Cinna and Sulla

Ferment in Italy

This state of suspense and uncertainty existing in Italy when Sulla took his departure for Greece in the beginning of 667 has been already described: the half-suppressed insurrection, the principal army under the more than half-usurped command of a general whose politics were very doubtful, the confusion and the manifold activity of intrigue in the capital. The victory of the oligarchy by force of arms had, in spite or because of its moderation, engendered manifold discontent. The capitalists, painfully affected by the blows of the most severe financial crisis which Rome had yet witnessed, were indignant at the government on account of the law which it had issued as to interest, and on account of the Italian and Asiatic wars which it had not prevented. The insurgents, so far as they had laid down their arms, bewailed not only the disappointment of their proud hopes of obtaining equal rights with the ruling burgesses, but also the forfeiture of their venerable treaties, and their new position as subjects utterly destitute of rights. The communities between the Alps and the Po were likewise discontented with the partial concessions made to them, and the new burgesses and freedmen were exasperated by the cancelling of the Sulpician laws. The populace of the city suffered amid the general distress, and found it intolerable that the government of the sabre was no longer disposed to acquiesce in the constitutional rule of the bludgeon. The adherents, resident in the capital, of those outlawed after the Sulpician revolution— adherents who remained very numerous in consequence of the remarkable moderation of Sulla—laboured zealously to procure permission for the outlaws to return home; and in particular some ladies of wealth and distinction spared for this purpose neither trouble nor money. None of these grounds of ill-humour were such as to furnish any immediate prospect of a fresh violent collision between the parties; they were in great part of an aimless and temporary nature; but they all fed the general discontent, and had already been more or less concerned in producing the murder of Rufus, the repeated attempts to assassinate Sulla, the issue of the consular and tribunician elections for 667 partly in favour of the opposition.


The name of the man whom the discontented had summoned to the head of the state, Lucius Cornelius Cinna, had been hitherto scarcely heard of, except so far as he had borne himself well as an officer in the Social war. We have less information regarding the personality and the original designs of Cinna than regarding those of any other party leader in the Roman revolution. The reason is, to all appearance, simply that this man, altogether vulgar and guided by the lowest selfishness, had from the first no ulterior political plans whatever. It was asserted at his very first appearance that he had sold himself for a round sum of money to the new burgesses and the coterie of Marius, and the charge looks very credible; but even were it false, it remains nevertheless significant that a suspicion of the sort, such as was never expressed against Saturninus and Sulpicius, attached to Cinna. In fact the movement, at the head of which he put himself, has altogether the appearance of worthlessness both as to motives and as to aims. It proceeded not so much from a party as from a number of malcontents without proper political aims or notable support, who had mainly undertaken to effect the recall of the exiles by legal or illegal means. Cinna seems to have been admitted into the conspiracy only by an afterthought and merely because the intrigue, which in consequence of the restriction of the tribunician powers needed a consul to bring forward its proposals, saw in him among the consular candidates for 667 its fittest instrument and so pushed him forward as consul. Among the leaders appearing in the second rank of the movement were some abler heads; such was the tribune of the people Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, who had made himself a name by his impetuous popular eloquence, and above all Quintus Sertorius, one of the most talented of Roman officers and a man in every respect excellent, who since his candidature for the tribunate of the people had been a personal enemy to Sulla and had been led by this quarrel into the ranks of the disaffected to which he did not at all by nature belong. The proconsul Strabo, although at variance with the government, was yet far from going along with this faction.

Outbreak of the Cinnan Revolution
Victory of the Government

So long as Sulla was in Italy, the confederates for good reasons remained quiet. But when the dreaded proconsul, yielding not to the exhortations of the consul Cinna but to the urgent state of matters in the east, had embarked, Cinna, supported by the majority of the college of tribunes, immediately submitted the projects of law which had been concerted as a partial reaction against the Sullan restoration of 666. They embraced the political equalization of the new burgesses and the freedmen, as Sulpicius had proposed it, and the restitution of those who had been banished in consequence of the Sulpician revolution to their former status. The new burgesses flocked en masse to the capital, that along with the freedmen they might terrify, and in case of need force, their opponents into compliance. But the government party was determined not to yield, consul stood against consul, Gnaeus Octavius against Lucius Cinna, and tribune against tribune; both sides appeared in great part armed on the day and at the place of voting. The tribunes of the senatorial party interposed their veto; when swords were drawn against them even on the rostra, Octavius employed force against force. His compact bands of armed men not only cleared the Via Sacra and the Forum, but also, disregarding the commands of their more gentle-minded leader, exercised horrible atrocities against the assembled multitude. The Forum swam with blood on this "Octavius' day," as it never did before or afterwards—the number of corpses was estimated at ten thousand. Cinna called on the slaves to purchase freedom for themselves by sharing in the struggle; but his appeal was as unsuccessful as the like appeal of Marius in the previous year, and no course was left to the leaders of the movement but to take flight. The constitution supplied no means of proceeding farther against the chiefs of the conspiracy, so long as their year of office lasted. But a prophet presumably more loyal than pious had announced that the banishment of the consul Cinna and of the six tribunes of the people adhering to him would restore peace and tranquillity to the country; and, in conformity not with the constitution but with this counsel of the gods fortunately laid hold of by the custodiers of oracles, the consul Cinna was by decree of the senate deprived of his office, Lucius Cornelius Merula was chosen in his stead, and outlawry was pronounced against the chiefs who had fled. It seemed as if the whole crisis were about to end in a few additions to the number of the men who were exiles in Numidia.

The Cinnans in Italy
Landing of Marius

Beyond doubt nothing further would have come of the movement, had not the senate on the one hand with its usual remissness omitted to compel the fugitives at least rapidly to quit Italy, and had the latter on the other hand been, as champions of the emancipation of the new burgesses, in a position to renew to some extent in their own favour the revolt of the Italians. Without obstruction they appeared in Tibur, in Praeneste, in all the important communities of new burgesses in Latium and Campania, and asked and obtained everywhere money and men for the furtherance of the common cause. Thus supported, they made their appearance at the army besieging Nola, The armies of this period were democratic and revolutionary in their views, wherever the general did not attach them to himself by the weight of his personal influence; the speeches of the fugitive magistrates, some of whom, especially Cinna and Sertorius, were favourably remembered by the soldiers in connection with the last campaigns, made a deep impression; the unconstitutional deposition of the popular consul and the interference of the senate with the rights of the sovereign people told on the common soldier, and the gold of the consul or rather of the new burgesses made the breach of the constitution clear to the officers. The Campanian army recognized Cinna as consul and swore the oath of fidelity to him man by man; it became a nucleus for the bands that flocked in from the new burgesses and even from the allied communities; a considerable army, though consisting mostly of recruits, soon moved from Campania towards the capital. Other bands approached it from the north. On the invitation of Cinna those who had been banished in the previous year had landed at Telamon on the Etruscan coast. There were not more than some 500 armed men, for the most part slaves of the refugees and enlisted Numidian horsemen; but, as Gaius Marius had in the previous year been willing to fraternize with the rabble of the capital, so he now ordered the -ergastula- in which the landholders of this region shut up their field- labourers during the night to be broken open, and the arms which he offered to these for the purpose of achieving their freedom were not despised. Reinforced by these men and the contingents of the new burgesses, as well as by the exiles who flocked to him with their partisans from all sides, he soon numbered 6000 men under his eagles and was able to man forty ships, which took their station before the mouth of the Tiber and gave chase to the corn-ships sailing towards Rome. With these he placed himself at the disposal of the "consul" Cinna. The leaders of the Campanian army hesitated; the more sagacious, Sertorius in particular, seriously pointed out the danger of too closely connecting themselves with a man whose name would necessarily place him at the head of the movement, and who yet was notoriously incapable of any statesmanlike action and haunted by an insane thirst for revenge; but Cinna disregarded these scruples, and confirmed Marius in the supreme command in Etruria and at sea with proconsular powers.

Dubious Attitude of Strabo
The Cinnans around Rome

Thus the storm gathered around the capital, and the government could no longer delay bringing forward their troops to protect it.(1) But the forces of Metellus were detained by the Italians in Samnium and before Nola; Strabo alone was in a position to hasten to the help of the capital. He appeared and pitched his camp at the Colline gate: with his numerous and experienced army he might doubtless have rapidly and totally annihilated the still weak bands of insurgents; but this seemed to be no part of his design. On the contrary he allowed Rome to be actually invested by the insurgents. Cinna with his corps and that of Carbo took post on the right bank of the Tiber opposite to the Janiculum, Sertorius on the left bank confronting Pompeius over against the Servian wall. Marius with his band which had gradually increased to three legions, and in possession of a number of war-vessels, occupied one place on the coast after another till at length even Ostia fell into his hands through treachery, and, by way of prelude as it were to the approaching reign of terror, was abandoned by the general to the savage band for massacre and pillage. The capital was placed, even by the mere obstruction of traffic, in great danger; by command of the senate the walls and gates were put in a state of defence and the burgess-levy was ordered to the Janiculum. The inaction of Strabo excited among all classes alike surprise and indignation. The suspicion that he was negotiating secretly with Cinna was natural, but was probably without foundation. A serious conflict in which he engaged the band of Sertorius, and the support which he gave to the consul Octavius when Marius had by an understanding with one of the officers of the garrison penetrated into the Janiculum, and by which in fact the insurgents were successfully beaten off again with much loss, showed that he was far from intending to unite with, or rather to place himself under, the leaders of the insurgents. It seems rather to have been his design to sell his assistance in subduing the insurrection to the alarmed government and citizens of the capital at the price of the consulship for the next year, and thereby to get the reins of government into his own hands.

Negotiations of Parties with the Italians
Death of Strabo

The senate was not, however, inclined to throw itself into the arms of one usurper in order to escape from another, and sought help elsewhere. The franchise was by decree of the senate supplementarily conferred on all the Italian communities involved in the Social war, which had laid down their arms and had in consequence thereof forfeited their old alliance.(2) It seemed as it were their intention officially to demonstrate that Rome in the war against the Italians had staked her existence for the sake not of a great object but of her own vanity: in the first momentary embarrassment, for the purpose of bringing into the field an additional thousand or two of soldiers, she sacrificed everything which had been gained at so terribly dear a cost in the Social war. In fact, troops arrived from the communities who were benefited by this concession; but instead of the many legions promised, their contingent on the whole amounted to not more than, at most, ten thousand men. It would have been of more moment that an agreement should be come to with the Samnites and Nolans, so that the troops of the thoroughly trustworthy Metellus might be employed for the protection of the capital. But the Samnites made demands which recalled the yoke of Caudium—restitution of the spoil taken from the Samnites and of their prisoners and deserters, renunciation of the booty wrested by the Samnites from the Romans, the bestowal of the franchise on the Samnites themselves as well as on the Romans who had passed over to them. The senate rejected even in this emergency terms of peace so disgraceful, but instructed Metellus to leave behind a small division and to lead in person all the troops that could at all be dispensed with in southern Italy as quickly as possible to Rome. He obeyed. But the consequence was, that the Samnites attacked and defeated Plautius the legate left behind by Metellus and his weak band; that the garrison of Nola marched out and set on fire the neighbouring town of Abella in alliance with Rome; that Cinna and Marius, moreover, granted to the Samnites everything they asked—what mattered Roman honour to them!—and a Samnite contingent reinforced the ranks of the insurgents. It was a severe loss also, when after a combat unfavourable to the troops of the government Ariminum was occupied by the insurgents and thus the important communication between Rome and the valley of the Po, whence men and supplies were expected, was interrupted. Scarcity and famine set in. The large populous city numerously garrisoned with troops was but inadequately supplied with provisions; and Marius in particular took care to cut off its supplies more and more. He had already blocked up the Tiber by a bridge of ships; now by the capture of Antium, Lanuvium, Aricia, and other townships he gained control over the means of land communication still open, and at the same time appeased temporarily his revenge by causing all the citizens, wherever resistance was offered, to be put to the sword with the exception of those who had possibly betrayed to him the town. Contagious diseases followed on the distress and committed dreadful ravages among the masses of soldiers densely crowded round the capital; of Strabo's veteran army 11,000, and of the troops of Octavius 6000 are said to have fallen victims to them. Yet the government did not despair; and the sudden death of Strabo was a fortunate event for it. He died of the pestilence;(3) the masses, exasperated on many grounds against him, tore his corpse from the bier and dragged it through the streets. The remnant of his troops was incorporated by the consul Octavius with his army.

Vacillation of the Government
Rome Capitulates

After the arrival of Metellus and the decease of Strabo the army of the government was again at least a match for its antagonists, and was able to array itself for battle against the insurgents at the Alban Mount. But the minds of the soldiers of the government were deeply agitated; when Cinna appeared in front of them, they received him with acclamation as if he were still their general and consul; Metellus deemed it advisable not to allow the battle to come on, but to lead back the troops to their camp. The Optimates themselves wavered, and fell at variance with each other. While one party, with the honourable but stubborn and shortsighted consul Octavius at their head, perseveringly opposed all concession, Metellus more experienced in war and more judicious attempted to bring about a compromise; but his conference with Cinna excited the wrath of the extreme men on both sides: Cinna was called by Marius a weakling, Metellus was called by Octavius a traitor. The soldiers, unsettled otherwise and not without cause distrusting the leadership of the untried Octavius, suggested to Metellus that he should assume the chief command, and, when he refused, began in crowds to throw away their arms or even to desert to the enemy. The temper of the burgesses became daily more depressed and troublesome. On the proclamation of the heralds of Cinna guaranteeing freedom to the slaves who should desert, these flocked in troops from the capital to the enemy's camp. But the proposal that the senate should guarantee freedom to the slaves willing to enter the army was decidedly resisted by Octavius. The government could not conceal from itself that it was defeated, and that nothing remained but to come to terms if possible with the leaders of the band, as the overpowered traveller comes to terms with the captain of banditti. Envoys went to Cinna; but, while they foolishly made difficulties as to recognizing him as consul, and Cinna in the interval thus prolonged transferred his camp close to the city-gates, the desertion spread to so great an extent that it was no longer possible to settle any terms. The senate submitted itself unconditionally to the outlawed consul, adding only a request that he would refrain from bloodshed, Cinna promised this, but refused to ratify his promise by an oath; Marius, who kept by his side during the negotiations, maintained a sullen silence.

Marian Reign of Terror

The gates of the capital were opened. The consul marched in with his legions; but Marius, scoffingly recalling the law of outlawry, refused to set foot in the city until the law allowed him to do so and the burgesses hastily assembled in the Forum to pass the annulling decree. He then entered, and with him the reign of terror. It was determined not to select individual victims, but to have all the notable men of the Optimate party put to death and to confiscate their property. The gates were closed; for five days and five nights the slaughter continued without interruption; even afterwards the execution of individuals who had escaped or been overlooked was of daily occurrence, and for months the bloody persecution went on throughout Italy. The consul Gnaeus Octavius was the first victim. True to his often-expressed principle, that he would rather suffer death than make the smallest concession to men acting illegally, he refused even now to take flight, and in his consular robes awaited at the Janiculum the assassin, who was not slow to appear. Among the slain were Lucius Caesar (consul in 664) the celebrated victor of Acerrae;(4) his brother Gaius, whose unseasonable ambition had provoked the Sulpician tumult,(5) well known as an orator and poet and as an amiable companion; Marcus Antonius (consul in 655), after the death of Lucius Crassus beyond dispute the first pleader of his time; Publius Crassus (consul in 657) who had commanded with distinction in the Spanish and in the Social wars and also during the siege of Rome; and a multitude of the most considerable men of the government party, among whom the wealthy were traced out with especial zeal by the greedy executioners. Peculiarly sad seemed the death of Lucius Merula, who very much against his own wish had become Cinna's successor, and who now, when criminally impeached on that account and cited before the comitia, in order to anticipate the inevitable condemnation opened his veins, and at the altar of the Supreme Jupiter whose priest he was, after laying aside the priestly headband as the religious duty of the dying Flamen required, breathed his last; and still more the death of Quintus Catulus (consul in 652), once in better days the associate of the most glorious victory and triumph of that same Marius who now had no other answer for the suppliant relatives of his aged colleague than the monosyllabic order, "He must die."

The Last Days of Marius

The originator of all these outrages was Gaius Marius. He designated the victims and the executioners—only in exceptional cases, as in those of Merula and Catulus, was any form of law observed; not unfrequently a glance or the silence with which he received those who saluted him formed the sentence of death, which was always executed at once. His revenge was not satisfied even with the death of his victim; he forbade the burial of the dead bodies: he gave orders—anticipated, it is true, in this respect by Sulla—that the heads of the senators slain should be fixed to the rostra in the Forum; he ordered particular corpses to be dragged through the Forum, and that of Gaius Caesar to be stabbed afresh at the tomb of Quintus Varius, whom Caesar presumably had once impeached;(6) he publicly embraced the man who delivered to him as he sat at table the head of Antonius, whom he had been with difficulty restrained from seeking out in his hiding-place, an slaying with his own hand. His legions of slaves, and in particular a division of Ardyaeans,(7) chiefly served as his executioners, and did not neglect, amidst these Saturnalia of their new freedom, to plunder the houses of their former masters and to dishonour and murder all whom they met with there. His own associates were in despair at this insane fury; Sertorius adjured the consul to put a stop to it at any price, and even Cinna was alarmed. But in times such as these were, madness itself becomes a power; man hurls himself into the abyss, to save himself from giddiness. It was not easy to restrain the furious old man and his band, and least of all had Cinna the courage to do so; on the contrary, he chose Marius as his colleague in the consulship for the next year. The reign of terror alarmed the more moderate of the victors not much less than the defeated party; the capitalists alone were not displeased to see that another hand lent itself to the work of thoroughly humbling for once the haughty oligarchs, and that at the same time, in consequence of the extensive confiscations and auctions, the best part of the spoil came to themselves—in these times of terror they acquired from the people the surname of the "hoarders."

Death of Marius

Fate had thus granted to the author of this reign of terror, the old Gaius Marius, his two chief wishes. He had taken vengeance on the whole genteel pack that had embittered his victories and envenomed his defeats; he had been enabled to retaliate for every sarcasm by a stroke of the dagger. Moreover he entered on the new year once more as consul; the vision of a seventh consulate, which the oracle had promised him, and which he had sought for thirteen years to grasp, had now been realized. The gods had granted to him what he wished; but now too, as in the old legendary period, they practised the fatal irony of destroying man by the fulfilment of his wishes. In his early consulates the pride, in his sixth the laughing-stock, of his fellow-citizens, he was now in his seventh loaded with the execration of all parties, with the hatred of the whole nation; he, the originally upright, capable, gallant man, was branded as the crackbrained chief of a reckless band of robbers. He himself seemed to feel it. His days were passed as in delirium, and by night his couch denied him rest, so that he grasped the wine-cup in order merely to drown thought. A burning fever seized him; after being stretched for seven days on a sick bed, in the wild fancies of which he was fighting on the fields of Asia Minor the battles of which the laurels were destined for Sulla, he expired on the 13th Jan. 668. He died, more than seventy years old, in full possession of what he called power and honour, and in his bed; but Nemesis assumes various shapes, and does not always expiate blood with blood. Was there no sort of retaliation in the fact, that Rome and Italy now breathed more freely on the news of the death of the famous saviour of the people than at the tidings of the battle on the Raudine plain?

Even after his death individual incidents no doubt occurred, which recalled that time of terror; Gaius Fimbria, for instance, who more than any other during the Marian butcheries had dipped his hand in blood, made an attempt at the very funeral of Marius to kill the universally revered -pontifex maximus- Quintus Scaevola (consul in 659) who had been spared even by Marius, and then, when Scaevola recovered from the wound he had received, indicted him criminally on account of the offence, as Fimbria jestingly expressed it, of having not been willing to let himself be murdered. But the orgies of murder at any rate were over. Sertorius called together the Marian bandits, under pretext of giving them their pay, surrounded them with his trusty Celtic troops, and caused them to be cut down en masse to the number, according to the lowest estimate, of 4000.

Government of Cinna

Along with the reign of terror came the -tyrannis-. Cinna not only stood at the head of the state for four years in succession (667-670) as consul, but he regularly nominated himself and his colleagues without consulting the people; it seemed as if these democrats set aside the sovereign popular assembly with intentional contempt. No other chief of the popular party, before or afterwards, possessed so perfectly absolute a power in Italy and in the greater part of the provinces for so long a time almost undisturbed, as Cinna; but no one can be named, whose government was so utterly worthless and aimless. The law proposed by Sulpicius and thereafter by Cinna himself, which promised to the new burgesses and the freedmen equality of suffrage with the old burgesses, was naturally revived; and it was formally confirmed by a decree of the senate as valid in law (670). Censors were nominated (668) for the purpose of distributing all the Italians, in accordance with it, into the thirty-five burgess-districts—by a singular conjuncture, in consequence of a want of qualified candidates for the censorship the same Philippus, who when consul in 663 had chiefly occasioned the miscarriage of the plan of Drusus for bestowing the franchise on the Italians,(8) was now selected as censor to inscribe them in the burgess-rolls. The reactionary institutions established by Sulla in 666 were of course overthrown. Some steps were taken to please the proletariate—for instance, the restrictions on the distribution of grain introduced some years ago,(9) were probably now once more removed; the design of Gaius Gracchus to found a colony at Capua was in reality carried out in the spring of 671 on the proposal of the tribune of the people, Marcus Junius Brutus; Lucius Valerius Flaccus the younger introduced a law as to debt, which reduced every private claim to the fourth part of its nominal amount and cancelled three fourths in favour of the debtors. But these measures, the only positive ones during the whole Cinnan government, were without exception the dictates of the moment; they were based—and this is perhaps the most shocking feature in this whole catastrophe—not on a plan possibly erroneous, but on no political plan at all. The populace were caressed, and at the same time offended in a very unnecessary way by a meaningless disregard of the constitutional arrangements for election. The capitalist party might have furnished a support, but it was injured in the most sensitive point by the law as to debt. The true mainstay of the government was—wholly without any cooperation on its part—the new burgesses; their assistance was acquiesced in, but nothing was done to regulate the strange position of the Samnites, who were now nominally Roman citizens, but evidently regarded their country's independence as practically the real object and prize of the struggle and remained in arms to defend it against all and sundry. Illustrious senators were struck down like mad dogs; but not the smallest step was taken to reorganize the senate in the interest of the government, or even permanently to terrify it; so that the government was by no means sure of its aid. Gaius Gracchus had not understood the fall of the oligarchy as implying that the new master might conduct himself on his self-created throne, as legitimate cipher-kings think proper to do. But this Cinna had been elevated to power not by his will, but by pure accident; was there any wonder that he remained where the storm-wave of revolution had washed him up, till a second wave came to sweep him away again?

Cinna and Sulla
Italy and the Provinces in Favour of the Government

The same union of the mightiest plenitude of power with the most utter impotence and incapacity in those who held it, was apparent in the warfare waged by the revolutionary government against the oligarchy—a warfare on which withal its existence primarily depended. In Italy it ruled with absolute sway. Of the old burgesses a very large portion were on principle favourable to democratic views; and the still greater mass of quiet people, while disapproving the Marian horrors, saw in an oligarchic restoration simply the commencement of a second reign of terror by the opposite party. The impression of the outrages of 667 on the nation at large had been comparatively slight, as they had chiefly affected the mere aristocracy of the capital; and it was moreover somewhat effaced by the three years of tolerably peaceful government that ensued. Lastly the whole mass of the new burgesses—three-fifths perhaps of the Italians—were decidedly, if not favourable to the present government, yet opposed to the oligarchy.

Like Italy, most of the provinces adhered to the oligarchy— Sicily, Sardinia, the two Gauls, the two Spains. In Africa Quintus Metellus, who had fortunately escaped the murderers, made an attempt to hold that province for the Optimates; Marcus Crassus, the youngest son of the Publius Crassus who had perished in the Marian massacre, resorted to him from Spain, and reinforced him by a band which he had collected there. But on their quarrelling with each other they were obliged to yield to Gaius Fabius Hadrianus, the governor appointed by the revolutionary government. Asia was in the hands of Mithradates; consequently the province of Macedonia, so far as it was in the power of Sulla, remained the only asylum of the exiled oligarchy. Sulla's wife and children who had with difficulty escaped death, and not a few senators who had made their escape, sought refuge there, so that a sort of senate was soon formed at his head-quarters.

Measures against Sulla

The government did not fail to issue decrees against the oligarchic proconsul. Sulla was deprived by the comitia of his command and of his other honours and dignities and outlawed, as was also the case with Metellus, Appius Claudius, and other refugees of note; his house in Rome was razed, his country estates were laid waste. But such proceedings did not settle the matter. Had Gaius Marius lived longer, he would doubtless have marched in person against Sulla to those fields whither the fevered visions of his death-bed drew him; the measures which the government took after his death have been stated already. Lucius Valerius Flaccus the younger,(10) who after Marius' death was invested with the consulship and the command in the east (668), was neither soldier nor officer; Gaius Fimbria who accompanied him was not without ability, but insubordinate; the army assigned to them was even in numbers three times weaker than the army of Sulla. Tidings successively arrived, that Flaccus, in order not to be crushed by Sulla, had marched past him onward to Asia (668); that Fimbria had set him aside and installed himself in his room (beg. of 669); that Sulla had concluded peace with Mithradates (669-670). Hitherto Sulla had been silent so far as the authorities ruling in the capital were concerned. Now a letter from him reached the senate, in which he reported the termination of the war and announced his return to Italy; he stated that he would respect the rights conferred on the new burgesses, and that, while penal measures were inevitable, they would light not on the masses, but on the authors of the mischief. This announcement frightened Cinna out of his inaction: while he had hitherto taken no step against Sulla except the placing some men under arms and collecting a number of vessels in the Adriatic, he now resolved to cross in all haste to Greece.

Attempts at a Compromise
Death of Cinna
Carbo and the New Burgesses Arm against Sulla

On the other hand Sulla's letter, which in the circumstances might be called extremely moderate, awakened in the middle-party hopes of a peaceful adjustment. The majority of the senate resolved, on the proposal of the elder Flaccus, to set on foot an attempt at reconciliation, and with that view to summon Sulla to come under the guarantee of a safe-conduct to Italy, and to suggest to the consuls Cinna and Carbo that they should suspend their preparations till the arrival of Sulla's answer. Sulla did not absolutely reject the proposals. Of course he did not come in person, but he sent a message that he asked nothing but the restoration of the banished to their former status and the judicial punishment of the crimes that had been perpetrated, and moreover that he did not desire security to be provided for himself, but proposed to bring it to those who were at home. His envoys found the state of things in Italy essentially altered. Cinna had, without concerning himself further about that decree of the senate, immediately after the termination of its sitting proceeded to the army and urged it embarkation. The summons to trust themselves to the sea at that unfavourable season of the year provoked among the already dissatisfied troops in the head-quarters at Ancona a mutiny, to which Cinna fell a victim (beg. of 670); whereupon his colleague Carbo found himself compelled to bring back the divisions that had already crossed and, abandoning the idea of taking up the war in Greece, to enter into winter-quarters in Ariminum. But Sulla's offers met no better reception on that account; the senate rejected his proposals without even allowing the envoys to enter Rome, and enjoined him summarily to lay down arms. It was not the coterie of the Marians which primarily brought about this resolute attitude. That faction was obliged to abandon its hitherto usurped occupation of the supreme magistracy at the very time when it was of moment, and again to institute consular elections for the decisive year 671. The suffrages on this occasion were united not in favour of the former consul Carbo or of any of the able officers of the hitherto ruling clique, such as Quintus Sertorius or Gaius Marius the younger, but in favour of Lucius Scipio and Gaius Norbanus, two incapables, neither of whom knew how to fight and Scipio not even how to speak; the former of these recommended himself to the multitude only as the great-grandson of the conqueror of Antiochus, and the latter as a political opponent of the oligarchy.(11) The Marians were not so much abhorred for their misdeeds as despised for their incapacity; but if the nation would have nothing to do with these, the great majority of it would have still less to do with Sulla and an oligarchic restoration. Earnest measures of self-defence were contemplated. While Sulla crossed to Asia and induced such defection in the army of Fimbria that its leader fell by his own hand, the government in Italy employed the further interval of a year granted to it by these steps of Sulla in energetic preparations; it is said that at Sulla's landing 100,000 men, and afterwards even double that number of troops, were arrayed in arms against him.

Difficult Position of Sulla

Against this Italian force Sulla had nothing to place in the scale except his five legions, which, even including some contingents levied in Macedonia and the Peloponnesus, probably amounted to scarce 40,000 men. It is true that this army had been, during its seven years' conflicts in Italy, Greece, and Asia, weaned from politics, and adhered to its general—who pardoned everything in his soldiers, debauchery, brutality, even mutiny against their officers, required nothing but valour and fidelity towards their general, and set before them the prospect of the most extravagant rewards in the event of victory—with all that soldierly enthusiasm, which is the more powerful that the noblest and the meanest passions often combine to produce it in the same breast. The soldiers of Sulla voluntarily according to the Roman custom swore mutual oaths that they would stand firmly by each other, and each voluntarily brought to the general his savings as a contribution to the costs of the war. But considerable as was the weight of this solid and select body of troops in comparison with the masses of the enemy, Sulla saw very well that Italy could not be subdued with five legions if it remained united in resolute resistance. To settle accounts with the popular party and their incapable autocrats would not have been difficult; but he saw opposed to him and united with that party the whole mass of those who desired no oligarchic restoration with its terrors, and above all the whole body of new burgesses—both those who had been withheld by the Julian law from taking part in the insurrection, and those whose revolt a few years before had brought Rome to the brink of ruin.

His Moderation

Sulla fully surveyed the situation of affairs, and was far removed from the blind exasperation and the obstinate rigour which characterized the majority of his party. While the edifice of the state was in flames, while his friends were being murdered, his houses destroyed, his family driven into exile, he had remained undisturbed at his post till the public foe was conquered and the Roman frontier was secured. He now treated Italian affairs in the same spirit of patriotic and judicious moderation, and did whatever he could to pacify the moderate party and the new burgesses, and to prevent the civil war from assuming the far more dangerous form of a fresh war between the Old Romans and the Italian allies. The first letter which Sulla addressed to the senate had asked nothing but what was right and just, and had expressly disclaimed a reign of terror. In harmony with its terms, he now presented the prospect of unconditional pardon to all those who should even now break off from the revolutionary government, and caused his soldiers man by man to swear that they would meet the Italians thoroughly as friends and fellow-citizens. The most binding declarations secured to the new burgesses the political rights which they had acquired; so that Carbo, for that reason, wished hostages to be furnished to him by every civic community in Italy, but the proposal broke down under general indignation and under the opposition of the senate. The chief difficulty in the position of Sulla really consisted in the fact, that in consequence of the faithlessness and perfidy which prevailed the new burgesses had every reason, if not to suspect his personal designs, to doubt at any rate whether he would be able to induce his party to keep their word after the victory.

Sulla Lands in Italy
And Is Reinforced by Partisans and Deserters

In the spring of 671 Sulla landed with his legions in the port of Brundisium. The senate, on receiving the news, declared the commonwealth in danger, and committed to the consuls unlimited powers; but these incapable leaders had not looked before them, and were surprised by a landing which had nevertheless been foreseen for years. The army was still at Ariminum, the ports were not garrisoned, and—what is almost incredible—there was not a man under arms at all along the whole south-eastern coast. The consequences were soon apparent Brundisium itself, a considerable community of new burgesses, at once opened its gates without resistance to the oligarchic general, and all Messapia and Apulia followed its example. The army marched through these regions as through a friendly country, and mindful of its oath uniformly maintained the strictest discipline. From all sides the scattered remnant of the Optimate party flocked to the camp of Sulla. Quintus Metellus came from the mountain ravines of Liguria, whither he had made his escape from Africa, and resumed, as colleague of Sulla, the proconsular command committed to him in 667,(12) and withdrawn from him by the revolution. Marcus Crassus in like manner appeared from Africa with a small band of armed men. Most of the Optimates, indeed, came as emigrants of quality with great pretensions and small desire for fighting, so that they had to listen to bitter language from Sulla himself regarding the noble lords who wished to have themselves preserved for the good of the state and could not even be brought to arm their slaves. It was of more importance, that deserters already made their appearance from the democratic camp—for instance, the refined and respected Lucius Philippus, who was, along with one or two notoriously incapable persons, the only consular that had come to terms with the revolutionary government and accepted offices under it He met with the most gracious reception from Sulla, and obtained the honourable and easy charge of occupying for him the province of Sardinia. Quintus Lucretius Ofella and other serviceable officers were likewise received and at once employed; even Publius Cethegus, one of the senators banished after the Sulpician -emeute- by Sulla, obtained pardon and a position in the army.


Still more important than these individual accessions was the gain of the district of Picenum, which was substantially due to the son of Strabo, the young Gnaeus Pompeius. The latter, like his father originally no adherent of the oligarchy, had acknowledged the revolutionary government and even taken service in Cinna's army; but in his case the fact was not forgotten, that his father had borne arms against the revolution; he found himself assailed in various forms and even threatened with the loss of his very considerable wealth by an indictment charging him to give up the booty which was, or was alleged to have been, embezzled by his father after the capture of Asculum. The protection of the consul Carbo, who was personally attached to him, still more than the eloquence of the consular Lucius Philippus and of the young Quintus Hortensius, averted from him financial ruin; but the dissatisfaction remained. On the news of Sulla's landing he went to Picenum, where he had extensive possessions and the best municipal connections derived from his father and the Social war, and set up the standard of the Optimate party in Auximum (Osimo). The district, which was mostly inhabited by old burgesses, joined him; the young men, many of whom had served with him under his father, readily ranged themselves under the courageous leader who, not yet twenty-three years of age, was as much soldier as general, sprang to the front of his cavalry in combat, and vigorously assailed the enemy along with them. The corps of Picenian volunteers soon grew to three legions; divisions under Cloelius, Gaius Carrinas, Lucius Junius Brutus Damasippus,(13) were despatched from the capital to put down the Picenian insurrection, but the extemporized general, dexterously taking advantage of the dissensions that arose among them, had the skill to evade them or to beat them in detail and to effect his junction with the main army of Sulla, apparently in Apulia. Sulla saluted him as -imperator-, that is, as an officer commanding in his own name and not subordinate but co-ordinate, and distinguished the youth by marks of honour such as he showed to none of his noble clients—presumably not without the collateral design of thereby administering an indirect rebuke to the lack of energetic character among his own partisans.

Sulla in Campania Opposed by Norbanus and Scipio
Sulla Gains a Victory over Norbanus at Mount Tifata
Defection of Scipio's Army

Reinforced thus considerably both in a moral and material point of view, Sulla and Metellus marched from Apulia through the still insurgent Samnite districts towards Campania. The main force of the enemy also proceeded thither, and it seemed as if the matter could not but there be brought to a decision. The army of the consul Gaius Norbanus was already at Capua, where the new colony had just established itself with all democratic pomp; the second consular army was likewise advancing along the Appian road. But, before it arrived, Sulla was in front of Norbanus. A last attempt at mediation, which Sulla made, led only to the arrest of his envoys. With fresh indignation his veteran troops threw themselves on the enemy; their vehement charge down from Mount Tifata at the first onset broke the enemy drawn up in the plain; with the remnant of his force Norbanus threw himself into the revolutionary colony of Capua and the new-burgess town of Neapolis, and allowed himself to be blockaded there. Sulla's troops, hitherto not without apprehension as they compared their weak numbers with the masses of the enemy, had by this victory gained a full conviction of their military superiority, instead of pausing to besiege the remains of the defeated army, Sulla left the towns where they took shelter to be invested, and advanced along the Appian highway against Teanum, where Scipio was posted. To him also, before beginning battle, he made fresh proposals for peace; apparently in good earnest. Scipio, weak as he was, entered into them; an armistice was concluded; between Cales and Teanum the two generals, both members of the same noble -gens-, both men of culture and refinement and for many years colleagues in the senate, met in personal conference; they entered upon the several questions; they had already made such progress, that Scipio despatched a messenger to Capua to procure the opinion of his colleague. Meanwhile the soldiers of the two camps mingled; the Sullans, copiously furnished with money by their general, had no great difficulty in persuading the recruits—not too eager for warfare—over their cups that it was better to have them as comrades than as foes; in vain Sertorius warned the general to put a stop to this dangerous intercourse. The agreement, which had seemed so near, was not effected; it was Scipio who denounced the armistice. But Sulla maintained that it was too late and that the agreement had been already concluded; whereupon Scipio's soldiers, under the pretext that their general had wrongfully denounced the armistice, passed over en masse to the ranks of the enemy. The scene closed with an universal embracing, at which the commanding officers of the revolutionary army had to look on. Sulla gave orders that the consul should be summoned to resign his office—which he did—and should along with his staff be escorted by his cavalry to whatever point they desired; but Scipio was hardly set at liberty when he resumed the insignia of his dignity and began afresh to collect troops, without however executing anything further of moment. Sulla and Metellus took up winter-quarters in Campania and, after the failure of a second attempt to come to terms with Norbanus, maintained the blockade of Capua during the winter.

Preparations on Either Side

The results of the first campaign in favour of Sulla were the submission of Apulia, Picenum, and Campania, the dissolution of the one, and the vanquishing and blockading of the other, consular army. The Italian communities, compelled severally to choose between their twofold oppressors, already in numerous instances entered into negotiations with him, and caused the political rights, which had been won from the opposition party, to be guaranteed to them by formal separate treaties on the part of the general of the oligarchy. Sulla cherished the distinct expectation, and intentionally made boast of it, that he would overthrow the revolutionary government in the next campaign and again march into Rome.

But despair seemed to furnish the revolution with fresh energies. The consulship was committed to two of its most decided leaders, to Carbo for the third time and to Gaius Marius the younger; the circumstance that the latter, who was just twenty years of age, could not legally be invested with the consulship, was as little heeded as any other point of the constitution. Quintus Sertorius, who in this and other matters proved an inconvenient critic, was ordered to proceed to Etruria with a view to procure new levies, and thence to his province Hither Spain. To replenish the treasury, the senate was obliged to decree the melting down of the gold and silver vessels of the temples in the capital; how considerable the produce was, is clear from the fact that after several months' warfare there was still on hand nearly 600,000 pounds (14,000 pounds of gold and 6000 pounds of silver). In the considerable portion of Italy, which still voluntarily or under compulsion adhered to the revolution, warlike preparations were prosecuted with vigour. Newly-formed divisions of some strength came from Etruria, where the communities of new burgesses were very numerous, and from the region of the Po. The veterans of Marius in great numbers ranged themselves under the standards at the call of his son. But nowhere were preparations made for the struggle against Sulla with such eagerness as in the insurgent Samnium and some districts of Lucania. It was owing to anything but devotion towards the revolutionary Roman government, that numerous contingents from the Oscan districts reinforced their armies; but it was well understood there that an oligarchy restored by Sulla would not acquiesce, like the lax Cinnan government, in the independence of these lands as now de facto subsisting; and therefore the primitive rivalry between the Sabellians and the Latins was roused afresh in the struggle against Sulla. For Samnium and Latium this war was as much a national struggle as the wars of the fifth century; they strove not for a greater or less amount of political rights, but for the purpose of appeasing long-suppressed hate by the annihilation of their antagonist. It was no wonder, therefore, that the war in this region bore a character altogether different from the conflicts elsewhere, that no compromise was attempted there, that no quarter was given or taken, and that the pursuit was continued to the very uttermost.

Thus the campaign of 672 was begun on both sides with augmented military resources and increased animosity. The revolution in particular threw away the scabbard: at the suggestion of Carbo the Roman comitia outlawed all the senators that should be found in Sulla's camp. Sulla was silent; he probably thought that they were pronouncing sentence beforehand on themselves.

Sulla Proceeds to Latium to Oppose the Younger Marius
His Victory at Sacriportus
Democratic Massacres in Rome

The army of the Optimates was divided. The proconsul Metellus undertook, resting on the support of the Picenian insurrection, to advance to Upper Italy, while Sulla marched from Campania straight against the capital. Carbo threw himself in the way of the former; Marius would encounter the main army of the enemy in Latium. Advancing along the Via Latina, Sulla fell in with the enemy not far from Signia; they retired before him as far as the so-called "Port of Sacer," between Signia and the chief stronghold of the Marians, the strong Praeneste. There Marius drew up his force for battle. His army was about 40,000 strong, and he was in savage fury and personal bravery the true son of his father; but his troops were not the well trained bands with which the latter had fought his battles, and still less might this inexperienced young man bear comparison with the old master of war. His troops soon gave way; the defection of a division even during the battle accelerated the defeat. More than the half of the Marians were dead or prisoners; the remnant, unable either to keep the field or to gain the other bank of the Tiber, was compelled to seek protection in the neighbouring fortresses; the capital, which they had neglected to provision, was irrecoverably lost. In consequence of this Marius gave orders to Lucius Brutus Damasippus, the praetor commanding there, to evacuate it, but before doing so to put to death all the esteemed men, hitherto spared, of the opposite party. This injunction, by which the son even outdid the proscriptions of his father, was carried into effect; Damasippus made a pretext for convoking the senate, and the marked men were struck down partly in the sitting itself, partly on their flight from the senate-house. Notwithstanding the thorough clearance previously effected, there were still found several victims of note. Such were the former aedile Publius Antistius, the father-in-law of Gnaeus Pompeius, and the former praetor Gaius Carbo, son of the well-known friend and subsequent opponent of the Gracchi,(14) since the death of so many men of more distinguished talent the two best orators in the judicial courts of the desolated Forum; the consular Lucius Domitius, and above all the venerable -pontifex maximus- Quintus Scaevola, who had escaped the dagger of Fimbria only to bleed to death during these last throes of the revolution in the vestibule of the temple of Vesta entrusted to his guardianship. With speechlesshorror the multitude saw the corpses of these last victims of the reign of terror dragged through the streets, and thrown into the river.

Siege of Praeneste
Occupation of Rome

The broken bands of Marius threw themselves into the neighbouring and strong cities of new burgesses Norba and Praeneste: Marius in person with the treasure and the greater part of the fugitives entered the latter. Sulla left an able officer, Quintus Ofella, before Praeneste just as he had done in the previous year before Capua, with instructions not to expend his strength in the siege of the strong town, but to enclose it with an extended line of blockade and starve it into surrender. He himself advanced from different sides upon the capital, which as well as the whole surrounding district he found abandoned by the enemy, and occupied without resistance. He barely took time to compose the minds of the people by an address and to make the most necessary arrangements, and immediately passed on to Etruria, that in concert with Metellus he might dislodge his antagonists from Northern Italy.

Metellus against Carbo in Northern Italy
Carbo Assailed on Three Sides of Etruria

Metellus had meanwhile encountered and defeated Carbo's lieutenant Carrinas at the river Aesis (Esino between Ancona and Sinigaglia), which separated the district of Picenum from the Gallic province; when Carbo in person came up with his superior army, Metellus had been obliged to abstain from any farther advance. But on the news of the battle at Sacriportus, Carbo, anxious about his communications, had retreated to the Flaminian road, with a view to take up his headquarters at the meeting-point of Ariminum, and from that point to hold the passes of the Apennines on the one hand and the valley of the Po on the other. In this retrograde movement different divisions fell into the hands of the enemy, and not only so, but Sena Gallica was stormed and Carbo's rearguard was broken in a brilliant cavalry engagement by Pompeius; nevertheless Carbo attained on the whole his object. The consular Norbanus took the command in the valley of the Po; Carbo himself proceeded to Etruria. But the march of Sulla with his victorious legions to Etruria altered the position of affairs; soon three Sullan armies from Gaul, Umbria, and Rome established communications with each other. Metellus with the fleet went past Ariminum to Ravenna, and at Faventia cut off the communication between Ariminum and the valley of the Po, into which he sent forward a division along the great road to Placentia under Marcus Lucullus, the quaestor of Sulla and brother of his admiral in the Mithradatic war. The young Pompeius and his contemporary and rival Crassus penetrated from Picenum by mountain-paths into Umbria and gained the Flaminian road at Spoletium, where they defeated Carbo's legate Carrinas and shut him up in the town; he succeeded, however, in escaping from it on a rainy night and making his way, though not without loss, to the army of Carbo. Sulla himself marched from Rome into Etruria with his army in two divisions, one of which advancing along the coast defeated the corps opposed to it at Saturnia (between the rivers Ombrone and Albegna); the second led by Sulla in person fell in with the army of Carbo in the valley of the Clanis, and sustained a successful conflict with his Spanish cavalry. But the pitched battle which was fought between Carbo and Sulla in the region of Chiusi, although it ended without being properly decisive, was so far at any rate in favour of Carbo that Sulla's victorious advance was checked.

Conflicts about Praeneste

In the vicinity of Rome also events appeared to assume a more favourable turn for the revolutionary party, and the war seemed as if it would again be drawn chiefly towards this region. For, while the oligarchic party were concentrating all their energies on Etruria, the democracy everywhere put forth the utmost efforts to break the blockade of Praeneste. Even the governor of Sicily Marcus Perpenna set out for that purpose; it does not appear, however, that he reached Praeneste. Nor was the very considerable corps under Marcius, detached by Carbo, more successful in this; assailed and defeated by the troops of the enemy which were at Spoletium, demoralized by disorder, want of supplies, and mutiny, one portion went back to Carbo, another to Ariminum; the rest dispersed. Help in earnest on the other hand came from Southern Italy. There the Samnites under Pontius of Telesia, and the Lucanians under their experienced general Marcus Lamponius, set out without its being possible to prevent their departure, were joined in Campania where Capua still held out by a division of the garrison under Gutta, and thus to the number, it was said, of 70,000 marched upon Praeneste. Thereupon Sulla himself, leaving behind a corps against Carbo, returned to Latium and took up a well-chosen position in the defiles in front of Praeneste, where he barred the route of the relieving army.(15) In vain the garrison attempted to break through the lines of Ofella, in vain the relieving army attempted to dislodge Sulla; both remained immoveable in their strong positions, even after Damasippus, sent by Carbo, had reinforced the relieving army with two legions.

Successes of the Sullans in Upper Italy
Etruria Occupied by the Sullans

But while the war stood still in Etruria and in Latium, matters came to a decision in the valley of the Po. There the general of the democracy, Gaius Norbanus, had hitherto maintained the upper hand, had attacked Marcus Lucullus the legate of Metellus with superior force and compelled him to shut himself up in Placentia, and had at length turned against Metellus in person. He encountered the latter at Faventia, and immediately made his attack late in the afternoon with his troops fatigued by their march; the consequence was a complete defeat and the total breaking up of his corps, of which only about 1000 men returned to Etruria. On the news of this battle Lucullus sallied from Placentia, and defeated the division left behind to oppose him at Fidentia (between Piacenza and Parma). The Lucanian troops of Albinovanus deserted in a body: their leader made up for his hesitation at first by inviting the chief officers of the revolutionary army to banquet with him and causing them to be put to death; in general every one, who at all could, now concluded his peace. Ariminum with all its stores and treasures fell into the power of Metellus; Norbanus embarked for Rhodes; the whole land between the Alps and Apennines acknowledged the government of the Optimates. The troops hitherto employed there were enabled to turn to the attack of Etruria, the last province where their antagonists still kept the field. When Carbo received this news in the camp at Clusium, he lost his self-command; although he had still a considerable body of troops under his orders, he secretly escaped from his headquarters and embarked for Africa. Part of his abandoned troops followed the example which their general had set, and went home; part of them were destroyed by Pompeius: Carrinas gathered together the remainder and led them to Latium to join the army of Praeneste. There no change had in the meanwhile taken place; and the final decision drew nigh. The troops of Carrinas were not numerous enough to shake Sulla's position; the vanguard of the army of the oligarchic party, hitherto employed in Etruria, was approaching under Pompeius; in a few days the net would be drawn tight around the army of the democrats and the Samnites.

The Samnites and Democrats Attack Rome
Battle at the Colline Gate
Slaughter of the Prisoners

Its leaders then determined to desist from the relief of Praeneste and to throw themselves with all their united strength on Rome, which was only a good day's march distant. By so doing they were, in a military point of view, ruined; their line of retreat, the Latin road, would by such a movement fall into Sulla's hands; and even if they got possession of Rome, they would be infallibly crushed there, enclosed within a city by no means fitted for defence, and wedged in between the far superior armies of Metellus and Sulla. Safety, however, was no longer thought of; revenge alone dictated this march to Rome, the last outbreak of fury in the passionate revolutionists and especially in the despairing Sabellian nation. Pontius of Telesia was in earnest, when he called out to his followers that, in order to get rid of the wolves which had robbed Italy of freedom, the forest in which they harboured must be destroyed. Never was Rome in a more fearful peril than on the 1st November 672, when Pontius, Lamponius, Carrinas, Damasippus advanced along the Latin road towards Rome, and encamped about a mile from the Colline gate. It was threatened with a day like the 20th July 365 u. c. or the 15th June 455 a. d.— the days of the Celts and the Vandals. The time was gone by when a coup de main against Rome was a foolish enterprise, and the assailants could have no want of connections in the capital. The band of volunteers which sallied from the city, mostly youths of quality, was scattered like chaff before the immense superiority of force. The only hope of safety rested on Sulla. The latter, on receiving accounts of the departure of the Samnite army in the direction of Rome, had likewise set out in all haste to the assistance of the capital. The appearance of his foremost horsemen under Balbus in the course of the morning revived the sinking courage of the citizens; about midday he appeared in person with his main force, and immediately drew up his ranks for battle at the temple of the Erycine Aphrodite before the Colline gate (not far from Porta Pia). His lieutenants adjured him not to send the troops exhausted by the forced march at once into action; but Sulla took into consideration what the night might bring on Rome, and, late as it was in the afternoon, ordered the attack. The battle was obstinately contested and bloody. The left wing of Sulla, which he led in person, gave way as far as the city wall, so that it became necessary to close the city gates; stragglers even brought accounts to Ofella that the battle was lost. But on the right wing Marcus Crassus overthrew the enemy and pursued him as far as Antemnae; this somewhat relieved the left wing also, and an hour after sunset it in turn began to advance. The fight continued the whole night and even on the following morning; it was only the defection of a division of 3000 men, who immediately turned their arms against their former comrades, that put an end to the struggle. Rome was saved. The army of the insurgents, for which there was no retreat, was completely extirpated. The prisoners taken in the battle—between 3000 and 4000 in number, including the generals Damasippus, Carrinas, and the severely-wounded Pontius— were by Sulla's orders on the third day after the battle brought to the Villa Publica in the Campus Martius and there massacred to the last man, so that the clatter of arms and the groans of the dying were distinctly heard in the neighbouring temple of Bellona, where Sulla was just holding a meeting of the senate. It was a ghastly execution, and it ought not to be excused; but it is not right to forget that those very men who perished there had fallen like a band of robbers on the capital and the burgesses, and, had they found time, would have destroyed them as far as fire and sword can destroy a city and its citizens.


With this battle the war was, in the main, at an end. The garrison of Praeneste surrendered, when it learned the issue of the battle of Rome from the heads of Carrinas and other officers thrown over the walls. The leaders, the consul Gaius Marius and the son of Pontius, after having failed in an attempt to escape, fell on each other's swords. The multitude cherished the hope, in which it was confirmed by Cethegus, that the victor would even now have mercy upon them. But the times of mercy were past. The more unconditionally Sulla had up to the last moment granted full pardon to those who came over to him, the more inexorable he showed himself toward the leaders and communities that had held out to the end. Of the Praenestine prisoners, 12,000 in number, most of the Romans and individual Praenestines as well as the women and children were released, but the Roman senators, almost all the Praenestines and the whole of the Samnites, were disarmed and cut to pieces; and the rich city was given up to pillage. It was natural that, after such an occurrence, the cities of new burgesses which had not yet passed over should continue their resistance with the utmost obstinacy. In the Latin town of Norba for instance, when Aemilius Lepidus got into it by treason, the citizens killed each other and set fire themselves to their town, solely in order to deprive their executioners of vengeance and of booty. In Lower Italy Neapolis had already been taken by assault, and Capua had, as it would seem, been voluntarily surrendered; but Nola was only evacuated by the Samnites in 674. On his flight from Nola the last surviving leader of note among the Italians, the consul of the insurgents in the hopeful year 664, Gaius Papius Mutilus, disowned by his wife to whom he had stolen in disguise and with whom he had hoped to find an asylum, fell on his sword in Teanum before the door of his own house. As to the Samnites, the dictator declared that Rome would have no rest so long as Samnium existed, and that the Samnite name must therefore be extirpated from the earth; and, as he verified these words in terrible fashion on the prisoners taken before Rome and in Praeneste, so he appears to have also undertaken a raid for the purpose of laying waste the country, to have captured Aesernia(16) (674?), and to have converted that hitherto flourishing and populous region into the desert which it has since remained. In the same manner Tuder in Umbria was stormed by Marcus Crassus. A longer resistance was offered in Etruria by Populonium and above all by the impregnable Volaterrae, which gathered out of the remains of the beaten party an army of four legions, and stood a two years' siege conducted first by Sulla in person and then by the former praetor Gaius Carbo, the brother of the democratic consul, till at length in the third year after the battle at the Colline gate (675) the garrison capitulated on condition of free departure. But in this terrible time neither military law nor military discipline was regarded; the soldiers raised a cry of treason and stoned their too compliant general; a troop of horse sent by the Roman government cut down the garrison as it withdrew in terms of the capitulation. The victorious army was distributed throughout Italy, and all the insecure townships were furnished with strong garrisons: under the iron hand of the Sullan officers the last palpitations of the revolutionary and national opposition slowly died away.

The Provinces

There was still work to be done in the provinces. Sardinia had been speedily wrested by Lucius Philippus from the governor of the revolutionary government Quintus Antonius (672), and Transalpine Gaul offered little or no resistance; but in Sicily, Spain, and Africa the cause of the party defeated in Italy seemed still by no means lost. Sicily was held for them by the trustworthy governor Marcus Perpenna. Quintus Sertorius had the skill to attach to himself the provincials in Hither Spain, and to form from among the Romans settled in that quarter a not inconsiderable army, which in the first instance closed the passes of the Pyrenees: in this he had given fresh proof that, wherever he was stationed, he was in his place, and amidst all the incapables of the revolution was the only man practically useful. In Africa the governor Hadrianus, who followed out the work of revolutionizing too thoroughly and began to give liberty to the slaves, had been, on occasion of a tumult instigated by the Roman merchants of Utica, attacked in his official residence and burnt with his attendants (672); nevertheless the province adhered to the revolutionary government, and Cinna's son-in-law, the young and able Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, was invested with the supreme command there. Propagandism had even been carried from thence into the client-states, Numidia and Mauretania. Their legitimate rulers, Hiempsal II son of Gauda, and Bogud son of Bocchus, adhered doubtless to Sulla; but with the aid of the Cinnans the former had been dethroned by the democratic pretender Hiarbas, and similar feuds agitated the Mauretanian kingdom. The consul Carbo who had fled from Italy tarried on the island Cossyra (Pantellaria) between Africa and Sicily, at a loss, apparently, whether he should flee to Egypt or should attempt to renew the struggle in one of the faithful provinces.

Sertorius Embarks

Sulla sent to Spain Gaius Annius and Gaius Valerius Flaccus, the former as governor of Further Spain, the latter as governor of the province of the Ebro. They were spared the difficult task of opening up the passes of the Pyrenees by force, in consequence of the general who was sent thither by Sertorius having been killed by one of his officers and his troops having thereafter melted away. Sertorius, much too weak to maintain an equal struggle, hastily collected the nearest divisions and embarked at New Carthage—for what destination he knew not himself, perhaps for the coast of Africa, or for the Canary Islands—it mattered little whither, provided only Sulla's arm did not reach him. Spain then willingly submitted to the Sullan magistrates (about 673) and Flaccus fought successfully with the Celts, through whose territory he marched, and with the Spanish Celtiberians (674).


Gnaeus Pompeius was sent as propraetor to Sicily, and, when he appeared on the coast with 120 sail and six legions, the island was evacuated by Perpenna without resistance. Pompeius sent a squadron thence to Cossyra, which captured the Marian officers sojourning there. Marcus Brutus and the others were immediately executed; but Pompeius had enjoined that the consul Carbo should be brought before himself at Lilybaeum in order that, unmindful of the protection accorded to him in a season of peril by that very man,(17) he might personally hand him over to the executioner (672).


Having been ordered to go on to Africa, Pompeius with his army which was certainly far more numerous, defeated the not inconsiderable forces collected by Ahenobarbus and Hiarbas, and, declining for the time to be saluted as -imperator-, he at once gave the signal for assault on the hostile camp. He thus became master of the enemy in one day; Ahenobarbus was among the fallen: with the aid of king Bogud, Hiarbas was seized and slain at Bulla, and Hiempsal was reinstated in his hereditary kingdom; a great razzia against the inhabitants of the desert, among whom a number of Gaetulian tribes recognized as free by Marius were made subject to Hiempsal, revived in Africa also the fallen repute of the Roman name: in forty days after the landing of Pompeius in Africa all was at an end (674?). The senate instructed him to break up his army— an implied hint that he was not to be allowed a triumph, to which as an extraordinary magistrate he could according to precedent make no claim. The general murmured secretly, the soldiers loudly; it seemed for a moment as if the African army would revolt against the senate and Sulla would have to take the field against his son-in- law. But Sulla yielded, and allowed the young man to boast of being the only Roman who had become a triumphator before he was a senator (12 March 675); in fact the "Fortunate," not perhaps without a touch of irony, saluted the youth on his return from these easy exploits as the "Great."

Fresh Difficulties with Mithradates

In the east also, after the embarkation of Sulla in the spring of 671, there had been no cessation of warfare. The restoration of the old state of things and the subjugation of individual towns cost in Asia as in Italy various bloody struggles. Against the free city of Mytilene in particular Lucius Lucullus was obliged at length to bring up troops, after having exhausted all gentler measures; and even a victory in the open field did not put an end to the obstinate resistance of the citizens.

Meanwhile the Roman governor of Asia, Lucius Murena, had fallen into fresh difficulties with king Mithradates. The latter had since the peace busied himself in strengthening anew his rule, which was shaken even in the northern provinces; he had pacified the Colchians by appointing his able son Mithradates as their governor; he had then made away with that son, and was now preparing for an expedition into his Bosporan kingdom. The assurances of Archelaus who had meanwhile been obliged to seek an asylum with Murena,(18) that these preparations were directed against Rome, induced Murena, under the pretext that Mithradates still kept possession of Cappadocian frontier districts, to move his troops towards the Cappadocian Comana and thus to violate the Pontic frontier (671). Mithradates contented himself with complaining to Murena and, when this was in vain, to the Roman government. In fact commissioners from Sulla made their appearance to dissuade the governor, but he did not submit; on the contrary he crossed the Halys and entered on the undisputed territory of Pontus, whereupon Mithradates resolved to repel force by force. His general Gordius had to detain the Roman army till the king came up with far superior forces and compelled battle; Murena was vanquished and with great loss driven back over the Roman frontier to Phrygia, and the Roman garrisons were expelled from all Cappadocia. Murena had the effrontery, no doubt, to call himself the victor and to assume the title of -imperator- on account of these events (672); but the sharp lesson and a second admonition from Sulla induced him at last to push the matter no farther; the peace between Rome and Mithradates was renewed (673).

Second Peace
Capture of Mytilene

This foolish feud, while it lasted, had postponed the reduction of the Mytilenaeans; it was only after a long siege by land and by sea, in which the Bithynian fleet rendered good service, that Murena's successor succeeded in taking the city by storm (675).

General Peace

The ten years' revolution and insurrection were at an end in the west and in the east; the state had once more unity of government and peace without and within. After the terrible convulsions of the last years even this rest was a relief. Whether it was to furnish more than a mere relief; whether the remarkable man, who had succeeded in the difficult task of vanquishing the public foe and in the more difficult work of subduing the revolution, would be able to meet satisfactorily the most difficult task of all— the re-establishing of social and political order shaken to its very foundations—could not but be speedily decided.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!