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A Silent Crisis, A Noisy Collapse

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Chapter Summary

As handbooks often remind us, Lucius Cornelius Sulla poses a paradox common to all radical conservatives. Apparently, his aim was to bring Roman politics back to the balance of power that preceded the Gracchan crisis, but he was prepared to seize supremacy using the most traumatic 'political method', even by marching on Rome and organising the elimination of his opponents. Furthermore, many initiatives of Sulla are so difficult to interpret because we do not know a single line of speeches, and we have very little of his autobiography. On the other hand, what we know from the literary tradition about Sulla's behaviour and attitude is quite extraordinary, already from the very beginning of his career. As this chapter tries to show, his exceptional personality interestingly fits into the context of a general crisis of Roman imperial strategy.

Keywords: Gracchan crisis; Lucius Cornelius Sulla; Roman imperial strategy; Roman politics

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