Page 0860



Three hundred new members were elected to the Senate, all of them being

from the equestrian order. The judges were now restricted to the senatorial

rank, the college of the priests was made a close corporation with power to

fill its own Vacancies. The presidency of the criminal courts was assigned

to the praetors, and a new order was established by which in the trial of

civil causes a single judge should preside instead of a bench of jurymen.

In addition to these measures, certain sumptuary laws were enacted by which

the amount to be expended at banquets and funerals was limited.

In no part of this reactionary legislation were Sulla and his party doomed

to greater disappointment than in his scheme of colonization. The

confiscated lands of the Italians were for the most part bestowed on the

veterans of the army, and the Optimates were so little skilled in the

nature of man and the tendencies of the times as to suppose that these old

soldiers whose lust of plunder and destruction had been gratified in so

many campaigns, could now be converted into industrious citizens by the

simple expedient of a colony. How dull and insipid to a centurion who had

reveled in the excesses of the Mithridatic war, and afterward in the

greater license of the civil conflict in Italy, must have appeared the

apple trees and sheep on a farm in Picenum! The history of subsequent times

soon reveals the fact that this old soldier element was the most

inflammable and dangerous of all Italy.

Hitherto no one had held the office of dictator for a longer period than

six months. Sulla kept his power for nearly three years, during which time

the Roman Republic was absolutely at his disposal. Suddenly in B. C. 79,

without previous notification of his intentions, he resigned his office and

declared himself ready to render an account for his deeds. No one durst

bring charges against him. He retired without molestation to his villa at

Puteoli, and there began to take his rest. He zealously sought the

pleasures of privacy, and allowed his mind to be distracted as little as

possible with the affairs of the state. It was not in the nature of things,

however, that his influence should at once cease to be felt either in Rome

or the provinces. He was still employed as the arbiter of disputes, and was

accustomed to render decisions in the same merciless way as when in public

life. He busied himself in writing his autobiography, of which twenty-two

books were completed. On the day before his death he had one of the

quaestors strangled by his bedside for some act of official dishonesty. It

was a fitting preliminary to his exit. He died at the age of sixty, and was

honored with the most elaborate funeral which had ever been witnessed in

Rome. His tomb was built in the Campus Martius, and bore the following

inscription, composed by himself: "No friend ever did me a kindness, no

enemy a wrong, without receiving a full requital." For once the epitaph was

in keeping with the character of the dead.

After the death of Sulla, the affairs of the Republic went rapidly from bad

to worse. The extreme oligarchs had their fill of satisfaction, but all

other classes of persons were gloomy and discontented. Under the new order-

which was the old order with all of its worst conditions-the rich grew

richer and the poor, poorer. It was an age of plunder under the sanction of

law. The accumulated wealth of generations was squandered in debasing

luxuries, and the brutal passions of the people excited by the bloody

combats of the arena. The number of gladiatorial shows and funeral games

was greatly multiplied. Costly banquets gave opportunity for the

expenditure of whole fortunes in the attempted gratification of insatiable

appetites. On one occasion Lucullus is said to have expended on a supper

given to Cicero and Atticus the sum of one hundred and seventy thousand

sesterces equivalent to seven thousand five hundred dollars.

Under the condition of affairs, the oligarchy soon became as weak. as it

was absolute. Though there were many who had Sulla's spirit, there was none

who had his abilities. Soon after his death the rumbling of discontent

began to be heard in the Republic. The consul Lepidus undertook to

revolutionize the revolution, and was only prevented from success by the

opposition of the other consul, Catulus, the leader of the Optimates. It

was found necessary, however, to calm the roaring multitude with a

distribution of corn, and to send the