A Dictator Reconsidered

Lynda Telford

Date Published :
December 2022
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
8pp plates
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781399077170
Pages : 304
Dimensions : 9.2 X 6.1 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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Lucius Cornelius Sulla is one of the central figures of the late Roman Republic. Indeed, he is often considered a major catalyst in the death of the republican system. The ambitious general whose feud with a rival (Marius) led to his marching on Rome with an army at his back, leading to civil war and the terrible internecine bloodletting of the proscriptions. In these things, and in his appropriation of the title of dictator with absolute power, he set a dangerous precedent to be followed by Julius Caesar a generation later.

Lynda Telford believes Sulla's portrayal as a monstrous, brutal tyrant is unjustified. While accepting that he was responsible for much bloodshed, she contends that he was no more brutal than many of his contemporaries who have received a kinder press. Moreover, even his harshest measures were motivated not by selfish ambition but by genuine desire to do what he believed best for Rome. The author believes the bias of the surviving sources, and modern biographers, has exaggerated the ill-feeling towards Sulla in his lifetime. After all, he voluntarily laid aside dictatorial power and enjoyed a peaceful retirement without fear of assassination. The contrast to Caesar is obvious.

Lynda Telford gives a long overdue reappraisal of this significant personality, considering such factors as the effect of his disfiguring illness. The portrait that emerges is a subtle and nuanced one; her Sulla is very much a human, not a monster.

About The Author

Lynda Telford is passionate about history, usually preferring to champion the underdog, the maligned of the misunderstood. She is interested in the late Roman Republic, particularly the social wars and the career of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the subject of her first book. She has for over twenty year been a member of the Richard III society, regularly writing articles and giving talks on the later medieval period. A favourite interest is monasticism, with emphasis on the cistercian order, she also studies the lives and attitudes of medieval women. She loves animals and the countryside and lives in Yorkshire.


...a milestone. It brings to life a principled man who should have had the acclaim of the Roman world in which he lived. Instead he was, and is, vilified for his choice of friends and lovers. ..brings his life and times to us in it's full panoply. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has even the slightest interest in the history of the later Roman republic. "

- A Wargamers Needful Things

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