Sulla now busied himself with slaughter, and murders without number or limit filled the city. Many, too, were killed to gratify private hatreds, although they had no relations with Sulla, but he gave his consent in order to gratify his adherents. At last one of the younger men, Caius Metellus, made bold to ask Sulla in the senate what end there was to be of these evils, and how far he would proceed before they might expect such doings to cease.
[ldquo ]We do not ask thee,[rdquo ] he said, [ldquo ]to free from punishment those whom thou hast determined to slay, but to free from suspense those whom thou hast determined to save.[rdquo ] And when Sulla answered that he did not yet know whom he would spare, [ldquo ]Well, then,[rdquo ] said Metellus in reply, [ldquo ]let us know whom thou intendest to punish.[rdquo ] This Sulla said he would do.
Some, however, say that it was not Metellus, but Fufidius, one of Sulla's fawning creatures, who made this last speech to him. Be that as it may, Sulla at once proscribed1
eighty persons, without communicating with any magistrate; and in spite of the general indignation, after a single day's interval, he proscribed two hundred and twenty others, and then on the third day, as many more.
Referring to these measures in a public harangue, he said that he was proscribing as many as he could remember, and those who now escaped his memory, he would proscribe at a future time. He also proscribed any one who harboured and saved a proscribed person, making death the punishment for such humanity, without exception of brother, son, or parents, but offering any one who slew a proscribed person two talents as a reward for his murderous deed, even though a slave should slay his master, or a son his father. And what seemed the greatest injustice of all, he took away all civil rights from the sons and grandsons of those who had been proscribed, and confiscated the property of all.
Moreover, proscriptions were made not only in Rome, but also in every city of Italy, and neither temple of God, nor hearth of hospitality, nor paternal home was free from the stain of bloodshed, but husbands were butchered in the embraces of their wedded wives, and sons in the arms of their mothers. Those who fell victims to political resentment and private hatred were as nothing compared with those who were butchered for the sake of their property, nay, even the executioners were prompted to say that his great house killed this man, his garden that man, his warm baths another.
Quintus Aurelius, a quiet and inoffensive man, who thought his only share in the general calamity was to condole with others in their misfortunes, came into the forum and read the list of the proscribed, and finding his own name there, said, [ldquo ]Ah! woe is me! my Alban estate is prosecuting me.[rdquo ] And he had not gone far before he was dispatched by some one who had hunted him down.