Jugurtha, on comparing the words of Metellus with his actions, perceived that he was assailed with his own artifices; for though peace was offered him in words, a most vigorous war was in reality pursued against him; one of his strongest cities was wrested from him; his country was explored by the enemy, and the affections of his subjects alienated. Being compelled, therefore, by the necessity of circumstances, he resolved to try the fortune of a battle. Having, with this view, informed himself of the exact route of the enemy, and hoping for success from the advantage of the ground, he collected as large a force of every kind as he could, and, marching by cross-roads, got in advance of Metellus' army.
There was, in that part of Numidia, of which, on the division of the kingdom, Adherbal had become possessor, a river named Muthul, flowing from the south; and, about twenty miles from it, was a range of mountains running parallel with the stream,1
wild and uncultivated; but from the center of it stretched a kind of hill, reaching to a vast distance, covered with wild olives, myrtles, and other trees, such as grow in a dry and sandy soil. The plain, which lay between the mountains and the Muthul, was uninhabited from want of water, except the parts bordering on the river, which were planted with trees, and full of cattle and inhabitants.