A famous Roman general stood poised to take the unprecedented step of marching on Rome with his legions, to purge the Senate of his political enemies and to ensure the downfall of a rival general, once more famous, now vying for command of the Roman armies. Of an old but decayed patrician family, he was famous for his conquest of foreign kings and his unrivaled luck in battle. He was ruthless, brilliant, alternately merciful and pitiless to his enemies. The younger general's actions sent shock-waves to the very foundations of the enfeebled Republic and led to his seizing the dictatorship of Rome; however, he would not step aside from the office in the traditional six months, but proceeded to force through legislation to recreate Rome in his own image. His name would become a byword for those who helped destroy the Roman Republic in its final years.
His name was Lucius Cornelius Sulla "Felix" - the fortunate.
The parallels between Sulla's notorious career and that of Julius Caesar (who was not even born when Sulla first rose to prominence, but who lived his youth under his shadow) are uncanny. As Caesar had his Pompey, Sulla had his Gaius Marius. The increasing struggles between the two warlords resulted in civil war and a seesaw of alternating political regimes that immersed Rome in blood. Caesar grew up in this political chaos. Sulla's ruthless actions must have profoundly influenced the mind of the young Julian.If you are a fan of the HBO series ROME, then you should read Colleen McCullough's outstanding series, MASTERS OF ROME. The first book is FIRST MAN IN ROME. To be honest, she portrays Sulla as a monster...but I find it easy to ignore the outrageous antics she attributes to him (Gaius Julius Caesar's enemies made similar claims about him) and enjoy one of the few men in history who exercised absolute power, then retired to private life to party himself to death.