When a decree was introduced recalling Metellus from exile, Marius opposed it strongly both by word and deed, but finding his efforts vain, at last desisted; and after the people had adopted the measure with alacrity, unable to endure the sight of Metellus returning, he set sail for Cappadocia and Galatia, 1
ostensibly to make the sacrifices which he had vowed to the Mother of the Gods, but really having another reason for his journey which the people did not suspect.
He had, that is, no natural aptitude for peace or civil life, but had reached his eminence by arms. And now, thinking that his influence and reputation were gradually fading away because of his inactivity and quietude, he sought occasions for new enterprises. For he hoped that if he stirred up the kings of Asia and incited Mithridates to action, who was expected to make war upon Rome, he would at once be chosen to lead the Roman armies against him, and would fill the city with new triumphs, and his own house with Pontic spoils and royal wealth.
For this reason, though Mithridates treated him with all deference and respect, he would not bend or yield, but said:
‘O King, either strive to be stronger than Rome, or do her bidding without a word.’ This speech startled the king, who had often heard the Roman speech, but then for the first time in all its boldness.