June 02, 2018

"No friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, whom I have not repaid in full"

Lucius Cornelius Sulla

In our previous newsletter we discussed Gaius Marius and his reform to the Roman Military. This newsletter is about the general who benefited most from these reforms, Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Ironically he used the reforms to eventually defeat Gauis and march on Rome not once, but twice.

Born in 139 BC, Sulla grew up in a poor yet well-connected family. He was able to receive a classical education and eventually ended up in the Roman Military where he quickly climbed the ranks.

Around 112 BC an African King tried to claim most of the North Africa territories for himself. After a series of failed military campaigns to defeat the king, Rome responded by appointing Marius as Consul (General) to the Legions in North Africa.  Sulla was appointed as his 2nd in command where he quickly established himself as an excellent military leader, capturing the enemy King. This led to a faster victory for the Roman forces and by 106 BC the war was over.
Marius was given a Triumph in Rome, while Sulla sat quietly on the sidelines.

Then, in 104 BC another war broke out in northern Europe. Once more, the Marius-Sulla team was sent to put it down. And once again, while Sulla commanded the Roman Military to victory, other well-connect political Commanders took credit and receive the Triumphs of victory.
Sulla, smart and calculating, was satisfied to reap the rewards of battle and allow the politicians to play the political game. Eventually, he was given a province of his own to govern in northern Europe.

Later, in 91 BC the "Social War" broke out. However, this time it was cities from inside mainland Italy – close to Rome. These cities were rebelling for a lack of representation in the Roman Senate. Sulla was once again called to defend Rome from an enemy inside its occupied territories.  
Yet again Sulla proved himself to be a superior Roman Commander winning multiple victories. He was awarded the highest Roman military honor for personal bravery in the field. He was given the ceremonial “Grass Crown,” which was woven from grasses and other plants taken from the actual battlefield.

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