L. Cornelius Cinna (d.84 BC)

L. Cornelius Cinna (d.84 BC)

L. Cornelius Cinna (d.84 BC)

Lucius Cornelius Cinna (d.84 BC) was a leader of the opposition to Sulla, and helped overthrow Sulla's supporters after Sulla's first march on Rome, but was killed just before Sulla returned to Italy at the start of Sulla's Second Civil War.

We know very little about Cinna before his bid for the consulship in 87 BC. He is mentioned in Cicero's Pro Fonteio, where he is included in a list of men of Praetorian rank who commanded during the Social War. Livy mentions him as a commander against the Marsians alongside Metellus Pius, probably in 88 BC.

In 88 BC Sulla was serving as consul, and had been given command of the war against Mithridates VI of Pontus (First Mithridatic War). The elderly Gaius Marius also wanted the command, and he allied with Sulpicius, one of the tribunes of the plebs, to get Sulla's command transferred to him. Sulla's attempts to stop this failed and he was forced to flee from the mob. Sulla refused to accept his defeat, and convinced his army at Nola to march on Rome and take control of the city (battle of the Esquiline Forum, 88 BC). Sulla undid Sulpicius's laws, and regained his command. He may also have introduced a number of reforms, although these might also be dated to the aftermath of his second civil war.

Sulla saw himself as representing the legitimate government of Rome, and so despite his military victory he allowed the elections for 87 BC to go ahead as normal. His own candidates were defeated, and instead Cinna and Gnaeus Octavius were elected. Cinna was a known opponent of Sulla, and in an attempt to make sure that his reforms would survive once he was in the east, Sulla made the new consul-elect take an oath to support his policies. Cinna took a stone to the Capitol, and prayed that if he did not maintain his goodwill towards Sulla then he would be cast out of the city, just as the stone was thrown from his hand.

As soon as his own term as consul began in 87 BC Cinna broke this promise and appointed Virginius, one of the tribunes of the plebs, to impeach Sulla for his actions. At about the same time Sulla's fellow consul from 88 BC, Quintus Pompeius, was murdered while attempting to take command of Pompey Strabo's army, which was still in the field after the Social War. Sulla was either confident enough in the security of his reforms to ignore this or worried about his own safety, and set off for the east.

Cinna's next act was to try and gain support from the new Italian citizens, who had been granted citizenship as a result of the Social War. The new citizens had been allocated to eight new voting tribes, which would always be called to give their results last, meaning that their votes would rarely ever count. Cinna put forward a law to distribute the new voters in the existing voting tribes. In theory this would have allowed the numerous Italians to swamp the existing Roman voters, but in practice very few Italians would have been able to come to Rome to vote in person. Even so Octavius was able to gain the support of the old voters, and some of the tribunes of the plebs. On the day of the vote Cinna's supporters dominated the forum, and rioted after the tribunes vetoed the law. Octavius gathered a mob of his own, attacked Cinna's supports and drove them out of the city. Cinna attempted to save his position by offering freedom to any slaves who joined him, but this failed. The Senate declared that Cinna could be deposed as consul, and selected Lucius Merule, the priest of Jupiter, as his replacement.

Cinna didn't take his defeat lying down. Instead he began to raise an army from the Italian towns near Rome, and then won over an army that was at Capua (perhaps engaged in the ongoing siege of Nola, which had fallen to the Samnites during the Social War and was still in their hands). He was able to win over this army, and combined with his Italian troops this gave him a powerful force. He also had the support of a number of other aristocrats, amongst them Marius the Younger and the able Quintus Sertorius.

Octavius and Cinna didn't have the only armies in Italy. In some areas the Social War was still smouldering away, and some of the armies raised for that conflict were still intact. Octavius summoned one of those armies, under Pompey Strabo, to Rome, but after his arrival Stabo camped outside the city, and for some time it wasn't clear whose side he would take. Cinna decided to try and assassinate Pompey Strabo and his son (the future Pompey the Great), and managed to win over Pompey junior's tent mate Lucius Terentius. Strabo was a successful but unpopular commander, and the plan almost succeeded. Strabo was saved by his son, who discovered the plot, set a guard around his father's tent, and then managed to retain the support of his father's troops. After this Strabo joined Octavius and the defenders of Rome, but he died before the end of the siege. Soon after his death Rome surrendered to Cinna and Marius.

In his turn Cinna summoned Marius back from his exile in Africa. He arrived with another army, and Cinna and his supporters then besieged the city (siege of Rome, 87 BC). Octavius and Merule put up a better fight than Marius had managed in the previous year, but Cinna and Marius managed to cut off the food supplies to the city. An attempt to capture the Janiculum Hill, on the west bank of the Tiber, was repulsed, and this two armies then appear to have moved away from the city into the Alban Hills. This was a fatal mistake on the part of Octavius and his party, as in their absence they lost control of the Senate, which entered into peace negotiations. Cinna and Marius were allowed into the city. Octavius and his supporters retreated to the Janiculum, where Octavius was caught and beheaded. His head was taken to Cinna, and then displayed in the forum.

The fall of Rome was followed by a massacre of Cinna's and Marius's opponents. Amongst the dead were the father and brother of the triumvir Crassus, Gaius Julius Caesar Strabo Vopiscus and his half brother Lucius Julius Caesar, Atilius Serranus, Publius Lentulus, Gaius Nemetorius and Marcus Baebius. Marcus Antonius, the grandfather of the triumvir, took shelter in a farm, but was discovered and killed when the farmer sent a slave out to buy better quality wine than normal. Lucius Cornelius Merula, Cinna's temporary replacement as consul, committed suicide just before he was due to go on trial, as did Quintus Lutatius Catulus, Marius's colleague at the end of the Cimbric War. An attempt to capture Sulla's wife and children failed, and they eventually managed to reach him in the east.

Unsurprisingly Cinna and Marius were selected as the consuls for 86 BC, but a few weeks into his seventh consulship Marius died. Cinna replaced him with L. Valerius Flaccus, who was then given the command of the war against Sulla in Asia. For the next few years Cinna dominated in Rome. He was consul again in 85 BC and 84 BC, this time alongside Gnaeus Papirius Carbo.

During his march on Rome in 88 BC Sulla had almost no support amongst high ranking Romans, but Cinna and his allies managed to alienate a great many of the leading men of the city, and enough of them fled to Sulla in the east to give him a sizable portion of the senate.

By 84 BC it was clear that Sulla was preparing to invade Italy, having ended the First Mithridatic War by making a peace treaty with Mithridates. Cinna and Carbo raised a army in Italy, and then prepared to ship it to the Balkans, to deal with Sulla before he could cross to Italy.

There are two different versions of Cinna's death. The first comes in Plutarch's life of Pompey. When Sulla was believed to be on his way back to Italy, the young Pompey decided to side with Cinna and went to his camp. He was clearly unpopular amongst Cinna's supporters, who will have remembered that his father had fought on the other side in 87 BC, and quietly withdrew after being accused of an unspecified offensive. A rumour spread around the camp that Cinna had killed Pompey, and this encouraged Cinna's opponents to rise against him. Cinna was chased by a centurion and attempted to buy his safety with his valuable seal ring. The centurion turned it down on the grounds that he wanted to 'punish a lawless and wicked tyrant', and killed him.

Appian tells a different story. The first detachment of troops safely crossed the Adriatic, but the second ran into a storm, and the survivors had to limp back to Italy. Once they were back on dry land they deserted. The rest of the army decided that it was no longer willing to cross to the Balkans just to fight other Romans. Cinna called them to an assembly to try and restore order. Faced with a large and angry mob, Cinna mishandled the situation. As he was approaching the assembly one of his lictors struck someone who was in his way. One of the mutinous soldiers struck the lector, and Cinna ordered the soldier's arrest. This angered the army, which turned on Cinna who was stabbed to death. This is probably the more likely story - at this point the young Pompey was still an unknown figure, so it seems unlikely that an army would mutiny because of him, but it is possible that the rumours about his fate had added to the angry mood of the army.

With Cinna gone Carbo was left as sole consul for the year. He cancelled the movement to the Balkans, and Sulla's Second Civil War (83-82 BC) would thus be fought on Italian soil.

Cornelia gens

The gens Cornelia was one of the greatest patrician houses at ancient Rome. For more than seven hundred years, from the early decades of the Republic to the third century AD, the Cornelii produced more eminent statesmen and generals than any other gens. At least seventy-five consuls under the Republic were members of this family, beginning with Servius Cornelius Maluginensis in 485 BC. Together with the Aemilii, Claudii, Fabii, Manlii, and Valerii, the Cornelii were almost certainly numbered among the gentes maiores, the most important and powerful families of Rome, who for centuries dominated the Republican magistracies. All of the major branches of the Cornelian gens were patrician, but there were also plebeian Cornelii, at least some of whom were descended from freedmen. [1]

Lucius Cornelius Cinna

Lucius Cornelius Cinna (died 84 BC) was a four-time consul of the Roman Republic, serving four consecutive terms from 87 to 84 BC, and a member of the ancient Roman Cinna family of the Cornelii gens.

Cinna's influence in Rome exacerbated the tensions which existed between Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla. After the death of Marius, he became the leading power in Rome until his own death. His main impact upon Roman politics was his ability to veil his tyranny and make it appear that he was working under a constitutional government. His policies also impinged on Julius Caesar, who married his daughter.

Rise to power

Not much is known about Cinna before his bid for the consulship of 87 BC. He had praetorian rank in the Social War (91-88 BC), and had most likely also been praetor previous to this time. Cinna was elected as Roman consul in 87 BC, but historians disagree about who supported his election and what his own original political goals and causes were. All seem to agree on a basic chain of events, however. Cinna was elected at a time when Sulla (the current consul) was very unpopular with the lower classes and the Latin allies, because he had sided with the Roman Senate, blocking the advancement of their rights as citizens. The people had intentionally elected candidates (probably for Tribune) who were not supported by Sulla. Sulla had a little more control over the election for consul, or at least, had enough power to be certain no one who supported his rival, Marius, could be elected.

Sulla seems to have supported Cinna as a compromise candidate, but clearly did not trust him, as seen from an anecdote from Plutarch. Immediately after Cinna's election, Sulla made Cinna swear loyalty to him by taking a stone up to the Capitol and casting it down, "praying that, if he failed to preserve his goodwill for Sulla, he might be thrown out of Rome as the stone was thrown out of his hand". Somehow then, Cinna had enough support to be elected. Various theories on who supported him and why are postulated based on what he did while in office, but all agree that Sulla was correct in his distrust. Gnaeus Octavius was elected as Cinna's colleague under relatively similar circumstances, though Octavius probably had more support from Sulla.

First consulship and exile

One of Cinna's first decisions as consul was not to let his oath to Sulla influence his decisions as consul. Cinna argued that the oath should not prevent him from helping the people of Rome. Soon after this, Cinna sought to remove Sulla from the city. He brought some sort of charge against Sulla soon after coming to power. Sulla, rather than facing the charge, escaped with his army and led them to fight the army of Mithridates VI of Pontus in Boeotia. This left only Octavius and the Senate to defend the causes of Sulla in Rome. Cinna eventually supported many causes, which leads to some debate concerning his original goals and to accusations that he chose his issues based on bribes.

Two causes predominated, that of the exiles and that of the Italians. Marius and his supporters, as well as many prominent supporters of Publius Sulpicius Rufus, had been exiled from Rome under Sulla's rule, but were still very popular amongst the people. It is clear that there were later connections between Cinna and this group (see "Preparations while in exile"), but it is not clear at what point he took up this cause. The other cause, to which Cinna can be more clearly connected, is that of the “novus homo” or “new citizen”. These were members of Italian tribes who had been promised citizenship as a condition of peace in the Social War. Technically they had been given citizenship, but in such a way that they had no real power. Cinna, even before his election, seems to have favored this cause. Certainly after his election, he worked to increase their rights, fighting against Octavius, who tried to maintain the status quo. This feud ended in one of the largest street fights ever to occur in Rome, between the supporters of Octavius and the supporters of Cinna. Although Appian states that Cinna had no support from the “old citizens” in anything, including the street fight, this is highly unlikely, as none of his laws would have been a threat without at least some support from this quarter. Why the “old citizens” supported him, and how many of them supported him, is entirely unknown. Octavius used the street fight, one of the largest to ever take place in the Forum, to justify exiling Cinna immediately, deposing him of his office and citizenship, an accusation that seems to have stuck with many historians, who accused Cinna of acting as a dictator. The deposition of Cinna was unconstitutional, and illegal,[9] and the only instance of its kind in the history of the Roman Republic.

Preparations while in exile

Cinna then began to raise an army from the Italian countryside. His connections with the Italian groups seem to have been quite strong, as they quickly joined his forces (although accusations of bribery abound among the ancient historians). At this point, the connections between Marius and Cinna become quite clear. Because they shared the support of the Italians, Cinna was willing to join forces with Marius. Together they planned to retake the city. Cinna and Marius’ army moved through the countryside, cutting off supply routes and cities used for food storage from the city.

Invasion and slaughter of Rome

The first major battle of the conflict occurred at the Janiculum, where Octavius’ forces prevailed, but with heavy losses, including the general Pompeius Strabo. This demoralized Octavius’ army, but did not hinder the siege of Cinna and Marius, further weakening Rome. Eventually, after various skirmishes around the outskirts of Rome, negotiators secured Cinna’s assurance that he would not “willingly cause anyone’s death on reentering Rome”. Thus, in late 87 BC, Cinna was reinstated as consul and the armies reentered the city. As Cinna and his bodyguard entered, however, Marius refused to enter Rome until his exile was officially repealed. The Senate quickly began to vote to approve this, but before it finished, Marius had given up all pretense and entered the city with his bodyguard, the Bardyiae. This unit consisted of Marius’ slaves who killed at Marius’ orders. Marius, according to the ancient historians, filled the city with blood, slaughtering anyone who remotely supported Sulla, had a lot of property, or was a personal enemy of Marius. These claims are most likely exaggerated, as they do not appear in Sulla’s memoirs, a source that would seem biased against Marius. These seem to appear later, but all agree that Cinna distanced himself from the indiscriminate slaughter, ordering only the deaths of Octavius and others who were direct political threats.

Eventually, 𠇌inna had had enough of murder”, and he and Quintus Sertorius, a general who supported Marius and later governed Spain, had their troops ambush the sleeping Bardyiae, ending their reign of terror. Soon after this, in 86 BC, Marius and Cinna were reelected for consulship. Seventeen days after attaining his much sought seventh consulship, Marius died. This began the era many historians have termed the 𠇍ominatio Cinnae” (Domination of Cinna).

Dominatio Cinnae

What occurred during this period is not as well documented as other parts of Cinna’s life. After the death of Marius, Lucius Valerius Flaccus succeeded him. Flaccus’ major contribution was the submission of a bill attempting to solve a financial crisis. The Social War had caused a financial depression, resulting in exorbitant interest on loans and collapsing financial confidence in Rome after the start of the Mithridatic War. Counterfeiting became rampant, forcing Cinna and the government to develop testing stations to discover the false coins and replace them with good ones.

In 85 BC, Cinna attempted to revive Sulpicius' bill to solidify the citizenship of the Italian groups, but it was not in practice quickly as the census the next year lists 463,000 citizens. This is not a large enough increase from 115/114 BC, where the total was 394,336 to have included the Italians. Much of Cinna’s attention while ruling Rome was focused on dealing with Sulla. Flaccus soon took over the war against Mithridates, which Sulla interpreted as a threat Sulla then moved to intercept Flaccus.

Flaccus was disliked by his soldiers and many deserted to Sulla. That any remained was due to the legate Fimbria, who used his popularity and influence with the troops to convince them to stay. This did not benefit Flaccus for long though, as Fimbria later had the army rebel against Flaccus and continue against Mithridates under his own leadership. Fimbria tried to offer peace with Sulla, but Sulla and Mithridates were already in negotiations which were favorable to both parties, therefore negating any necessity for Fimbria’s offer to Mithridates. After confirming peace with Mithridates, Sulla went to negotiate with Fimbria, at which point Fimbria’s army deserted to Sulla and Fimbria committed suicide.

After finishing his war, Sulla returned to Italy. He sent out letters to the Italians in order to soothe the fear that he would take away their citizenship. Sulla also sent a letter to the Senate regaling them of his victories over Mithridates and assuring them that he had received those exiled by Cinna and that he would provide swift retribution to those who were guilty of causing himself and the Senate to suffer. Cinna and his colleague, Carbo, prepared for war. They postponed the elections of that year, declaring themselves re-elected so that they would not have to return to Rome early to participate in an election. It is unlikely that this was contested because Cinna and his allies had enough power that no one dared to run in opposition to them. While complying with the constitution, this allowed Cinna to act as monarch while still appearing to follow the will of the population. As Cinna and Carbo doubled their efforts for war with the looming threat of Sulla, Cinna was unaware that it would not be battle, but his preparations for war, which would cost him his life.

Cinna was murdered in a mutiny of his own soldiers in 84 BC. He had been working to transport his troops across the Adriatic in order to meet Sulla on foreign soil. The troops were not eager for the upcoming fight, which promised no booty. Their dissatisfaction increased when they heard that the second convoy of troops, still in transit, had been shipwrecked in a storm. The survivors had returned to their homes. Cinna ordered an assembly in order to frighten the troops into obedience. One of his lictors struck a soldier who had been standing in the way as Cinna entered the gathering, and when the soldier hit back, Cinna ordered his arrest. This caused another soldier to throw a stone at Cinna, which struck him. The spirit of the mob then took hold as more missiles were thrown and the nearest soldiers stabbed Cinna to death.

Plutarch tells a slightly different story, stating that Pompey visited Cinna’s camp and escaped, after having been accused of doing some wrongdoing. The soldiers assumed that Cinna had helped Pompey escape and killed Cinna for this breach of their trust. In both accounts, Cinna was murdered not due to his politics, but as more of a brief flare up of the mob spirit within his troops. Christoph Bulst argues that Cinna was killed in 𠇊n absolutely un-political mutiny,” pointing out that there is no mention of specific opposition to Cinna, and that he did not even feel the need to travel with a bodyguard.

Cinna was married to Annia, who was the daughter of Annius (unidentifiable). They had two daughters and a son. One of his daughters married one of Cinna’s supporters named Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus. His other daughter, Cornelia, married Julius Caesar around 84 BC and died in 69 BC after bearing a daughter Julia.

Cinna’s son, the younger Lucius Cornelius Cinna, fled Italy when Sulla returned, most likely to Spain. He returned briefly in 78 BC to help in the rebellion of Lepidus, then again fled to Spain after the plot fell through. He was able to return to Rome in 78 BC due to Lex Plautia, which extended an amnesty to all exiles of the civil war era. The son of this Cinna was Gnaeus Cornelius Cinna Magnus, who was pardoned twice, once after his support for Marc Antony, then again later for conspiracy against the emperor Augustus. Surprisingly he was then honored as a consul in AD 5 with the Emperor.

Cinna's legacy

Lucius Cornelius Cinna was important within Roman history. He played an important role in the dispute between Gaius Marius and Lucius Sulla, allowing Marius to return to Rome for his seventh consulship. Cinna’s rule was not well documented and many argue that his only goal was his own advancement. His alliance with Marius was to better his interests rather than as a statement of his politics. He attempted to become a tyrant behind a veiled disguise of a republic under a strict constitution. His only real cause was that of the equalization of the Italian groups. Although he was not as well documented as his contemporaries, Cinna was still an essential player in the fall of the system of the Roman Republic, ushering in a thinly veiled form of tyranny.

Lucius Cornelius Cinna

Lucius Cornelius Cinna (flourished 1st century BC) was the son of the consul Lucius Cornelius Cinna, who was a supporter of politician Gaius Marius. His sister, Cornelia Cinna minor, was the first wife of dictator Julius Caesar and he was the maternal uncle of their daughter Julia Caesaris. Cinna was a member of the gens Cornelia, who were of patrician status.

Early career

In 78 BC, Cinna allied himself with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus in attempting to overthrow the Roman constitution of dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Before he left Rome, he sought out the support of Julius Caesar for the rebellion which was not forthcoming. After the defeat and death of Lepidus in Sardinia, Cinna went into exile, accompanying Marcus Perperna Vento to join general Quintus Sertorius in Spain. Caesar was able to recall Cinna from exile back to Rome and used him in the Roman Senate against senatorial opposition. Due to his father’s association with Marius, under Sulla’s constitutional reforms he was unable to promote his career. However, when Caesar became dictator, Cinna was soon promoted to the praetorship.

Conspiracy against Caesar

Although Cinna strongly disapproved of Caesar’s authoritarian way of governing, he did not become an active participant in the conspiracy to murder Caesar that led to the dictator's assassination in March 44 BC.

On the day of Caesar's funeral, the populace were in such rage at Cinna that some accidentally murdered tribune of the plebs Helvius Cinna, thinking it was he. When the murder of the tribune took place, Cinna was walking in Caesar’s funeral procession. During the political chaos after these events Cinna did not take advantage of his position to claim a Roman province to govern. Cicero praises him for this act of self-restraint. In 32 BC Cinna served as a suffect consul.

Personal life

After 47 BC, Cinna married Pompeia Magna, the daughter of the fallen triumvir Pompey and from his third wife Mucia Tertia. Cinna married Pompeia as her second husband. Pompeia married Cinna as his first wife. Pompeia had become a widow her husband Faustus Cornelius Sulla had died in battle. Cinna became a stepfather to Pompeia’s son from her first marriage. Pompeia bore Cinna two children who were: a son Gnaeus Cornelius Cinna Magnus and a daughter Cornelia Pompeia Magna. His wife died before 35 BC and beyond this no more is known on Cinna.

Two Decades of Bloodshed &ndash Roman Senatorial Causalities in the First Civil War

As can be seen, the death toll from this series of wars was on a massive scale, both in terms of quantity and quality. Although there was no one battle to compare to a Cannae or an Arausio, as detailed above, there were a huge number of smaller-scale battles throughout the twenty years of conflict, across the whole Mediterranean world. Furthermore, its very nature as a civil war meant that Roman and Italian casualties were far higher than in a normal Roman-versus-non-Roman conflict.

The sources are divided on the death toll of the civil war in the 80s BC. Appian and Diodorus provide figures of around 100,000 killed in combat alone.¹ Orosius, supported by Eutropius, puts the death toll of the conflicts up until 82 BC at 150,000 dead, in combat alone. As Orosius points out, this figure &lsquodoes not include innumerable peoples over all Italy who were slaughtered without any consideration&rsquo.² Velleius, meanwhile, states the death toll at 300,000 for both sides.³ If we add in the civilian deaths and the combat from the 70s BC, then it is clear that the First Roman Civil War would have had a death toll running into the hundreds of thousands.

For the Roman oligarchy, at no time since the Second Punic War had such high casualty figures been suffered. According to Orosius, &lsquothe census also shows that twenty-four men of consular rank, six of praetorian rank, sixty with the rank of aediles, and almost 200 senators were destroyed.&rsquo As well as the usual losses in combat, however, this period saw a number of prominent Romans being either murdered in mutinies or murdered by their fellow nobles, whether after capture or in a more formal proscription, and even a handful of suicides.

The following lists are of the known members of the Roman oligarchy who died during this period, collected by type of death to show the true scale of the losses sustained.

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology William Smith, Ed.

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Cinna, Corne'lius

Next year (B. C. 86) Cinna and Marius made themselves consuls but Marius dying in January, was succeeded by L. Valerius Flaccus. Him Cinna got rid of by appointing him to the command against Mithridates, hoping therebyalso to provide Sulla with a new enemy. But Flaccus was killed by his legatus C. Flavius Fimbria. ( Vell. 2.23 Appian, App. BC 1.75 .) In B. C. 85, Cinna entered on his third consulate with Cn. Papirius Carbo, an able man, who had already been of great use to the party. Sulla now threatened to return and take vengeance on his enemies and the next year (B. C. 84), Cinna and Carbo being again consuls, he fulfilled his threat. Cinna had assembled an army at Brundisium, and sent part of it across to Liburnia, intending to meet Sulla before he set foot in Italy but when he ordered the rest to follow, a mutiny arose, and in the effort to quell it he was slain. [For the sequel see SULLA.]

Cinna was a bold and active man, but his boldness was akin to rashness, and his activity little directed by judgment. Single-handed he could do nothing he leant for support first on Sertorius, then on Marius, then on Carbo and fell at last from wanting the first quality of a general, ability to command the confidence of his troops. Velleius's character of him is more antithetical than true. (2.24.)

Cornelia Cinna minor

Cornelia Cinna minor (c. 97-69 BC), daughter of Lucius Cornelius Cinna (one of the great leaders of the Marian party), and a sister to suffect consul Lucius Cornelius Cinna, was married to Gaius Julius Caesar, who would become one of Rome's dictators. Cinna's political party was called the Populares, and his union with Cornelia identified Caesar with this faction.

Caesar and Cornelia married in 84 BC.

When Lucius Cornelius Sulla commanded Caesar to divorce Cornelia, the young husband refused to do so and chose rather to be deprived of her fortune and to be proscribed himself. Cornelia bore him his daughter Julia Caesaris, in c. 76 BC.

Cornelia was the matron of Caesar's household in their home at the Subura in Rome for sixteen years. She died in 69 BC, during Caesar's quaestorship, and left him a daughter. Caesar delivered an oration in praise of her from the Rostra.

In keeping with Roman naming conventions, Cornelia is known by the feminine form of her gens name.

Cornelia (c. 100–68 bce)

Roman noblewoman and wife of emperor Julius Caesar. Born around 100 bce died in 68 bce daughter of Lucius Cornelius Cinna married Gaius Julius Caesar (c. 100–44 bce), Roman emperor, in 84 bce children: daughter Julia (d. 54 bce).

Cornelia was the daughter of the patrician, Lucius Cornelius Cinna, who, despite his ancient family, was a liberal by the standards of the 1st century bce. Between the years 87 and 84, Cinna was elected to an impressive four consulships, although he was not universally popular as these were years of Roman civil war pitting the liberal populares against the conservative "Optimates." Leading the Optimates was the brilliant but ruthless Lucius Cornelius Sulla, while Cinna and his even more illustrious colleague, Gaius Marius, championed the populares faction until both died: Cinna the victim of a military mutiny and Marius of old age. Bereft of such talented leadership, the populares cause floundered and eventually fell before Sulla who thereafter did his best (unsuccessfully, as it turned out) to prevent its resurrection.

Before her father's death and Sulla's ascendancy, Cornelia was destined to link Cinna's political interests with those of a promising political ally in a highly charged political atmosphere. The appropriate match for Cornelia turned out to be the soon-to-be-famous Gaius Julius Caesar, because he had two especially attractive qualities at the time of their union. First, like Cornelia he was a patrician and second, Caesar's family had been intimately associated with the populares faction since Cinna's colleague Marius had married Caesar's great-aunt, Julia (d. 68 bce). Together the marriages of Marius to Julia and of Cornelia to Caesar (in 84) helped to rehabilitate the political fortunes of Caesar's branch of his ancient family, for, despite the family's long history, none of Caesar's immediate forefathers had been distinguished.

Religion as well as politics were instrumental in bringing Cornelia and Caesar together. The polytheistic Romans believed that their gods demanded honor before any important business—public or private—could be transacted. In Rome, there were many important priesthoods (with varying expertises and responsibilities) significant to the running of the state, and each of these was much coveted because of the high status a priesthood conferred upon its holder. The most ancient of these religious offices were reserved for patricians who were married to patricians, because that class had at one time maintained a monopoly on all Roman political and religious authority. By the 1st century, however, the number of prominent patrician families had declined precipitously. Thus, when the position of flamen Dialis (an ancient priesthood, steeped in ritualistic taboo but nevertheless prestigious) came open in 84 and Caesar became the leading candidate for that office, it became necessary to procure for him a patrician spouse. Cornelia was a perfect choice, politically expedient and from the right social stratum for Caesar's political-religious advancement. Although theirs was an arranged marriage, it seems that it pleased both principals—especially Caesar, for he weathered stormy times on Cornelia's behalf.

Sulla's victory over the remnants of the populares' faction came in late 82, at which time he forbade on political grounds Caesar's completion of the ceremonies necessary to establish the younger man as the flamen Dialis. Thus, Caesar never held that priesthood. Ironically, however, the fact that Caesar had begun the process by which the flamen Dialis was made eligible to assume his duties probably saved his life, for a religious aura was perceived as surrounding such candidates. Although Sulla had his way with Caesar in regard to this priesthood, he was not successful in his demand that Caesar divorce Cornelia. Standing up to the dictator, Caesar insisted that he had no intention of shedding his wife. Such defiance at a time when Sulla was the political authority in Rome so endangered Caesar's life that he went into hiding in the nearby Sabine territory. Hunted down by a Sullan patrol, Caesar was able to escape Italy (making his way to Anatolia) only by buying off its officer with a significant bribe. Even so, Sulla had a modicum of revenge for Caesar's audacity, when he seized Cornelia's marriage dowry and severed all of her claims to her family's estate—a considerable financial loss to both Cornelia and Caesar. Nevertheless, Caesar's faithfulness did have a political payoff, for the remnants of the populares faction remembered his bravery and loyalty to his wife and, as a result, would later rally around his leadership.

Although little is known about their intimate relationship, Cornelia remained very important to Caesar throughout his early political career because she linked her husband's fortunes to her father's political faction. The marriage produced a daughter named Julia (d. 54 bce), and, since no known animosity split the couple, it is likely that the union was congenial to both parties.

In 68, the year after he obtained his first elective office, Caesar's great-aunt, Julia, died. Using her funeral in a political fashion to reinforce his claims to the loyalties of the remaining populares, Caesar delivered a famous eulogy. Soon thereafter, Cornelia also died at a young age. Although it was unusual to make an event out of the funeral of such a young woman, Caesar nevertheless broke with tradition to present another public oration. Under most circumstances, the Romans disliked such innovation, but Caesar's emotionally delivered eulogy for Cornelia moved his audience to admiration. As a result, the virtues attributed to Cornelia circulated widely after her demise among a respectful public, thus winning her an association in death with the most famous heroines from the Roman past.

William S. Greenwalt , Associate Professor of Classical History, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California

Chapter 2: Scenario Info

This chapter will give you an overview of the events leading up to the start of our game, along with an introduction to some of the key historical figures involved.


Rome had long ago ejected the last Tarquin king from Rome. For several centuries, Romans had made good on their solemn oath to never again be the subject of a tyrant Rex. The Republic was founded on the principle that Romans would be governed not by kings, but by the Senate and People, guided by the Mos Maiorum (the ―Way of the Elders,‖ a defining set of principles and traditions which served as their unwritten constitution).

Under the Mos Maiorum, no one man was ever to raise himself above his peers. A particularly prominent individual might become, in effect, ―The First Man in Rome,‖ but it was always understood that this was nothing more than to be ―first among equals.‖

Easier said than done, perhaps!

The system made Rome great because it encouraged great men to do great things. Great Men doing Great Things usually have Great Egos as well, and when multiple Great Men are doing multiple Great Things, it‘s inevitable that their multiple Great Egos are going to cause trouble.

The First Century BC was a time of giants for the Roman Republic. It was also a time of great peril.

And during times of great peril, when the very survival of the Republic was threatened, the Mos Maiorum provided for the appointment of a Dictator. This was not a Dictator in the modern (Mussolini, Stalin, etc.) sense of the word far from it. It was a constitutional office of set duration (usually only 6 months), established to deal with a set problem, such as ejecting Hannibal from Italy.

Ah, but then there was Sulla.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a man whose incredible run of luck earned him the nickname ―Felix.‖ A great and ambitious man. And a dangerous man. When pushed too far and too hard by his political rivals, he turned on the Senate, marching on Rome ―in order to save her from tyrants.‖ At sword point, the Senate was forced to name him Dictator with the incredibly broad task of ―Writing Laws and Organizing the State.‖ The term of office was indefinite.

What resulted was the Regnum Sullanum, the ―royal reign of Sulla.‖ During that time, Sulla‘s word was, quite literally, law. The power of the Tribunate, and thus the power of the People, was greatly curtailed. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of prominent Romans were proscribed (essentially legalized murder), their properties confiscated. When Sulla finally departed the scene, the Republic had been changed dramatically.


Lucius Cornelius Sulla ―Felix‖ was a patrician from an ancient and famous Roman house fallen on hard times. He emerged as an officer under the great military man Gaius Marius in the wars against Jugurtha of Numidia and the German barbarians (between 107-100 BC). He made a name for himself commanding Roman forces in the southern theater of the Social War (a civil war with Rome‘s Italian allies 91-88 BC), and was rewarded with the consulship in 88 BC. He became notorious for turning his armies against his political opponents, and became infamous for marching on Rome herself with an army under his command, for the purpose of intimidating the Senate. He was also the first to institute proscriptions (see glossary). His ―enhanced‖ version of the dictatorship departed from the traditional Roman constitutional office, making it something very much akin to our notion of a modern dictatorship.

He did, however, voluntarily give up the dictatorship once he felt that his mission of reforming the Roman Republic along very conservative (read ―reactionary‖) lines. He retired to private life in 79 BC, where he pursued a life of complete debauchery until his death the next year.

As a person, Lucius Cornelius Sulla was ―an odd mix of mediocrity and brilliance, indolence and action, and placidity and viciousness he may have been a sociopath.‖1

Some years earlier, social upheavals had begun to transform Roman society. Historians would later call this period ―the Roman Revolution.‖ Although the Romans themselves, of course, would never have used the term, it is an accurate description of what was going on. Rome‘s rapid rise to wealth and power after the defeat of Carthage had brought prosperity to the Republic, but problems as well. The yeoman farmer, long the backbone of both the Roman economy and the Roman war machine, had been away on campaign for so long, fighting so many wars, that their farmsteads fell into disrepair. That, along with the massive influx of slaves from conquered lands brought about some fundamental shifts in agriculture. The small farm holdings began to disappear, replaced by giant farming estates called latifundiae, which employed gangs of slaves and were owned by men of wealth. The displaced farmers found themselves flocking to the City, where they joined the swelling ranks of the Capeti Censi, or Head Count (affectionately known as ―the mob‖).

That set the stage for two very controversial reformers: Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. The Gracchi, as they were known, set about on a series of agrarian reforms that were well-intentioned enough, though they still both ended up being murdered for their troubles. The methods they used in their attempts to pass this legislation, however, had a very destabilizing effect on Roman politics and Roman society. The Head Count began to be used, rather cynically, as a political tool of the elites. What was worse, intimidation, violence and outright murder began to be gradually accepted as viable tools for achieving one‘s political ends. Sulla was a young man during this time of upheaval associated with the Gracchi perhaps it was then that he began forming opinions which would eventually lead to his reactionary rule as dictator.

1 Garrett G. Fagan, ―The History of Ancient Rome‖

Sulla hadn‘t made much of himself politically until he associated himself with the other giant of the time, Gaius Marius. Marius was Plebeian with no distinguished ancestry whatsoever. What Marius had going for himself, however, was a brilliant military mind. He had quit a reputation as a Vir Militaris (a ―Military Man‘). Sulla served as Quaestor under Marius during the war with Jugurtha of Numidia (111-105 BC). Marius defeated Numidia, but it was Sulla who actually captured the Numidian king. Marius and Sulla seemed to get on pretty well together, but Marius failed to give Sulla proper credit for his exploits in the war. This was the beginning of trouble.

About the time that the Jugurthine War was winding down, trouble began brewing up north. The Teutones and Cimbri, two Germanic tribes crossed the Alps into the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul. The Germans slaughtered the Roman armies sent to stop them, completely wiping out an army led by one of the two Consuls for the year 105 BC.

Fearful that Rome herself was in danger of being sacked, the Senate turned to Marius, and he successfully defeated the German threat. By 100 BC, Marius was the undisputed First Man in Rome, and was holding his sixth Consulship. A far better general than politician, however, Marius suffered several humiliating setbacks as Consul that year, and he retired to private life.

During the ‗90‘s BC, a long-standing problem with the Italian allies (called the Socii) simmered over. The Socii wanted some form of Roman citizenship, but conservative Senators wouldn‘t hear of such a thing. Things boiled over, and in 91 BC open civil war broke out. Called the Social War, it was anything but that, lasting until 88 BC. Like all civil wars, it was brutal. During the course of the Social War, Marius would emerge from retirement to command Roman forces in Italia‘s north, while Sulla (now holding the office of Propraetor) commanded the armies in the south. This was to be the last time Marius and Sulla cooperated in any way. Following the war‘s end, their enmity would soon lead to another civil war.

When the Mithridatic War broke out (88 BC), the Senate appointed Sulla (who was now Consul) as commander of the forces to be sent east to fight Pontus. At Marius‘ urging, however, a Tribune put a bill before the people to make Marius the commander instead. That was the final straw as far as Sulla was concerned, and he took his forces, which he had been training in Italy, and marched upon Rome.

―Although Sulla was trying to reinforce a traditional government rather than overthrow it, he had carried out the single most revolutionary act in Roman history to that time: he had marched a Roman army against Romans.‖2

Sulla forced Marius into exile, and was free to pursue his war in the East. While he was gone, Marius returned to Rome, joining forces with an anti-Sullan Consul named Lucius Cornelius Cinna. Now, it was Marius who marched on Rome, continuing the dangerous precedent begun by Sulla.

Sulla returned from the Mithridatic War in 83 BC, and when he arrived in Italy, he marched on Rome, and seized power as Dictator.


During his dictatorship, Sulla succeeded in rolling back many of the changes which had ―liberalized‖ Roman politics over the previous several decades. We won‘t go into all of them here, but we‘ll give you a quick rundown of those reforms that have a direct impact on how we‘ll play the game:

1. Sulla has emasculated the Tribunate (see Chapter 5 for a description of the office of Tribune of the Plebs). Tribunes are not permitted to propose new legislation, either in the

2 Fagan, ―The History of Ancient Rome‖

Gaius Marius, Vir Militaris and Seven-Time Consul of the Roman Republic.

Senate or the Assembly. Being a Tribune is a dead-end job: Ex-tribunes are barred from holding higher office. This means that if you choose to stand for election as Tribune of the Plebs, that will be the first, last, and only office on the Cursus Honorum you‘ll ever hold!

2. The Assemblies are weakened. Plebiscites (votes of the Plebs) are subject to Senatorial veto.

3. Sulla has “reformed” the Senate. Translation: He‘s packed it with pro-Sullan reactionaries. He has also made the requirements for entrance into the Senate much more stringent. (See Chapter 5 to find out what that means for players.) Furthermore, he has increased total Senate membership. (In the game we make the roster at 400, with 300 of those men placed in NPC voting blocks. That means at game start, a player‘s influence on the Senate is diluted…just the way Sulla would want it!)

4. The Proscriptions. Not exactly a ―reform‖ in any sense of the word, but Sulla‘s hand upon the tiller of the Ship of State was a bloody one. Many former prominent men of Senatorial rank have been liquidated, their estates confiscated, their families disgraced. Many have suffered, but many have also profited from this, including one Marcus Licinius Crassus, who has become very wealthy indeed through the purchase of ―proscribed‖ estates at bargain-basement prices. And indeed, the Sullan Proscriptions may have a direct effect on your player character as well (see Chapter 4 for details).

These conditions will override the normal function of magistracies at game start, and will definitely color the political landscape. Depending on how players proceed during gameplay, some or all of these ―reforms‖ may, in time, be undone.

Here is a quick rundown on other historical figures which will be important for you to know. Some of these men are already dead when our game commences, but you will hear them referred to often. Others are just beginning to come to prominence. Historical figures who are alive at the time our game begins will be utilized as Arbiter-Controlled NPCs (AC-NPCs).

Gaius Marius held the Consulship seven (yes, 7!) times, unprecedented in Roman history. Initially he and Sulla may have been friends of sorts, but their growing rivalry became embittered to the point of civil war. The most famous Novus Homo (New Man) of his generation, his meteoric rise to power was the result of Marius‘ reputation as a Vir Militaris. He gained prominence in the Jugurthine War (111-105 BC), where a young Sulla served as his Quaestor. The Senate, panicked by the news that a two entire Roman armies had been annihilated by invading Germans, once more called upon Marius to turn back the invading hordes. This he did, brilliantly, at the Battle of Aquae Sextae in 102 BC.

Marius returned from his Germanic campaign in triumph once again. First hailed as the 3rd founder of Rome (Romulus was first of course, followed by Marcus Furius Camillus of the 'conquest of Veii' fame), and savior of the city, his success would be short lived. Elected to his 5th straight, and 6th overall Consulship in 100 BC, he was proven to be out of his element without a war to fight. To appease his army, and of course to secure political support through their loyalty,

Quintus Sertorius, Rebel Roman General.

Marius made unauthorized grants of citizenship to the Italian allied soldiers fighting for him. He then further pushed the Senate by demanding colonization and settlement rights for his large body of veterans. This strategy, under normal circumstances, would've been shot down immediately, but in this age of political turmoil, anything was possible. Using a popular and outspoken Tribune, Saturninus, Marius pushed through these proposals and others like it through the use of the citizen assemblies, mob tactics and open street violence. Saturninus used Marius to climb the political ladder, while Marius used Saturninus to push through his popular agenda, ripping apart the status quo and tearing down the traditions of Roman politics.3 Saturninus would soon go completely out of control, and Marius would be forced to put down riots caused by Saturninus in 100 BC. Marius ended this consulship, looking pretty much like a political chump. Marius retired to private life, but was called to service once more to command forces during the Social War (91-88 BC).

When Sulla marched on Rome, his legions battled in the streets of the city against what forces Marius could scrape together. Marius was vanquished and exiled to Carthage.

In 87 BC, Marius returned to Rome, joining forces with the rebel Consul Cinna. Marius, who by now was old and quite possibly suffering from some form of dementia, wreaked havoc on the City, murdering many Sullan supporters. To his credit, Cinna intervened and stopped the butchery.4

Marius declared himself Consul (his seventh term), but died a few days after taking office.

It‘s important to mention this about Marius as well: His legionary reforms professionalized the Roman Army. Standing legions remained in service year after year. The adaptation of legionary standards (the Eagles) promoted esprit de corps and competition among the legions, creating a reputation for military excellence that echoes down to our present day.

Lucius Cornelius Cinna (d. 84 BC)

Cinna (a patrician) was a four-time consul of the Roman Republic, serving four consecutive terms. Cinna's influence in Rome exacerbated the tensions which existed between Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla. After the death of Marius, he became the leading power in Rome until his own death. His main impact upon Roman politics was his ability to veil his tyranny and make it appear that he was working under a constitutional government.5

Quintus Sertorius (b. 123 BC)

Born in the Sabine town of Nussa, Quintus Sertorius distinguished himself under Marius in the campaign against the Germans around 105 BC. He later served as military tribune in Spain, gaining public recognition when he recaptured the city of Castulo the same night it was taken from a negligent Roman garrison. His fame in the Spains grew when he captured the city of Oritana. During the Social War, Sertorius took a wound which resulted in the loss of one eye.

5 Wikipedia (I know, not the most scholarly source out there, but hey, we‘re playing a game here, not writing a thesis!)

(as portrayed by Sir. Laurence Olivier)

M. Aemilius Lepidus, Proconsul (and. )

Feeling that his political career was being hindered by Sulla (whom he blamed for losing his bid to be elected Tribune), he sided with the Marians in the dispute over whether Marius or Sulla should command the war against Mithridates in the East. Sertorius threw his lot in with the Marians and the renegade Counsul Cinna, and eventually found himself once more in the Spains, involved with the far-ranging civil war. Although the Marians had eventually been defeated, Sertorius fought on. The Lusitanians (around modern Portugal) asked him to lead them in their struggle against the occupying Roman forces in Spain. He crossed over into Spain with 2600 Romans and 700 soldiers from North Africa. Some 4000 foot-soldiers and 700 horsemen from the locals joined Sertorius' forces. One of Sertorius' attractions for them was his pet white fawn, which he claimed was a gift from the goddess Diana, saying that the information he actually received from spies was revealed to him by the fawn.6 When our scenario begins, Quintus Sertorius is firmly in control of the majority of the Iberian peninsula. He has set up a sort of ―anti-Rome,‖ complete with a republican government modeled on the Roman original. Is his intent to build strength, eventually leading his ―government in exile‖ in a bid to retake Rome herself? That‘s the kind of thing that can be of concern to the real Roman Senate, of course, and there‘s building momentum to grant Gnaeus Pompeius a commission to deal with Sertorius once and for all.

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus (b. 120 BC)

One of the two Consuls for the Year AUC 675 (78 BC). As our game begins, Lepidus, who is by all rights a very reactionary pro-Sullan, has been granted the province of Cisalpine Gaul to govern as Proconsul following his term in office. Gnaeus Pompeius supported Lepidus in his bid for the consulship, and Lepidus of course likewise supported Pompey as commander against Sertorius in the Spains. As the old Latin proverb goes, ―Manus Manum Lavat‖ (one hand washes the other)…

The odd thing is this: although Lepidus appears every bit as reactionary as his Consular colleague Quintus Lutatius Catalus Capitolinus, Lepidus is beginning to behave in an odd, almost popularist (!) manner. That could spell trouble…

The Donald Trump of the ancient world, Marcus Licinius Crassus made his money the old-fashioned way: he stole it! Though, as Crassus himself would no doubt demur, ―stealing‖ is such an ugly term!

Much of Crassus‘ wealth came from snapping up huge estates confiscated from pro-Marians during the Sullan proscriptions. Crassus kept much of the land for himself, but what he didn‘t keep he chose to liquidate, selling bargain(but still quite profitable) prices to fellow entrepreneurs and newly-wealthy Romans.

Another money-making scam involves his ―fire brigades.‖ He has specially-trained (but still expendable) cadres of slaves who are adept at fighting fires. Rome is a city of wooden buildings, and every so

often, one of them catches fire. Shortly after the smoke starts curling skyward, who shows up but Crassus and his fire-fighting slave gangs? He offers to buy the building from the distraught owner at a bargain basement price, mere farthings on the denarius. If the owner agrees, Crassus pays off the owner while his slaves go into action. Within a few minutes, Marcus Crassus is the proud owner of yet another piece of (slightly singed but entirely serviceable) real estate. If he owner refuses to sell, well the flames will do what flames will do…

In our Game, Marcus Licinius Crassus is the most powerful man in Rome. He serves as one of our NPC bankers. He‘ll loan you money at a fair interest rate, probably well below the prevailing rate in fact. The ―interest‖ which Crassus will extract from you will come in other forms.

Players are more than welcome to seek out a loan from Crassus, but beware of unintended consequences…!

Gnaeus Pompeius “Magnus” (b. 106 BC)

Born of a prominent Picene family, Gnaeus Pompieus (Pompey) was the son of a military man, and a brilliant general himself. Brash and self-confident, he entered into the civil war as an ally of Sulla in 83 BC. It was said that Pompey was the only man Sulla would rise from his chair for upon entering the room, and it was Sulla who gave Pompey the cognomen ―Magnus‖ (―the Great‖),though perhaps it was tongue-in-cheek. Did we mention that Pompey was brash? A young Pompey was once reputed to have said of himself to Sulla, ―More people worship the rising sun than the setting sun.‖ Brash indeed! When our game opens, Pompeius is leading a Roman army in the Spains, fighting against the renegade Roman general Quintus Sertorius.

Word on the street that the owner of a ludus (a gladiator training school) in Capua has been bragging about a particularly talented fighter he owns, a Thracian by the name of ―Spartacus.‖ Perhaps some day he‘ll even fight in Rome!

Mithridates VI ―Eupator‖ was king of Pontus in northern Anatolia (now Turkey) from about 120 BC to 63 BC. Taking advantage of Rome‘s internal political squabbling, he launched a series of wars in Anatolia (known at the Mithridatic Wars) with the goal of ejecting Rome from the region. The first campaign (88-83 BC) was indecisive. Sulla found himself hampered by political trouble at home, and he was forced to conclude a less than satisfactory peace with Mithridates. The Pontic king had ordered the mass murder of over 80,000 Romans and Italians living in Anatolia during the course of the war, and this atrocity (known as the ―Asiatic Vespers‖) has yet to be fully avenged as our game begins…

Why do you need to know about these people? Well, you‟ll probably hear other players refer to them in their speeches and posts. You can make your own inputs to the game more interesting by using this stuff as handy reference material.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (b. 106 BC)

Marcus Tullius Cicero was one of the most influential players in the period of Rome's late Republic. He was a conservative statesman, politician, lawyer and general defender of Republican principals. Generally regarded as the greatest orator in the history of the world, he is a young man aged 28. He published his first work, De Inventione Rhetorica, about eight years before our game commences. Players may encounter Cicero in the courts. Fair warning: if you go up against Cicero in one of your court cases, best be advised to bring your ―A-Game.‖

Gaius Julius Caesar (b. 100 BC)

When our game commences in 78 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar is a young man of 22 years. Born into an ancient but sidelined patrician family, Caesar possessed remarkable intellectual talents and charisma. Caesar‘s family was linked to both Marius and Sulla in our scenario, but the political climate was dangerous enough that when our game begins, young Caesar is somewhere in the East, presumably out of the reach of Sulla‘s agents.

The table below constitutes our ―official‖ chronology for the game. You‘ll find many more events of note from Roman history on the web. (We recommend the site, the source for most of these entries.)

This timeline will give you a working frame of reference for our game. Dates are given both in the familiar years BC, and Ab Urbe Condita (AUC), years from the founding of Rome.

Tarquinii Kings Thrown Out

First disputes between Plebeians and Patricians

This set the stage for the long-running ―Struggle of the Orders.‖ To this day, Patricians and Plebeians are very careful to remind you ―who‘s who.‖

Conquest of Italia complete

Second Punic War (Hannibal)

Third (final) Macedonian War

Roman prosperity skyrockets. Wealth pours into Rome, along with slaves. Agrarian lifestyle of modest Roman citizens begins to deteriorate. Landless Romans flock to the City ranks of the ―headcount‖ (landless urban masses) begins to swell. This is the beginning of social upheaval.

First all-marble Roman Temple, a sign of Rome‘s expanding wealth and power.

Slave Revolt. May become a recurring theme…

Death of Tiberius Gracchus

As Tribune of the Plebs, Ti. Gracchus proposed sweeping land reforms. Roman society polarized his actions also caused riots and marked the beginning of the use of violence as a political tool.

Rome annexes the provinces of Asia and Illyrium

Tribune Gaius Gracchus (brother of slain Tiberius) passes Lex which makes the Knight Businessmen (the Ordo Equester) a separate order from the Senatorial Class.

Like his brother before him, Tribune Gaius Gracchus meets a violent end. Although many of the radical reforms of the Brothers Gracchi get undone, they have set in motion what later historians would call ―The Roman Revolution.‖ This ―revolution‖ (the Romans themselves probably had no idea they were in the middle of a revolution) would end with the death of the Republic, the death of Julius Caesar, and the establishment of the Principiate under Octavius Augustus Caesar. In the ―Legacy of Sulla‖ game, of course, history may take a different turn or two…

The war with King Jugurtha of Numidia would last until 106 BC. The conflict would serve to catapult both Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelia Sulla to political prominence.

First Consulship of Marius

Gaius Marius is elected Consul on the promise that he would handle the Numidian problem he is given command of Roman forces in the war against Jugurtha

Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a promising quaestor serving under Marius, executes a brilliant plan to capture King Jugurtha. The plan succeeds, the war ends, and Jugurtha marches in Marius‘ triumphal procession. Marius fails to give due credit to Sulla, and this marks the beginning of what would become serious trouble.

The legionary reforms begun by Marius are completed this year.

Germanic hordes spill into Cisalpine Gaul in 103. Marius defeats the Teutones at the Battle of Aquae Sextae in 102. Hailed as ―the Third Founder of Rome,‖ his popularity with the Roman people reaches its zenith.

Popular demagogue Saturninus (once a political ally of Marius) incites rioting in Rome. Marius is forced to put down the riots, being embarrassed politically in the process.

The Italian Allies (the Socii) are growing increasingly restive. They fought side-by-side with the Romans, bleed side-by-side, yet share in none of the benefits of Roman citizenship. Various Roman politicians call for some sort of Italian enfranchisement, but their efforts are resoundingly blocked and rejected by the Senate.

The Socii finally revolt. Roman citizens are massacred in Asculum, and the city prepares for the eventual Roman counter attack. The conflict will continue until 88 BC.

The Consul Lucius Julius Caesar passes the Lex Julia de Civitate et Sociis Danda, which grants citizenship to those Italians who have not taken up arms against Rome.

Both Marius and Sulla have commissions in the Social War. Marius operates in northern Italia, while Sulla campaigns in the south.

Mithridates VI of Pontus attacks Roman allies and interests in Anatolia (modern Turkey). He is intent on ending Roman influence in the East once and for all.

Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius defeats the Italian army under Silo. The Social War ends.

Sulla is Consul. When news arrives of Pontic atrocities (see below), Sulla prepares a Consular Army for campaign in the East.

Night of the Asiatic Vespers

Mithridates invades Greece in an attempt to spark a pan-Hellenic revolt in the East. He orders the slaughter of all Romans and Italians in regions under his control. Some accounts indicate that over 100,000 die. Although the First Mithridatic War will end in 84 BC, this won‘t be the last conflict with Pontus. As ―The Legacy of Sulla‖ begins, Mithridates is very much a major threat to Roman security.

By now, Marius are bitter political rivals, insanely jealous of each other. While Sulla is training his army, Marius engages in a cunning (but low) political maneuver, and uses his still substantial popularity with the Plebs to get himself voted in as commander of the Roman expedition to Pontus, effectively stripping the Consul Sulla of command. Sulla simply won‘t stand for it…

An action unprecedented in the entire history of the Republic! Sulla takes his army, and marches upon his own capital. Many of his officers flatly refuse to engage in what they consider illegal and completely against the Mos Maoirum. Sulla is undeterred. He assaults Rome and captures the city. He portrays himself as the victim of Marius' intrigue against his rightful command and gives Rome a first glimpse of the future dictatorship of Sulla. He declared Marius and his followers as outlaws and enemies of the Roman state. Marius barely escapes with his life to Africa.

Sulla departs for the East, and Marius returns to Italia. Rome with L. Cornelius Cinna, and after a short battle, he occupied Rome. Marius and Cinna are made joint consuls. Marius, possibly rendered mentally ill after a series of strokes, orders proscriptions against Sulla's supporters.

Marius died of a third and fatal stroke in 86, a few weeks into his seventh consulship.

Sulla Defeats Mithridates

Sulla conquers Athens, defeat Mithridates armies at Chaeronea and Orchomenus. He still has some mopping up to do in the East, but rest assured that when he finally returns to Rome, he will be in a rather nasty mood.

Sulla and his army return to Italia, intent on crushing the Marians once and for all. The governor of Hispania, one Marcus Licinius Crassus, joins forces with Sulla.

Meanwhile, war with Pontus has broken out again.

Sulla and Marian general Gnaeus Papirius Carbo clash at the Clusium the results are inconclusive.

Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius defeats Carbo.

Sulla is victorious at the battle of the Coline Gate at Rome.

Sulla is appointed Dictator by the Senate. (At this point, the Senate had little other choice.)

The Regnum Sullanum (―the Royal Reign of Sulla‖) is marked by proscriptions in a rein of terror which shook Roman society to its very core.

Quintus Sertorius, one of the remaining Marian generals, is in open revolt, and sets up what amounts to an ―Anti-Rome‖ in the Spains.

M. Tullus Cicero, a young advocate, wins his first major case defending Sex. Roscius against the proscriptions of Sulla.

Nola, an Italian city which had been one of the last strongholds of the Marians, is burnt to the ground.

Sulla resigns his Dictatorship, and retires to a life of debauchery. He has left the Senate packed with supporters.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix dies in a villa outside the city of Puteoli.

And this is where our scenario starts:

 Sulla Dictator is dead. Although Sulla is gone, the Senate is firmly in the hands of Sullan sympathizers and/or sycophants.

 Catulus and Lepidus are Consuls for the Year 675. Lepidus has been granted the Proconsulship of Cisalpine Gaul (Gaul this side of the Alps) when his term ends in 676.

 The Senate and People are at each other's throats. The former want to preserve what Sulla had gifted them while the latter want to restore the correct form of the Republic.

 Consul Lepidus has pledged to repeal all Sullan Laws. How far is he determined to go?

 Consul Catulus is the front figure of Sullan supporters. He hails great respect in the House itself and can muster Sulla's veterans to his side.

 Sertorius is firmly in control of the Spains. The Senate, when next it convenes, will take up the matter of whether or not to appoint the young and capable general Gnaeus Pompeius to head Roman efforts to expel Sertorius.

 Marcus Crassus has grown rich and powerful during the previous years, and he is intent on growing even more so.

 Marcus Cicero hopes to continue his career in the courts in preparation for ascending the Cursus Honorum once he reaches his thirtieth birthday.

 Young Gaius Julius Caesar, a man with close ties to both Marius and Sulla, has survived the proscriptions. His ambitions are boundless. He is planning an extended trip to the East, where he hopes to find adventure and glory.

 Mithridates concluded a peace treaty with Sulla, but the peace is a shaky one at best. Sulla may be dead, but the ambitions of Mithridates VI Eupator are still very much alive.

 Loans have been running low lately and farmers are suffering from the recession. What's more, the Sullan veterans are trying to make a living out of scraps but they find their hopes frustrated at every turn. How much can a man lose before he picks up the scutum and gladius again?

 The Senate has been decimated and now is run by a mix of Plebeian up-and-comers and Knights. The aristocracy is the minority of the House but still commands respect and authority due to their legacy. Will things come around for the Second Class at last? A fiscal embarrassment is everyone's who's anyone worst nightmare. At the time being the Senate has no Censors in office, since Sulla has abolished the institution, but there's being talk of restoring them. There's also a lot of talk that many above reproach Senators are only in the Senate due to their money-lenders largesse. Will we see political careers terminated and hopes frustrated?

Use the timeline as a quick reference to key events that ―got us where we are today.‖ It lays out the course of the troubles which resulted in Sulla‘s dictatorship. It also can be a handy source for historical tidbits which will spice up the quality of your posts. (Example: you’re arguing a case in the courts, and you consult this chart, noting the date which the Twelve Tables of Roman Law were written. You use this info in your courtroom post, beginning your argument with “Quirites, fellow Romans! Never since the day our Twelve Tables were finalized in AUC 303, has there been such an egregious assault upon Roman sensibilities as was made by the accused…”)


Individual Note

Lucius Cornelius Cinna (mort en 84 av. J.-C. à Ancône), partisan de Marius, est consul sans interruption de 87 av. J.-C. à 84 av. J.-C., et règne par la terreur sur Rome par ses proscriptions. Il veut faire rappeler d'exil Caius Marius, malgré l'opposition de son collègue Octavius, mais le Sénat le dépouille de son titre de consul au profit de Lucius Cornelius Merula et le chasse de la ville. Furieux, il rassemble une armée, marche sur Rome accompagné de Marius, de Cnaeus Papirius Carbo et de Sertorius, s'empare de la ville, assemble le peuple, fait prononcer solennellement le rappel de Marius et devient le complice de ses cruautés. Il est massacré en 84 av. J.-C., au cours de la sédition de ses propres soldats. Il a été consul quatre ans de suite (87-84), en contravention avec la loi d’espacement des mandats.

Family Note


Il a eu un fils Lucius Cornelius Cinna et une fille Cornelia Cinna, laquelle épouse Jules César en 84 av. J.-C., et lui donne en 83 av. J.-C. son seul enfant légitime, sa fille Julia.

Watch the video: The Life of Sulla: Romes first Dictator for Life (January 2022).