Home Ancient History Ancient Rome Political course of consul Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Quintus Sertorius after the...

Political course of consul Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Quintus Sertorius after the death of Sulla (78-72 BC)

Oil on canvas. Interpretation of Quintus Sertorius by artist Gerard van Kuijl XVIIcentury AD

Soon after Sulla’s death opposition towards Sulla’s regime became stronger. City plebs was dissatisfied with the abolition of grain distribution and they wanted to return to power people’s tribunes. Knights wanted to gain courts, cousins of proscribed people wanted that their land and civil rights be returned. A fair number of nobles sought the establishment of the old constitution which would allowed many people, not a handful of optimates to participate in the political life.

Lepidus uprising

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, a consul from 78 BC, was the first to rise against the Sulla’s constitution. At the beginning Lepidus was the Sulla supporter, which gained thanks to Sulla’s proscriptions large property. Soon after that, Lepidus moved to the side of the opposition. He managed, to certain extent to renew cheap sale of grains. Project of restoring previous power to tribunes was rejected. At the same time, in Etruria began an uprising against Sulla’s veterans. In Etruria, both consuls were sent. However, Lepidus used his stay for preparation of another revolt. He relied on: ruined landowners, Marius veterans and dissatisfied population after the division of the land to Sulla’s veterans.

Lepidus head towards Rome at the end of his consulate, but he was beaten at Field of Mars. Sulla’s supporter Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeus Magnus), in northern Italy, conquered Marcus Junius Brutus which was Lepidus ally. Brutus was killed, and Lepidus fled to Sardinia where he died soon after that. The remains of the Lepidus troops were taken by the one of the prominent Marius supporters – Marcus Perpernna. Marcus Perpernna brought them to Spain where he united Lepidus troops with the army of Quintus Sertorius which fought there against Sulla’s oligarchy.

Quintus Sertorius

He was one of the greatest leaders of the Marius opposition. His origin was from a rich Sabine family. During his young age Quintus Sertorius participated in war against Cimbri and after that he was in an ally war. He was very brave and talented commander. During the Civil War in Rome he was active Marius supporter. Although he preserved the independence towards Marius, in 83 BC Marius government gave him Spain. He ruled over Spain all the way to 81 BC when he was forced by Sulla’s troops to flee to Africa. A few years later, population asked him to return to Spain, where he began a successful battle against Sulla’s supporters. Spain became the centre of Marius migration. Sertorius enjoyed great authority among the Iberians which consider him as a liberator of Rome.

Quintus Sertorius in Spain organized senate by the Roman model from 300 immigrants who fled from Rome. After the merger with the remaining Lepidus troops, Sertorius for several years was safe. He made contact with Mithridates and Cilicia pirates.

Sulla’s Senate made extraordinary measures and sent in Spain Gnaeus Pompey, which still was not elected for magistrate. Initially Pompey suffered great defeats from Sertorius. Sertorius position became more and more difficult because it required major sacrifices from Iberian allies. At that time in the camp of the Roman emigrants began disagreements. In 72 BC, Sertorius was killed during one feast. His murder caused disintegration of his army.

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