When Caecilius Metellus the consul was appointed commander-in-chief for the war against Jugurtha, 1
he took Marius with him to Africa in the capacity of legate. Here, in essaying great exploits and brilliant struggles, Marius was not careful, like the rest, to enhance the glory of Metellus and conduct himself in his interests; and deeming that he had not so much been called by Metellus to the office of legate as he was being introduced by Fortune into a most favourable opportunity as well as a most spacious theatre for exploits, he made a display of every sort of bravery.
And though the war brought many hardships, he neither shunned any great labour, nor disdained any that were small, but surpassed the officers of his own rank in giving good counsel and foreseeing what was advantageous, and vied with the common soldiers in frugality and endurance, thereby winning much goodwill among them.
For as a general thing it would seem that every man finds solace for his labours in seeing another voluntarily share those labours; this seems to take away the element of compulsion; and it is a most agreeable spectacle for a Roman soldier when he sees a general eating common bread in public, or sleeping on a simple pallet, or taking a hand in the construction of some trench or palisade. For they have not so much admiration for those leaders who share honour and riches with them as for those who take part in their toils and dangers, but have more affection for those who are willing to join in their toils than for those who permit them to lead an easy life.
By doing all these things and thereby winning the hearts of the soldiers, Marius soon filled Africa, and soon filled Rome, with his name and fame, and men in the camp wrote to those at home that there would be no end or cessation of the war against the Barbarian unless they chose Caius Marius consul.