Lucius Cornelius Sulla was a patrician Roman politician and general who lived from 138 to 78 BC. Sulla was born into an impoverished branch of the Cornelii family, an ancient and famous lineage that had fallen out of political power. He lived as a poor man in Rome until inheriting a significant amount of money from the death of relatives, thus allowing Sulla to run for political office. His breakthrough came when he served as quaestor (a junior military/administrative position) for the famous general Gaius Marius in the Jugurthine War (111-105 BC). Sulla actually ended the war himself by convincing several of Jugurtha's folowers to betray him to the Roman army. After the war ended, an argument broke out as to who was responsible for the victory, Marius or Sulla, thus beginning a long feud between the two for political office and military command. When the Germanic Teutone tribes invaded Italy in 104-103 BC, both Marius and Sulla won dramatic victories over these barbarians - on separate battlefields.
Sulla and Marius spent the next decade competing to be considered the greatest man in Rome. Conflict was perhaps inevitable between the conservative, impeccably patrician Sulla and the radical Marius (who had no famous ancestors at all). Sulla held several offices in Rome and governed the province of Cilicia (in modern Turkey) during this period. Their feuding was interrupted by the Social War in 89 BC, a rebellion of Rome's Italian allies.
These allies felt that they had been denied their fair share of the spoils of Rome's Mediterranean conquests and wanted to gain full Roman citizenship. Sulla proved to be the most successful general in this war and was voted consul (Rome's highest office) in 88 BC. The Senate gave Sulla the commission to take an army to the east to face Mithridates, an Asian king who had used the Social War to invade Rome's provinces in modern Turkey and Greece. After Sulla left Rome, Marius' supporters rose up in the streets and gave the commission for the Eastern War to Marius through use of political violence. Sulla responded by marching on Rome with his army, the first Roman general ever to do so. He forced the Senate to accept all of his commands, declared Marius and his supporters as outlaws, and then left for Greece to deal with Mithridates.
As soon as Sulla was in Greece, Marius' forces reoccupied Rome and instituted a reign of terror, killing all of Sulla's supporters. New laws were passed exiling Sulla and declaring his laws invalid. Ironically, Marius died of natural causes shortly after retaking Rome (87 BC). After a victorius campaign in the East, Sulla returned to Italy in 83 BC with his army, and defeated the followers of Marius in a series of short battles. As soon as he was back in Rome, Sulla carried out an even more horrifying reign of political violence, killing all those who had connections to the faction of Marius. He had the Senate name him "Dictator for Life" and proceeded to rewrite the laws of the Roman Republic as he saw fit, trying to enact various reactionary measures that would curb the power of the people. Sulla's rule was suspiciously like something out of 1984, as anyone could be "proscribed" as a supporter of Marius, with their life and all of their property forfeit to the state. Sulla retired from politics in 79 BC and died the next year in the country, surrounded by unsavory riffraff that he liked to associate with.
Sulla is the classic model for a power-hungry dictator; in fact, the modern usage of the word "dictator" comes from Sulla. He was known for being excessively generous to his friends and excessively cruel to his enemies. Although Sulla is an obscure historical figure today, he is one of the giants of Roman history. Go check out his Wikipedia page here for more information.
For most of the history of this website, I was a graduate student at the University of Maryland College Park, pursuing a Ph.D. in British History. I received my B.A. in history from the same university in May of 2004, with both departmental and university-wide honors. I had a full teaching assistantship with the university, which meant that in exchange for free tuition and a small salary, I taught undergraduate classes in history. Anyone who ran into me online was likely to hear me griping about my students from time to time - oh, the stories I could tell you! I've taught history classes as a teaching assistant, as a lecturer, and as adjunct faculty in my own right. I genuinely do enjoy teaching despite all of the associated pains, and I hope to continue to teach on at least a part time basis moving forward. After almost a decade of work, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation in September of 2013. My work was a study on changing perceptions of empire in the British metropole in the last two decades of the eighteenth century, specifically looking at representations of the Indian ruler Tipu Sultan and what they can teach us about how people in that period understood British imperialism in India. Entitled "Tyrant! Tipu Sultan and the Reconception of British Imperial Identity 1780-1800", my work can be made available upon private request. I'm happy to share my work, I just can't post a direct link for copyright reasons.
Now as glamorous as the lifestyle of the part-time community college history teacher may be, I didn't go to graduate school for all those years and earn a Ph.D. to live out the rest of my life in poverty. After I finished up with my postgrad education, I began a long and difficult job search to find permanent employment. Unfortunately one of the problems with a history doctorate is that there's no promise of being hired when you're done, and there's way too many horror stories of extremely smart and talented people scraping by on part-time work and odd jobs. I spent months and months filling out hundreds of applications without getting much of a response from anyone. I was caught in an ugly Catch-22 situation: way too overqualified for entry-level work with a Ph.D., but lacking the years of work experience to land higher tier positions. And the specialization in history probably wasn't helping me either. How many jobs require expert knowledge of late eighteenth century Britain? Ummm, yeah. I kept teaching for minimal pay and creating online content to keep myself from going crazy: writing here on the website, YouTube videoes, and Twitch Livestreaming. There's only so many hours per day that one can fill out application forms without losing it.
Finally, I was fortunate enough to have a breakthrough. I was asked to come in and interview for a government job with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). They literally contacted me out of the blue; I later found out that I'd applied for a job with them in July, and they didn't respond to me until November, so naturally I'd completely forgotten all about this particular position. They seemed to like me at the interview, and offered me the job two weeks later. As of January 2015, I am now officially a Social Sciences Research Analyst. This was an absolutely perfect opportunity for me; instead of working with exceedingly dry and technical information about history, I would have the chance to work with exceedingly dry and technical information about healthcare policy. There's a surprising amount of skill set overlap. Anyway, I genuinely love my current job: I get to do a lot of research and writing, I get to help America's Medicare population (in theory at least - perhaps not always in practice!), and I'm finally getting paid an appropriate salary instead of mere peanuts. I'll have the chance to build a professional career and move up in the rankings with a good performance - and I'm already VERY good at what I do. It was a genuinely difficult journey to reach this point, and I truly appreciate the support from so many people online to help make it to where I am now.
I've lived my entire life in the Baltimore area, though I've also traveled frequently with my family across the United States and to several other countries. I'm a huge sports fan of local area teams, whether that happens to be Orioles, Ravens, or Terps. Note that I am a Baltimore fan, not a Washington one; if you've lived in this area, you'll know that the two are very much separate fanbases. While an undergraduate at Maryland, I played in the university's marching band and pep band, scoring free trips to such various places as the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade (2000), the Orange Bowl (2001), Peach Bowl (2002), Gator Bowl (2003), and New Orleans (2004, NCAA basketball at LSU). I even met the president in the White House in 2002. While I'm on the subject of music, I'll mention that I also played steel drums when I was in high school and still occasionally get the opportunity to jam on them. To the right is a diagram of a set of six-bass, the giant oil-drum-like instrument that I play. Here's a link to a YouTube clip of one of my favorite steelband songs being played by a Trinidadian group. Back when I first created this website, YouTube didn't even exist and I couldn't include links like this. It's been a long time.
I've always loved video games; as I enjoy pointing out, they were born about the same time I was. Growing up as a child, I cut my teeth playing the old frustratingly-difficult, often poorly-documented games of the 8-bit NES era. As primitive as they were, the games from that period often put modern games to shame in pure fun factor, and many of my favorite games are some of my oldest. I didn't start playing PC games until after the advent of Windows 95, but I've spent significant amounts of time in both single and multiplayer online games since then. I'm not the strongest player in terms of pure skills, but I am very good at breaking down games and studying them through time and practice to become what others consider "good". This may be why I have been a successful game testing at various times. I've worked with Firaxis Games on the Civilization series, with Stardock Gaming as a contractor in game development on an unspecified title (NDA, sorry), and with Curse Gaming for my YouTube channel and League of Legends. My editorials addressing the problems in game design with Civilization 5 and Diablo 3 have been republished elsewhere on the Internet, and generated a decent amount of discussion in gaming circles. I'll probably keep writing these things as long as I'm physically able to do so.
The online group I spend the most time playing with is called Realms Beyond, a community of like-minded individuals who care more about having fun and sharing gaming experiences than trying to "beat" games or find the "best" stuff. The community games at Realms Beyond span the gamut from Diablo and Civilization to League of Legends and Hearthstone. You can follow the link above to visit the Realms Beyond website. I can be found posting in their forums on a fairly frequent basis. These days, you are more likely to see me Livestreaming on Twitch, occasionally uploading the highlights to my YouTube channel, or you can follow my Twitter feed @LCSullla, although it's mostly used to notify people when I start streaming or a new video is posted on YouTube. You may also see me playing co-op games with my wonderful girlfriend (who goes by Poly or Rori online), and catch a glimpse of her dog Sidney, a sleepy Great Pyrenees mix. Sidney is as sweet and kind as he is lazy, which makes for a great combo in a dog!
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Testudo, the University of Maryland's mascot
A set of six basses.
Research analyst for these guys.
The name is a bit difficult to explain; my political leanings are about as diametrically opposed to the historical Sulla as possible. I am a fan of Roman History, however, and I've spent much of my life studying and working in history, so SOME sort of historical name seemed suitable for an Intenet moniker. Throw in the fact that my father's side of my family comes from Italy, and the fact that the historical Sulla is a genuinely interesting and controversial figure, and it seemed like a decent choice. For the record, in Latin the name would be pronounced "Sool-la", but I have no problem with anyone anglicizing the name to "Suhl-la". I add the extra "L" to make "Sullla" both in order to distinguish myself from anyone else who might be using the name Sulla, and because on the Internet the name "Sulla" has frequently already been claimed. I will also use "lcsullla" (for Lucius Cornelius Sulla) if the name Sullla has been taken. I had to use it for both YouTube and Twitch, and the people who registered the "Sullla" name have never been active on either platform. What a waste!