II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > E. Rome > 2. The Republic, 264–70 B.C.E. > f. War and Politics, to 70 B.C.E.
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
f. War and Politics, to 70 B.C.E.
THE SOCIAL WAR (War of the Allies). Italian allied states formed their own republic, Italia, and declared war on Rome. Latin communities, together with Etruscans and Umbrians, remained loyal.  1
The lex Iulia extended Roman citizenship to all Italians, thus undermining Italian solidarity. The new citizens, however, were enrolled in only eight tribes, severely limiting their voting power.  2
Roman victories effectively ended the war, though it dragged into 87. Before it was over, 50,000 had died on each side and Italy was devastated.  3
First Mithridatic War. Taking advantage of the Social War and Greek hatred of Rome, Mithridates VI Eupator of Pontus invaded Bithynia and the province of Asia. L. Cornelius Sulla, a successful optimate general in the Social War and consul in 88, received the command against Mithridates.  4
CIVIL WAR broke out in Rome when a popularis tribune, P. Sulpicius Rufus, passed laws distributing new Italian citizens through the 35 tribes and transferring the Mithridatic command to Marius. Sulla marched his army on Rome, killed his opponents (Sulpicius among them—Marius escaped), passed conservative laws, and then left to fight in the east as proconsul of 87.  5
The popularis consul of 87, L. Cornelius Cinna, went to war with his optimate colleague and captured Rome with the support of Marius, who then began slaughtering his optimate enemies. Cinna and Marius became consuls for 86, but Marius soon died. Cinna's attempts to negotiate with Sulla were fruitless, and he died in a mutiny in 84. Meanwhile, Sulla had defeated Mithridates' generals in Greece (86–85) and driven Mithridates from Asia; then, eager to return to Italy, he made peace (85). Sulla demanded the enormous sum of 20,000 talents from the cities of Asia.  6
The Second Mithridatic War resulted from a Roman invasion of Cappadocia. Peace was made on the terms of 84.  7
Sulla landed at Brundisium, attracting talented young commanders—M. Licinius Crassus and Cn. Pompeius (Pompey). He routed his opponents in the field and in Rome “proscribed” his enemies by listing those whose lives and property were forfeited; over 2,000 died. Eighty thousand Sullan veterans were settled in 20 military colonies founded on confiscated Italian land.  8
Sulla was appointed dictator for restoring the Republic. He passed a legislative program that included: (1) increasing the senate from 300 to 600 by adding new equestrian members; (2) severely limiting the powers of plebeian tribunes and forbidding tribunes to hold further office; (3) regulating the provincial system by increasing praetors to eight, quaestors to 20, and forbidding governors to lead armies outside their provinces; (4) establishing seven additional permanent courts, in which juries were exclusively senatorial. Sulla retired in 79 and died the following year. He had tried to ensure senatorial rule and optimate supremacy against the challenges of tribunes and generals like himself.  9
M. Aemilius Lepidus, consul of 78, sought to undo Sulla's reform. He raised an army but was defeated in 77 by his optimate colleague, Q. Lutatius Catulus, and Pompey.  10
The Marian leader Q. Sertorius held optimate generals at bay in Spain. Pompey arrived in 77, but was not victorious until Sertorius's assassination in 72.  11
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.