This war, which was varied in its events and most changeful in its fortunes, added much to Sulla's reputation and power, but took away as much from Marius. For he was slow in making his attacks, and always given to hesitation and delay, whether it was that old age had quenched his wonted energy and fire (for he was now past his sixty-sixth year), or that, as he himself said, a feeling of shame led him to go beyond his powers in trying to endure the hardships of the campaign when his nerves were diseased and his body unfit for work.
However, even then he won a great victory in which he slew six thousand of the enemy; and he never allowed them to get a grip upon him, but even when he was hemmed about with-trenches bided his time, and was not unduly irritated by their insults and challenges. We are told that Publius Silo, 1
who had the greatest authority and power among the enemy, once said to him,
‘If thou art a great general, Marius, come down and fight it out with us’; to which Marius answered,
‘Nay, but do thou, if thou art a great general, force me to fight it out with you against my will.’
And at another time, when the enemy had given him an opportunity to attack them, but the Romans had played the coward, and both sides had withdrawn, he called an assembly of his soldiers and said to them:
‘I do not know whether to call the enemy or you the greater cowards; for they were not able to see your backs, nor you their napes.’ At last, however, he gave up his command, on the ground that his infirmities made him quite incapable of exercising it.