Cornelia Sulla

Cornelia Sulla (born around 109 BC) was one of the few Roman women mentioned in Roman Republican sources. She was the eldest daughter of Dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla and his first wife, an Ilia or Julia.

Cornelia was educated by Sulla's second wife, Aelia, a gentlewoman of high repute. Aelia was a loving and devoted stepmother to both Cornelia and her younger brother Lucius Cornelius (who died young). Shortly after his son's death Sulla divorced Aelia in order to marry the aristocratic, extremely rich (and recently widowed) Caecilia Metella Dalmatica. About 88 BC Cornelia married Quintus Pompeius Rufus, the son of Sulla's consular colleague Quintus Pompeius Rufus. The marriage produced two children, Pompeia (who became Julius Caesar's second wife) and Quintus Pompeius Rufus. Her husband was killed during Forum riots less than three years after their marriage, leaving Cornelia a widow with two small children. She remarried Mamercus Aemilius Lepidus Livianus, the "princeps senatus", a respected figure in Roman circles and a close ally of her father's. Violent upheavals soon ensued out of the ongoing rivalry between Sulla and his former mentor the ageing Gaius Marius. In 86 BC while Sulla was in Asia Minor pursuing his war against King Mithridates VI of Pontus, he was stripped of his "imperium" by Marius and his colleagues, and forced into exile. Cornelia and her new husband took rapid steps to safeguard Sulla's estates from the resulting mock trials and proscriptions during Marius's seventh consulship. She then joined her father in exile and was quick to rejoin him after his triumphant return to Rome as Dictator in 81 BC. For a time after his third wife's death Cornelia served as his official hostess until Sulla married his fourth and final wife, Valeria Messala, around 80 BC. After Sulla's death in 78 BC she settled in as one of Rome's leading and most respected matrons. The exact time of her death is unknown.


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