Cinna put in another consul named Valerius Flaccus, and invited all the Italians to enroll themselves as Roman citizens. Then Flaccus went out to the East, meaning to take away the command from Sulla, who was hunting Mithridates out of Greece, which he had seized and held for a short time. But Flaccus’ own army rose against him and killed him, and Sulla, after beating Mithridates, driving him back to Pontus, and making peace with him, was now to come home.
There was great fear at Rome, among the friends of Cinna and Marius, at the prospect of Sulla’s return. A fire broke out in the Capitol, and this added to their terror, for the Books of the Sybil were burnt, and all her prophecies were lost. Cinna tried to oppose Sulla’s landing, but was killed by his own soldiers at Brundusium.
Sulla, with his victorious army, could not be stopped. Sertorius fled to Spain, but Marius’ son tried, with the help of the Samnites, to resist, and held out Praeneste, but the Samnites were beaten in a terrible battle outside the walls, and when the people of the city saw the heads of the leaders carried on spear points, they insisted on giving up. Young Marius and a Samnite noble hid themselves in a cave, and as they had no hope, resolved to die; so they fought, hoping to kill each other, and when Marius was left alive, he caused himself to be slain by a slave.
Sulla marched on towards Rome, furious at the resistance he met with, and determined on a terrible vengeance. He could not enter the city till he was ready to dismiss his army and have his triumph, so the Senate came out to meet him in the temple of Bellona. As they took their seats, they heard dreadful shrieks and cries. “No matter,” said Sulla; “it is only some wretches being punished.” The wretches were the 8000 Samnite prisoners he had taken at the battle of Praeneste, and brought to be killed in the Campus Martius; and with these shocking sounds to mark that he was in earnest, the purple-faced general told the trembling Senate that if they submitted to him he would be good to them, but that he would spare none of his enemies, great or small.
And his men were already in the city and country, slaughtering not only the party of Marius, but every one against whom any one of them had a spite, or whose property he coveted. Marius’ body, which had been buried and not burnt, was taken from the grave and thrown into the Tiber; and such horrible deeds were done that Sulla was asked in the Senate where the execution was to stop. He showed a list of eighty more who had yet to die; and the next day and the next he brought other lists of two hundred and thirty each. These dreadful lists were called proscriptions, and any one who tried to shelter the victims was treated in the same manner. The property of all who were slain was seized, and their children declared incapable of holding any public office.