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Sulla ends the Mithridatic War--Prepares to return to Rome--Death of Cinna--Negotiations with Sulla--Sulla in Italy--Terror in the City--Marshalling the Forces against Sulla--Omens and Prodigies--Battle at Canusium

Y.R. 669
[76] Sulla now hastened his return to meet his enemies, having quickly finished all his business with Mithridates, as I have already related. Within less than three years he had killed 160,000 men, recovered Greece, Macedonia, Ionia, Asia, and many other countries that Mithridates had previously occupied, taken the king's fleet away from him, and from such vast possessions restricted him to his paternal kingdom alone. He returned with a large and well-disciplined army, devoted to him and elated by its exploits.
B.C. 85
He had abundance of ships, money, and apparatus suitable for all emergencies, and was an object of terror to his enemies. Carbo and Cinna were in such fear of him that they despatched emissaries to all parts of Italy to collect money, soldiers, and supplies. They took their leading citizens into friendly intercourse and appealed especially to the newly created citizens of the towns, pretending that it was on their account that they were threatened with the present danger. They hastily repaired the ships, and recalled those that were in Sicily, guarded the coast, and, with fear and trembling, made rapid preparations in every way.

[77] Sulla wrote to the Senate in a tone of superiority concerning himself. He recounted what he had done in Africa in the Jugurthine war while he was still quæstor, what he had done as lieutenant in the Cimbric war, as prætor in Cilicia and in the Social war, and as consul. Most of all he dwelt upon his recent victories in the Mithridatic war, enumerating to them the many nations that had been under Mithridates and that he had recovered for the Romans. Of nothing did he make more account than that those who had been banished from Rome by Cinna had fled to him, and that he had received the helpless ones and supported them in their affliction. In return for which he said that he had been declared a public enemy by his foes, his house had been destroyed, his friends put to death, and his wife and children had with difficulty made their escape to him. He would be there presently to take vengeance, for them and for the entire city, upon the guilty ones. He assured the other citizens, and the new citizens, that he made no complaint against them. When the contents of the letters became known fear fell upon all, and they began sending messengers to reconcile him with his enemies and to tell him in advance that if he wanted any security he should write to the Senate at once. They ordered Cinna and Carbo to cease recruiting soldiers until Sulla's answer should be received. They promised to do so, but as soon as the messengers had gone they proclaimed themselves consuls for the ensuing year so that they need not come back to the city directly to hold the election. They traversed Italy, collecting soldiers whom they carried across by detachments on shipboard to Liburnia,1 as they expected to meet Sulla there.

Y.R. 670

[78] The first detachment had a prosperous voyage. The

B.C. 84
next one encountered a storm and those who reached land went home immediately, as they did not relish the prospect of fighting their fellow-citizens. When the rest learned this they refused to cross to Liburnia. Cinna was angry and called them to an assembly in order to coerce them. They, angry also and ready to defend themselves, assembled. One of the lictors, who was clearing the road for Cinna, struck somebody who was in the way and one of the soldiers struck the lictor. Cinna ordered the arrest of the offender, whereupon a clamor rose on all sides, stones were thrown at him, and those who were near him drew their swords and stabbed him. So Cinna also perished during his consulship. Carbo recalled those who had been sent over by ship to Liburnia. As he was solicitous about the present state of things, he did not go back to the city, although the tribunes summoned him with urgency to hold an election for the choice of a colleague. When they threatened to reduce him to the rank of a private citizen he came back and ordered the holding of the consular election, but as the omens were unfavorable he postponed it to another day. When that day came lightning struck the temples of Luna and of Ceres; so the augurs prorogued the comitia beyond the summer solstice, and Carbo remained the sole consul.

[79] Sulla answered those who came to him from the Senate, saying that he would never be on friendly terms with the men who had committed such crimes. Still he would not prevent the city from extending clemency to them. As for security he said that, as he had a devoted army, he could better furnish lasting security to them, and to those who had fled to his camp, than they to him; whereby it was made plain in a single sentence that he would not disband his army, but was contemplating the exercise of supreme power. He demanded of them his former dignity, his property, and the sacerdotal office, and that they should restore to him in full measure whatever other honors he had previously held. He sent some of his own men with the Senate's messengers to confer about these matters. As soon as they learned from the Brundusians that Cinna was dead and that Rome was in an unsettled state, they went back to Sulla without transacting their business.

Y.R. 671
He started with five legions of Italian troops and
B.C. 83
6000 horse, to whom he added some other forces from the Peloponnesus and Macedonia, in all about 40,000 men. He led them from the Piræus to Patræ, and then sailed from Patræ to Brundusium in 1600 ships. The Brundusians received him without a fight, for which favor he afterward gave them exemption from customs-duties, which they enjoy to this day. Then he put his army in motion and went forward.

[80] He was met on the road by Cæcilius Metellus Pius, who had been chosen some time before to finish up the Social War, but who did not return to the. city for fear of Cinna and Marius. He had been awaiting the turn of events in Liguria, and now offered himself as a volunteer ally with the force under his command, as he was still a proconsul; for those who have been chosen to this office retain it till they come back to Rome. After Metellus, came Pompey, who not long afterward was surnamed the Great, son of the Pompeius who was killed by lightning and who was supposed to be unfriendly to Sulla. The son removed this suspicion by coming with a legion which he had collected from the territory of Picenum on the reputation of his father, who had been very influential there. A little later he recruited two more legions and became Sulla's most useful right-hand man in these affairs. So Sulla held him in honor, though still very young; and they say he rose at the entrance of none other than this youth. After the war was finished Sulla sent him to Africa to drive out the party of Carbo and to restore Hiempsal (who had been expelled by the Numidians) to his kingdom. For this service Sulla allowed him a triumph over the Numidians, although he was under age, and was still in the equestrian order. He took his start to greatness from this beginning, and was sent against Sertorius in Spain and later against Mithridates in Pontus. Cethegus also joined Sulla, although with Cinna and Marius he had been violently hostile to him and had been driven out of the city with them. He was now a suppliant, and offered his services to Sulla in any capacity he might desire.

[81] Sulla now had plenty of soldiers and a sufficient number of friends of the higher orders, whom he used as lieutenants. He and Metellus, who were both proconsuls, marched in advance, for it seems that Sulla, who had been appointed proconsul against Mithridates, had at no time laid down his command, although he had been voted a public enemy at the instance of Cinna. Now Sulla moved against his enemies with a most intense yet concealed hatred. The people in the city, who had formed a pretty fair judgment of the character of the man, and who remembered his former attack and capture of the city, and who took into account the decrees they had proclaimed against him, and who had witnessed the destruction of his house, the confiscation of his property, the killing of his friends, and the narrow escape of his family, were in a state of terror. Conceiving that there was no middle ground between victory and utter destruction, they united with the consuls to resist Sulla, but with trepidation. They despatched messengers throughout Italy to collect soldiers, provisions, and money, and, as in cases of extreme peril, they omitted nothing that zeal and earnestness could suggest.

[82] Gaius Norbanus and Lucius Scipio, who were then the consuls, and with them Carbo, who had been consul the previous year (all of them moved by equal hatred of Sulla and more fearful than others because they knew that they were more to blame for what had been done), levied the best possible army from the city, obtained an additional one from Italy, and marched against Sulla in detachments. They had 200 cohorts of 500 men each at first, and their forces were considerably augmented afterward. The sympathies of the people were much in favor of the consuls, because the action of Sulla, who was marching against his country, seemed to be that of an enemy, while that of the consuls, even if they were working for themselves, was ostensibly the cause of the republic. Many persons, too, who knew that they had shared the guilt of the consuls, and who were believed to share their fears, coöperated with them. They knew very well that Sulla was not meditating merely prevention, correction, and alarm for them, but destruction, death, confiscation, and complete extermination. In this they were not mistaken, for the war ruined everything. From 10,000 to 20,000 men were slain in a single battle more than once. Fifty thousand on both sides lost their lives around the city, and to the survivors Sulla was unsparing in severity, both to individuals and to communities, until, finally, he made himself the undisputed master of the whole Roman government, so far as he wished or cared to be.

[83] It seems, too, that divine Providence foretold to them the results of this war. Sights terrible and unexpected were observed by many, both in public and in private, throughout all Italy. Ancient, awe-inspiring oracles were remembered. Many monstrous things happened. A mule gave birth to a colt. A pregnant woman was delivered of a viper instead of a baby. There was a severe earthquake divinely sent and some of the temples in Rome were thrown down (the Romans gave altogether too much attention to such things). The Capitol, that had been built by the kings 400 years before, burned down, and nobody could discover the cause of the fire. All things seemed to point to a succession of slaughters, to the conquest of Italy and of the Romans themselves, to the capture of the city, and a change in the form of government.

[84] This war began as soon as Sulla arrived at Brundusium, which was in the 174th Olympiad. Considering the magnitude of the work accomplished, its length was not great, compared with such wars in general, since the combatants rushed upon each other with the fury of private enemies. For this reason greater and more distressing calamities than usual befell the eager participants in a short space of time. Nevertheless the war lasted three years in Italy alone, until Sulla had secured the supreme power, but in Spain it continued even after Sulla's death. Battles, skirmishes, sieges, and fighting of all kinds were numerous throughout Italy, both regular engagements under the generals and by detachments, and all were noteworthy. The greatest and most remarkable of them I shall mention in this book. First of all Sulla and Metellus fought a battle against Norbanus at Canusium and killed 6000 of his men, while Sulla's loss was seventy, but many of his men were wounded. Norbanus retreated to Capua.

1 On the northern coast of Illyria.

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