As for Sulla, be at once received deputations and invitations from the other cities, but Athens was compelled by the tyrant Aristion to side with Mithridates. Against this city, therefore, Sulla led up all his forces, and investing the Piraeus, laid siege to it, bringing to bear upon it every sort of siege-engine, and making all sorts of assaults upon it.
And yet if he had been patient a little while, he might have captured the upper city without hazard, since it lacked the necessities of life and was already reduced by famine to the last extremity. But since he was eager to get back to Rome, and feared the spirit of revolution there, he ran many risks, fought many battles, and made great outlays that he might hasten on the war, in which, not to speak of his other munitions, the operation of the siege-engines called for ten thousand pairs of mules, which were employed daily for this service.
And when timber began to fail, owing to the destruction of many of the works, which broke down of their own weight, and to the burning of those which were continually smitten by the enemy's fire-bolts, he laid hands upon the sacred groves, and ravaged the Academy, which was the most wooded of the city's suburbs, as well as the Lyceum. And since he needed much money also for the war, he diverted to his uses the sacred treasures of Hellas, partly from Epidaurus, and partly from Olympia, sending for the most beautiful and most precious of the offerings there.
He wrote also to the Amphictyons at Delphi that it was better to have the treasures of the god sent to him; for he would either keep them more safely, or, if he spent them, would restore as much. And he sent Caphis, the Phocian, one of his friends, with the letter, bidding him receive each article by weight. Caphis came to Delphi, but was loth to touch the sacred objects, and shed many tears, in the presence of the Amphictyons, over the necessity of it.
And when some of them declared they heard the sound of the god's lyre in the inner sanctuary, Caphis, either because he believed them, or because he wished to strike Sulla with superstitious fear, sent word to him about it. But Sulla wrote back jocosely, expressing his amazement that Caphis did not understand that singing was done in joy, not anger; his orders were therefore to take boldly, assured that the god was willing and glad to give.
Accordingly, the rest of the treasures were sent away without the knowledge of the most, certainly, of the Greeks; but the silver jar, the only one of the royal gifts1
which still remained, was too large and heavy for any beast of burden to carry, and the Amphictyons were compelled to cut it into pieces. As they did so, they called to mind now Titus Flamininus and Manius Acilius, and now Aemilius Paulus, of whom one had driven Antiochus out of Greece,2
and the others had subdued in war the kings of Macedonia;3
these had not only spared the sanctuaries of the Greeks, but had even made additional gifts to them, and greatly increased their honour and dignity.
But these were lawful commanders of men who were self-restrained and had learned to serve their leaders without a murmur, and they were themselves kingly in spirit and simple in their personal expenses, and indulged in moderate and specified public expenditures, deeming it more disgraceful to flatter their soldiers than to fear their enemies;
the generals of this later time, however, who won their primacy by force, not merit, and who needed their armies for service against one another, rather than against the public enemy, were compelled to merge the general in the demagogue, and then, by purchasing the services of their soldiers with lavish sums to be spent on luxurious living, they unwittingly made their whole country a thing for sale, and themselves slaves of the basest men for the sake of ruling over the better. This was what drove out Marius, and then brought him back again against Sulla; this made Cinna the assassin of Octavius, and Fimbria of Flaccus.4
And it was Sulla who, more than any one else, paved the way for these horrors, by making lavish expenditures upon the soldiers under his own command that he might corrupt and win over those whom others commanded, so that in making traitors of the rest, and profligates of his own soldiers, he had need of much money, and especially for this siege.