SUL'LA, L. CORNELIUS, surnamed by himself FELIX, the ablest Roman after the younger Scipio until the appearance of Julius Cmsar, was b. 138 B.C. His family was a member, but not a distinguished one, of the Cornelian Bens, or "clan." In 107 B.c., he was elected questor, and sent to Africa with the cavalry that the consul Marius (q.v.) required for prosecuting the Jugurthine war. He rapidly acquired a brilliant reputa tion as an officer, and crowned a series of important services by inducing Bocehus, the Mauritanian king, to surrender Jugurtha, whom he brought in chains to the Roman camp (106 B. c.). Marius was not over well pleased at the distinction achieved by his subordinate. In the campaigns that followed (104-101 B. c.) against the Cimbri and Teutones, Sulla's reputation continued to rise, although Marius' was still regarded (and with justice) as the first general of the state. For several years after the destruction of the barbarians, Sulla lived quietly, taking no part in public affairs; but in 93 B.C. he stood for the pretorship, and won it by a liberal distribution of money among the peo ple. Next year, he was sent to Cilicia as propretor, to replace Ariobarzanes on the throne of Cappadocia, from which he had been driven by Mithridates. On his return to Italy (91 Re.), the long smoldering animosity between Marius and him was on the point of bursting forth, but the terrible Social war forced all Romans to postpone their quarrels until the common danger had been averted. Both Marius and Sulla commanded armies in this great struggle; but the successes of Sulla threw those of Marius into the shade, and the mortification of his rival was deep and bitter. In 88 B.C., Sulla was elected consul along with Q. Pompeius Rufus, and the senate conferred on him the command of the Mithridatic war. But this was a command that Marius himself pas sionately desired, and when he heard that Sulla had he rushed headlong into treason and civil war.
Here it may perhaps be necessary to observe that Marius and Sulla were not only personal rivals, but the leaders of opposite political parties. The former, a man of hum ble origin (see was a rough, stubborn, irascible, and illiterate plebeian ; the latter, a finely cultivated patrician, subtle and sagacious in policy, and winning in man ners. • In the terrible scenes that ensued, although Sulla showed himself by far the fiercer and more sanguinary of the two, it should not be forgotten that it was Marius who com menced the contest. Allying himself with the tribune P. Sulpicius Rufus, a political adventurer in difficulties, Marius placed himself at the head of the new Italian party, on which the rights of Roman citizenship had been conferred, and hoped to force the senate to recall the appointment of Sulla to the command of the expedition to tie east. Sulla was compelled to flee to Nola in Campania, where his camp then was; but finding the soldiers full of enthusiasm, he resolved to lead them against the pseudo-government that had been established at Rome. The story of the overthrow of the Marian party, the
expulsion of Marius, and his subsequent wanderings in Africa, etc., are well known, and intimately as these events are inwoven with the fortunes of Sulla, cannot be repeated here. Suffice it to say, that after settling affairs at Rome as well as he could, Sulla embarked for the east (87 p.c.), and was away for four years. Most of his fighting, how ever, was done in Greece against Archelaus, an ally of Mithridates, whom the latter repeatedly subsidized with men and money. Athens was stormed and plundered (86 n.c.), and Archelaus himself was defeated with frightful slaughter at Chwroneia in the same year, and again in the neighborhood of Orchomlenos (84 B.c.). Sulla now crossed the Hellespont, crushed Fimbria, a general sent out by the Marian party (which in Sulla's absence, had again got the upper hand in Italy), forced Mithridates to sue for peace, and after extorting heavy contributions from the cities of Asia Minor, sailed for Italy, and landed at Brundusium in the spring of 83 B.C. Marius was now dead, but his party were strong in numbers, if not in organization; yet, before the close of 82 B.C., the Marian party in Italy was utterly crushed. In Spain, however, under the gallant and high souled Sertorius (q.v.), it held out for ten years longer.
When Sulla felt himself master of the situation, his thoughts turned to revenge. Then followed the fearful period of the proscriptions (81 n.c.)—a virtual "reign of terror" throughout Italy. the object of which was literally to extirpate the Marian party. In this, however, it was only partially suecessful ; and the next generation saw that party rise to more splendid predominance than ever in the person of Julius Caesar (q.v.), nephew of old Marius. In 81 B,C., Sulla got himself appointed dictator, an office which he held until 79 B.C. This period was signalized by his framing a series of laws —often spoken of collectively as the " Sullan legislation "—the design of which was to make the senate and the aristocracy as vigorous and powerful as in the times of the Punic wars, but which utterly failed of its end.
On resigning his dictatorship, Sulla retired to his fine estate at Puteoli, to enjoy at his ease those sensual pleasures to which he had been deeply addicted from his earliest manhood. Literature, wine, and women were luxuries in which he had always indulged, but now he wholly devoted himself to them—in a sort of swinish manner. It is strange to reflect that the man who undertook to legislate with the view of mending the public morals, should himself have surpassed in profligacy all his contemporaries. What more convincing proof could we have that morality in Rome had ceased to be more than a name! Sulla's debaucheries hastened his end. He died 78 B.c., when only 60 years of age, of the disgusting disease known as morbus pediculosus.