Encyclopedia
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (c. 138 BC – 78 BC), known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 and statesman
Statesman
A statesman is usually a politician or other notable public figure who has had a long and respected career in politics or government at the national and international level. As a term of respect, it is usually left to supporters or commentators to use the term...

. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 twice, as well as that of dictator
Roman dictator
In the Roman Republic, the dictator , was an extraordinary magistrate with the absolute authority to perform tasks beyond the authority of the ordinary magistrate . The office of dictator was a legal innovation originally named Magister Populi , i.e...

. He was one of the canonical great men of Roman history, included in the biographical collections of leading generals and politicians, originating in the biographical compendium of famous Romans, published by Marcus Terentius Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro
Marcus Terentius Varro was an ancient Roman scholar and writer. He is sometimes called Varro Reatinus to distinguish him from his younger contemporary Varro Atacinus.-Biography:...

. In Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

's Sulla, in the famous series - Parallel Lives
Parallel Lives
Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives or Plutarch's Lives, is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings, written in the late 1st century...

, Sulla is paired with the Spartan general and strategist Lysander
Lysander
Lysander was a Spartan general who commanded the Spartan fleet in the Hellespont which defeated the Athenians at Aegospotami in 405 BC...

.

Sulla's dictatorship came during a high point in the struggle between optimates
Optimates
The optimates were the traditionalist majority of the late Roman Republic. They wished to limit the power of the popular assemblies and the Tribunes of the Plebs, and to extend the power of the Senate, which was viewed as more dedicated to the interests of the aristocrats who held the reins of power...

 and populares
Populares
Populares were aristocratic leaders in the late Roman Republic who relied on the people's assemblies and tribunate to acquire political power. They are regarded in modern scholarship as in opposition to the optimates, who are identified with the conservative interests of a senatorial elite...

, the former seeking to maintain the power of the oligarchy in the form of the Senate while the latter resorted in many cases to naked populism, culminating in Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

's dictatorship. Sulla was a highly original, gifted and skillful general, never losing a battle; he remains the only man in history to have attacked and occupied both Athens and Rome. His rival, Gnaeus Papirius Carbo
Gnaeus Papirius Carbo
Gnaeus Papirius Carbo was a three-time consul of ancient Rome.A member of the Carbones of the plebeian gens Papiria, and nephew of Gaius Papirius Carbo , he was a strong supporter of the Marian party, and took part in the blockade of Rome...

, described Sulla as having the cunning of a fox and the courage of a lion - but that it was the former attribute that was by far the most dangerous. This mixture was later referred to by Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

 in his description of the ideal characteristics of a ruler.

Sulla used his armies to march on Rome twice
Sulla's civil wars
Sulla's civil wars were a series of civil wars in which Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a Roman statesman and general, attempted to take control of the Roman Republic.- Background :...

, and after the second he revived the office of dictator, which had not been used since the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

 over a century before. He used his powers to enact a series of reforms to the Roman constitution
Constitutional Reforms of Lucius Cornelius Sulla
The Constitutional Reforms of Lucius Cornelius Sulla were a series of laws that were enacted by the Roman Dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla between 82 and 80 BC, which reformed the Constitution of the Roman Republic. In the decades before Sulla had become Dictator, a series of political developments...

, meant to restore the balance of power between the Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 and the tribunes; he then stunned the Roman World (and posterity) by resigning the dictatorship, restoring normal constitutional government, and after his second Consulship, retiring to private life.

Early years


Sulla was born into a branch of the patrician  gens
Gens
In ancient Rome, a gens , plural gentes, referred to a family, consisting of all those individuals who shared the same nomen and claimed descent from a common ancestor. A branch of a gens was called a stirps . The gens was an important social structure at Rome and throughout Italy during the...

 Cornelia
, but his family had fallen to an impoverished condition at the time of his birth. Lacking ready money, Sulla spent his youth amongst Rome’s comics, actors, lute-players, and dancers. Sulla retained an attachment to the debauched nature of his youth until the end of his life; Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 mentions that during his last marriage – to Valeria – he still kept company with "actresses, musicians, and dancers, drinking with them on couches night and day".

It seems certain that Sulla received a good education. Sallust
Sallust
Gaius Sallustius Crispus, generally known simply as Sallust , a Roman historian, belonged to a well-known plebeian family, and was born at Amiternum in the country of the Sabines...

 declares him well-read and intelligent, and he was fluent in Greek, which was a sign of education in Rome. The means by which Sulla attained the fortune which later would enable him to ascend the ladder of Roman politics, the Cursus honorum
Cursus honorum
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum...

, are not clear, although Plutarch refers to two inheritances; one from his stepmother and the other from a low-born, but rich, unmarried lady.

In older sources, his name may be found as Sylla. This is a Hellenism, like sylva for classical Latin silva, reinforced by the fact that our two major sources, Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 and Appian
Appian
Appian of Alexandria was a Roman historian of Greek ethnicity who flourished during the reigns of Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus Pius.He was born ca. 95 in Alexandria. He tells us that, after having filled the chief offices in the province of Egypt, he went to Rome ca. 120, where he practised as...

, wrote in Greek, and call him Σύλλα.

Capture of Jugurtha


In 107 BC, Sulla was nominated quaestor
Quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

 to Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

, who had been elected consul
Roman consul
A consul served in the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic.Each year, two consuls were elected together, to serve for a one-year term. Each consul was given veto power over his colleague and the officials would alternate each month...

 for that year. Marius was taking control of the Roman army in the war against King Jugurtha
Jugurtha
Jugurtha or Jugurthen was a King of Numidia, , born in Cirta .-Background:Until the reign of Jugurtha's grandfather Masinissa, the people of Numidia were semi-nomadic and indistinguishable from the other Libyans in North Africa...

 of Numidia
Numidia
Numidia was an ancient Berber kingdom in part of present-day Eastern Algeria and Western Tunisia in North Africa. It is known today as the Chawi-land, the land of the Chawi people , the direct descendants of the historical Numidians or the Massyles The kingdom began as a sovereign state and later...

 in northern Africa.

The Jugurthine War
Jugurthine War
The Jugurthine War takes its name from the Berber king Jugurtha , nephew and later adopted son of Micipsa, King of Numidia.-Jugurtha and Numidia:...

 had started in 112 BC, but Roman legions under Quintus Caecilius Metellus
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus was the leader of the conservative faction of the Roman Senate and a bitter enemy of Gaius Marius....

 had been unsuccessful. Gaius Marius, a lieutenant of Metellus, saw an opportunity to usurp his commander and fed rumors of incompetence and delay to the publicani (tax gatherers) in the region. These machinations caused calls for Metellus's removal; despite delaying tactics by Metellus, Marius returned to Rome to stand for the consulship and took over the campaign.


Under Marius, the Roman forces followed a very similar plan as under Metellus and ultimately defeated the Numidians in 106 BC, thanks in large part to Sulla's initiative in capturing the Numidian king. He had persuaded King Bocchus I
Bocchus I
Bocchus was a king of Mauretania about 110 BC and designated by historians as Bocchus I. He was also the father-in-law of Jugurtha, with whom he made war against the Romans. He delivered Jugurtha to the Romans in 106 BC....

 of Mauretania
Mauretania
Mauretania is a part of the historical Ancient Libyan land in North Africa. It corresponds to present day Morocco and a part of western Algeria...

, a nearby kingdom, to betray Jugurtha, who had fled to Mauretania for refuge. It was a dangerous operation from the first, with King Bocchus weighing up the advantages of handing Jugurtha over to Sulla or Sulla over to Jugurtha. The publicity attracted by this feat boosted Sulla's political career. Much to the annoyance of Marius, a gilded equestrian statue of Sulla donated by King Bocchus was erected in the Forum to commemorate his accomplishment.

Cimbri and the Teutones



In 104 BC, the migrating Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

-Celtic alliance headed by the Cimbri
Cimbri
The Cimbri were a tribe from Northern Europe, who, together with the Teutones and the Ambrones threatened the Roman Republic in the late 2nd century BC. The Cimbri were probably Germanic, though some believe them to be of Celtic origin...

 and the Teutones seemed headed for Italy. As Marius
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

 was the best general Rome had, the Senate allowed him to lead the campaign against them. Sulla served on Marius' staff as tribunus militum during the first half of this campaign. Finally, with those of his colleague, proconsul
Proconsul
A proconsul was a governor of a province in the Roman Republic appointed for one year by the senate. In modern usage, the title has been used for a person from one country ruling another country or bluntly interfering in another country's internal affairs.-Ancient Rome:In the Roman Republic, a...

 Quintus Lutatius Catulus
Quintus Lutatius Catulus
Quintus Lutatius Catulus was consul of the Roman Republic in 102 BC, and the leading public figure of the gens Lutatia of the time. His colleague in the consulship was Gaius Marius, but the two feuded and Catulus sided with Sulla in the civil war of 88–87 BC...

, Marius' forces faced the enemy tribes at the Battle of Vercellae
Battle of Vercellae
The Battle of Vercellae, or Battle of the Raudine Plain, in 101 BC was the Roman victory of Consul Gaius Marius over the invading Germanic Cimbri tribe near the settlement of Vercellae in Cisalpine Gaul....

 in 101 BC. Sulla had by this time transferred to the army of Catulus to serve as his legatus
Legatus
A legatus was a general in the Roman army, equivalent to a modern general officer. Being of senatorial rank, his immediate superior was the dux, and he outranked all military tribunes...

, and is credited as being the prime mover in the defeat of the tribes (Catulus being a hopeless general and quite incapable of cooperating with Marius). Victorious at Vercellae, Marius and Catulus were both granted triumphs
Roman triumph
The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the military achievement of an army commander who had won great military successes, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. In Republican...

 as the co-commanding generals.

Cilician governorship


Returning to Rome, Sulla was Praetor urbanus for 97 BC. The next year he was appointed pro consule
Proconsul
A proconsul was a governor of a province in the Roman Republic appointed for one year by the senate. In modern usage, the title has been used for a person from one country ruling another country or bluntly interfering in another country's internal affairs.-Ancient Rome:In the Roman Republic, a...

 to the province of Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 (in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

). While in the East, Sulla was the first Roman magistrate to meet a Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

n ambassador, Orobazus
Orobazus
Orobazus was the ambassador of the Parthian king Mithridates II who contacted the Roman magistrate Lucius Cornelius Sulla. This was the first meeting between a Parthian and a Roman official. The results of this meeting are not clear, but it is generally known that during the meeting Sulla was...

, and by taking the seat between the Parthian ambassador and the ambassador from Pontus
Pontus
Pontus or Pontos is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος...

 (the center seat being the place of honour), he sealed, perhaps unintentionally, the Parthian ambassador's fate. Orobazus was executed upon his return to Parthia for allowing Sulla to outmanoeuver him. It was at this meeting he was told by a Chaldea
Chaldea
Chaldea or Chaldaea , from Greek , Chaldaia; Akkadian ; Hebrew כשדים, Kaśdim; Aramaic: ܟܐܠܕܘ, Kaldo) was a marshy land located in modern-day southern Iraq which came to briefly rule Babylon...

n seer that he would die at the height of his fame and fortune. This prophecy was to have a powerful hold on Sulla throughout his lifetime. In 96 BC Sulla repulsed Tigranes the Great
Tigranes the Great
Tigranes the Great was emperor of Armenia under whom the country became, for a short time, the strongest state east of the Roman Republic. He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House...

 of Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 from Cappadocia
Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in Nevşehir Province.In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine...

. Later in 96 BC Sulla left the East and returned to Rome, where he aligned himself with the Optimates
Optimates
The optimates were the traditionalist majority of the late Roman Republic. They wished to limit the power of the popular assemblies and the Tribunes of the Plebs, and to extend the power of the Senate, which was viewed as more dedicated to the interests of the aristocrats who held the reins of power...

in opposition to Gaius Marius.

Social War


The Social War (91–88 BC) resulted from Rome's intransigence regarding the civil liberties of the Socii, Rome's Italian allies. The Socii are a separate entity to the 'Latins' who all remained loyal to Rome except for Venusia. The Socii were old enemies of Rome that submitted, (such as the Samnites) whereas the Latins were confederates of longer standing with Rome; therefore the Latins were treated with more respect and received better treatment. Subjects of the Roman Republic, these Italian provincials might be called to arms in its defence or might be subjected to extraordinary taxes, but they had no say in the expenditure of these taxes or in the uses of the armies that might be raised in their territories. The Social War was, in part, caused by the continued rebuttal of those that sought to extend Roman citizenship to the Socii and to address various injustices inherent in the Roman system. The Gracchi, Tiberius and Gaius, were successively killed by Optimate reactionaries who sought to maintain the status quo. Finally the assassination of Marcus Livius Drusus the Younger
Marcus Livius Drusus (tribune)
The younger Marcus Livius Drusus, son of Marcus Livius Drusus, was tribune of the plebeians in 91 BC. In the manner of Gaius Gracchus, he set out with comprehensive plans, but his aim was to strengthen senatorial rule...

 was the last straw. His reforms were intended to grant Roman Citizenship to the allies, which would have given them a say in the external and internal policies of the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

. When Drusus was assassinated, most of his reforms addressing these grievances were declared invalid. This greatly angered the Socii, and in consequence, most allied against Rome.

At the beginning of the Social War, the Roman aristocracy and Senate were beginning to fear Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

's ambition, which had already given him 6 consulships (including 5 in a row, from 104 BC to 100 BC). They were determined that he should not have overall command of the war in Italy. In this last rebellion of the Italian allies, Sulla served with brilliance as a general. He outshone both Marius and the consul Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo (the father of Pompey Magnus). In 89 BC Sulla captured Aeclanum
Aeclanum
Aeclanum was an ancient town of Samnium, southern Italy, c. 25 km east-southeast of Beneventum, on the Via Appia ....

, the chief town of the Hirpini
Hirpini
The Hirpini , were an ancient Samnite people of central Italy. While general regarded as having been Samnites, sometimes they are treated as a distinct and independent nation...

, by setting the wooden breastwork on fire. As a result of his success in bringing the Social War to a successful conclusion, he was elected consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

 for the first time in 88 BC, with Quintus Pompeius Rufus
Quintus Pompeius
Quintus Pompeius was the name of various Romans from the gens Pompeius, who were of plebeian status. They lived during the Roman Republic and Roman Empire.-Consul of 141 BC:...

 (soon his daughter's father-in-law) as his colleague.

Sulla served not only with brilliance as a general during the Social War, but also with immense personal bravery. At Nola
Nola
Nola is a city and comune of Campania, southern Italy, in the province of Naples, situated in the plain between Mount Vesuvius and the Apennines...

 he was awarded a Corona Obsidionalis (Obsidional or Blockade Crown), also known as a Corona Graminea (Grass Crown
Grass Crown
The Grass Crown or Blockade Crown was the highest and rarest of all military decorations in the Roman Republic and early Roman empire. It was presented only to a general, commander, or officer whose actions saved the legion or the entire army...

). This was the highest Roman military honor, awarded for personal bravery to a commander who saves a Roman legion or army in the field. Unlike all other Roman military honors, it was awarded by acclamation of the soldiers of the rescued army, and consequently very few were ever awarded. The crown, by tradition, was woven from grasses and other plants taken from the actual battlefield.

First march on Rome


As consul, Sulla prepared to depart once more for the East, to fight the first Mithridatic War
First Mithridatic War
The First Mithridatic War was a war challenging Rome's expanding Empire and rule over the Greek world. In this conflict, the Kingdom of Pontus and many Greek cities rebelling against Rome were led by Mithridates VI of Pontus against the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Bithynia...

, by the appointment of the Senate. But he would leave trouble behind him. Marius was now an old man, but he still wanted to lead the Roman armies against King Mithridates VI of Pontus
Mithridates VI of Pontus
Mithridates VI or Mithradates VI Mithradates , from Old Persian Mithradatha, "gift of Mithra"; 134 BC – 63 BC, also known as Mithradates the Great and Eupator Dionysius, was king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia from about 120 BC to 63 BC...

. Before leaving for the East, Sulla and his colleague Q. Pompeius Rufus blocked legislation of the tribune
Tribune
Tribune was a title shared by elected officials in the Roman Republic. Tribunes had the power to convene the Plebeian Council and to act as its president, which also gave them the right to propose legislation before it. They were sacrosanct, in the sense that any assault on their person was...

 Publius Sulpicius Rufus
Publius Sulpicius Rufus
Publius Sulpicius Rufus was an orator and statesman of the Roman Republic, legate in 89 to Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo in the Social War, and in 88 tribune of the plebs....

 to ensure the rapid organisation of the Italian Allies within the Roman citizenship. When Sulpicius found an ally in Marius who would support the bill, he had his supporters riot. Sulla returned to Rome from the siege at Nola
Nola
Nola is a city and comune of Campania, southern Italy, in the province of Naples, situated in the plain between Mount Vesuvius and the Apennines...

 to meet with Pompeius Rufus, however Sulpicius' followers attacked the meeting, forcing Sulla to take refuge in Marius' house, who then forced him to support Sulpicius' pro-Italian legislation. Sulla's own son-in-law was killed in those riots. After Sulla left Rome again for Nola, Sulpicius (after receiving a promise from Marius to wipe out his enormous debts) called an assembly
Deliberative assembly
A deliberative assembly is an organization comprising members who use parliamentary procedure to make decisions. In a speech to the electorate at Bristol in 1774, Edmund Burke described the English Parliament as a "deliberative assembly," and the expression became the basic term for a body of...

 to reverse the Senate's decision on Sulla's command, transferring it to Marius. Sulpicius also used the assemblies to eject Senators from the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 until there were not enough senators to form a quorum. Violence in the Forum ensued, some nobles tried to lynch Sulpicius (as had been done to the brothers Gracchi
Gracchi
The Gracchi brothers, Tiberius and Gaius, were Roman Plebian nobiles who both served as tribunes in 2nd century BC. They attempted to pass land reform legislation that would redistribute the major patrician landholdings among the plebeians. For this legislation and their membership in the...

, and to Saturninus
Lucius Appuleius Saturninus
Lucius Appuleius Saturninus was a Roman popularist and tribune; he was a political ally of Gaius Marius, and his downfall caused a great deal of political embarrassment for Marius, who absented himself from public life until he returned to take up a command in the Social War of 91 to 88...

) but failed in the face of his bodyguard of gladiator
Gladiator
A gladiator was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their legal and social standing and their lives by appearing in the...

s.

Sulla received news of this at the camp of his victorious Social War veterans, waiting in the south of Italy to cross to Greece. He announced the measures that had been taken against him, and his soldiers stoned the envoys of the assemblies who came to announce that the command of the Mithridatic War had been transferred to Marius. Sulla then took six of his most loyal legion
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

s and marched on Rome. This was an unprecedented event. No general before him had ever crossed the city limits, the pomoerium
Pomerium
The pomerium or pomoerium , was the sacred boundary of the city of Rome. In legal terms, Rome existed only within the pomerium; everything beyond it was simply territory belonging to Rome.-Location and extensions:Tradition maintained that it was the original line ploughed by Romulus around the...

, with his army. Most of his commanders (with the exception of his kinsman through marriage Lucullus
Lucullus
Lucius Licinius Lucullus , was an optimate politician of the late Roman Republic, closely connected with Sulla Felix...

) refused to accompany him. Sulla justified his actions on the grounds that the Senate had been neutered and the mos maiorum
Mos maiorum
The mos maiorum is the unwritten code from which the ancient Romans derived their social norms. It is the core concept of Roman traditionalism, distinguished from but in dynamic complement to written law. The mos maiorum The mos maiorum ("ancestral custom") is the unwritten code from which the...

("the way of the elders"/"the traditional way", which amounted to a Roman constitution though none of it was codified as such) had been offended by the Senate's negation of the rights of the year's consuls to fight the year's wars. Armed gladiators were unable to resist organized Roman soldiers; and although Marius offered freedom to any slave that would fight with him against Sulla (an offer which Plutarch says only three slaves accepted) he and his followers were forced to flee the city.

Sulla consolidated his position, declared Marius and his allies hostes (enemies of the state), and addressed the Senate in harsh tones, portraying himself as a victim, presumably to justify his violent entrance into the city. After restructuring the city's politics and strengthening the Senate's power, Sulla returned to his camp and proceeded with the original plan of fighting Mithridates in Pontus
Pontus
Pontus or Pontos is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος...

.

Sulpicius was betrayed and killed by one of his slaves, whom Sulla subsequently freed and then executed. Marius, however, fled to safety in Africa. With Sulla out of Rome, Marius plotted his return. During his period of exile Marius became determined that he would hold a seventh consulship, as foretold by the Sibyl
Sibylline Books
The Sibylline Books or Libri Sibyllini were a collection of oracular utterances, set out in Greek hexameters, purchased from a sibyl by the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, and consulted at momentous crises through the history of the Republic and the Empire...

 decades earlier. By the end of 87 BC Marius returned to Rome with the support of Lucius Cornelius Cinna
Lucius Cornelius Cinna
Lucius Cornelius Cinna was a four-time consul of the Roman Republic, serving four consecutive terms from 87 to 84 BC, and a member of the ancient Roman Cinna family of the Cornelii gens....

 and, in Sulla's absence, took control of the city. Marius declared Sulla's reforms and laws invalid and officially exiled Sulla. Marius and Cinna were elected consuls for the year 86 BC. Marius died a fortnight after, and Cinna was left in sole control of Rome.

First Mithridatic War




In the spring of 87 BC Sulla landed at Dyrrachium, in Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

. Asia was occupied by the forces of Mithridates
Mithridates VI of Pontus
Mithridates VI or Mithradates VI Mithradates , from Old Persian Mithradatha, "gift of Mithra"; 134 BC – 63 BC, also known as Mithradates the Great and Eupator Dionysius, was king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia from about 120 BC to 63 BC...

 under the command of Archelaus
Archelaus (general)
Archelaus was a leading military general of the King Mithridates VI of Pontus. Archelaus was the greatest general that had served under Mithridates VI and was also his favorite general....

. Sulla’s first target was Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, ruled by a Mithridatic puppet; the tyrant Aristion
Aristion
Aristion was a philosopher and tyrant of Athens from 88 BC to 86 BC. Aristion joined forces with Mithridates against the Romans under Lucius Cornelius Sulla in the First Mithridatic war, but to no avail. On March 1, 86 BC, Athens was conquered by Sulla and Aristion was executed...

. Sulla moved southeast, picking up supplies and reinforcements as he went. Sulla’s chief of staff was Lucullus
Lucullus
Lucius Licinius Lucullus , was an optimate politician of the late Roman Republic, closely connected with Sulla Felix...

, who went ahead of him to scout the way and negotiate with Bruttius Sura, the existing Roman commander in Greece. After speaking with Lucullus, Sura handed over the command of his troops to Sulla. At Chaeronea, ambassadors from all the major cities of Greece (except Athens) met with Sulla, who impressed on them Rome's determination to drive Mithridates from Greece and Asia Province. Sulla then advanced on Athens.

Siege of Athens


On arrival, Sulla threw up siege works encompassing not only Athens but also the port of Piraeus
Piraeus
Piraeus is a city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens Urban Area, 12 km southwest from its city center , and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf....

. At the time Archelaus had command of the sea, so Sulla sent Lucullus to raise a fleet from the remaining Roman allies in the eastern Mediterranean. His first objective was Piraeus, as without it Athens could not be re-supplied. Huge earthworks were raised, isolating Athens and its port from the land side. Sulla needed wood, so he cut down everything, including the sacred groves of Greece, up to 100 miles from Athens. When more money was needed he “borrowed” from temples and Sibyl
Sibyl
The word Sibyl comes from the Greek word σίβυλλα sibylla, meaning prophetess. The earliest oracular seeresses known as the sibyls of antiquity, "who admittedly are known only through legend" prophesied at certain holy sites, under the divine influence of a deity, originally— at Delphi and...

s alike. The currency minted from this treasure was to remain in circulation for centuries and prized for its quality.

Despite the complete encirclement of Athens and its port, and several attempts by Archelaus to raise the siege, a stalemate seemed to have developed. Sulla, however, patiently bided his time. Soon Sulla's camp was to fill with refugees from Rome, fleeing the massacres of Marius and Cinna. These also included his wife and children, as well as those of the Optimate party who had not been killed.

Athens by now was starving, and grain was at famine levels in price. Inside the city, the population was reduced to eating shoe leather and grass. A delegation from Athens was sent to treat with Sulla, but instead of serious negotiations they expounded on the glory of their city. Sulla sent them away saying: “I was sent to Athens, not to take lessons, but to reduce rebels to obedience.”

His spies then informed him that Aristion was neglecting the Heptachalcum (part of the city wall). Sulla immediately sent sappers to undermine the wall. Nine hundred feet of wall was brought down between the Sacred and Piraeic gates on the southwest side of the city. A midnight sack of Athens began, and after the taunts of Aristion, Sulla was not in a mood to be magnanimous. Blood literally flowed in the streets, it was only after the entreaties of a couple of his Greek friends (Midias and Calliphon) and the pleas of the Roman Senators in his camp that Sulla decided enough was enough. He then concentrated his forces on the Port of Piraeus, and Archelaus, seeing his hopeless situation, withdrew to the citadel and then abandoned the port to join up with his forces under the command of Taxiles. Sulla, as yet not having a fleet, was powerless to prevent Archelaus’ escape. Before leaving Athens, he burnt the port to the ground. Sulla then advanced into Boeotia to take on Archelaus's armies and remove them from Greece.

Battle of Chaeronea



Sulla lost no time in intercepting the Pontic army, occupying a hill called Philoboetus that branched off Mount Parnassus, overlooking the Elatean plain, with plentiful supplies of wood and water. The army of Archelaus, presently commanded by Taxiles, had to approach from the north and proceed along the valley towards Chaeronea
Chaeronea
Chaeronea is a village and a former municipality in Boeotia, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Livadeia, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 2,218...

. Over 120,000 strong, it outnumbered Sulla's forces by at least 3 to 1. Archelaus was in favor of a policy of attrition with the Roman forces, but Taxiles had orders from Mithridates to attack at once. Sulla got his men digging, and occupied the ruined city of Parapotamii, which was impregnable and commanded the fords on the road to Chaeronea. He then made a move that looked to Archelaus like a retreat. He abandoned the fords and moved in behind an entrenched palisade
Palisade
A palisade is a steel or wooden fence or wall of variable height, usually used as a defensive structure.- Typical construction :Typical construction consisted of small or mid sized tree trunks aligned vertically, with no spacing in between. The trunks were sharpened or pointed at the top, and were...

. Behind the palisade were the field artillery from the siege of Athens.

Archelaus advanced across the fords and tried to outflank Sulla’s men, only to have his right wing hurled back, causing even more confusion. Archelaus’s chariots then charged the Roman center, only to be destroyed on the palisades. Next came the phalanxes: they too found the palisades impassable, and received withering fire from the Roman field artillery. Then Archelaus flung his right wing at the Roman left; Sulla, seeing the danger of this maneuver, raced over from the Roman right wing to help. Sulla stabilized the situation, at which point Archelaus flung in more troops from his right flank. This destabilized the Pontic army, slewing it towards its right flank. Sulla dashed back to his own right wing and ordered the general advance. The legions, supported by cavalry, dashed forward and Archelaus’ army folded in on itself, like closing a pack of cards. The slaughter was terrible, and some reports estimate that only 10,000 men of Mithridates' original army survived. Sulla had defeated a vastly superior force in terms of numbers; it was also the first recorded time that battlefield entrenchments were used.

Battle of Orchomenus



The government of Rome (i.e., Cinna) then sent out Lucius Valerius Flaccus
Lucius Valerius Flaccus (suffect consul 86 BC)
Lucius Valerius Flaccus was the suffect consul who completed the term of Gaius Marius in 86 BC. He was sent as governor in that year to the Roman province of Asia, but was murdered in a mutiny by Fimbria during the turmoil of the Sullan civil wars and the Mithridatic Wars.Flaccus is also known for...

 with an army to relieve Sulla of command in the east. Flaccus' second in command was Gaius Flavius Fimbria
Gaius Flavius Fimbria
Gaius Flavius Fimbria was a Roman politician and a violent partisan of Gaius Marius. He fought in the First Mithridatic War.-Partisan of Marius:...

, who had few virtues. (He was to eventually agitate against his commanding officer and incite the troops to murder Flaccus). The two Roman armies camped next to each other; and Sulla, not for the first time, encouraged his soldiers to spread dissension among Flaccus’ army. Many deserted to Sulla before Flaccus packed up and moved on north to threaten Mithridates’ northern dominions. In the meantime, Sulla moved to intercept the new Pontic army.

He chose the site of the battle to come — Orchomenus, a town in Boeotia
Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

 that allowed a smaller army to meet a much larger one, due to its natural defences, and was ideal terrain for Sulla's innovative use of entrenchment. This time the Pontic army was in excess of 150,000, and it encamped itself in front of the busy Roman army, next to a large lake. It soon dawned on Archelaus what Sulla was up to. Sulla had not only been digging trenches but also dikes, and before long he had the Pontic army in deep trouble. Desperate sallies by the Pontic forces were repulsed by the Romans and the dikes moved onward.

On the second day, Archelaus made a determined effort to escape Sulla’s web of dikes—the entire Pontic army was hurled at the Romans—but the Roman legionaries were pressed together so tightly that their short swords were like an impenetrable barrier, through which the enemy could not escape. The battle turned into a rout, with slaughter on an immense scale. Plutarch notes that two hundred years later, armor and weapons from the battle were still being found. The battle of Orchomenus was another of the world's decisive battles. It determined that the fate of Asia Minor lay with Rome and her successors for the next millennium.

Sulla's Victory and settlement


In 86 BC, after Sulla's victory in Orchomenos, he initially spent some time re-establishing Roman authority. His legate soon arrived with the fleet he was sent to gather, and Sulla was ready to recapture lost Greek islands before crossing into Asia Minor. The second Roman army under the command of Flaccus meanwhile moved through Macedonia and into Asia Minor. After the capture of Philippi
Philippi
Philippi was a city in eastern Macedonia, established by Philip II in 356 BC and abandoned in the 14th century after the Ottoman conquest...

, remaining Mithridatic forces crossed the Hellespont to get away from the Romans. The Romans under Fimbria were encouraged to loot and create general havoc as it went, creating problems between Flaccus and Fimbria. Flaccus was a fairly strict disciplinarian and the behavior of his lieutenant led to discord between the two.

At some point as this army crossed the Hellespont while giving chase to Mithridates' forces, Fimbria seems to have started a rebellion against Flaccus. While seemingly minor enough to not cause immediate repercussions in the field, Fimbria was relieved of his duty and ordered back to Rome. The return trip included a stop at the port city of Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

, however, and here Fimbria took command of the garrison, rather than continue home. Flaccus, hearing of this, marched his army to Byzantium to put a stop to the rebellion, but walked right into his own undoing. The army preferred Fimbria (not surprising considering his leniency in regard to plunder) and a general revolt ensued. Flaccus attempted to flee, but was captured shortly after and the Consular commander was executed. With Flaccus out of the way, Fimbria took complete command.

The following year (85 BC) Fimbria took the fight to Mithridates while Sulla continued to operate in the Greek Islands of the Aegean. Fimbria quickly won a decisive victory over remaining Mithridatic forces and moved on the capital of Pergamum. With all vestige of hope crumbling for Mithridates, he fled Pergamum to the coastal city of Pitane. Fimbria, in pursuit, laid siege to the town, but had no fleet to prevent Mithridates' escape by sea. Fimbria called upon Sulla's legate, Lucullus to bring his fleet around to block Mithridates in, but it seems that Sulla had other plans.

Sulla apparently had been in private negotiation with Mithridates to end the war. He wanted to develop easy terms and get the ordeal over as quickly as possible. The quicker it was dealt with, the faster he would be able to settle political matters in Rome. With this in mind, Lucullus and his navy refused to help Fimbria, and Mithridates 'escaped' to Lesbos. Later at Dardanus, Sulla and Mithridates met personally to negotiate terms. With Fimbria re-establishing Roman hegemony over the cities of Asia Minor, Mithridates position was completely untenable. Yet Sulla, with his eyes on Rome, offered uncharacteristically mild terms. Mithridates was forced to give up all his conquests (which Sulla and Fimbria had already managed to take back by force), surrender any Roman prisoners, provide a 70 ship fleet to Sulla along with supplies, and pay a tribute of 2,000 to 3,000 gold talents. In exchange, Mithridates was able to keep his original kingdom and territory and regain his title of "friend of the Roman people."

But things in the east weren't yet settled. Fimbria was enjoying free rein in the province of Asia and led a cruel oppression of both those who were involved against Romans, and those who were now in support of Sulla. Unable to leave a potentially dangerous army in his rear, Sulla crossed into Asia. He pursued Fimbria to his camp at Thyatira where Fimbria was confident in his ability to repulse an attack. Fimbria, however, soon found that his men wanted nothing to do with opposing Sulla and many deserted or refused to fight in the coming battle. Sensing all was lost, Fimbria took his own life, while his army went over to Sulla.

To ensure the loyalty of both Fimbria's troops and his own veterans, who weren't happy about the easy treatment of their enemy, Mithridates, Sulla now started to penalize the province of Asia. His veterans were scattered throughout the province and allowed to extort the wealth of local communities. Large fines were placed on the province for lost taxes during their rebellion and the cost of the war.

As the year 84 BC began, Cinna
Cinna
Cinna was a cognomen that distinguished a patrician branch of the gens Cornelia, particularly in the late Roman Republic.Prominent members of this family include:...

, still Consul in Rome, was faced with minor disturbances among Illyrian tribes. Perhaps in an attempt to gain experience for an army to act as a counter to Sulla's forces, or to show Sulla that the Senate also had some strength of its own, Cinna raised an army to deal with this Illyrian problem. Conveniently the source of the disturbance was located directly between Sulla and another march on Rome. Cinna pushed his men hard to move to position in Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

 and forced marches through snow covered mountains did little to endear Cinna to his army. A short time after departing Rome, Cinna was stoned to death by his own men. Hearing of Cinna's death, and the ensuing power gap in Rome, Sulla gathered his forces and prepared for a second march on the capital.

Second March on Rome


In 83 BC Sulla prepared his 5 legions and left the 2 originally under Fimbria to maintain peace in Asia Minor. In the spring of that year, Sulla crossed the Adriatic with a large fleet from Patrae, west of Corinth, to Brundisium and Tarentum
Taranto
Taranto is a coastal city in Apulia, Southern Italy. It is the capital of the Province of Taranto and is an important commercial port as well as the main Italian naval base....

 in the heel of Italy. Landing uncontested, he was given ample opportunity to prepare for the coming war.

In Rome, the newly elected consuls, L. Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus
Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus (consul 83 BC)
Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus was a lineal descendant and great-grandson of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus, consul 190 BC, who was victor of the Battle of Magnesia ....

 and C. Norbanus
Gaius Norbanus
Gaius Norbanus surnamed Bulbus was a Roman politician.In 103 BC, when tribune of the people, he accused Quintus Servilius Caepio the Elder of having brought about the defeat of his army by the Cimbri through rashness, and also of having plundered the temple of Tolosa...

 levied and prepared armies of their own to stop Sulla and protect the Republican government. Norbanus marched first with the intention of blocking a Sullan advance at Canusium. Seriously defeated, Norbanus was forced to retreat to Capua where there was no respite. Sulla followed his defeated adversary and won another victory in a very short time. Meanwhile Asiagenus was also on the march south with an army of his own. Asiagenus or his army, however, seemed to have little motivation to fight. At the town of Teanum Sidicinum, Sulla and Asiagenus met face to face to negotiate and Asiagenus surrendered without a fight. The army sent to stop Sulla wavered in the face of battle against experienced veterans, and certainly along with the prodding of Sulla's operatives, gave up the cause, going over to Sulla's side as a result. Left without an army, Asiagenus had little choice but to cooperate and later writings of Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 suggest that the two men actually discussed many matters regarding Roman government and the Constitution.

Sulla let Asiagenus leave the camp, firmly believing him to be a supporter. He was possibly expected to deliver terms to the Senate but immediately rescinded any thought of supporting Sulla upon being set free. Sulla later made it publicly known that not only would Asiagenus suffer for opposing him, but that any man who continued to oppose him after this betrayal would suffer bitter consequences. With Sulla's three quick victories, though, the situation began to rapidly turn in his favor. Many of those in a position of power, who had not yet taken a clear side, now chose to support Sulla. The first of these was Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius who governed Africa. The old enemy of Marius, and assuredly of Cinna as well, led an open revolt against the Marian forces in Africa. Additional help came from Picenum and Spain. Two of the three future triumvirs joined Sulla's cause in his bid to take control. Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus was a Roman general and politician who commanded the right wing of Sulla's army at the Battle of the Colline Gate, suppressed the slave revolt led by Spartacus, provided political and financial support to Julius Caesar and entered into the political alliance known as the...

 marched with an army from Spain, and would later play a pivotal role at the Colline Gates. The young son of Pompeius Strabo
Pompeius Strabo
Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo , whose cognomen means "cross eyed", is often referred to in English as Pompey Strabo to distinguish him from Strabo, the geographer. Strabo lived in the Roman Republic. Strabo was born and raised into a noble family in Picenum a rural district in Northern Italy, off the...

 (the butcher of Asculum
Asculum
Asculum, also known as Ausculum, was the ancient name of two Italian cities.The first is Ascoli Piceno, the Ausculum in ancient Picenum . It is situated in the valley of the Truentus river on the via Salaria. It was originally a Sabine city . Following its defeat by the Romans in 268 BC...

 during the Social War), raised an army of his own from among his father's veterans and threw his lot in with Sulla. At the age of 23, and never having held a Senatorial office, Pompey forced himself into the political scene with an army at his back.

Regardless, the war would continue on with Asiagenus raising another army in defense. This time he moved after Pompey, but once again, his army abandoned him and went over to the enemy. As a result, desperation followed in Rome as the year 83 came to a close. The Senate re-elected Cinna's old co-Consul, Papirius Carbo
Carbo
Carbo was a plebeian family within the gens Papiria of ancient Rome. Several members were notable:* Gaius Papirius Carbo, praetor 168 BC* Gaius Papirius Carbo, consul 120 BC* Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, consul 113 BC...

, to his third term, and Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

 the Younger, the 26 year old son of the great general, to his first. Hoping to inspire Marian supporters throughout the Roman world, recruiting began in earnest among the Italian tribes who had always been loyal to Marius. In addition, possible Sullan supporters were murdered. The urban praetor L. Junius Brutus Damasippus led a slaughter of those Senators who seemed to lean towards the invading forces, yet one more incident of murder in a growing spiral of violence as a political tool in the late Republic.

As the campaign year of 82 BC opened, Carbo took his forces to the north to oppose Pompey while Marius moved against Sulla in the south. Attempts to defeat Pompey failed and Metellus with his African forces along with Pompey secured northern Italy for Sulla. In the South, young Marius gathered a large host of Samnites who assuredly would lose influence with the anti-popular Sulla in charge of Rome. Marius met Sulla at Sacriportus
Sacco
Sacco is a town and comune in the province of Salerno in the Campania region of south-western Italy.-Overview:Sacco is known as La Città della Buona Fortuna , because many of its inhabitants have gone on to accomplish many great things...

 and the two forces engaged in a long and desperate battle. In the end, many of Marius' men switched sides over to Sulla and he had no choice but to retreat to Praeneste. Sulla followed the son of his arch-rival and laid siege to the town, leaving a subordinate in command. Sulla himself moved north to push Carbo, who had withdrawn to Etruria to stand between Rome and the forces of Pompey
Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 and Metellus.

Indecisive battles were fought between Carbo and Sulla's forces but Carbo knew that his cause was lost. News arrived of a defeat by Norbanus in Gaul, and that he also switched sides to Sulla. Carbo, caught between three enemy armies and with no hope of relief, fled to Africa. It was not yet the end of the resistance however, those remaining Marian forces gathered together and attempted several times to relieve young Marius at Praeneste. A Samnite force under Pontius Telesinus joined in the relief effort but the combined armies were still unable to break Sulla. Rather than continue trying to rescue Marius, Telesinus moved north to threaten Rome.

On November 1 of 82 BC, the two forces met at the battle of the Colline Gate, just outside of Rome. The battle was a huge and desperate final struggle with both sides certainly believing their own victory would save Rome. Sulla was pushed hard on his left flank with the situation so dangerous that he and his men were pushed right up against the city walls. Crassus' forces, fighting on Sulla's right however, managed to turn the opposition's flank and drive them back. The Samnites and the Marian forces were folded up and broke. In the end, over 50,000 combatants lost their lives and Sulla stood alone as the master of Rome.

Dictatorship and Constitutional Reforms




At the end of 82 BC or the beginning of 81 BC, the Senate appointed Sulla dictator
Roman dictator
In the Roman Republic, the dictator , was an extraordinary magistrate with the absolute authority to perform tasks beyond the authority of the ordinary magistrate . The office of dictator was a legal innovation originally named Magister Populi , i.e...

 legibus faciendis et reipublicae constituendae causa
("dictator for the making of laws and for the settling of the constitution"). The decision was subsequently ratified by the "Assembly of the People", with no limit set on his time in office. Sulla had total control of the city and republic of Rome, except for Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

 (which Marius's general Quintus Sertorius
Quintus Sertorius
Quintus Sertorius was a Roman statesman and general, born in Nursia, in Sabine territory. His brilliance as a military commander was shown most clearly in his battles against Rome for control of Hispania...

 had established as an independent state). This unusual appointment (used hitherto only in times of extreme danger to the city, such as the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

, and then only for 6-month periods) represented an exception to Rome's policy of not giving total power to a single individual. Sulla can be seen as setting the precedent for Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

's dictatorship, and the eventual end of the Republic under Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

.

In total control of the city and its affairs, Sulla instituted a program of executing those whom he perceived to be enemies of the state. This was akin to (and in response to) those killings which Marius and Cinna had implemented while they were in control of the Republic during Sulla's absence. Proscribing
Proscription
Proscription is a term used for the public identification and official condemnation of enemies of the state. It is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as a "decree of condemnation to death or banishment" and is a heavily politically charged word, frequently used to refer to state-approved...

 or outlawing every one of those whom he perceived to have acted against the best interests of the Republic while he was in the east, Sulla ordered some 1,500 nobles (i.e., senators and equites
Equestrian (Roman)
The Roman equestrian order constituted the lower of the two aristocratic classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the patricians , a hereditary caste that monopolised political power during the regal era and during the early Republic . A member of the equestrian order was known as an eques...

) executed, although it is estimated that as many as 9,000 people were killed. The purge went on for several months. Helping or sheltering a person who was proscribed was also punishable by death. The State confiscated the wealth of the outlawed and then auctioned it off, making Sulla and his supporters vastly rich. The sons and grandsons of the proscribed were banned from future political office, a restriction not removed for over 30 years.

The young Caesar, as Cinna's son-in-law, was one of Sulla's targets and fled the city. He was saved through the efforts of his relatives, many of whom were Sulla's supporters, but Sulla noted in his memoirs that he regretted sparing Caesar's life, because of the young man's notorious ambition. The historian Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

 records that when agreeing to spare Caesar, Sulla warned those who were pleading his case that he would become a danger to them in the future, saying "In this Caesar there are many Mariuses."

Sulla, who had observed the violent results of radical popularis reforms (in particular those under Marius and Cinna), was naturally conservative; his conservatism was more reactionary when dealing with the Tribunate and legislative bodies, while more visionary when reforming the court system and membership of the Senate. As such, he sought to strengthen the aristocracy, and thus the Senate. Sulla retained his earlier reforms, which required senatorial approval before any bill could be submitted to the Plebeian Council
Plebeian Council
The Concilium Plebis — known in English as the Plebeian Council or People's Assembly — was the principal popular assembly of the ancient Roman Republic. It functioned as a legislative assembly, through which the plebeians could pass laws, elect magistrates, and try judicial cases. The Plebeian...

 (the principal popular assembly), and which had also restored the older, more aristocratic ("Servian
Century Assembly
The Century Assembly of the Roman Republic was the democratic assembly of Roman soldiers. During the years of the Roman Republic, citizens were organized on the basis of Centuries for military purposes. The Centuries gathered into the Century Assembly for legislative, electoral, and judicial...

") organization to the Century Assembly
Century Assembly
The Century Assembly of the Roman Republic was the democratic assembly of Roman soldiers. During the years of the Roman Republic, citizens were organized on the basis of Centuries for military purposes. The Centuries gathered into the Century Assembly for legislative, electoral, and judicial...

 (assembly of soldiers). Sulla, himself a Patrician and thus ineligible for election to the office of Plebeian Tribune
Tribune
Tribune was a title shared by elected officials in the Roman Republic. Tribunes had the power to convene the Plebeian Council and to act as its president, which also gave them the right to propose legislation before it. They were sacrosanct, in the sense that any assault on their person was...

, thoroughly disliked the office, having grown up during the turmoil of the Gracchi era. As Sulla viewed the office, the Tribunate was especially dangerous, which was in part due to its radical past, and so his intention was to not only deprive the Tribunate of power, but also of prestige. The reforms of the Gracchi Tribunes were one such example of its radical past, but by no means the only examples; Sulla himself had been officially deprived of his eastern command through the underhand activities of a tribune. Over the previous three hundred years, the tribunes had been the officers most responsible for the loss of power by the aristocracy. Since the Tribunate was the principal means through which the democracy of Rome had always asserted itself against the aristocracy, it was of paramount importance to Sulla that he cripple the office. Through his reforms to the Plebeian Council, tribunes lost the power to initiate legislation. Sulla then prohibited ex-tribunes from ever holding any other office, so ambitious individuals would no longer seek election to the Tribunate, since such an election would end their political career. Finally, Sulla revoked the power of the tribunes to veto acts of the Senate, although he left intact the tribunes' power to protect individual Roman citizens.

Sulla then increased the number of magistrates who were elected in any given year, and required that all newly elected quaestor
Quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

s be given automatic membership in the Senate. These two reforms were enacted primarily to allow Sulla to increase the size of the Senate from 300 to 600 senators. This also removed the need for the censor to draw up a list of senators, since there were always more than enough former magistrates to fill the senate. To further solidify the prestige and authority of the Senate, Sulla transferred the control of the courts from the equites, who had held control since the Gracchi reforms, to the senators. This, along with the increase in the number of courts, further added to the power that was already held by the senators. He also codified, and thus established definitively, the cursus honorum
Cursus honorum
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum...

, which required an individual to reach a certain age and level of experience before running for any particular office. Sulla also wanted to reduce the risk that a future general might attempt to seize power, as he himself had done. To reduce this risk, he reaffirmed the requirement that any individual wait for ten years before being reelected to any office. Sulla then established a system where all consuls and praetors served in Rome during their year in office, and then commanded a provincial army as a governor for the year after they left office.

Finally, in a demonstration of his absolute power, he expanded the "Pomerium
Pomerium
The pomerium or pomoerium , was the sacred boundary of the city of Rome. In legal terms, Rome existed only within the pomerium; everything beyond it was simply territory belonging to Rome.-Location and extensions:Tradition maintained that it was the original line ploughed by Romulus around the...

", the sacred boundary of Rome, untouched since the time of the kings. Many of Sulla's reforms looked to the past (often re-passing former laws), but he also regulated for the future, particularly in his redefinition of maiestas
Law of majestas
The Law of Majestas, or lex maiestas, refers to any one of several ancient Roman laws throughout the republican and Imperial periods dealing with crimes against the Roman people, state, or Emperor....

 (treason) laws and his reformation of the Senate.

Near the end of 81 BC, Sulla, true to his traditionalist sentiments, resigned his dictatorship, disbanded his legions and re-established normal consular government. He also stood for (with Metellus Pius) and was elected consul for the following year, 80 BC. He dismissed his lictors and walked unguarded in the Forum, offering to give account of his actions to any citizen. In a manner that the historian Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

 thought arrogant, Julius Caesar would later mock Sulla for resigning the Dictatorship.

Retirement and death


After his second consulship, he withdrew to his country villa near Puteoli
Pozzuoli
Pozzuoli is a city and comune of the province of Naples, in the Italian region of Campania. It is the main city of the Phlegrean peninsula.-History:Pozzuoli began as the Greek colony of Dicaearchia...

 to be with family. From this distance, he remained out of the day-to-day political activities in Rome, intervening only a few times when his policies were involved (e.g., The Granius episode).

Sulla's goal now was to write his memoirs, which he finished in 78 BC, just before his death. They are now largely lost, although fragments from them exist as quotations in later writers. Ancient accounts of Sulla's death indicate that he died from liver failure or a ruptured gastric ulcer (symptomised by a sudden haemorrhage from his mouth followed by a fever from which he never recovered) caused by chronic alcohol abuse. His funeral in Rome (at Roman Forum, in the presence of the whole city) was on a scale unmatched until that of Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 in AD 14. His epitaph reads "No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full".

Sulla's legacy


Even though Sulla's laws concerning qualification for admittance to the Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

, reform of the legal system and regulations of governorships, among others, remained on Rome's statutes long into the Principate, some of his legislation was repealed less than a decade after his death. The veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 power of the tribunes and their legislating authority were soon reinstated, ironically during the consulships of Pompey
Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

 and Crassus. However, Sulla failed to frame a settlement whereby the army (following the Marian reforms allowing non-landowning soldiery) remained loyal to the Senate rather than to generals such as himself. That he tried shows he was well aware of the danger. He did pass laws to limit the actions of generals in their provinces (laws that remained in effect well into the imperial period), however, they did not prevent determined generals such as Pompey and Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 from using their armies for personal ambition against the Senate. This highlighted the weakness of the Senate in the late republican period and its inability to control its most ambitious members.

Sulla is generally seen to have provided the example that led Caesar to cross the Rubicon, and also provided the inspiration for Caesar's eventual Dictatorship. Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 comments that Pompey once said "If Sulla could, why can't I?. Sulla's example proved that it could be done, and therefore inspired others to attempt it; and in this respect, he has been seen as another step in the Republic's fall.

Sulla's descendants continued to be prominent in Roman politics into the imperial period. His son, Faustus Cornelius Sulla, issued denarii bearing the name of the dictator, as did a grandson, Quintus Pompeius Rufus. His descendants among the Cornelii Sullae would hold four consulships during the imperial period: Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 5 BC, Faustus Cornelius Sulla in AD 31, Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix in AD 33, and Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix
Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix
Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix was one of the lesser known figures of the Julio-Claudian dynasty of ancient Rome. His grandmother was Antonia Major, the niece of Emperor Augustus by her husband Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus . His mother was Domitia Lepida, a great niece of Emperor Augustus and...

 (the son of the consul of 31) in AD 52. The latter was the husband of Claudia Antonia
Claudia Antonia
Claudia Antonia was the daughter of the Roman Emperor Claudius and his second wife Aelia Paetina...

, daughter of the emperor Claudius
Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

. His execution in AD 62 on the orders of emperor Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 would make him the last of the Cornelii Sullae.

Cultural references

  • The dictator is the subject of two Italian operas, both of which take considerable liberties with history: Lucio Silla
    Lucio Silla
    Lucio Silla, K. 135, is an Italian opera in three acts composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The libretto was written by Giovanni de Gamerra.It was first performed on 26 December 1772 at the Regio Ducal Teatro in Milan....

    by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

     and the little-known Silla by Georg Friederich Handel. In each he is portrayed as a bloody, womanizing, ruthless tyrant who eventually repents his ways and steps down from the throne of Rome.
  • Sulla is an important character in the first three Masters of Rome
    Masters of Rome
    Masters of Rome is a series of historical fiction novels by author Colleen McCullough set in ancient Rome during the last days of the old Roman Republic; it primarily chronicles the lives and careers of Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Pompeius Magnus, Gaius Julius Caesar, and the early...

     novels of Colleen McCullough
    Colleen McCullough
    Colleen McCullough-Robinson, , is an internationally acclaimed Australian author.-Life:McCullough was born in Wellington, in outback central west New South Wales, in 1937 to James and Laurie McCullough. Her mother was a New Zealander of part-Māori descent. During her childhood, her family moved...

    . Sulla is depicted as ruthless and amoral, very self-assured, personally brave, and charming, especially with women. His charm and ruthlessness make him a valuable aide to Gaius Marius
    Gaius Marius
    Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

    . Sulla’s desire to move out of the shadow of aging Marius eventually leads to civil war. Sulla softened considerably after the birth of his son and was devastated when he died at a young age. The novels depict Sulla full of regrets about having had to put aside his homosexual relationship with a Greek actor
    Metrobius
    Metrobius was a Roman tragic actor of Greek birth, widely known in his time. He was considered the most revered female impersonator in Rome.He gave up the stage to accompany the former dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla into retirement in the year 79 BC. Sulla acknowledged Metrobius as his lover in...

     to take up his public career.
  • Sulla is played by Richard Harris
    Richard Harris
    Richard St John Harris was an Irish actor, singer-songwriter, theatrical producer, film director and writer....

     in the 2002 miniseries Julius Caesar
    Julius Caesar (TV miniseries)
    Julius Caesar is a 2002 mini-series about the life of Julius Caesar. It was directed by Uli Edel, and written by Peter Pruce and Craig Warner. It is a dramatization of the life of Julius Caesar through 82 BC to his death in 44 BC...

    .
  • Lucius Cornelius Sulla is also a character in the first book of the Emperor (novel series), which is centered around the lives of Gaius Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus.
  • Empire Earth
    Empire Earth
    Empire Earth, also known as EE, is a real-time strategy computer game developed by Stainless Steel Studios and released on November 23, 2001. It is the first game in the Empire Earth series...

    , a computer game/RTS based somewhat on historical accounts, has battles depicting the second march on Rome. In this game Sulla loses.

Marriages and children

  • First wife, "Ilia" (according to Plutarch). If Plutarch's text is to be amended to "Julia", then she is likely to have been one of the Julias related to Julius Caesar
    Julius Caesar
    Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

    , most likely Julia Caesaris
    Julia Cornelia
    Julia Caesaris or more commonly known as Julia Cornelia, was the daughter of consul Lucius Julius Caesar II and Poppilia. She was the sister of Lucius Julius Caesar III and Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo Vopiscus. She later became the first wife of future dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla...

    , Caesar's first-cousin once-removed.
    • Cornelia
      Cornelia Sulla
      Cornelia was one of the few Roman women mentioned in Roman Republican sources. She was the eldest daughter of Dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla and his first wife, an Ilia or Julia....

      , married first Quintus Pompeius Rufus the Younger and later Mamercus Aemilius Lepidus Livianus
      Mamercus Aemilius Lepidus Livianus
      Mamercus Aemilius Lepidus Livianus, was a Roman politician and military commander who was consul in 77 BC.-Biography:Livianus was a well connected and influential figure in Late Republican politics. A member of the aristocratic party, brother of the tribune Marcus Livius Drusus and son of Marcus...

      ; mother of Pompeia (second wife of Julius Caesar
      Julius Caesar
      Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

      ) with the former.
    • Lucius Cornelius Sulla, died young
  • Second wife, Aelia. Sulla divorced her due to sterility.
  • Third wife, Caecilia Metella
    • Faustus Cornelius Sulla
    • Cornelia Fausta, married Titus Annius Milo
      Titus Annius Milo
      Titus Annius Milo Papianus was a Roman political agitator, the son of Gaius Papius Celsus, but adopted by his maternal grandfather, Titus Annius Luscus...

       (praetor in 54 BC)
  • Fourth wife, Valeria
    • Cornelia Postuma (born after Sulla's death)

Appearance


According to Erik Hildinger, Sulla was blonde, blue eyed, and had a "wine marked" white face covered with red marks. Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

, the ancient historian, notes that Sulla considered that "his golden head of hair gave him a singular appearance."

Chronology

  • c. 138 BC – Born in Rome
  • 107-05 BC – Quaestor
    Quaestor
    A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

     and pro quaestore to Gaius Marius
    Gaius Marius
    Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

     in the war with Jugurtha in Numidia
  • 106 BC – End of Jugurthine War
    Jugurthine War
    The Jugurthine War takes its name from the Berber king Jugurtha , nephew and later adopted son of Micipsa, King of Numidia.-Jugurtha and Numidia:...

  • 104 BC – legatus to Marius cos.II in Gallia Transalpina
  • 103 BC – tribunus militum in army of Marius cos.III in Gallia Transalpina
  • 102-01 BC – legatus to Quintus Lutatius Catulus
    Quintus Lutatius Catulus
    Quintus Lutatius Catulus was consul of the Roman Republic in 102 BC, and the leading public figure of the gens Lutatia of the time. His colleague in the consulship was Gaius Marius, but the two feuded and Catulus sided with Sulla in the civil war of 88–87 BC...

     consul and pro consule in Gallia Cisalpina
  • 101 BC – took part in the defeat of the Cimbri at the battle of Vercellae
    Battle of Vercellae
    The Battle of Vercellae, or Battle of the Raudine Plain, in 101 BC was the Roman victory of Consul Gaius Marius over the invading Germanic Cimbri tribe near the settlement of Vercellae in Cisalpine Gaul....

  • 97 BC – Praetor urbanus
    Praetor
    Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

  • 96 BC – Commander of Cilicia
    Cilicia
    In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

     province pro consule
  • 90-89 BC – senior officer in the Social War as legatus pro praetore
  • 88 BC –
    • Holds the consulship (for the first time) with Quintus Pompeius Rufus as colleague
    • Invades Rome and outlaws Caius Marius the elder
  • 87 BC – Command of Roman armies to fight King Mithridates of Pontus
  • 86 BC – Sack of Athens, Battle of Chaeronea, Battle of Orchomenus
  • 85 BC – Liberation of Macedonia, Asia and Cilicia provinces from Pontic occupation
  • 84 BC – Reorganization of Asia province
  • 83 BC – Returns to Italy and undertakes civil war against the factional Marian government
  • 83-82 BC – War with the followers of Caius Marius the younger and Cinna
  • 82 BC – Victory at the Battle of the Colline Gate
    Battle of the Colline Gate
    The battle of the Colline Gate, fought in November of 82 BC, was the final battle by which Sulla secured control of Rome following the civil war against his rivals. The Samnites led by Pontius Telesinus attacked Sulla's army at the Colline Gate on the northeastern wall, and fought all night before...

  • 82/1 BC – Appointed "dictator legibus faciendis et rei publicae constituendae causa"
  • 81 BC – Resigns the dictatorship before the end of the year
  • 80 BC – Holds the consulship (for the second time) with Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius as colleague
  • 79 BC – Retires from political life, refusing the post consulatum provincial command of Gallia Cisalpina he was allotted as consul, but retaining the curatio for the reconstruction of the temples on the Capitoline Hill
  • 78 BC – Dies, perhaps of an intestinal ulcer. Funeral held in Rome

External links