"My father Micipsa, Conscript Fathers, enjoined me, on his death-bed, to look upon the kingdom of Numidia
as mine only by deputation;1
to consider the right and authority as belonging to you; to endeavor, at home and in the field, to be as serviceable to the Roman people as possible; and to regard you as my kindred and relatives:2
saying that, if I observed these injunctions, I should find, in your friendship, armies, riches, and all necessary defenses of my realm. By these precepts I was proceeding to regulate my conduct, when Jugurtha, the most abandoned of all men whom the earth contains, setting at naught your authority, expelled me, the grandson of Masinissa, and the hereditary3
ally and friend of the Roman people, from my kingdom and all my possessions.
"Since I was thus to be reduced to such an extremity of wretchedness, I could wish that I were able to implore your aid, Conscript Fathers, rather for the sake of my own services than those of my ancestors; I could wish, indeed, above all, that acts of kindness were due to me from the Romans, of which I should not stand in need; and, next to this,4
that, if I required your services, I might receive them as my due. But as integrity is no defense in itself, and as I had no power to form the character of Jugurtha,5
I have fled to you, Conscript Fathers, to whom, what is the most grievous of all things, I am compelled to become a burden before I have been an assistance.
"Other princes have been received into your friendship after having been conquered in war, or have solicited an alliance with you in circumstances of distress; but our family commenced its league with the Romans in the war with Carthage
, at a time when their faith was a greater object of attraction than their fortune. Suffer not, then, O Conscript Fathers, a descendent of that family to implore aid from you in vain. If I had no other plea for obtaining your assistance but my wretched fortune; nothing to urge, but that, having been recently a king, powerful by birth, by character, and by resources, I am now dishonored, afflicted,6
destitute, and dependent on the aid of others, it would yet become the dignity of Rome
to protect me from injury, and to allow no man's dominions to be increased by crime. But I am driven from those very territories which the Roman people gave to my ancestors, and from which my father and grandfather, in conjunction with yourselves, expelled Syphax and the Carthaginians. It is what you bestowed that has been wrested from me; in my wrongs you are insulted.
" Unhappy man that I am! Has your kindness, O my father Micipsa, come to this, that he whom you made equal with your children, and a sharer of your kingdom, should become, above all others,7
the destroyers of your race? Shall our family, then, never be at peace? Shall we always be harassed with war, bloodshed, and exile? While the Carthaginians continued in power, we were necessarily exposed to all manner of troubles; for the enemy were on our frontiers; you, our friends, were at a distance; and all our dependence was on our arms. But after that pest was extirpated, we were happy in the enjoyment of tranquillity, as having no enemies but such as you should happen to appoint us. But lo! on a sudden, Jugurtha, stalking forth with intolerable audacity, wickedness, and arrogance, and having put to death my brother, his own cousin, made his territory, in the first place, the prize of his guilt; and next, being unable to ensnare me with similar stratagems, he rendered me, when under your rule I expected any thing rather than violence or war, an exile, as you see, from my country and my home, the prey of poverty and misery, and safer any where than in my own kingdom.
"I was always of opinion, Conscript Fathers, as I had often heard my father observe, that those who cultivated your friendship might indeed have an arduous service to perform, but would be of all people the most secure. What our family could do for you, it has done; it has supported you in all your wars; and it is for you to provide for our safety in time of peace. Our father left two of us, brothers; a third, Jugurtha, he thought would be attached to us by the benefits conferred upon him; but one of us has been murdered, and I, the other, have scarcely escaped the hand of lawlessness.8
What course can I now take? Unhappy that I am, to what place, rather than another, shall I betake myself? All the props of our family are extinct; my father, of necessity, has paid the debt of nature; a kinsman, whom least of all men it became, has wickedly taken the life of my brother; and as for my other relatives, and friends, and connections, various forms of destruction have overtaken them. Seized by Jugurtha, some have been crucified, and some thrown to wild beasts, while a few, whose lives have been spared, are shut up in the darkness of the dungeon, and drag on, amid suffering and sorrow, an existence more grievous than death itself.
"If all that I have lost, or all that, from being friendly, has become hostile to me,9
remained unchanged, yet, in case of any sudden calamity, it is of you that I should still have to implore assistance, to whom, from the greatness of your empire, justice and injustice in general should be objects of regard. And at the present time, when I am exiled from my country and my home, when I am left alone, and destitute of all that is suitable to my dignity, to whom can I go, or to whom shall I appeal, but to you? Shall I go to nations and kings, who, from our friendship with Rome
, are all hostile to my family? Could I go, indeed, to any place where there are not abundance of hostile monuments of my ancestors? Will any one, who has ever been at enmity with you, take pity upon me?
"Masinissa, moreover, instructed us, Conscript Fathers, to cultivate no friendship but that of Rome
, to adopt no new leagues or alliances, as we should find, in your good-will, abundance of efficient support; while, if the fortune of your empire should change, we must sink together with it. But, by your own merits, and the favor of the gods, you are great and powerful; the whole world regards you with favor and yields to your power; and you are the better able, in consequence, to attend to the grievances of your allies. My only fear is, that private friendship for Jugurtha, too little understood, may lead any of you astray; for his partisans, I hear, are doing their utmost in his behalf, soliciting and importuning you individually, to pass no decision against one who is absent, and whose cause is yet untried; and saying that I state what is false, and only pretend to be an exile, when I might, if I pleased, have remained still in my kingdom. But would that I could see him,10
by whose unnatural crime I am thus reduced to misery, pretending as I now pretend; and would that, either with you or with the immortal gods, there may at length arise some regard for human interests; for then assuredly will he, who is now audacious and triumphant in guilt, be tortured by every kind of suffering, and pay a heavy penalty for his ingratitude to my father, for the murder of my brother, and for the distress which he has brought upon myself.
"And now, O my brother, dearest object of my affection, though thy life has been prematurely taken from thee, and by a hand that should have been the last to touch it, yet I think thy fate a subject for rejoicing rather than lamentation, for, in losing life, thou hast not been cut off from a throne, but from flight, expatriation, poverty, and all those afflictions which now press upon me. But I, unfortunate that I am, cast from the throne of my father into the depths of calamity, afford an example of human vicissitudes, undecided what course to adopt, whether to avenge thy wrongs, while I myself stand in need of assistance, or to attempt the recovery of my kingdom, while my life or death depends on the aid of others.11
"Would that death could be thought an honorable termination to my misfortunes, that I might not seem to live an object of contempt, if, sinking under my afflictions, I tamely submit to injustice. But now I can neither live with pleasure, nor can die without disgrace.12
I implore you, therefore, Conscript Fathers, by your regard for yourselves,13
for your children, and for your parents, and by the majesty of the Roman people, to grant me succor in my distress, to arrest the progress of injustice, and not to suffer the kingdom of Numidia
, which is your own property, to sink into ruin14
through villainy and the slaughter of our family."