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Sulla's second civil war
Part of Roman Republican civil wars
Sulla Glyptothek Munich 309.jpg
Bust of Sulla in the Munich Glyptothek.
Date 83 BC - 82 BC
Marian resistance in Hispania not completely quelled until 72 BC
Location Italia, Sicily, Africa
Result Decisive victory for Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Marius the Younger
Sulla, Marcus Licinius Crassus, Pompey, Metellus Pius Marius the Younger, Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, Pontius Telesinus, Lucius Cornelius Cinna

Sulla's second civil war was one of a series of civil wars of ancient Rome. It was fought between Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Gaius Marius the younger in 82 BC.



Sulla had achieved temporary control of Rome and Marius's exile to Africa through his first march on Rome, but departed soon afterwards to lead the First Mithridatic War. This departure allowed Gaius Marius and his son Gaius Marius the younger to return to Rome with an army and, with Lucius Cornelius Cinna, to wrest control of Rome back from Sulla's supporter Gnaeus Octavius during Sulla's absence. Based on the orders of Marius, some of his soldiers went through Rome killing the leading supporters of Sulla, including Octavius. Their heads were exhibited in the Forum. After five days, Cinna ordered his more disciplined troops to kill Marius's rampaging soldiers. All told some 100 Roman nobles had been murdered. Marius declared Sulla's reforms and laws invalid, officially exiled Sulla and had himself elected to Sulla's eastern command and himself and Cinna elected consuls for the year 86 BC. Marius died a fortnight after and Cinna was left in sole control of Rome.

Having managed this achievement, the Marians sent out Lucius Valerius Flaccus with an army to relieve Sulla of his command in the east. Flaccus had been given as second in command Gaius Flavius Fimbria, an individual that history records had few virtues. He was to eventually agitate against his commanding officer and incite the troops to murder Flaccus.

In the meantime, the two Roman armies camped next to each other and Sulla, not for the first time, encouraged his soldiers to spread dissension among Flaccus’ army. Many deserted to Sulla before Flaccus packed up and moved on north to threaten Mithridates’ northern dominions. In the meantime Sulla moved to intercept the new Pontic army and end the war at Orchomenus.


With Mithridates defeated, Sulla determined to regain control of Rome and returned from the east to Italy. With the support of Metellus Pius and others, Sulla's armies marched up Italy from the port of Brundisium. He chased the remnants of the Marians, led by Marius's son, into Praeneste and bottled them up. Shortly afterwards, following a mad dash march to Rome, Sulla's army defeated the Samnite forces of Pontius Telesinus in November, 82 BC at the battle of Colline Gate. The strength of the right wing, commanded by Marcus Licinius Crassus, proved crucial in securing victory. Sulla also had the aid of the young Pompey, who defeated Gnaeus Papirius Carbo's supporters in Sicily and Africa.


By this war, Sulla was installed as dictator of Rome.



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