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.

[Sulla rewards his soldiers and establishes a permanent party.] Sulla's friends attended such auctions and made large fortunes. One of his centurions, named Luscius, bought an estate for 10,000,000 sesterces, or 88,540_l. of our money. One of his freedmen bought for 20_l. 12_s. an estate worth 61,000_l. Crassus, Verres, and Sulla's wife, Metella, became in this way infamously rich. In spite of such nominal prices, the sale of confiscated estates produced 350,000,000 sesterces, or nearly 3,000,000_l. of our money. Sulla approved of such purchases, for they bound the buyers to his interests, and ensured their wishing to uphold his acts after his death. With the same view of creating a permanent Sullan party in Italy, and at the same time to fulfil his pledges to the soldiers, he allotted to them all public lands in Italy hitherto undistributed, and all confiscated land not otherwise disposed of. In this way he punished and rewarded at a stroke. No fewer than 120,000 allotments were made and twenty-three legions provided for. There was in it a plausible mimicry of the democratic scheme of colonies which Sulla must have thoroughly enjoyed. Thus in Italy he provided a standing army to support his new constitution. [The Cornelii.] In Rome itself, by enfranchising 10,000 slaves whose owners had been slain, he formed a strong body of partisans ever ready to do his bidding; these were all named Cornelii. A man is known by his adherents, and the worst men were Sulla's proteges.

[Catiline.] Catiline's name rose into notoriety amid these horrors. He was said not only to have murdered his own brother, but, to requite Sulla for legalising the murder by including this brother's name in the list of the proscribed, to have committed the most horrible act of the Civil War - the torture of Marcus Marius Gratidianus. This man, because he was cousin of Marius, was offered up as a victim to the manes of Catulus, of whom the elder Marius had said, 'He must die.' This poor wretch was scourged, had his limbs broken, his nose and hands cut off, and his eyes gouged out of their sockets. Finally his head was cut off, and Cicero's brother writes that Catiline carried it in his hands streaming with blood. But no one would attach much importance to what the Ciceros said of Catiline, and two circumstances combine to point to his innocence of such extreme enormities. One is that it was the son of Catulus who begged as a boon from Sulla the death of this Marius, and his name was very likely confused with Catiline's in the street rumours of the time; and the other and more direct piece of evidence is, that Catiline was tried in the year 64 for murders committed at this time, and was acquitted. It is a curious thing that the obloquy which has clung to Catiline's name on such dubious reports has never attached in the same measure to the undoubted horrors and abominations of Sulla's career.

Sulla, though he meant above all to have his own way, had no objection to use constitutional forms where they could be conveniently employed. He made the Senate pass a resolution approving his acts, and, as there were no consuls in 82, after the death of Marius and Carbo, he retired from Rome for a while and told the Senate to elect an Interrex, in conformity with the prescribed usage under such circumstances. Then he wrote to the Interrex and recommended that a Dictator should be appointed, not for a limited time, but till he had restored quiet in the Roman world, and, with a touch of that irony which he could not resist displaying in and out of season, went on to say that he thought himself the best man for the post. [Sulla's power.] Thus, in November 82, he was formally invested with despotic power over the lives and property of his fellow-citizens, could contract or extend the frontiers of the State, could change as he pleased the constitution of the Italian towns and the provinces, could legislate for the future, could nominate proconsuls and propraetors, and could retain his absolute power as long as he liked. He might have dispensed with consuls altogether. But he did not care to do this. The consuls whom he allowed to be elected for 81 were of course possessed of merely nominal power. Twenty-four lictors preceded him in the streets. He told the people to hail him as 'Felix,' declared that his least deliberate were his most successful actions, signed himself 'Epaphroditus' when he wrote to Greeks, named his son and daughter Faustus and Fausta, boasted that the gods held converse with him in dreams, and sent a golden crown and axe to the goddess whom he believed to be his patroness. Like Wallenstein, he mingled indifference to bloodshed with extreme superstition and boundless self-confidence. But, as the historian remarks, 'a man who is superstitious is capable of any crime, for he believes that his gods can be conciliated by prayers and presents. The greatest crimes have not been committed by men who have no religious belief.' No doubt to his mind there was a sort of judicial retribution in all this bloodshed; and, as he tried to make himself out the favourite of the gods, so by formally announcing the close of the proscription lists for June 1, 81 B.C., he spread some veil of legality over his shameless violence. [Peculiarly horrible nature of Sulla's acts.] There is something particularly revolting in the business-like and systematic way in which he went about his murderous work, appointing a fixed time for it to end, a fixed list of the victims; a fixed price to be paid per head, a fixed exemption for the murderers from his own law 'De Sicariis.' Modern idolaters of a policy of blood and iron may profane history by their glorification of human monsters; but no sophistry can blind an independent reader to the real nature of Sulla's character and acts. He organized murder, and filled Italy with idle soldiers instead of honest husbandmen. He did so in the interests of a class - a class whose incapacity for government he had discovered; and yet, knowing that his re-establishment of this class could only be temporary, he fortified it by every means in his power, and then, after a theatrical finale, returned to the gross debaucheries in which he revelled. Anything more selfish or cynical cannot be conceived, and those who call vile acts by their plain names will not feel inclined to become Sulla's apologists.

When he died he left behind him, it is said, what he may have meant as his epitaph, an inscription containing the purport of three lines in the 'Medea' -

  Let no man deem me weak or womanly, 
  Or nerveless, but of quite another mood, 
  A scourge to foes, beneficent to friends.

Pompeius, the only man who had successfully bearded him, was the only friend not mentioned in his will. If anything could palliate his remorseless selfishness it is the candour with which he confessed it. He had made a vast private fortune out of his countrymen's misery. When he surrendered his dictatorship he offered a tenth of his property to Hercules, and gave a banquet to the people on so profuse a scale that great quantities of food were daily thrown into the Tiber. Some of the wine was forty years old, perhaps wine of that vintage which was gathered in when Caius Gracchus died. [He divorces Metella and marries again.] In the middle of the banquet his wife Metella sickened, and in order that, as Pontifex, he might prevent his home being polluted by death he divorced her, and removed her to another house while still alive. Soon afterwards he married another wife, who at a gladiatorial show came and plucked his sleeve, in order, as she said, to obtain some of his good fortune. [His abdication.] The rest of his life was spent, near Cumae, in hunting, writing his memoirs, amusing himself with actors, and practising all sorts of debauchery. Ten days before he died he settled the affairs of the people of Puteoli at their request, and was busy in collecting funds to restore the Capitol up to the last. [His death.] Some say he died of the disease which destroyed Herod. Some say that there is no such disease. Others say that he broke a blood-vessel when in a rage. He is described as having blue eyes, and a pale face so blotched over that it was likened to a mulberry sprinkled with meal.

[Rivalry of Lepidus and Pompeius.] His death, 78 B.C., was the signal for that break-up of his political institutions to which he had wilfully shut his eyes. The great men at Rome began to wrangle over his very body before it was cold. Lepidus, whom Pompeius, against Sulla's wishes, had helped to the consulship, opposed a public funeral. The other consul supported it. Sulla had with his usual shrewdness divined the character of Lepidus, and told Pompeius that he was only making a rival powerful. Pompeius opposed Lepidus now, for he knew that the partisans of Sulla would insist on doing honour to his memory. [Funeral of Sulla.] Appian describes the funeral at length. 'The body was borne on a litter, adorned with gold and other royal array, amid the flourish of trumpets, and with an escort of cavalry. After them followed a concourse of armed men, his old soldiers, who had thronged from all parts and fell in with the procession as each came up. Besides these there was as vast a crowd of other men as was ever seen at any funeral. In front were carried the axes and the other symbols of office which had belonged to him as dictator. But it was not till the procession reached Rome that the full splendour of the ceremonial was seen. More than 2,000 crowns of gold were borne in front, gifts from towns, from his old comrades in arms, and his personal friends. In every other respect, too, the pomp and circumstance of the funeral was past description. In awe of the veterans all the priests of all the sacred fraternities were there in full robes, with the Vestal Virgins, and all the senators, and all the magistrates, each in his garb of office. Next, in array that contrasted with theirs, came the knights of Rome in column; then all the men whom Sulla had commanded in his wars, and who had vied with each other in hastening there, carrying gilded standards and silver-plated shields. There was also a countless host of flute-players, making now most tender, now most wailing music. A cry of benediction, raised by the senators, was taken up by the knights and the soldiers, and re-echoed by the people, for some mourned his loss in reality, and others feared the soldiers and dreaded him in death as much as in life, the present scene recalling dreadful memories. That he had been a friend to his friends they could not but admit; but to the rest, even when dead, he was still terrible. The body was exhibited before the rostra, and the greatest orator of the time spoke the funeral oration; for Faustus, Sulla's son, was too young to do so. Then some strong senators took up the litter on their shoulders and bore it to the Campus Martius, where kings only were wont to be buried. There it was placed on the funeral pyre; and the knights and all the army circled round it in solemn procession. And that was Sulla's ending.'

To the student of history the story of such a funeral seems like the prostration of a nation of barbarians before the car of some demon-god. If the strong personality of the man - with all that dauntless bravery, that unerring sagacity, that trenchant tongue - still after two thousand years fascinates attention, if we are forced to own that for sheer power of will and intellect he stands in the very foremost rank of men, yet we feel also that in the case of such superhuman wickedness tyrannicide would, if it ever could, cease to be a crime.

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