Sulla's Phthiriasis and the Republican Body Politic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has long been suspected that Roman moralizing and the slander of political enemies lay behind the story of Sulla's horrific death by vermin. This study traces the evocative logic of Sulla's affliction to a constellation of Roman attitudes about corruption, self-mastery, and the body politic. It also argues that Sulla's own rhetoric about the health of the state played a formative role in shaping narratives about his gruesome end.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-971
Number of pages23
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019


  • Latin literature
  • Republican Rome
  • Sulla
  • body
  • disease
  • metaphor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Classics
  • Archaeology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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