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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
VIII. THE GREAT AGE OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC, 264-31 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 22
RIVALRY OF MARIUS AND SULLA
Marius and Sulla were rivals not only in war but also in politics. Sulla naturally espoused the aristocratic cause and stood as the champion of the Senate. Marius just as naturally became the head of the democratic party. The rivalry between the two leaders finally led to civil war. During Sulla's absence in the East the democrats got the upper hand at Rome and revenged themselves by murdering their political foes among the aristocrats. The reign of terror ended only with the sudden death of Marius, just after he had been elected to his seventh consulship. A few years later Sulla returned to Italy with his army and defeated the democrats in a great battle outside the Colline Gate of Rome. Sulla signalized his victory by ordering the assassination of every prominent man in the democratic party.
SULLA AS "PERPETUAL DICTATOR"
Sulla regarded this legalized butchery as a necessary step in his self- appointed task of putting the Roman government once more to rights. He now received the title of "Perpetual Dictator," with complete authority to govern the state until the new order of things should be established. Rome thus came under the rule of one man for the first time since the expulsion of the kings.
SULLA'S DEATH, 78 B.C.
The various measures by which Sulla intrenched the Senate in power did not long survive his death and hence had no lasting influence on Roman politics. After a rule of three years Sulla voluntarily gave up the dictatorship and retired to his villa on the bay of Naples. He died a few months later. The Senate honored him with a public funeral, the most splendid that Rome had ever seen. His monument bore an inscription which the dictator himself is said to have composed: "No friend ever did him a kindness and no enemy, a wrong, without being fully repaid."  That was one epitaph which told the truth.
 Plutarch, Sulla, 38.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy