When, according to their instructions, it seemed time to set out, the Ligurian, after preparing and arranging every thing, proceeded to the place of ascent. Those who commanded the centuries,1
being previously instructed by the guide, had changed their arms and dress, having their heads and feet bare, that their view upward, and their progress among the rocks, might be less impeded;2
their swords were slung behind them, as well as their shields, which were Numidian, and made of leather, both for the sake of lightness, and in order that, if struck against any object, they might make less noise. The Ligurian went first, and tied to the rocks, and whatever roots of trees projected through age, a number of ropes, by which the soldiers supporting themselves might climb with the greatest ease. Such as were timorous, from the extraordinary nature of the path, he sometimes pulled up by the hand; when the ascent was extremely rugged, he sent them on singly before him without their arms, which he then carried up after them; whatever parts appeared unsafe,3
he first tried them himself, and, by going up and down repeatedly in the same place, and then standing aside, he inspired the rest with courage to proceed. At length, after uninterrupted and harassing exertion they reached the fortress, which, on that side, was undefended, for all the occupants, as on other days, were intent on the enemy in the opposite quarter.
Though Marius had kept the attention of the Numidians, during the whole day, fixed on his attacks, yet, when he heard from his scouts how the Ligurian had succeeded, he animated his soldiers to fresh exertions, and he himself, advancing beyond the vineæ, and causing a testudo to be formed,4
came up close under the walls, annoying the enemy, at the same time, with his engines, archers, and slingers, from a distance.
But the Numidians, having often before overturned and burned the vineæ of the Romans, no longer confined themselves within the fortress, but spent day and night before the walls, railing at the Romans, upbraiding Marius with madness, threatening our soldiers with being made slaves to Jugurtha, and exhibiting the utmost audacity on account of their successful defense. In the mean time, while both the Romans and Numidians were engaged in the struggle, the one side contending for glory and dominion, the other for their very existence, the trumpets suddenly sounded a blast in the rear of the enemy, at which the women and children, who had gone out to view the contest, were the first to flee; next those who were nearest to the wall, and at length the whole of the Numidians, armed and unarmed, retreated within the fort. When this had happened, the Romans pressed upon the enemy with increased boldness, dispersing them, and at first only wounding the greater part, but afterward making their way over the bodies of those who fell, thirsting for glory, and striving who should be first to reach the wall; not a single individual being detained by the plunder. Thus the rashness of Marius, rendered successful by fortune, procured him renown from his very error.