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Greek
Parallel:
Lysander

This webpage reproduces one of
The Parallel Lives

by
Plutarch

published in Vol. IV
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,
1916

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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(Vol. IV) Plutarch, The Parallel Lives

p325 The Life of Sulla

1 1 Lucius Cornelius Sulla belonged to a patrician, or noble, family, and one of his ancestors, Rufinus, is said to have been consul, although he was not so conspicuous for this honour as for the dishonour which he incurred. For he was found to be possessed of more than ten pounds of silver plate, contrary to the law, and was for this reason expelled from the senate. His posterity became at once obscure, and continued so, nor did Sulla himself enjoy a wealthy parentage. 2 When he was a youth, he lived in lodgings, at a low price, and this was afterwards thrust in his teeth when men thought him unduly prosperous. For instance, we are told that when he was putting on boastful airs after his campaign in Libya, a certain nobleman said to him: "How canst thou be an honest man, when thy father left thee nothing, and yet thou art so rich?" 3 For although the Romans of that time no longer retained their ancient purity and uprightness of life, but had degenerated, and yielded to the appetite for luxury and extravagance, they nevertheless held in equal opprobrium those who lost an inherited wealth and those who forsook an ancestral poverty. 4 And afterwards, when he had at last become absolute in power, and was putting many to death, a freedman, who was thought to be concealing one of the proscribed, and was therefore to be thrown down the Tarpeian rock, p327cast it in his teeth that they had long lived together in one lodging house, himself renting the upper rooms at two thousand sesterces,1 and Sulla the lower rooms at three thousand. The difference in their fortunes, therefore, was only a thousand sesterces, which are equivalent to two hundred and fifty Attic drachmas. Such, then, is the account we find of Sulla's earlier fortune.

2 1 His personal appearance, in general, is given by his statues;a but the gleam of his gray eyes, which was terribly sharp and powerful, was rendered even more fearful by the complexion of his face. This was covered with coarse blotches of red, interspersed with white. For this reason, they say, his surname was given him because of his complexion, and it was in allusion to this that a scurrilous jester at Athens made the verse:—

"Sulla is a mulberry sprinkled o'er with meal."


[image ALT: zzz.]

The so‑called bust of Sulla
in the Munich Glyptothek.

Photo © Jona Lendering 2007, by kind permission.

2 Nor is it out of place to mention such testimonies in the case of a man said to have been by nature so fond of raillery, that when he was still young and obscure he spent much time with actors and buffoons and shared their dissolute life; and when he had made himself supreme master, he would daily assemble the most reckless stage and theatre folk to drink and bandy jests with them, although men thought that he disgraced his years, and although he not only dishonoured his high office, but neglected much that required attention. 3 For when Sulla was once at table, he refused to be serious at all, but, p329although at other times he was a man of business and wore an austere look, he underwent a complete change as soon as he betook himself to good-fellowship and drinking, so that comic singers and dancers found him anything but ferocious, and ready to listen and yield to every request. It was this laxity, as it seems, which produced in him a diseased propensity to amorous indulgence and an unrestrained voluptuousness, from which he did not refrain even in his old age, 4 but continued his youthful love for Metrobius, an actor.2 He also had the following experience. He began by loving a common but wealthy woman, Nicopolis by name, and such was the charm of his intimacy and youthful grace that in the end he was beloved by her, and was left her heir when she died. He also inherited the property of his step-mother, who loved him as her own son. By these means he became moderately well off.

3 1 Having been appointed quaestor to Marius in his first consulship,3 he sailed with him to Libya, to make war upon Jugurtha. He was put in charge of the camp, and won great credit for himself, especially by improving a favourable opportunity and making a friend of Bocchus, the king of Numidia. For he hospitably entertained ambassadors of the king, who had escaped from Numidian robbers, and sent them on their way with gifts and a safe escort. 2 Now Bocchus had for a long time hated and feared his son-in‑law, Jugurtha, who had been defeated and had fled to him for safety, and was then plotting against him. He therefore invited Sulla to come p331to him, wishing to have the seizure and surrender of Jugurtha effected through Sulla rather than through himself. Sulla imparted the matter to Marius, and taking with him a few soldiers, underwent the greatest peril; he put faith in a Barbarian, and one who was faithless towards his own relations, and to secure his surrender of another, placed himself in his hands. 3 However, Bocchus, now that he had both in his power, and had laid himself under the necessity of proving false to one or the other, although he vacillated long, finally decided upon his original betrayal, and handed Jugurtha over to Sulla. It is true that the one who celebrated a triumph for this was Marius, but those who envied him attributed the glory of the success to Sulla, and this secretly annoyed Marius. 4 And indeed Sulla himself was naturally vainglorious, and now that he had for the first time emerged from his lowly and obscure condition and become of some account among his countrymen, and was enjoying a taste of honour, he was arrogant enough to have a representation of his exploit engraved on a seal-ring which he wore, and continued to use it ever after. The device was, Bocchus delivering, and Sulla receiving, Jugurtha.

4 1 Of course this distressed Marius; but since he considered Sulla to be beneath his envy, he used him in his campaigns, during his second consulship as legate, or lieutenant, and during his third as military tribune, and through his agency performed many successful services. For instance, as legate, Sulla captured Copillus, chieftain of the Tectosages; and as tribune, he persuaded the great and populous nation of the Marsi to become friends and allies of Rome. 2 But perceiving that Marius was vexed with p333him for these successes, and that he was no longer glad to give him opportunities for action, but opposed his advancement, he attached himself to Catulus, the colleague of Marius in the consulship, a worthy man, but too sluggish for arduous contests. By him he was entrusted with the leading and most important enterprises, and rose to power and fame. 3 He not only subdued in war a large part of the Barbarians of the Alps, but when provisions ran low, he undertook the task of furnishing them, and made them so abundant that the soldiers of Catulus lived in plenty, and had some to spare for those of Marius. At this, as Sulla himself says,4 Marius was greatly distressed. 4 So slight and puerile were the first foundations and occasions of that hatred between them, which afterwards led them through civil bloodshed and irreparable discords to tyranny and the confusion of the whole state. This proved that Euripides was a wise man, and acquainted with the distempers of civil government, when he exhorted men to beware of ambition as a deity most injurious and fatal to its votaries.5

5 1 Sulla now thought that the reputation which he had won in war was sufficient to justify political activities, and therefore at once exchanged military service for public life,6 offered himself as a candidate for the city praetorship, and was defeated. The responsibility for his defeat, however, he lays upon the populace. They knew, he says, about his friendship with Bocchus, and expected that if he should be made aedile before his praetorship, he would treat them to splendid hunting scenes and p335combats of Libyan wild beasts, and therefore appointed others to the praetorship, in order to force him into the aedileship. 2 But subsequent events would seem to show that Sulla does not confess the real reason for his failure. For in the following year he obtained the praetorship, partly because he was subservient to the people, and partly because he used money to win their support. And so it happened that, during his praetorship, when he angrily told Caesar7 that he would use his own authority against him, Caesar laughed and said: "You do well to consider the office your own, for you bought it."

3 After his praetorship, he was sent out to Cappadocia, ostensibly to reinstate Ariobarzanes, but really to check the restless activities of Mithridates, who was adding to his dominion and power fully as much as he had inherited. Accordingly, he took out with him no large force of his own, but made use of the allies, whom he found eager to serve him, and, after slaying many of the Cappadocians themselves, and yet more of the Armenians who came to their aid, he drove out Gordius, and made Ariobarzanes king again.

4 As he lingered on the banks of the Euphrates, he received a visit from Orobazus, a Parthian, who came as an ambassador from king Arsaces, although up to this time the two nations had held no intercourse with one another. This also is thought to have been part of Sulla's great good fortune, that he should be the first Roman with whom the Parthians held conference when they wanted alliance and friendship. p337On this occasion, too, it is said that he ordered three chairs to be set, one for Ariobarzanes, one for Orobazus, and one for himself, and that he sat between them both and gave them audience. 5 For this the king of Parthia afterwards put Orobazus to death; and while some people commended Sulla for the airs which he assumed with the Barbarians, others accused him of vulgarity and ill-timed arrogance. It is also recorded that a certain man in the retinue of Orobazus, a Chaldaean, after looking Sulla intently in the face, and studying carefully the movements of his mind and body, 6 and investigating his nature according to the principles of his peculiar art, declared that this man must of necessity become the greatest in the world, and that even now the wonder was that he consented not to be first of all men. When Sulla came back to Rome, however, Censorinus brought suit against him for bribery, alleging that he had collected large sums of money illegally from a friendly and allied kingdom. However, Censorinus did not put in an appearance at the trial, but dropped his impeachment.

6 1 Moreover, Sulla's quarrel with Marius broke out afresh on being supplied with fresh material by the ambition of Bocchus, who, desiring to please the people at Rome, and at the same time to gratify Sulla, dedicated on the Capitol some images bearing trophies, and beside them gilded figures representing Jugurtha being surrendered by Bocchus to Sulla. 2 Thereupon Marius was very angry, and tried to have the figures taken down, but others were minded to aid Sulla in opposing this, and the city was all but in flames with their dispute, when the Social war,8 p339which had long been smouldering, blazed up against the city and put a stop for the time being to the quarrel. In this war, which proved of the greatest moment and most varied fortunes, and brought innumerable mischiefs and the gravest perils upon the Romans, Marius was unable to render any great service, and proved that military excellence requires a man's highest strength and vigour. Sulla, on the other hand, did much that was memorable, and achieved the reputation of a great leader among his fellow-citizens, that of the greatest of leaders among his friends, and that of the most fortunate even among his enemies. 3 But he did not feel about this as Timotheus the son of Conon did, who, when his adversaries ascribed his successes to Fortune, and had him represented in a painting as lying asleep, while Fortune cast her net about the cities, was rudely angry with those who had done this, because, as he thought, they were robbing him of the glory due to his exploits, and said to the people once, on returning from a campaign in which he was thought to have been successful: "In this campaign, at least, men of Athens, Fortune has no share." 4 Upon Timotheus, then, who had shown himself so covetous of honour, the deity is said to have requited his youthful petulance, so from that time on he did nothing brilliant, but miscarried in all his undertakings, gave offence to the people, and was finally banished fromº the city; whereas Sulla not only accepted with pleasure such felicitations and admiration, but actually joined in magnifying the aid of Heaven in what he did, and gave the credit of it to Fortune, either out of boastfulness, or because he had such a belief in the divine agency. 5 For in his Memoirs he writes p341that, of the undertakings which men thought well-advised, those upon which he had boldly ventured, not after deliberation, but on the spur of the moment, turned out for the better. And further, from what he says about his being well endowed by nature for Fortune rather than for war, he seems to attribute more to Fortune than to his own excellence, and to make himself entirely the creature of this deity, since he accounts even his concord with Metellus, a man equal in rank, and a relative by marriage, a piece of divine felicity; for whereas he expected much annoyance from him as a colleague in office, he found him most obliging. 6 And still further, in the dedication of his Memoirs to Lucullus, he advises him to deem nothing so secure as what the divine power enjoins upon him in his dreams. And he relates that when he was dispatched with an army to the Social war, a great chasm in the earth opened near Laverna, from which a great quantity of fire burst forth and a bright flame towered up towards the heavens; 7 whereupon the soothsayers declared that a brave man, of rare courage and surpassing appearance, was to take the government in hand and free the city from its present troubles. And Sulla says that he himself was this man, for his golden head of hair gave him a singular appearance, and as for bravery, he was not ashamed to testify in his own behalf, after such great and noble deeds as he had performed. So much, then, regarding his attitude towards the divine powers.

In others he seems to have been of very uneven character, and at variance with himself; he robbed much, but gave more; bestowed his honours unexpectedly, as unexpectedly his insults; fawned on p343those he needed, but gave himself airs towards those who needed him; so that one cannot tell whether he was more inclined by nature to disdain or flattery. 8 For as regards the irregularity of his punishments, cudgelling to death as he did on any chance grounds, and again gently submitting to the greatest wrongs; readily open to reconciliation after the most irreparable injuries, but visiting small and insignificant offences with death and confiscation of goods; here one might decide that he was naturally of a stern and revengeful temper, but relaxed his severity out of calculating regard for his interests. 9 In this very Social war, for example, when his soldiers with clubs did to death a legate, a man of praetorian dignity, Albinus by name, he passed over without punishment this flagrant crime, and solemnly sent the word about that he would find his men more ready and willing for the war on account of this transgression, since they would try to atone for it by their bravery. To those who censured the crime he paid no heed, but purposing already to put down the power of Marius and, now that the Social war was thought to be at an end, to get himself appointed general against Mithridates, he treated the soldiers under him with deference.

10 When he returned to the city, he was appointed consul with Quintus Pompeius,9 in the fiftieth year of his age, and made a most illustrious marriage with Caecilia, the daughter of Metellus, the Pontifex Maximus. On the theme of this marriage many verses were sung in ridicule of him by the common people, and many of the leading men were indignant at it, deeming him, as Livy says,10 unworthy of the woman although they had judged him worthy of the p345consulship. 11 And this was not the only woman whom he married, but first, when he was still a stripling, he took Ilia to wife, and she bore him a daughter; than Aelia, after her; and thirdly, Cloelia, whom he divorced for barrenness, honourably, and with words of praise, to which he added gifts. But since he married Metella only a few days afterwards, he was thought to have accused Cloelia unfairly. 12 To Metella, however, he always showed great deference in all things, so that the Roman people, when it longed for the restoration of the exiled partisans of Marius, and Sulla refused it, in its need called upon Metella for aid. It was thought also that when he took the city of Athens, he treated its people more harshly because they had scurrilously abused Metella from the walls. But this was later.11

7 1 At the time of which I speak, deeming the consulship a slight matter in comparison with things to come, his thoughts soared to the Mithridatic war. But here he found a rival in Marius, who was possessed by ambition and a mad desire for fame, those never ageing passions. He was now unwieldy in body, and in the recent campaigns had given up service on account of his age, and yet set his heart upon foreign wars beyond the seas. 2 And when Sulla had set out for his camp on unfinished business,12 he himself kept at home and contrived that most fatal sedition, which wrought Rome more harm than all her wars together had done, as indeed the heavenly powers foreshowed to them. For fire broke forth of its own accord from the staves which supported p347the ensigns, and was with difficulty extinguished; and three ravens brought their young forth into the street and devoured them, and then carried the remains back again into their nest; 3 and after mice had gnawed consecrated gold in a temple, the keepers caught one of them, a female, in a trap, and in the very trap she brought forth five young ones and ate up three of them. But most important of all, out of a cloudless and clear air there rang out the voice of a trumpet, prolonging a shrill and dismal note, so that all were amazed and terrified at its loudness. The Tuscan wise men declared that the prodigy foretokened a change of conditions and the advent of a new age. 4 For according to them there are eight ages in all, differing from one another in the lives and customs of men, and to each of these God has appointed a definite number of times and seasons, which is completed by the circuit of a great year. And whenever this circuit has run out, and another begins, some wonderful sign is sent from earth or heaven, so that it is at once clear to those who have studied such subjects and are versed in them, that men of other habits and modes of life have come into the world, who are either more or less of concern to the gods than their predecessors were. 5 All things, they say, undergo great changes, as one again succeeds another, and especially the art of divination; at one period it rises in esteem and is successful in its predictions, because manifest and genuine signs are sent forth from the Deity; and again, in another age, it is in small repute, being off-hand, for the most part, and seeking to grasp p349the future by means of faint and blind senses. Such, at any rate, was the tale told by the wisest of the Tuscans, who were thought to know much more about it than the rest. 6 Moreover, while the senate was busied with the soothsayers about these prodigies, and holding its session in the temple of Bellona, a sparrow came flying in, before the eyes of all, with a grasshopper in its mouth, a part of which it threw down and left there, and then went away with the other part. From this the diviners apprehended a quarrelsome dissension between the landed proprietors and the populace of the city and forum; for the latter is vociferous like a grasshopper, while the former haunt the fields (like the sparrow).13

8 1 Marius now made alliance with Sulpicius who was a tribune of the people, a man second to none in prime villainies, so that the question was not whom else he surpassed in wickedness, but in what he surpassed his own wickedness. For the combination of cruelty, effrontery, and rapacity in him was regardless of shame and of all evil, since he sold the Roman citizenship to freedmen and aliens at public sale, and counted out the price on a money-table which stood in the forum. 2 Moreover, he maintained three thousand swordsmen, and had about him a body of young men of the equestrian order who were ready for everything, and whom he called his anti-senate. Further, though he got a law passed that no senator should incur a debt of more than two thousand drachmas, he himself left behind him after death a debt of three millions. This man was now let loose upon the people by Marius, and after confounding all p351things by force and the sword, he proposed certain vicious laws, and particularly one offering to Marius the command in the Mithridatic war. 3 To prevent voting on these, the consuls decreed suspension of public business, as they were holding an assembly near the temple of Castor and Pollux, and, amongst many others, slew also the young son of Pompeius the consul in the forum; but Pompeius made his escape unnoticed. Sulla, however, after having been pursued into the house of Marius, was forced to come forth and rescind the decree for suspension of public business; 4 and it was because he did this that Sulpicius, although he deposed Pompeius, did not take the consulship away from Sulla, but merely transferredº the expedition against Mithridates to the command of Marius. He also sent military tribunes at once to Nola, who were to take over the army there and conduct it to Marius.

9 1 But Sulla succeeded in making his escape and reaching the camp first, and his soldiers, when they learned what had happened, stoned the tribunes to death; in return for which, Marius and his partisans in the city went to slaying the friends of Sulla and plundering their property. Then there were removals and flights, some passing continually from camp to city, and others from city to camp. 2 The senate was not its own master, but was governed by the dictates of Marius and Sulpicius, and when it learned that Sulla was marching against the city, it sent two of the praetors, Brutus and Servilius, to forbid his advance. These men addressed Sulla with too much boldness, whereupon his soldiers p353would have gladly torn them to pieces, but contented themselves with breaking their fasces, stripping them of their senatorial togas, insulting them in many ways, and then sending them back to the city. Here a terrible dejection was produced by the mere sight of them, stripped of their praetorial insignia, and by their announcement that the sedition could no longer be checked, but must run its course.

3 Marius and his partisans, then, busied themselves with preparations; while Sulla, at the head of six full legions, moved with his colleague from Nola, his army, as he saw, being eager to march at once against the city, although he himself wavered in his own mind, and feared the danger. But after he had offered a sacrifice, Postumius the soothsayer learned what the omens were, and stretching out both hands to Sulla, begged that he might be bound and kept a prisoner until the battle, assuring him that he was willing to undergo the extremest penalty if all things did not speedily come to a good issue for him. 4 It is said, also, that to Sulla himself there appeared in his dreams a goddess whom the Romans learned to worship from the Cappadocians,14 whether she is Luna, or Minerva, or Bellona. This goddess, as Sulla fancied, stood by his side and put into his hand a thunder-bolt, and naming his enemies one by one, bade him smite them with it; and they were all smitten, and fell, and vanished away. Encouraged by the vision, he told it to his colleague, and at break of day led on towards Rome.

5 When he had reached Pictae,15 he was met by a p355deputation from the city, which begged him not to advance to an immediate attack, since the senate had voted that he should have all his rights; he therefore agreed to encamp there, and ordered his officers to measure out the ground, as was usual, for the camp, so that the deputation returned to the city believing that he would do so. But no sooner were they gone than he sent forward Lucius Basillus and Caius Mummius, who seized for him the city-gate and the walls on the Esquiline hill; then he himself followed hard after them with all speed. 6 Basillus and his men burst into the city and were forcing their way along, when the unarmed multitude pelted them with stones and tiles from the roofs of the houses, stopped their further progress, and crowded them back to the wall. But by this time Sulla was at hand, and seeing what was going on, shouted orders to set fire to the houses, and seizing a blazing torch, led the way himself, and ordered his archers to use their fire-bolts and shoot them up at the roofs. This he did not from any calm calculation, 7 but in a passion, and having surrendered to his anger the command over his actions, since he thought only of his enemies, and without any regard or even pity for friends and kindred and relations, made his entry by the aid of fire, which made no distinction between the guilty and the innocent. Meanwhile Marius, who had been driven back to the temple of Tellus, made a proclamation calling the slaves to his support under promise of freedom; but the enemy coming on, he was overpowered and fled from the city.

10 1 Sulla now called together the senate, and had a sentence of death passed on Marius himself and a p357few others, among whom was Sulpicius the tribune of the people. But Sulpicius was killed, after he had been betrayed by a servant, to whom Sulla first gave his freedom, and then had him thrown down the Tarpeian rock; moreover, he set a price on the head of Marius, an act both ungrateful and impolitic, since it was in his house that he had found refuge and surrendered himself a little before this, and had been let off safe. 2 And yet had Marius at that time not let Sulla go, but given him up to death at the hands of Sulpicius, he might have been absolute master in Rome; nevertheless he spared his life, and when after a few days he had given him the same opportunity, he did not obtain like mercy. By these proceedings Sulla won the secret dislike of the senate; but the people's hatred and indignation was made manifest to him by their acts. 3 For instance, they ignominiously rejected Nonius his nephew, and Servius, who were his candidates for offices, and appointed others, whose preferment they thought would be most vexing to him. But he pretended to be pleased at this, saying that the people, in doing as it pleased, enjoyed a freedom which was due to him, and out of deference to the hatred of the multitude allowed Lucius Cinna, a man of the opposite faction, to be invested with the consulship, after binding him by solemn oaths to be favourable to his policies. 4 And Cinna went up to the Capitol with a stone in his hand and took the oaths, and then, after praying that if he did not maintain his goodwill towards Sulla, he might be cast out of the city, as the stone from his hand, he threw the stone upon the ground in the sight of many people. But as soon as he had entered upon his office, he p359tried to subvert the existing order of things, and had an impeachment prepared against Sulla, and appointed Virginius, a tribune of the people, to be his accuser. But Sulla, ignoring alike accuser and court, set out against Mithridates.16

11 1 And it is said that about the time when Sulla was moving his armament from Italy, Mithridates, who was staying at Pergamum, was visited with many other portents from Heaven, and that a Victory with a crown in her hand, which the Pergamenians were lowering towards him by machinery of some sort, was broken to pieces just as she was about to touch his head, and the crown went tumbling from her hand to the ground in the midst of the theatre, and was shattered, whereat the people shuddered, and Mithridates was greatly dejected, although at that time his affairs were prospering beyond his hopes. 2 For he himself had wrested Asia from the Romans, and Bithynia and Cappadocia from their kings, and was now set down in Pergamum, dispensing riches, principalities, and sovereignties to his friends; and of his sons, one was in Pontus and Bosporus, holding without any opposition the ancient realm as far as the deserts beyond Lake Maeotis, while Ariarathes was overrunning Thrace and Macedonia with a large army, and trying to win them over; 3 his generals, too, with forces under them, were subduing other regions, and the greatest of them, Archelaüs, who with his fleet controlled the entire sea, was subjugating the Cyclades, and all the other islands which lie to the east of Cape Malea, and was in possession of Euboea itself, while from his head-quarters at Athens he was bringing into revolt from Rome the peoples of Greece p361as far as Thessaly, although he met with slight reverses at Chaeroneia. 4 For here he was confronted by Bruttius Sura, who was a lieutenant of Sentius the praetor of Macedonia, and a man of superior courage and prudence. This man, as Archelaüs came rushing like a torrent through Boeotia, opposed him most fiercely, and after thrice giving him battle at Chaeroneia, repulsed him, and drove him back to the sea. 5 But when Lucius Lucullus ordered him to give place to Sulla, who was coming, and to leave the conduct of the war to him, as the senate had voted, he at once abandoned Boeotia and marched back to Sentius, although his efforts were proving successful beyond hope, and although the nobility of his bearing was making Greece well-disposed towards a change of allegiance. However, these were the most brilliant achievements of Bruttius.

12 1 As for Sulla, he at once received deputations and invitations from the other cities, but Athens was compelled by the tyrant Aristion to side with Mithridates. Against this city, therefore, Sulla led up all his forces, and investing the Piraeus, laid siege to it, bringing to bear upon it every sort of siege-engine, and making all sorts of assaults upon it. 2 And yet if he had been patient a little while, he might have captured the upper city without hazard, since it lacked the necessities of life and was already reduced by famine to the last extremity. But since he was eager to get back to Rome, and feared the spirit of revolution there, he ran many risks, fought many battles, and made great outlays that he might hasten on the war, in which, not to speak of his other munitions, the operation of the siege-engines p363called for ten thousand pairs of mules, which were employed daily for this service. 3 And when timber began to fail, owing to the destruction of many of the works, which broke down of their own weight, and to the burning of those which were continually smitten by the enemy's fire-bolts, he laid hands upon the sacred groves, and ravaged the Academy, which was the most wooded of the city's suburbs, as well as the Lyceum. And since he needed much money also for the war, he diverted to his uses the sacred treasures of Hellas, partly from Epidaurus, and partly from Olympia, sending for the most beautiful and most precious of the offerings there. 4 He wrote also to the Amphictyons at Delphi that it was better to have the treasures of the god sent to him; for he would either keep them more safely, or, if he spent them, would restore as much. And he sent Caphis, the Phocian, one of his friends, with the letter, bidding him receive each article by weight. Caphis came to Delphi, but was loth to touch the sacred objects, and shed many tears, in the presence of the Amphictyons, over the necessity of it. 5 And when some of them declared they heard the sound of the god's lyre in the inner sanctuary, Caphis, either because he believed them, or because he wished to strike Sulla with superstitious fear, sent word to him about it. But Sulla wrote back jocosely, expressing his amazement that Caphis did not understand that singing was done in joy, not anger; his orders were therefore to take boldly, assured that the god was willing and glad to give.

6 Accordingly, the rest of the treasures were sent away without the knowledge of the most, certainly, of the Greeks; but the silver jar, the only one of p365the royal gifts17 which still remained, was too large and heavy for any beast of burden to carry, and the Amphictyons were compelled to cut it into pieces. As they did so, they called to mind now Titus Flamininus and Manius Acilius, and now Aemilius Paulus, of whom one had driven Antiochus out of Greece,18 and the others had subdued in war the kings of Macedonia;19 these had not only spared the sanctuaries of the Greeks, but had even made additional gifts to them, and greatly increased their honour and dignity. 7 But these were lawful commanders of men who were self-restrained and had learned to serve their leaders without a murmur, and they were themselves kingly in spirit and simple in their personal expenses, and indulged in moderate and specified public expenditures, deeming it more disgraceful to flatter their soldiers than to fear their enemies; 8 the generals of this later time, however, who won their primacy by force, not merit, and who needed their armies for service against one another, rather than against the public enemy, were compelled to merge the general in the demagogue, and then, by purchasing the services of their soldiers with lavish sums to be spent on luxurious living, they unwittingly made their whole country a thing for sale, and themselves slaves of the basest men for the sake of ruling over the better. This was what drove out Marius, and then brought him back again against Sulla; this made Cinna the assassin of Octavius, and Fimbria of p367Flaccus.20 9 And it was Sulla who, more than any one else, paved the way for these horrors, by making lavish expenditures upon the soldiers under his own command that he might corrupt and win over those whom others commanded, so that in making traitors of the rest, and profligates of his own soldiers, he had need of much money, and especially for this siege.

13 1 For he was possessed by some dreadful and inexorable passion for the capture of Athens, either because he was fighting with a sort of ardour against the shadow of the city's former glory, or because he was provoked to anger by the scurrilous abuse which had been showered from the walls upon himself and Metella by the tyrant Aristion, who always danced in mockery as he scoffed. This man's spirit was compounded of licentiousness and cruelty; 2 he had made himself a sink for the worst of the diseases and passions of Mithridates; and in these her last days he had fixed himself, like a fatal malady, upon a city which had previously passed safely through countless wars, and many usurpations and seditions. This man, although at the time a bushel of wheat sold in the city for a thousand drachmas, and although men made food for themselves of the fever-few which grew on the acropolis, 3 and boiled down shoes and leather oil-flasks to eat, was himself continually indulging in drinking-bouts and revels by daylight, was dancing in armour and making jokes to deride the enemy, while he suffered the sacred p369lamp of the goddess to go out for lack of oil; and when the chief priestess begged him for a twelfth of a bushel of wheat, he sent her so much pepper; and when the senators and priests came to him in suppliant array, and entreated him to take pity on the city and come to terms with Sulla, he scattered them with a volley of arrows. 4 But after a long time, at last, with much ado, he sent out two or three of his fellow-revellers to treat for peace, to whom Sulla, when they made no demands which could save the city, but talked in lofty strains about Theseus and Eumolpus and the Persian wars, said: "Be off, my dear Sirs, and take these speeches with you; for I was not sent to Athens by the Romans to learn its history, but to subdue its rebels."

14 1 But at this juncture, as it is said, certain soldiers in the Cerameicus21 overheard some old men talking with one another, and abusing the tyrant because he did not guard the approaches to the wall at the Heptachalcum,22 at which point alone it was possible and easy for the enemy to get over. When this was reported to Sulla, 2 he did not make light of it, but went thither by night, and after seeing that the place could be taken, set himself to the work. And Sulla himself says, in his Memoirs, that Marcus Ateius was the first man to mount the wall, and that when an enemy confronted him, he gave him a downward cut on the helmet with his sword, and shattered the weapon; he did not, however, yield ground, but remained and held his own. At any rate, the city was taken at this point, as the oldest p371Athenians used to testify.23 3 And Sulla himself, after he had thrown down and levelled with the ground the wall between the Piraïc and the Sacred Gate, led his army into the city at midnight. The sight of him was made terrible by blasts of many trumpets and bugles, and by the cries and yells of the soldiery now let loose by him for plunder and slaughter, and rushing through the narrow streets with drawn swords. There was therefore no counting of the slain, but their numbers are to this day determined only by the space that was covered with blood. 4 For without mention of those who were killed in the rest of the city, the blood that was shed in the market-place covered all the Cerameicus inside the Dipylon gate; nay, many say that it flowed through the gate and deluged the suburb. But although those who were thus slain were so many, there were yet more who slew themselves, out of yearning pity for their native city, which they thought was going to be destroyed. For this conviction made the best of them give up in despair and fear to survive, since they expected no humanity or moderation in Sulla. 5 However, partly at the instance of the exiles Meidias and Calliphon, who threw themselves at his feet in supplication, and partly because all the Roman senators who were in his following interceded for the city, being himself also by this time sated with vengeance, after some words in praise of the ancient Athenians, he said that he forgave a few for the sake of many, the living for the sake of the dead.

6 He took Athens, as he says himself in his Memoirs, on the Calends of March,24 a day which corresponds p373very nearly with the first of the month Anthesterion. In this month, as it happens, the Athenians perform many rites commemorating the destruction and devastation caused by the flood, believing that the ancient deluge25 occurred at about this time. 7 On the capture of the town, the tyrant took refuge in the acropolis, and was besieged there by Curio, who was appointed to this task. He held out for a considerable time, but was driven by the pangs of thirst to give himself up. And the Deity at once gave a manifest token in the matter; for at the very hour of the day when Curio brought his prisoner down, clouds gathered in an open sky, and a quantity of rain fell and filled the acropolis with water. Not long after, Sulla took the Piraeus also, and burnt most of it, including the arsenal of Philo,26 a marvellous work.

15 1 Meanwhile Taxiles, the general of Mithridates, had come down from Thrace and Macedonia with a hundred thousand footmen, ten thousand horse, and ninety scythe-bearing four-horse chariots, and summoned Archelaüs to join him. Archelaüs still lay with his fleet at Munychia,27 and was neither willing to quit the sea, nor eager to join battle with the Romans, but planned to protract the war and cut off their supplies. 2 But Sulla understood the situation much better than Archelaüs did, and therefore transferred his forces into Boeotia, away from regions that were far from fertile, and unable to maintain a population even in time of peace. Most people thought that he had erred in his calculations, p375because he had abandoned Attica, which was a rough country and ill-suited for cavalry movements, and thrown himself into the plains and open districts of Boeotia, although he saw that the strength of the Barbarians consisted in chariots and cavalry. 3 But in flying from scarcity and famine, as has been said, he was compelled to pursue the danger arising from battle. And furthermore, he was anxious about Hortensius, a bold and capable general, who was leading a force from Thessaly to Sulla while the Barbarians were closely watching for him in the passes.28 For these reasons Sulla transferred his army into Boeotia. But Hortensius was rescued by Caphis, a countryman of mine, and conducted by different routes, of which the Barbarians were ignorant, past Parnassus to a spot just below Tithora. This was not so large a city then as it is now, 4 but a fortress surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs, into which those of the Phocians who in ancient times fled before the advance of Xerxes betook themselves and were saved.29 Having encamped there, Hortensius repulsed the enemy by day, and at night descended to Patronis by difficult paths and made a junction with Sulla, who came to meet him with his army.

16 1 When they had thus united their forces, they occupied a hill which rose out of the midst of the plains of Elatea, a fertile hill, thickly grown with trees, and supplied with water at its base. Philoboetus is its name, and its situation and natural advantages are most highly praised by Sulla. As they lay encamped here, they appeared to the enemy altogether few in numbers; for they were not more than fifteen hundred horse, and less than fifteen p377thousand foot. 2 Wherefore the rest of his generals overpowered the objections of Archelaüs and drew up for battle, filling the plain with their horses, chariots, shields, and bucklers.

The air could not contain the shouts and clamour of so many nations forming in array. At the same time also the pomp and ostentation of their costly equipment was not without its effect and use in exciting terror; indeed, the flashing of their armour, which was magnificently embellished with gold and silver, 3 and the rich colours of their Median and Scythian vests, intermingled with bronze and flashing steel, presented a flaming and fearful sight as they surged to and fro, so that the Romans huddled together behind their trenches, and Sulla, unable by any reasoning to remove their fear, and unwilling to force them into a fight from which they wanted to run away, had to sit still and endure as best he could the sight of the Barbarians insulting him with boasts and laughter. This, however, was of service to him above all else. 4 For owing to their contempt of him, his opponents lapsed into great disorder, since even at their best they were not obedient to their generals, owing to the great number in command. Few of them therefore consented to remain within their entrenchments, but the largest part of the throng was lured away by plunder and pillage, and was scattered about the country many days march from their camp. They are said to have destroyed the city of Panope, and to have sacked Lebadeia and despoiled its oracle, although none of their generals ordered them to do so.

p379 5 But Sulla, though chafing and fretting while cities were destroyed before his eyes, would not suffer his soldiers to be idle, but led them out and forced them to dig ditches and divert the Cephisus from its channel, giving no man a respite, and showing himself an inexorable chastiser of those who were remiss, in order that they might be worn out at their tasks and induced by their hardships to welcome danger. And so it fell out. 6 For on the third day of their drudgery, as Sulla passed by, they begged and clamoured to be led against the enemy. But Sulla said their words showed not a willingness to fight, but an unwillingness to labour; if, however, they were really disposed to fight, then he bade them take their arms and go at once yonder, pointing them to what had formerly been the acropolis of Parapotamii. 7 At this time, however, the city had been destroyed, and only a rocky and precipitous crest remained, separated from Mount Hedylium by the breadth of the river Assus, which then falls into the Cephisus at the very base of the mountain, becomes impetuous in its flow after the confluence, and makes the citadel a strong place for a camp. For this reason, and because he saw the Chalcaspides, or Bronze-shields, of the enemy pushing their way towards it, Sulla wished to occupy the place first; and he did occupy it, now that he found his soldiers eager for action. 8 And when Archelaüs, repulsed from this site, set out against Chaeroneia, and the Chaeroneians in Sulla's army besought him not to abandon their city to its fate, he sent out Gabinius, one of his tribunes, with one legion, and let the Chaeroneians also go, who wished, but were unable, to get into the city before Gabinius. So p381efficient was he, and more eager to bring succour than those who begged that succour should be given. Juba, however, says it was not Gabinius, but Ericius, who was thus sent. At any rate, so narrowly did my native city escape its peril.

17 1 From Lebadeia and the cave of Trophonius favourable utterances and oracles announcing victory were now sent out to the Romans. Of these the inhabitants of the country have more to say; but Sulla himself has written in the tenth book of his Memoirs, how Quintus Titius, a prominent man among the Romans doing business in Greece, came to him immediately after he had won his victory at Chaeroneia,30 with tidings that Trophonius predicted for him a second battle and victory in that neighbourhood within a short time.31 2 And after him, a legionary soldier, Salvenius by name, brought him from the god a statement of the issue which affairs in Italy were going to have. But both agreed about the source of their oracle; for they said they had beheld one who in beauty and majesty was like unto Olympian Jove.

3 Sulla now crossed the Assus, and after advancing to the foot of Mount Hedylium, encamped over against Archelaüs, who had thrown up strong entrenchments between Mounts Acontium and Hedylium, at the so‑called Assian plain. The spot in which he encamped, moreover, is to this day called Archelaüs, after him. After one day's respite, Sulla left Murena behind with one legion and two cohorts, to obstruct the enemy if they attempted to draw up their forces, while he himself held sacrifices on the p383banks of the Cephisus, 4 and, when the rites were over, moved on towards Chaeroneia, to pick up the forces stationed there, and to reconnoitre Thurium, as it is called, which had been already occupied by the enemy. This is a conical-shaped hill with a craggy peak (we call it Orthopagus), and at its foot is the river Molus and a temple of Apollo Thurius. The god got this surname from Thuro, the mother of Chaeron, who was founder of Chaeroneia, according to tradition. 5 But some say that the cow which was given by Apollo to Cadmus as his guide, appeared there, and that the place was named as it is from her, "thor" being the Phoenician word for cow.

As Sulla drew near to Chaeroneia, the tribune who had been stationed in the city, with his men in full armour, came to meet him, carrying a wreath of laurel. 6 After Sulla had accepted this, greeted the soldiers, and animated them for the coming danger, two men of Chaeroneia accosted him, Homoloïchus and Anaxidamus, and engaged to cut off the troops in possession of Thurium if he would give them a few soldiers; for there was a path out of sight of the Barbarians, leading from the so‑called Petrachus along past the Museum to that part of Thurium which was over their heads, and by taking this path it would not be difficult, they said, to fall upon them and either stone them to death from above, or force them into the plain. 7 After Gabinius had borne testimony to the men's courage and fidelity, Sulla ordered them to make the attempt, while he himself proceeded to form his line of battle, and to dispose his cavalry on either wing, taking command of the p385right himself, and assigning the left to Murena.32 His lieutenants, Galba and Hortensius, with cohorts of reserves, stationed themselves on the heights in the rear, to guard against attacks on the flanks. For the enemy were observed to be making their wing flexible and light for evolution with large bodies of horse and light infantry, purposing to extend it and envelop the Romans.

18 1 Meanwhile the Chaeroneians, over whom Ericius had been placed in command by Sulla, made their way unnoticed around Thurium and then showed themselves suddenly, producing great confusion and rout among the Barbarians, and slaughter at one another's hands for the most part. For they did not hold their ground, but rushed down the steeps, falling upon their own spears and crowding one another down the precipices, while their enemies pressed upon them from above and smote their exposed bodies, so that three thousand of them fell on Thurium. 2 Of the fugitives, some were met by Murena, who had already formed his array, and were cut off and slain; others pushed their way towards the camp of their friends, and falling pell-mell upon their lines, filled the greater part of them with terror and confusion, and inflicted a delay upon their generals which was especially harmful to them. For Sulla promptly charged upon them while they were in confusion, and by abridging the space between the armies with the speed of his approach, robbed the scythe-bearing chariots of their efficiency. 3 For these are of most avail after a long course, which gives them velocity and impetus for breaking through p387an opposing line but short starts are ineffectual and feeble, as in the case of missiles which do not get full propulsion. And this proved to be true now in the case of Barbarians. The first of their chariots were driven along feebly and engaged sluggishly, so that the Romans, after repulsing them, clapped their hands and laughed and called for more, as they are wont to do at the races in the circus. 4 Thereupon the infantry forces engaged, the Barbarians holding their pikes before them at full length, and endeavouring, by locking their shields together, to keep their line of battle intact; while the Romans threw down their javelins, drew their swords, and sought to dash the pikes aside, that they might get at their enemies as soon as possible, in the fury that possessed them. 5 For they saw drawn up in front of the enemy fifteen thousand slaves, whom the king's generals had set free by proclamation in the cities and enrolled among the men-at‑arms. And a certain Roman centurion is reported to have said that it was only at the Saturnalia,33 so far as he knew, that slaves participated in the general license. 6 These men, however, owing to the depth and density of their array, and the unnatural courage with which they held their ground, were only slowly repulsed by the Roman men-at‑arms; but at last the fiery bolts and the javelins which the Romans in the rear ranks plied unsparingly, threw them into confusion and drove them back.

19 1 Archelaüs now extended his right wing to envelop Sulla's line, whereupon Hortensius34 sent his cohorts against him on a quick run, intending to attack his flank. But Archelaüs wheeled swiftly p389against him his two thousand horsemen, and Hortensius, forced aside by superior numbers, was keeping close to the hills, separating himself little by little from the main line, and getting surrounded by the enemy. 2 When Sulla learned of this, he came swiftly to his aid from the right wing, which was not yet engaged. But Archelaüs, guessing the truth from the dust raised by Sulla's troops, gave Hortensius the go-by, and wheeling, set off for the right wing whence Sulla had come, thinking to surprise it without a commander. At the same time Murena also was attacked by Taxiles with his Bronze-shields, so that when shouts were borne to his ears from both places, and reëchoed by the surrounding hills, Sulla halted, and was at a loss to know in which of the two directions he ought to betake himself. 3 But having decided to resume his own post, he sent Hortensius with four cohorts to help Murena, while he himself, bidding the fifth cohort to follow, hastened to the right wing. This of itself had already engaged Archelaüs on equal terms, but when Sulla appeared, they drove the enemy back at all points, obtained the mastery, and pursued them to the river and Mount Acontium in a headlong flight. 4 Sulla, however, did not neglect Murena in his peril, but set out to aid the forces in that quarter; he saw, however, that they were victorious, and then joined in the pursuit. Many of the Barbarians, then, were slain in the plain, but most were cut to pieces as they rushed for their entrenchments, so that only ten thousand out of so many myriads made their escape into Chalcis. But Sulla says he missed only fourteen of his soldiers, and that afterwards, towards evening, two of these came in. 5 He therefore p391inscribed upon his trophies the names of Mars, Victory and Venus,35 in the belief that his success in the war was due no less to good fortune than to military skill and strength. This trophy of the battle in the plain stands on the spot where the troops of Archelaüs first gave way, by the brook Molus, but there is another planted on the crest of Thurium, to commemorate the envelopment of the Barbarians there, and it indicates in Greek letters that Homoloïchus and Anaxidamus were the heroes of the exploit. 6 The festival in honour of this victory was celebrated by Sulla in Thebes, where he prepared a stage near the fountain of Oedipus.36 But the judges were Greeks invited from the other cities, since towards the Thebans he was irreconcilably hostile. He also took away half of their territory and consecrated it to Pythian Apollo and Olympian Zeus, giving orders that from its revenues the moneys should be paid back to the gods which he had taken from them.37

20 1 After this, learning that Flaccus, a man of the opposite faction, had been chosen consul38 and was crossing the Ionian sea with an army, ostensibly against Mithridates, but really against himself, he set out towards Thessaly in order to meet him. But when he was come to the city of Meliteia, tidings reached him from many quarters that the regions behind him were ravaged again by an army of the king which was no smaller than the former. 2 For Dorylaüs, having put in at Chalcis with a large fleet, on which he brought eighty thousand of the best trained and disciplined men in the army of p393Mithridates, at once burst into Boeotia and occupied the country. He was eager to entice Sulla to battle, disregarding the protests of Archelaüs, and giving it out that in the previous battle so many myriads had not perished without treachery. 3 Sulla, however, turning swiftly back, showed Dorylaüs that Archelaüs was a man of prudence and best acquainted with the Roman valour, so that after a slight skirmish with Sulla near Tilphossium, he was first of those who thought it expedient not to decide the issue by a battle, but rather to wear out the war by dint of time and treasure. Nevertheless, Archelaüs was much encouraged by the nature of the country about Orchomenus, where they were encamped, since it was most favourable as a battle-field for an army superior in cavalry. 4 For of all the plains of Boeotia this is the largest and fairest, and beginning from the city of Orchomenus, it spreads out smooth and treeless as far as the marshes in which the river Melas loses itself. This rises close under the city of Orchomenus, and is the only Greek river that is copious and navigable at its sources; moreover, it increases towards the time of the summer solstice, like the Nile, and produces plants like those which grow there, only stunted and without fruit. 5 Its course is short, however, and the greater part of it disappears at once in blind and marshy lakes, while a small portion of it unites with the Cephisus, somewhere near the place in which the stagnant water is reputed to produce the famous reed for flutes.39

21 1 When the two armies had encamped near each other, Archelaüs lay still, but Sulla proceeded p395to dig trenches on either side, in order that, if possible, he might cut the enemy off from the solid ground which was favourable for the cavalry, and force them into the marshes. The enemy, however, would not suffer this, but when their generals sent them forth, charged impetuously and at full speed, so that not only Sulla's labourers were dispersed, but also the greater part of the corps drawn up to protect them was thrown into confusion and fled. 2 Then Sulla threw himself from his horse, seized an ensign, and pushed his way through the fugitives against the enemy, crying: "For me, O Romans, an honourable death here; but you, when men ask you where you betrayed your commander, remember to tell them, at Orchomenus." The fugitives rallied at these words, and two of the cohorts on his right wing came to his aid; these he led against the enemy and routed them. 3 Then he fell back a little distance, and after giving his men breakfast, again proceeded to fence the enemy's entrenchments off with his ditches. But they attacked him again in better order than before, Diogenes, the step-son of Archelaüs, fought gallantly on their right wing, and fell gloriously, and their archers, being hard pressed by the Romans, so that they had no room to draw their bows, took their arrows by handfuls, struck with them as with swords, at close quarters, and tried to beat back their foes, but were finally shut up in their entrenchments, and had a miserable night of it with their slain and wounded. Next day Sulla again led his soldiers up to the enemy's fortifications and continued trenching them off, 4 and when the greater part of them came out to give him battle, he engaged with them and routed p397them, and such was their panic that no resistance was made, and he took their camp by storm. The marshes were filled with their blood, and the lake with their dead bodies, so that even to this day many bows, helmets, fragments of steel breastplates, and swords of barbarian make are found embedded in the mud, although almost two hundred years have passed since this battle.40 Such, then, are the accounts given of the actions at Chaeroneia and Orchomenus.

22 1 Now since Cinna and Carbo41 at Rome were treating the most eminent men with injustice and violence, many of these had fled from their tyranny and were repairing to Sulla's camp as to a harbour of refuge, and in a little time he had about him the semblance of a senate. Metella, also, who had with difficulty stolen herself and her children away, came with tidings that his house and his villas had been burned by his enemies, and with entreaties that he would come to the help of his partisans at home. 2 But while he was in doubt what to do, and could neither consent to neglect his country when she was outraged, nor see his way clear to go away and leave unfinished so great a task as the war with Mithridates, there came to him a merchant of Delos, named Archelaüs, who secretly brought from Archelaüs the king's general certain vague hopes and propositions. The matter was so welcome to Sulla that he was eager to have a personal conference with Archelaüs; 3 and they had a meeting on the sea-coast near Delium, where the temple of Apollo is. Archelaüs began the conference by urging Sulla to abandon Asia and Pontus and sail p399for the war in Rome, on condition of receiving money, triremes, and as large a force as he wished from the king. Sulla rejoined by bidding him take no further thought for Mithridates, but assume the crown himself in his stead, becoming an ally of the Romans, and surrendering to them his ships. 4 And when Archelaüs expressed his abhorrence of such treason, Sulla said: "So then, thou, Archelaüs who art a Cappadocian, and a slave of a barbarian king, or, if thou wilt, his friend, wilt not consent to a disgraceful deed for such great rewards; but to me, who am a Roman commander, and Sulla, thou darest to propose treachery? as if thou wert not that Archelaüs who fled from Chaeroneia with a few survivors out of one hundred and twenty thousand men, and who lay hid two days in the marshes of Orchomenus, and who left Boeotia impassable for the multitude of dead bodies!" 5 Upon this, Archelaüs changed his tone, and as a humble suppliant besought him to desist from the war and be reconciled with Mithridates. Sulla granted the request, and terms of agreement were made as follows: Mithridates was to renounce Asia and Paphlagonia, restore Bithynia to Nicomedes and Cappadocia to Ariobarzanes, pay down to the Romans two thousand talents, and give them seventy bronze-armoured ships with their proper equipment; Sulla, on his part, was to confirm Mithridates in the rest of his dominions, and get him voted an ally of the Romans.

23 1 When these agreements had been made, Sulla turned back and proceeded by way of Thessaly and Macedonia towards the Hellespont, having p401Archelaüs with him, and in honour. And when Archelaüs fell dangerously ill at Larissa, Sulla stopped his march, and cared for him as if he had been one of his own commanding officers. 2 This raised the suspicion that the action at Chaeroneia had not been fairly fought, as well as the fact that Sulla released the other friends of Mithridates whom he had taken captive, but put to death Aristion the tyrant alone, by poison, who was at enmity with Archelaüs; the strongest ground for the suspicion, however, was his gift to the Cappadocian of about two thousand acresb of land in Euboea, and his bestowing upon him the title of friend and ally of the Romans. At any rate, on these points Sulla defends himself in his Memoirs.

3 At this time also ambassadors from Mithridates arrived, and when they declared that he accepted the other terms, but demanded that Paphlagonia be not taken away from him, and that as to the ships no agreement whatsoever should be made, Sulla flew into a passion and said: "What say ye? Mithridates maintains his claim to Paphlagonia, and refuses to give the ships, when I thought he would prostrate himself humbly before me if I should leave him but that right hand of his, with which he took the lives of so many Romans? 4 However, he will quickly talk in another strain after I have crossed into Asia; now he sits in Pergamum and directs a war which he has not seen." The ambassadors, accordingly, were frightened, and held their peace; but Archelaüs entreated Sulla, and tried to soften his anger, laying hold of his right hand and weeping. And finally he obtained Sulla's consent to send him in person to Mithridates; for p403he said that he would have the peace ratified on Sulla's terms, or, if he could not persuade the king, would kill himself. 5 Upon these assurances Sulla sent him away, and then himself invaded the country of the Maedi, and after ravaging most of it, turned back again into Macedonia, and received Archelaüs at Philippi. Archelaüs brought him word that all was well, but that Mithridates insisted on a conference with him. 6 Fimbria was chiefly responsible for this, who, after killing Flaccus, the consul of the opposite faction,42 and overpowering the generals of Mithridates, was marching against the king himself. For this terrified Mithridates, and he chose rather to seek the friendship of Sulla.

24 1 They met, accordingly, at Dardanus, in the Troad, Mithridates having two hundred ships there, equipped with oars, twenty thousand men-at‑arms from his infantry force, six thousand horse, and a throng of scythe-bearing chariots; Sulla, on the other hand, having four cohorts and two hundred horse. When Mithridates came towards him and put out his hand, Sulla asked him if he would put a stop to the war on the terms which Archelaüs had made, and as the king was silent, Sulla said: "But surely it is the part of suppliants to speak first, while victors need only to be silent." 2 Then Mithridates began a defense of himself, and tried to shift the blame for the war partly upon the gods, partly upon the Romans themselves. But Sulla cut him short, saying that he had long ago heard from others, but now knew of himself, that Mithridates was a very powerful orator, since he p405had not been at a loss for plausible arguments to defend such baseness and injustice as his. 3 Then he reproached him bitterly and denounced him for what he had done, and asked him again if he would keep the agreements made through Archelaüs. And when he said that he would, then Sulla greeted him with an embrace and a kiss, and later, bringing to him Ariobarzanes and Nicomedes the kings, he reconciled him with them. Mithridates, accordingly, after handing over to Sulla seventy ships and five hundred archers, sailed away to Pontus.

4 But Sulla perceived that his soldiers were incensed at the peace which he had made; they thought it a terrible thing to see the most hostile of kings, who had caused one hundred and fifty thousand of the Romans in Asia to be massacred in a single day43 to go sailing off with wealth and spoils from Asia, which he had for four years continued to plunder and levy taxes on. He therefore defended himself to them by saying that he would not have been able to carry on war with Mithridates and Fimbria too, if they had both joined forces against him.

25 1 Then he set out from thence against Fimbria, who was encamped near Thyateira, and halting his army near by, began to fortify his camp. But the soldiers of Fimbria came forth from their camp without any armour on, and welcomed Sulla's soldiers, and joined them eagerly in their labours, and when Fimbria saw this change in their allegiance, fearing that Sulla was irreconcileable,º he laid violent hands on himself in the camp.

p407 2 Sulla now laid a public fine upon Asia of twenty thousand talents,44 and utterly ruined individual families by the insolent outrages of the soldiers quartered on them. For orders were given that the host should give his guest four tetradrachms a day, and furnish him, and as many friends as he might wish to invite, with a supper; and that a military tribune should receive fifty drachmas a day, and two suits of clothing, one to wear when he was at home, and another when he went abroad.

26 1 Having put to sea with all his ships from Ephesus, on the third day he came to anchor in Piraeus. He was now initiated into the mysteries, and seized for himself the library of Apellicon the Teian, in which were most of the treatises of Aristotle and Theophrastus, at that time not yet well known to the public. But it is said that after the library was carried to Rome, Tyrannio the grammarian arranged most of the works in it, and that Andronicus the Rhodian was furnished by him with copies of them, and published them, and drew up the lists now current. 2 The old Peripatetics were evidently of themselves accomplished and learned men, but they seem to have had neither a large nor an exact acquaintance with the writings of Aristotle and Theophrastus, because the estate of Neleus of Scepsis, to whom Theophrastus bequeathed his books, came into the hands of careless and illiterate people.45

p409 3 While Sulla was tarrying at Athens, his feet were attacked by numbness and a feeling of heaviness, which Strabo says46 is premonitory gout. He therefore crossed the straits to Aedepsus and used the hot waters there, taking a holiday at the same time, and passing his time pleasantly with the theatrical artists. Once, as he was walking along the seashore, certain fishermen brought him some very fine fish. Being delighted with their gift, and learning that they were from Halae, "What!" said he, "is any man of Halae still alive?" 4 For when he was pursuing the enemy after his victory at Orchomenus, he had destroyed three cities of Boeotia together, Anthedon, Larymna, and Halae. The men were speechless with terror, but Sulla smiled and bade them depart in peace, since they had brought with them no mean or despicable intercessors. The men of Halae say that this gave them courage to go back again in a body to their city.

27 1 And now Sulla, having passed through Thessaly and Macedonia down to the sea, was preparing to cross from Dyrrhachium to Brundisium with twelve hundred ships.47 Near by is Apollonia, and in its vicinity is the Nymphaeum, a sacred precinct, which sends forth in various places from its green dell and meadows, streams of perpetually flowing fire. 2 Here, they say, a satyr was caught asleep, such an one as sculptors and painters represent, and brought to Sulla, where he was asked through many interpreters who he was. And when at last he uttered nothing intelligible, but with difficulty p411emitted a hoarse cry that was something between the neighing of a horse and the bleating of a goat, Sulla was horrified, and ordered him out of his sight.

3 When Sulla was about to transport his soldiers, and was in fear lest, when they had reached Italy, they should disperse to their several cities, in the first place, they took an oath of their own accord to stand by him, and to do no damage to Italy without his orders; and then, seeing that he needed much money, they made a free-will offering and contribution, each man according to his abundance. Sulla, however, would not accept their offering, but after thanking them and rousing their courage, crossed over to confront, as he himself says, fifteen hostile commanders with four hundred and fifty cohorts. But the Deity gave him most unmistakeable foretokens of his successes. 4 For after he had sacrificed at once where he landed at Tarentum,48 the victim's liver was seen to have an impression of a wreath of laurel, with two fillets hanging from it.49 And a little while before he crossed over from Greece, there were seen on Mount Tifatum in Campania, in the day time, two great he-goats fighting together, and doing everything that men do when they fight a battle. But it proved to be an apparition, and gradually rising from earth it dispersed itself generally in the air, like vague phantoms, and then vanished from sight. 5 And not long after,50 in this very place, when Marius the younger and Norbanus the consul led large forces up against him, Sulla, without either giving out an order of battle or forming his own army in companies, but taking advantage of a vigorous general alacrity and a p413transport of courage in them, routed the enemy and shut up Norbanus in the city of Capua, after slaying seven thousand of his men. 6 It was on account of this success, he says, that his soldiers did not disperse into their several cities, but held together and despised their opponents, though these were many times more numerous. He says, moreover, that at Silvium, a servant of Pontius met him, in an inspired state, declaring that he brought him from Bellona triumph in war and victory, but that if he did not hasten, the Capitol would be burnt; and this actually happened, he says, on the day which the man foretold, namely, the sixth day of Quintilis, which we now call July.51 7 And still further, at Fidentia, when Marcus Lucullus, one of Sulla's commanders, with sixteen cohorts confronted fifty cohorts of the enemy, although he had confidence in the readiness of his soldiers, still, as most of them were without arms, he hesitated to attack. But while he was waiting and deliberating, from the neighbouring plain, which was a meadow, a gentle breeze brought a quantity of flowers and scattered them down on his army; they settled of their own accord and enveloped the shields and helmets of the soldiers, so that to the enemy these appeared to be crowned with garlands. 8 This circumstance made them more eager for the fray, and they joined battle, won the victory, killed eighteen thousand of the enemy, and took their camp. This Lucullus was a brother of the Lucullus who afterwards subdued Mithridates and Tigranes.

28 1 But Sulla, seeing that his enemies still surrounded him on all sides with many armies and p415large forces, had recourse to craft as well as force, and invited Scipio, the other consul, to make terms of peace. 2 He accepted the proposal, and several meetings and conferences were held; but Sulla continually interposed some pretext for gaining time, and gradually corrupted Scipio's soldiers by means of his own, who were practised in deceit and every kind of jugglery, like their general himself. For they entered the camp of their enemies, mingled freely with them, and gradually won them over to Sulla's cause, some at once with money, others with promises, and others still with persuasive flatteries. 3 And finally, when Sulla drew near with twenty cohorts, his men greeted those of Scipio, who answered their greetings and went over to them. Scipio, who was left alone, was taken in his tent, but dismissed; while Sulla, who had used his twenty cohorts as decoy-birds to catch the forty cohorts of the enemy, led them all back to his camp. It was on this occasion, too, that Carbo is said to have remarked that in making war upon the fox and the lion in Sulla, he was more annoyed by the fox.

4 After this, at Signia, Marius, with eighty-five cohorts, challenged Sulla to battle. Now Sulla was very eager to have the issue settled on that day; for he had seen a vision in his dreams, as follows. He thought he saw the elder Marius, who was long since dead, advising his son Marius to beware of the ensuing day, since it would bring him a great calamity. For this reason, then, Sulla was eager to fight a battle, and was trying to get Dolabella, who was encamped at some distance, to join him. 5 But p417the enemy beset the roads and hemmed Sulla in, and his soldiers were worn out with fighting to open a passage. Much rain also came upon them while they were at work and added to their distress. The tribunes therefore came to Sulla and begged him to defer the battle, showing him the soldiers prostrated with weariness and resting on their shields, which they had laid upon the ground. 6 Sulla yielded reluctantly, and gave orders to pitch a camp, but just as his men were beginning to dig a trench and throw up the rampart before it, Marius attacked them confidently, riding ahead of his lines, and hoping to scatter his enemies while they were in disorder and confusion. There the Deity fulfilled the words which Sulla had heard in his dreams. For Sulla's rage imparted itself to his soldiers, and leaving off their work, they planted their javelins in the trench, drew their swords, and with a general shout came to close quarters with their enemies. 7 These did not hold their ground long, but took to flight, and were slain in great numbers. Marius fled to Praeneste, but found the gate already closed. A rope was thrown down to him, however, and after fastening this around his waist, he was hoisted to the top of the wall. But there are some who say, and Fenestella is one of these, that Marius knew nothing of the battle, but was forced by loss of sleep and weariness to cast himself upon the ground in a shady place when the signal for battle was given, and there gave way to sleep, and was then roused with difficulty when the rout took place. 8 In this battle Sulla says he lost only twenty-three men, but killed twenty thousand of the enemy, and took eight thousand prisoners. His other plans were carried out with like p419success by his generals, Pompey,52 Crassus,53 Metellus, and Servilius. For with few or no reverses these annihilated large forces of the enemy, so that Carbo, the chief supporter of the opposite faction, ran away from his own army by night, and sailed off to Libya.

29 1 In Sulla's last struggle, however, Telesinus the Samnite,54 like a third wrestler who sits by to contend with a weary victor, came near tripping and throwing him at the gates of Rome. For he had collected a large force, and was hastening, together with Lamponius the Lucanian, to Praeneste, in order to relieve Marius from the siege. 2 But when he learned that Sulla to his front, and Pompey to his rear, were hurrying up against him, since he was being hemmed in before and behind, valiant and highly experienced soldier that he was, he broke camp by night, and marched with all his army against Rome itself. And he came within a little of breaking into the city in its unguarded state; indeed, he was only nine furlongs from the Colline gate when he bivouacked against it, highly encouraged and elated with hopes at the thought of having outgeneralled so many great commanders. 3 And when, at day-break, the noblest youth of the city rode out against him, he overwhelmed many of them, including Appius Claudius, a man of high birth and character. There was a tumult in the city, naturally, and shrieking of women, and running hither and thither, as though the city were taken by storm, when Balbus, sent forward by Sulla, was first p421seen riding up at full speed with seven hundred horsemen. He paused just long enough to let the sweat of the horses dry off, and then quickly bridled them again and attacked the enemy.

4 At this juncture, Sulla also made his appearance, and ordering his vanguard to take food at once, proceeded to form them in order of battle. Dolabella and Torquatus earnestly besought him to wait a while, and not to hazard the supreme issue with his men fatigued and spent; for they were to contend not with Carbo and Marius, but with Samnites and Lucanians, the most inveterate enemies of Rome, and the most warlike of peoples. But he put them by, and commanded the trumpets to sound the charge, though it was now getting on towards four o'clock in the afternoon. 5 In the struggle which followed, and no other was so fierce, the right wing, where Crassus was posted, was brilliantly successful; but the left was hard pressed and in a sorry plight, when Sulla came to its assistance, mounted on a white horse that was mettlesome and very swift. By this horse two of theº enemy recognised him, and poised their spears for the cast. Sulla himself, now, did not notice this, but his groom did, and with a cut of the lash succeeded in sending Sulla's horse along so that the spear-heads just grazed its tail and fixed themselves in the ground. 6 There is also a story that Sulla had a little golden image of Apollo from Delphi which he always carried in his bosom when he was in battle, but that on this occasion he took it out and kissed it affectionately, saying: "O Pythian Apollo, now that thou hast in so many struggles raised the fortunate Cornelius Sulla to glory and greatness, can it be that thou hast brought p423him to the gates of his native city only to cast him down there, to perish most shamefully with his fellow-countrymen?" 7 Thus invoking the god, they say, he entreated some of his men, threatened others, and laid hands on others still; but at last his left wing was completely shattered, and with the fugitives he sought refuge in his camp, after losing many friends and acquaintances. 8 Not a few also of those who had come out of the city to see the battle were trodden under foot and killed, so that it was thought that all was over with the city, and that the siege of Marius in Praeneste was all but raised; indeed many of the fugitives made their way thither and urged Lucretius Ofella, who had been appointed to conduct the siege, to break camp with all speed, since Sulla had fallen, and Rome was in the hands of the enemy.

30 1 But when the night was now far advanced, messengers came to the camp of Sulla from Crassus, to fetch supper for him and his soldiers; for after conquering the enemy, he had pursued them into Antemnae, and was encamped before that city. When, therefore, Sulla learned this, and also that the greater part of the enemy had been destroyed, he came to Antemnae at break of day. There three thousand of the inhabitants sent a deputation to him to sue for mercy, and he promised them safety if they would do some mischief to the rest of his enemies before coming to him. 2 So they, trusting to his promise, attacked the rest of the people in the city, and many were slain by one another's hands. However, the survivors of both parties alike, to the number of six thousand, were collected by Sulla in the circus at Rome, and then the senate was p425summoned by him to meet in the temple of Bellona,55 and at one and the same moment he himself began to speak in the senate, and those assigned to the task began to cut to pieces the six thousand in the circus. 3 The shrieks of such a multitude, who were being massacred in a narrow space, filled the air, of course, and the senators were dumbfounded; but Sulla, with the calm and unmoved countenance with which he had begun to speak, ordered them to listen to his words and not concern themselves with what was going on outside, for it was only that some criminals were being admonished, by his orders.

4 This gave even the dullest Roman to understand that, in the matter of tyranny, there had been an exchange, but not a deliverance. Marius the elder, at any rate, had been naturally harsh at the outset, and power had intensified, not altered, his disposition; but Sulla had used his good fortune moderately, at first, and like a statesman, and had led men to expect in him a leader who was attached to the aristocracy, and at the same time helpful to the common people. 5 Furthermore, from his youth up he had been of a merry temper, and easily moved to tears of pity. Naturally, therefore, his conduct fixed a stigma upon offices of great power, which were thought to work a change in men's previous characters, and render them capricious, vain, and cruel. However, whether this is a change and reversal of nature, brought about by fortune, or rather a revelation, when a man is in authority, of underlying baseness, were matter for determination in some other treatise.

31 1 Sulla now busied himself with slaughter, p427and murders without number or limit filled the city. Many, too, were killed to gratify private hatreds, although they had no relations with Sulla, but he gave his consent in order to gratify his adherents. At last one of the younger men, Caius Metellus, made bold to ask Sulla in the senate what end there was to be of these evils, and how far he would proceed before they might expect such doings to cease. 2 "We do not ask thee," he said, "to free from punishment those whom thou hast determined to slay, but to free from suspense those whom thou hast determined to save." And when Sulla answered that he did not yet know whom he would spare, "Well, then," said Metellus in reply, "let us know whom thou intendest to punish." This Sulla said he would do. 3 Some, however, say that it was not Metellus, but Fufidius, one of Sulla's fawning creatures, who made this last speech to him. Be that as it may, Sulla at once proscribed56 eighty persons, without communicating with any magistrate; and in spite of the general indignation, after a single day's interval, he proscribed two hundred and twenty others, and then on the third day, as many more. 4 Referring to these measures in a public harangue, he said that he was proscribing as many as he could remember, and those who now escaped his memory, he would proscribe at a future time. He also proscribed any one who harboured and saved a proscribed person, making death the punishment for such humanity, without exception of brother, son, or parents, but offering any one who slew a proscribed p429person two talents as a reward for this murderous deed, even though a slave should slay his master, or a son his father. And what seemed the greatest injustice of all, he took away the civil rights from the sons and grandsons of those who had been proscribed, and confiscated the property of all. 5 Moreover, proscriptions were made not only in Rome, but also in every city of Italy, and neither temple of God, nor hearth of hospitality, nor paternal home was free from the stain of bloodshed, but husbands were butchered in the embraces of their wedded wives, and sons in the arms of their mothers. Those who fell victims to political resentment and private hatred were as nothing compared with those who were butchered for the sake of their property, nay, even the executioners were prompted to say that his great house killed this man, his garden that man, his warm baths another. 6 Quintus Aurelius, a quiet and inoffensive man, who thought his only share in the general calamity was to condole with others in their misfortunes, came into the forum and read the list of the proscribed, and finding his own name there, said, "Ah! woe is me! my Alban estate is prosecuting me." And he had not gone far before he was dispatched by some one who had hunted him down.

32 1 Meanwhile Marius the younger, at the point of being captured,57 slew himself; and Sulla, coming to Praeneste, at first gave each man there a separate trial before he executed him, but afterwards, since time failed him, gathered them all together in one place — there were twelve thousand of them — and gave orders to slaughter them, his host p431alone receiving immunity. But this man, with a noble spirit, told Sulla that he would never owe his safety to the slayer of his country, and joining his countrymen of his own accord, was cut down with them. 2 But that which Lucius Catiline did was thought to be most monstrous of all. This man, namely, had killed his brother before the civil struggle was decided, and now asked Sulla to proscribe the man, as one still living; and he was proscribed. Then Catiline, returning this favour of Sulla's, killed a certain Marcus Marius, one of the opposite faction, and brought his head to Sulla as he was sitting in the forum, and then going to the lustral water of Apollo which was near, washed the blood off his hands.

33 1 But besides his massacres, the rest of Sulla's proceedings also gave offence. For he proclaimed himself dictator,58 reviving this particular office after a lapse of a hundred and twenty years. Moreover, an act was passed granting him immunity for all his past acts, and for the future, power of life and death, of confiscation, of colonization, of founding or demolishing cities, and of taking away or bestowing kingdoms at his pleasure. 2 He conducted the sales of confiscated estates in such arrogant and imperious fashion, from the tribunal where he sat, that his gifts excited more odium than his robberies. He bestowed on handsome women, musicians, comic actors, and the lowest of freedmen, the territories of nations and the revenues of cities, and women were married against their will to some of his favourites. 3 In the case of Pompey the Great,59 at least, p433wishing to establish relationship with him, he ordered him to divorce the wife he had, and then gave him in marriage Aemilia, daughter of Scaurus and his own wife Metella, whom he tore away from Manius Glabrio when she was with child by him; and the young woman died in childbirth at the house of Pompey.60 4 Lucretius Ofella, who had reduced Marius by siege, gave himself out as a candidate for the consulship, and Sulla at first tried to stop him; but when Ofella came down into the forum with a large and eager following, he sent one of the centurions in his retinue and slew him, himself sitting on a tribunal in the temple of Castor and beholding the murder from above. The people in the forum seized the centurion and brought him before the tribunal, but Sulla bade them cease their clamour, and said that he himself had ordered this deed, and commanded them to let the centurion go.

34 1 His triumph, however, which was imposing from the costliness and rarity of the royal spoils, had a greater ornament in the noble spectacle of the exiles. For the most distinguished and influential of the citizens, crowned with garlands, followed in the procession, calling Sulla their saviour and father, since indeed it was through him that they were returning to their native city and bringing with them their wives and children. 2 And when at last the whole spectacle was over, he gave an account of his achievements in a speech to the people, enumerating the instances of his good fortune with no less emphasis than his deeds of valour, and finally, in view of these, he ordered that he receive the surname of Fortunate (for this is what the word p435"Felix" most nearly means).


[image ALT: A very worn stone inscription, reading CORNELIO L SVLLAE FELIC DIC. It is a contemporaneous Roman inscription to the dictator Sulla in Chiusi, Tuscany (central Italy).]

An inscription of Sulla's in the Tuscan town of Chiusi, the ancient Clusium:

[L(ucio)] CORNELIO L[uci] [F(ilio)]
SVLLAE FEELIC[i]c
DIC[tatori]

"To Lucius Cornelius (the son of Lucius)
Sulla Felix,
the Dictator."

But he himself, in writing to the Greeks on official business, styled himself Epaphroditus, or Favourite of Venus,61 and on his trophies in our country his name is thus inscribed: Lucius Cornelius Sulla Epaphroditus. 3 Besides this, when Metella bore him twin children, he named the male child Faustus, and the female Fausta; for the Romans call what is auspicious and joyful, "faustum." And to such an extent did he put more confidence in his good fortunes than in his achievements, that, although he had slain great numbers of the citizens, and introduced great innovations and changes in the government of the city,62 he laid down his office of dictator, and put the consular elections in the hands of the people; and when they were held, he did not go near them himself, but walked up and down the forum like a private man, exposing his person freely to all who wished to call him to account. 4 Contrary to his wishes, a certain bold enemy of his was likely to be chosen consul, Marcus Lepidus, not through his own efforts, but owing to the success which Pompey had in soliciting votes for him from the people. 5 And so, when Sulla saw Pompey going away from the polls delighted with his victory, he called him to him, and said:63 "What a fine victory this is of thine, young man, to elect Lepidus in preference to Catulus, the most unstable instead of the best of men! Now, surely, it is high time for thee to be watchful, after strengthening thine adversary against thyself." And in saying this, Sulla was something of a prophet; for p437Lepidus speedily waxed insolent and went to war with Pompey and his party.64

35 1 On consecrating the tenth of all his substance to Hercules, Sulla feasted the people sumptuously, and his provision for them was so much beyond what was needed that great quantities of meats were daily cast into the river, and wine was drunk that was forty years old and upwards. 2 In the midst of the feasting, which lasted many days, Metella lay sick and dying. And since the priests forbade Sulla to go near her, or to have his house polluted by her funeral, he sent her a bill of divorce, and ordered her to be carried to another house while she was still living. In doing this, he observed the strict letter of the law, out of superstition; but the law limiting the expense of the funeral, which law he had himself introduced, he transgressed, and spared no outlays. 3 He transgressed also his own ordinances limiting the cost of banquets, when he tried to assuage his sorrow by drinking parties and convivial banquets, where extravagance and ribaldry prevailed.

A few months afterwards there was a gladiatorial spectacle,d and since the places for men and women in the theatre were not yet separated,65 but still promiscuous, it chanced that there was sitting near Sulla a woman of great beauty and splendid birth; 4 she was a daughter of Messala, a sister of Hortensius the orator, and her name was Valeria, and so it happened that she had recently been divorced from her husband. As she passed along behind Sulla, she rested her hand upon him, plucked off a bit of nap p439from his mantle, and then proceeded to her own place. When Sulla looked at her in astonishment, she said: "It's nothing of importance, Dictator, but I too wish to partake a little in thy felicity." 5 Sulla was not displeased at hearing this, nay, it was at once clear that his fancy was tickled, for he secretly sent and asked her name, and inquired about her family and history. Then followed mutual glances, continual turnings of the face to gaze, interchanges of smiles, and at last a formal compact of marriage. All this was perhaps blameless on her part, but Sulla, even though she was ever so chaste and reputable, did not marry her from any chaste and worthy motive; he was led away, like a young man, by looks and languishing airs, through which the most disgraceful and shameless passions are naturally excited.

36 1 However, even though he had such a wife at home, he consorted with actresses, harpists, and theatrical people, drinking with them on couches all day long. For these were the men who had most influence with him now: Roscius the comedian, Sorex the archmime, and Metrobius the impersonator of women, for whom, though past his prime, he continued up to the last to be passionately fond, and made no denial of it.66 2 By this mode of life he aggravated a disease which was insignificant in its beginnings, and for a long time he knew not that his bowels were ulcerated. This disease corrupted his whole flesh also, and converted it into worms, so that although many were employed day and night in removing them, what they took away was as nothing compared with the increase upon him, but all his clothing, p441baths, hand-basins, and food, were infected with that flux of corruption, so violent was its discharge. 3 Therefore he immersed himself many times a‑day in water to cleanse and scour his person. But it was of no use; for the change gained upon him rapidly, and the swarm of vermin defied all purification.

We are told that in very ancient times, Acastus the son of Pelias was thus eaten of worms and died, and in later times, Alcman the lyric poet, Pherecydes the theologian, Callisthenes of Olynthus, who was kept closely imprisoned, as also Mucius the jurist; 4 and if mention is to be made of men who no excellence to commend them, but were notorious for other reasons, it is said that the runaway slave who headed the servile war in Sicily,67 Eunus by name, was taken to Rome after his capture, and died there of this disease.

37 1 Sulla not only foresaw his own death, but may be said to have written about it also. For he stopped writing the twenty-second book of his Memoirs two days before he died, and he there says that the Chaldaeans foretold him that, after an honourable life, he was to end his days at the height of his good fortunes. 2 He says also that his son, who had died a little while before Metella, appeared to him in his dreams, clad in mean attire, and besought his father to pursue an end to anxious thoughts, and come with him to his mother Metella, there to live in peace and quietness with her. However, he did not cease to transact the public business. 3 For instance, ten days before he died, he reconciled the opposing factions in Dicaearchia,68 and prescribed a code of p443laws for their conduct of the city's government; and one day before he died, on learning that the magistrate there, Granius, refused to pay a debt he owed the public treasury, in expectation of his death, he summoned him to his room, stationed his servants about him, and ordered them to strangle him; but with the strain which he put upon his voice and body, he ruptured his abscess and lost a great quantity of blood. 4 In consequence of this his strength failed, and after a night of wretchedness, he died, leaving two young children by Metella.69 For it was after his death that Valeria gave birth to a daughter, who was called Postuma, this being the name which the Romans give to children who are born after their father's death.

38 1 Many now joined themselves eagerly to Lepidus, purposing to deprive Sulla's body of the usual burial honours; but Pompey, although offended at Sulla (for he alone, of all his friends, was not mentioned in his will), diverted some from their purpose by his kindly influence and entreaties, and others by his threats, and then conveyed the body to Rome, and secured for it an honourable as well as a safe interment. 2 And it is said that the women contributed such a vast quantity of spices for it, that, apart from what was carried on two hundred and ten litters, a large image of Sulla himself, and another image of a lictor, was moulded out of costly frankincense and cinnamon. The day was cloudy in the morning, and the expectation was that it would rain, but at last, at the ninth hour,70 the corpse was placed upon the funeral pyre. 3 Then a strong wind smote p445the pyre, and roused a mighty flame, and there was just time to collect the bones for burial, while the pyre was smouldering and the fire was going out, when a heavy rain began to fall, which continued till night. Therefore his good fortune would seem to have lasted to the very end, and taken part in his funeral rites. 4 At any rate, his monument stands in the Campus Martius, and the inscription on it, they say, is one which he wrote for it himself, and the substance of it is, that no friend ever surpassed him in kindness, and no enemy in mischief.


The Editor's Notes:

1 In Sulla's time the sestertius was a silver coin worth between two and three pence, or about five cents. The attic drachma was a silver coin worth about eight pence, or twenty cents.

Thayer's Note: This translation was published in 1916 (notice the pound at $4.80); in 2004, the first figure would be roughly 55 pence or 85 cents, and the second roughly £2.20 or $3.40.

2 The sense of the obscure Greek is clear from chapter xxxvi.1 fin. Capps suggests ὡς . . . . ὤν.

3 107 B.C.

4 In his Memoirs. Cf. chapter vi.5.

5 Phoenissae, 532 ff. (Kirchhoff).

6 He returned to Rome in 101 B.C., and was elected praetor in 93 B.C.

7 Not the dictator, who was only seven years old at the time.

8 90‑89 B.C., following the revolt of Rome's Italian allies.

9 In 88 B.C.

10 In the seventy-seventh, one of the lost books.

11 Cf. chapter xiii.1.

12 Sulla was occupied with the siege of Nola, in Campania.

13 The Greek of this sentence is acknowledged by all editors to be corrupt. The translation follows Coraës.

14 Plutarch must mean the "Great Mother," Cybele. Cf. Themistocles, xxx.1.

15 A place of public entertainment a few miles south of Rome (Strabo, V.3,9). The name has been substituted for the Picinae of the best MS., about which nothing is known.

16 In 87 B.C.

17 The gifts of Croesus, king of Lydia (Herodotus, I.51).

18 Manius Acilius Glabrio, consul in 191 B.C., defeated Antiochus the Great at Thermopylae, and forced him to return to Asia.

19 Flamininus defeated Philip V of Macedon at Cynoscephalae in 197 B.C., and Aemilius Paulus crushed Perseus, the last king of Macedonia, at Pydna, in 168 B.C. See Plutarch's Flamininus, xv; Aemilius Paulus, xvi‑xxii.

Thayer's Note: The date of the battle of Pydna, although it is usually given in the English-speaking world as 168 B.C., was probably in 172: see Plut. Aem. 17.7 and my note there.

20 According to Appian, Bell. Civ. i.71, Octavius, the consul, a supporter of Sulla, was killed at Rome by Censorinus, acting under the orders of Marius and Cinna, in 86 B.C. Valerius Flaccus, chosen consul to succeed Marius, in 86 B.C., (p367)was sent into Asia to thwart Sulla and conduct the war against Mithridates, but was murdered there by his mutinous lieutenant, Fimbria, in the following year. See chapters xx.1; xxiii.6; Lucullus, xxxiv.2.

21 The Outer Cerameicus, i.e. the suburb before the Dipylon, or Sacred Gate, through which one left the city for Eleusis.

22 An unknown feature of the wall, somewhere between the Piraïc, or west gate, and the Dipylon, or Sacred Gate, opening to the N.W.

23 In Plutarch's time.

24 86 B.C. Cf. the description of the capture of Athens given by Appian, Bell. Mith. xxx.

25 In the time of Deucalion, the Noah of Greek tradition. (Cf. Pausanias, I.18.7.)

26 It must have been finished in 330‑329 B.C. See Frazer on Pausanias, I.1.2.

27 One of the three harbours of the Piraeus.

28 At Thermopylae.

29 Cf. Herodotus, VIII.32.

30 As described in chapter xix.

31 Near Orchomenus, as described in chapter xxi.

32 Cf. chapter xvii.3. Archelaüs had followed Sulla towards Chaeroneia, leaving Murena free to join his chief.

33 The festival of Saturn, a time of general license and mirth, when masters treated their slaves as equals.

Thayer's Note: For a comprehensive treatment, see the article Saturnalia in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

34 See chapter xvii.7.

35 A deity of good fortune among the Romans.

36 So named "because in it Oedipus washed off the blood of his murdered father" (Pausanias, IX.18.4).

37 Cf. chapter xii.3‑6.

38 With Cinna, to succeed Marius, who died in 86 B.C.

39 The Boeotians excelled with the flute. See Alcibiades, ii.4‑6.

40 Plutarch must, therefore, have written this Life shortly before 115 A.D.

41 Elected consul with Cinna in 85 B.C.

42 See chapter xii.8 and note.

43 In the late autumn of 88 B.C. The cities of Asia Minor were glad to obey the orders of Mithridates for a general (p405)massacre of the resident Romans. Cf. Appian, Mithridates, xxii. Valerius Maximus (IX.2.4, Ext. 3) gives the number of slain as 80,000.

44 Cf. Lucullus, iv.1.

45 Cf. Strabo, XIII.1.54. Scepsis was a city of the Troad, (p407)and a centre of learning under the Attalid dynasty of Pergamum. The writings of Aristotle and Theophrastus were hidden in an underground cellar by their owners, to keep them from being taken to Pergamum, and came in a damaged condition into the possession of Apellicon.

46 In some passage not now extant.

Thayer's Note: Possibly of his Geography, but much more likely of one of his historical works; see Sir William Ridgeway, Contributions to Strabo's Biography (CR 2:84).

47 His fleet had sailed round Peloponnesus from Piraeus. According to Appian (Bell. Civ. i.79), Sulla crossed from Patras to Brundisium.

48 In the spring of 83 B.C. The main part of his forces, at any rate, must have landed at Brundisium.

49 The typical triumphal crown.

Thayer's Note: See illustration and article in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

50 In 83 B.C.

51 Cf. Publicola, xv.1.

52 Cf. Plutarch's Pompey, vi‑viii.

53 Cf. Plutarch's Crassus, vi.

54 At the close of the Social war, in 89 B.C., the Samnites and Lucanians alone persisted in their hostility to Rome. The Marian party had conciliated them, but they regarded Sulla as their bitterest foe.

55 Both the circus (Flaminius) and the temple were in the Campus Martius.

Thayer's Note: For the layout of the area and further details, see the article Aedes Bellonae in Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome.

56 A list of the persons proscribed was posted in public, and those whose names were on the list might be killed by any one who chose to do it.

57 According to Appian (Bell. Civ. i.94), as he was trying to escape from Praeneste by an underground passage.

58 In 81 B.C.

59 The title of Great was first bestowed on him by Sulla himself (cf. Pompey, xiii.4).

60 Cf. Plutarch's Pompey, ix.2.

61 Cf. chapter xix.5 and note.

62 Sulla restored the ancient powers of the senate, and reduced those of the tribunate. He resigned the dictatorship in 79 B.C.

63 Cf. Pompey, xv.1 f.

64 On the death of Sulla, in 78 B.C., Lepidus headed an insurrection, and attempted to overthrow the constitution. Pompey adhered to the senatorial party (Cf. Pompey, xvi).

65 As they were in the time of Augustus.

66 Cf. chapter ii.4.

67 B.C. 134; cf. Diodorus, XXXIV.2.23.

68 An earlier name for Puteoli.

69 Cf. chapter xxxiv.3.

70 I.e. in the middle of the afternoon.


Thayer's Notes:

a For two other more or less contemporary portraits of Sulla, see these offsite photographs:

Vatican Museums unidentified

b The Greek has "ten thousand plethra", for which the English is a very rough conversion: since the value of the plethron varies depending on place and period, it's maybe as good as can be got, although "somewhat more than two thousand acres" would be a bit better translation. In any case, about 800 hectares.

c For nearly ten years, I'd transcribed this inscription incorrectly, my mind overriding my eyes and refusing to give Sulla the second E in FEELICI; the doubled or so‑called Accian vowel was a mark of long quantity, seen commonly enough in Republican-period inscriptions, as for example in the tombstone of Marcus Caecilius on the Via Appia on one of my own pages. To top it off, I myself gleefully caught not one, but two other people making the same mistake on another famous inscription. Moral: Beware of eye-witnesses.

I'm indebted for the correction to Prof. Liv Mariah Yarrow, Chair of the Classics Department at Brooklyn College, CUNY.

d For a 1684 translation of this passage, see A note on Sir Thomas Browne's Of the Oracle of Apollo.


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