Cambridge Ecce Romani Latin for the New Millennium Wheelock Disce Allen & Greenough None of the above

Sulla's Civil War

88-80 BCE

Romans v. Romans
Lucius Cornelius Sulla v. Gaius Marius (and Lucius Cornelius Cinna)

Tension between these two military generals began during the Jugurthine War. Though Marius was rewarded with a re-election to the position of consul and with a triumph, Sulla was given credit for capturing Jugurtha. When Mithridates moved to attack areas in Asia, annexed by Rome, during the Second Mithridatic War, both Marius and Sulla fought to distinguish themselves as military leaders. As consul, Sulla was first sent to confront Mithridates. Marius, however, appealed to the public, marched on the Senate with a mob of citizens, and was named commander. Sulla subsequently marched on Rome with Roman soldiers and drove Marius into exile. This was the first time a Roman commander had done such an action. After he had secured his position, he marched on to meet Mithridates. However, once he was gone, Marius was invited back into the city by the consul Cinna. Marius then instigated a period of terror, in which his political enemies were killed. Seven days into his consulship, however, Marius passed away and his co-consul, Cinna, rose to power. Cinna was killed by his own mutinous troops, and Sulla once again entered Rome.

When Sulla landed in Brundisium in 83 BCE, after the end of the Second Mithridatic War, Marius the Younger and his father’s legions prepared to fight Sulla. By 80 BCE, Sulla emerged as victor and was named Dictator of Rome. During this “Reign of Terror,” he instituted proscription lists, in which people’s names were listed. If these individuals were killed, their property could be seized by the state and a bounty paid to whomever did the killing. People on the lists were enemies of Sulla. Despite his almost unlimited power, Sulla resigned from his position in 79 BCE and went on to die peacefully on his country estate a few years later.


Monmouth College