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Death of Massanissa

Massanissa, king of the Numidians in Africa, was the
Death of Massanissa B. C. 148. His fortunate career and physical vigour.
best man of all the kings of our time, and the most completely fortunate; for he reigned more than sixty years in the soundest health and to extreme old age,—for he was ninety when he died. He was, besides, the most powerful man physically of all his contemporaries: for instance, when it was necessary to stand, he would do so without moving a foot all day long; and again, when he had once sat down to business he remained there the whole day; nor did it distress him the least to remain in the saddle day and night continuously; and at ninety years old, at which age he died, he left a son only four years old, called Sthembanus, who was afterwards adopted by Micipses, and four sons besides. Owing, again, to the affection existing between these sons, he kept his whole life free from any treasonable plot and his kingdom unpolluted by any family tragedy. But his greatest and most divine achievement was this: Numidia had been before his time universally unproductive, and was looked upon as incapable of producing any cultivated fruits. He was the first and only man who showed that it could produce cultivated fruits just as well as any other country whatever, by cultivating farms to the extent of ten thousand plethra for each of his sons in different parts of it. On this man's death, then, so much may reasonably and justly be said. Scipio arrived at Cirta on the third day after his departure, and settled everything properly and fairly.1 . . .

A little while before his death he was seen, on the day following a great victory over the Carthaginians, sitting outside his tent eating a piece of dirty bread, and on those who saw it expressing surprise at his doing so, he said.2 . . .

1 Massanissa, feeling himself to be dying, had asked Scipio to come to him. He left his sons strict injunctions to submit the arrangements of the succession and division of his kingdom to Scipio. Appian, Punica, 105; Livy, Ep. 50. Livy has adopted the statement of Polybius as to the age of Massanissa at his death; and Cicero (de Sen. § 34) has made Cato take the same reckoning, perhaps from Polybius also. But it does not agree with another statement of Livy himself, who (24, 49) speaks of him as being seventeen in B. C. 213, in which case he would be in his eighty-second year in B. C. 148. It is, however, proposed to read xxvii. for xvii. in this passage of Livy.

2 Livy (Ep. 48) in speaking of this victory says that Massanissa was ninety-two, and ate and enjoyed his bread without anything to flavour it (sine pulpamine).

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148 BC (2)
213 BC (1)
hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Appian, Punic Wars, 16.105
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 49
    • Cicero, De Senectute, 34
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