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[3] No unseemly deed was wanting until, about fifty years after the death of Gracchus, Cornelius Sulla, one of these chiefs of factions, doctoring one evil with another, made himself the absolute master of the state for an indefinite period. Such officials were formerly called dictators -- an office created in the most perilous emergencies for six months only, and long since fallen into disuse. Sulla, although nominally elected, became dictator for life by force and compulsion. Nevertheless he became satiated
B.C. 82
with power and was the first man, so far as I know, holding
Y.R. 675
supreme power, who had the courage to lay it down voluntarily
B.C. 79
and to declare that he would render an account of his stewardship to any who were dissatisfied with it. And so, for a considerable period, he walked to the forum as a private citizen in the sight of all and returned home unmolested, so great was the awe of his government still remaining in the minds of the onlookers, or their amazement at his laying it down. Perhaps they were ashamed to call for an accounting, or entertained other good feeling toward him, or a belief that his despotism had been beneficial to the state. Thus there was a cessation of factions for a short time while Sulla lived, and a compensation for the evils which Sulla had wrought.

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