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press with vigor the war against Mithridates. By a series of aggressions in

Asia Minor, most of which were directed against the allies of Rome, this

ambitious king had compelled the Senate to make a vigorous opposition

against him, or else abandon Asia Minor to his sway. In B. C. 88,

Mithridates expelled from their dominions the kings of Cappadocia and

Bithynia, and in spite of the Roman armies in the country, overran nearly

the whole of the province of Asia. In the course of these campaigns, he is

said to have ordered the massacre of at least eighty thousand Roman

subjects, and for a while it appeared doubtful whether a vestige of the

authority of the Senate would be left in the country beyond the AEgean.

In the choice of a general to command in the Mithridatic war, the lot fell

to Lucius Cornelius Sulla, now one of the consuls of the Republic. This

remarkable character, whom Byron has designated as the "man-slayer," and

described as "the most lucky among mortals anywhere," is one of the most

unique figures in Roman history. He was born of an aristocratic lineage, in

B. C. 138, and lived to the age of sixty. His first public service was in

the Jugurthine war, in which he served as a quaestor in the army of Marius.

He remained with that austere commander during the times of the Cimbric

invasion, and in B. C. 103 was elected military tribune. From this time

forth he became the rival of Marius, becoming the leader of the Optimate

party, as Marius was of the old savage republicanism of uncultured Rome.

The feud between the two chieftains was for awhile allayed by the common

perils of the social war. With the outbreak of the troubles in the East,

both desired the command against Mithridates; but the rising renown of

Sulla, and the advanced age of Marius-which circumstances had already

raised the former to the consulship-led to the choice of Sulla to command

in the hazardous enterprise of recovering Asia Minor.

Great was the chagrin of Marius. The slumbers of his old age were disturbed

with fierce jealousy. He left his home at Misenum, and encamped with the

young soldiers who were drilling in the Campus Martius. In order to

heighten his popularity, he exerted himself to secure, through the tribune

Publius Shlpicius, the introduction of a new statute in favor of the

Italians. The measures so proposed were three in number: First, that the

citizens recently enfranchised and assigned to the eight new tribes should

now be redistributed among the tribes already existing; second, that all

who had been condemned to exile in the time of the Varian prosecutions

should be recalled; and third, that every senator who owned more than two

thousand denarii should lose his seat in the Senate. In order to prevent

the passage of these radical laws, Sulla, who was now preparing for his

eastern campaign, hastened from Nola to Rome, and declared all the

remaining days of the year to be holidays, for on a holiday no law could be

legally adopted. Sulpicius, however, with the support of Marius, raised a

force, and drove Sulla from the city. A resolution was then adopted by the

assembly transferring to Marius the command of the Mithridatic expedition.

But when two military tribunes were sent to the camp at Nola to assume

command of the army, they were killed by Sulla's soldiers, who demanded to

be led against the capital. Sulla was by no means loath to give a favorable

answer to their clamor. With six legions he left the camp at Nola, marched

to Rome, expelled Marius and Sulpicius, encamped his army in the city, and

summoned the Senate. (1) Are solution was adopted by which Marius and his

supporters were declared public enemies; but the old republican succeeded

in making his escape. Sulpicius was captured and put to death.

In order to secure the ground thus gained, the laws passed during the

tribunate of Sulpicius were revoked, and three new measures adopted, with a

view to the restoration of the ancient prerogatives of the Senate. The

first of these laws was a provision limiting the power of the tribunes of

the people, and requiring every legislative proposition to be first

submitted to the Senate, as was the usage before the passage of the

Hortensian Law. The _________________________________ 1 This was the first

occasion in the history of Rome on which an army had been encamped within

the city walls.