Jugurtha, meantime, having learned from his emissaries how Metellus was proceeding, and having heard, when lie was in Rome, of the integrity of the consul's character, began to despair of his plans, and at length actually endeavored to effect a capitulation. He therefore sent deputies to the consul with proposals of submission, stipulating only for his own life and that of his children, and offering to surrender every thing else to the Romans. But Metellus had already learned by experience, that the Numidians were a faithless race, of unsettled disposition, and fond of change; and he accordingly applied himself to each of the deputies separately, and after gradually sounding them, and finding them proper instruments for his purpose, prevailed on them, by large promises, to deliver Jugurtha into his hands; bringing him alive, if they could, or dead, if to take him alive was impracticable. In public, however, he directed that such an answer should be given to the king as would be agreeable to his wishes.
A few days afterward, he led the army, which was now vigorous and resolute, into Numidia, where, instead of any appearance of war, he found the cottages full of people, and the cattle and laborers in the fields, while the officers of Jugurtha came from the towns and villages1
to meet him, offering to supply him with corn, to convey provisions for him, and to do whatever might be required of them. Metellus, notwithstanding, made no diminution in the caution with which he marched, but kept as much upon the defensive as if an enemy had been at hand; and he dispatched scouts to explore the country, thinking that these signs of submission were but pretense, and that the Numidians were watching an opportunity for treachery. He himself, with some light-armed cohorts, and a select body of slingers and archers, advanced always in the front; while Caius Marius, his lieutenant-general, at the head of the cavalry, had charge of the rear. The auxiliary horse, distributed among the tribunes of the legions and prefects of the cohorts, he placed on the flanks, so that, with the aid of the light troops mixed with them, they might repel the enemy whenever an approach should be made. For such was the subtlety of Jugurtha, and such his knowledge of the country and the art of war, that it was doubtful whether he was more formidable absent or present, offering peace or threatening hostilities.