[Sidenote: Sylla made dictator.] [Sidenote: He resigns his power.]
Sylla was now in the possession of absolute power. He was master of Rome, and of all the countries over which Rome held sway. Still he was nominally not a magistrate, but only a general returning victoriously from his Asiatic campaign, and putting to death, somewhat irregularly, it is true, by a sort of martial law persons whom he found, as he said, disturbing the public peace. After having thus effectually disposed of the power of his enemies, he laid aside, ostensibly, the government of the sword, and submitted himself and his future measures to the control of law. He placed himself ostensibly at the disposition of the city. They chose him dictator, which was investing him with absolute and unlimited power. He remained on this, the highest pinnacle of worldly ambition, a short time, and then resigned his power, and devoted the remainder of his days to literary pursuits and pleasures. Monster as he was in the cruelties which he inflicted upon his political foes, he was intellectually of a refined and cultivated mind, and felt an ardent interest in the promotion of literature and the arts.
[Sidenote: Opinion of mankind in regard to Marius and Sylla.]
The quarrel between Marius and Sylla, in respect to every thing which can make such a contest great, stands in the estimation of mankind as the greatest personal quarrel which the history of the world has ever recorded. Its origin was in the simple personal rivalry of two ambitious men. It involved, in its consequences, the peace and happiness of the world. In their reckless struggles, the fierce combatants trampled on every thing that came in their way, and destroyed mercilessly, each in his turn, all that opposed them. Mankind have always execrated their crimes, but have never ceased to admire the frightful and almost superhuman energy with which they committed them.
Caesar’s early years.
[Sidenote: Caesar’s resolution.]
Caesar does not seem to have been much disheartened and depressed by his misfortunes. He possessed in his early life more than the usual share of buoyancy and light-heartedness of youth, and he went away from Rome to enter, perhaps, upon years of exile and wandering, with a determination to face boldly and to brave the evils and dangers which surrounded him, and not to succumb to them.