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L. Cornelius. An adherent of Marius, who played a conspicuous part in the civil war between that leader and Sulla. Having attained to the consulship, after the proscription of Marius by his opponent, he began to exert himself for the recall of the former, and accused Sulla , who was just going as proconsul to Asia, of maladministration. That commander, however, took no notice of the complaint. After the departure of Sulla , he brought forward once more the law of Sulpicius, which admitted the Italians into all the thirty-five tribes without distinction. A savage riot ensued, numbers were slain, and Cinna , with his chief partisans, was driven from the city by his colleague Octavius. The Italian towns, regarding the cause of Cinna as their own, received him with the utmost cordiality. He collected thirty legions, called the proscribed to his support, and, with Marius, Sertorius, and Carbo , marched upon and took possession of Rome. A scene of bloodshed and lawless rapine now ensued, which has perhaps no parallel in ancient or modern times, and has deservedly procured for those who were the actors in it the unmitigated abhorrence of posterity. Cinna and Marius, by their own authority, now declared themselves consuls for the ensuing year; but Marius dying, after having held that office for only seventeen days, Cinna remained in effect the absolute master of Rome. During the space of three years after this victory of his, he continued to hold possession of the government at home, a period during which, as Cicero remarks, the Republic was without laws and without dignity. At length, however, Sulla , after terminating the war with Mithridates, prepared to march home with his army and punish his opponents. Cinna , with his colleague Carbo , resolved thereupon to cross the Adriatic, and anticipate Sulla by attacking him in Greece; but a mutiny of their troops ensued, in which Cinna was slain, B.C. 77. Haughty, violent, always eager for vengeance, addicted to debauchery, precipitate in his plans, but always displaying courage in their execution, Cinna attained to a power little less absolute than that afterwards held by Sulla or Caesar; and it is somewhat remarkable that he should be so little known that scarcely a single personal anecdote of him is to be found on record.


One of the conspirators against Caesar ( Plut. Caes.).


HelviusGaius . A Roman poet, intimate with Caesar, and tribune of the people at the time when the latter was assassinated. According to Plutarch, he went to attend the obsequies of Caesar, but being mistaken by the populace for Cinna the conspirator, was torn to pieces by them. Helvius composed a poem entitled Smyrna (or Zmyrna), on which he was employed nine or ten years. Four fragments of it have reached us. It appears to have been characterized by considerable obscurity of meaning until the grammarian Crassicius wrote an able commentary upon it (Suet. Gram. 18). Some other fragments have also reached us of other productions of this poet. They may be found in L. Müller's edition of Catullus (1870).

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