Sulla in Roman Biography

Sulla or Sylla, [It. Silla, sel'la,] (Lucius Cornelius,) surnamed FelLX, (the "Fortunate,") a famous Roman general, born in 138 B.C., was of a patrician family. Though addicted to pleasure, and though his favourite companions are said to have been actors, buffoons, and mimics, he early gave indications of uncommon powers, and was particularly distinguished by the art he possessed of reading the various characters of men. He obtained the office of quaestor in 107 B.C., and served under Marius against Jngurtha, who was betrayed by Bocchus into the power of the Romans. Sulla took a prominent part in the capture of Jugnrtha, and shared with Marius the credit of that achievement. In 104 he was employed as legate of Marius in the war against the Cimbri and Teutones. He joined the army of L. Catulus in 102, and gave proof of great military talents. His personal qualities were eminently adapted to render a general popular with his soldiers. Having been elected praetor in 93 B.C., he was sent the next year to Cilicia, and restored Ariobarzanes to the throne of Cappadocia. In the year 9t began the Social war, in which, says Plutarch, " Sulla performed so many memorable things that the citizens looked upon him as a great general, his friends as the greatest in the world, and his enemies as the most fortunate." Sulla became the leader of the aristocratic party, was elected consul for 88 B.C., and obtained from the senate the command of the war against Mithridates, which command was also coveted by his rival Marius. A violent contest arose between these two leaders, which was the beginning of a great civil war. Sulla marched with an army against Rome, and Marius escaped to Africa,' leaving his enemy master of the capital. Sulla departed from Rome early in 87 H.C., and commenced the war against Mithridates by an attack on Athens, which he took, after a long siege, in March, 86 B.C. The Athenians were treated with great cruelty by the victor on this occasion. Sulla gained a decisive victory over Archelaus, a general of Mithridates, at Chaeronea, and again at Orchomenus, in 85 B.C., after which he crossed the Hellespont. In the mean time the Marian party had recovered possession of Rome, and had massacred many partisans of Sulla. He concluded a peace with Mithridates, extorted large sums of money from the Orientals, and returned, with his army of veterans, to Italy, where he arrived in the spring of 83, and renewed the civil war. The popular party had a larger army than that of Sulla, but had no able geneials. Sulla defeated Norbanus near Capua in the year 83, and young Marius at Sacriportus in 82 B.C. He then became master of Rome, massacred his opponents and prisoners by thousands, and gained a victory over the Samnites and Lucanians near Rome. He made a list of his enemies, whom he outlawed, and called this list a Proscriptio. This was the first instance of a proscription among the Romans. Sulla was appointed dictator for an unlimited time, and made important changes in the constitution, tending to increase the power of the senate and aristocracy and to destroy the authority of the tribunes of the people. He also made reforms in the criminal law, which were more enduring than the changes just mentioned. He resigned the dictatorship in 79, and died in 78 B.C. Byron apostrophizes Sulla in the following striking lines :- "O thou, whose chariot roll'd on fortune's wheel, Triumphant Syila I thou who didst subdue Thy country's foes ere thou wouldst pause to feel The wrath of thy own wrongs, or reap the due Of hoarded vengeance till thine eagles flew O'er prostrate Asia ;-thou, who with thy frown Annihilated Senates,-Roman, too, With all thy vices, for thou didst lay down, With an atoning smile, a more than earthly crown." Chihie Harold, canto iv., stanza lxxxiii. See Plutarch, " Life of Sulla ;" Dkumann, " Geschichte Roms," vol. ii. ; f. A. Hartmann\ "Dissertatio de Sulla," 1727 ; L. Sachsk, " Lebendes Dictators Sulla," 1791 ; ZACHARtas, " L. Cornelius Sulla als Ordner des Rbmischen Freistaales," 1S34: Appian, " Bellum Civile:" Pliny, "Natural History," books vii., xi., and xxvi. ; Mommskn, " Histoire Romaine :" A. Cybulski, "De Bello Civili Sullano," 1S38.