Sulla – the first Roman to take Rome by storm

Lucius Cornelius Sulla came from a noble and ancient, but impoverished patrician family. His mother died when he was a child. Sulla’s father remarried, so his stepmother raised him. When Sulla was 14 years old (the age of majority according to Roman law), his father also died. The boy was left not only an orphan, but also the eldest man in the family. Due to poverty, he had to rent a house in Rome, because there was not enough money for his own house: after the death of his father, he had to pay his debts. However, the young man was not too sad, rather the opposite. Having freed himself from parental care, he began to throw parties to which he invited affordable women and artists, that is, representatives of the most despised by respectable Romans categories of citizens.

At the age of 31, Sulla ran out of the last remnants of her father’s inheritance, it was time to earn money on her own. For a noble youth in ancient Rome, the easiest way was to make capital in the war. Certainly not an ordinary legionnaire. Sulla successfully went to the quaestors (that is, he became an assistant to the consul, in this case Gaya Maria) and went to fight in Africa against the Numidian king Yugurta. The cheerful Sulla successfully found a common language with a variety of people and undoubtedly had outstanding organizational talents. He successfully coped with the first task of his commander: to collect an auxiliary army and send it by sea to North Africa.

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In the war, Sulla’s diplomatic talent helped him to negotiate with the king of Mauritania Bokkh, who was considered an ally of Jugurta, but was already looking towards the Romans. It was Sulla who became the link between the Roman commander Guy Marius and Bockh. As a result, Bokkh gave Jugurt to the Romans, and the war ended there. Marius returned to Rome and January 1, 104 BC. celebrated his triumph. After that, Sulla fought with the Germanic tribe of Cimbri, was elected praetor of Rome, and then became proconsul in Cilicia, in general, he did not have to be bored. And in 91 BC. suddenly broke out an uprising of the Italic tribes against Rome, which went down in history as the Allied War.

Italics lived in Roman territory, paid taxes, fought alongside the Romans as allies, but were not citizens of Rome. They strongly disliked this state of affairs, and ultimately the tribe of the Mars, and after it, other Italic tribes, revolted. Immediately before this, the tribune of the people, Mark Livy Drusus, put forward a bill equalizing the Italians in rights with the Romans, but the Senate did not pass it. This was the reason for the rebellion, which resulted in a real war.

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In this war, which lasted three years, the Romans managed to defeat the Italians, but politically, the rebels won – the Senate of Rome decided to consider them Roman citizens. It was this brutal war against its own allies that brought Sulla to the fore. He not only became famous for his victories, but received for them an extremely rare reward – a herbal wreath (woven from herbs that were collected on the field of a victorious battle). In the two previous centuries of Roman history, only two commanders received such a distinction, Sulla became the third. After the end of the war, Sulla was elected consul, that is, he became one of the two rulers of the Roman Republic.

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In this position, Sulla was supposed to lead the Roman army in the outbreak of war against Mithradates. But then Sulla’s former commander, Guy Mariy, who had been given a ride at the elections by the voters, stood in the way of Sulla. Since this is the case, Mari decided, it is necessary to change the electoral law and arrange re-elections. Together with his friend, the tribune of the people Publius Sulpicius Rufus, he put forward a draft law on the reform of the electoral system, and the consuls blocked it. But Maria’s supporters armed with daggers forced them to lift this ban, as a result, the Senate nevertheless voted for the new law, and Maria was appointed commander-in-chief instead of Sulla.

Sulla, who was unlawfully removed from power, fled from Rome and went to the troops. There he explained the situation to the soldiers, saying that Marius would undoubtedly dismiss most of the veterans and recruit new Roman citizens (that is, Italians) instead. Since the future war in the East seemed to the legionnaires a very profitable business (rich booty was expected), they were indignant at this news, and they supported Sulla, who led an army to Rome. For the first time in Roman history, the legions took the capital of their own state by storm.

At the same time, Sulla, when his six legions took the huge city under full control, only regained consular power, limiting himself to repealing the laws adopted by Sulpicius in his absence. Attempts by individual groups of soldiers to begin looting were immediately suppressed. Sulla passed several laws through the Senate that strengthened his power, but at the same time did not put forward demands to make him a dictator. After restoring order, Sulla, as planned, went to fight against Mithridates and spent the next few years away from Rome.

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