Civil War between Marius and Sulla
B.C. 87 to 82
Populares (party of Maruis) — versus — Optimates (party of Sulla)
The Feud between Marius and Sulla
Marius was a very successful general, who had B.C. , and was also chosen to lead an army against . The populares however, favored Marius to lead the army, and revoked Sulla's commission, so that the leadership of the army became a point of contention between the two political parties, thus turning what had been a political rivalry into a contest of wills between two powerful generals. When the populares faction prevailed, Sulla fled to his army, camped outside the city, and then, for the first time in history, he led a Roman army into the city itself, in gross violation of all principles of government. He was welcomed by the senate however, who considered the election of Marius an illegal act., reformed the army, and held the consulship an unprecedented six times. Once he retired from power he was appalled to see his long time rival, Sulla rise to a position of great power. Their rivalry broke out into open hostilities when Sulla was elected consul in 88
Exile and Return of Marius
The Return of Sulla
Many of the senators and optimates fled from Rome during this period, and joined Sulla in his camp in Greece. When Cinna and his colleagues realized that Sulla was intending to march upon Rome they began to raise an army to resist him. They sought alliances with many of the Italian cities who had recently revolted against Rome in the, reminding them that Sulla and his army had opposed their cause. As a result, the populares forces were scattered throughout Rome, and it was the work of some of Sulla's Generals, Pompey, Lucullus, and Metellus Pius, to see that they did not unite effectively.
In early battles, the populares general Norbanus was defeated at Mount Tifata and then Faventia. Sulla's army then marched towards Rome and defeated the populares forces, led by the son of Marius in a large scale battle. From that point, the path to Rome was blocked only by a large army of Samnites, who fought not for the populares, but in order to win the undefended city of Rome for themselves. The largest and bloodiest battle of the war, therefore, was fought outside the city gates after the populares army had already been defeated. The hero of the day was Crassus, who led the right wing, and decisively routed the Samnites. The butchery following the defeat of the Samnites was appalling, even by ancient standards. In the end Sulla took 6,000 prisoners and butchered them all outside the gates of Rome on the day he took possession of the city.
The populares party members inside the city had every reason to be terrified. Sulla had vowed revenge and he took it in horrendous measure. Thousands of his political enemies were murdered without trial or mercy. The proscriptions, or lists of doomed citizens grew daily, and the murders of Sulla far surpassed even those of the blood-thirsty Marius. Sulla was elected dictator and held the position for three years, because no one dared to opposed him. But after three years he wearied of the slaughter and retired to his country house to write his memoirs. The Civil war of Marius and Sulla—probably the most horrific episode in the history of the Roman Republic—was finally over.
|Battle of Mount Tifata
Fought B.C. 83, when the legions of Sulla defeated the army of the Consul, Norbanus, with heavy loss, and drove them to take refuge in Capua.
|Battle of Faventia
Fought B.C. 82, between the consular army of Norbanus, and the Sullans under Metellus. Norbanus attacked with his army wearied by a long march, and his force was totally broken up, only 1,000 remaining with the eagles after the battle.
|Battle of Praeneste (
Fought B.C. 82, between the legions of Sulla and the army of the younger Marius, 40,000 strong. Sulla's veterans were too steady for the newer levies of Marius, and the latter was routed, with the loss of more than half his army killed or captured. After this victory Sulla occupied Rome.
|Battle of Colline Gate
Fought B.C. 82 between the adherents of Sulla, and the Roman democrats and Samnites under Pontius, outside the walls of Rome. The battle was obstinately contested, but, after a fight lasting throughout the night, the insurgents were routed, and 4,000 prisoners taken. This victory of the aristocratic party ended the civil war.
|Renowned general. Modernized legions. Waged a bloody feud with party of Sulla.|
|With Marius, raised an army, and took possession of Rome for populist Party.|
|†||Son of Marius. Defeated at Praeneste, and committed suicide.|
|Led rebellion against Rome in Spain; held out for 8 years.|
|Commander of the Marian forces at Mount Tifata. Fled Italy to avoid Sulla's vengence.|
|Commander of the forces of the Marian party. Fled Italy when he failed to relieve Praeneste.|
|Defeated Mithradates in Greece. Marched on Rome, defeated the party of his enemy Marius.|
|Very renowned general. Defeated pirates. Led opposition to Caesar in civil war.|
|Led Rome against Mithradates in third Mithradatic War. Known for extravagant lifestyle.|
|Very wealthy general. Fought Spartacus. Formed triumvirate with Pompey and Caesar.|
|Marius and Sylla in||Julius Caesar by Jacob Abbott|
|In the Days of the Dictator in||Roman Life in the Days of Cicero by Alfred J. Church|
|General Who Ate Dry Bread in||Tales of the Romans: The Children's Plutarch by F. J. Gould|
|Red General in||Tales of the Romans: The Children's Plutarch by F. J. Gould|
|Flight of Marius in||The Story of the Romans by H. A. Guerber|
|Proscription Lists in||The Story of the Romans by H. A. Guerber|
|Marius in||Famous Men of Rome by John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland|
|Sulla in||Famous Men of Rome by John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland|
|Caius Marius in||Our Young Folks' Plutarch by Rosalie Kaufman|
|Sylla in||Our Young Folks' Plutarch by Rosalie Kaufman|
|Marius Returns to Rome in||The Story of Rome by Mary Macgregor|
|Sulla Saves Rome from the Samnites in||The Story of Rome by Mary Macgregor|
|Exile and Revenge of Marius in||Historical Tales: Roman by Charles Morris|
|Proscription of Sulla in||Historical Tales: Roman by Charles Morris|
Sulla Fights his Way into Rome
Gaius Marius sitting in exile among the ruins of Carthage
in The Story of Rome