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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 29

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 29.—A Comparison of the Disasters Which Rome Experienced During the Gothic and Gallic Invasions, with Those Occasioned by the Authors of the Civil Wars.

What fury of foreign nations, what barbarian ferocity, can compare with this victory of citizens over citizens?  Which was more disastrous, more hideous, more bitter to Rome:  the recent Gothic and the old Gallic invasion, or the cruelty displayed by Marius and Sylla and their partisans against men who were members of the same body as themselves?  The Gauls, indeed, massacred all the senators they found in any part of the city except the Capitol, which alone was defended; but they at least sold life to those who were in the Capitol, though they might have starved them out if they could not have stormed it.  The Goths, again, spared so many senators, that it is the more surprising that they killed any.  But Sylla, while Marius was still living, established himself as conqueror in the Capitol, which the Gauls had not violated, and thence issued his death-warrants; and when Marius had escaped by flight, though destined to return more fierce and bloodthirsty than ever, Sylla issued from the Capitol even decrees of the senate for the slaughter and confiscation of the property of many citizens.  Then, when Sylla left, what did the Marian faction hold sacred or spare, when they gave no quarter even to Mucius, a citizen, a senator, a pontiff, and though clasping in piteous embrace the very altar in which, they say, reside the destinies of Rome?  And that final proscription list of Sylla’s, not to mention countless other massacres, despatched more senators than the Goths could even plunder.

Next: Chapter 30

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