Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix: Accomplishments, Facts & Quotes

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Would you ever give up absolute power voluntarily? One man did. This lesson goes over the accomplishments, facts, and quotes of one Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix

Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix. Wow! What a name! With a name like that, this better be someone distinguished. And you know what? In terms of Roman history, Sulla is a well-known figure. Sulla, or Lucius Cornelius Sulla (Felix) was a military commander who won the first full-scale civil war in Roman history and attempted to save the Roman Republic from collapse.

Let's learn more about his accomplishments, facts, and quotes in this lesson.

Facts & Accomplishments

Sulla was born in 138 BCE in Puteoli, Italy, which is near Naples. He was born into a political family but one that wasn't all that important. In fact, the only one of his ancestors to achieve any prominence in politics was actually expelled from the Roman Senate.

During the Numidian War of 112-105 BCE, Sulla accomplished something important for Rome. He helped ensure the surrender and capture of the Numidian king, Jugurtha. This was important to Rome because Jugurtha's father was an ally of Hannibal, the arch-nemesis of Rome, during the Second Punic War. And so, the Romans despised Jugurtha's entire family as a result.

Sulla would then go on to distinguish himself in the War of the Allies as well, where Rome's allies in Italy rose up to demand equal rights. Sulla's conduct during the war, including a propensity for brutality, established his reputation as a great leader-- so much so that he was proclaimed consul of Rome in 88 BCE.


Not long after, Sulla would go on to campaign against a formidable enemy at the time, Mithridates Eupator of Pontus. He wanted this distinction not only for glory but also for the fortune to be gained from the spoils of war. However, command of the Army was withdrawn from him and given to his rival, Marius. This angered Sulla, and he led over 30,000 soldiers into battle against Rome. After defeating his opponents and pushing Marius into exile, he went on to fight against Mithridates.

The Roman government ordered him to come back to Rome to face trial for his disobedience. Sulla refused and was declared an enemy of the state as a result. After successfully campaigning against Mithridates, Sulla reversed back and marched on Rome a second time to defeat his enemies therein. As a result, the Roman Senate succumbed to him, named him dictator, and granted him immunity for his past crimes.

After becoming dictator, Sulla had the Senate and Temple of Jupiter rebuilt. But most importantly of all, Sulla enacted numerous laws to try to restore the power of the Roman Republic, which would ensure that the Roman Senate, not any one man, would be in charge of all of Rome. This was peculiar, given Sulla's lust for glory and the fact that the Senate actually gave him the power of dictator indefinitely, something that had never been done before.

Sulla could've remained dictator for life. He chose, instead, to do everything he could to ensure no man could ever hold the absolute power he was granted.

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