Having been appointed quaestor to Marius in his first consulship,1
he sailed with him to Libya, to make war upon Jugurtha. He was put in charge of the camp, and won great credit for himself, especially by improving a favourable opportunity and making a friend of Bocchus, the king of Numidia. For he hospitably entertained ambassadors of the king, who had escaped from Numidian robbers, and sent them on their way with gifts and a safe escort.
Now Bocchus had for a long time hated and feared his son-in-law, Jugurtha, who had been defeated and had fled to him for safety, and was then plotting against him. He therefore invited Sulla to come to him, wishing to have the seizure and surrender of Jugurtha effected through Sulla rather than through himself. Sulla imparted the matter to Marius, and taking with him a few soldiers, underwent the greatest peril; he put faith in a Barbarian, and one who was faithless towards his own relations, and to secure his surrender of another, placed himself in his hands.
However, Bocchus, now that he had both in his power, and had laid himself under the necessity of proving false to one or the other, although he vacillated long, finally decided upon his original betrayal, and handed Jugurtha over to Sulla. It is true that the one who celebrated a triumph for this was Marius, but those who envied him attributed the glory of the success to Sulla, and this secretly annoyed Marius.
And indeed Sulla himself was naturally vainglorious, and now that he had for the first time emerged from his lowly and obscure condition and become of some account among his countrymen, and was enjoying a taste of honour, he was arrogant enough to have a representation of his exploit engraved on a seal-ring which he wore, and continued to use it ever after. The device was, Bocchus delivering, and Sulla receiving, Jugurtha.