), king of Numidia, was a grandson of Masinissa, being a son of his youngest son, Mastanabal; but on account of his illegitimate birth, his mother being only a concubine, he was neglected by his grandfather, and remained in a private situation so long as Masinissa lived.
But when Micipsa succeeded to the throne (B. C. 149), he adopted his nephew, and caused him to be brought up with his own sons, Hiempsal and Adherbal. Jugurtha quickly distinguished himself both by his abilities and his skill in all bodily exercises, and rose to so much favour and popularity with the Numidians, that he began to excite the jealousy of Micipsa, who became apprehensive lest he should eventually supplant his two sons.
In order to remove him to a distance, and not without a hope that he might perish in the war, Micipsa sent him, in B. C. 134, with an auxiliary force, to assist Scipio against Numantia: but this only proved to the young man a fresh occasion of distinction: by his zeal, courage, and ability, he gained the favour not only of his commander, but of all the leading nobles in the Roman camp, by many of whom he was secretly stimulated to nourish ambitious schemes for acquiring the sole sovereignty of Numidia; and notwithstanding the contrary advice of Scipio, these counsels seem to have sunk deep into the mind of Jugurtha. On his return he was received with every demonstration of honour by Micipsa; nor did he allow his ambitious projects to break forth during the lifetime of the old man. Micipsa, on his death-bed, though but too clearly foreseeing what would happen, commended the two young princes to the care of Jugurtha: but at the very first interview which took place between them after his decease (B. C. 118), their dissensions broke out with the utmost fierceness. Shortly after, Jugurtha found an opportunity to surprise and assassinate Hiempsal in his lodging at Thirmida [HIEMPSAL]; whereupon Adherbal and his partisans rushed to arms, but were defeated in battle by Jugurtha; and Adherbal himself fled for refuge to the Roman province, from whence he hastened to Rome, to lay his cause before the senate. Jugurtha had now the opportunity, for the first time, of putting to the test that which he had learnt in the camp before Numantia, of the venality and corruption of the Roman nobility: he sent ambassadors to Rome to counteract by a lavish distribution of bribes the effect of the just complaints of Adherbal; and by these means succeeded in averting the indignation of the senate.
A decree was, however, passed for the division of the kingdom of Numidia between the two competitors, and a committee of senators sent to enforce its execution; but as soon as these arrived in Africa, Jugurtha succeeded in gaining them over by the same unscrupulous methods, and obtained in the partition of the kingdom the western division, adjacent to Mauritania, by far the larger and richer portion of the two (B. C. 117).
But this advantage was far from contenting him; and notwithstanding the obvious danger of disturbing an arrangement so formally established by the Roman government, he directed all his efforts to the acquisition of the whole. For this purpose, he continually harassed the frontiers of the neighbouring kingdom by predatory incursions, in hopes of inducing Adherbal to repress these petty assaults by arms, and of thus obtaining an excuse for representing him as the aggressor.
But this plan being frustrated by the patience and steadiness with which Adherbal adhered to a pacific and defensive system, Jugurtha at length threw aside all restraint, and invaded his territories with a large army. Adherbal was defeated in the first conflict, his camp taken, and he himself with difficulty made his escape to the strong fortress of Cirta. Here he was closely blockaded by Jugurtha; but before the latter could make himself master of the town, an embassy arrived from Rome to interpose, and compel both parties to desist from hostilities. Jugurtha, however, succeeded in putting off the deputies with fair words; and as soon as they had quitted Africa, pressed the siege more vigorously than before.
A second deputation from Rome arrived soon after, at the head of which was M. Aemilius Scaurus, a man of the highest dignity; but though Jugurtha obeyed their summons, and presented himself before them, accompanied only by a few horsemen, he did not raise the siege of Cirta; and the ambassadors, after many fruitless threats, were obliged to quit Africa without accomplishing the object of their mission. Hereupon the garrison of Cirta surrendered, on a promise of their lives being spared : but these conditions were shamefully violated by Jugurtha, who immediately put to death Adherbal and all his followers, B. C. 112.
Indignation was now loud at Rome against the Numidian king: yet so powerful was the influence of those whose favour he had gained by his largesses, that he would probably have prevailed upon the senate to overlook all his misdeeds, had not one of the tribunes, C. Memmius, by bringing the matter before the people, compelled the senators to assume a more lofty tone. War was accordingly declared against him, and one of the consuls, L. Calpurnius Bestia, landed in Africa with a large army, and immediately proceeded to invade Numidia. But Jugurtha, having failed in averting the war by his customary arts, next tried their effect upon the general sent against him.
The avarice of Bestia rendered him easily accessible to these designs; and by means of large sums of money given to him and M. Scaurus, who acted as his principal lieutenant, Jugurtha purchased from them a favourable peace, on condition only of a pretended submission, together with the surrender of 30 elephants and a small sum of money, B. C. 111.
As soon as the tidings of this disgraceful transaction reached Rome, the indignation excited was so great, that on the proposition of C. Memmius, it was agreed to send the praetor, L. Cassius, a man of the highest integrity, to Numidia, in order to prevail on the king to repair in person to Rome, the popular party hoping to be able to convict the leaders of the nobility by means of his evidence.
The safe-conduct granted him by the state was religiously observed: but the scheme failed of its effect, for as soon as Jugurtha was brought forward in the assembly of the people to make his statement, one of the tribunes who had been previously gained over by the friends of Scaurus and Bestia, forbade him to speak.
The king, nevertheless, remained at Rome for some time longer, engaged in secret intrigues, which would probably have been ultimately crowned with success, had he not in the mean time ventured on the nefarious act of the assassination of Massiva, whose counter influence he regarded with apprehension. [MASSIVA.] It was impossible to overlook so daring a crime, perpetrated under the very eyes of the senate. Bomilcar, by whose agency it had been accomplished, was brought to trial, and Jugurtha himself ordered to quit Italy without delay.
It was on this occasion that he is said, when leaving Rome, to have uttered the memorable words: “Urbem venalem, et mature perituram, si emptorem invenerit.
War was now inevitable; but the incapacity of Sp. Postumius Albinus, who arrived to conduct it (B. C. 110), and still more that of his brother Aulus, whom he left to command in his absence, when called away to hold the comitia at Rome, proved as favourable to Jugurtha as the corruption of their predecessors. Spurius allowed his wily adversary to protract the war by pretended negotiations and affected delays, until the season for action was nearly past; and Aulus, having penetrated into the heart of Numidia, to attack a city named Suthul, suffered himself to be surprised in his camp: great part of his army was cut to pieces, and the rest only escaped a similar fate by the ignominy of passing under the yoke. But Jugurtha had little reason to rejoice in this success, great as it might at first appear, for the disgrace at once roused all the spirit of the Roman people: the treaty concluded by Aulus was instantly annulled, great exertions made to raise troops, to provide arms and other stores, and one of the consuls for the new year (B. C. 109), Q. Caecilius Metellus, hastened to Numidia to retrieve the honour of the Roman arms.
As soon as Jugurtha found that the new commander was at once an able general, and a man of the strictest integrity, he began to despair of success, and made overtures in earnest for submission.
These were apparently entertained by Metellus, while he sought in fact to gain over the adherents of the king, and induce them to betray him to the Romans, at the same time that he continued to advance into the enemy's territories. Jugurtha, in his turn, detecting his designs, attacked him suddenly on his march with a numerous force; but was, after a severe struggle, repulsed, and his army totally routed.
It is unnecessary to follow in detail the remaining operations of the war. Metellus ravaged the greater part of the country, but failed in taking the important town of Zama, before he withdrew into winter quarters.
But he had produced such an effect upon the Numidian king, that Jugurtha was induced, in the course of the ensuing winter, to make offers of unqualified submission, and even actually surrendered all his elephants, with a number of arms and horses, and a large sum of money, to the Roman general; but when called upon to place himself personally in the power of Metellus, his courage failed him, he broke off the negotiation, and once more had recourse to arms. Not long afterwards he detected a conspiracy formed against his life by Bomilcar (one of his most trusted friends, but who had been secretly gained over by Metellus [BOMILCAR]), together with a Numidian named Nabdalsa: the conspirators were put to death; but from this moment the suspicions of Jugurtha knew no bounds; his most faithful adherents were either sacrificed to his fears or obliged to seek safety in flight, and he wandered from place to place in a state of unceasing alarm and disquietude.
The ensuing campaign (B. C. 108) was not productive of such decisive results as might have been expected. Jugurtha avoided any general action, and eluded the pursuit of Metellus by the rapidity of his movements: even when driven from Thala, a stronghold which he had deemed inaccessible from its position in the midst of arid deserts, he only retired among the Gaetulians, and quickly succeeded in raising among those wild tribes a fresh army, with which he once more penetrated into the heart of Numidia.
A still more important accession was that of Bocchus, king of Mauritania, who was now prevailed upon to raise an army, and advance to the support of Jugurtha. Metellus, however, who had now relaxed his own efforts, from disgust at hearing that C. Marius had been appointed to succeed him in the command, remained on the defensive, while he sought to amuse the Moorish king by negotiations.
The arrival of Marius (B. C. 107) infused fresh vigour into the Roman arms : he quickly reduced in succession almost all the strongholds that still remained to Jugurtha, in some of which the king had deposited his principal treasures : and the latter seeing himself thus deprived step by step of all his dominions, at length determined on a desperate attempt to retrieve his fortunes by one grand effort.
He with difficulty prevailed on the wavering Bocchus, by the most extensive promises in case of success, to co-operate with him in this enterprise ; and the two kings, with their united forces, attacked Marius on his march, when he was about to retire into winter quarters; but though the Roman general was taken by surprise for a moment, his consummate skill and the discipline of his troops proved again triumphant, the Numidians were repulsed, and their army, as usual with them in case of a defeat, dispersed in all directions. Jugurtha himself, after displaying the greatest courage in the action, cut his way almost alone through a body of Roman cavalry, and escaped from the field of battle.
He quickly again assembled a body of Numidian horse around him; but his only hope of continuing the war now rested on Bocchus.
The latter was for some time uncertain what course to adopt, but was at length gained over by Sulla, the quaestor of Marius, to the Roman cause, and joined in a plan for seizing the person of the Numidian king. Jugurtha fell into the snare : he was induced, under pretence of a conference, to repair with only a few followers to meet Bocchus, when he was instantly surrounded, his attendants cut to pieces, and he himself made prisoner, and delivered in chains to Sulla, by whom he was conveyed directly to the camp of Marius.
This occurred early in the year 106.
He remained in captivity till the return of Marius to Rome, when, after adorning the triumph of his conqueror (Jan. 1, B. C. 104), he was thrown into a dungeon, and there starved to death. His two sons, who were, together with himself, led in chains before the car of Marius, were afterwards allowed to spend their lives in captivity at Venusia.
There is no doubt that Jugurtha occupies a more prominent place in history than he would otherwise deserve, in consequence of the war against him having been made the subject, by Sallust, of one of the most beautiful historical works that has been preserved to us from antiquity. From that work the above narrative is almost wholly taken, the other authorities now extant adding scarcely any thing to our information, except the circumstances of the death of Jugurtha, which are given in detail by Plutarch. Of his personal character it is unnecessary to say much, the picture of him, preserved by Sallust, though drawn by one of his enemies, has all the appearance of a true portrait.
It is that of a genuine barbarian chief--bold, reckless, faithless, and sanguinary--daring and fertile of resource in action, but fickle and wavering in policy, and incapable of that steadiness of purpose which can alone command success.
The peculiar character of Numidian warfare, and the disasters of the generals first employed against him, appear to have excited in the minds of the Romans themselves an exaggerated idea of the abilities and resources of their adversary, which the subsequent events of the war, as related by Sallust, hardly seem to justify. (Sall. Jugurtha;
lxii. lxiv -lxvii; Plut. Mar. 7
3, 6; Appian, App. Hisp. 89
2-4; Diod. Exc.
xxxv. pp. 605, 607, 630; Dio Cass. Fragm.
167-169; Vell. 2.11
; Oros. 5.15
; Eutrop. 4.26
; Flor. 3.2