Monday, March 7, 2022

Sulla and Pompey

After his victory in the Sertorian War in 80 BC, Roman general Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (future Pompey the Great) met Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (Sulla), the Roman general who had seized power in Rome and become the first man of the Roman Republic, for a dinner. 

Pompey wanted to hold a triumphal procession through the streets of Rome to celebrate his victory. Sulla was not willing to let the young and ambitious Pompey have that honor. According to the account given by Plutarch, Pompey told Sulla: “It would be unwise to say no to me. More worship the rising than the setting sun.” He was challenging Sulla by comparing his own good health and rising career with Sulla’s bad health and fading career. 

Sulla was then sixty years old but the decades of wars and massacres had extracted a heavy toll on his health. His tired response was: “I see, then, it is my destiny to contend with children in my old age.” He cried out to his court: “Let him have his triumph.”

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