BBC History Magazine

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1 MARCH 86 BC

Sulla brings a nightmare to Athens

The ruthless Roman general ravages the Greek city

Of all the great characters in Roman history, Lucius Cornelius Sulla ranks as one of the most ruthless. A brilliant general and cunning politician, he rose to fame in his campaigns against Rome’s enemies abroad. And in the spring of 87 BC he arrived in Greece, in preparation to take on one of the most formidable: Mithridates, king of Pontus.

Sulla’s first target was the Greek city of Athens, run by Mithridates’ ally Aristion. Though a shadow of its former self, it was still a tough nut to crack. Needing wood for his siege engines, Sulla cut down the sacred groves and raided the local temples. Week by week, he tightened

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