It is difficult to say about part of the legislation of this period whether it was directly due to Sulla or not, just as some of the changes in the army may or may not have been due to Marius, but were certainly made about his time. The method of gathering together all the changes made within certain dates, attributing them to one man, and basing an estimate of his character on them, has a simplicity about it which enables the writer to be graphic and spares the reader trouble, but is an unsatisfactory way of presenting history. Enough, however, is known of Sulla's own measures to make their general tendency perfectly plain. [Main object of Sulla's laws.] His main object was to restore the authority of the Senate, and to do more than restore it, to give it such power as might, if it was true to itself, secure it from mob-rule on the one hand and tyranny on the other. Though he foresaw that his efforts would be futile, he was none the less energetic in making them, and may reasonably have hoped that they would at all events last his time, and enable him to enjoy himself in Campania, undisturbed by another revolution. Our acquaintance with his laws is only second-hand, for none of them survive in their original form. They are known as Leges Corneliae, a term which, though applicable to some other laws, is usually applied to those of his making.

The Senate had originally been an advising council. Then it had acquired superior authority, and issued commands to the magistrates. It was placed by Sulla in a still higher position. [He reconstitutes the Senate;] To fill up its exhausted ranks he admitted to it 300 of the equestrian order; and, though it is not certain what its numbers were to be, it is probable that they were fixed at about 500. Then he provided for keeping the list full for the future. [fills it up from the quaestors;] Hitherto a man had become a senator either at the censor's summons (of which he was practically certain if he had been tribune or quaestor), or, if he had been consul, praetor or aedile. [increases the number of the quaestors;] Sulla made the quaestorship instead of the aedileship the regular stepping-stone, and increased the number of the quaestors to twenty. [degrades the censorship.] He also, in all probability, though it is not certain, took away from the censors their right of conferring or taking away senatorial rank. 'Once a senator, always a senator,' was therefore now the rule; and as the quaestors, who were the main source of supply, were nominated by the Comitia Tributa, the Senate became a more representative as well as a more permanent body than before, and independent of the magistrates.

[Legislative initiative given to the Senate.] Secondly, we have seen that Sulla had given to the Senate by law the power which it had previously exercised only by custom, of deliberating on a measure before it was submitted to the vote of the Comitia. This was one security against any measure being carried against its interests. Before this the practice had been either for the Senate through the tribunes to submit a measure to the vote, or for the tribunes to submit a measure of their own after obtaining the Senate's authority to do so. Saturninus, as we have seen, had overridden this custom, and the only way in which the Senate could maintain its old privileges would have been either by proclaiming a justitium, as it did on that occasion, or by picking out some technical informality in the passing of the plebiscitum, had not Sulla thus made its previous authorisation absolutely indispensable. [Curtailment of the tribunes' prerogative.] The tribunes, being deprived of the power of proposing a measure at will to the Comitia Tributa, would also lose the power of prosecuting anyone before it, and probably lost the right of convening meetings in order to address the people. Sulla, too, provided that those who had been tribunes should be ineligible to other offices, and, though the right of veto seems to have been left to them, it is not clear that it was left without restrictions, while the abuse of it was made a heavily punishable offence. It is likely also that he made senators the only persons eligible to the tribunate. Positively, therefore, by making the Senate's previous consent to a law necessary, and negatively by these limitations of the prerogative of the tribunes, legislative power was placed wholly in the Senate's hands.

[Changes in the Comitia.] Thirdly, the balance in the Comitia themselves was so adjusted that the voting would be mostly in the Senate's interests. Something has already been said of Sulla's changes on this head, in reverting to the Servian mode of voting (p. 129). Some explanation of what this means may be given here. Sulla did not abolish the Comitia Tributa; but the measures just mentioned, as they left the practical power of legislation with the Senate, left the formal power with the Comitia Centuriata. [History of the Comitia Tributa and Centuriata.] We know the origin of the Comitia Centuriata. We do not know the origin of the Comitia Tributa. But we do know that by degrees the latter obtained legislative power co-ordinate with that of the former, and that the Plebiscitum became as binding on the nation as the Lex. There were in short two parallel bodies in which the people could make laws - ranged in the one by tribes, and voting on measures submitted to them by their tribunes; ranged in the other by centuries, and voting on measures submitted to them by the consul. But as the State became more and more democratic, the Comitia Tributa was more used than the Comitia Centuriata, in which legislation was gradually confined to special matters assigned to them by law or custom. Besides these functions the Comitia Tributa decided on war or peace, elected the tribunes, aediles, and lesser magistrates, and also usurped judicial power, arraigning magistrates for their conduct in office, &c. The functions of the Comitia Centuriata were, as we have, seen, also legislative. They elected to the higher magistracies and exercised jurisdiction in capital cases, a function which grew out of the Roman citizen's right to appeal. Each century had one vote; and as by the Servian arrangement the first class, though containing fewest voters, had nevertheless, owing to its highest assessment, most votes, it could by itself outvote the other classes. At some time or other this classification was altered; and a new system, based partly on centuries and partly on tribes, came into use. Each tribe was divided into ten centuries, five of seniors and five of juniors. The first class consisted of one of each of these from each tribe, so that, as there were thirty-five tribes, each class would consist of seventy centuries. It is said by some that the first class included also thirty-five centuries, or eighteen centuries of equites. If this be true, the first class would still have retained the preponderance of votes. In any case it had the best of the voting, for even if it was decided by lot which century of all the centuries should vote first, still the first class voted second, and the moral effect of the wealthier and weightier citizens voting one way or other would naturally influence the votes of the other centuries. Moreover some say that the lot was confined to the centuries of the first class. Such then was the original and such the modified constitution of the Comitia Centuriata. [Sulla's legislation about the Comitia.] Appian expressly states that Sulla reverted to the original mode of voting. But he may be confusing things, and only mean that Sulla took the voting power from the Comitia Tributa and vested it in the Comitia Centuriata. And this probably is what Sulla did.

[Curtailment of the power of the consuls and praetors.] Fourthly, as Sulla weakened the censorship in order to exalt the Senate's authority at its expense, so, to prevent any individual again obtaining undue influence, he ordained that no man should be consul till he had been first quaestor and then praetor, and that no man should be re-eligible to a curule office till after an interval of ten years. This, however, was not enough. It was his object to curtail the powers of every magistrate. And therefore, though the consulate was not dangerous to the Senate in the sense that the tribunate was, he laid hands both on it and on the praetorship. [Previous powers of the two offices.] The functions of the consuls and praetors had hitherto been these. The consuls had the general superintendence of all except judicial matters at home, and the military superintendence in all the provinces except Sicily, Sardinia, and the two Spains, in which they only occasionally exercised their imperium. One praetor, the Praetor Urbanus, presided over civil suits between Roman citizens. Another, the Praetor Peregrinus, superintended such suits between a citizen and an alien or between two aliens. The other four were over the four above-mentioned provinces. In case of need one man could do the work both of the Praetor Urbanus and the Praetor Peregrinus, leaving his colleague free for a military command. Or the consul or praetor might have his term of office extended, being bound to continue in his command till a successor arrived. Or one consul might manage the ordinary functions of both, and the other be similarly left free for some special employment. The Senate could in any given year assign, as business to be superintended by a consul or a praetor, some military command or judicial commission, and then the consuls or praetors had to settle by lot or by agreement who should undertake it. As the State grew greater these special assignations had to be made oftener. [The new scheme.] There had been eight officials for eight offices; now five new superintendents had to be provided for Asia, Africa, Macedonia, Narbo, and Cilicia, as well as one for the Quaestio de Repetundis. To enable eight men to do the work of fourteen the Senate made prolongation of office for a second year the rule, and the officials confined by the nature of these duties to the city during these years of office were generally sent at the end of it to the transmarine provinces where most money was to be made. Sulla increased the six praetors to eight, and made the two years' term of office the legal term. But if this added to their power in appearance, he diminished it in reality by separating the civil from the military functions altogether. The consuls and praetors were to manage the civil business of Rome. The proconsuls and propraetors were to command the army. In the first year of office the two consuls had the general administration of Rome, and two of the praetors its judicial administration. The other six presided over the various courts. In the second the ten exercised the imperium in Sicily, Sardinia, the two Spains, Asia, Africa, Macedonia, Cilicia, and the two Gauls, and none of them might stay in his province beyond thirty days after his successor's arrival; or, under penalties for treason, might leave his province during his term; or attack a foreign power without express leave from home. [Effect of the new scheme.] The effect of all this is plain. Whereas formerly the magistrates, directly elected in the Comitia, might combine civil and military authority, now the military authority could only be held by those whose term of office was prolonged by the Senate's pleasure; for, though the practice became invariable, it remained at the Senate's discretion to break through it when it chose.

[Co-optation restored to the colleges.] Fifthly, having thus lessened the power of the censors, consuls, praetors, and tribunes, he by way of compensation - a serio-comic compensation it must have seemed to his shrewd yet superstitious mind - restored the right of co-optation to the sacred colleges of augurs and pontiffs, and increased their numbers, thus multiplying harmless objects of rivalry analogous to the ribands and garters of modern courts.

Sixthly, he took away from the equites and restored to the Senate the judicia.

[Restoration of the Judicia to the Senate.] The judicia have been often mentioned, and something maybe said about them here. In civil suits the praetor, as we have seen, had the superintendence. Sometimes he decided a case at once. Sometimes, if he thought the case should be tried, he appointed a judex, giving him certain instructions by which after the investigation he must decide the case. His action here would be something like one of our judge's charges, but given before hearing the evidence. There is nothing to prove that a judex of this kind was at this time taken from any special class, or that Sulla interfered with the established mode of procedure. [Sidenote: Organisation of criminal courts.] It was about the constitution of the criminal courts that the long struggle had raged between the Senate and equites and here he made great changes. He found some permanent criminal courts (e.g. the Quaestio de Repetundis, or court for investigating cases of extortion in the provinces) already in existence. He instituted or settled others; but it cannot be ascertained how many of the following, which were in existence after his time, were due to him. There were at least nine of these permanent courts (Quaestiones Perpetuae): the Quaestio Majestatis; de vi; de sicariis &c; de veneficiis; de parricidio; de falso; de repetundis; peculatus; ambitus; or courts for trying cases of treason, violence, assassination, poisoning, parricide, forgery, extortion, embezzlement, and bribery. And there may have been more, e.g. de adulteriis and de plagiis, for trying cases of adultery and the enslavement of freemen. [Procedure in the courts.] His object in consolidating them was to take from the Comitia the settlement of criminal cases, and to obviate the necessity for appointing special commissions. For there was no appeal from the quaestio, and a special commission was seldom requisite when so many courts were available.

To preside in these courts there were six praetors; but, as there were more courts than praetors, a senator, called judex quaestionis, was appointed annually for each court where a president was wanting, something after the fashion by which one of our judges sometimes in press of business appoints a barrister as his deputy to clear off the cases. The praetor, or judex quaestionis, presided over the judices in each court, and the judices returned a verdict by a majority of votes, sometimes given by ballot, sometimes openly. In choosing these judices this was the process. The whole number available was, it is said, 300, divided into three decuriae. In any given case the praetor named the decuria from which the jurymen were to be taken, and then drew from an urn containing their names the number assigned by law for the case to be decided. Each side could then challenge a certain number, and fresh names were drawn from the urn in place of those challenged. What Sulla did was to supply these decuriae from the senators instead of the equites.

One of the permanent courts found by Sulla already existing was that of the Centumviri, who had jurisdiction over disputed inheritances. The members of it were elected by the tribes, three by each tribe, 105 in all. Though it was directly elected by the people, Sulla could apprehend no danger from such a court, and did not meddle with it.

[Other measures attributed to Sulla.] Other measures are attributed to Sulla on evidence more or less probable, such as the suppression of gratuitous distributions of corn; the abolition of the right of freedmen to vote, and of the reserved seats appropriated to the equites at public festivals; the re-establishment in Asia of fixed taxes instead of the farming system; the extension of Italy proper from the Aesis to the Rubicon, and the conversion of Cisalpine Gaul into a province. It may be considered certain that he did all that he could to humiliate the equites; but the settlement of Italy was probably not due to him.

[His minor measures.] Other minor laws of which he was the author dealt with specific criminal offences or social matters. One, as we have seen (p. 196) specified the penalties for all sorts of assassination and poisoning. Another dealt with forgery, another with violence to the person or property, another with marriage and probably adultery. Another was a sumptuary law, which is said to have limited the price of certain luxuries. If this was the case it was even sillier than other sumptuary laws, for it would have encouraged instead of checking gluttony. Lastly, there was a law for the settlement of his colonies through Italy, and at Aleria in Corsica.

[Effects of Sulla's legislation.] Sulla had for the moment undone by his legislation the work of ages. He gagged free speech by the disabilities attached to the tribunate. He kept the government within a close circle by his process of recruiting the Senate. He made the magistrates subordinate to the Senate. He filled Italy and Rome with his own partisans, and therefore with those of the Senate, and he gave back to the Senate that coveted possession of the judicia for which it had struggled so long with the equites. But a system which could endure only by the repression not only of hostile interests but of the ambition of its own adherents carried in itself the seeds of early dissolution. Almost before the reaction was complete a counter-reaction had begun. Abdication only revealed monarchy, and the broad road which Sulla had laid over the breakers and quicksands of revolution in reality paved the way to a throne.

[Sulla's abdication a farce.] When be abdicated, he offered to render account to anyone for his acts, and there is a story that one young man thereupon followed him to his home loading him with abuse, which Sulla listened to with meekness. If the story be true, the incident was probably a pre-arranged part of the ceremony of abdication, which in everything, except the fact that Sulla slipped off the cares of government, was of course a farce. His funeral showed what his real power continued to be, and, if another anecdote be true, just before his death he had a magistrate of Puteoli strangled because he had not collected in time his town's subscription to the restoration of the Capitol. He had in fact done mischievously what the Gracchi would have done beneficently; and greedy swordsmen occupied the soil which the tribunes would have divided peaceably among peaceable men. [The policy of the Gracchi justified by after events.] The civil wars and the triumvirates are the best vindication of the policy of the Gracchi, unless we can bring ourselves to fancy that the Gracchi created, instead of attempting wisely to satisfy, the demands of the age. By an orderly intermixture of Italians and foreigners with the corrupt body of Roman citizens new life might have been infused into the old system, and something foreshadowing modern representative government have been established, without proscription or praetorian rule. As it was, the vices of society only became aggravated at an era of violence, and the sharpest remedies failed to stay the creeping paralysis by which it was assailed.

The gradual depopulation of Italy has already been described. In spite of Sulla's colonies the ruin of the country must have been vastly accelerated by his civil wars and those which followed them. And, while the honest country class was dying out, the town class was ever plunging deeper into frivolity and voluptuousness. To defray the cost of the sumptuous life of the capital the fashionable spendthrift was forced to resort to extortion in the provinces, which, as we have seen, became so crying an evil that a permanent court existed for dealing with it before the time of Sulla. The greedy throve on usury, or involved the State in war, to fill their own purses. The fortunes amassed by an Aquillius, a Verres, a Lucullus, spoke as eloquently of Rome's rapacity abroad as did those of Crassus or Sulla in Italy. Such being the state of things under the government which Sulla strove to perpetuate, his character as a statesman deserves as strong reprobation as his conduct as a man. To lay down power from a sense of duty is one thing. Cynically to shrink from responsibility is another. The misery of the following half-century must be laid chiefly at Sulla's door. The inevitable goal to which everything was tending was as patent in his time as in the time of Augustus. Whatever may have been for the interest of the Roman aristocracy, monarchy was by this time for the interest of the Roman world.