For he was possessed by some dreadful and inexorable passion for the capture of Athens, either because he was fighting with a sort of ardour against the shadow of the city's former glory, or because he was provoked to anger by the scurrilous abuse which had been showered from the walls upon himself and Metella by the tyrant Aristion, who always danced in mockery as he scoffed. This man's spirit was compounded of licentiousness and cruelty;
he had made himself a sink for the worst of the diseases and passions of Mithridates; and in these her last days he had fixed himself, like a fatal malady, upon a city which had previously passed safely through countless wars, and many usurpations and seditions. This man, although at the time a bushel of wheat sold in the city for a thousand drachmas, and although men made food for themselves of the fever-few which grew on the acropolis,
and boiled down shoes and leather oil-flasks to eat, was himself continually indulging in drinking-bouts and revels by daylight, was dancing in armour and making jokes to deride the enemy, while he suffered the sacred lamp of the goddess to go out for lack of oil; and when the chief priestess begged him for a twelfth of a bushel of wheat, he sent her so much pepper; and when the senators and priests came to him in suppliant array, and entreated him to take pity on the city and come to terms with Sulla, he scattered them with a volley of arrows.
But after a long time, at last, with much ado, he sent out two or three of his fellow-revellers to treat for peace, to whom Sulla, when they made no demands which could save the city, but talked in lofty strains about Theseus and Eumolpus and the Persian wars, said: [ldquo ]Be off, my dear Sirs, and take these speeches with you; for I was not sent to Athens by the Romans to learn its history, but to subdue its rebels.[rdquo ]