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First proscription letters

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Bust of Lucius Cornelius Sulla without nose
Bust of Lucius Cornelius Sulla without nose

Lucius Cornelius Sulla is the first Roman citizen who, after the fall of the monarchy, practically took over full power in the Roman state. His rivalry with the populares led by Marius and Cynna led to the death of many Italians.

Sulla, after defeating his opponents on the Apennine Peninsula, entered Rome and declared himself dictator in 82 BCE. During his initial reign, subsequent unfavourable senators and equites were sentenced, which caused great fear in Roman society. There was also a large emigration of the opposition to Roman provinces, including to Spain – a place where the popular under the leadership of Sertorius successfully competed with the supporters of the optimates.

The successive executions ordered by Sulla in Rome terrified everyone. Once, the young senator Gaius Metellus was supposed to turn to Sulla so that he would finally stop keeping everyone in suspense and tell what his further plans were. When he did not receive a clear answer from Sulla, he was to say: “Well, then, let us know whom thou intendest to punish”1. As it turned out, this idea appealed to the cruel dictator, who instead of announcing more and more people sentenced to death, simply wrote down the names of political opponents and put them on display – this was the beginning of the so-called proscription letters. As it turned out, in total, Sulla was to sentence 90 senators and 2,600 equites to death.

  1. Plutarch, Sulla, 31
  • Paweł Rochala, Powstanie Spartakusa 73-71 p.n.e., Kocewia Mała 2022

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