Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (c. 138 BC – 78 BC), known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman. He had the distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as that of dictator. His life was habitually included in the ancient biographical collections of leading generals and politicians, originating in the biographical compendium of famous Romans, published by Marcus Terentius Varro. In Plutarch's Parallel Lives Sulla is paired with the Spartan general and strategist Lysander.
Sulla's dictatorship came during a high point in the struggle between optimates and populares. The former sought to maintain the traditional oligarchic structure of power in the Republic, while the latter challenged the existing order, with the avowed aim of increasing the influence of the plebs. Sulla was a gifted and skilful general and won many victories against barbarians - and also against fellow Romans and Italians. One of his rivals, Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, described Sulla as having the cunning of a fox and the courage of a lion - but that it was the former attribute that was by far the most dangerous.
Sulla used his armies to march on Rome twice, and after the second he revived the office of dictator, which had not been used since the Second Punic War over a century before. He used his powers to enact a series of reforms to the Roman constitution, meant to restore the balance of power between the Senate and the tribunes; he then stunned the Roman World (and posterity) by resigning the dictatorship, restoring constitutional government, and after his second Consulship, retiring to private life.
Read more about Lucius Cornelius Sulla: Early Years, Capture of Jugurtha, Cimbri and The Teutones, Cilician Governorship, Social War, First March On Rome, First Mithridatic War, Second March On Rome, Dictatorship and Constitutional Reforms, Retirement and Death, Sulla's Legacy, Cultural References, Marriages and Children, Appearance, Chronology