Battle of Sacriporto

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Battle of Sacriporto
Part of Sulla's Second Civil War
Young Folks' History of Rome illus226.png
A rendition of Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix.
DateApril, 82 BC
Result Decisive Optimate Victory
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Optimates (Sullan Faction) Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Populares (Cinna-Marius Faction)
Commanders and leaders
Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix Vexilloid of the Roman Empire.svg Gaius Marius the Younger
40,000 Legionaries 45,000 Legionaries
Casualties and losses
Low ~15,000 Killed

The Battle of Sacriporto also called the Battle of Scariportus took place in April of 82 BC during Sulla's Second Civil War. The battle pitted the Optimates under the command of Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix against the Populares forces commanded by Gaius Marius the Younger. The battle resulted in a decisive Optimate victory.


After signing the peace treaty at Dardanos, Sulla returned to Italy at the head of his battle-hardened army with the intention of confronting his political opponents, the Populares. They were led by Gaius Marius the Younger and by Gnaeus Papirius Carbo. Sulla therefore invaded Italia in 83 BC, routing various Populares armies. Encamping for the winter, both sides made preparations to continue the fighting with the start of the Spring war season when the war became intensified and bloody.

The battle[edit]

According to historical accounts, one night in April, Sulla had a dream that Gaius Marius told his son, Gaius Marius the Younger, that he should not give battle to Sulla's forces the following day. Encouraged by this premonition, Sulla decided to immediately give combat and called on Gnaeus Cornelius Dolabella who was encamped nearby. Dolabella's army was exhausted from marching in an intense rainstorm and the military tribunes had ordered that the army make camp rather than give battle. Emboldened by the enemy's lack of offensive action, Gaius Marius decided to attack thinking he would be able to surprise the Optimates and win the day. Sulla's veterans simply stuck their pila into the ground to create a makeshift barricade, drew their swords, formed battle lines and counter-attacked. The Sullans' counter-attack put the Marians on the defensive, eventually, their left began to waver and either slowly or speedily (the accounts differ) they were driven back. In the end five cohorts of foot and two of horse deserted to Sulla causing a general collapse and Marius' army scattered in rout. Marius lost 28,000 men (killed, captured, turned coat or fled) while Sulla claimed to have only lost 23 men.[1]


The surviving Populares forces, including Marius, took refuge at Preneste to escape the pursuing Sullan forces. Sulla arrived shortly thereafter and besieged the city. The city fell on 4 November, holding out surprisingly until all of Italy was under Sulla's direct control.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lynda Telford, Sulla: A Dictator Reconsidered, pp 170-172; Philip Matyszak, Cataclysm 90 BC, pp 138-139; Appian, The Civil Wars, 1,87.
  2. ^ Appian, The Civil Wars, 1, 88.


Classic Sources[edit]

Modern Sources[edit]

  • Gabba, Emilio (1958). Appiani bellorum civile liber primus (in Italian). Florence: La Nouva Italia, 1958.
  • Keaveney, Arthur (1982). Sulla: The Last Republican (2nd Revised ed.). London: Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0203022513.
  • Lovano, Michael (2002). The Age of Cinna: Crucible of Late Republican Rome. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Veralg. ISBN 351507948-3.
  • Angelo Luttazzi, Sacriporto. Luogo della battaglia combattuta tra Silla ed il figlio di Mario nell’82 a.C., “Studi e Rcerche sull’Ager Signinus”, 3, Colleferro 2004.

  • Lynda Telford (2014). Sulla: A Dictator Reconsidered. Pen & Sword Military. ISBN 9781783030484.
  • Philip Matyszak (2014). Cataclysm 90 BC. Pen & Sword Military. ISBN 9781848847897.