Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Constantinople Home Page  

Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


IV. The Revolution

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter X - The Sullan Constitution


Icon of the Christ and New Testament Reader

» Contents of this Chapter

Page 67

Almost without desiring it, Sulla had become the most famous general of his time and the shield of the oligarchy. New and more formidable crises ensued--the Mithradatic war, the Cinnan revolution; the star of Sulla continued always in the ascendant. Like the captain who seeks not to quench the flames of his burning ship but continues to fire on the enemy, Sulla, while the revolution was raging in Italy, persevered unshaken in Asia till the public foe was subdued. So soon as he had done with that foe, he crushed anarchy and saved the capital from the firebrands of the desperate Samnites and revolutionists. The moment of his return home was for Sulla an overpowering one in joy and in pain: he himself relates in his memoirs that during his first night in Rome he had not been able to close an eye, and we may well believe it.

But still his task was not at an end; his star was destined to rise still higher. Absolute autocrat as was ever any king, and yet constantly abiding on the ground of formal right, he bridled the ultra-reactionary party, annihilated the Gracchan constitution which had for forty years limited the oligarchy, and compelled first the powers of the capitalists and of the urban proletariate which had entered into rivalry with the oligarchy, and ultimately the arrogance of the sword which had grown up in the bosom of his own staff, to yield once more to the law which he strengthened afresh. He established the oligarchy on a more independent footing than ever, placed the magisterial power as a ministering instrument in its hands, committed to it the legislation, the courts, the supreme military and financial power, and furnished it with a sort of bodyguard in the liberated slaves and with a sort of army in the settled military colonists.

Lastly, when the work was finished, the creator gave way to his own creation; the absolute autocrat became of his own accord once more a simple senator. In all this long military and political career Sulla never lost a battle, was never compelled to retrace a single step, and, led astray neither by friends nor by foes, brought his work to the goal which he had himself proposed. He had reason, indeed, to thank his star. The capricious goddess of fortune seemed in his case for once to have exchanged caprice for steadfastness, and to have taken a pleasure in loading her favourite with successes and honours-- whether he desired them or not. But history must be more just towards him than he was towards himself, and must place him in a higher rank than that of the mere favourites of fortune.

Previous / First / Next Page of this Chapter

Do you see any typos or other mistakes? Please let us know and correct them

The History of Old Rome: Contents ||| The Medieval West | The Making of Europe | Constantinople Home Page

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Receive updates :

Learned Freeware

Reference address :