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[103] The following year Sulla, although he was dictator,
B.C. 80
undertook the consulship a second time, with Metellus Pius for his colleague, in order to preserve the pretence and form of democratic government. It is perhaps from this example that the Roman emperors now make a showing of consuls to the country and even exhibit themselves in that capacity, considering it not unbecoming to hold the office of consul in connection with the supreme power. The next year the people, in order to pay court to Sulla, chose him consul again, but he refused the office and nominated Servilius Isauricus and Claudius Pulcher for their suffrages, and voluntarily laid down the supreme power, although nobody was troubling him. This act seems wonderful to me--that Sulla should have been the first, and till then the only one, to abdicate such vast power without compulsion, not to sons (like Ptolemy in Egypt, or Ariobarzanes in Cappadocia, or Seleucus in Syria), but to the very people over whom he had tyrannized. Almost incredible is it that after incurring so many dangers in forcing his way to this power he should have laid it down of his own free will after he had acquired it. Paradoxical beyond anything is the fact that he was afraid of nothing, although more than 100,000 young men had perished in this war, and he had destroyed of his enemies ninety senators, fifteen consulars, and 2600 of the so-called knights, including the banished. The property of these men had been confiscated and many of their bodies cast out unburied. Undaunted by the relatives of these persons at home, or by the banished abroad, or by the cities whose
Y.R. 675
towers and walls he had thrown down and whose lands,
B.C. 79
money, and privileges he had swept away, Sulla now returned to private life.

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