CHAPTER XIV. THE PERSONAL RULE AND DEATH OF SULLA.
Sulla was to all intents and purposes a king in Rome. He harangued the people on what he had achieved, and told them that if they were obedient he would make things better for them, but that he would not spare his enemies, and would punish everyone who had sided with them since Scipio violated his covenant. [Reign of terror in Rome.] Then began a reign of terror. Not only did he kill his enemies, but gave over to his creatures men against whom he had no complaint to make. At last a young noble, Caius Metellus, asked him in the Senate, 'Tell us, Sulla, when there is to be an end of our calamities. We do not ask thee to spare those whom those hast marked out for punishment, but to relieve the suspense of those whom thou hast determined to save.' Sulla replied that he did not yet know. 'Then,' said Metellus, 'let us know whom thou intendest to destroy.' [Sulla's proscriptions.] Sulla answered by issuing a first proscription list, including eighty names. People murmured at the illegality of this, and in two days, as if to rebuke their presumption, he issued a second of 220, and as many more the next day. Then he told the people from the rostrum that he had now proscribed all that he remembered, and those whom he had forgotten must come into some future proscription. Such a speech would seem incredible if put into the mouth of any other character it history; but it is in keeping with Sulla's passionless and nonchalant brutality. The ashes of Marius he ordered to be dug up and scattered in the Anio, the only unpractical act we ever read of him committing. Death was ordained for every one who should harbour or save a proscribed person, even his own brother, son, or parent. But he who killed a proscribed man, even if it was a slave who slew his master or a son his father, was to receive two talents. Even the son and grandson of those proscribed were deprived of the privileges of citizenship, and their property was confiscated. Not only in Rome but in all the cities of Italy this went on. Lists were posted everywhere, and it was a common saying among the ruffianly executioners, 'His fine home was the death of such an one, his gardens of another, his hot baths of a third,' for they hunted down men for their wealth more than from revenge. [Story illustrative of the time.] One day a quiet citizen came into the Forum, and out of mere curiosity read the proscription list. To his horror he saw his own name. 'Wretch,' he cried, 'that I am, my Alban villa pursues me!' and he had not gone far when a ruffian came up and killed him. [Sulla and Julius Caesar.] The famous Julius Caesar was one of those in danger. He would not divorce his wife at the bidding of Sulla, who confiscated her property if not his as well, being so far merciful for some reason which we do not know. [Story of Roscius.] One case has been made memorable by the fact that Cicero was the counsel for one of the sufferers. Two men named Roscius procured the assassination of a third of the same name by Sulla's favourite freedman, Chrysogonus, who then got the name of Roscius put on the proscription list, and, seizing on his property, expelled the man's son from it. He having friends at Rome fled to them, and made the assassins fear that they might be compelled to disgorge. So they suddenly charged the son with having killed his father. The most frightful circumstance about the case is not the piteous injustice suffered by the son, but the abject way in which Cicero speaks of Sulla, comparing him to Jupiter who, despite his universal beneficence, sometimes permits destruction, not on purpose but because his sway is so world-wide, and scouting the idea of its being possible for him to share personally in such wrongs. It has been well said, 'We almost touch the tyrant with our finger.' Cicero soon afterwards left Rome, probably from fear of Sulla.
[Wholesale punishment of towns.] It is said that the names of 4,700 persons were entered on the public records as having fallen in the proscriptions, besides many more who were assassinated for private reasons. Whole towns were put up for auction, says one writer, such as Spoletum, Praeneste, Interamna, and Florentia. By this we may understand that they lost all their land, their privileges, and public buildings, perhaps even the houses themselves. Others, such as Volaterrae and Arretium, were deprived of all privileges except that of Commercium or the right of trade.