Short URL for this page:
Thayer's Note: Before e-mailing me with questions, comments, or corrections involving the numbering of Books, chapters, and sections in this text, please read the orientation page.
p467 99 1 Mithridates, when the Roman envoys arrived, did not create any disturbance, but after bringing some counter-charges and also exhibiting to the envoys the amount of the wealth which he had lavished on the state and on private individuals, he remained quiet. Nicomedes, however, elated by the Romans' alliance and being in need of money, invaded his territory.
2 Mithridates dispatched envoys to Rome requesting the people, if they deemed Nicomedes a friend, to persuade or else compel him to act justly toward him, or if not, to allow him [Mithridates] to take measures against his foe. But they, so far from doing anything he wished, even threatened him with punishment if he should not give back Cappadocia to Ariobarzanes and remain at peace with Nicomedes. They sent away his envoys the same day and furthermore p469 ordered him never to send anyone else, unless he should render them obedience.
100 Cato, the greater part of whose army was from the city and rather too old for service, had little authority at best; and once, when he ventured to rebuke them because they were unwilling to work hard or obey orders readily, he came near being buried under the shower of missiles which they hurled at him. And he would certainly have been killed, if they had had plenty of stones; but since the site where they were assembled was under cultivation and happened to be very wet, he received no hurt from the clods of earth. The man who began the mutiny, Gaius Titius,3 was arrested; he had been a lounger about the Forum, making his living in the courts, and was excessively and shamelessly outspoken. He was now sent to the city to the tribunes, but escaped punishment.
101 All the Asiatics, at the bidding of Mithridates, massacred the Romans; only the people of Tralles did not personally kill anyone, but hired for the purpose a certain Theophilus, a Paphlagonian, — just as if they themselves were more likely thus to escape destruction, or as if it made any difference to the victims by whom they were to be slaughtered.
2 The Thracians, at the instigation of Mithridates, p471 overran Epirus and the rest of the country as far as Dodona, going even to the point of plundering the temple of Zeus.
102 Cinna, as soon as he took possession of the office, was anxious about no one thing so much as driving Sulla out of Italy. He made Mithridates his excuse, but in reality wanted Sulla to get out of his way so that he might not, by keeping watch close at hand, prove a hindrance to the objects he himself was trying to carry out. And yet he owed his election to the other's support and had promised to do everything according to his pleasure. 2 For Sulla, who saw the necessity of the war and was eager for its glory, had before starting arranged everything at home for his own best interests. Among other things he appointed Cinna and one Gnaeus Octavius to be his successors, hoping in this way to retain the most power even while absent. For he understood that Octavius was commended for his amiability, and he thought he would cause no trouble; 3 the other he well knew to be a base fellow, but he did not wish to make an enemy of him, because the man already had some influence of his own and was prepared, as he had repeatedly said and declared on oath, to assist him in every way whatsoever. 4 Thus Sulla himself, adept as he was at seeing through the minds of men and reasoning out p473 the nature of things, made a grave mistake in the present instance and bequeathed a great war to the state.
5 Octavius was naturally slow in managing public business.
6 The Romans, when civil war broke out, sent for Metellus, urging him to help them.
7 The Romans, having become at odds with one another, sent for Metellus, bidding him come to terms with the Samnites as best he might; for at this time they alone were still ravaging Campania and the district beyond it. Nevertheless, he did not conclude a truce with them, since they demanded that citizenship be given not alone to themselves but also to those who had deserted to their side, refused to give up any of the booty which they had, and demanded back all the captives and deserters from their own ranks. As a result even the senators no longer chose to make peace with them on these terms.
8 When Cinna again brought forward the law regarding the return of the exiles, Marius and those who had been expelled with him rushed into the city with the rest of the army by all the gates at once; these they shut, so that no one could make his escape, and then slew every man they met, making no distinctions, p475 but treating them all alike as enemies. 9 They took especial pains to destroy those who possessed any property, because they coveted wealth; and they abused the children and wives of the victims as if they had enslaved some foreign city. The heads of the most eminent citizens they fastened to the rostra, and that sight was no less cruel than had been their destruction; for, aside from other considerations, the thought might occur to the spectators that what their ancestors had graced with the ships' beaks of the enemy was now being disgraced by the heads of citizens.
10 For, in short, so great a desire and insatiable passion for slaughter possessed Marius that when he had killed most of his enemies and could no longer, because of the great confusion prevailing, think of anyone whom he wished to destroy, he gave the word to the soldiers to slay everyone in turn of the passers-by to whom he should not extend his hand. For Roman affairs had come to this, that a man had to die not only without trial and without having incurred enmity, but even for the mere reason that Marius did not stretch out his hand. 11 Now naturally amid so great a throng and such confusion it was not only no object to Marius to make the gesture, but it was not even possible, however much he wished it, to use his hand as he pleased. Hence many died needlessly — men whose death he did not in the least desire. The total number of those who p477 perished at this time is beyond finding out; for the slaughter continued through five days and an equal number of nights.
12 While the Romans were offering the usual sacrifice at the beginning of the new year and making their vows for their magistrates according to ancestral rites, the son of Marius slew a tribune with his own hands and sent his head to the consuls, hurled another from the Capitol — a fate which had never befallen such an official — and forbade two praetors the use of fire and water.
104 Fimbria, the lieutenant of Flaccus, revolted against his superior when the latter reached Byzantium. For he was in all matters very bold and headstrong, passionately fond of any notoriety whatsoever and contemptuous of all his superiors. This led him at that time, after his departure from Rome, to feign an incorruptibility in respect to money and a zeal for the soldiers, which bound them to him and set them at variance with Flaccus. 2 He was able to accomplish this for the reason that Flaccus was insatiable in regard to money, not being content to appropriate what was left over, but enriching himself even from the soldiers' allowance for food and from the p479 booty, which he invariably considered as belonging to him.
3 When Flaccus and Fimbria had arrived at Byzantium and Flaccus, after commanding them to encamp outside the wall, had gone into the city, Fimbria seized the occasion to accuse him of having taken money, and denounced him, declaring that he was living in luxury within, whereas they were enduring hardships under the shelter of tents, in storm and cold. The soldiers then angrily rushed into the city, killed some of those that fell upon them, and scattered to the various houses.
4 On the occasion of some dispute between Fimbria and the quaestor, Flaccus threatened to send him back to Rome, willing or not, and when the other consequently made some abusive reply, he deprived him of his command. Fimbria set out ostensibly upon his return to Rome with the worst possible will and upon reaching the soldiers at Byzantium greeted them as if he were on the point of departure, asked for letters, and lamented his fate, claiming to have suffered undeservedly. 5 He urged them to remember the services he had done them and to be on their guard; this was a hidden reference to Flaccus, implying that he had designs upon them. And finding that they accepted his story and were well disposed toward him and suspicious of the general, he mounted an eminence and went on to arouse their anger by p481 accusing Flaccus of various other faults, and finally charging that he was going to betray them for money; hence the soldiers drove away Thermus, who had been assigned to take charge of them.
6 Fimbria destroyed many men, not to serve the best ends of justice nor to secure the greatest benefit to Rome, but out of anger and lust of slaughter. Here is a proof. On one occasion he had ordered a large number of stakes to be prepared, to which he would then bind the condemned and flog them to death; and when these were found to be far in excess of the number who were to be put to death, he commanded some of the bystanders to be seized and bound to the extra stakes, that they might not seem to have been prepared in vain.
7 The same man on capturing Ilium slaughtered as many persons as he could, sparing none, and all but burned the whole city to the ground. And yet he had taken the place not by storm, but by guile. For after bestowing some praise on them for the embassy sent to Sulla and stating that it made no difference with which one of the two they came to terms, since he and Sulla were both Romans, he thereupon went in among them as among friends and did these deeds.
8 Dio, Book XXXIII. "For this reason, then, he [Sulla?] had up to this time neither been laying claim to any of those . . ." p483
106 Metellus after being defeated by Cinna came to Sulla, and was of the greatest assistance to him. For in view of his reputation for justice and filial devotion not a few of those even who were opposed to Sulla's policy decided that it was not without reason that Metellus was associating with him but that he was choosing what was really juster and more advantageous for the country, and hence they went over to that side.
107 Pompey was the son of Strabo, and has been compared by Plutarch with Agesilaus, the Lacedaemonian.5 Being angry with those who held the city, he proceeded on his own account to Picenum before he had quite yet come to man's estate, and thanks to his father's former rule there he gathered from the inhabitants a small band and set up a sovereignty of his own, thinking to perform some famous exploit by himself; then he joined Sulla. And from this beginning he became no less a man than his chief, but, even as his title indicates, grew to be Great.
108 Sulla handed over the army to a man [Ofella] commended neither for his generalship nor otherwise, in spite of the fact that he had many who had been with him from the beginning, superior in skill and experience, whom up to that time he had employed in all emergencies as being thoroughly reliable. Before his victory he had been accustomed to make requests of them and to avail himself freely of their services; but as he drew nearer to his dream of absolute power, he no longer took any account of them, but reposed his trust rather in the basest men, and in those who were neither conspicuous for their family nor possessed of a reputation for uprightness. 2 The reason was that he saw that such persons were ready to assist him in all his projects, even the basest; and he thought they would be most grateful to him if they should obtain even the smallest favours, and moreover would never feel themselves his superiors nor lay claim to either his deeds or his plans. The virtuous element, on the other hand, would not be willing to help him in his evil-doing but would even rebuke him; they would demand rewards for benefits conferred, according to merit, would feel no gratitude for them but accept them as their due, and would claim his deeds and plans as their own. p487
109 Sulla up to the day that he conquered the Samnites had been a conspicuous figure, possessing the greatest renown for his generalship and his plans, and was believed to be a very superior man both in humaneness and piety, so that all believed he had Fortune as an ally because of his excellence. 2 But after this event he changed so much that one would not say his earlier and his later deeds were those of the same person. Thus it would appear that he could not endure good fortune. For he now committed acts which he had censured in other persons while he was still weak, and a great many others still more outrageous. He had doubtless always desired to act thus, but revealed himself only in the day of his power. This fact produced a strong conviction in the minds of some that adversity has not a little to do with virtue. 3 Thus Sulla, as soon as he had conquered the Samnites and thought he had put an end to the war, — for he considered the rest as of no account, — changed his course, and leaving behind his former self, as it were, outside the wall on the field of battle, proceeded to outdo Cinna and Marius and all their successors combined. Treatment that he had accorded to none of the foreign peoples who had opposed him he bestowed upon his native land, as if he had actually subdued that also. 4 In the first place, p489 he promptly sent the heads of Damasippus and his followers to Praeneste and had them stuck on poles; and many of those who voluntarily surrendered he killed as if he had captured them without their consent. 5 The next day he ordered the senators to assemble at the temple of Bellona, as if he were going to make some defence of his conduct, and ordered the captives to meet at the so‑called "public field,"7 as if he would enroll them in the lists; and while these were slain by others at his command (and there perished along with them many persons from the city who were mixed in among them), he himself addressed a very bitter speech to the senators.
6 The massacre of the prisoners was going on just the same even then under Sulla's direction, and as they were being killed near the temple, the great uproar and lamentation that they made, their cries and wails, invaded the senate-house. Thus the senators were doubly alarmed; 7 for they had now about come to the point of expecting that they themselves, too, would suffer some unholy fate, so unholy were both his words and his deeds. Therefore many, tortured by this twofold anguish, were wishing that they themselves belonged to the number of men already perishing outside, in order that they might gain respite at last from fear. 8 Their fate, however, was postponed, p491 while the rest were slaughtered and thrown into the river, so that the deed of Mithridates, deemed so terrible, in slaughtering all the Romans in Asia in one day, was regarded as of slight importance in comparison with the number now massacred and their manner of death. 9 Nor did the horror stop here, but the massacres which began at this point, as if by a kind of signal, occurred in the country and in all the cities of Italy, as well as in the capital. Many, of course, were objects of Sulla's hatred, many also that of his followers; but, while with some this hatred was genuine, with others it was a mere pretence. They wished to show that they were like him by doing like deeds, and so strengthen their place in his friendship; thus they would not, by reason of any dissimilarity, be suspected of disapproving some of his deeds, and so incur danger. 10 They proceeded to murder all whom they saw to surpass them either in wealth or in any other respect, some out of envy and others on account of their possessions. For under such conditions many neutral persons even, though they may take neither side, become the objects of some private complaint, as surpassing someone in excellence or wealth and family, and so perish. No safety was to be found for any one against those possessing any power who wished to commit injustice.
p493 11 Such calamities encompassed Rome. But why narrate the outrages offered to the living, in many cases to women, and in many to the noblest and most distinguished boys, as if they were captives taken in war? Nevertheless, these deeds, though most distressing, still by reason of their similarity to others previously experienced seemed endurable to such persons at least as were not involved in them. 12 But Sulla was not satisfied, nor was he content to do the same as others; a certain longinga came over him to go far beyond all others in the variety also of his murders, as if there were some virtue in being excelled by none even in blood-guiltiness. Accordingly he brought forward a new device, a whitened tablet, on which he inscribed the names. 13 Nevertheless everything went on as before, and not even those whose names were not inscribed on the targets were safe. For the names of many, some living and others actually dead, were added to the lists so that the slayers might gain immunity; thus in this respect the procedure marked no new departure, yet equally by its terror and by its strangeness it angered absolutely every one. 14 The tablets were exposed like some register of senators or list of approved soldiers, and all those passing by from time to time would rush up eagerly to it in crowds, just as if it contained some favourable announcement; then many would find p495 relatives' names inscribed, and some, indeed, their own, whereupon their fate, because of the suddenness of the calamity, became the more terrible, and many of them, making themselves known by their very behaviour, perished. 15 There was no safety at all for any one outside of Sulla's circle. For if a man approached the tablets, he incurred censure as a busybody, whereas, if he failed to approach, he was regarded as a malcontent. The man who read the list or asked any one a question about what was written there became suspected of enquiring about himself or his companions, and the one who did not read or enquire was suspected of being displeased at it and for that reason incurred hatred. 16 Tears or laughter proved fatal on the spot; hence many were destroyed, not because they had said or done anything forbidden, but because they either frowned or smiled. So carefully were their attitudes observed; and it was permitted to no one either to mourn over a friend or to exult over an enemy, but even these were slain on the ground that they were jeering at somebody. 17 Furthermore many found trouble in their very names: for some who were unacquainted with the proscribed applied their names to whomsoever they pleased, and thus many perished in the place of others. This resulted in p497 great confusion, since some would apply to any they met whatever names they pleased, and the others would deny that these were their names. 18 Some were murdered while still ignorant of the fact that they were to die, and others, who knew it in advance, were slain anywhere that they happened to be; no place, either profane or sacred, was safe or inviolate for them. Some, to be sure, by perishing suddenly before learning of the catastrophe hanging over them, or indeed at the very moment of receiving the news, were fortunate in being relieved of the terror preceding death; 19 but those who learned of their danger in advance and hid themselves were in a wretched plight. They neither dared to withdraw, for fear of being detected, nor could they endure to remain where they were for fear of betrayal. Very many of them were actually betrayed by their associates and those dearest to them, and so perished. 20 Consequently, as a result of this state of constant expectation of death, not only those whose names were inscribed suffered, but the rest also in equal measure.
21 The heads of all those slaughtered in whatever place were brought to the Roman Forum and exposed on the rostra, so that the same scenes were being enacted around them as around the proscription lists. p499
111 The Cretans sent an embassy to the Romans, hoping to renew the old treaty and furthermore to obtain some kindness in return for saving the quaestor and his soldiers. But the Romans, possessed rather with anger at their failure to subdue the Cretans than with gratitude to them for not destroying their men, returned no mild answer, but among other things demanded back from them all the captives and deserters. 2 They also demanded hostages and large sums of money, required the larger ships and the chief men to be given up, and would not wait for an answer from the envoys' country, but sent out one of the consuls immediately to take over the things surrendered and to make war upon them if they failed to give them up — as proved to be the case. 3 For why should these men, who had refused to make terms in the beginning, before any such demand had been made and before they had conquered, now submit, after their victory, to demands of such a nature? The Romans, clearly realizing this fact and suspecting, furthermore, that envoys would try to corrupt some persons with money, so as to hinder the expedition, voted in the senate that no one should lend them anything.
3b Dio, Book XXXV. "Or to assist our enemies."
Dio, Roman History. "A few of the lightest boats were moored inshore; but most of them being larger, rode at anchor in the open sea because of the shoals."
The name Ausonia, according to Dio Cocceianus, is properly applied only to the land of the Aurunci, situated on the coast between the Campanians and Volsci. Yet many have supposed that Ausonia extended up to Latium, so that from it all Italy was called Ausonia.
The name Ausonians, as I wrote near the beginning, is properly applied to the Aurunci situated between the Campanians and Volsci. Yet some have supposed that Ausonia extended up to Latium, so that from this circumstance some say that it was the whole of Italy.
2 For titles do not change the characters of men, but one makes titles take on new meanings according p505 to one's management of affairs. Many monarchs are the source of blessings to their subjects, whence such a state is called a kingdom; whereas many who live under a democracy work innumerable evils to themselves.
3 The subject class is wont ever to shape itself according to the opinions of its rulers.
4 For nothing leads on an army, or anything else requiring some control, to better or worse like the character and habits of the person presiding over it. The majority naturally imitate the opinions and deeds of their leaders, and do whatever they see them doing, some from real inclination and others as a mere pretence.
5 Hopes that come to nothing are somehow wont to grieve some people more than the loss of thing never expected at all. For they regard the latter objects as remote and so covet them less, as if they belonged to others; whereas, after coming very near to the former, they are grieved as if deprived of their rightful possessions.
6 It is much better to win some success and be envied than to fail and be pitied.
1 According to Th. Reinach this has reference to Flaccus or Sulla.
2 This refers to Mithridates and the people of Asia, according to von Gutschmid.
3 Properly Gaius Titinius (Sisenna).
4 Perhaps L. Cornelius Merula, the flamen Dialis.
5 The reference to Plutarch is hardly by Dio, as he is not in the habit of naming his authorities. Cf. Fr. 40.5.
a The word used in the Greek, πόθος, is the same used by Arrian and others to describe Alexander the Great's desire (or urge or even compulsion) to go to the farthest ends of the world.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 16 Apr 11