General Sulla rose in popularity as an officer under Marius – he was later the victor in a bloody civil war which left him dictator of the Eternal City on behalf of the noble Patrician class. He followed this victory with proscriptions and killings of over 5000 citizens. He undertook numerous reforms, retired and died of a painful ulcer.
Sulla aka Silla
Roman general Sulla lived from 138-78BC. He started as a successful military leader within Marius’ army. He eventually gained significant command of his own, which clearly created strong tension between them which escalated during the crisis of the roman republic between the Patrician ruling class (Optimates) and the Plebeian citizens (Populares). Their rivalry degenerated into a devastating civil war which Sulla won.
He used his control over the armies to take controlling power of Rome by force, which he followed by with a series of proscriptions and killings of supporters from both camps. It is estimated that some 5000 Roman citizens were killed during this period (other sources suggest 9000). The young Julius Caesar happened to be on Sulla’s death list but was lucky to escape a deathly fate.
Sulla or silla, like Marius before him, established a new status quo with himself as dictator, including numerous laws, constitutional reform and investments which proved on the whole beneficial to the Roman state, a small example of this being the codification of the “cursus honorum” – the career path by which roman citizens could reach various positions within the Roman state. Thus, in counter balance to the deplorable and ruthless methods he employed to achieve power he also proved to have some positive virtues.
General Sulla retired and died “as his flesh ate into itself”
Among General Sulla’s virtues we can include the ability to let go of power, resign and retire. He moved to his villa on the bay of Naples, near Puteoli not far from Pompeii.
He died of heavy drinking, likely liver failure or a gastric ulcer which resulted in heavy bleeding: Pliny (Bk7 of Natural History) tells us how his flesh ate into itself and caused a horrid death not dissimilar to that which he had caused to others.
Leaders and Caesars of Ancient Rome in chronological order: | ancient roman kings | tarquin | marius | sulla | julius caesar | augustus |The 12 Caesars | Emperor Tiberius | caligula | Emperor Claudius | Emperor Nero | Emperor Vespasian | Rome’s Five Good Emperors | Hadrian | Roman Emperor Trajan | Emperor Constantine | Emperor Justinian |
You might also have a look at what it was to be emperor or “imperator”. A list of Roman Emperors. A general look at famous romans such as scaevola “the left handed”.