Lucius Cornelius Sulla (l. 138 - 78 BCE) enacted his constitutional reforms (81 BCE) as dictator to strengthen the Roman Senate's power. Sulla was born in a very turbulent era of Rome's history, which has often been described as the beginning of the fall of the Roman Republic. The political climate was marked by civil discord and rampant political violence where voting in the Assembly was sometimes settled by armed gangs. There were two primary opposing factions in Roman politics: the Optimates who emphasized the leadership and prominent role of the Senate, and the Populares who generally advocated for the rights of the people.
During this era, senatorial power was curbed and significant progress was made for the rights of the common folk, particularly the magistracy of tribune of the plebs, which was specifically created to be a guardian of the people. Sulla was an Optimate and after his rise to power, he declared himself dictator and passed several reforms to the constitution to revitalize and restore senatorial power to what it once was. Although his reforms did not last very long, his legacy greatly influenced Roman politics in the final years of the Republic until it fell in 27 BCE.
Sulla & the Late Roman Republic
Sulla was born into an ancient patrician family and so could trace his ancestry back to the original senators appointed by Romulus, the founder of Rome. Part of the cursus honorum, the unspoken but accepted career ladder of public office, was to first serve as a military officer before being able to run for public office. Sulla, by way of his patrician rank, skipped military service and was elected to the junior magistracy of quaestor in 108 BCE. He quickly made a name for himself as an excellent commander and negotiator serving under consul Gaius Marius (l. 157 - 86 BCE) - a Populare who served an extraordinary five consecutive consulships from 104 - 100 BCE - in the Jugurthine War (112 - 106 BCE). A disagreement between Marius and Sulla over who was truly responsible for Jugurtha's capture was the first seed of hatred between the two which would lead to Rome's first major civil war.
Military success in the Social War made Sulla immensely popular in Rome & woN him the consulship.
Sulla was elected praetor urbanus in 97 BCE and was governor of the province of Cilicia in Asia Minor the following year. The Senate ordered Sulla to reinstate King Ariobarzanes - a friend of Rome - back on the Cappadocian throne because he had been ousted by King Mithridates VI of Pontus (r. 120-63 BCE) who wanted to insert his son as the Cappadocian king. Sulla proved successful and was even hailed by his soldiers as imperator, or victorious commander.
In the Late Republic, Italians had long desired Roman citizenship and equal say in politics and power. The Romans had a knack for teasing the Italians with citizenship but never going the full distance in actually passing a law granting the Italians what they wanted. This civil discord reached a critical point in 91 BCE, the start of the Social War, between Rome and Italians who were eventually granted citizenship in 89 BCE after massive casualties on both sides. During the Social War, Sulla had independent command over legions in Southern Italy where he laid siege to the Italian city of Pompeii and successfully fended off armies attempting to aid Pompeii. He fought valiantly and his soldiers awarded him with the Grass Crown (corona graminea), the highest military honor. This military success made him immensely popular back in Rome and won him the consulship of 88 BCE.
Marius vs. Sulla
During his consulship, he was given eastern command of the legions to face King Mithridates VI of Pontus, one of Rome's most formidable enemies, who was wreaking havoc in the east. Mithridates VI had amassed an empire and surrounded himself with allies, and during Sulla's consulship, he ordered all cities in his Asian territories to murder all Romans and Italians. Not even women and children were spared. But before Sulla could embark on his trip to the east and defeat Mithridates VI, Marius and his ally, Sulpicius, using armed gangs and 600 equestrians as a bodyguard had 'convinced' the Assembly to remove Sulla's eastern command and had it transferred it to Marius. Marius then deployed two military tribunes to assume command of Sulla's army.
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In one of the crucial turning points in Rome's history, Sulla then gave not a military speech to his soldiers, but a political one, in which he roused his 35,000 legionaries and riled them up about the wrongs done to him and them. The east was known for its endless riches and Marius was now robbing them of the bountiful eastern plunder that would have been theirs. Sulla's stirring speech was successful, and his legions were now loyal to Sulla alone. When Marius' tribunes finally arrived, Sulla's soldiers murdered them. They then commenced their march on Rome to take back what was rightfully theirs. When asked why he would march soldiers against his own country, he replied, “to deliver her from tyrants”. Sulla, the first person to conquer Rome, then overturned Marius and Sulpicius' actions and reinstated himself as consul. Sulla and his legions had the coveted eastern command once again and Marius was forced to flee Rome.
While Sulla was in the East, his strategy was to remove Mithridates VI's control over Greece so he laid siege to Athens in the winter of 87-86 BCE. It was during this time he heard the news that Marius and his faction had returned and captured Rome, passing a decree which declared Sulla an enemy of the state. Marius then cut off money from Sulla's campaign, so he was forced to tax the local Greeks to fund his campaign. Suddenly, back in Rome, Marius died from pneumonia in 86 BCE. Sulla continued his business in the east, finally capturing Athens, successfully winning the Battle of Chaeronea (86 BCE) and the Battle of Orchomenus (85 BCE), convincingly ousting Mithridates' presence, and reinstating Roman authority in Greece. He then spent his time settling and organizing the province of Asia until he finally returned to Italy in 83 BCE to confront Marius' faction in Rome's first civil war.
The Senate, devoid of opposition, was forced to comply & appoint Sulla as dictator to create laws & settle the constitution.
Sulla and his veteran legions swept through Italy, persuading enemy legions to defect to his side and defeating in battle those who did not. He demonstrated great clemency in forgiving people and cities who decided to change sides. However, once he arrived victorious in Rome, he shed the merciful persona and proscribed (proscriptio) his enemies. The proscriptions were tablets with the names of people who were to be killed for bounty and their land confiscated. In the end, about a hundred senators and over a thousand equestrians perished.
Now that Sulla was wholly unopposed, the remaining Senate annulled the decree which made him an enemy of the state and ordered a statue of Sulla to be put up in front of the Forum Romanum. In order to legitimize his authority, Sulla then suggested that they revive the ancient office of dictator. It had been 120 years since Rome last had a dictator. The Senate, devoid of opposition, was forced to comply with his suggestion, appointing him as dictator to create laws and settle the constitution. Dictators were only appointed in times of great emergency when there was no other option but to entrust all authority and power to one person to save Rome. In the past, a dictator's term was for six months and their powers were essentially limitless. They had power over life and death and could declare war and peace, appoint and remove senators, as well as the power to found and demolish cities. Sulla, however, had no time limit imposed on his dictatorship and therefore could take as long as he needed to settle the constitution.
Reforms to the Constitution
Sulla, now dictator, appeared before the Senate with the powers of a king. 24 fasces were held in front of him as dictator, the same amount that was held before the ancient kings. As perhaps Sulla's most important reform as dictator, he severely diminished the power and prestige of the tribunes of the plebs. Tribunes were originally created to be guardians of the people. Their legal power (potestas) was vast, and because of the progress and precedents made by Populare tribunes, such as Tiberius Gracchus in 131 BCE, when he bypassed the Senate and presented his land reform laws directly to the Assembly, their power grew even stronger.
Sulla sought to undo these advancements, so he required that a tribune must seek permission from the Senate before introducing a law. Furthermore, he got rid of the tribune's all-important veto power. Sulla also stripped the office of its lure and prestige. He decreed that anyone who held the magistracy of tribune should never hold any other magistracy afterward. Understandably, the position was shunned by anyone who wanted to make a name for themselves in politics. The once-great office of tribune with its storied background as protector of the people was now just a shadow of what it once was.
Sulla also formalized the cursus honorum. He forbade anyone to hold the magistracy of praetor until after he had first been a quaestor or to be elected consul before he had been a praetor. He also prohibited any man from holding the same magistracy consecutively. Instead, he would have to wait ten years until he could hold the same office again. Furthermore, he decreed that two years must pass in between magistracies. He also expanded the number of quaestors to twenty and praetors to eight. This growing number of magistrates were needed to govern and administrate an ever-expanding empire.
Another Sullan reform saw that provincial governors would not overstay their welcome in their provinces, greatly reducing their chance to build a personal army to lead against political rivals or Rome itself, as Sulla had done. Because there were a greater number of magistrates under Sulla's reforms, this led to governors not needing to stay in their province long because there were now ample magistrates to fill a vacancy in a province after his one-year term ended. Furthermore, if a governor were to abuse or exceed his powers, they would be tried in the Treason Court (maiestas).
Because the Senate had been significantly thinned out by war, not to mention by Sulla's own proscriptions, he doubled the roll of the Senate from 300 to 600. The Senate had whittled down to a couple of hundred members after his proscriptions, so there were 400 empty spots to fill. As dictator, Sulla himself appointed many of the new Senators from a group of equestrians that he deemed worthy to be promoted to the rank of senator. For the remaining spots, he took recommendations from different people and created a large group of grateful senators thankful for their promotion in rank. The Senate was gaining power as well as strength in numbers.
In one of his most important reforms, Sulla reinstated senatorial power into the courts. Court juries were wielded as an extremely powerful tool at the time. A Populare wanted the jury to be made up of equestrians and an Optimate wanted a jury of senators. If a jury was filled with senators, then as one could expect, they rarely found their senatorial colleagues guilty, but a jury comprised of equestrians would lose very little sleep over convicting a senator accused of corruption. Populares and Optimates constantly fought each other on this. Sulla's reform reversed the tribune Gaius Gracchus' reform to the Extortion Court when he barred senators from being jurors. Sulla then set up seven new permanent courts for murder, counterfeiting and forgery, electoral fraud, embezzlement, treason, personal injury, and provincial extortion.
Sulla cast a long shadow over the Republic in these years. The Senate was very much his creation, purged of all his opponents who had failed to defect to him in time, and packed with his partisans. As a body he had strengthened the Senate's position, restoring the senatorial monopoly over juries in the courts and severely limiting the power of the tribunate. Other legislation, for instance a law restricting the behavior of provincial governors, was intended to prevent any other general from following the dictator's own example and turning the legions against the State. (Goldsworthy, Caesar, 92)
In addition to his reforms, Sulla used his powers as dictator to enact vengeance not just in Rome, but across the Italian regions that opposed him. Among the forms of punishment were massacre, exile, and confiscation for those who obeyed his enemies during the civil war. Their crime could be as little as housing his enemy, lending them money, or doing them any kind of kindness. When charges against individuals were not successful, Sulla took revenge on entire towns. He punished some by destroying their citadels or tearing down their walls, or by imposing fines and suffocating them with heavy taxes and tributes. Sulla set up his troops in colonies in the land and houses of the cities that he took revenge on.
Once he settled the constitution, he laid down the dictatorship. The following year in 80 BCE he was elected consul. In 79 BCE he retired from Roman politics altogether and went to live in his country house in Campania where he could try to finish writing his memoirs. According to Plutarch, Sulla foresaw his death in a dream and he stopped writing his memoirs two days before he died in 78 BCE.
Although Sulla's constitution was obediently followed by other Optimates such as Pompey (l. 106 - 48 BCE) and Crassus (l. 115/112 - 53 BCE) - Sulla's reforms would ultimately not endure. He sought to remedy the problems that plagued the Republic, but his solution to the problem was one-sided and only strengthened senatorial power while severely curbing the power of the tribune of the plebs and non-senatorial ranks.
Julius Caesar (l. 100 - 44 BCE) during his time as military tribune spoke out in favor of restoring the powers of tribune which Sulla had thoroughly dismantled. In 75 BCE, Caesar had his uncle, Caius Aurelius Cotta who was consul that year, to pass a bill that allowed former tribunes to seek other magistracies. This was a very important undoing of one of Sulla's key reforms because now the tribunate was no longer a dead-end magistracy, paving the way for ambitious politicians to seek the office once again.
Caesar also reformed and improved another Sullan reform. He had long held interest in the administration of the provinces and his most renowned court appearances were prosecutions of corrupt and oppressive governors. His reforms on the role and behavior of Roman provincial governors would be the standard for centuries to come. Cicero later described Caesar's reform as an “excellent law”. Lastly, Sulla's law of permitting only senators on juries was overturned when praetor Lucius Aurelius Cotta allowed juries to be comprised of both senators and equestrians, leveling the power balance.
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 occurred which severely weakened aristocratic control over the Roman Constitution. Sulla's Dictatorship constituted one of the most significant developments in the History of the Constitution of the Roman Republic, and it served as a warning for the coming civil war, which ultimately would destroy the Roman Republic and create the Roman Empire. Sulla, who had witnessed chaos at the hands of his political enemies in the years before his Dictatorship, was naturally conservative. He believed that the underlying flaw in the Roman constitution was the increasingly aggressive democracy, which expressed itself through the Roman assemblies, and as such, he sought to strengthen the Roman Senate. He retired in 79 BC, and died in 78 BC, having believed that he had corrected the constitutional flaw. His constitution would be mostly rescinded by two of his former lieutenants, Pompey Magnus and Marcus Licinius Crassus, less than ten years after his death. But what he did not realize was that it was he himself who actually had illustrated the underlying flaw in the Roman constitution: that it was the army, and not the Roman senate, which dictated the fortunes of the state. The precedent he produced would be emulated less than forty years later by an individual whom he almost had executed, Julius Caesar, and as such, he played a critical early role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
Famous quotes containing the word reforms :
&ldquo Nothing divine dies. All good is eternally reproductive. The beauty of nature reforms itself in the mind, and not for barren contemplation, but for new creation. &rdquo
&mdashRalph Waldo Emerson (1803)
Sulla's Reforms as Dictator - History
AKA Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Born: 138 BC
Died: 78 BC
Location of death: Pozzuoli, Italy
Cause of death: Aneurysm
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Bisexual
Occupation: Military, Head of State
Nationality: Ancient Rome
Executive summary: Roman General, dictator
Lucius Cornelius Sulla, surnamed Felix, Roman general, politician and dictator, belonged to a minor and impoverished branch of the famous patrician Cornelian gens. He received a careful education, and was a devoted student of literature and art. His political advancement was slow, and he did not obtain the quaestorship until 107, when he served in the Jugurthine war under Gaius Marius in Africa. In this he greatly distinguished himself, and claimed the credit of having terminated the war by capturing Jugurtha himself. In these African campaigns Sulla showed that he knew how to win the confidence of his soldiers, and throughout his career the secret of his success seems to have been the enthusiastic devotion of his troops, whom he continued to hold well in hand, while allowing them to indulge in plundering and all kinds of excess. From 104 to 101 he served again under Marius in the war with the Cimbri and Teutones and fought in the last great battle in the Raudian plains near Verona. It was at this time that Marius's jealousy of his legate laid the foundations of their future rivalry and mutual hatred. When the war was over, Sulla, on his return to Rome, lived quietly for some years and took no part in politics. In 93 he was elected praetor after a lavish squandering of money, and he delighted the populace with an exhibition of a hundred lions from Africa. Next year (92) he went as propraetor of Cilicia with special authority from the senate to make Mithradates VI of Pontus restore Cappadocia to Ariobarzanes, one of Rome's dependants in Asia. Sulla with a small army soon won a victory over the general of Mithradates, and Rome's client-king was restored. An embassy from the Parthians now came to solicit alliance with Rome, and Sulla was the first Roman who held diplomatic intercourse with that remote people. In the year 91, which brought with it the imminent prospect of sweeping political change, with the enfranchisement of the Italian peoples, Sulla returned to Rome, and it was generally felt that he was the man to lead the conservative and aristocratic party.
Meanwhile Mithradates and the East were forgotten in the crisis of the Social or Italic War, which broke out in 91 and threatened Rome's very existence. The services of both Marius and Sulla were given but Sulla was the more successful, or, at any rate, the more fortunate. Of the Italian peoples Rome's old foes the Samnites were the most formidable these Sulla vanquished, and took their chief town, Bovianum. In recognition of this and other brilliant services, he was elected consul in 88, and brought the revolt to an end by the capture of Nola in Campania. The question of the command of the army against Mithradates again came to the front. The senate had already chosen Sulla but the tribune Publius Sulpicius Rufus moved that Marius should have the command. Rioting took place at Rome at the prompting of the popular leaders, Sulla narrowly escaping to his legions in Campania, from where he marched on Rome, being the first Roman who entered the city at the head of a Roman army. Sulpicius was put to death, and Marius fled and he and his party were crushed for the time.
Sulla, leaving things quiet at Rome, departed Italy in 87, and for the next four years he was winning victory after victory against the armies of Mithradates and accumulating boundless plunder. Athens, the headquarters of the Mithradatic cause, was taken and sacked in 86 and in the same year, at Chaeroneia, the scene of Philip II of Macedon's victory more than two and a half centuries before, and in the year following, at the neighboring Orchomenus, he scattered immense hosts of the enemy with trifling loss to himself. Crossing the Hellespont in 84 into Asia, he was joined by the troops of C. Flavius Fimbria, who soon deserted their general, a man sent out by the Marian party, now again in the ascendant at Rome. The same year peace was concluded with Mithradates on condition that he should be put back to the position he held before the war but, as he raised objections, he had in the end to content himself with being simply a vassal of Rome.
Sulla returned to Italy in 83, landing at Brundisium, having previously informed the senate of the result of his campaigns in Greece and Asia, and announced his presence on Italian ground. He further complained of the ill-treatment to which his friends and partisans had been subjected during his absence. Marius had died in 86, and the revolutionary party, specially represented by L. Cornelius Cinna, Cn. Papirius Carbo and the younger Marius, had massacred Sulla's supporters wholesale, confiscated his property, and declared him a public enemy. They felt they must resist him to the death, and with the troops scattered throughout Italy, and the newly enfranchised Italians, to whom it was understood that Sulla was bitterly hostile, they counted confidently on success. But on Sulla's advance at the head of tis 40,000 veterans many of them lost heart and deserted their leaders, while the Italians themselves, whom he confirmed in their new privileges, were won over to his side. Only the Samnites, who were as yet without the Roman franchise, remained his enemies, and it seemed as if the old war between Rome and Samnium had to be fought once again. Several Roman nobles, among them Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey the Great), Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius, Marcus Licinius Crassus, Marcus Licinius Lucullus, joined Sulla, and in the following year (82) he won a decisive victory over the younger Marius near Praeneste (modern Palestrina) and then marched upon Rome, where again, just before his defeat of Marius, there had been a great massacre of his adherents, in which the learned jurist Q. Mucius Scaevola perished. Rome was at the same time in extreme peril from the advance of a Samnite army, and was barely saved by Sulla, who, after a hard-fought battle, routed the enemy under Pontius Telesinus at the Colline gate of Rome. With the death of the younger Marius, who killed himself after the surrender of Praeneste, the civil war was at an end, and Sulla was master of Rome and of the Roman world. Then came the memorable "proscription", when for the first time in Roman history a list of men declared to be outlaws and public enemies was exhibited in the forum, and a reign of terror began throughout Rome and Italy. The title of "dictator" was revived and Sulla was in fact emperor of Rome. After celebrating a splendid triumph for the Mithradatic War, and assuming the surname of "Felix" ("Epaphroditus", "Venus's favorite", he styled himself in addressing Greeks), he carried in 80 and 79 his great political reforms. The main object of these was to invest the senate, which he recruited with a number of his own party, with full control over the state, over every magistrate and every province and the mainstay of his political system was to be the military colonies which he had established with grants of land throughout every part of Italy, to the ruin of the old Italian freeholders and farmers, who from this time dwindled away, leaving whole districts waste and desolate.
In 79 Sulla resigned his dictatorship and retired to Puteoli, where he died in the following year, probably from the bursting of a blood-vessel. The story that he fell a victim to a disease similar to that which cut off one of the Herods (Acts 12:23) is probably an invention of his enemies. The "half lion, half fox", as his enemies called him, the man who carried out a policy of "blood and iron" with a grim humor, amused himself in his last days with actors and actresses, with dabbling in poetry, and completing the Memoirs (commentarii) of his eventful life. Even then he did not give up his interest in state and local affairs, and his end is said to have been hastened by a fit of passion brought on by a remark of the quaestor Granius, who openly asserted that he would escape payment of a sum of money due to the Romans, since Sulla was on his deathbed. Sulla sent for him and had him strangled in his presence in his excitement he broke a blood-vessel and died on the following day. He was accorded a magnificent public funeral, his body being removed to Rome and buried in the Campus Martius. His monument bore an inscription written by himself, to the effect that he had always fully repaid the kindnesses of his friends and the wrongs done him by his enemies. His military genius was displayed in the Social War and the campaigns against Mithradates while his constitutional reforms, although doomed to failure from the lack of successors to carry them out, were a triumph of organization. But he massacred his enemies in cold blood, and exacted vengeance with pitiless and calculated cruelty he sacrificed everything to his own ambition and the triumph of his party.
Daughter: Cornelia Sulla
Son: Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Wife: Aelia (div.)
Wife: Caecilia Metella Dalmatica
Son: Faustus Cornelius Sulla (twin, b. 87 BC)
Daughter: Fausta Cornelia Sulla (twin, b. 87 BC)
Wife: Valeria Messala (m. 80 BC)
Daughter: Postuma Cornelia Sulla (b. 78 BC)
Boyfriend: Metrobius (actor, long term lover)
SourcesPortrait of Sulla on a denarius minted in 54 BC by his grandson Q. Pompeius Rufus  / CNG, Wikimedia Commons
Sulla’s life was habitually included in the ancient biographical collections of leading generals and politicians, originating in the biographical compendium of famous Romans published by Marcus Terentius Varro. In Plutarch’s Parallel Lives Sulla is paired with the Spartan general and strategist Lysander.
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 two major ancient sources, Plutarch and Appian, wrote in Greek, and call him Σύλλα. 
Sulla's constitution (82–80 BC)
Several years later, a new power had emerged in Asia. In 88 BC, a Roman army was sent to put down that power, king Mithridates of Pontus, but was defeated. Lucius Cornelius Sulla had been elected Consul (one of the two chief-executives of the Roman Republic) for the year, and was ordered by the senate to assume command of the war against Mithridates. Gaius Marius, a former Consul and a member of the democratic ("populares") party, was a bitter political rival of Sulla. Marius had a Plebeian Tribune revoke Sulla's command of the war against Mithridates, so Sulla, a member of the aristocratic ("optimates") party, brought his army back to Italy and marched on Rome. Marius fled, and his supporters either fled or were murdered by Sulla. Sulla had become so angry at Marius' tribune that he passed a law that was intended to permanently weaken the Tribunate.  He then returned to his war against Mithridates, and with Sulla gone, the populares under Marius and Lucius Cornelius Cinna soon took control of the city. The popularis record was not one to be proud of,  as they had reelected Marius to the consulship several times without observing the required ten year interval. They also transgressed democracy by advancing unelected individuals to office, and by substituting magisterial edicts for popular legislation.  Sulla eventually made peace with Mithridates, and in 83 BC, he returned to Rome, overcame all resistance, and captured the city again. Sulla was installed as Dictator, and his supporters then slaughtered most of Marius' supporters, although one such supporter, a 17-year-old popularis (and the son-in-law of Cinna) named Julius Caesar, was ultimately spared.
Sulla, who had observed the violent results of radical popularis reforms (in particular those under Marius and Cinna), was naturally conservative, and so his conservatism was more reactionary than it was visionary.  As such, he sought to strengthen the aristocracy, and thus the senate.  Sulla retained his earlier reforms, which required senate approval before any bill could be submitted to the Conflict of the Orders, during which time the Plebeians had sought political equality with the aristocratic Patrician class.
Sulla, himself a Patrician and thus ineligible for election to the office of Plebeian Tribune, thoroughly disliked the office. Some of his dislike may have been acquired when Marius' Tribune had revoked Sulla's authorization to command the war against Mithridates. 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 were they the only such examples. Over the past 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. This reform was of dubious constitutionality at best, and was outright sacrilegious at worst. Ultimately, the Tribunes, and thus the People of Rome, became powerless.
Sulla then weakened the magisterial offices by increasing the number of magistrates who were elected in any given year,  and required that all newly elected Quaestors be given automatic membership in the senate. These two reforms were enacted primarily so as to allow Sulla to increase the size of the senate from 300 to 600 senators. This 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.  The Censorship was the most prestigious of all magisterial offices, and by reducing the power of the Censors, this particular reform further helped to reduce the prestige of all magisterial offices. In addition, by increasing the number of magistrates, the prestige of each magistrate was reduced, and the potential for obstruction within each magisterial college was maximized. This, so the theory went, would further increase the importance of the senate as the principal organ of constitutional government.
To further solidify the prestige and authority of the senate, Sulla transferred the control of the courts from the knights, 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,  which required an individual to reach a certain age and level of experience before running for any particular office. In this past, the cursus honorum had been observed through precedent, but had never actually been codified. By requiring senators to be more experienced than they had been in the past, he hoped to add to the prestige, and thus the authority, of the senate.
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.  The number of Praetors (the second-highest ranking magistrate, after the Consul) were increased, so that there would be enough magistrates for each province under this system. These two reforms were meant to ensure that no governor would be able to command the same army for an extended period of time, so as to minimize the threat that another general might attempt to march on Rome.
Sulla - in ancient sources @ attalus.org
This is part of the index of names on the attalus website. The names occur either in lists of events (arranged by year, from the 4th to the 1st century B.C.) or in translations of sources. There are many other sources available in translation online - for a fuller but less precise search, Search Ancient Texts.
On each line there is a link to the page where the name can be found.
Sulla (P. Cornelius Sulla) - Roman praetor, 212 B.C.
213/23 P.Cornelius Sulla is chosen to be Flamen Dialis.
Sulla 5 (L. Cornelius Sulla Felix) - Roman dictator, 82-79 B.C.
&rarr Wikipedia entry
+ Cornelius , Epaphroditus , Sylla
138/31 The birth of L.Sulla.
107/14 The dissolute lifestyle of L.Sulla, as a young man.
106/10 The quaestor L.Sulla arrives at Marius' camp with reinforcements from
106/15 Marius sends Sulla and A.Manlius on a mission to Bocchus.
105/1 Further negotiations between Sulla and Bocchus.
105/6 Bocchus seizes Jugurtha and hands him over to Sulla and the Romans.
104/11 Sulla captures Copillus, the leader of the Tectosages.
103/5 Sulla persuades the Marsi to stay allied to Rome.
102/5 Sulla joins Catulus and manages his supplies.
99/4 L.Sulla fails to be elected praetor.
98/11 L.Sulla is elected praetor at the second attempt.
97/8 L.Sulla, as praetor, receives a sarcastic rebuke from C.Caesar.
97/9 L.Sulla displays a lion hunt for the first time in games at Rome.
95/7 Sulla, the propraetor of Cilicia, installs Ariobarzanes as king of
94/7 Sulla meets Orobazus, a Parthian envoy, by the river Euphrates, and
92/6 rinus attempts to prosecutes Sulla for extortion, but fails to bring
91/30 cchus, king of Mauretania, and over Sulla's seal depicting Jugurtha.
89/6 Sulla captures and destroys Stabiae.
89/18 Sulla defeats the Samnites under Cluentius near Nola.
89/19 Sulla subdues the Hirpini.
89/20 Sulla invades Samnium and captures Bovianum.
89/36 Sulla returns to Rome to stand as a candidate for consul.
88/_ Consuls: L. Cornelius L.f. Sulla, Q. Pompeius Q.f. Rufus
88/6 Sulla marries Metella, daughter of L.Metellus.
88/9 The role of Marius, Sulla, and the other leaders of the opposing side
88/13 Sulla is appointed commander for the war against Mithridates.
88/20 Sulla leaves Rome to join the Roman army at Nola.
88/30 Sulla leads his army against his opponents at Rome.
88/31 Sulla defeats Marius and his supporters inside Rome, near the Esquili
88/36 Sulla and Pompeius introduce a series of reforms at Rome, giving more
88/49 Sulla stops Sertorius becoming tribune for the following year.
88/58 consuls, and are forced to swear not to upset Sulla's arrangements.
88/61 Sulla sends his army from Rome back to Capua.
87/1 Sulla leaves Italy to take charge of the war against Mithridates.
87/5 Sulla arrives in Greece and forces the Boeotians to abandon their sup
87/6 return to Macedonia, leaving Sulla to fight against Mithridates' army
87/7 The birth of Faustus and Fausta, twin children of Sulla and Metella.
87/17 Sulla besieges Archelaus at Athens.
87/26 CIL_712, an inscription in honour of Sulla on Delos.
87/27 Lucullus coins money for Sulla's army.
87/51 killed by Marius and Cinna and Sulla is declared a public enemy.
87/55 Sulla retires to Eleusis for the winter.
87/57 Rumours about the return of Sulla bring a halt to the killing at Rome
87/62 sage from Jupiter, promising Sulla victory in the war against Mithrid
86/5 builds a villa near Misenum, which earns the admiration of Sulla.
86/12 Lucullus sets sail for Egypt, to try to collect warships for Sulla.
86/13 Sulla despoils the temples at Olympia, Epidaurus, and Delphi, and ste
86/15 The Athenians yell out insults against Sulla and his wife Metella.
86/20 Sulla captures Athens.
86/21 Sulla punishes the Athenians, but allows them to keep their freedom.
86/26 Sulla captures Peiraeus, but Archelaus escapes by sea.
86/28 Archelaus joins up with Taxiles' army and faces Sulla near Elateia.
86/29 Sulla defeats Archelaus and destroys his army at Chaeroneia.
86/30 Sulla punishes the Thebans by confiscating their territory.
86/40 the command of Dorylaus, but it is defeated by Sulla at Orchomenus.
86/41 Sulla storms the camp of his opponents and slaughters most of them
86/46 Sulla takes his army to Thessaly for the winter.
86/47 Sulla and Archelaus start to negotiate about peace terms.
85/6 Sulla treats Archelaus with honour, and gives him a large estate
85/7 Sulla leads a punitive expedition against the Dardani and other Thrac
85/16 Sulla and Mithridates agree peace terms at Dardanus.
85/17 Opponents of Cinna sail from Italy to join Sulla.
85/24 Sulla writes a letter to the senate, threatening revenge against his
85/26 Sulla imposes a tribute on the cities of Asia.
85/37 the leading orator at Rome, during the absence of Sulla in the East.
84/1 citizens of Smyrna offer clothes to Sulla's army during the winter.
84/2 aeus Alexander escapes from Mithridates and takes refuge with Sulla.
84/3 Cinna and Carbo make preparations for the war against Sulla.
84/4 The senate votes to send an embassy to Sulla.
84/6 Sulla re-organises the province of Asia, and punishes the supporters
84/12 Sulla returns to Greece from Asia.
84/20 Sulla receives the senate's embassy and sets out his terms for a sett
84/23 Sulla visits hot springs ( ? Aedepsus ) in Euboea in an attempt to
84/24 Sulla sends a painting by Zeuxis and other treasures back to Rome,
84/25 Sulla takes Aristotle's books back to Rome, where they are later acqu
84/26 Sherk1_62b, a letter from Sulla confirming the privileges of the Dio
84/30 tor, deserts Carbo and goes over to Sulla with a large sum of money.
84/36 Lycians, in gratitude for having their freedom restored by Sulla
84/37 Lycians, in gratitude for having their freedom restored by Sulla.
83/1 Atticus meets Sulla at Athens, but refuses to follow him back to Ital
83/3 Sulla crosses over from Greece and arrives at Brundisium.
83/6 Metellus joins Sulla.
83/7 Sulla advances against his opponents, who make further preparations
83/10 Pompeius joins Sulla, who honours him with the title of "imperator".
83/11 Cethegus, Philippus and other senators join Sulla.
83/12 Sulla defeats Norbanus at Canusium.
83/13 Sulla makes a dedication of land and water to Diana on Mount Tifata.
83/22 deserted by his army, after entering into negotiations with Sulla.
83/23 Crassus collects new recruits for Sulla from amongst the Marsi.
83/27 Sulla advances against Norbanus at Capua, but Norbanus avoids him.
83/32 CIL_720, an inscription in honour of Sulla at Suessa.
82/2 Sulla arranges a treaty with the Italian allies.
82/4 Sulla sends Pompeius to join Metellus in northern Italy.
82/10 Sulla defeats Marius at Sacriportus, and forces him to take refuge
82/17 Sulla enters Rome, after handing over command at Praeneste to Q.Ofell
82/18 Further victories of Sulla, at the river Glanis, Saturnia, and Neapol
82/20 L.Philippus wins over Sardinia for Sulla.
82/22 indecisive battle between Sulla and Carbo at Clusium.
82/24 Sulla fortifies the approaches to Praeneste, and stops an attempt by
82/32 mnite army, but is defeated and killed by Sulla at the Colline Gate.
82/33 Sulla orders the massacre of at least 3,000 Samnite prisoners.
82/34 Sulla rewards inhabitants of Spain, Gaul and Sicily, including Aristo
82/35 on the high losses suffered by both sides during Sulla's civil war.
82/37 Sulla assumes the title Felix.
82/38 Sulla institutes circus games to celebrate his victory.
82/39 golden statue is put up of Sulla on horseback.
82/40 ccus passes a law to appoint Sulla dictator and give him autocratic
82/41 candidate for the consulship, but he is killed by order of Sulla.
82/42 Sulla persuades Pompeius to divorce Antistia and marry Aemilia.
81/1 Sulla punishes the inhabitants of Praeneste.
81/2 The triumph of Sulla, over Mithridates, including a parade of the boo
81/3 Sulla publishes proscriptions listing his enemies, who are hunted dow
81/7 Sulla punishes the Italian towns which supported his opponents, inclu
81/8 Sulla founds colonies of his veterans at Aleria, Arretium, Capua, Fae
81/12 M.Piso divorces his wife Annia in order to win favour with Sulla.
81/13 hiding after antagonising Sulla, and avoids capture by bribing Cor
81/14 Crassus and other friends of Sulla enrich themselves by buying up the
81/16 Sulla passes a law imposing sanctions on the children of proscribed
81/17 not to mutiny after they are ordered by Sulla to return to Italy.
81/21 OGIS_441, a decree of Sulla and the Roman senate, renewing a grant
81/27 Sulla sends Gabinius to recall Murena from Asia.
81/29 Sulla digs up the body of Marius and destroys his monuments.
81/30 Sulla formally ends the proscriptions.
81/31 Sulla grants Roman citizenship to the slaves who supported him: they
81/33 Sulla reluctantly agrees to pardon Caesar.
81/35 Cato is restrained from making threats against Sulla.
81/45 rsuades the decurions of Ameria not to seek an interview with Sulla.
81/48 The death of the young son of Sulla and Metella.
81/50 Sulla extends the "pomerium", the city boundary of Rome.
81/51 Sulla enlarges the "curia", the senate-house.
81/52 Sulla curtails the power of the tribunes of the plebs.
81/53 Sulla increases the number of praetors to ten, and the number of quae
81/54 Sulla passes a Lex Annalis, setting a fixed sequence of magistracies.
81/55 Sulla passes the Lex Cornelia de Provinciis, regulating the conduct
81/56 Sulla increases the number of priests and augurs.
81/57 Sulla restores the size of the senate, by creating new senators.
81/58 Sulla passes a Lex Judicaria, to transfer membership of juries from
81/59 Sulla passes a law about the falsification of wills.
81/60 Sulla passes a series of laws, setting up courts to try cases of murd
81/61 Sulla passes a sumptuary law, limiting private expenditure on feasts.
81/62 Sulla passes an agrarian law, confirming the distribution of land to
81/63 efuses to justify his conduct as quaestor, when challenged by Sulla.
81/66 CIL_722, a dedication by the freedmen (Cornelii) to Sulla.
81/68 Sherk1_62a, a letter from Sulla authorising Alexander of Laodiceia,
81/69 Rutilius is invited back by Sulla, but refuses to return from exile.
80/_ Consuls: L. Cornelius L.f. Sulla Felix (II), Q. Caecilius Q.f. Metell
80/1 Sulla's law about Pompeius' return is blocked by C.Herennius.
80/6 Sulla sends Ptolemy XI Alexander to be king of Egypt.
80/11 Sulla marries Valeria, daughter of Messalla.
80/13 cancelled, because the athletes have been summoned to Rome by Sulla.
80/20 Sulla decides not to stand for election as consul for the following
80/23 The harmonious consulship of Sulla and Metellus.
80/25 Sulla starts the restoration of the Capitol.
80/27 firms grants of land made by Sulla to the sanctuary of Amphiaraus at
80/29 Sulla has a mosaic floor installed in the temple of Fortuna at Praene
80/30 Sulla releases some allied states from taxation.
79/3 General comments on Sulla's absolute power and ruthlessness as dictat
79/4 Sulla abdicates from his position as dictator, and retires to priv
79/5 Sulla is allocated the province of Cisalpine Gaul.
79/13 M.Lepidus is elected consul, despite being an opponent of Sulla.
79/15 The sudden death of L.Tuccius, Sulla's doctor.
78/2 Lepidus criticises Sulla's rule in a speech to the people.
78/3 Sulla has a dream in which his death is predicted by his son.
78/4 Sulla settles a dispute at Dicaearchia.
78/4a IL_1.2646, a dedication by Sulla in the name of his sister Corneli
78/5 Stratagems employed by Sulla.
78/6 Sulla shows great trust in L.Lucullus, to whom he dedicates his memoi
78/7 ral comments on the despotic and pleasure-loving character of Sulla.
78/8 The death of Sulla, from the disease called phtheiriasis.
78/9 The funeral of Sulla, whose body is burnt on a pyre.
78/15 Lepidus proposes measures to undo the effect of Sulla's laws.
78/22 The birth of Postuma, a posthumous daughter of Sulla.
75/45 senate to reimpose taxes on states which had been exempted by Sulla.
73/29 Roman people to recover their rights which were taken away by Sulla.
72/57 reclaim the money which Sulla remitted to purchasers of property
72/62 boy, punches Faustus to stop him boasting about his father Sulla.
70/27 the first censors since Sulla's reforms, and Pompeius, though
70/38 Epicadius is a freedman of Sulla, and a favourite of his son Faustu
64/11 and convicted of murders committed during the dictatorship of Sulla.
64/36 Cato, as quaestor, forces Sulla's henchmen to give back the rewards
60/20 presents a lavish gladiatorial show in memory of his father Sulla.
46/34 Some jokes about Faustus, the son of Sulla.
44/32 sayings of Caesar, including a comment on the dictatorship of Sulla.
Sulla 7 (Faustus Cornelius Sulla) - son of the dictator
&rarr Wikipedia entry
87/7 The birth of Faustus and Fausta, twin children of Sulla and Metella.
72/62 ius, as a young boy, punches Faustus to stop him boasting about his
70/38 picadius is a freedman of Sulla, and a favourite of his son Faustus.
60/20 Faustus presents a lavish gladiatorial show in memory of his father
46/34 Some jokes about Faustus, the son of Sulla.
46/35 Faustus, L.Caesar and other leading opponents of Caesar are captured
Joseph:AJ_14.69 in apace and Cornelius Faustus, the son of Sylla, with
Joseph:AJ_14.73 stowed proper rewards on Faustus, and those others that
Joseph:BJ_01.149 get over the wall, was Faustus Cornelius the son of Sull
Joseph:BJ_01.154 ecollatlon but rewarded Faustus, and those with him that
Plut:Mor_205 voured not." & When Faustus the son of Sulla, being
Sulla 9 (P. Cornelius Sulla) - convicted of bribery in the consular elections of 66 B.C.
&rarr Wikipedia entry
66/25 Sulla and Paetus, the consuls elected for the following year, are con
64/20 Sittius, an associate of P.Sulla and Catilina, goes out to Spain.
62/19 Cic:Sull_, Cicero's speech in defence of P.Sulla.
Cic:Fam_15.17 the death of P. Sulla senior some say it was brigands,
Cic:Fam_15.19 virtues. And so Sulla, whose judgment we ought to accep
Schol:Bob_78 ght have appeared that P.Sulla withdrew from everyone's
Schol:Bob_79 after the conviction of Sulla and Autronius, the consuls
Sulla 11 (P. Cornelius Sulla) - son of the consular candidate
Cic:Fam_15.19 once he has cast his eye on Sulla junior. And now to
6.9.1: The Gracchi and the Beginning of Political Violence
It is striking to consider that political violence was minimal in the Roman Republic until 133 BCE. Indeed, if the legends are true, even the expulsion of the kings in 510 BCE was a bloodless event. Starting with 133 BCE, however, the final century of the Roman Republic was defined by political violence and civil wars.
In 133 BCE, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, a scion on his mother&rsquos side of one of the oldest and most respected families in Rome, the Cornelii Scipiones, was one of the ten annually elected plebeian tribunes. Alarmed that the lands acquired through recent Roman conquests had largely been taken over by rich landowners at the expense of poorer Romans, Gracchus proposed a land distribution law, known as the Lex Sempronia Agraria. Gracchus argued that the advantages of such land redistribution would have benefited the state, since land-ownership was a pre-requisite for military service. Aware that the Senate&rsquos Optimates faction opposed his proposal, Gracchus took his law directly to the Plebeian Council, which passed it. This measure resulted in escalating conflict between Gracchus and the rest of the Senate. At a meeting of the Senate, the pontifex maximus, who was Tiberius Gracchus&rsquo own cousin Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica, ultimately argued that Gracchus had attempted to make himself king thus, he had to be stopped. Since weapons were banned inside the Senate building, enraged Senators grabbed whatever was on hand, including chair and table legs, and clubbed Gracchus to death. As the biographer Plutarch states, this was the first instance of civic strife of this kind in ancient Rome.
The death of Tiberius Gracchus also meant the death of his proposed law. Ten years later, however, Gracchus&rsquo proposed reforms gained a second life in the hands of his younger brother, Gaius Gracchus, who was elected plebeian tribune in 123 BCE and served a second term in that office in 122 BCE. Gaius Gracchus&rsquo revived agrarian reform proposal was even more ambitious than his brother&rsquos a decade earlier. Especially controversial was Gaius Gracchus&rsquo proposal of granting full Roman citizenship to Rome&rsquos Italian allies. Finally, in 121 BCE, alarmed at Gaius Gracchus&rsquo popularity with the people, the consul Lucius Opimius proposed a new measure in the Senate: a senatus consultum ultimum, or the final decree of the Senate, which amounted to allowing the consuls to do whatever was necessary to safeguard the state. Realizing that the passing of this law amounted to his death sentence, Gaius Gracchus committed suicide.
The proposed reforms of Gaius Gracchus were overturned after his death, but the legacy of the Gracchi for the remainder of the history of the Roman Republic cannot be underestimated. First, their proposed laws showed the growing conflict between the rich and the poor in the Roman state. Second, the willingness on the part of prominent Senators to resort to violence to resolve matters set a dangerous precedent for the remainder of the Republic and fundamentally changed the nature of Roman politics. Finally, the support that the Gracchi received from the Roman people, as well as the residents of Italian cities who were not full citizens, showed that the causes that the Gracchi adopted were not going to go away permanently after their death. Indeed, Rome&rsquos Italian allies went to war against Rome in 90 &ndash 88 BCE the result of this Social War, after &ldquosocii,&rdquo meaning &ldquoallies,&rdquo was the grant of full Roman citizenship rights to Italians.
How Dictators Work
The office of dictator once had a very different meaning from how we think of it today. It was first created by the Roman Senate in 510 B.C. for emergency purposes, such as taking care of rebellions. During the time of the Republic, Rome was ruled by two consuls, and the Senate decided that in some cases it was necessary to have a single person making decisions. Sometimes, one of the consuls became dictator.
Dictators held authority over all other politicians, couldn't be held legally responsible for their actions and couldn't hold the office for longer than six months (although there were two exceptions to this rule). They could also change Roman law and the constitution, but they couldn't use any public money other than what the Senate gave them, and they couldn't leave Italy. Most dictators left office after they completed their tasks, even if their six months hadn't yet elapsed.
Titus Larcius, had been a consul. He was chosen to put down a rebellion staged by several cities that wanted to reinstate the most recent Roman king, Tarquin II. Titus Larcius was a member of the patrician class, the privileged elite. He worked to improve the lives of the plebeians, the middle- and lower-class Romans.
Dictators were appointed off and on as necessary until 202 B.C. More than 100 years later, Lucius Cornelius Sulla was appointed dictator without a term limit and without the restrictions of previous dictators. He ruled for two years in the office and executed thousands of Roman citizens, many of them political opponents. Sulla also became rich by confiscating property. He was succeeded by Julius Caesar, who was named dictator for life and proceeded to begin a civil war. Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C., and the office of dictator was abolished due to its corruption.
Modern dictators usually come to power during states of emergency, too. Many historians consider Napoleon Bonaparte to be the first modern dictator. Napoleon was a general during the French Revolution, a period of huge social and political upheaval in the country. Beginning in 1789, France evolved from a monarchy to a republic, and then to an empire. In the midst of executions, coups and confusion, Napoleon became a consul under a new provisional government.
Because he was an undefeated military commander, Napoleon enjoyed immense popularity. He created a balanced budget, reformed the government and wrote the Civil Code that still forms the basis of French civil law today. Napoleon then abolished the Senate and continued to reform the constitution. He named himself consul for life, and in 1804, crowned himself emperor. He continued his military pursuits, fighting across Europe.
Napoleon controlled every facet of government and had a network of spies. He also controlled the press, ensuring that his propaganda machine continued. But his reign began to falter when his invasion of Russia was a failure. A coalition of European forces, including armies from Great Britain, Prussia, Spain and Portugal, surrounded France.
Generals in the French Army mutinied and Napoleon was forced to abdicate the throne. After a brief return to power, he was exiled for good in 1815.
So from ancient dictators to modern ones, dictators have several different commonalities. Let's look at what makes a dictator a dictator in the next section.
Course [ edit | edit source ]
With Mithridates defeated and Cinna now dead in a mutiny, Sulla was determined to regain control of Rome. In 83 BC he landed uncontested at Brundisium with three veteran legions. As soon as he had set foot in Italy, the outlawed nobles and old Sullan supporters who had survived the Marian regime flocked to his banner. The most prominent was Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius, who had gathered legions in Africa and, with Marcus Licinius Crassus who had raised troops in Spain, joined Sulla soon after his landing in Italy. The consular Lucius Marcius Philippus also joined Sulla and led a force which secured Sardinia for the Sullan cause. Here is also where the young Gnaeus Pompey first comes into the limelight, the son of Pompeius Strabo, he raised three legions in Picenum and, defeating and outmanoeuvering the Marian forces, made his way to Sulla. With these reinforcements Sulla's army swelled to around 50,000 men, and with his loyal legions he began his second march on Rome.
To check his enemies' unresisted advance, Carbo sent his newly elected puppet Consuls, Gaius Norbanus and Cornelius Scipio Asiaticus, both with armies against Sulla. Eager not to appear a war-hungry invader, Sulla sent deputations to Norbanus offering to negotiate, but these were rejected. Norbanus then moved to block Sulla's advance at Canusium and became the first to engage him in the Battle of Mount Tifata. Here Sulla inflicted a crushing defeat on the Marians, with Norbanus losing six thousand of his men to Sulla's seventy. The beaten Norbanus withdrew with the remnants of his army to Capua and Sulla was stopped in his pursuit by the second Consul, Scipio. But Scipio's men were unwilling to fight and when Sulla approached they deserted en masse to him, further swelling his ranks. The Consul and his son were found cowering in their tents and brought to Sulla, who released them after extracting a promise that they would never again fight against him or rejoin Carbo. However, immediately after their release Scipio broke his promise and went straight to Carbo in Rome. Sulla then defeated Norbanus for a second time, who also escaped back to Rome and had Metellus Pius and all other senators marching with Sulla declared enemies of the state. The new Consuls for the year 82BC were Carbo, for his third term, and Gaius Marius the Younger, who was only twenty-two years old at the time. In the respite from campaigning provided by Winter, the Marians set about replenishing their forces. Quintus Sertorius levied men in Etruria, old veterans of Marius came out of retirement to fight under his son and the Samnites gathered their warriors in support of Carbo, hoping to destroy the man who defeated them in the Social War, Sulla. As the fresh campaigning season opened, Sulla swept along the Via Latina towards the capital and Metellus led Sullan forces into Upper Italy. Carbo threw himself against Metellus whilst the young Marius defended the city of Rome itself. Marius moved to block Sulla's advance at Signia, falling back to the fortress town of Praeneste, in front of which he drew up for battle. The struggle was long and hard fought but in the end the veteran Sullans won the day. With his lines buckling and mass defections of his troops to Sulla, Marius decided to flee. He and many of his men sought refuge in Praeneste but the terrified townspeople shut the gates, Marius himself had to be hoisted in on a rope, while hundreds of Marians trapped between the walls and the Sullans were massacred. Sulla then left his lieutenant Lucretius Ofella besieging Praeneste and moved on the now undefended Rome. Upon his defeat Marius sent word to the praetor Brutus Damasippus in Rome, to kill any remaining Sullan sympathisers left before Sulla can take the city. Damasippus called a meeting of the Senate and there, in the Curia itself the marked men were cut down by assassins. Some, such as Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus were killed on the senate steps as they tried to flee, and the Pontifex Maximus, chief priest of Rome, Quintus Mucius Scaevola was murdered in the Temple of Vesta, and the bodies of the murdered were then thrown into the Tiber.
As Sulla surrounded the city with his troops, the gates were opened by the people and he entered unresisted, taking Rome without a fight, the remaining Marians having fled. The city was his but Sulla did not spend long in Rome before he once again set out with his army. Around the same time Sulla was defeating Marius, Metellus was facing an army led by Carbo's general Gaius Carrinas, which he routed, and Carbo, with his superior force, after hearing of the defeat at Praeneste withdrew to Arminium. Sulla then won another victory at Saturnia, followed by his defeat of Carbo at Clusium. Having taken and looted the town of Sena, Pompey and Crassus then slaughtered 3,000 Marians at Spoletium, before ambushing and destroying a force sent by Carbo to relieve Marius in Praeneste. Meanwhile the Samnite Pontius Telesinus and the Lucanian Marcus Lamponius were hurrying with 70,000 men to also break the siege at Praeneste. This force Sulla blocked at a pass and made their route impossible, he also blocked an attempt by Damasippus with two legions to reach Marius. Metellus then crushed an army led by Norbanus at Faventia and Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus won a victory over Carbo's men at Placentia. Carbo had suffered nothing but defeats and setbacks for the entire war, and now he lost heart. Even though he still had armies in the field he decided to flee the scene. With his staff and some men Carbo fled to Sicily, attempting to carry on resistance there. With their leader gone the remainder of the Marian forces united for one final stand. Damasippus, Carrinas joined their men with the Samnites and Lucanians and marched on Rome. There, at the Battle of the Colline Gate, the last decisive battle of the civil war took place and out of the bitter, long fought struggle Sulla eventually emerged victorious and 50,000 lay dead, amongst them Telesinus the Samnite. Carrinas and Lamponius were brought to Sulla the following day and executed.
Sulla now entered the city victorious. A meeting of the Senate was convened in the Temple of Bellona, as Sulla was addressing the senators the sound of terrified screams drifted in from the Campus Martius. Sulla told the senators not to worry, that some 'criminals are receiving correction.' It was the sound of 8,000 prisoners who had surrendered the previous day being executed on Sulla's orders, none were spared. Soon Sulla had himself declared Dictator, he now held supreme power over Rome. When the starving people of Praeneste despaired and surrendered to Ofella, Marius hid in the tunnels under the town and tried to escape through them but failed and committed suicide. The people of Praeneste were then mostly massacred by Ofella. Carbo was soon discovered and arrested by Pompey, whom Sulla had sent to track the man down. Pompey had the weeping man brought before him in chains and publicly executed him in Lilybaeum, his head then sent to Sulla and displayed along with Marius' and many others in the Forum.
Sulla's Reforms as Dictator - History
Vervaet Frederik Juliaan. The lex Valeria and Sulla’s empowerment as dictator (82-79 BCE). In: Cahiers du Centre Gustave Glotz, 15, 2004. pp. 37-84.
Cahiers Glotz, XV, 2004, p. 37-84 FREDERIK JULIAAN VERVAET
AND SULLA’S EMPOWERMENT AS DICTATOR (82-79 BCE)*
* All years are consular years BCE. The term imperator is used in its broad sense of official
cum imperio suo iure. I wish to warmly thank Professors Fergus Millar (Oxford), David Wardle (Cape Town) and Frédéric Hurlet (Nantes), and Marcia DeVoe, graduate student at UC Berkeley, for their elaborate and useful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Responsibility for all remaining flaws and errors is mine alone. All translations are those of LCL, modified where necessary. To a certain extent, this article may be construed as a complement to Frédéric Hurlet’s La dictature de Sylla: monarchie ou magistrature républicaine? Essai d’histoire constitutionelle,
Brussel-Rome, 1993, the first comprehensive study of the public nature of Sulla’s dictatorship in all its respects, which also gathers a wide variety of valuable source material concerning the Roman dictatorship in general. In recognition of Professor Hurlet’s ongoing and inspiring contributions to the field of Roman political and institutional history, this far more modest contribution to the discussion on Sulla’s dictatorship is dedicated to him. Last but not least, I also wish to commend the members of the comité de lecture of the Cahiers du Centre Gustave-Glotz
for their kind willingness to accept this lengthy and circumstantial study in Roman public law. This study was for the most part carried out while being a grateful recipient of a Francqui Fellowship of the Belgian American Educational Foundation granted for research at UC Berkeley’s most welcoming Department of Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology.
At the end of 82, in the wake of Sulla’s second vengeful march on Rome, the dictatorship was revived on behalf of the dauntless conqueror of Mithridates. The office had now been obsolete for 120 years. This paper attempts to define the precise legal scope of Sulla’s dictatorship, and aims in particular to demonstrate that the empowering lex Valeria set down a number of detailed provisions concerning both Sulla’s past acts and the extraordinary
potestates he was to wield as the holder of an unprecedented kind of dictatorship. It will also demonstrate that, in terms of public law, Sulla’s dictatorship can indeed hardly be compared to the dictatorship as it occasionally appeared until 202. Of course, one should never forget that the exceptional measures allowed to Sulla on the occasion of his final victory over the opposing faction occurred against the unusual background of the first major breakdown of the
Res Publica. During the years 88-82, following immediately upon the exhausting Social War, Rome itself was for the first time in its history thrice shattered