History – Rivalry between Marius and Sylla

History – Rivalry between Marius and Sylla

Rivalry between Marius and Sylla

In this article we will see: “Rivalry between Marius and Sylla”, history, the chronicle of human civilization, serves as a window to the past, illuminating the triumphs, struggles, and evolution of societies over millennia. Through the study of historical events, we unravel the complexities of our collective heritage and gain insight into the forces shaping our present and future.

Summary : History – Rivalry between Marius and Sylla

The tale of “Sylla the Lucky” unfolds amidst the turbulent political landscape of ancient Rome, where power struggles and shifting alliances shape destinies. As the rivalry between Marius and Sylla escalates, we witness a gripping narrative of ambition, betrayal, and vengeance. Through the contrasting characters of Marius and Sylla, the complexities of Roman politics come to life, revealing the price of power and the lengths individuals will go to secure their place in history.

History – Rivalry between Marius and Sylla

It was now a matter of turning to the common enemy, and deciding which general to place at the head of the troops sent to Asia. It was not an easy task. The Senate chose Sylla! Marius was then nearly seventy years old. He was worn out by his campaigns, and quite incapable of containing the terrible fits of anger he flew into at the drop of a hat. As for his pride, it was more terrible than ever!

Filled with resentment at the senators’ choice, Marius went to the people and asked them outright to vote for him, against Sylla and the detestable senators. The populace, always happy to have something or someone to tear down, lent him a favorable ear, voted in his favor, and then cheerfully marched on the Senate with firm and joyful resolve to cut Sylla’s throat.

But Sylla, cunning, well-informed, and quick to react, did not wait for him. He hastened to flee the city. Not for long, however. He soon returned with his army and conquered Rome after fierce fighting. It was now Marius’s turn to flee in haste. Alone, far from Rome and forced to live in hiding, Marius dreamed only of revenge. Whenever despair threatened to overwhelm him, he remembered the prophet’s prediction. In all, he had been consul six times. He could not fail to be one a seventh time!

Sylla, the new commander-in-chief of the legions, was the living antithesis of Marius. No oracle had ever predicted honors for him. Nevertheless, he had given himself the nickname Felix, meaning the lucky Sylla or Sylla the fortunate. Everything indeed seemed to succeed for Sylla! Although he was born poor, he came from an old and noble family. Young, very handsome, with magnificent blonde hair, he knew Greek, had a very keen mind, and had the gift of attracting sympathies. He soon occupied a prominent place both in politics and among the high society of the city.

The people irritated him. He could not stand their perpetual mood swings and vulgarity. He alone, he believed, the Senate, composed of patricians, was capable of governing Rome wisely. His soldiers, nevertheless, loved him a lot. Sylla was indeed a bold leader, of marvelous courage, and capable of enduring as well as his men the rigors of a campaign. In peacetime, Sylla liked to drink, sing, and have a good time like any respectable soldier.

After the conflict that pitted him against Marius, however, Rome was less inclined to applaud Sylla’s pleasant side. It must be said that, when he had retaken Rome and restored order to the city, his first concern was to gather Marius’s friends and put them to death. Then, he promulgated a law declaring that in the future, before voting on anything, the assembly would have to ask him for permission. This lack of trust offended many susceptibilities.

Sylla, however, having thus arranged things to his liking, left the Senate to govern Rome and set off at the head of his army to campaign in the East. But the Senate soon faced the most serious troubles… Cinna, a politician entirely devoted to the people, was elected consul. Hardly was he in office when he invited Marius to return to Rome. But his dreams of vengeance had made Marius cruel.

He ordered executions on the slightest pretext and often without any pretext at all. One morning, meeting Marius in the street, a citizen addressed him. Marius did not even deign to reply. Immediately, the soldiers accompanying their leader seized the unfortunate man and executed him. After which, whenever someone greeted Marius and did not receive a greeting in return, the unfortunate person was “punished” with death. Thus, Marius met fewer and fewer people on his way. Even his oldest friends made a serious detour to avoid him.

The people, however, remained faithful to him. In 86 BC, the prophecy of the village seer was fulfilled: Marius was elected for the seventh time. Not for long: fifteen days later, he gave up the ghost. Three years later, victorious Sylla returned to Rome and was entitled to a particularly spectacular triumph. The years, however, had changed Sylla. Now, he was the master of Rome, cruel and pitiless. The time of revenge had come for him. He executed thousands of the former supporters of his vanished rival.

Then, he found other victims. It was no longer about politics. Some unfortunate souls were killed because Sylla’s friends owed them money (which was an expeditious way to extinguish the debt), others because, Sylla’s friends coveted their property (which was an expeditious way to become the owner).

Sylla took advantage of this to devise a simple but extremely effective system to enrich himself. It sufficed to proclaim a man “criminal”, send him to meet his ancestors, and recover his fortune. Eager to legalize the matter, the dictator posted every day in the forum a list of “citizens designated as criminals”.

According to the law, anyone had the right to kill these men. However, once the poor devils had gone to join their ancestors, Sylla’s friends, by a clever sleight of hand, managed to appropriate their gold and their houses. Popular credulity being infinite, there were always people to carry out the dirty work, and let the clever ones reap the benefits they pulled out of the fire in their place. The process was so successful in Rome that, many years later, dictators in other countries were inspired by it to achieve very appreciable profits.

Last word about : History – Rivalry between Marius and Sylla

“Sylla the Lucky” serves as a cautionary tale, illustrating the consequences of unchecked ambition and the cyclical nature of power in human affairs. As Marius and Sylla’s stories intertwine, we are reminded of the fleeting nature of glory and the enduring legacy of ambition in shaping the course of history. Through their triumphs and tragedies, we gain insight into the timeless dynamics of politics and the eternal quest for power that drives individuals to both greatness and ruin.

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