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Waiting for Sulla

  • E. Badian


There are many periods of history—and unfortunately not always the least important—that survive, for us, entirely or mainly in one version. Ever since the development of modern critical historiography it has been recognized that it is the historian's duty to test that version, and highly skilled methods in the use of evidence have been worked out in order to enable him to do so. We all know some of the outstanding results in our field: the age of Augustus, once seen through the eyes of court literature; the ages of Tiberius and Claudius, once known only through the resentment of those who had suffered under tyranny; one could name many other periods that have gained a new reality in the last few generations and that now stand out in three dimensions.



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1 This is an expanded version of a paper first read to the Society in London on 1st November, 1960, and since, in adapted form, at Bryn Mawr College and to the Oxford branch of the Classical Association. I should like to thank those who contributed to the discussion on those various occasions, and to record my pleasure that Professors T. R. S. Broughton and Sir Ronald Syme, to whom the approach here adopted perhaps owes more than to any other living scholar, were kind enough to take the chair at two of the meetings. The views expressed, of course, are entirely my own.

2 For a survey of recent work in some parts of this field, see Historia 1962, 197 f. (unfortunately only up to 1959).

3 In this as in so much else Scullard's is markedly superior even to other quite recent general works. Thus, e.g., Heuss' Röm. Geschichte (168 f.) still moves within the bias of the sources. Among specialist works, Gabba's edition of App. BC I shows that scholar's usual balance and learning (e.g. p. 205). One must also recall H. Bennett, Cinna and his Times (1923)—a whole generation in advance of its day, and therefore ignored until recently. It is still by far the best book on this period.

4 Valerius Antias, in view of his omission in Cic., Leg. I, init., must belong to a later period.

5 It is no longer necessary to give full documentation for these and similar generally known facts: this can be found, admirably collected and briefly discussed, in MRR (with the 1960 Supplement).

6 Cichorius has shown (ibid. 167 f.) that that interesting body is not conspicuous for attachment to Sulla—except for those who, like Pompey and Catiline, joined him in the hour of victory. Several of its members (where we can trace them) later appear as Cinnani, some later still as Sertoriani.

7 This caused Münzer needless difficulty (P-W, s.v. ‘Lutatius’, no. 7, col. 2073). We have seen that the elder Catulus married a Servilia, who was Hortensius' mother-in-law; she was a femina primaria at the time of the Verres trial (Cic., 2 Verr. II, 24). Müzer needlessly assumed that she must also be the mother of the younger Catulus. He, in 70 B.C., would be at least fifty-one years old—very probably some years older, since his consulship is likely to have been retarded by the civil troubles. Was Servilia, then, necessarily seventy? It would be possible, of course. But since the younger Catulus is attested as (prima facie) the son of a Domitia, why assume it? There seems to have been a considerable difference in age between the two children of the elder Catulus: the younger Catulus, cos. 78, was born, at the latest, in 121 (probably earlier); his sister's husband Q. Hortensius was born in 116 (Cic., Br. 229), and we know that girls of noble family usually married much earlier than the men. We may safely follow the evidence, on its simplest interpretation, and hold that the elder Catulus married twice, first a Domitia and then a Servilia: the latter, at the time of the Verres trial, need have been only in her fifties.

8 Livy, Per. LXXXIV: ‘nouis ciuibus senatus consulto suffragium datum est’ (84 B.C., after Cinna's death, reported in the previous book). No other plausible interpretation has ever been (or apparently can be) suggested for this statement: there is no record of ciuitas sine suffragio for new citizens. L. R. Taylor (Voting Districts 105) finds it inconceivable that Cinna should not have rewarded his loyal allies the Italians; yet even modern governments are often less quick to reward proved loyalty than reason and justice would seem to demand—and more given to aiming at placating opponents and neutrals. Miss Taylor, naturally, is also puzzled by the election of L. Philippus to a censorship, to enrol the Italians whose enfranchisement he had so violently opposed a few years before. The connection and the policy behind it are far from puzzling. The full enfranchisement of the freedmen (Livy, ibid.) was a similar redemption of an old promise.

9 λόγῳ μὲν ἐπί Μιθριδάτην, ἔργῳ δὲ ἐπ᾽ ἐκεῖνον αὐτόν (Plut., Sulla 20, 1).

10 Arrival in Italy: Livy, Per. LXXXV, init.; foedus with the Italians: half-way through Livy, Per. LXXXVI. A great deal intervenes.

11 Livy, Per. LXXXIII Since this is one of the few speeches noted by the epitomator, it must have been a showpiece of Livian oratory. Cicero (Att. VIII, 3, 6) mentions Flaccus, together with Philippus and Scaevola, as a precedent for his own guidance in 49; but he neither there nor anywhere else refers to Flaccus as an orator. Livy, finding the scene described by Sisenna, would be free to invent a worthy piece of oratory.

12 The tribunes later opposed Carbo after Cinna's death (App., BC 1, 78). Of the quaestors, we need only mention Verres (MRR II, 61) ; in the following year there was M. Piso, on whom see below. Much has been written about the statement that ‘L. Cinna et Cn. Papirius Carbo a se ipsis consules per biennium creati’ (Livy, Per. LXXXIII). But the truth is not all that dramatic. (Greenidge-Clay2 here as so often—e.g. on the matter of the redistribution of the new citizens—has the right interpretation.) There is no warrant for assuming that elections were not held: no source, however hostile, states this, and ‘magistraturn creare’ does not, in normal usage, imply the absence of elections (contrast Per. LXXX, on the coss. 86). The only irregularity was that both the consuls had themselves re-elected (apparently earlier in the year than usual: App., BC I, 77), which had not happened before—not even at the height of the Hannibalic War—and was worse than the re-election of one consul under his own presidency. But such innovations proliferate from precedent to precedent in grave emergencies: had the consuls been successful, no one would have remembered it against them, any more than Marius' continuatio was later held against him. The election of a hostile college of tribunes (and the tribunes' action against Carbo must have been unanimous to be effective) speaks for itself, answering the question of dominatio.

13 Which Sisenna apparently reported in detail (fr. 130 p).

14 Κίνναν τε πυθόμενοι τεθνάναι καὶ τὴν πόλιν ἀδιοίκητον εἶναι (BC 1, 79). This is followed immediately by Sulla's invasion of Italy. Sulla did not disguise these facts, and Appian understood them.

15 See Historia 1957, 338. On the Messallae, see especially Syme, JRS 1955, 158.

16 On this, see my discussion Historia 1962, 230.

17 Sulla seems to have supported Mam. Lepidus, who—as we have seen—had probably rendered him good service. Sall., Hist. I, 86 M, shows that Mam. Lepidus had suffered a repulsa. No other year is plausible for this; and Sulla's opposition to M. Lepidus is recorded by many sources.

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