Moreover, Sulla's quarrel with Marius broke out afresh on being supplied with fresh material by the ambition of Bocchus, who, desiring to please the people at Rome, and at the same time to gratify Sulla, dedicated on the Capitol some images bearing trophies, and beside them gilded figures representing Jugurtha being surrendered by Bocchus to Sulla.
Thereupon Marius was very angry, and tried to have the figures taken down, but others were minded to aid Sulla in opposing this, and the city was all but in flames with their dispute, when the Social war.1
which had long been smouldering, blazed up against the city and put a stop for the time being to the quarrel. In this war, which proved of the greatest moment and most varied fortunes, and brought innumerable mischiefs and the gravest perils upon the Romans, Marius was unable to render any great service, and proved that military excellence requires a man's highest strength and vigour. Sulla, on the other hand, did much that was memorable, and achieved the reputation of a great leader among his fellow-citizens, that of the greatest of leaders among his friends, and that of the most fortunate even among his enemies.
But he did not feel about this as Timotheus the son of Conon did, who, when his adversaries ascribed his successes to Fortune, and had him represented in a painting as lying asleep, while Fortune cast her net about the cities, was rudely angry with those who had done this, because, as he thought, they were robbing him of the glory due to his exploits, and said to the people once, on returning from a campaign in which he was thought to have been successful: [ldquo ]In this campaign, at least, men of Athens, Fortune has no share.[rdquo ]
Upon Timotheus, then, who had shown himself so covetous of honour, the deity is said to have requited his youthful petulance, so that from that time on he did nothing brilliant, but miscarried in all his undertakings, gave offence to the people, and was finally banished the city; whereas Sulla not only accepted with pleasure such felicitations and admiration, but actually joined in magnifying the aid of Heaven in what he did, and gave the credit of it to Fortune, either out of boastfulness, or because he had such a belief in the divine agency.
For in his Memoirs he writes that, of the undertakings which men thought well-advised, those upon which he had boldly ventured, not after deliberation, but on the spur of the moment, turned out for the better. And further, from what he says about his being well endowed by nature for Fortune rather than for war, he seems to attribute more to Fortune than to his own excellence, and to make himself entirely the creature of this deity, since he accounts even his concord with Metellus, a man his equal in rank, and a relative by marriage, a piece of divine felicity; for whereas he expected much annoyance from him as a colleague in office, he found him most obliging.
And still further, in the dedication of his Memoirs to Lucullus, he advises him to deem nothing so secure as what the divine power enjoins upon him in his dreams. And he relates that when he was dispatched with an army to the Social war, a great chasm in the earth opened near Laverna, from which a great quantity of fire burst forth and a bright flame towered up towards the heavens; whereupon the soothsayers declared that a brave man, of rare courage and surpassing appearance, was to take the government in hand and free the city from its present troubles.
And Sulla says that he himself was this man, for his golden head of hair gave him a singular appearance, and as for bravery, he was not ashamed to testify in his own behalf, after such great and noble deeds as he had performed. So much, then, regarding his attitude towards the divine powers.
In other respects he seems to have been of very uneven character, and at variance with himself; he robbed much, but gave more; bestowed his honours unexpectedly, as unexpectedly his insults; fawned on those he needed, but gave himself airs towards those who needed him; so that one cannot tell whether he was more inclined by nature to disdain or flattery.
For as regards the irregularity of his punishments, cudgelling to death as he did on any chance grounds, and again gently submitting to the greatest wrongs readily open to reconciliation after the most irreparable injuries, but visiting small and insignificant offences with death and confiscation of goods; here one might decide that he was naturally of a stern and revengeful temper, but relaxed his severity out of calculating regard for his interests.
In this very Social war, for example, when his soldiers with clubs and stones did to death a legate, a man of praetorian dignity, Albinus by name, he passed over without punishment this flagrant crime, and solemnly sent the word about that he would find his men more ready and willing for the war on account of this transgression, since they would try to atone for it by their bravery. To those who censured the crime he paid no heed, but purposing already to put down the power of Marius and, now that the Social war was thought to be at an end, to get himself appointed general against Mithridates, he treated the soldiers under him with deference.
When he returned to the city, he was appointed consul with Quintus Pompeius,2
in the fiftieth year of his age, and made a most illustrious marriage with Caecilia, the daughter of Metellus, the Pontifex Maximus. On the theme of this marriage many verses were sung in ridicule of him by the common people, and many of the leading men were indignant at it, deeming him, as Livy says,3
unworthy of the woman although they had judged him worthy of the consulship.
And this was not the only woman whom he married, but first, when he was still a stripling, he took Ilia to wife, and she bore him a daughter; then Aelia, after her; and thirdly, Cloelia, whom he divorced for barrenness, honourably, and with words of praise, to which he added gifts. But since he married Metella only a few days afterwards, he was thought to have accused Cloelia unfairly.
To Metella, however, he always showed great deference in all things, so that the Roman people, when it longed for the restoration of the exiled partisans of Marius, and Sulla refused it, in its need called upon Metella for aid. It was thought also that when he took the city of Athens, he treated its people more harshly because they had scurrilously abused Metella from the walls. But this was later.4