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Republic. In the spring of B. C. 82 the war was renewed, but Marius, in the

first battle, fought at Sacriportus, was overwhelmingly defeated. At this

the praetor, Damasippus, acting under the orders of Marius, put to death

the leading Optimates in Rome and evacuated the city. Many eminent senators

were murdered in their own seats in the chamber. Both of the aediles and

the pontifex maximus, Quintus Mucius Scaevola, were murdered before the

desperate Marians relaxed their grasp on Rome. Sulla soon entered the city

without opposition, but presently set out to the North to join Metellus

against the consul Carbo, who still commanded a large army in Etruria.

While these movements were taking place an unexpected turn was given to the

tempestuous tides which were surging through Italy. The Samnites and

Lucanians, still harboring the grudges of centuries, rose in revolt, and

under their able leader, Pontius Telesinus, marched first on Praeneste and

then on Rome. Pontius saw amid the distractions of the civil war a final

opportunity of avenging the wrongs of centuries. To him the party of Marius

and the party of Sulla were both alike, and he declared his purpose to

avenge the wrongs of generations by destroying the lair "in which the Roman

wolves had made their den"-- meaning Rome.

The Samnite leader came near entering the city. Only the opportune arrival

of Sulla, who, hearing of the peril, turned back from Etruria, prevented

the catastrophe. As it was, Telesinus reached the Colline Gate, and was

there confronted by the veterans. One of the fiercest battles ever fought

in Italy ensued, and Sulla was on the point of suffering an overthrow; but

he suddenly bethought him of the gods, and prayed to the Pythian Apollo.

Then the tide turned, and the Samnites were utterly routed. Three thousand

prisoners were taken into the Campus Martius and butchered. It was the end

of the Samnite nation.

Then began the proscription. The scenes that ensued beggar description.

Sulla, as the master of Rome, threw the reins to the Optimates and set them

the example of destruction. The aim was to annihilate the Marian party. It

was to be torn out root and branch. To this end the relentless leader of

Rome drew up a proscription list, which included not only those who had

taken an active part in the recent struggle, but also the leading citizens

and even prominent Italians at a distance from the city. A reward was

offered for the heads of all the proscribed. Their estates were

confiscated. None might offer them shelter. When the first list was

exhausted another was prepared, and then another. All Italy was a scene of

ever-recurring murder. Forty-seven thousand persons were butchered. The

estates of those who were destroyed were put up at auction; but none dared

to bid for the confiscated property except the known friends of Sulla. It

became the order to kill men merely to secure their property. To have a

villa was equivalent to a death warrant. In many instances men were killed

and their names added to the proscription list afterward. All these

atrocities were sanctioned by the Senate, which body not only formally

approved of all things done under Sulla's consulate, but proceeded to order

an equestrian statue to be set up in the forum, inscribed to Lucius

Cornelius Sulla, the Happy General.

The kindly consul next proceeded to revolutionize the government by a

restoration of the ancient regime. All the old prerogatives of the Senate

were restored to that body, and every popular feature which had been

introduced into the political system of Rome was abrogated. It was one of

those unreasoning, backward movements in the policy of states to which no

amount of force or statecraft has ever been able to give permanency. Sulla

was made dictator with unlimited powers to reorganize the Republic. He

proceeded in the exercise of his authority to reduce the tribunes to a

state of miserable dependency, and to dose the office to all but members of

the senatorial order. It was also enacted that the consulship, as of old,

must follow the praetorship, and the praetorship succeed the quaestorship.

The law forbidding the reelection of a consul was abrogated, and that

requiring an interval of ten years between a first and second election was

revived. The college of praetors was increased from six members to eight,

and that of the quaestors from twelve to twenty.