CHAPTER IX. SULPICIUS.
[Sulla's measures.] His first measure was to annul the Sulpician laws. Secondly, to relieve the debtors, some colonies were established, and a law was passed about interest, the terms of which we do not know. Thirdly, the Senate, thinned by the Social War and the Varian law, was recruited by 300 optimates. Fourthly, because Sulpicius had resisted the proclamation of a justitium - that device by which the Senate had virtually, though not legally, retained in its own hands the power of discussing any measure before it was submitted to the people - therefore for the future no measure was to be submitted to the people till it had been previously discussed by the Senate. In other words, the Senate was now confirmed by law in a privilege which it had hitherto only exercised by the employment of a fiction. Fifthly, the votes were to be taken, not in the Comitia Tributa, but in the Comitia of Centuries. Sixthly, the five classes were no longer to have an equal voice, but the first class was, as in the Servian constitution, to have nearly half the votes. As the first class consisted of those who had an estate of 100,000 sesterces, this ordinance changed the democracy into a timocracy, transferring the power from the people generally to the wealthier classes: but, considering how voting had been manipulated of late, it was perhaps a measure due to the Senate quite as much as to Sulla. On the whole he legislated as little as he could and proscribed as few as he could. [Opposition to Sulla.] But he tried to get two of his partisans, Servius and Nonius, elected consuls for the year 87. Instead of them, however, L. Cornelius Cinna, a determined leader of the populares, was elected; and though Cnaeus Octavius, his colleague, was one of the optimates, he was not Sulla's creature. In another quarter his arrangements were thwarted even more unpleasantly. He had got a decree framed by the people, giving the army of the north to his friend Q. Pompeius Rufus, and recalling Cn. Pompeius Strabo. But the latter procured the assassination of the former, and remained at the head of the army. Still Sulla showed no resentment. A tribune named Virginius was threatening to prosecute him. But he contented himself with making Cinna ascend the Capitol with a stone in his hand, and, throwing it down before a number of spectators, solemnly swear to observe the new constitution. Then, leaving Metellus in Samnium and Appius Claudius at Nola, he hurried to Capua, and embarking at Brundusium felt, no doubt, that if he must pay his debt to the army before the army would commit fresh treasons for him, it was not unpleasant now to be forced away from the wasps' nest which he had stirred up round him at home. And so, making a virtue of a necessity, he sailed with a light heart from the chance of assassination at Rome to fame and fortune in the East.
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