But Sulla succeeded in making his escape and reaching the camp first, and his soldiers, when they learned what had happened, stoned the tribunes to death; in return for which, Marius and his partisans in the city went to slaying the friends of Sulla and plundering their property. Then there were removals and flights, some passing continually from camp to city, and others from city to camp.
The senate was not its own master, but was governed by the dictates of Marius and Sulpicius, and when it learned that Sulla was marching against the city, it sent two of the praetors, Brutus and Servilius, to forbid his advance. These men addressed Sulla with too much boldness, whereupon his soldiers would have gladly torn them to pieces, but contented themselves with breaking their fasces, stripping them of their senatorial togas, insulting them in many ways, and then sending them back to the city. Here a terrible dejection was produced by the mere sight of them, stripped of their praetorial insignia, and by their announcement that the sedition could no longer be checked, but must run its course.
Marius and his partisans, then, busied themselves with preparations; while Sulla, at the head of six full legions, moved with his colleague from Nola, his army, as he saw, being eager to march at once against the city, although he himself wavered in his own mind, and feared the danger. But after he had offered a sacrifice, Postumius the soothsayer learned what the omens were, and stretching out both hands to Sulla, begged that he might be bound and kept a prisoner until the battle, assuring him that he was willing to undergo the extremest penalty if all things did not speedily come to a good issue for him.
It is said, also, that to Sulla himself there appeared in his dreams a goddess whom the Romans learned to worship from the Cappadocians,1
whether she is Luna, or Minerva, or Bellona. This goddess, as Sulla fancied, stood by his side and put into his hand a thunder-bolt, and naming his enemies one by one, bade him smite them with it; and they were all smitten, and fell, and vanished away. Encouraged by the vision, he told it to his colleague, and at break of day led on towards Rome.
When he had reached Pictae,2
he was met by a deputation from the city, which begged him not to advance to an immediate attack, since the senate had voted that he should have all his rights; he therefore agreed to encamp there, and ordered his officers to measure out the ground, as was usual, for the camp, so that the deputation returned to the city believing that he would do so. But no sooner were they gone than he sent forward Lucius Basillus and Caius Mummius, who seized for him the city-gate and the walls on the Esquiline hill; then he himself followed hard after them with all speed.
Basillus and his men burst into the city and were forcing their way along, when the unarmed multitude pelted them with stones and tiles from the roofs of the houses, stopped their further progress, and crowded them back to the wall. But by this time Sulla was at hand, and seeing what was going on, shouted orders to set fire to the houses, and seizing a blazing torch, led the way himself, and ordered his archers to use their fire-bolts and shoot them up at the roofs. This he did not from any calm calculation,
but in a passion, and having surrendered to his anger the command over his actions, since he thought only of his enemies, and without any regard or even pity for friends and kindred and relations, made his entry by the aid of fire, which made no distinction between the guilty and the innocent. Meanwhile Marius, who had been driven back to the temple of Tellus, made a proclamation calling the slaves to his support under promise of freedom; but the enemy coming on, he was overpowered and fled from the city.