First Advisor

Brian Turner

Term of Graduation

Fall 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Early Roman Empire, Exempla, Late Roman Republic, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Mos Maiorum, Roman History



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 146 pages)


In 82 BCE, Lucius Cornelius Sulla emerged the victor of his civil war against the supporters of Marius and Cinna. The brutal aftermath of this victory, characterized by the creation of the proscriptions, would brand Sulla as a cruel and immoderate victor. Still, his successes in Rome’s previous wars against foreign enemies had enshrined Sulla as a brilliant military commander within Roman memory. Previous scholarship about Sulla has focused on the dichotomy of Sulla’s actions, often in order to evaluate his clemency or cruelty and his aims of his political reforms. This thesis analyzes how ancient Roman and Greek authors employed Sullan exempla to reveal how Sulla’s actions fit within or transgressed the changing Roman mos maiorum. A long and messy process of historical sculpting followed Sulla’s death in 78 BCE, as ancient Roman and Greek historians wrestled with Sulla’s contested legacy. In the aftermath of Sulla’s death, Late Roman Republican textual uses of Sullan exempla reflected individuals’ concerns over the ongoing civil violence and political instability caused by discord between optimates and populares. As the Roman empire formed during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius, Sullan exempla were incorporated into histories and monuments both to validate the role of the princeps and to suggest a continuity with the Republic. By examining how both literary and physical sources invoked Sulla, this thesis seeks to deepen our understanding of the process of negotiation integral to the formation of exempla within Roman history.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier