Sulla (Roman Dictator)

SULLA, Lucius Cornelius, Roman dictator, born in 138; died in 78 s. c. His father was a poor nobleman, but he had the advantages of a good education, and later a fortune was left to him by a relative, thus facilitating his promotion to rank and office. He was made questor in 107 b. c., and with a force of cavalry proceeded to Africa to assist Consul Marius in the Jugurthine War. His eminent ability brought about the capture of King Jugurtha, whom he brought in chains to Rome the following year, and from 104 to 102 he took part in the Cimbrian War. His efficient services caused him to be made pretor in 93, but a prolonged quarrel between him and Marius led to the social war from 90 to 88, in which he secured fame for gallant service and was accordingly made consul. His command included the province of Asia, where he had charge of the second war against Mithridates, but most of the actual warfare was conducted against Archelaus in Greece, who was an active ally of Mithridates. After defeating Archelaus in the great Battle of Chaeronea, in 86, he crossed the Hellespont and compelled Mithridates to conclude terms of peace, and in 83 returned to Italy.

Although Marius had died in 86, the property of Sulla had been confiscated by the strong party of Marius and he had been proscribed. Accordingly he was obliged to fight the Battle of Brundusium shortly after landing on the Italian shore, and, after gaining successive victories, marched into some in 82, where he immediately proscribed 3,000 of his enemies and put a large number of prisoners of war to death in the Roman circus. Sulla being now master of Italy and the Roman world, a reign of terror followed, and the power of the people was lessened by strengthening the functions of the senate. He was appointed dictator in 81, a position he held three years, after which he resigned to enjoy ease and sensual pleasures on his fine estate at Puteoli. In his closing years he practiced a high degree of debauchery and hastened his death. It was his common boast that he avenged every wrong inflicted by an enemy, and repaid every act of kindness accorded to him by his friends.

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