Sulla now thought that the reputation which he had won in war was sufficient to justify political activities, and therefore at once exchanged military service for public life,1
offered himself as a candidate for the city praetorship, and was defeated. The responsibility for his defeat, however, be lays upon the populace. They knew, he says, about his friendship with Bocchus, and expected that if he should be made aedile before his praetorship, he would treat them to splendid hunting scenes and combats of Libyan wild beasts, and therefore appointed others to the praetorship, in order to force him into the aedileship.
But subsequent events would seem to show that Sulla does not confess the real reason for his failure. For in the following year he obtained the praetorship, partly because he was subservient to the people, and partly because he used money to win their support. And so it happened that, during his praetorship, when he angrily told Caesar2
that he would use his own authority against him, Caesar laughed and said: [ldquo ]You do well to consider the office your own, for you bought it.[rdquo ]
After his praetorship, he was sent out to Cappadocia, ostensibly to reinstate Ariobarzanes, but really to check the restless activities of Mithridates, who was adding to his dominion and power fully as much as he had inherited. Accordingly, he took out with him no large force of his own, but made use of the allies, whom he found eager to serve him, and after slaying many of the Cappadocians themselves, and yet more of the Armenians who came to their aid, he drove out Gordius, and made Ariobarzanes king again.
As he lingered on the banks of the Euphrates, he received a visit from Orobazus, a Parthian, who came as an ambassador from king Arsaces, although up to this time the two nations had held no intercourse with one another. This also is thought to have been part of Sulla's great good fortune, that he should be the first Roman with whom the Parthians held conference when they wanted alliance and friendship. On this occasion, too, it is said that he ordered three chairs to be set, one for Ariobarzanes, one for Orobazus, and one for himself, and that he sat between them both and gave them audience.
For this the king of Parthia afterwards put Orobazus to death; and while some people commended Sulla for the airs which he assumed with the Barbarians, others accused him of vulgarity and ill-timed arrogance. It is also recorded that a certain man in the retinue of Orobazus, a Chaldaean, after looking Sulla intently in the face, and studying carefully the movements of his mind and body,
and investigating his nature according to the principles of his peculiar art, declared that this man must of necessity become the greatest in the world, and that even now the wonder was that he consented not to be first of all men. When Sulla came back to Rome, however, Censorinus brought suit against him for bribery, alleging that he had collected large sums of money illegally from a friendly and allied kingdom. However, Censorinus did not put in an appearance at the trial, but dropped his impeachment.