In consequence of this exploit the name of Sertorius was noised abroad in Spain; and as soon as he returned to Rome he was appointed quaestor of Cisalpine Gaul, and at a critical time. For the Marsic war1
was threatening, and he was ordered to levy troops and procure arms; to which task he brought such earnestness and celerity, as compared with the slowness and indolence of the other young men, that he got the reputation of a man whose life would be one of great achievement.
However, he did not remit the activities of a daring soldier after he had advanced to the dignity of a commander, but displayed astonishing deeds of prowess and exposed his person unsparingly in battle, in consequence of which he got a blow that cost him one of his eyes. But on this he actually prided himself at all times. Others, he said, could not always carry about with them the evidences of their brave deeds, but must lay aside their necklaces, spears, and wreaths; in his own case, on the contrary, the marks of his bravery remained with him, and when men saw what he had lost, they saw at the same time a proof of his valour.
The people also paid him fitting honours. For, when he came into the theatre, they received him with clapping of hands and shouts of welcome, testimonials which even those who were far advanced in years and honours could not easily obtain. Notwithstanding this, when he stood for the tribuneship, Sulla formed a party against him, and he lost the election; for which reason, apparently, he became an opponent of Sulla.
And so when Marius was overwhelmed by Sulla and went into exile,2
and Sulla had set out to wage war against Mithridates,3
and one of the consuls, Octavius, adhered to the party of Sulla, while the other, Cinna, who aimed at a revolution, tried to revive the drooping faction of Marius, Sertorius attached himself to Cinna, especially as he saw that Octavius was rather sluggish himself and distrustful of the friends of Marius.
A great battle was fought in the forum between the consuls, in which Octavius was victorious, and Cinna and Sertorius took to flight, after losing almost ten thousand men; and then, winning over to their side most of the troops still scattered about Italy, they soon made themselves able to cope with Octavius.4