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CÆSAR DID NOT STAY LONG in Rome to risk the Dictator’s wrath a second time; and he was indeed now old enough to serve his first campaign, a duty still obligatory on all young men of his age. He sailed for Asia Minor in the year 81 B.C., and remained in the East until Sulla’s death. The war with Mithridates, the formidable enemy whom Sulla had driven to a doubtful peace, had broken out afresh the year before, and was still smouldering; and there was always plenty to do on the Asiatic coasts, for the pirates of Cilicia were hovering round every port, and as yet entirely unbridled.
It was an important part of the military education of a young Roman of high birth, that he should serve his first campaign under the immediate eye of a commander-in-chief, living with him in his tent as a kind of page or youthful aide-de-camp, and learning from him the traditions of the arts of warfare and provincial government. If the general were a man of character and ability, much might be learnt by the youth thus pleasantly associated with him, besides the details of business and the military art. But of the character of Caesar’s first military master we unfortunately know nothing. As Sulla’s legatus it is not likely that Minucius Thermus was a congenial companion to the young Marian. But we know that at the siege of Mytilene, the last town that held out for Mithridates, he bestowed on his pupil the “ civic crown “ for saving the life of a fellow-soldier; and thus Caesar began his military career under no imputation of effeminacy, such as was invented for him in later times...