History of the Jugurthine War
|History of the Jugurthine War (1831)
by , translated by William Rose
|I-IV. Introduction—V. Previous sketch of Numidian history—VI. Hopeful character of Jugurtha; jealousy and suspicion entertained by his uncle—VII. He is sent to Numantia; his popularity in the Roman army—VIII. Memorable advice of Scipio Africanus—IX. Jugurtha is adopted by his uncle Micipsa, and associated in the succession to the crown—X. Address of the old king to his sons on his death-bed—XI. Death of Micipsa; differences between the young princes—XII. Jugurtha attacks and assassinates Hiempsal—XIII. Rupture between Jugurtha and Adherbal; defeat of the latter, and his escape to Rome—XIV-XVII. Speech of Adherbal in the Roman senate—XVIII. Shameless venality of the nobles; success of Jugurtha’s intrigues; character of Æmilius Scaurus—XIX. Commissioners appointed to divide Numidia between the princes; corrupt conduct of Opimius—XX-XXII. Description and colonization of Africa; Libyans and Gætuli; Medes, Persians, and Armenians; Numidians; Mauri; Phœnicians; Carthage; Æthiopia; division of Africa at the time of the Jugurthine war—XXIII-XXIV. Jugurtha invades Adherbal’s territories; siege of Cirta—XXV. Three deputies despatched to Africa; pressing application of Adherbal to Rome—XXVI. His letter to the senate—XXVII. Fresh deputies sent to Jugurtha with Scaurus at their head—XXVIII. Capitulation of Cirta, and death of Adherbal—XXIX. Declaration of war against Jugurtha; the command given to Calpurnius Bestia—XXX. Ultimate failure of Jugurtha’s intrigues; character of the consul Calpurnius—XXXI. Calpurnius and Scaurus both bribed by Jugurtha; mock surrender of that prince—XXXII. Notoriety and unpopularity of the Numidian business at Rome; consternation of the senate—XXXIII-XXXVI. Inflammatory speech of Memmius to the people—XXXVII. Cassius sets out to bring Jugurtha to Rome; utter corruption of the African army—XXXVIII. Jugurtha summoned to appear before the people; specimen of the intrigues of popular magistrates—XXXIX. He assassinates Massiva, and is forced to quit Italy—XL. Renewal of the war; ill success of the consul Albinus—XLI. Great disturbances at Rome; siege of Suthul, under Aulus—XLII. Inexperience of the lieutenant; defeat and disgrace of the Roman army—XLIII. The senate refuses to ratify the treaty made by Aulus; Albinus departs for Africa—XLIV. Mamilian law, or inquiry into the corrupt conduct of the nobles—XLV-XLVI. Rise of the patrician and popular factions at Rome; fate and temper of the Gracchi—XLVII-XLVIII. The consul Metellus sets out to take the command in Africa; deplorable condition of the army in that continent—XLIX. His exertions to restore the ancient discipline—L. Jugurtha inclined to surrender to the Romans; address and vigour of the consul—LI. Occupation of Vacca—LII-LIII. Plan of Jugurtha to attack the Romans on their march; nature of the country; his stratagem to effect his purpose—LIV-LV. Obstinate engagement near the Muthul—LVI-LVII. Extraordinary efforts of both commanders; defeat of Bomilcar by Rutilius—LVIII. Unsubdued spirit of the Numidian king; progress of Metellus in reducing the country—LIX. His fame and popularity at Rome; public thanksgiving voted by the senate; inexhaustible resources and stratagems of Jugurtha—LX. Siege of Zama; Jugurtha contrives to throw reinforcements into the place; he attacks Marius at Sicca—LXI-LXIV. Obstinacy of the siege; skilful diversion made by Jugurtha, and surprise of the Roman camp—LXV. Metellus raises the siege of Zama; he marches into winter-quarters; gains over to his interest Bomilcar, Jugurtha’s confidant—LXVI. Jugurtha offers to surrender at discretion; his sudden doubts and fears; renewal of the war—LXVII. Aspiring views of Marius; genius and character of the man—LXVIII-LXIX. Rise of his animosity towards Metellus; his intrigues to supplant the consul—LXX-LXXI. The Vaccensians treacherously surprise and massacre the Roman garrison; plan of Metellus to recover the town—LXXII. Success of the enterprise, and punishment of the Roman governor—LXXIII. Conspiracy of Bomilcar and Nabdalsa to betray the king—LXXIV-LXXV. Miscarriage of the plot; unceasing apprehensions and misery of Jugurtha—LXXVI. Marius sets out for Rome; prodigious effect of his intrigues; he obtains the consulship, and the command of the African army—LXXVII. Second campaign of Metellus; Jugurtha’s desperate circumstances; sudden encounter with the Roman troops—LXXVIII. Flight of the king to Thala; strength and situation of that place; the proconsul’s expedition against it—LXXIX. Siege and capture of Thala; despair and fate of the deserters; deputation from Leptis to the Roman general—LXXX. Account of Leptis; its situation between the Syrtes—LXXXI. Story of the Philæni—LXXXII. Jugurtha trains the Gætuli to arms; he enters into an alliance with Bocchus, king of Mauritania—LXXXIII. Jugurtha’s artful management; the confederate kings march against Cirta—LXXXIV-LXXXV. Negotiation between Metellus and the Mauretanian king—LXXXVI. Consulship of Marius; he prepares for his Numidian expedition; his hatred to the nobles, and extraordinary popularity—LXXXVII-XC. His speech to the people—XCI. He completes his levies, and sets sail for Africa; sudden departure of Metellus from that continent—XCII. Opening of the campaign in Numidia—XCIII. Flattering reception of Metellus at Rome; operations of Marius against the confederates—XCIV. Bold expedition to get possession of Capsa; description of the place—XCV-XCVI. Successful stratagem of the consul to surprise and destroy it—XCVII. Conquest of the rest of Numidia; Marius lays siege to a fort near the Mulucha; its singular strength and situation—XCVIII. Boldness and enterprise of a Ligurian soldier—XCIX. Success of the attempt, and storm of the fort—C-CI. Sylla arrives at the camp in Africa; his genius and character—CII. Unexpected attack made by the confederate kings; confusion and uncertainty of the battle—CIII. Marius’s firmness, and skilful retreat—CIV. Nocturnal attack, and storm of the Barbarian camp—CV. The consul marches towards the coast; his singular vigilance, and the admirable discipline maintained by him in the army—CVI-CVII. Battle of Cirta; total defeat of the confederate forces—CVIII. Bocchus has recourse to negotiation; his conference with Sylla and Manlius—CIX. Sylla’s address to the Mauritanian king—CX. Bocchus doubts and wavers; he at length sends ambassadors to Rome—CXI. Kindness of Sylla to the Maurish deputies—CXII. Marius summons a council; arrival of the deputies at Rome; answer to their application by the senate—CXIII. Sylla, at the instance of Bocchus, goes into Mauritania; his meeting with Volux—CXIV. Unexpected appearance of Jugurtha; the prince unjustly accused of treachery—CXV. The quæstor’s firmness and presence of mind; he arrives at the court of Bocchus—CXVI. He opens the negotiation with the king—CXVII. Formal, but ineffectual conference; private interview with Bocchus during the night—CXVIII. His speech to Sylla—CXIX. Sylla requires that Jugurtha be delivered up to him; doubts and scruples of Bocchus—CXX. Jugurtha’s counter-machination to circumvent the quæstor—CXXI. Bocchus’s agitation, and inward struggles; he decides in favour of the Romans; Jugurtha seized, and carried prisoner to Marius—CXXII. Marius returns to Rome; he obtains the consulship, for the second time, and triumphs for his Numidian victories.|
It is an unjust complaint that mankind have made of their nature, as being frail and of short duration, and governed more by chance than by virtue: for, on the contrary, you will find nothing, on reflection, greater or more excellent; and that men want industry more than time or abilities.
The director and governor of human life is the soul; which when it pursues glory in the paths of virtue is abundantly prevalent, nay, even crowned with renown, and stands in no need of the aids of fortune, which can neither bestow nor take away probity, industry, or any worthy quality. But when the soul becomes enslaved to ignoble passions, and, abandoning itself to indolence and sensual pleasure, has, by a course of licentiousness, lost in sloth its vigour, time, and abilities, the frailty of nature is blamed: for it is usual with men to blame the course of things for the evils they bring on themselves: whereas, would they but engage in virtuous pursuits with the same ardour and spirit as they do in such as are uninteresting, nay, and dangerous too, they would no more be governed by fortune, than fortune by them; they would even arrive at such sublime heights of grandeur, as from being mortals, to become immortal through glory.
For, as man is compounded of soul and body, so all our actions and all our pursuits partake of the one or the other. Accordingly, beauty, great wealth, strength of body, and other things of the like nature are of short duration; but the noble productions of the soul are, like itself, immortal. Moreover, the good things of the body, and of fortune as they have a beginning, so they have a period; and all things indeed that rise and increase, fall and decay. But the soul is incorruptible and immortal; the governor of human kind; which animates and comprehends all things, but is comprehended by nothing itself. So that the depravity of those is the more surprising, who, sunk in sensuality, spend their lives in luxury and idleness, and suffer their minds, the noblest and most refined part of their frame, to lie uncultivated, and languish in indolence; especially since there are so many and such various accomplishments by which the mind may acquire the highest renown.
Magistracy and high command, though among the number of such pursuits, yet do not appear to me to be at all desirable at this conjuncture, nor indeed any share in the administration; since honours are neither bestowed on the virtuous, nor are they who obtain authority by infamous means the more secure or the more honourable for enjoying it. To govern your country and kindred by force, though you may have it in your power, and may even rectify abuses, is, however, a dangerous situation; especially since all innovations in a state threaten slaughter, banishment, and all the miseries of war. To strive for power to no purpose, and to reap nothing by continual fatigue but public odium, is extreme madness; unless we imagine any one to be possessed of so base and pernicious a spirit as to sacrifice his honour and liberty to the power of a few.
Among the different ways of employing men’s abilities, that of writing history is of eminent use; but I shall say nothing of its excellence, because many have already shown it; and lest I should be charged with vanity for extolling what I am myself engaged in. There are some, however, I doubt not, who, because I have resolved to pass my days at a distance from any share in the management of public affairs, will be ready to call this my undertaking, however great and useful in itself, an indolent amusement: this at least will be the language of such who think the task of saluting the people by their names, and courting their favour by feasts, the greatest of all.
But if these men will only consider at what times I was promoted in the state; the dignity of those who were then unsuccessful in their pursuit of employment; and what sort of men have since gone into the senate; they will certainly allow that I altered my sentiments on just grounds, and not from indolence; and that the state will reap more benefit by my retiring from business, than by the caballings of others; for I have often heard that Quintus Maximus and Publius Scipio, with other great men of our state, were wont to say, that on beholding the images of their ancestors their minds were powerfully animated to virtue. Not that the wax or the figure made so strong an impression on their minds; it was only the recollection of the glorious achievements of their forefathers that excited that generous flame in the breasts of those brave men, which they could never extinguish, till they had attained the like degree of glory and reputation.
How different are the manners of the present age; in which there is not a man to be found who vies with his ancestors in probity and industry, but only in riches and extravagance! Nay, even persons of obscure birth, who were formerly wont to anticipate nobility by their virtuous deeds, aspire now after places of honour and power by secret contrivances, and money got by injustice and violence, rather than by worthy accomplishments; as if the prætorship, consulship, and all the other dignities conferred glory and renown of themselves, and did not owe their estimation to the good behavior of such as are vested with them. But I have been carried too far, and taken too much freedom, from my concern for the depravity of the state. Now I come to my purpose.
The history of the war which the Roman people carried on with Jugurtha, king of Numidia, is the subject of which I have made choice; because, in the first place, the war was a terrible and obstinate one, and the success long uncertain; and likewise because a check was then given, for the first time, to the exorbitant pride of the nobility: a contention which confounded all things, divine and human; and was carried to such a height of madness and fury that it ended in a civil war and the desolation of Italy. But before I enter on this task I shall trace certain occurrences of an earlier date, that what follows may appear in a clearer and stronger light.
During the second Punic war, in which Hannibal, the Carthaginian general, reduced the power of Italy more than had ever been done since the Roman name became formidable, Masinissa, king of the Numidians, being received into the Roman friendship by P. Scipio, afterward surnamed Africanus, on account of his gallant achievements, performed many and glorious exploits: in consideration of which, when the Carthaginians were overcome, and Syphax taken, who had an extensive and powerful kingdom in Africa, all the cities and lands that had been wrested from him were given to Masinissa by the Roman people. This prince continued a faithful and useful ally to us till death put an end to his reign: on which his son Micipsa succeeded alone to the kingdom, his brothers Mastanabal and Gulussa dying some time before. Micipsa had two sons, Adherbal and Hiempsal; but kept at his court, and educated with the same care as his own children, the son of his brother Mastanabal, called Jugurtha, whom Masinissa had left in a private condition, because he was born of a concubine.
This youth, when he grew up, with all the advantages of strength of body, a graceful person, and, above all, a fine genius, did not suffer himself to be carried away with luxury and idleness; but, agreeably to the manners of the nation, accustomed himself to ride, to throw the dart, to contend with his companions in running; and though he surpassed all in glory, he was still beloved by all. Besides, he spent much time in the chase; and was always the first, or among the first, in wounding the lion, and other wild beasts; and though he performed many brave deeds, he never boasted of himself. Micipsa was at first highly pleased with this; thinking that the bravery of Jugurtha would reflect glory on his reign: but when he considered that he himself was now grown old, that his children were very young, and that Jugurtha was in the prime of life, and growing daily in reputation, he was deeply affected, and his mind distracted with perplexing thoughts. The consideration of the ambitious nature of the man, and his impetuosity in gratifying his desires, alarmed him, no less than the favourable opportunity arising from his own age and that of his children, which was a temptation strong enough to transport even men of moderate views; and the great affection of the Numidians for Jugurtha made him apprehensive, that should he destroy him by artifice, it might occasion an insurrection or a civil war.
Thus beset with difficulties, and finding that it was not possible for him to destroy so popular a man, either by force or fraud, he resolved to expose him to the dangers of war, as he was of a daring disposition, and fond of military glory, and thus try what fortune would do. Accordingly, Micipsa, who was engaged to despatch auxiliaries of horse and foot to the Romans, then laying siege to Numantia, sent him to Spain as their commander, in the hope that he would be cut off, either from an ostentation of his courage, or the efforts of the enemy. But his secret expectations were in this respect wholly disappointed. Jugurtha, who had great vivacity and penetration no sooner became acquainted with the temper of P. Scipio, the Roman general, and the character of the enemy, than he acquired such high renown, by his great labour and application, by his submissive obedience to orders, and by exposing himself often to dangers, that he was extremely beloved by our men, and dreaded by the Numantians. He was, indeed, both brave in action and wise in council; qualities very seldom united in the same person; precaution being generally accompanied with fear, and courage with rashness.
Accordingly, Scipio employed Jugurtha to put all his most difficult enterprises into execution, took him into the number of his intimate friends, and daily loaded him with marks of favour, as one who succeeded in all his schemes and undertakings. To these advantages were added great generosity and address; by which means he had contracted an intimate friendship with many of the Romans.
There were many at that time in our army, some of high rank, others newly raised, who preferred riches to virtue and honour; men of factious dispositions, of great power at Rome, and more distinguished among our allies by their figure than their honesty. These inflamed the mind of Jugurtha (of itself ambitious enough), by assuring him, “that when Micipsa died, he alone would have the kingdom of Numidia; as he was a person of such distinguished merit, and all things venal at Rome.”
On the destruction of Numantia, when Scipio had determined to dismiss the auxiliaries and return home himself, having bestowed great presents and high encomiums on Jugurtha in the presence of the whole army, he brought him into his tent; and there advised him in private “to court the friendship of the Roman people in a public rather than private way, and not to bestow bribes on any; that it was dangerous to purchase from a few what belonged to all. If he would but continue in his virtuous practices, that glory and sovereignty would in time conduct him to the possession of supreme rank; but if he hurried on precipitately, and hastened to rise through the avarice and profligacy of mankind, the gold in which he might confide would prove his ruin.”
Having given him this advice, he dismissed him with the following letter to Micipsa:—“Your nephew Jugurtha has highly distinguished himself during the siege of Numantia; which, I am sure, will give you great joy. His great merit has made him dear to me; and I shall use my endeavours that he be so to the senate and people of Rome. I congratulate you, indeed, on this occasion, as my friend; for in him you have a man worthy of yourself, and of his grandfather Masinissa.”
The king, finding what he had learned from common fame confirmed by Scipio’s letter, was so touched with the merit and interest of his nephew, that he altered his purposes, and endeavoured to gain him by favours. Accordingly, he immediately adopted him, and, by his will, made him joint-heir with his sons to the kingdom. A few years after, being worn out with age and infirmities, and finding that the period of his life was approaching, he is said to have addressed himself to Jugurtha, in the presence of his friends and relations, as also of Adherbal and Hiempsal, to this purpose:
“I took thee, Jugurtha, when a fatherless infant, and without prospects or fortune, under my own care, as I promised myself that my favours would render me as dear to you as if I had been your father. Nor have I indeed been disappointed: for, not to mention your other great and noble achievements, your late behavior at Numantia reflects honour on me and my kingdom. By your gallant behaviour you have united us to the Romans in closer ties of friendship than before, and revived the honour of our family in Spain. In a word (what is the most difficult thing among men,) you have even overcome envy itself by glory. Now, as nature is putting a period to my days, I beseech and adjure you, by this right hand and the honour of a prince, to embrace with a tender and affectionate regard these my sons, near relations by birth, brethren by my generosity; and not to prefer the friendship of strangers to that of persons united to you by blood.
“It is not troops, nor treasures, that are the support of a kingdom, but friends; whom you can neither acquire by force, nor purchase with money: they are to be procured by good offices and fidelity. Now, who should be more closely united in friendship than brothers? or what stranger will be found faithful to him who is an enemy to his own relations? I leave you a kingdom strong, indeed, if you are virtuous and agree; but weak, if you are wicked and at variance with one another. For by union small states flourish, while the greatest are destroyed by divisions.
“Now, it is more incumbent on you, Jugurtha, as surpassing your brethren in age and wisdom, to take care that no dissensions arise; for in all contests, the most powerful, even though he receive an injury, is still thought to have been the aggressor. As for you, Adherbal and Hiempsal, observe and reverence this worthy man; imitate his bravery; and let it never be said that Micipsa was happier in his adopted offspring than in his own.”
Jugurtha, though sensible of the king’s insincerity, disguised the sentiments of his heart, and made a very dutiful reply, suitable to the occasion. Micipsa died in a few days; and after his funeral was celebrated with royal magnificence by the young princes, they met together to regulate their affairs.
Hiempsal, the youngest of them, who was naturally violent, and had been accustomed to treat Jugurtha with contempt, on account of his ignoble birth by his mother’s side, seated himself at Adherbal’s right hand, to prevent Jugurtha’s sitting in the middle, the most honourable place among the Numidians: and though he was prevailed on, by the importunity of his brother, to yield to superior age, and go to the farther side, yet it was with reluctance. At this interview, after much reasoning about the administration of affairs, Jugurtha proposed, among other things, to repeal all the ordinances and regulations of Micipsa for the last five years of his life; as he was worn out with age, and the vigour of his faculties lost. Hiempsal replied, “that he was entirely of the same opinion; since Jugurtha had been made partner of the kingdom by adoption only within three years.”
This expression sunk deeper in Jugurtha’s mind than was imagined: distracted with rage and fear, he was eagerly bent on the destruction of Hiempsal, and continually meditating by what secret means to effect it. But these operating too slowly for the violence of his resentment, which was not in the least abated, he determined to execute his design at any rate.
At the first meeting of the princes, already mentioned, it was agreed, that to prevent mutual disputes, the public treasure should be divided, and the kingdom too, with the portion of each marked out by distinct boundaries; and certain times were appointed for both those purposes, but first for the distribution of the money.
In the mean time the young princes retired to different places adjacent to where the treasure lay: Hiempsal, particularly, to Thermida, where he happened to lodge in the house of one who was Jugurtha’s principal lictor, and had always been his favourite and confidant. Fortune presenting Jugurtha with so fit an instrument, he loaded him with promises, and prevailed on him to go, under pretence of seeing his house, and provide himself with false keys to the gates, as the real ones were delivered to Hiempsal; assuring him, that when matters were ready, he himself would appear with a considerable body of men.
The Numidian soon executed his orders, and introduced Jugurtha’s soldiers by night, agreeably to his instructions; who, as soon as they entered the house, went different ways in quest of the prince; put to death all they found asleep, and all such as they met; searched every private apartment; broke open such as were closed; and filled the whole house with confusion and horror. Meanwhile Hiempsal was discovered concealing himself in a mean apartment belonging to a maid-servant, to which he had fled on the first alarm, being unacquainted with the house. The Numidians, according to their instructions, carried his head to Jugurtha.
The news of so horrible a murder soon spread all over Africa. Adherbal and all of those who had been subject to Micipsa, were seized with terror: the Numidians divided into two parties; the greater number declared for Adherbal, but the best soldiers for Jugurtha; who immediately raised as great an army as possible, reduced several cities by force under his obedience, induced others to submit to him, and grasped at nothing less than the dominion of all Numidia. Adherbal, though he had despatched ambassadors to Rome, to inform the senate of the murder of his brother and his own doubtful situation, yet, depending on the number of his men, resolved to hazard battle; but being defeated in the onset, he made his escape to Rome.
Jugurtha, having thus executed his designs, and made himself master of all Numidia, soon began to reflect on his enormous crimes; and, dreading the vengeance of the Romans, had no hopes of security against their resentment but in the avarice of the nobility, and in the efficacy of his treasures. He therefore sent ambassadors to Rome, in a few days, with great store of gold and silver; and ordered them first to load his old friends with presents, then to make new ones: in a word, to spare no money for bringing over to his interest as many as possible.
When the ambassadors arrived at Rome, and, according to the king’s instructions, had sent large presents to his friends and others of great interest in the senate; so great a change happened, that Jugurtha, who was before held in detestation, rose on a sudden into mighty favour with the nobility; many of whom, being gained over by bribes, and others hoping to share them, used all their interest with the senators, to prevent any rigorous resolution against him. When the ambassadors thought their cause was safe, a day was fixed for the senate to give audience to both parties; on which occasion, it is said that Adherbal spoke in the following manner:
“My father, Micipsa, Conscript Fathers, in his dying moments enjoined that I should look on myself as having the administration of the kingdom of Numidia only, the right and sovereignty being vested in you; and likewise commanded me to endeavour to be as serviceable to the Roman people as possible, both in war and peace; to esteem you as my kindred and relations; adding, if I did so, I should find in your friendship forces, riches, with every necessary support to my kingdom. When I was anxious to adopt these injunctions of my dying father, Jugurtha, the most wicked and abandoned of mankind, in open contempt of your authority, stripped me, the grandson of Masinissa, the hereditary friend and ally of the Roman people, of all my possessions, and drove me from my kingdom.
“Reduced to so wretched a condition, Conscript Fathers, would that I could implore your aid rather on account of my own services than those of my ancestors! above all, that I could have merited the gratitude of Rome, without wanting her protection; or, if I did, that I could have received it as my due! As innocence of itself is but a weak defence, and as it was not in my power to form the heart of Jugurtha, I appeal to you for protection, Conscript Fathers, to whom I am forced to be a burden before I have rendered service, which is my greatest misfortune. Other kings have been either conquered by you, and then received into your alliance, or in their distress have implored your friendship; our family commenced an alliance with the republic during the war with Carthage, at a time when Roman honour was more to be regarded than Roman fortune.
“Do not suffer me, Conscript Fathers, descended from that family, and the grandson of Masinissa, to implore your aid in vain. If I had nothing to plead in order to obtain it but my wretched condition; that I, who was but lately a prince, of high descent, of signal renown, and great power, am now reduced by complicated misery, destitute and forlorn, and dependent on others for succour;—it would still become the dignity of the Roman people to protect me from oppression, and not to suffer any man to enlarge his territories by iniquity. But I have been forced from those very possessions which the Roman people gave my ancestors, and from whence my father and grandfather, in conjunction with you, drove Syphax and the Carthaginians. It is your bounty, Conscript Fathers, that is torn from me; and in the injuries done to me you are insulted.
“Alas! miserable man that I am! Are these the fruits of thy generosity, O my father! that he whom thou didst adopt, he whom thou hast left joint-heir to thy kingdom with thy own sons, should, of all others, be the instrument to extirpate thy race? Shall our family never find quiet? Must ours ever be a bloody lot? Must the devouring sword and banishment be always our portion?
“While the Carthaginians continued in power, no wonder we were exposed to all manner of calamities. Our enemies were at our doors, you our friends were afar off; and our only resource was in our arms. When Africa was freed from that plague, we enjoyed the sweets of peace, having no enemies, unless you commanded us to treat any as such; when, on a sudden, Jugurtha, with insupportable audaciousness, glorying in his pride and cruelty, effected the murder of my brother, his own near relation, and seized his kingdom as the reward of his crime: then, finding that he could not destroy me by the same wicked snares, he fell on me with open force, at a time when, trusting to your power, I expected neither war nor violence; drove me from my country and my home, and reduced me to the wretched condition in which I now appear before you—destitute of every thing, and so oppressed with misery, that I am safer any where than in my own kingdom.
“I have often, Conscript Fathers, heard my father say, and I was myself of the same opinion, that whoever set themselves carefully to cultivate friendship with you, were engaged indeed in an arduous undertaking, but were of all others the most secure. Our family has done all that was in their power for you; they have assisted you in all your wars: it is in your power, Conscript Fathers, now that you enjoy peace, to place us in a state of security. My father left behind him but two sons; and by adopting Jugurtha for a third thought to engage him in the closest union with us. One of the three is already murdered; and it was with difficulty I escaped from the bloody hands of the other.
“What course shall I pursue? Whither shall I turn me, miserable man that I am? All the supports of my family are cut off. My father, through age, yielded to the lot of human nature; Jugurtha, trampling on every tie of nature and gratitude, imbrued his wicked hands in the blood of my brother. My other friends and relations, wherever he took them, he has destroyed by a variety of cruel deaths: some he has crucified; others he has thrown to wild beasts; those few whose lives he has spared are imprisoned in gloomy dungeons, there to lead a life more insupportable than death, in sorrow and anguish.
“Were I still in possession of all that I have lost; were my circumstances, which are now so wretched, as flourishing as formerly, and those persons who are now my enemies my friends as before; I should yet apply to you, Conscript Fathers, for succour, in case of any sudden calamity befalling me; to you, whom it becomes, on account of your great power and dominion, to maintain equity and prevent injustice every where. But now that I am banished from my country, from my home, forsaken by all, destitute of every thing suitable to my rank, to whom shall I go, to whom shall I apply for aid? Shall I apply to such nations and princes as are all the avowed enemies of our family, on account of our friendship with you? Have I any place to go to where there are not monuments of Numidian hostility, committed by my ancestors on your account? Or can any one who has ever been your enemy have compassion on me?
“We were, moreover, taught by Masinissa never to cultivate friendship with any but the Roman people; to enter into no other engagements; to make no other alliances; that in your friendship we should find abundant security; and if your empire should fall by a change of fortune, we too must be involved in the same ruin. By your own bravery and the favour of the gods, you are still great and mighty; all your undertakings are crowned with success, and every thing yields to your power; so that you can the more easily redress the grievances of your allies. One thing only I am afraid of; lest the favour of some persons here for Jugurtha, whom they little know, should give a wrong bias to their minds: such, I hear, are making their utmost efforts in his behalf; and importuning particular senators not to come to any resolution against him, in his absence, without hearing his defence; alleging that my grievances are all pretended, and that I was under no necessity of flying, but might have continued with safety in my own kingdom.
“O that I could but see him by whose enormous cruelty I am reduced to this degree of wretchedness, practising such simulation! and that either you or the immortal gods would, for once, take human affairs under your care; that he who now boasts and triumphs in his crimes, may atone by extreme tortures for his monstrous ingratitude to my father, the murder of my brother, and the evils he has made me suffer!
“And now, O my dearest brother! though thou wast cut off in the flower of thy days, by the hands of one who of all men should have been the last to have done it; yet I think thy fate rather matter of joy than of grief; for by thy fall thou didst not so much lose thy kingdom, as escape from the hardships of flight, banishment, poverty, and all the calamities which oppress me. But I, wretched and forlorn, driven from the throne of my ancestors into an abyss of misery, afford a rueful spectacle of the uncertainty of human affairs; know not what course to take—whether I shall revenge thy wrongs, while I myself stand in need of assistance; or whether I shall attempt the recovery of my kingdom, when my death or life depends on the power of others. I could wish it were honourable to put an end to my misery by a voluntary death; to prevent that infamy which must necessarily fall on me, if, sinking under the weight of my afflictions, I should tamely submit to injustice.—Now, as I have no inclination to live, and yet cannot die but with dishonour, I adjure you, Conscript Fathers, by yourselves, by your children and parents, by the majesty of the Roman people, succour me in my distress, curb haughty oppression, and suffer not the kingdom of Numidia, which is your own, to fall a prey to a usurper, and to be stained with the blood of our family.”
When the king had thus concluded, the deputies from Jugurtha, trusting more to the influence of their gold than the justice of their cause, made a short reply: “That Hiempsal had been put to death by the Numidians for his cruelty; that Adherbal, after he had made war without provocation, and was defeated, complained that he could not execute his schemes of oppression; that Jugurtha begged of the senate not to believe him changed from what they had known him at Numantia, nor to regard the words of an enemy more than his own actions.” Then both parties withdrew, and the affair was immediately considered by the Fathers.
The patrons of the deputies, and many others, corrupted by their influence, disregarded what Adherbal had said; highly extolled Jugurtha’s bravery; and by their interest, their pleadings, and indeed every other possible method, endeavoured as strenuously to defend the crimes and infamy of another, as if it had been in support of their own reputation. On the other hand, there were a few who, preferring justice and equity, gave it as their opinion that Adherbal should be assisted, and ample vengeance taken for Hiempsal’s death. He who distinguished himself most in support of this opinion was Æmilius Scaurus, a man of high rank, active, factious, passionate for power, honour, and riches; but one who concealed his vices very artfully. This man, perceiving that Jugurtha’s gold was distributed in a shameless and notorious manner, and fearing lest such barefaced bribery should, as is usual on the like occasions, raise public odium, resolved to steer clear of the temptation, and sacrificed the secret wishes of his heart.
That party, however, prevailed in the senate which preferred money and favour to truth and equity; and it was decreed that then commissioners should divide the kingdom which Micipsa had possessed between Jugurtha and Adherbal. The principal person in the commission was Lucius Opimius, a man of eminence and great authority in the senate, because, when consul, he had put to death Caius Gracchus and Marcus Fulvius, and avenged the nobility on the commons with great fury.
Jugurtha, though he knew this senator was his friend at Rome, yet received him with the most solicitous respect; and, by great presents and ample promises, brought him to sacrifice honour, reputation, and, in a word, every thing else, to his interest. He applied to the other commissioners in the same manner, and succeeded with most of them: some few indeed there were who set a higher value on their honour.
In the division of the kingdom, that part of Numidia which borders on Mauritania, and the most fertile and populous, was assigned to Jugurtha. Adherbal had the other; which was indeed better furnished with ports and fine buildings, but of greater beauty than importance.
My subject here seems to require a short account of the situation of Africa, and of those nations with whom he have had wars or alliances. As for those other countries, which excessive heats, the difficulty of travelling, and vast deserts have made less frequented, I shall say nothing, it being very difficulty to meet with any certain information concerning them. My account of the rest I shall despatch with all possible brevity.
In the division of the globe, most authors reckon Africa a third part of the whole; there being but few who divide it into Asia and Europe, and include Africa in Europe. It is bounded on the west by the straits, which join our sea to the ocean; on the east, by spacious sloping plains, by the natives called Catabathmos. The sea of Africa is tempestuous, and without harbours; the soil is fruitful in grain, and good for pasture, but produces few trees: here it seldom rains, and there are but few springs of water. The natives have hale bodies, are remarkable for their agility, and can endure much fatigue: most of them die of old age, except such as are destroyed by the sword or wild beasts; for few of them are cut off by diseases. Noxious animals they have in great numbers.
Concerning the original inhabitants of Africa, and such as settled in it afterward, with the manner of their uniting together, I shall here give a short account, different indeed from the common one, but such as was interpreted to me out of the Carthaginian books, said to be those of King Hiempsal, and agreeable to the opinion of the natives themselves; but for the truth of the relation let the authors be accountable.
Africa was at first possessed by the Gætulians and Libyans, a savage and unpolished people, who lived on the flesh of wild beasts, or fed on the herbs of the field, like cattle; subject to no laws, discipline, or government; without any fixed habitation; wandering from place to place, and taking up their above wherever night overtook them. But when Hercules died in Spain, as the Africans think he did, his army, made up of different nations, having lost their general, and many competitors arising for the command, dispersed in a short time. Those that were Medes, Persians, and Armenians sailed over into Africa, and took possession of those places that lie on our sea. But the Persians settled nearer the ocean; and they made houses to themselves of their ships, turned upside down, because there was no timber in the country, nor had they an opportunity of importing it from Spain, having no commerce with that nation, on account of its great distance from them by sea, and their language, which was not understood there. These by degrees mixed with the Gætulians by intermarriages; and because they were constantly shifting from place to place, trying the goodness of the soil, they called themselves Numidians. The houses of the Numidian peasants, which they call mapalia, are still like the hulls of ships, of an oblong form, with coverings rising in the middle, and bending at each end.
The Libyans, who lived near the African sea, mingled with the Medes and Armenians; for the Gætulians lay more to the sun, almost under the equinoctial line. The Libyans very soon built cities; for, being separated from Spain only by the straits, they exchanged commodities with that country. By degrees they corrupted the name of the Medes, calling them, in their barbarous language, Moors. Now, the Persians soon became a powerful people, and multiplied so greatly, that the youth, leaving their parents on account of their vast numbers, and retaining their new name of Numidians, took possession of the country bordering on Carthage, which is still called Numidia. Afterward, assisting each other, they reduced their neighbours, either by the terror or force of their arms, under their dominion, and thus acquired great glory and reputation, especially those who advanced farthest along our seacoast; because the Libyans were less warlike than the Gætulians. At last, almost all lower Africa was possessed by the Numidians; and the conquered nations, forming but one people with the conquerors, went by the same name.
Afterward the Phœnicians came; some of whom left their homes to ease their country, which was overstocked with inhabitants; others were prompted by ambition, and engaged the populace, and such as were fond of novelty, to follow them. They built Hippo, Adrumentum, Leptis, and other places on the seacoast; which, growing powerful in a short time, proved, some of them a defence, others an honour, to their mother states: for, as to Carthage, I think it is better to be altogether silent than to say but little; besides, it is time to return to my subject.
From the plains of Catabathmos, which separate Egypt from Africa, as we go along the seacoast, the first city is Cyrene, a colony from Thera. Next to this lie the two Syrtes, with Leptis between them; then the altars of the Philæni, which bound the Carthaginian empire on the side of Egypt; and afterward other Punic cities. The rest of Africa, as far as Mauritania, is possessed by the Numidians: the Moors are nearest to Spain. Above Numidia, as I have been informed, are the Gætuli, who live some of them in huts, while others wander about without any fixed abode. Beyond them are the Ethiopians; and then countries scorched by the heat of the sun. In the war with Jugurtha, the Romans had governors of their own in most of the Punic cities, and those places which had been lately subject to Carthage. Great part of the Gætulians were under Jugurtha; and the Numidians, too, as far as the river Mulucha. The Moors were all subject to Bocchus, who knew nothing of the Romans but the name; nor was he known to them before, either in war or peace. I have now said enough of Africa and its inhabitants for my purpose.
After Numidia was divided by the Roman commissioners, and they returned home,—when Jugurtha, contrary to his fears, saw himself rewarded for his crimes,—he was fully persuaded of the truth of what he had heard from his friends at Numantia, that all things were to be bought at Rome; and being encouraged too by the promises of those whom he had loaded with presents, he resolved to seize Adherbal’s kingdom. He was himself, indeed, of a daring disposition, and an excellent soldiers; but he whose destruction he aimed at was quiet, spiritless, of a meek temper, obnoxious to insults, and more apt to be terrified than to inspire terror. Accordingly, on a sudden he invaded his territories with a powerful body, took many prisoners, cattle, and other booty; set fire to his cities; and, flying about with his cavalry from place to place, ravaged his country. He then returned into his own kingdom with all his forces, thinking that Adherbal would have recourse to arms for redress, and thus furnish him with a pretext for war. But Adherbal, not looking on himself as a match for Jugurtha in arms, and relying more on Roman friendship than his own subjects, sent ambassadors to complain to Jugurtha of such outrages; and though they returned with an insulting answer, yet he determined to suffer any indignity rather than engage in war, in which he had succeeded so badly before. This did not, however, allay the insatiable ambition of Jugurtha, who had already, in his mind, taken possession of Adherbal’s kingdom. He therefore now began to make war, not as formerly, at the head of a band of plunderers, but with a powerful army, and openly aimed at the sovereignty of all Numidia: wherever he marched, he took cities, laid waste the country, committed universal depredation, and did every thing to inspire his men with courage, and strike terror into the enemy.
Adherbal, finding that he must either quit his kingdom or defend it by arms, submitted to necessity, and raising forces, marched against Jugurtha: so that both armies encamped near Cirta, not far from the sea; but, as the evening approached, they did not engage. When night was almost past, and day began to dawn, Jugurtha’s men, on a signal given, broke into the enemy’s camp, and falling on them, while some were scarcely awake, and others just taking their arms, put them to flight. Adherbal, with a few horse, made his escape to Cirta; and was so closely pursued, that if the Italians, in great numbers, had not repulsed the Numidians from the walls, the war between the two kings had been commenced and terminated in the same day.
Jugurtha, on this, laid close siege to the town: towers, moving galleries, and engines of all sorts, were advanced against it; as he was desirous that the place should fall before the ambassadors, whom he heard were sent to Rome before the battle, should arrive there.
But as soon as the senate had notice of the war they despatched three ambassadors, all young men, with orders to go to each of the kings, and acquaint them, that it was the pleasure of the senate and people of Rome that they should quit their arms, and decide their differences by law rather than the sword; and that they would thus act as the dignity of Rome and their own interests required.
The ambassadors arrived quickly in Africa, making the greater dispatch, because, while they were preparing to depart, a report both of the engagement and siege of Cirta reached Rome; but this report was but little credited. Jugurtha, on hearing their commission, replied, “that nothing was more sacred, nothing dearer to him, than the authority of the senate: that from his youth he had endeavoured to merit the approbation of every person of eminent worth: that he had gained the friendship of Scipio, that excellent man, by his virtuous conduct, not by infamous arts: that Micipsa had, in consideration of his good qualities, and not for want of children, adopted him joint-heir with his own sons to the kingdom: but the braver and more deserving his conduct had been, the less could his spirit bear with insults: that Adherbal had laid snares for his life, which, when he discovered, he endeavoured to defeat: that the Roman people would neither act a just nor a wise part if they denied him the common right of nations: finally, that he would quickly send deputies to Rome, to satisfy them concerning all his proceedings.”
With this answer the ambassadors departed, without being allowed access to Adherbal. Jugurtha, when he thought they had left Africa, perceiving it impossible to take Cirta by assault, on account of its natural strength, begirt it with a trench and rampart, raised towers, and filled them with armed men. He likewise tried day and night all possible methods both of force and stratagem; one while tempting the besieged with promises, another endeavouring to terrify them by his threats; constantly animating his men, and pushing every necessary measure with the utmost diligence. Adherbal, finding his affairs in extreme danger, his enemy determined on his ruin, no hopes of succour, and that the war could not be continued long for want of provisions, chose two of the most active and resolute of those who fled with him to Cirta, and prevailed on them, by great promises and an affecting representation of his distress, to venture in the night-time through the enemy’s lines, to the next shore, and from thence to Rome. The Numidians in a few days executed their orders. Adherbal’s letter was read in the senate; and was to this effect:
“Conscript Fathers, it is not my fault that I make such frequent application to you; it is the violence of Jugurtha that forces me to it, who is so resolutely determined on my destruction, that he pursues it without regarding your resentment, or that of the immortal gods themselves. He prefers my blood to every other consideration; insomuch, that I, though a friend and ally of the Roman people, have been besieged by him almost five months; nor does the generosity of my father Micipsa to him, nor the authority of your decrees, avail any thing towards my relief. Whether famine or the sword presses hardest on me I am unable to say. My wretched situation discourages me from writing at greater length concerning Jugurtha; having learned by experience how little credit is given to the miserable: this, however, I will venture to add, that I am sensible he aims at something beyond my ruin, and that he can never expect to enjoy my kingdom and your friendship; which of these he prefers to the other can be a secret to none. First he murdered my brother Hiempsal; then drove me from my father’s kingdom. Let these, however, be considered as injuries done to our family, and nowise affecting you; yet now he keeps by force a kingdom that is yours, and besieges me, appointed by you king of the Numidians. How much he regarded the orders you sent him by your deputies my dangers abundantly show. What remains, then, but that you have recourse to force, which alone can move him?
“As for me, I could wish that the facts I now state, and those I formerly complained of before the senate, were altogether groundless, rather than this proof should be verified by my sufferings. But since I was born to be a spectacle of Jugurtha’s cruelty, I do not beg to be rescued from death or distress, but only from falling into his hands, and from the tortures that are prepared for me. Dispose of the kingdom of Numidia, which is your own, as you judge most proper; but I conjure you, by the majesty of the Roman empire, and by the faith of friendship and alliance, deliver me from the impious hands of Jugurtha, if you have any regard for the memory of my grandfather Masinissa.”
On reading this letter, there were some senators who proposed that an army should be sent into Africa, and succours despatched to Adherbal with all expedition; and that Jugurtha’s disobedience to their orders should be forthwith taken into consideration. But the king’s advocates strenuously opposed such measures; and thus the public good was sacrificed to private interest.
Ambassadors were chosen, however, to be sent into Africa; men of age and dignity, who had borne the highest offices of the state; among whom was Marcus Scaurus, whom we have already mentioned, a man of consular dignity, and at the time prince of the senate. These, observing that the public odium was great against Jugurtha, and being pressed by the Numidians to make all possible despatch, embarked in three days; and arriving soon at Utica, wrote to Jugurtha, desiring his immediate presence in the Roman province, as they had orders to him from the senate.
When he found that men of such eminence and authority at Rome were sent to oppose his designs, he was distracted between fear and ambition. On the one hand, he dreaded the resentment of the senate, if he did not obey their deputies; on the other, his eager passion for power hurried him on to the execution of his wicked undertaking. At last ambition prevailed; and, surrounding Cirta with all his army, he made a general assault, labouring with all his might to break into it; as he hoped, by dividing the enemy’s forces, to have a chance for victory, either by force or artifice. Baffled in this attempt, and finding that his great aim of getting Adherbal into his possession before he met the deputies could not be effected, he came with a few horse into the Roman province, that he might not by longer delay incense Scaurus, of whom he stood in great awe.
On his arrival, though the deputies, in the name of the senate, denounced grievous threatenings against him for continuing the siege, yet, after a long debate, they departed without success.
When an account of this conference reached Cirta, the Italians, by whose bravery the town was defended, persuading themselves that their persons would not be injured after a surrender, in consideration of the Roman power, advised Adherbal to deliver himself and the town to Jugurtha, without insisting on any conditions but that of preserving his own life, as the senate would take care of all other matters. Adherbal, though sensible that nothing was less to be depended on than Jugurtha’s word, yet considering that it was in the power of those who advised him to force him to a compliance in case of refusal, yielded to the proposal of the Italians, and surrendered: on which Jugurtha put Adherbal to death immediately on the rack, and then slaughtered all the Numidian youth and foreign merchants, without distinction.
When this was known at Rome, and began to be debated in the senate, the king’s former advocates, by their intrigues, by their interest with particular senators, and often by protracting the time in long harangues, endeavoured to qualify the horror of his crimes; and had not Caius Memmius, tribune of the people elect, a man of spirit, and a declared enemy to the power of the nobility, informed the Roman people that the design of all this was to procure impunity to Jugurtha for his crimes by means of a faction, the public indignation against him would undoubtedly have vanished by their studied delays; so powerfully did favour and the king’s money operate.
But the senate, through a consciousness of the injustice of their proceeding, began to dread the resentment of the people; and, complying with the Sempronian law, decreed Numidia and Italy the provinces of the next consuls, who were declared to be Publius Scipio Nasica and Lucius Bestia Calpurnius. To the former of these Italy fell, and to the latter Numidia. Then an army was raised to be sent into Africa; and a decree was made for the payment of it, and for every thing necessary to carry on the war.
When Jugurtha heard this intelligence, so contrary to his hopes, as he had a strong persuasion that every thing was to be purchased at Rome by gold, he sent his son, accompanied by two of his intimate friends, on an embassy to the senate, and ordered them, as he had formerly done those he sent after the assassination of Hiempsal, to bribe all sorts of men. On their approach to Rome, Bestia consulted the senate, “whether the deputies of Jugurtha should be admitted within the walls:” and it was decreed, “that unless they came to surrender Jugurtha and his kingdom, they must depart out of Italy within ten days.” This the consul, by the senate’s orders, signified to the Numidians; and thus they returned without executing their commission.
Calpurnius, in the mean time, having raised an army, chose for his lieutenant-generals persons of quality and intrigue, whose authority he hoped would support him in whatever he might do amiss; among whom was Scaurus, of whose temper and character we have already given an account. The consul himself had indeed many excellent endowments both of body and mind; but avarice rendered them of little avail: he was hardy, of great penetration and foresight, well skilled in war, and not to be moved by dangers or surprise.
The legions marched through Italy to Rhegium, where they embarked for Sicily, and from thence were transported to Africa; so that Calpurnius, who had early provided himself with all necessaries, entered Numidia with great vigour, took great numbers of prisoners, and reduced several cities by storm.
Jugurtha now began, by his deputies, to tempt Calpurnius with gold, and to lay before him the difficulties of the war in which he was engaged. His soul, sick with avarice, was easily softened. He took Scaurus, however, as his partner and adviser in all his schemes; who, though he had at first vigorously opposed the king, even when most of his party were already corrupted, was nevertheless prevailed on, by a vast sum of money, to desert the cause of honour and equity for that of oppression and injustice.
Jugurtha at first only purchased a suspension of the war, flattering himself that in the mean time he should succeed at Rome, either by favour or money; but hearing that Scaurus was engaged in his interest, he conceived high hopes of obtaining peace, and determined to treat with him in person concerning the terms of it. In the mean time, to remove his apprehensions of danger, the consul sent Sextius the quæstor to Vacca where Jugurtha was; but under pretence of receiving corn, which Calpurnius had publicly ordered the deputies to provide, since a truce was granted till a surrender should be made.
Jugurtha at length entered the camp, as he had determined; and, after a short speech to the council of officers, to lessen the odium of his crimes, proposed to deliver himself up. The terms he afterwards settled privately with Bestia and Scaurus; and was, the day after, admitted to a surrender, as if the matter had been concluded in due form by a majority of voices. Accordingly, thirty elephants, some cattle, with a great number of horses, and a small sum of money, were, agreeably to the order of the council, delivered to the quæstor. Calpurnius then departed for Rome, to assist at the election of magistrates; all being quiet in Numidia, and in our army there.
These transactions were soon known at Rome, and the conduct of the consul was the subject of conversation among all ranks: the people were filled with indignation, and the senate with perplexity; not knowing whether they should ratify so dishonourable a treaty, or make void the ordinance of the consul. The authority of Scaurus, who was said to be the adviser and associate of Bestia, was what principally diverted them from acting a just and honourable part.
While the senate thus remained in suspense Caius Memmius, whose freedom of spirit and sworn enmity to the power of the nobility has been already mentioned, stirred up the people in their assemblies to revenge their own wrongs; warned them not to desert the interests of the public and their own liberty; laid before them many instances of the haughty and tyrannical behaviour of the nobility, and used every possible method to inflame the minds of the populace against them.
Now, as the eloquence of Memmius was at that time in great reputation and of great influence at Rome, I have thought proper to transcribe one of his numerous speeches; and, above all others, that which he made to an assembly of the people after the return of Bestia, in the following strain:
“If my zeal for the public good did not bear down every other consideration, Romans, there are many motives to dissuade me from adhering to your interests; motives great and powerful!—the strength of the opposite party; your tameness of spirit; the universal prevalence of injustice; and, above all, innocence rather exposed to danger, than crowned with honour: for it really gives me pain to relate with what insolent scorn you have been treated by a few great men, for these fifteen years! how basely your great champions have been suffered to perish unrevenged! how your former spirit is sunk through the indolence and effeminacy of those who, even now, when your enemies are at your mercy, do not stir against them; and are afraid of those to whom you should be a terror! Notwithstanding all this, my spirit obliges me to oppose the power of the faction; nor will I fail to use that liberty which is transmitted to me by my father: but whether with or without success, depends entirely on you, O Romans!
“Not that I advise you to redress you wrongs by arms, as your ancestors have often done; no, there is no need of violence, none of leaving the city; since they must certainly ruin themselves by their own proceedings.
“After the death of Tiberius Gracchus, who was charged by them with having aimed at the sovereignty, the severest cruelties were exercised towards the Roman people. When Caius Gracchus and Marcus Fulvius were put to death, many of your body perished in prison; nor was it law, but the will and pleasure of your rulers, that put an end to both these massacres. But let restoring the people their rights pass for aiming at the sovereignty; let it be deemed lawful to remedy what could not otherwise be remedied than by shedding the blood of Roman citizens! You have, for several years, with secret indignation beheld the treasury pillaged; beheld kings and free nations pay tribute to a few of the nobles; and those few adorned with public honours, and possessed of immense wealth. Nay, looking on the commission of such enormities with impunity as but a small matter, they have at last betrayed your laws, your majesty, every thing divine and human, into the hands of your enemies. Nor for all this are they touched with remorse or shame: no; they appear in public with great pomp, displaying their sacerdotal dignities, their consulships, their triumphs; as if these dignities possessed by them were really honourable, and not marks of their usurpation. Slaves bought with gold do not submit to the unjust commands of their masters; and can you, Romans, who are born to command, tamely submit to slavery?
“But who are they who have seized on the commonwealth? The most profligate of all men; their hands died with the blood of their fellow-citizens; men of boundless avarice, of enormous guilt, and matchless pride; men who turn honour, faith, public spirit, and, in short, whatever is just or unjust, into gain. Some of them owe their security to the massacre of your tribunes; others to lawless prosecutions; and most of them to their having shed your blood: so that they who have done you the greatest wrong are in the greatest safety; and instead of dreading punishment at your hands for their numerous crimes, your cowardice renders them objects of terror. As their desires, their aversions, their fears are the same, they are closely united together: now such a conformity of inclinations among good men is friendship, but faction when found among the wicked.
“But were you as much concerned for the preservation of your liberty as they are for the lust of power, the commonwealth would not be torn in pieces as it now is; and your favours, instead of being conferred on the most audacious, would be bestowed on the most deserving. Your ancestors twice withdrew from the city to Mount Aventine, in arms, in order to assert their rights and establish their dignity: and will not you labour with all your might to maintain the liberty they have transmitted to you? nay, will not you labour with the greater zeal, as it is more dishonourable to lose what has been acquired than not to have acquired it at all?
“Here some will ask me, ‘What then would you have done?’ I answer, I would have those punished who have betrayed the commonwealth to an enemy; not by force or violence,—a method of punishment which, though they deserve, yet does not become your dignity to inflict;—but by a legal prosecution, and the evidence of Jugurtha himself; who, if he has actually surrendered, will obey your commands; but if he despise them, you may then judge what kind of peace or surrender it is, from which Jugurtha derived impunity for his crimes, a few great men immense wealth, and the state nothing but loss and infamy.
“But perhaps you are not as yet satisfied with the tyranny of these men, and are best pleased with those times when kingdoms, provinces, law, word, every thing divine and human, were at the disposal of a few; while you, the Roman people, always invincible, and lords of the world, were humbly content to be allowed to live. Nor was there a man of you who had the spirit to refuse the yoke. As for me, though I look on it as very dishonourable to a man tamely to bear ill-usage, yet I should patiently see you pardon the most guilty criminals, because they are your fellow-citizens, were it not that your compassion would prove your own certain ruin.
“Such, indeed, is the mischievous spirit of these men, that to pardon their past crimes will signify little to you, if you do not deprive them of power to repeat them; and nothing will remain to you but continual anxiety, when you find that you must either be slaves, or preserve your liberty by force: for what hope is there of mutual faith and concord between them and you? They desire to be lords; you to be free: they to oppress you; you to defend yourselves: in a word, they use your allies like enemies, your enemies like allies. Can peace or friendship possibly subsist between persons of such opposite dispositions?
“Wherefore I advise and exhort you not to suffer such foul delinquents to go unpunished. It is not the pillage of the treasury, nor the extortion of money from your allies, that now comes under your consideration; crimes which, however heinous, yet are become so common that they pass for nothing. It is the authority of the senate, it is your own mighty power that is betrayed to a very terrible enemy, and the commonwealth exposed to sale both at home and abroad. Unless you prosecute these crimes, and take vengeance on the guilty, what remains but to live the slaves of those who committed them? for to do with impunity what one pleases is being a king.
“I do not mean, O Romans! to encourage you to wish that these your fellow-citizens may be found to have acted basely rather than honourably; but only warn you not to ruin the good and deserving by pardoning the wicked. Besides, it is much wiser in any government to forget services rather than wrongs: for a good man, by being neglected, becomes only more indolent; whereas a bad man grows still worse. Let me add, if injuries are prevented, you will seldom stand in need of assistance.”
By these and such-like speeches Memmius persuaded the Roman people to send Lucius Cassius, who was then prætor, to Jugurtha, and bring him to Rome on the public faith; that, by his evidence, Scaurus and others, who were charged with betraying their trust, might be clearly convicted.
While these measures were pursuing at Rome, the officers whom Bestia had left with the command of the army in Numidia, in imitation of their general’s conduct, committed many and infamous crimes. Some, for a sum of money, restored Jugurtha his elephants; others sold him his deserters; and some plundered the provinces at peace with the Romans; such was the violence of avarice, which, like a plague, had taken possession of their minds.
The prætor Cassius, in consequence of this ordinance of the people, procured by Memmius, to the great surprise of the nobility, went to Jugurtha, who, from a consciousness of his guilt, was diffident of his cause, and persuaded him, “that, since he had already delivered himself up to the Roman people, he should trust to their mercy rather than provoke their vengeance.” He likewise pledged to him his own faith, which Jugurtha reckoned as strong a security as that of the republic: such at that time was the reputation of Cassius.
Jugurtha accordingly went to Rome with Cassius; yet divested of regal pomp, and dressed in such a manner as to excite compassion. But though he was himself of an intrepid spirit, and was moreover encouraged by assurances from those, in reliance on whose power and criminal practices he had hitherto been supported; yet, by an immense sum of money, he secured the assistance of Caius Bæbius, tribune of the people, one who trusted to his unconquerable impudence for protection against all law and all manner of injuries.
When an assembly of the people was called by Memmius, though they were so highly exasperated against Jugurtha, that some of them were for putting him in irons, others for putting him to death like a public enemy, according to the ancient usage, unless he discovered his associates; yet Memmius, more concerned for their dignity than the gratification of their fury, endeavoured to calm the tumult and soften their minds, and declared that he would take care that the public faith should not be violated.
Having obtained silence, and ordered Jugurtha to be brought before the assembly, he proceeded in his speech; recounted all his wicked actions, both in Rome and Numidia; exposed his unnatural behavior to his father and brothers; adding, that the Roman people, though they were not ignorant by whom he had been aided and supported, still desired full information of the whole from himself. If he declared the truth, he had much to hope from the faith and clemency of the Roman people; but if he concealed it, he would not save his friends by such means, but ruin his own fortune and his prospects for ever.
When Memmius had concluded, and Jugurtha was ordered to reply, the tribune Bæbius, who had been secured by a sum of money, as already mentioned, desired him to be silent: and though the people there assembled were highly incensed, and endeavoured to terrify him with their cries, with angry looks, and every other method which indignation inspires, yet his impudence triumphed over it all. The people departed after being thus mocked: Jugurtha, Bestia, and the rest, who were at first fearful of this prosecution, now assumed greater courage.
There was at this juncture a certain Numidian at Rome, called Massiva, the son of Gulussa, and grandson of Masinissa; who, having taken part against Jugurtha in the war between the three kings, had fled from Africa on the surrender of Cirta and the murder of Adherbal. Spurius Albinus, who with Quintus Minucius Rufus succeeded Bestia in the consulship, persuaded this man to apply to the senate for the kingdom of Numidia; as he was descended from Masinissa, and Jugurtha was now the object of public abhorrence on account of his crimes, and alarmed with daily fears of the punishment he merited. The consul, who was fond of having the management of the war, was more desirous that the public disturbances should be continued than composed. The province of Numidia had fallen to him, and Macedonia to his colleague.
When Massiva began to prosecute his claim, Jugurtha, finding that he could not rely on the assistance of his friends, some of whom were seized with remorse, others restrained by the bad opinion the public had of them, and by their fears, ordered Bomilcar, who was his faithful friend and confidant, “to engage persons to murder Massiva for money, by which he had accomplished many things; and to do it by private means, if possible; but if these were ineffectual, by any means whatever.”
Bomilcar quickly executed the king’s orders, and, by employing proper instruments, discovered his places of resort, his set times, and all his motions; and when matters were ripe, laid a scheme for the assassination. One of those who were to put the murder in execution attacked Massiva and slew him; but so imprudently, that he was himself apprehended; and being urged by many, especially by the consul Albinus, confessed all. Bomilcar was arraigned, more agreeably to reason and justice than to the law of nations; for he accompanied Jugurtha, who came to Rome on the public faith.
Jugurtha, though clearly guilty of so foul a crime, repeated his endeavours to bear down the force of truth, till he perceived that the horror of his guilt was such as to baffle all the power of interest or bribery: on which, though he had been compelled, in the commencement of the prosecution of Bomilcar, to give up fifty of his friends as sureties for his standing his trial, he sent him privately to Numidia; being more concerned for his kingdom than the safety of his friends: for he was fearful, should this favourite be punished, that the rest of his subjects would be discouraged from obeying him. In a few days he himself followed, being ordered by the senate to depart out of Italy. When he left Rome, it is reported that, having frequently looked back to it with fixed attention, he at last broke out into these words: “A venal city, and ripe for destruction when a purchaser can be found.”
All negotiation being now at an end, Albinus was in haste to transport into Africa money, provisions, and every thing necessary for the use of the army; and soon after followed himself, that he might put an end to the war, either by defeating the enemy, by obliging Jugurtha to surrender, or by some other means, before the time for election of magistrates, which was near at hand. Jugurtha, on the contrary, endeavoured to protract the time, and was continually finding fresh pretences for delay: one while he promised to surrender; another he feigned distrust; when the enemy pressed him, he gave way; and soon after, lest his men should be discouraged, he attacked them in his turn. Thus did he baffle the consul by an alternate course of hostilities and proposals of peace. Some there were at that time who imagined that Albinus was not ignorant of the king’s designs, and who could not believe that the protracting of the war, after such vigorous preparations, was so much owing to inactivity as to secret connivance. Much time had now elapsed; and on the approach of the elections Albinus went to Rome, leaving his brother Aulus to command in the camp as prætor.
The commonwealth was at this time terribly agitated by the contentions of the tribunes of the people. Two of these, Publius Lucullus and Lucius Annius, endeavoured to continue in their office, notwithstanding the opposition of all their colleagues; which contest kept off the election for a whole year.
Aulus, who was left proprætor in the camp, as we have already related, conceiving hopes of either terminating the war, or, by the terror of his arms, extorting from the king a sum of money, drew his men out of their winter-quarters in the month of January, and by long marches, under the rigours of the season, reached Suthul, where the king’s treasure lay. The inclemency of the weather, and the situation of the place, rendered it impossible to take, or even to besiege it; for besides its being built on a steep rock, and strongly walled, the plains that surrounded it were turned into a perfect marsh by the winter rains. Notwithstanding all this, Aulus, either as a feint to intimidate the king, or blinded by avarice to the utter impossibility of success, framed moving galleries, threw up trenches, and made all necessary preparations for a siege.
Jugurtha, perceiving the proprætor’s ignorance and vanity, made use of several arts to increase his madness and presumption; frequently sent deputies to him with humble messages, while he himself, affecting fear, led his army through forests and narrow passes. At length Aulus, in the hope that the king would surrender on conditions, was tempted to quit Suthul and pursue him. Jugurtha, appearing to fly before him, by this means drew him into countries utterly unknown to him, the better to execute his own designs. In the mean time he employed cunning instruments day and night to tamper with the Roman army; bribed the centurions and officers of horse, some to desert to him, and others on a signal given, to quit their posts. Having thus far pursued his schemes successfully, on a sudden, in the dead of night, he surrounded Aulus’s camp with a great body of Numidians. The Roman soldiers being struck with alarm, some took their arms, some hid themselves, and others encouraged those that were timid. The consternation soon became general: the number of the enemy was great, the night was dark and cloudy, and danger threatened them on every side: in a word, it was impossible to determine whether it was safest to maintain their ground or fly. Meanwhile, a cohort of Ligurians, two troops of Thracian horse, with a few common men, deserted to Jugurtha, by whom they had been corrupted; and a centurion of the first rank, belonging to the third legion, opened a passage to the enemy into the camp, at which all the Numidians poured in, by delivering up a strong post, the defence of which was assigned to him. The Romans now disgracefully fled, and most of them, throwing away their arms, took possession of a neighbouring hill. Night and the plunder of the camp prevented the enemy from improving the victory.
Next day Jugurtha, at a conference with Aulus, told him, “that although both he and his troops were at his mercy, being hemmed in on all sides with sword and famine, yet, mindful of the inconstancy of human affairs, if he would conclude a treaty with him, he would allow them to depart unmolested; only making them pass under the yoke, and obliging them to quit Numidia in ten days. These conditions, though very rigorous and extremely dishonourable, were yet submitted to: they were thus delivered from the fear of death, and a peace was concluded on the king’s terms.
When this was known at Rome, grief and consternation seized all the city. Some were deeply concerned for the glory of the empire; others, unacquainted with war, trembled for their liberty; all were filled with indignation against Aulus, those especially who had distinguished themselves often by their bravery in the field, that with arms in his hands he should consult his safety rather by submitting shamefully than defending himself gallantly. The consul Albinus, dreading the public odium, and the great danger to which his brother’s infamous conduct exposed him, consulted the senate on the treaty; yet, in the mean time, raised recruits for the army, applied for auxiliaries from the allies and the states of Latium, and made all necessary preparations with the utmost diligence. The senate, as was expected, decreed, “that without their authority and that of the people, no treaty could be valid;” and the consul, not being allowed by the tribunes of the people to transport into Africa the forces he had raised, departed himself, in a few days, for that country.
The whole army, according to agreement, had quitted Numidia, and wintered in the Roman province; and on his arrival, though he had an eager desire to march against Jugurtha, and thus lessen the public odium under which his brother had fallen, yet, when he found that the courage of the soldiers was sunk by their late disgraceful flight, and not only so, but that they were without discipline, and extremely licentious, he resolved, after mature deliberation, to remain inactive.
At Rome, in the mean time, Caius Mamilius Limetanus, one of the tribunes, proposed to the people to pass an ordinance, “for arraigning those by whose encouragement Jugurtha had disobeyed the decrees of the senate; those who had received bribes from him, when sent as deputies, or trusted with the management of the war against him; those who had restored him his elephants and deserters; and also those who had taken on themselves to enter into any engagements with the enemy relating to peace or war.” Such as were aimed at by this ordinance not daring openly to oppose it, some through their consciousness of guilt, others through fear of falling a sacrifice to the heat of party, professed to be pleased with the proceeding; yet secretly endeavoured to prevent its passing, by means of their friends, especially the Latins and the other Italian allies.
But it is almost incredible how zealous the people were on this occasion, and with what eagerness they voted, authorized, and passed the ordinance; more indeed from hatred to the nobility, against whom it was levelled, than from any regard to the welfare of the state; so violent was the fury of the party.
While the rest were seized by fear, Marcus Scaurus, who had been the lieutenant and adviser of Bestia, during the rejoicings of the people, the flight of those of his party, and the distraction of the city, succeeded in getting himself named one of the three commissioners who were appointed by the ordinance of Mamilius to put it in execution. The prosecution followed, and was managed with great severity and violence, to gratify the intemperance and clamours of the people, who on this occasion displayed their superiority with great insolence, as the nobility had often done.
The distinction of the people and senate into opposite parties, with all the mischievous practices consequent on it, took its rise at Rome a few years before, and sprung from profound quiet, and the superabundance of those things on which men set the highest value.
Before the destruction of Carthage, the people and senate jointly governed the state with equal moderation and harmony; the citizens had no contests with one another on account of power and influence; fear of the enemies kept the state in good order: but when this fear was removed, pride and corruption, the usual attendants of prosperity, broke in without control. So that peace, which they so ardently wished for in the time of war and danger, when they obtained it, proved more fatal to them than either; for the nobility began to convert their dignity into tyranny, the people their liberty into licentiousness; and all, indeed, centring their views in themselves only, laboured to obtain as much power and prosperity as they possibly could. Thus, while each party strove for the ascendancy, the commonwealth was miserably rent.
The faction of the nobility, however, prevailed; for the authority of the people, being loose, and divided among a multitude, had less force; so that all affairs, both at home and abroad, were managed by a few. They disposed of the treasury, provinces, magistracies, public dignities, and triumphs. The populace were oppressed by poverty and military service, while the generals, with a few great ones, engrossed all the spoils of victory: and even the parents and children of the soldiers were driven from their possessions, if they happened to border on the domain of any of the grandees. Thus did avarice, in conjunction with power, without moderation or restraint, invade, pollute, and lay waste every thing, disregarding what was just or sacred, till it rushed headlong to its own ruin: and if there arose among the nobility any who preferred real glory to unjust power, the state was instantly convulsed, and discord raged with the fury of civil war. The concussion of the elements was not more tremendous.
Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, whose ancestors had done signal service to the state, both in the Carthaginian and other wars, now first began to lay open the vices and crimes of men in power: the nobility, conscious of their guilt, and under terrible apprehensions, endeavoured to defeat their designs, sometimes by means of our Italian allies and the states of Latium, and sometimes by means of the Roman knights, whom the hope of being admitted to a share in power with the nobility had drawn off from the interests of the people. First, Tiberius Gracchus, while tribune of the people, was cut off; and in a few years after Caius, who was zealously pursuing the measures of his brother, together with Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, both invested with the triumviral authority of planting colonies, also fell a victim. The Gracchi, indeed, through an eager desire of carrying their point, did not act with moderation; they forgot the important principle, that it is better to yield to evil than to conquer opposition by unlawful means.
The nobility, employing the advantage they had now gained according to their own caprice and cruelty, put many citizens to death, banished others, and rendered themselves more terrible than more powerful; a method of proceeding which has ruined many flourishing states; while parties have endeavoured to conquer each other, and to treat the conquered with the utmost cruelty.
But were I to enter into a minute detail of the dissensions and animosities of the opposing parties, the corruption and wickedness of a degenerate empire, and treat so copious a subject in its full extent, the task would indeed be endless. I return, therefore, to my narrative.
After the treaty of Aulus and the dastardly flight of our army, Metellus and Silanus, the consuls-elect, shared the provinces between them; and Numidia fell to Metellus, a man of spirit, untainted reputation, and equally esteemed by both parties, though hostile to the popular interest.
As soon as Metellus entered on his office, he considered that his colleague would take an equal share of all the other duties of the consulship, and employed his thoughts wholly on the war which he himself was to conduct. Accordingly, having little dependence on the Numidian army, he made his new levies: sent for auxiliaries from all parts; provided arms, horses, and all other warlike implements, with abundance of provisions; and, in a word, every thing necessary in a war exposed to various exigences, and which required great prudence and foresight. In making these preparations he was vigorously assisted by the senate, our allies, and states of Latium; while foreign princes, of their own accord, sent him auxiliaries; and, in short, the whole city supported him with the greatest zeal. When all things were furnished and regulated according to his wishes, he passed over into Numidia, leaving his fellow-citizens full of great hopes; not only on account of his many excellent qualities, but chiefly because he had a soul never to be subdued by avarice; for it was the insatiable avarice of our commanders that till this time had ruined our affairs in Numidia, and rendered the enemy successful.
On his arrival in Africa, the army of the proconsul, Spurius Albinus, was delivered to him: but it was an army spiritless and unwarlike; incapable of sustaining danger or fatigue; valorous in words, but cowards in their hearts; without any order or discipline; and accustomed to plunder our allies, while itself was the spoil of the enemy: so that the depravity of the soldiers occasioned the general more anxiety than their numbers gave him either support or confidence. But though Metellus saw that the summer was far advanced, from the postponement of the elections, and considered that his fellow-citizens were impatient for the issue; yet he determined not to hazard an action till, by restoring the ancient discipline, he had enabled the soldiers to endure fatigue: for Albinus, struck with the disgrace of his brother Aulus, and the overthrow of his troops, having resolved not to stir out of the province during that portion of the summer in which he commanded, kept the soldiers for the most part in the same camp, till the stench of the place, or want of forage, obliged him to remove. Besides, contrary to all the rules of war, no watch was kept in the camp; the men left their ensigns at pleasure; and the leaders, together with the soldiers, wandered abroad day and night, robbing the farm, pillaging the fields, and striving to exceed each other in carrying off cattle and captives, which they exchanged with the merchants for wine and other articles of luxury; nay, they even sold the corn that was allowed them by the senate, and brought their bread from day to day. In a word, all the excesses of idleness and luxury that can either be expressed or imagined, prevailed in that corrupt and abandoned army.
Metellus appears to have proved himself as able and wise a man, by the manner in which he cured these great disorders, as by his conduct against the enemy; so just a medium did he observe between a servile desire to gain the affections of the soldiers, and a severity in punishing them. For by his first edict he removed every thing that could administer to idleness; ordering, “that none should sell bread or any dressed victuals in the camp; that no sutlers should follow the army; and that no common soldier should have a servant, or any beast of burden, either in the camp or on a march.” He made other regulations too with great judgment. Besides, he decamped daily, marching his army through cross and difficult places; fortified his camp with a ditch and palisade, as if an enemy had been at hand; set guards, and changed them often; and went frequently round them all himself, attended by his lieutenants. On a march, too, he was equally vigilant, appearing one while in the front, another in the rear, and often in the main body; to see that none quitted their ranks, that all kept close by their standards, and carried their own arms and provisions. Thus in a short time he restored discipline and vigour to his troops, rather by preventing abuses than punishing them.
Jugurtha, in the mean time, having learned from his emissaries what measures were taken by Metellus, of whose integrity he had been convinced when at Rome, began to despair of success, and thought of surrendering himself in good earnest. Accordingly, he sent ambassadors to the consul, with power to deliver up all to the Romans, only stipulating for his own life and that of his children. But Metellus, who had learned by experience that the Numidians were a faithless people, fickle in the extreme, and fond of change, cautiously applied to each of the ambassadors apart; and when, by sounding them, he found they were proper instruments for his purpose, he engaged them by great promises to deliver up Jugurtha to him, alive, if possible; if not, to bring him his head: and his answer to their embassy he gave them in public.
In a few days after, at the head of a resolute army, he entered Numidia, where he found none of the symptoms of war, but the houses full of inhabitants, flocks and herds feeding in the fields, and the husbandmen at work. The king’s officers came from the towns and numerous villages to meet him, offering to furnish him with carriages and provisions, and, in a word, to place every thing at his disposal. Metellus, notwithstanding all this, was still on his guard; marched with his ranks, as if the enemy had been at hand; and sent scouts to view the surrounding country, looking on these marks of submission as a colour to disguise some exquisite stroke of perfidy, and to draw him into an ambush.
He therefore marched always in the front of the army, with some light-armed cohorts, and a select body of slingers and archers; leaving his lieutenant, Caius Marius, at the head of the cavalry to bring up the rear. The auxiliary horse he placed on each wing, and gave the command of them to the tribunes of the legions and the præfects of the cohorts, mixing with them the light-armed foot, that the enemy’s cavalry might be repulsed, on whatever side they made their attack: for Jugurtha had so much subtlety, so perfect a knowledge of the country, and was so consummate a master of the military art, that it was uncertain whether he was more mischievous when at a distance or near, when making proposals for peace or openly engaged in war.
Not far from Metellus’s route there was a city called Vacca, the most celebrated for commerce in all Numidia, much frequented by Italian merchants, who resorted to it for traffic, and many of whom had settled there. Here the consul thought fit to place a garrison, either to try the sincerity of Jugurtha, or because he was pleased with its local advantages; and likewise ordered corn and other necessaries to be brought him; supposing that his army would be abundantly supplied, from such a concourse of traders and such plenty of provisions; and that the place itself would be very convenient for executing the designs he had already formed.
In the mean time Jugurtha renewed his applications to the consul with greater earnestness, still sending ambassadors to implore peace, and offering to deliver up all he had, without stipulating for any thing but his own safety and that of his children. The consul, having engaged these ambassadors, like the others, to betray their master, sent them back without either acceding to or rejecting these pacific propositions in direct terms; waiting, in the mean time, the execution of the task they had undertaken.
When Jugurtha compared the professions of Metellus with his conduct, and found that his own arts were practised on himself; that while he was amused with the hopes of peace, he was warmly pursued with war; when he saw that he had lost one of his strongest cities; that the enemy was well acquainted with his territories, and his subjects solicited to revolt; being forced by his desperate situation, he determined to hazard a battle. Accordingly, having gained intelligence of the enemy’s route, and conceiving hopes of victory from the advantages which the country gave him, he drew together all the force he could collect, and by unfrequented ways succeeded in getting before the army of Metellus.
In that part of Numidia which, on the partition of the kingdom, fell to the share of Adherbal was a river called Muthul, flowing from the south; parallel to which, at the distance of about twenty miles, was a mountain of equal length, desert and uncultivated. Between this mountain and the river, almost at an equal distance from each, rose a hill of prodigious height, covered with olives, myrtles, and other trees, such as grow in a dry and sandy soil: the intermediate plain was uninhabitable for want of water, those parts only excepted which bordered on the river, in which were many groves, and abundance of cattle.
Jugurtha took possession of this hill, which flanked the Romans in their march to the river, extending his front as far as possible; and giving the command of the elephants and part of the infantry to Bomilcar, with orders how to act, he posted himself with all the horse and the choicest of the foot nearer the mountain. Then he rode round the several squadrons and battalions, conjuring them “to summon up their former bravery, and, mindful of their late victory, to defend themselves and their country from Roman avarice. They were to engage with those whom they had already vanquished, and forced to pass under the yoke; and who had only changed their general, but not their character. As for himself, he had done all that was incumbent on a general; had secured to them the advantages of the ground, which they were well acquainted with, and to which the enemy were strangers; and had taken care not to expose them to an unequal contest with an enemy superior in number or skill: they should, therefore, when the signal was given, fall vigorously on the Romans; that day would either crown their former toils and victories, or be a prelude to the most grievous calamities.” Besides, addressing himself singly to such as he had rewarded with honours or money for their gallant behaviour, he reminded them of his liberality, and proposed them to others as patterns for their imitation. In a word, he appealed to all, in a manner suited to the disposition and character of each, and by promises, threatenings, and entreaties, laboured to excite their courage.
In the mean time Metellus, descending from the mountain with his army, without any knowledge of the enemy’s motions, discovered them on the hill. At first he was doubtful what to think of so strange an appearance; for the Numidian horse and foot were posted among the bushes, by reason of the lowness of which they were neither altogether covered nor yet entirely discernible. The rugged nature of the place, united to the artifice with which the whole was conducted, gave ample room for suspicion; but soon finding that it was an ambush, the general halted his army, and altering the disposition of it, made the flank next the enemy thrice as strong as before, distributed the slingers and archers among the infantry, placed all the cavalry in the wings; and animating them by a short speech suitable to the occasion, advanced, in this order, towards the plain.
Observing the Numidians to keep their ground, without offering to quit their station, and fearing that from the heat of the season and the scarcity of water his army would be distressed by thirst, Metellus ordered his lieutenant Rutilius, with the light-armed cohorts and a detachment of horse, to proceed towards the river, and secure a place to encamp on; judging that the enemy would, by frequent skirmishes, and attacks on his flank, endeavour to retard his march, and to harass his men by means of thirst and fatigue, as they could entertain no hope of success in battle. He then advanced slowly, as his circumstances and situation allowed him, in the same order as he had descended from the mountain; posting Marius in the centre, and marching himself in the left wing, at the head of the cavalry, which was now become the front.
Jugurtha, when he saw that the Roman rear extended beyond his first rank, detached two thousand foot to take possession of that part of the mountain from which Metellus had descended, that it might not serve the Romans for a place of security if they were routed; and then, giving the signal, suddenly fell on them.
Some of the Numidians made great slaughter in our rear, while others charged us on the right and left: they advanced furiously, fought vigorously, and every where broke our ranks. Even those of our men who opposed them with the greatest firmness and resolution were baffled by their disorderly manner of fighting; finding themselves wounded from a distance, and unable to return the blow, or come to a close engagement: for the Numidian cavalry, according to the instructions they had received from Jugurtha, when any of the Roman troops advanced against them, immediately fled, not in close order, or in a body, but dispersed as widely as possible. As they could not by these means discourage us from the pursuit, yet, being superior in number, they charged us either in flank or rear; and when it appeared more convenient to fly to the hill than the plain, the Numidian horses, being accustomed to it, made their way more easily through the thickets; while the Roman trooper, unaccustomed to such rough and difficult places, was unable to follow them.
The whole field presented a distressing spectacle, full of doubt and perplexity, and wild disorder; some flying, other pursuing: all separated from their fellows: no standard followed; no ranks preserved; every one standing on his own defence, and repulsing his adversary, wherever he was attacked; arms and darts, horses and men, enemies and fellow-citizens, blended together in wild confusion. In this scene of distraction, all order was at an end: chance ruled supreme, and guided the tumult: so that though the day was already far spent, the issue of the contest was still uncertain.
At length, both sides being oppressed with fatigue and the heat of the day, Metellus, perceiving the Numidian vigour abate, rallied his men by degrees, restored their ranks, and posted four legionary cohorts against the enemy’s foot, a great part of which had, through weariness, retired to the rising grounds for repose. At the same time he entreated and exhorted his men not to lose their courage, nor suffer a flying enemy to be victorious; adding, that they had no intrenchment or stronghold to which they could retire, but that all their hopes were in their arms and valour.
Nor was Jugurtha in the mean time inactive, but appeared on horseback, animated his men, renewed the battle, and, at the head of a select body, made every possible effort; supported his men where they were pressed; charged the Romans vigorously where they seemed to waver; and where they stood firm annoyed them with darts from a distance.
Thus did the two generals contend for glory; both officers of consummate ability, but differently situated, and as unequally supported. Metellus had brave men, but a bad situation; Jugurtha had every other advantage but that of soldiers. At last the Romans, considering that no place of refuge was left them; that the enemy avoided every attempt to bring them to a regular engagement, and that night was fast approaching; advanced up the hill, according to order, and made themselves masters of it. The Numidians, having lost this post, were routed and put to flight, but few of them slain: their own swiftness, and the nature of the country, with which our men were acquainted, saved most of them.
In the mean time Bomilcar, to whom Jugurtha, as already stated, had given the command of the elephants and part of the infantry, when he saw that Rutilius had passed him, drew down his men slowly into the plain; where, without interruption, he drew them up in order of battle, as the exigency required, while the lieutenant was marching in great haste to the river: nor did he neglect to watch the motions and to learn the designs of the Romans. On receiving intelligence that Rutilius was encamped, and appeared to consider himself in a state of security, Bomilcar, perceiving that the noise of the battle in which Jugurtha was engaged still increased, and fearing lest the lieutenant should return to reinforce the consul, resolved to obstruct his passage; and, extending the front of his line, which before, distrustful of the steadiness of his troops, he had formed close and compact, in this order advanced to the camp of Rutilius.
The Romans on a sudden perceived a vast cloud of dust, which at first they conjectured to be raised by the wind sweeping over an arid and sandy surface; for the country was covered on all sides with copsewood, which obstructed their view of the Numidians; but observing the cloud to move with regularity, and approach nearer and nearer, as the Numidians marched forward, they perceived the cause of the phenomenon; and, flying to their arms, drew up before the camp, according to orders. When the enemy came up, a tremendous shout was raised on both sides, and they rushed with fury to the onset.
The Numidians maintained the contest as long as they thought their elephants could be of any service to them; but when they saw them entangled among the branches of the trees, and surrounded by the Romans, they betook themselves to flight, and, throwing away their arms, escaped, most of them unhurt, partly by the advantage of the hill, and partly by favour of the night. Four elephants were taken; the rest, forty in number, were all slain.
The Romans, however, though much exhausted by their march, by fortifying their camp, and by the late unexpected encounter, were flushed with success; and, as Metellus tarried beyond their expectation, they advanced resolutely in order of battle to meet him: for such was the subtlety of the Numidians, as to leave no room for inactivity or remissness. When the heads of the columns nearly approached each other, in the darkness of the night, the noise on both sides occasioned mutual apprehensions of an approaching enemy: and this mistake had well nigh produced the most fatal consequences, had not some horsemen, despatched by both parties, discovered the true cause of it. Mutual congratulations quickly succeeded to apprehension; the soldiers joyfully called to one another by name; recounted their late exploits, every one extolling his own gallant behvaviour: for such is the nature of human affairs, that when victory is obtained, cowards may boast; while defeat casts reproach even on the brave.
Metellus continued four days in the same camp; administered relief to the wounded; conferred the usual military rewards on such as had distinguished themselves in the late engagements; commended the whole army, which he assembled with that view; returned them his public thanks; and exhorted them “to act with equal courage in what farther remained, which was but little. They had already fought sufficiently for victory; their future labours would be only to enrich themselves by the spoils of conquest.”
In the mean time, however, he despatched deserters and others acquainted with the country, to discover the retreat of Jugurtha; what were his plans; whether he was at the head of an army, or attended only by a few; and how he brooked his defeat. The king, he found, had retired into woods and places fortified by nature, and raised an army more numerous than the former, but weak and spiritless; better acquainted with tillage and pasture than with war: the reason of which was, that on a defeat none of the Numidians follow their king excepting his body-guard; the rest immediately disperse. Nor is this reckoned any reproach, it being the custom of the nation.
Metellus, when he saw that the king’s spirit was still undaunted, that the war was to be renewed, which could not be carried on but at the will of Jugurtha; and moreover considered the unequal terms on which he engaged the enemy, who suffered less by a defeat than the Romans had done by victory; he resolved to change his plan, and avoid regular actions. Accordingly, he marched into the richest parts of Numidia; ravaged the country; took many towns and castles, that were either slightly fortified or without garrisons, and burnt them; ordered the youth to be put to the sword, and delivered every thing up to the soldiers for spoil.
This mode of warfare produced such terror, that many hostages were sent to him; corn and other necessaries were plentifully supplied; and garrisons suffered to be placed wherever the consul thought fit. These measures alarmed the king more than the loss of the late battle; for he, who had no hope but in flying before us, was now forced to follow us; and though he could not defend his own territories, he was obliged to wage war in those possessed by the Romans. Under this difficulty, however, he pursued such measures as seemed most advisable. He ordered the greatest part of his army to continue together, while he himself, with a select body of cavalry, pursued Metellus; and by marching in the night-time through by-roads, he surprised such of our men as were rambling over the country; most of whom, being unarmed, were slain; many were taken prisoners, and none escaped without being wounded. For before any assistance could be sent them from the camp, the Numidians had, according to orders, retired to the neighbouring hills.
In the mean time, great joy was manifested at Rome when intelligence was received of the success of Metellus; how he had conducted himself and his army according to the ancient discipline; and had, by his bravery, come off victorious, though under the disadvantage of situation; had made himself master of the enemy’s country, and forced Jugurtha, whom the infamous conduct of Aulus had lately rendered so insolent, to place all his hopes of safety in flight to his native deserts. The senate, therefore, appointed public thanksgivings and oblations to the immortal gods for the success of their arms. The city, before full of anxiety for the event of the war, was now filled with joy, and nothing was to be heard but the praises of Metellus; which made him exert more vigorous efforts to obtain a complete victory: with which view he pushed all his measures with the utmost diligence, still guarding, however, against any surprise from the enemy; yet remembering, that after glory comes envy. Success seemed to invigorate, not to relax his vigilance; nor, since the late unexpected attack from Jugurtha, would he suffer his men to spread themselves over the country in quest of plunder. When he stood in need of corn or forage, he detached his cavalry, with some bands of foot to support them. One part of the army he commanded himself, Marius the other; and the country was thus laid waste more by fire and sword than by depredations.
The two bodies of the army encamped separately, but at a short distance from each other, that they might the more readily unite, if necessary; but in order to spread terror and desolation the wider, they acted apart. Jugurtha all this time followed his course along the mountains, watching some favourable opportunity or situation to attack them; and whenever he could gain intelligence of their route, he destroyed the forage and poisoned the springs, of the latter of which there was great scarcity. One while he presented himself to Metellus, another to Marius; sometimes he fell on their rear, and then suddenly drew off to the hills; by-and-by he attacked them again, first in one quarter, then in another; neither venturing a battle, nor suffering them to remain inactive; but only endeavouring to frustrate the execution of their designs.
When the Roman general perceived that he was harassed by the artful management of the enemy, who avoided all occasions of giving him battle, he determined to lay siege to Zama, a very important city, and the bulwark of the kingdom on that side; supposing that Jugurtha would not fail to advance to the relief of his subjects in distress, and that an engagement would consequently ensue. But Jugurtha, having gained intelligence of this design from the deserters, reached Zama by rapid marches before Metellus; encouraged the inhabitants to defend their walls, and reinforced the garrison with a body of deserters, who were the most desperate of all his forces, as they durst not betray him. He moreover promised that he would return in due time to their assistance, at the head of an army.
Having thus regulated his affairs, he withdrew into the most solitary parts of the country; and soon after learning that Marius, with a few cohorts, was despatched from the army as it marched, to obtain provisions from Sicca, which was the first town that revolted from him after his defeat, he went thither by night with a select body of horse, and attacked the Romans just as they were returning through the gate. At the same time he called aloud to the inhabitants, “to fall on the cohorts in the rear; that fortune presented them with an opportunity of performing a noble achievement, by which he should for the future enjoy his kingdom, and they their liberties in safety.” And had not Marius advanced the standards, and speedily got clear of the town, the greater part of the inhabitants, if not all, would probably have gone over to their former master; such is the inconstancy of the Numidians. But Jugurtha’s troops, who, animated by him, had for a short time maintained the conflict, finding themselves pressed by the Romans with superior vigour, fled, with the loss of a few of their number, and Marius arrived before Zama.
This town was built on a plain; better fortified by art than nature; well furnished with every thing necessary; and abounding with men and arms. Metellus, having made such arrangements as the occasion and undertaking required, surrounded it with his army; assigned to his lieutenants their several posts of command; and then, on a signal given, a great shout was raised at once from all quarters. This, however, did not terrify the Numidians, who waited the attack without disorder, full of ardour and resolution. Accordingly, the encounter began; our men fought each according to his inclination; some at a distance, with stones and slings; some withdrew after they had attacked, and others came in their place; one while they undermined the walls, another they endeavoured to scale them; all eager to engage the enemy in close combat. The inhabitants, on the other hand, rolled down enormous stones on those who were nearest the walls; and discharged darts, stakes, and burning torches of pitch and sulphur on them. Nor did those of our men who, less resolute than the rest, declined the nearer conflict, experience more security; most of them being wounded by weapons thrown by engines, or by force of arm. So that the dastardly were exposed to equal danger with the brave, without sharing their glory.
During this contest at Zama, Jugurtha, at the head of a considerable force, surprised the Roman camp, and through the negligence of the guard, who apprehended nothing less than a hostile attack, broke in at one of the gates. Our men, struck with sudden consternation, consulted their safety, each according to his character: some fled, others had recourse to their arms, and many of them were wounded or slain. Of the whole number, forty only acted like Romans: they, forming themselves into a body, took possession of some rising ground, which they maintained against the most vigorous efforts of the enemy to dispossess them; and even returned the darts that were thrown at them, which did the more execution, as they were few against many. If the Numidians ventured nearer them, they then exerted their utmost valour; slaying, routing, and putting them to flight.
In this juncture, while Metellus was carrying on the siege of Zama with great vigour, he heard a noise and shouting in the rear, like that of an enemy; and turning his horse, observed men flying towards him, a certain inclination that they belonged to the Roman army. He therefore immediately sent the whole cavalry to the camp; and soon after Marius with the auxiliary cohorts, conjuring him with tears, “by their mutual friendship, by his regard to the public welfare, not to suffer such a stain to rest on a victorious army, nor the enemy to escape without taking ample vengeance on them.”
Marius executed his orders with promptitude and effect; and Jugurtha now found himself and his Numidians embarrassed in our intrenchments. Some threw themselves over the palisades; the rest, striving to force through the narrow passes and defiles of the camp, obstructed one another; so that after the loss of many men, they betook themselves to the mountains. Metellus, unsuccessful in his attempt on the town, returned in the evening with his army to the camp.
The next day, before he returned to renew the assault, he posted all his horse without the camp, with orders to guard that side on which he expected Jugurtha would appear; and having distributed the guard of the gates and the adjoining posts among the tribunes, he advanced to the town, on which he made a vigorous assault, as he had done the preceding day.
Jugurtha, in the mean time, leaving his covert, fell suddenly on our front. Those of the advanced guard were thrown into disorder, but were quickly relieved by the rest; so that the Numidians could not have maintained their ground, had not their infantry, mixing with the horsemen, done great execution among us: for the latter, trusting to the assistance of the infantry, did not charge as formerly, advancing and retiring by turns, but pressed forward with great vigour, grappled with our men, and broke their ranks; then left them, when almost exhausted, to be despatched by their light-armed infantry.
The conflict at Zama, during this affair, was maintained with obstinate resolution: the lieutenants and tribunes made prodigious efforts at their several posts; all placing their hopes of victory in their own bravery, rather than in the assistance of others. The garrison made a vigorous resistance, boldly repulsing our men, and defending themselves resolutely in every quarter. Careless of themselves, attention on either side seemed absorbed in the superior ambition of galling the enemy. Confused and dissonant sounds were heard; cries of animation, shouts of joy, and groans of despair: arms fiercely clashed: darts fell thick on every side; and the furious, wild, and mingled uproar rent the air.
Those who defended the walls, when they found the ardour of the besiegers abate, viewed the engagement of the cavalry with great earnestness; and according as Jugurtha prevailed or not, their countenances were seen to vary; hope and fear alternately took their turn; and, as if they could have been heard or seen by their countrymen, some essayed to direct, others to encourage them, making signs with their hands, and moving their bodies, as though they were in reality darting the javelin, or stepping aside to avoid the blow.
When Marius, who commanded in that quarter, observed this circumstance, he ordered his division to slacken the attack, as if he had lost all hope of success, and suffered the Numidians to view the engagement at the camp without interruption. Then, while their attention was closely engaged, he made a sudden and vigorous assault on the ramparts; and the soldiers had almost gained the top of them with their scaling ladders, when the Numidians, flying to their defence, poured down on the besiegers stones, fire, and every sort of weapon. Our troops sustained all this for a time; but some of the ladders breaking down, and those who stood on them tumbling headlong to the ground, the rest retreated, each as he could, the greater number covered with wounds, and few or none escaping unhurt. Night at length put an end to the combat.
Metellus, finding that his attempt on the town was unsuccessful; that Jugurtha was determined not to engage, unless by surprise, or where he had the advantage of the ground; and that the summer was now spent; raised the siege of Zama, and placed garrisons in those places which had been reduced, and were strong by nature or well fortified; and marched his army into winter-quarters in those parts of the province that bordered on Numidia.
Nor did he spend his time there, as others had done, in luxury and inaction; but finding he had as yet made but little progress, he formed a design to defeat the king by employing the treachery of his friends against him instead of arms. He accordingly addressed himself to Bomilcar, who had been at Rome with Jugurtha, and being arraigned for the murder of Massiva, had escaped from justice, and abandoned his sureties. This man, who enjoyed the greatest share of the king’s confidence, and was the fittest instrument for a stroke of perfidy, Metellus prevailed on, by magnificent promises, to come first to a private conference with him; then, pledging his honour, “that if he would deliver to him Jugurtha, dead or alive, he would procure him his pardon from the senate, with the enjoyment of his whole fortune;” he easily prevailed with the Numidian, who was naturally faithless, and justly apprehended that if a peace were concluded with the Romans, he should, by the articles of it, be delivered up to punishment.
Bomilcar soon seized an opportunity of carrying his design into execution. Finding Jugurtha sunk in despondency, and lamenting his fortune, he conjured him with tears in his eyes, “to consult at last his own safety, that of his children, and the Numidians, who had been so zealously devoted to his service.” He besought him to reflect, that he had been defeated in every engagement; that his country was laid waste; many of his subjects taken, many slain; the strength of his kingdom exhausted; that he had already sufficiently tried the bravery of his troops and the inclination of fortune, and ought now to take care lest the Numidians, while he thus deliberated, should provide for their own safety.
By these and the like arguments he prevailed on the king to surrender; and accordingly ambassadors were sent to Metellus, to declare that Jugurtha was ready to submit to whatever he should desire, and to deliver himself and his kingdom absolutely to his disposal. Metellus immediately ordered all those of senatorial rank to be summoned from their cantonments, and advised with them, and others whom he thought proper to consult on the occasion, according to ancient usage. Then, agreeably to an order of the council, he sent deputies to Jugurtha, commanding him “to deliver up to the Romans two hundred thousand pounds of silver, all his elephants, and a complement of horses and arms.” This being immediately complied with, he demanded, “that all the deserters should be brought him in chains.” The greater number of them were brought in accordingly; the rest, but few in number, had fled for refuge to Bocchus, king of Mauritania, on the first symptoms of a surrender.
When Jugurtha, thus stripped of his arms, men, and money, was himself summoned to Tisidium to surrender to the consul, his restless spirit began to waver; his deeds of atrocity came fresh into his mind, and he trembled at the prospect of a just retribution. Many days were consumed in delay and irresolution: one while he preferred any terms to the continuance of war, a crowd of disasters admonishing him that it was the worst of calamities; another, he considered the terrible descent from a throne to slavery: but at length he determined to renew the war, although needlessly divested of so considerable a portion of his resources. The senate at Rome, too, having met to deliberate concerning the provinces, had, during this juncture, again decreed Numidia to Metellus.
About the same time Marius happened to be at Utica, and as he was sacrificing to the gods, the augur announced to him, “that great and wonderful things were presaged to him: he should therefore pursue whatever designs he had formed, and trust to the gods; he might push his fortune to the utmost, regardless of difficulty, and confident of success.”
Marius had been long seized with an ardent desire of the consulship, and possessed every qualification for obtaining it, except that of noble descent: he had industry, probity, consummate skill in war, and an intrepid spirit in battle: he displayed a model of temperance; and, completely master of his passions, looked with indifference on wealth and pleasure; but was covetous of renown, and possessed an insatiable thirst of glory. He was born at Arpinum, where he passed his childhood; and from the time that he was capable of bearing arms, took no delight in the study of Grecian eloquence, nor in the luxurious manners of Rome, but entered with ardour on the military life; and thus, in a short time, by a proper course of discipline, acquired a masterly knowledge in the art of war; so that when he first solicited from the people the military tribuneship, although his person was unknown, his character obtained it by the unanimous suffrages of all the tribes. From this time he rose still higher in public favour; and in every office which he filled, still rendered himself worthy of greater dignity. Yet Marius, with all his merit, till this time (for ambition afterward fatally urged him to the wildest excesses) had not ventured to offer himself for the consulship: for though the people at that period conferred all the other offices, that of consul was engrossed by the nobility; and the most renowned or distinguished by merit, unsupported by birth, were reckoned by them unworthy of the supreme magistracy.
Marius, perceiving that the prediction of the augur was agreeable to his own inclinations, petitioned Metellus for leave to visit Rome, as a candidate for the consulship. Metellus, though distinguished for his virtue and honour, and other desirable qualities, yet possessed a haughty and disdainful spirit, the common vice of the nobility: struck with so extraordinary a request, he therefore expressed surprise at his designs, and cautioned him, as in friendship, not to entertain such unreasonable views, nor suffer his mind to be exalted above his station. To all men, he observed, the same objects could not be the aim of reasonable ambition; adding, that Marius ought to be contented with his present fortune; and, in a word, that he should take care not to demand from the Roman people what they might justly refuse. After these and the like remonstrances, the consul still found Marius steady to his purpose, and promised to comply with his request as soon as it was consistent with the public service; and as he still continued to urge his petition, Metellus is reported to have told him, “that it was needless to be in such a hurry, as it would be time enough for him to think of standing for the consulship when his son should be of age to join with him.” This youth was then about twenty years of age, and serving under his father without any command.
This fired Marius with a more ardent desire of obtaining the consulship, and highly incensed him against Metellus; so that he blindly followed the dictates of ambition and resentment, the most pernicious of counsellors. He did and said every thing that could promote his views; gave greater liberty to the soldiers under his command than formerly; inveighed severely to our merchants, then in great numbers at Utica, against Metellus’s manner of conducting the war; and boasted of himself, “that were but half the army under his own command, he would in a few days have Jugurtha on purpose, by being a vain man, possessed of kingly pride, and intoxicated with the love of command.” This was the more readily believed by the merchants, as they had suffered in their fortunes by the long continuance of the war; and to an impatient spirit no measures appear sufficiently expeditious.
There was, besides, in our army a certain Numidian named Gauda, the son of Mastanabal, and grandson of Masinissa, whom Micipsa had appointed next heir to his immediate successors; one whose bodily disorders had impaired the faculties of his mind. This man had applied to Metellus for a seat, on public occasions, next to the consular chair, and likewise for a troop of Roman horse for his guard, and was denied both: the seat, because it was conferred on none but those whom the Roman people distinguished with the title of kings; and the troop, because it would be an affront to the Roman horse to be the body-guards of a Numidian. This double refusal filled his mind with discontent, in the height of which Marius accosted him, prompted him to seek revenge for the insults offered him by the Roman general, and voluntarily tendered his own assistance. By soothing speeches he wrought on the imagination of this man, whose faculties were weakened by disease and a high conceit of his own dignity, extolling him “as a prince, a person of great importance, the grandson of Masinissa; one who would forthwith possess the kingdom of Numidia, were Jugurtha once captured or slain, which would speedily happen, were he himself made consul, and intrusted with the management of the war.”
By such intrigues, not only Gauda, but the Roman knights, soldiers, and traders, were all engaged, some by Marius, most of them by their hopes of an immediate peace, to write to their friends at Rome concerning the operations of the war, to reprobate the measures of Metellus, and to desire that Marius might be appointed to the command of the army.
Thus was the consulship solicited for him by great numbers of men, in a manner highly honourable. The people, too, having at this juncture given a deep wound to the power of the nobility by the Mamilian law, were proceeding to raise plebeians to the chief magistracies; so that every thing favoured the views of Marius.
Jugurtha, in the mean time, having abandoned all idea of surrender, and renewed the war, determined to prosecute it with the utmost diligence and despatch. He raised an army; endeavoured, by threats or promises, to recover the cities which had revolted; fortified those places he still held; manufactured or purchased arms and warlike stores, in the room of those which he had given up in the hope of obtaining peace; solicited the Roman slaves to join him; tempted with bribes those who were in the garrisons; in a word, he left nothing unattempted; raised commotions every where, and pushed every possible measure.
In consequence of these efforts, the principal inhabitants of Vacca, where Metellus had placed a garrison on the first proposals made by Jugurtha for a peace, being wearied out with the king’s importunities, and indeed unalienated from him in their affections, entered into a conspiracy for betraying the city. The populace were, as in all countries, and more especially so in Numidia, inconstant, seditious, fond of innovations, and enemies to tranquillity and repose.
Having concerted their scheme, they fixed on the third day following for the execution of it; because, that being a festival, to be celebrated throughout all Africa, was thought a more proper season to inspire mirth and jollity, than fear and distrust. When the day came, the conspirators invited the centurions, the military tribunes, and Titus Turpilius Silanus, the governor of the city, to their several houses, and basely murdered them all, in the midst of the banquet, except Turpilius; after which they fell on the soldiers, who, as it was a day of rejoicing, were dispersed over the town, without their arms, and under no command. The populace joined them, some of whom were previously instructed by the nobility, and others urged on by their own savage ferocity, highly pleased with the tumult, though ignorant of the motives of those who had planned the massacre.
The Roman soldiers were seized with consternation; and in the first moments of doubt and disorder hurried in great confusion to the citadel, where their standards and shields were deposited; but found it guarded by the enemy. The gates too were shut, to prevent their escape; and to heighten their calamity, the women and children with great fury poured down on them, from the tops of the houses, stones and whatever else came to their hands. Being thus beset with danger in various shapes, without being able to guard against it, and the bravest men incapable of resisting the weakest adversaries, the worthless and the worthy, the brave and the cowardly, perished alike unrevenged. During so direful a massacre, while the Numidians exercised the utmost rage and cruelty, and the city was shut on all sides, Turpilius the governor was the only Italian who escaped unhurt; but whether this was owing to the compassion of his host, to private compact, or accident, does not clearly appear; but however it might have been, he must be considered as a worthless and infamous wretch, who, in so great a calamity to the state, preferred an inglorious life to unsullied honour.
Metellus was so deeply afflicted when he heard of the tragical fate of the garrison of Vacca, that he did not appear in public for a time; but indignation mixing with his grief, he made all possible haste to revenge the injury. He accordingly assembled his own legion, with as many light-armed Numidian cavalry as he could collect; and marching about sunset, at the head of this detachment, he arrived next morning, about the third hour, at a place enclosed on all sides with small eminences. But the soldiers, being fatigued with the length of their march, and refusing to obey farther orders, he assured them that the town of Vacca was more than a mile distant; and that it became them patiently to endure the fatigue, to surmount difficulties, and to take vengeance for the death of their fellow-citizens, the bravest of men, who had been inhumanly massacred. He likewise offered them the whole plunder as the reward of their labours; and having thus roused their courage, placed the cavalry in front, ordering them to extend themselves as widely as possible, and the infantry to march in close array, concealing their standards.
The inhabitants of Vacca, observing an army marching towards them, rightly concluded that Metellus was at hand, and accordingly shut their gates; but when they saw that they abstained from pillage, and that those in front were Numidian horse, they imagined it was Jugurtha, and went out with great joy to meet him. Our horse and foot, on a signal being given, immediately fell on them; some cut off the rabble that poured out of the city in great numbers; others hastened to secure the gates; and part seized on the towers: their thirst of vengeance, and the hope of plunder, causing them to forget their weariness. Thus the people of Vacca triumphed only for two days in their treachery; and their city, which was great and opulent, was delivered up wholly to the fury of our soldiers, eager for vengeance and rapine.
Turpilius, the late governor of the city, who, as already related, escaped singly from the massacre, was summoned before Metellus to answer for his conduct; but his defence proving unsatisfactory, he was condemned, sentenced to be scourged, and then put to death; a punishment inflicted on him as a citizen of Latium.
About this time Bomilcar, who had instigated Jugurtha to the proposal of a surrender, of which his own fears had hindered the execution, was very desirous of effecting a revolution, as the king and himself were filled with mutual distrust of each other. He was accordingly contriving plots for Jugurtha’s destruction, both day and night; and, after revolving a variety of schemes in his mind, he engaged Nabdalsa as his associate in the enterprise. Nabdalsa was a Numidian of noble birth, who, on account of his extraordinary wealth, possessed great power and influence among his countrymen. By Jugurtha this man was usually intrusted with the command of a separate army. In every enterprise he was a useful commander, where the prince himself, worn out with fatigue, or occupied with objects of greater moment, was obliged to act by a delegated authority; and hence the figure and opulence of this favourite.
A day was agreed on by Bomilcar and Nabdalsa for the execution of the plot, and all other measures were left to be regulated as occasion should require: on which Nabdalsa went to the army, which, agreeably to the king’s orders, he kept in the neighbourhood of our cantonments, in order to prevent our ravaging the country with impunity. But being afterward struck with the enormity of the enterprise, and prevented by fear from arriving at the time appointed, Bomilcar, who was impatient to accomplish his design, and greatly concerned lest his associate should depart from his late engagements, and consult his own safety by a discovery, sent a letter to him by one in whom he could confide, in which he upbraided him with effeminacy and want of spirit; called the gods, by whom he had sworn, to witness; and warned him, “not to turn the rewards offered by Metellus to his own destruction; that Jugurtha’s ruin was at hand; that the only thing to be considered was, whether it was to be effected by their bravery or that of Metellus; and that he ought therefore to choose between the horrors of the rack, or the recompense of a manly resolution.”
Nabdalsa received this letter at a time when, being much fatigued, he was reposing on his couch: on reading it, he was at first filled with great anxiety; and, as is usual to minds burdened with cares, sleep overcame him. He had in his service a certain Numidian of approved fidelity, who was highly in favour, and acquainted with all his affairs, except the late confederacy: this man, when he heard that a letter had arrived, supposing there would be occasion, as usual, for his service or counsel, went into his master’s tent, where he found him asleep. On entering, he eagerly snatched up the letter, which had been left on the pillow, and read it; and having discovered the plot, went with all possible haste to the king. Nabdalsa, who awoke soon after, missed his letter; and being informed by his guards of all that had passed, endeavoured at first to cause his accuser to be intercepted; but failing in that, he went directly to the king, with a view to appease him. He affirmed that he was prevented from making the discovery himself by the treachery of his servant; and, bursting into tears, conjured him, “by their mutual friendship, by his faithful past services, not to suspect him of so foul a crime.”
To this the king replied with calm composure, concealing his real sentiments; and having ordered Bomilcar to be put to death, with others whom he knew to be accomplices in the plot, he suppressed his resentment, lest, by making any more sacrifices to his vengeance, he might excite an insurrection.
From this time Jugurtha enjoyed no tranquillity of mind either day or night; judged himself insecure in every place, with every person, and on every occasion; equally distrusted his subjects and his enemies; was constantly on his guard; alarmed at every sound; passed his nights sometimes in one place, sometimes in another, often unsuitable to royal dignity; sometimes started out of his sleep in the dead of night, and snatching his arms, raised an alarm. Thus did fear, like a phrensy, never cease to haunt his imagination, and drove him almost to madness.
Metellus, when he received intelligence, by means of the deserters, of the fate of Bomilcar and the discovery of the plot, made fresh preparations with the utmost vigour, as if the war had just commenced: and as Marius was constantly importuning him for leave of absence, he now dismissed him, thinking it improper to trust him, as he served with reluctance, and bore him personal enmity.
At Rome, too, the populace, when they learned the contents of the letters which were received from Africa concerning Metellus and Marius, were well pleased with the accounts concerning both. The distinguished rank of the general, which had hitherto been a motive for honouring him, now exposed him to the odium of the people; while the obscurity of his lieutenant’s birth recommended him to their favour. The good or bad qualities of either were little taken into account: it was the rage of party that produced the bias. Besides this, the factious magistrates inflamed the multitude by charging Metellus with capital crimes, in all their harangues, and highly extolling the merits of Marius. At length the people were so inflamed, that the artificers and husbandmen, whose whole substance and credit was derived from their daily labour, quitting their several employments, crowded from all quarters to attend on Marius; and were more concerned for his advancement, than for procuring the necessaries of life to themselves. The nobility being thus depressed, the consulship was bestowed on a new man, a circumstance which had not occurred for many years. After this, when the people were asked by Manlius Mancinus, tribune of the people, to whom they would commit the management of the war against Jugurtha, they, in a full assembly, assigned it to Marius, thus rendering abortive the decree of the senate, which had just before assigned the province of Numidia to Metellus.
Jugurtha, in the mean time, finding himself bereft of his confidants, the greater part of whom had been cut off by himself, while the rest, apprehending a like fate, had fled, some to the Romans, others to Bocchus, king of Mauritania, was agitated with doubt and distraction. Without ministers and generals, it was vain to think of a continuance of the war. The faithless character of his late adherents naturally inspired him with solicitude; and it was dangerous to confide in greater virtue, or firmer attachment, in their successors. In this frame of mind, no scheme, no advice, no person could please him; he shifted his marches, and changed his officers daily; at one time he would move towards the enemy, at another towards the desert; oftentimes he placed all his security in flight; presently after in arms; nor could he determine whether the fidelity or courage of his subjects was least to be confided in; thus, whichever way he turned his thoughts, he found nothing but vexation and discouragement.
During this irresolution, Metellus on a sudden appeared with his army. Jugurtha improved the little time he had to draw up his men in order of battle; after which the combat commenced, and was maintained for some time in that part where the king commanded in person; but the rest of the army was routed and put to flight on the first encounter. The Romans took all their standards and arms, with a few prisoners. The swiftness of the Numidians, indeed, in all their engagements with the Romans, was more serviceable to them than their arms.
After this defeat Jugurtha, bereft of all hope, retired with some deserters and a part of his cavalry to the deserts, and from thence to Thala, a great and wealthy town, where the bulk of his treasure was lodged, and where his children were kept and educated. No sooner was Metellus informed of this, than he resolved to make an attempt on this stronghold, although he knew that between the adjacent river and Thala he had a parched wilderness no less than fifty miles in extent to march over; yet, hoping to put an end to the war by the reduction of that place, he determined to bid defiance to all difficulties, and attempted even to triumph over nature herself. He therefore gave orders that the baggage should be taken from the beasts of burden, and that they should be laden only with corn for ten days, together with leather flasks, and other utensils proper for carrying of water. Besides, he collected all the labouring cattle he could find in the neighbouring country, and loaded them with vessels of every kind, but mostly of wood, procured from the cottages of the Numidians. He moreover commanded the natives of the adjoining districts, who had surrendered after the defeat of the king, to furnish themselves with as much water as they could carry, and convey it to a certain place on a day appointed. To supply himself, he loaded his beasts from the river, which, as already stated, was the nearest water to the town: and thus provided, he advanced towards Thala.
When he arrived at the place where he had appointed the Numidians to meet him, and had pitched and fortified his camp, such a deluge of rain is said to have fallen, as would alone have plentifully supplied the whole army. Provisions were no less abundant; for the Numidians, as is common with those who submit to new masters, had exceeded their instructions. The soldiers, from a principle of superstition, chose chiefly the water which fell from the heavens; for they imagined they were objects of the special care of the immortal gods, and this greatly fortified their courage.
The next day, contrary to the expectations of Jugurtha, they arrived before Thala. The inhabitants, who imagined themselves sufficiently secured by their situation, were struck with the magnitude of the enterprise; but nevertheless made vigorous preparations for defending themselves, as did our men for commencing the attack.
The Numidian king, believing now that to Metellus nothing was impossible, and that he had, by his courage and perseverance, triumphed over arms, places, seasons, nay, even over nature herself, fled out of the town in the night-time, taking with him his children and a great part of his treasure. Nor did he ever after tarry more than a day or night in one place; pretending that it was business which thus hurried him, though, in reality, he was apprehensive of treasonable practices, which he hoped to elude by his expedition, being persuaded that such designs were only formed by leisure and opportunity.
Metellus, perceiving that the inhabitants were determined to hold out a siege, and that the city was strengthened both by art and nature, and surrounded with a trench and rampart, ordered his men to roll the moving machines to such places as he selected, to raise mounds on them, and turrets on the mounds, for the purpose of protecting the works, and those who conducted them. The besieged, on the other hand, did not fail to make preparations, and acted with great spirit and vigour; nothing, indeed, was left unattempted on either side.
The Romans at length, much exhausted by fatigue and the conflicts of so laborious a service, made themselves masters of the bare city, after a siege of forty days; the whole spoil having been destroyed by the deserters. These profligate men, as soon as they found the walls shaken by the battering-rams, and their own case desperate, carried away the gold and silver, with whatever else was esteemed valuable, to the royal palace; and, after glutting themselves with wine and feasting, they committed all to the flames—the wealth, the palace, and their own lives,—voluntarily inflicting on themselves the severest punishment they could have apprehended from the conquerors, had they fallen into their hands.
At this juncture deputies arrived from Leptis, requesting the protection of a garrison from Metellus, and begging that he would send them a governor. They also informed him that Hamilcar, a factious nobleman, whom neither the power of the magistrates nor the authority of the laws could restrain, was labouring to overthrow the government; and that unless he afforded them present assistance, they, the allies of Rome, would be in the utmost danger. The people of Leptis had, indeed, at the commencement of the war with Jugurtha, first addressed themselves to the consul Bestia, and afterward to Rome, in order to solicit her friendship and alliance; and, that being obtained, they continued good and faithful allies to the republic, and readily complied with the orders of Bestia, Albinus, and Metellus. The general, therefore, readily yielded to their request; and four cohorts of Ligurians were despatched to Leptis, under the command of Caius Annius, who was deputed to act as governor of the place.
The city of Leptis, according to the best accounts, was founded by the Sidonians, who quitted their country on account of civil broils, and sailed over to Africa: it lies between the two Syrtes, certain bays of the sea, of which that appellation sufficiently indicates the character. These gulfs or bays are situated nearly at the eastern extremity of the African coast, being in description nearly similar, but of unequal magnitude. Near to the shore there is an uncommon depth of water, a circumstance that varies according to the nature of the bottom; and in some places, during tempestuous weather, there are continued shallows. When the winds blow violently, and the sea rolls with a prodigious swell, mud and sand, and even stones of a vast size, are forced along by the rapidity of the current. Hence the bed of the waters is constantly changing at the mercy of the tempest; and hence these gulfs have the name of Syrtes, from the frequent dragging or shifting of their channel.
The inhabitants of Leptis, by their intermarriages with the Numidians, have changed their native language, but still retain the greater part of the laws and customs of the Sidonians, which they have done the more easily, on account of the great distance at which they are placed from the Numidian government; vast deserts intervening between them and the more cultivated districts.
Since the affairs of Leptis have led me to discourse of this country, it may not be uninteresting to record the ever-memorable and glorious achievement of two Carthaginians; the scene of whose actions presents itself to the view.
While the Carthaginians were masters of the greater part of Africa, the Cyrenians were also a powerful and wealthy people. Between the two commonwealths lay a vast sandy plain, altogether uniform, without river or mountain to ascertain the boundaries of their several territories; which proved the occasion of long and bloody wars. After long struggles, and after their fleets and armies had sufficiently tried and exhausted their strength, they naturally became apprehensive lest some common enemy should at last take the field, and make an easy prey of the victors as well as the vanquished. They therefore first came to a cessation of arms, then to an agreement that each city should send out deputies at a stated time, and that the place where they met should form the common boundary of their dominions. Two brothers, named Philæni, were sent from Carthage, and travelled with great expedition. The Cyrenians advanced more slowly; but whether they loitered by the way, cannot now be ascertained. It is, however, certain, that those who traverse these wastes, like the mariner on the ocean, are frequently at the mercy of the hurricane. When the wind blows hard in these vast and naked plains, the sand, being hurled from the earth, and driven with a mighty force, fills the mouths and eyes of travellers; and, thus deprived of their sight, they are compelled to relax their speed, and wait with patience the cessation of the tempest.
The Cyrenians, finding themselves surpassed in expedition, and dreading the vengeance of their countrymen, who might impute to them the failure of the enterprise, began to wrangle with the Carthaginians, whom they charged with setting out before the limited time, and declared they would submit to any terms, rather than depart vanquished from the contest. The Carthaginians only desired any method of deciding which was fair and reasonable; but the Cyrenians gave them their choice, “either to be buried alive on the spot which they required as the boundary of their dominions, or to suffer them to proceed as far as they thought proper, on the same terms.” The generous Philæni, accepting the condition, sacrificed their persons and lives to the good of their country, and were buried alive in that very spot. There the Carthaginians dedicated altars sacred to the two brothers, and instituted other solemnities in Carthage, to immortalize their name. I now resume my narrative.
Jugurtha, after the loss of Thala, thinking no place a security against the genius and enterprise of Metellus, fled with a few attendants, through vast deserts, into the country of the Gætuli, a savage and uncultivated race, till then unacquainted with the Roman name. Of these he collected a considerable body, and accustomed them by degrees to move in ranks, to follow his standards, to obey orders, and to perform other military duties. By great presents, and greater promises, he gained over to his interest the confidants and favourites of king Bocchus; and, applying to the king through their means, prevailed on him to undertake a war against the Romans. This was the more easily effected as Bocchus was filled with resentment against the Romans for having refused to admit him into their friendship and alliance, which he had sent ambassadors to Rome to solicit in the beginning of our war with Jugurtha; an alliance extremely advantageous on such an occasion, but obstructed by a few noblemen, who, influenced by avarice, habitually set to sale their influence in the state, and were ready to carry through the best or the basest measures, as they contributed to the indulgence of this sordid passion. Bocchus had, some time before this, married a daughter of Jugurtha; but such an alliance is little regarded among the Numidians and Moors, who all have a plurality of wives, some ten, others more, according to their wealth, and their kings consequently possess a still greater proportion. Amid such a variety, the heart of man is distracted; so that no one is look on as the companion of her lord, but all equally neglected and despised.
The two kings accordingly met with their armies at a place agreed on, where, after pledging their faith to each other, Jugurtha began to inflame the mind of Bocchus, by representing to him, “that the Romans were oppressive, insatiably covetous, and the common enemies of mankind; that they had the same cause for making war on Bocchus as on himself, and on other nations, namely, their lust of dominion, which made them look on all independent states as their enemies; that at present they pursued him as an enemy, as they had, a short time before, king Perses and the Carthaginians; and that, for the future, wherever a prince appeared formidable by power, or famed for opulence, he might count on Roman hostility.”
Having said this, and much more to the same purpose, the two princes resolved on marching to Cirta, where Metellus had lodged his booty, prisoners, and baggage; and where Jugurtha thought he should obtain a reward for his labour, either by taking the city, or by bringing the Romans to an engagement, if they marched to its relief. Such was the subtlety of the Numidian, who, by this impatience for action, wished only to prevent Bocchus from entertaining thoughts of peace; lest, by delays, he might waver in his purpose, and, in the end, decline all interference in the quarrel.
Metellus, when he received intelligence of the confederacy of the kings, was more circumspect than when opposed only to Jugurtha, whom he had so often defeated. He resolved not to be forward to engage the enemy; but fortifying his camp, patiently waited for the kings near Cirta; deeming it more prudent, as the Mauri were new adversaries, not to bring them to action until he had acquired a knowledge of their character, that he might do so with greater advantage.
In the mean time he received intelligence from Rome that the province of Numidia was assigned to Marius, of whose elevation to the consulship he had been informed. By the latter event he was extremely mortified, and his vexation exceeded all bounds of decency or dignity: he could neither refrain from tears, nor restrain his tongue from invective; for, although a man otherwise eminently distinguished for every noble quality, he was betrayed into an irritation, which was effeminate, and wholly unworthy of his character. Some imputed this weakness to pride; others to a generous spirit, too keenly alive to insult: many to a deep concern that the laurels already gained should be wrested from his hands. For myself, I have great reason to believe, that the advancement of Marius gave him more torture than his own wrongs, and that he would have quitted his province with less regret, had it been bestowed on any other than Marius.
Thus overwhelmed with vexation, Metellus laid aside all thought of farther enterprise; and, deeming it folly to cultivate the interest of another at his own hazard, he despatched deputies to king Bocchus, admonishing him, “not to become an enemy to the Roman people without any provocation: that he had now an opportunity of entering into friendship and alliance with them, which ought to be preferred by him to war. Whatever confidence he might place in his own strength, that still he should reflect, whether certain benefit should be relinquished for contingency, and the turns of a precarious fortune: that it was easy to draw the sword, but extremely difficult to conclude a war: that he who possessed the power to commence was not always able to terminate a contest: that a coward might plunge into a war, but peace depended on the will of the conqueror: that he should therefore consult his own interest and that of his kingdom, and not blend his own flourishing fortunes with those of a man so desperate and ruined as Jugurtha.” To these remonstrances the king replied, “that he too was desirous of peace, but was touched with sympathy for Jugurtha; and were he also included in the treaty, it would pave the way to general pacification.” Again the Roman general sent deputies with an answer to the demands of Bocchus, who was satisfied with some particulars and rejected others. Thus, by sending and returning deputies, the time was spun out, and the war protracted, agreeably to the desire of Metellus, without any hostilities.
Marius, who had been created consul by the people with every proof of the warmest zeal for his interest, and was soon after appointed to command in Numidia, now behaved towards the nobility, against whom he was before highly exasperated, with greater fierceness and insolence than ever; sometimes he insulted particular individuals, sometimes the whole body. He was continually boasting that he had wrested the consulship from them like spoils from a vanquished enemy, extolling his own merits, and aggravating the mortification of his adversaries.
In the mean time, his principal care was to provide every thing necessary for the war; he demanded recruits for the legions, and sent for auxiliaries from foreign states, kings, and allies. He moreover summoned from Latium all the bravest men, most of whom he himself knew by their having served with him, so that there were but few whose character he had learned from common fame; and even, by the force of persuasion, prevailed on the discharged veterans to crowd to his standard. Nor did the senate venture, though his avowed enemies, to oppose these measures; they even cheerfully voted the augmentation of his troops; because they imagined the populace would receive the calls to military service with so much aversion, that Marius would either fail in the prosecution of the war, or lose his popularity. But in this they were disappointed; so eager a desire of joining Marius had seized most of them. Every man flattered himself to return crowned with victory, and enriched with spoil. Marius had indeed, by his eloquence, not a little contributed to raise their expectations; for, after the necessary decrees had been passed for his equipment, and the eve of commencing levies was at hand, he summoned an assembly of the people, both to encourage them to follow him, and to inveigh against the nobility, as he was wont. He then harangued them to the following effect:
“I know, Romans, that most of those who apply to you for preferment in the state assume a different conduct from what they observe after they have obtained it. When they are candidates, they are active, condescending, and modest; when magistrates, haughty and indolent: but to me the contrary conduct appears reasonable: for in proportion as the good of the state is of more importance than the consulship or the prætorship, the greater care and attention is requisite to govern the commonwealth, than to court its dignities.
“I am very sensible what an arduous task is imposed on me by your generous choice of me; to make preparations for the war, and yet to be sparing of the treasury; to oblige those to serve whom you would not willingly offend; to attend to every thing both at home and abroad; and to perform all this amid a confederacy of envious men, eternally obstructing your measures, and caballing against you, is, O Romans! a more difficult undertaking than can be readily imagined. Moreover, if others fail in the discharge of their duty, the ancient lustre of their family, the heroic actions of their ancestors, the credit of their kindred and friends, and their numerous dependants afford them protection. But for me, my resources lie solely in myself; my firmness and integrity alone must protect me, every other support would be of little avail.
“I am well aware, too, Romans, that the eyes of all are on me; that all honest, all candid men, pleased with my successful endeavours to serve the state, wish well to me; but that the nobility watch for an opportunity to ruin me. Hence I must labour the more strenuously that you be not ensnared by them, and that they be disappointed. From my childhood to the present time, my manner of life has been such, that toils and dangers are now habitual to me. The course I pursued, Romans, merely from a disinterested principle, before you conferred any favours on me, I shall be far from discontinuing now that you have bestowed so noble a recompense. Those who put on the deceitful guise and semblance of virtue, to obtain power, must, when possessed of it, find it difficult to act with moderation; but to me, whose whole life has been an uninterrupted series of laudable pursuits, virtue, through the force of habit, is become natural.
“You have ordained that I should have the management of the war against Jugurtha; an ordinance highly displeasing to the nobility. Now, I pray you, consider within yourselves whether you had not better alter your choice, and employ on this, or any other similar occasion, one of the tribe of the nobility, a man of ancient family, surrounded with the images of his ancestors, and who has never been in the service: see how, on such an important occasion, he will hurry and be confounded, and, ignorant of the whole of his duty, apply to some plebeian to instruct him in it. And thus it commonly happens that he whom you have appointed your general is obliged to find another from whom to receive his orders.
“I know, Romans, some who, after entering on the consular office, began to study the history of our ancestors, and the military precepts of the Greeks. Preposterous method! For though, in the order of time, the election to offices precedes the exercise of men, yet, in the order of things, qualifications and experience should precede election.
“New man as I am, Romans, compare me with these haughty nobles. What they have only read or heard of I have seen performed, or performed myself: what they have gathered from books I have learned in the service. Now do you yourselves judge whether practice or speculation is of greatest value. They despise me for the meanness of my descent; I them for their indolence: I am upbraided with my fortune; they with their crimes. I am of opinion that nature is always the same, and common to all; and that those who have the most virtue, have most nobility. Suppose it were possible to put the question to the fathers of Albinus or Bestia, whether they would rather have chosen me for their descendant or them? What answer do you think they would make, but that they should have desire to have had the most deserving men for their sons? But if they have reason to despise me, they have the same cause to despise their ancestors, whose nobility, like mine, took its rise from their military virtue. They envy my advancement; let them likewise envy my toils, my integrity, my dangers; for by these I gained it.
“These men, in truth, blinded with pride, live in such a manner as if they slighted the honours you have to bestow, and yet sue for them as if they had deserved them. Deluded men! to aspire at once after two things so opposite in their nature—the enjoyment of the pleasures of effeminacy, and the fruits of a laborious virtue! When they harangue too before you, or in the senate, they employ the greatest part of their eloquence in celebrating their ancestors, and vainly imagine that their exploits reflect a lustre on themselves: whereas it is quite the reverse; for the more illustrious their lives were, the more scandalous is the spiritless and unmanly behaviour of these their descendants. The truth of the matter is plainly this: the glory acquired by ancestors is like a light diffused over the actions of their posterity, which suffers neither their good nor bad qualities to be concealed.
“This light, Romans, is what I want; but, what is much more noble, I can recount my own achievements. Mark the inconsistency of my adversaries! What they arrogantly claim to themselves, for the exploits of others, they deny me for my own: and what reason do they give for it? why, truly this; because I have no images of my ancestors to show, and my nobility is no older than myself; which, certainly, it is more honourable for one to acquire himself than to debase that which he derives from his ancestors.
“I am sensible, Romans, that if they were to reply to what I now advance, they would do so with great eloquence and accuracy. Yet, as they have given a loose to their calumniating tongues on every occasion, not only against me, but likewise against you, ever since you have conferred this dignity on me, I was resolved to speak, lest some should impute my silence to a consciousness of my own guilt. Though I am abundantly satisfied that no words can injure me; since, if what is said to be true, it must be to my honour; if false, my life and conduct will confute it: but because your determination is blamed, in bestowing on me the highest dignity of the state, and trusting me with the conduct of affairs of such importance; I beseech you to consider whether you had not better alter your choice. I cannot, indeed, boast of the images, triumphs, or consulships of my ancestors, to raise your confidence in me; but, if it be necessary, I can show you spears, banners, collars of merit, and other military distinctions, besides a body scarred with honourable wounds. These are my statues! These the proofs of my nobility! not derived from ancestors, as theirs are, but such as I have myself acquired by many toils and dangers.
“My language too is unpolished; but that gives me small concern: virtue shows itself with sufficient clearness. They stand in need of the artful colourings of eloquence to hide the infamy of their actions. Nor have I been instructed in the Grecian literature: why, truly, I had little inclination to that kind of instruction, which did not improve the authors of it in the least degree of virtue. But I have learned other things far more useful to the state;—to wound the enemy; to watch; to dread nothing but infamy; equally to undergo cold and heat; to lie on the bare ground; and endure at the same time hunger and fatigue. These lessons shall animate my troops; nor shall I ever be rigorous to them and indulgent to myself; or borrow my glory from their toils. This is the mode of commanding most useful to the state; this is what suits the equality of citizens. To treat the army with severity while you indulge yourself in ease and pleasure is to act the tyrant, not the general.
“By conduct like this, our forefathers gained immortal honour both to themselves and the republic; while our nobility, though so unlike their ancestors in character, despise us who imitate them; and demand of you all public honours, not on account of their personal merit, but as due to their high rank. Arrogant men! but widely mistaken. Their ancestors left them every thing in their power to bequeath; their wealth, their images, their high renown: but their virtue they did not leave them, nor indeed could they; for it can neither be given nor received as a gift.
“They hold me to be unpolished and ill-bred, because I cannot entertain elegantly, have no buffoon, and pay no higher wages to my cook than to my steward; every part of which, Romans, I readily own: for I have learned from my father and other venerable persons that delicacy belongs to women, labour to men; that a virtuous man ought to have a larger share of glory than riches; and that arms are more ornamental than splendid furniture.
“But let them still pursue what is so dear and delightful to them; let them indulge in wine and pleasure; let them spend their old age, as they did their youth, in banqueting and the lowest sensual gratifications; let them leave the fatigues and dangers of the field to us, to whom they are more agreeable than the most elegant entertainments. But even this they will not do; for after having debased themselves by the practice of the foulest and most infamous vices, these most detestable of all men endeavour to deprive the brave of the rewards that are due to them. Thus, by the greatest injustice, luxury and idleness, the worst of vices, are no way prejudicial to those who are guilty of them; while they threaten the innocent commonwealth with unmerited ruin.
“Now, since I have answered these men as far as my own character was concerned, though not so fully as their infamous behaviour deserved, I shall add a few words concerning the state of public affairs. And first, Romans, be of good courage as to Numidia; since you have now removed all that hitherto secured Jugurtha; namely, the covetousness, incapacity, and haughtiness of our commanders. There is an army stationed in Africa, well acquainted with the country, but indeed less fortunate than brave; for a great portion of it has been destroyed by the rapaciousness and rashness of its commanders. Do you, therefore, who are of age to bear arms, join your efforts to mine, and assume the defence of the commonwealth; nor let the fate of others, or the haughtiness of the late commanders, discourage any of you: when you march, when you engage, I will always be with you to direct you how to act, and to share with you every danger. In a word, I shall desire you to act no otherwise in any instance than as you see me act. Moreover, all things are now ripe for us,—victory, spoil, and glory; and though they were uncertain or at a distance, it would still be the duty of every good citizen to assist the state. No man ever became immortal by inactivity; nor did ever any father wish his children might never die, but rather that they might live like useful and worthy men. I should add more to what I have already said, if words could inspire cowards with bravery; to the valiant I think I have said enough.”
Marius, having delivered this oration, and finding the minds of the people animated, ordered provisions, money, and other necessaries for the war, to be embarked with all possible expedition, and his lieutenant, Aulus Manlius, to proceed with them to Africa. Meanwhile he himself was employed in levying troops, accepting all who were inclined to volunteer, without observing the ancient method of enrolling those of certain classes only. The greater part of them consisted of such as were, on account of their poverty, exempted from bearing arms: which conduct some imputed to the scarcity of better men, others to a design of securing his interest with the rabble, to whom he first owed his reputation and then his advancement. He who aims at power will ever find the most needy the fittest instruments for his purpose. Possessing nothing they can call their own, they are wholly absorbed from the care of property, and think every thing honourable that is gainful.
Marius, embarking for Africa with a number of troops somewhat greater than had been decreed him, in a few days arrived at Utica, where the army was delivered over to him by Publius Rutilius, the lieutenant of Metellus, who hurried out of Africa, lest he should witness a sight, of which the bare intelligence had filled him with mortification.
The consul, having completed his legions and auxiliary cohorts, marched into a fertile country, abounding in plunder, which, without reserve, was bestowed on the soldiers. He then assailed such fortresses and towns as were neither very strong by nature nor well garrisoned, and had frequent skirmishes in different places. The new-raised soldiers thus learned to mingle in the combat without terror; they saw that cowardice was followed by captivity or death; that the bravest were the most secure; that by arms, our liberty, our country, our kindred were protected, and glory and riches acquired. Thus in a short time the new men vied with the veterans, and the bravery of both became equal.
The confederate kings, when they heard of the arrival of Marius, retired each into places difficult of access. This was the contrivance of Jugurtha, who by this means hoped that the enemy would disperse, and so afford him an opportunity of falling on them; supposing that the Romans would, like other men, become more remiss and licentious as their fears were removed.
Meanwhile Metellus, on his return to Rome, was received, contrary to his expectations, with the greatest demonstrations of joy and affection; being equally dear to the commons and senate, now that the popular odium had subsided.
Marius showed great activity and prudence in observing the enemy’s measures and pursuing his own; in considering what might tend to promote or obstruct either; informing himself of the separate marches of the two kings; and preventing all their machinations. He suffered no remissness in his own army, nor rest nor security in those of the kings; insomuch that, having frequently attacked both the Gætulians and Jugurtha as they were carrying off the plunder of our allies, he always put them to the rout; and even forced the king himself, not far from Cirta, to throw away his arms and trust to his horse for safety. But when he saw that these successes, however honourable, produced nothing decisive, he resolved to invest those places which, by the strength of their garrisons or situation, were advantageous to the enemy, or dangerous to himself; as Jugurtha would thus be stripped of all his strongholds, should he suffer them to be taken, or be brought to an engagement. Bocchus had already sent deputies to him, one after another, to signify his desire of the Roman friendship, and that no hostilities were to be apprehended from him. But whether this was mere pretence, that he might suddenly fall on the Romans with the greater chance of success; or whether it proceeded from the inconstancy of his temper, one while prompting him to war, another to peace, it is impossible to determine.
The consul, in pursuance of his design, advanced against the towns and fortresses of the Numidians, some of which he took by assault, and others were gained over by threats or promises. At first, indeed, his attempts were confined to inconsiderable places, in the belief that Jugurtha, in order to protect his subjects, would, ere long, venture on a battle; but finding that he kept at a distance, and was employed in other affairs, he thought it was time to enter on greater and more difficult enterprises.
There stood, in the midst of vast deserts, a strong and populous city called Capsa, said to have been founded by the Libyan Hercules. The citizens, by reason of the many immunities they enjoyed under Jugurtha, who exercised a gentle government over them, were thought to be faithfully devoted to him. They were secured against their enemies, not only by good fortifications, numbers of men, and magazines of arms, but much more so by the difficulty of approaching them; for the whole country round, except the fields adjoining to the town, was barren and uncultivated, without water, and infested with serpents, whose fury, like that of other noxious animals, is heightened by famine, and who, though naturally mischievous, are still more so when they are inflamed by thirst.
Marius had an ardent desire to master this place, not only on account of its importance for the purposes of war, but because of the difficulty of the undertaking: as an additional motive, too, Metellus had acquired great glory by taking Thala, a town that much resembled it in strength and situation, except that at Thala there were several springs not far from the town; but the inhabitants of Capsa had only a single fountain, and that within the city, without any other supply of water but from the heavens. The Capsians, like other rude inhabitants of Africa situated at a distance from the sea, the more easily supported this scarcity of water, as they live mostly on milk and the flesh of wild animals, without the use of salt, or, indeed, any other incentive to appetite: the sole purpose of eating and drinking among them being to satisfy the necessary demands of nature, and not to gratify luxury and intemperance.
The consul took all possible precautions in this undertaking; but relied, it is probable, on the gods for success; as human prudence could not sufficiently provide against so great difficulties. To his other discouragements was added a scarcity of corn, the Numidians applying themselves more to grazing than tillage: besides which the grain had been carried off, by the king’s orders, into fortified places; and as it was the end of summer, the ground was parched and yielded no produce. He acted, however, considering his condition, with great prudence and foresight. The cattle which he had taken some days before, he committed to the auxiliary cavalry to conduct; and ordered his lieutenant, A. Manlius, to march with the light cohorts to the city Laris, where he had placed his provisions and military chest; informing him that he was going in pursuit of plunder, and would join him in a few days. Thus concealing his design, he directed his march to the river Tana.
In his march, he daily distributed cattle among the companies of foot and troops of horse in equal proportion, and took care to have bottles made of hides: thus he made the want of corn of less importance, and provided such utensils as were soon to become necessary, while all were ignorant of his intentions.
On the sixth day they reached the river, and a great number of bottles was found to be prepared. Having pitched his camp, and fortified it slightly, he ordered his men to refresh themselves, that they might be ready to march at sunset; and likewise to lay aside all their baggage, and load themselves and their beasts of burden with water only. At the time appointed he decamped, and marching the whole night, encamped again in the morning. The following evening he observed the same method, and arrived, on the third morning, long before dawn, at a place diversified with small hills, about two miles from Capsa, where he passed the remaining part of the night, concealing his forces with the greatest possible care.
As soon as day appeared, and the Numidians, under no apprehensions of an enemy, had many of them left the town, he instantly ordered the whole of his cavalry with the most active of his light cohorts, to hasten to Capsa, and secure the gates. He himself followed with great despatch, not suffering any of his men to stray for plunder. When the inhabitants perceived this, the great consternation with which they were seized, the unexpected calamity that befell them, and the consideration that many of their fellow-citizens were without the walls, and at the mercy of the enemy, induced them to surrender. Their city, however, was burnt; the youth put to the sword; all the rest sold as slaves; and the plunder given to the soldiers. This severe curse, contrary to the laws of war, was not occasioned by the avarice or cruelty of the consul; but was adopted, because the place was very advantageous to Jugurtha, and of difficult access, and the citizens an inconstant and perfidious race, not to be curbed by favours or terrors.
After Marius had executed so bold an enterprise without loss, his name, great and renowned before, was now magnified to a still greater height: even his faults passed for virtues, and his rashness was regarded as proof of superior genius. The soldiers, being under a gentle command, and withal enriched by him, extolled him to the skies; the Numidians dreaded him as more than mortal: in short, both allies and enemies believed he had either the spirit of a deity, or that the gods assisted him in all his purposes.
Encouraged by this success, the consul advanced against other towns; in taking some of which he met with opposition from the Numidians; but most of them were deserted by their inhabitants, who dreaded the tragical fate of Capsa: those he burned to the ground. Thus the country was filled with massacre and lamentation. At length, having made himself master of many places, and most of them without loss, he engaged in another enterprise, less hazardous than that of Capsa, but equally difficult in its accomplishment.
Not far from the river of Mulucha, which separated the kingdoms of Jugurtha and Bocchus, there stood, in the midst of a plain, a small fort, on a rock of considerable breadth, and of prodigious height, naturally as steep on every side as art or labour could render it; but it had no access, except at one place, and that was by means of a narrow path. As the king’s treasure was deposited in this place, Marius exerted his utmost efforts to reduce it; and succeeded more by accident than by prudent management.
The castle was abundantly provided with men, arms, provisions, and a spring of water; its situation rendered it impossible to make use of mounds and turrets, and the machinery usually employed in a siege; the path to it was very narrow, with a precipice on each side; the moving galleries were pushed forward with infinite hazard, and to no purpose; for when they advanced towards the garrison, they were either destroyed by fire or crushed by prodigious stones. The soldiers could neither maintain their footing, nor make use of their batteries, without exposing themselves to continual danger. The most adventurous were either slain or wounded, and the rest were greatly discouraged.
Marius, having thus spent many toilsome days, now hesitated whether he should abandon his enterprise, which had proved unsuccessful, or wait the interposition of fortune, which had so frequently befriended him. While these reflections day and night occupied his mind, a Ligurian, a common soldier of the auxiliary cohorts, who had gone out of the camp in search of water, happened to observe, not far from the opposite side of the castle, some perriwinkles creeping among the rocks; gathering one, then another, and still climbing to procure more, he was led insensibly almost to the top of the mountain; where, perceiving all was quiet in that quarter, the natural desire of viewing unknown objects prompted him to proceed.
It chanced that an oak-tree, of considerable magnitude, here grew out of the side of the rock, and bending its trunk downwards near the root, then taking a turn, mounted upwards, as is natural to trees in such situations.
By the help of this, the Ligurian, by laying hold of the branches of the tree or of the prominences of the rock, was at length enabled to survey the whole plan of the castle, without being disturbed by the Numidians, who were all engaged on that side on which the attack had been made. Having carefully examined whatever he thought would be useful to him in the execution of his design, he returned the same way, not hastily, as he went up, but pausing at every step, and observing every thing with the utmost care.
On his return to the camp, he hastened to Marius, informed him of what he had done, pressed him to make an attempt on the castle on that side where he himself had mounted, and promised that he would lead the way, and be the first to face the danger. Marius despatched some of those who attended him, accompanied by the Ligurian, to examine the spot; and although their reports varied as to the facility or the difficulty of the undertaking, the consul, encouraged by the hope of success, determined to make the attempt. He accordingly selected, from among the trumpeters and cornet-blowers of the line, five of the most active and enterprising men, together with four centurions to support them; and, putting the whole under the command of the Ligurian, he ordered them to be in readiness to set out on the following day.
At the time appointed, the party left the camp, having previously taken such measures as were necessary for the expedition. The centurions, according to the instructions which they had received from their guide, had changed their arms and dress, and marched with their head and feet bare, that they might have the freer prospect, and climb with more facility. Their swords and bucklers were slung across their shoulders; the latter of which were of the Numidian kind, and covered with hides, as well for the sake of lightness, as that all noise might be avoided, if they struck against the rock.
The Ligurian, leading the way, fixed cords about the stones, and such roots of trees as appeared proper for the purpose, to assist the soldiers in climbing; stretching his hand, from time to time, to such as were discouraged at so rugged a march. When the ascent was more steep than ordinary, he would send them up before him unarmed, and then follow himself with their arms. Wherever it appeared more dangerous to climb, he went foremost; and by ascending and descending several times, encouraged the rest to follow him, and retired to make way for them. At length, after much tedious labour, they gained the castle, which was quite naked on that side, the Numidians being all employed in the opposite quarter.
When Marius was informed of the success of the Ligurian, although he had kept the garrison employed the whole of the day by a continued attack, he now, encouraging the soldiers, sallied from under the moving galleries, and drawing up his men into the form of a shell, rushed forward to the castle; while the slingers and archers poured their volleys from a distance, and the engines incessantly played on the besieged. The Numidians, who had often before broken to pieces and even burned the Roman galleries, did not now defend themselves within their battlements, but passed whole days and nights without their walls, rallied at the efforts of the Romans; upbraided Marius with madness; and, in the height of their exultation, threatened to make our men slaves of Jugurtha.
While both sides were warmly engaged in this vigorous struggle for glory and empire on the one hand, and life and liberty on the other, the trumpets on a sudden sounded in the enemy’s rear. The women and children, who had come out to see the engagement, first fled in dismay; after them such as were nearest the walls; and at last the whole, armed and unarmed, fairly gave way. The Romans now pressed onward with greater vigour, overthrowing the enemy, and wounding most of them; then advancing over the heaps of slain, they flew to the walls, all thirsting for glory, and each striving to be foremost, without regard to plunder. Thus did accidental success justify the rashness of Marius, while his imprudence contributed to heighten his glory.
During this transaction, Lucius Sylla, the quæstor, arrived in the camp with a great body of horse, having been left at Rome by Marius, to raise them in Latium and among our allies. And here, as this circumstance has led me to make mention of so extraordinary a man, it may not be improper to give some account of his genius and character; especially as no other occasion may present itself for that purpose; and as Sisenna, the best and most accurate of all those who have given us his history, does not appear to me to have spoken of him with sufficient freedom.
Sylla was descended from an eminent patrician family; but the lustre of which was almost wholly obscured by the degeneracy of his later ancestors. His mind, beyond question, was of a superior cast; and it was cultivated by a perfect knowledge of Greek and Roman learning. Fond of pleasure, but still fonder of glory, he was in the intervals of leisure addicted to luxury; but he never suffered pleasure to encroach on weightier concerns, nor to usurp an undue ascendency, if we except the occasion of his divorce, when even decency gave way to superstition and luxury. He was eloquent, artful, easy, and obliging in his friendships; yet highly capable of disguising his real designs; liberal of every thing, especially of his money. He was indeed the most fortunate of men, before his success in the civil wars; yet his fortune never surpassed his merit; and by some it has been made a question, whether he was more brave or more fortunate. As to his conduct after the civil war, I know not how it is to be recounted, whether with greater shame or horror.
When Sylla went into Africa, and had joined Marius in his camp, though he was before wholly unacquainted with the military art, yet in a short time he became a very able officer. He was, moreover, very affable to the soldiers; ever ready to grant them favours; unwilling to receive benefits himself, but more forward to repay them than if they had been a debt of money; would never receive any return for the favours he bestowed, but rather aimed to attach mankind to him by his obliging conduct. He often entered into conversation with the common soldiers, talking sometimes jocosely, sometimes seriously; was with them on every occasion, in their marches, in their works, and in their watchings; nor did he, in the mean time, wound the character of the consul, or any other worthy person, according to the base practice of those who are actuated by ambition; striving assiduously to suffer none to surpass him in counsel or action, in both which he excelled most others. By this conduct and these qualifications, he was in a short time greatly beloved by Marius and the whole army.
Jugurtha, after the loss of Capsa and other strong and important places, together with a great portion of his treasure, sent messengers to Bocchus, pressing him to hasten his march into Numidia; for that this was a proper time to give the enemy battle. But finding him irresolute, and weighing the motives for peace and those for war, he gained over his confidants by money, as he had formerly done; and even promised the Moor himself the third part of Numidia, on condition that the Romans were either driven out of Africa, or recovered his whole dominions by a treaty of peace. Bocchus, tempted with such an offer, marched immediately to Jugurtha.
When both armies were joined, they fell on Marius, as he was going into winter cantonments, towards the close of the evening; persuading themselves, that if they were worsted, the night would serve to cover their retreat; if victorious, that it would be no disadvantage to them, since they were so well acquainted with the country; whereas the darkness would increase the confusion, and add to the distress of the Romans, whatever might be the issue of the battle.
The enemy was already in full view, just as the consul was receiving manifold information of their approach; and before the army could be formed or the baggage drawn together, nay, before the signal or any orders could be given, the Moorish and Gætulian horse poured down on them; not in due order, or agreeably to any regular method, but in irregular troops or masses, as chance had collected them together. The Romans, though alarmed at so unexpected an onset, yet mindful of their former bravery, boldly grasped their arms, all ready to encounter the enemy, or defend those who were yet unarmed. Some of them mounted their horses, and advanced against the foe. The whole action more resembled an encounter with banditti than a regular battle; horse and foot were jumbled together, without standards or ranks; some were cut to pieces, others were mangled; many, while they were engaging the foe vigorously in front, were themselves attacked in the rear; neither courage nor arms were a sufficient security; for the enemy, being far more numerous, surrounded us on all sides.
At last the Romans, wherever they happened to meet in parties, both the veterans and new-raised soldiers (for they too had learned war by practice and example), threw themselves into circular bodies; and thus, having a front every way, they sustained the shock of the enemy.
In this emergency, the spirit of Marius was not in the least daunted, nor his courage more sunk than on former occasions; but with his own troop, which he had filled up with men of the greatest bravery, without any regard to personal friendship in the choice of them, he darted through the field, one while succouring his own men in distress, another charging the thickest of the enemy in person; and, by the use of his sword, rendering important services, since it was impossible for him to act the part of a general amid such a scene of confusion.
By this time night approached, and the Barbarians as yet relaxed nothing of their impetuosity. Agreeably to the orders of the two kings, who considered the darkness an advantage to them, they charged with still greater ardour. Marius, therefore, as the best measure his circumstances would admit of, in order to secure a place of refuge for his army, resolved to take possession of two hills near each other; one of which, though not sufficiently large to encamp on, produced a copious spring of water: the other was of more ample circuit, and more suitable for the purpose, being very lofty and steep, and requiring but little fortification. Here he ordered Sylla to pass the night by the spring, with his cavalry; and having by degrees collected his scattered troops (the enemy being still in no less confusion), he gained possession of the other eminence. The two kings, although discouraged by the difficulty of the ascent from making any further attack, did not suffer their forces to retire; but investing both the heights with their disorderly multitudes, encamped in that extended circuit. The Barbarians, according to their custom, passed most of the night in rioting and merriment. Frantic with joy, they kindled numerous fires, and wildly danced round them, rending the air with savage yells. Their leaders, too, were highly elated, and behaved like conquerors, because they had been enabled to maintain their ground.
All this was easily perceived by the Romans, who were posted on the heights, and gave them no slight encouragement. The confidence of Marius being increased by the unskilful conduct of the enemy, he ordered a profound silence to be kept, not even suffering the trumpets to sound, as usual, when the guard was changed; and as soon as day appeared, while the enemy were now weary and just fallen asleep, he directed all the trumpets, both of horse and foot, throughout the army, to sound at once, and the soldiers to pour down on the enemy with a terrible shout. The Moors and Gætulians, suddenly aroused from their slumber, and seized with consternation at a tumult so wild and horrible, could neither fly nor take arms; they were utterly incapable to act, or to contrive any thing for their own security; and wholly overpowered with the uproar, the confusion, and the tremendousness of the assault,—severely pressed on all sides by the fury of their adversaries, without receiving any assistance from their own leaders,—they were completely routed, and put to flight. Most of their arms and military standards were taken; and their loss in this battle exceeded that which they had experienced in all their former engagements.
Marius now pursued his march into his winter cantonments, which he had determined to fix in the maritime districts, for the sake of provisions. In the mean time, his late victory made him neither remiss nor imperious; but, as if the enemy had been in view, he marched with his army in form of a square. Sylla commanded the cavalry on the right; Aulus Manlius, with the slingers and archers, as also the Ligurian cohorts, on the left: in the front and rear he posted the tribunes with the light-armed foot. The deserters, being of small account, were employed to observe the motions of the enemy, as they were perfectly well acquainted with the country. The consul, as though he had committed no share of the command to any other, carefully attended to every thing himself, went to every quarter, applauding some, reprimanding others, according to their merits; and as he was constantly armed and ready for action himself, he obliged others to adopt a similar precaution. Nor was he less cautious in fortifying his camp: he committed the guard of the gates to the cohorts of the legions, and that without the gates to the auxiliary horse, placing others on the lines and ramparts, and visiting them all in person: not from any distrust that discipline was relaxed, or that his orders were neglected; but he well knew that fatigue and hardship would be borne by the soldiers with greater cheerfulness when they saw the general take an equal share. In the whole course of the war against Jugurtha, Marius maintained good order in the army more by the shame of offending than the fear of punishment: a line of conduct which some imputed to his passion for popularity; while others alleged that, being inured to hardships from his childhood, he took pleasure in habits of fatigue, which others would have been most anxious to escape. This much, however, is certain; the affairs of the state were managed with as much success and dignity as if his command had been ever so rigorous.
On the fourth day after the battle, when they were not far from Cirta, the scouts appeared on all sides, advancing with great haste; whence it was concluded that the enemy were not far distant: but as they returned from different quarters, yet all with the same account, the consul, without making any alteration in the disposition of his army, resolved to wait the coming of the enemy in the same order which he had preserved on his march. This disconcerted Jugurtha, who had divided his troops into four parts, flattering himself that some of them must certainly attack the Romans in the rear with advantage.
Sylla, on whom the enemy first fell, having encouraged his men, charged the Moors at the head of some troops in as close order as possible; the rest, without moving from their ground, defended themselves from the darts thrown at a distance, and cut to pieces all who ventured to come up to close with them.
During this engagement of the horse, Bocchus attacked our rear with a body of infantry brought up by his son Volux, who had not advanced with sufficient expedition to be present at the former battle. Marius was then in the front, making head against Jugurtha, who fought there with a numerous force. But the Numidian prince, when he heard of the arrival of Bocchus, wheeled about with a few attendants towards our infantry, and called aloud to our men in Latin (which he learned to speak at the siege of Numantia), “that they fought to no purpose, as he had just before slain Marius with his own hand;” and at the same time brandishing his sword died with the blood of a legionary soldier slain by him in the encounter with great bravery. Struck with horror at intelligence so disastrous, rather than putting trust in the veracity of the author of it, the troops stood aghast; while the Barbarians, with redoubled vigour, pressed on the Romans, who were disheartened, and on the point of betaking themselves to flight, when Sylla, having routed those with whom he had been engaged, fell on the Moors in their flank; on which Bocchus gave ground, and betook himself to flight.
Jugurtha, while he endeavoured to rally his men, and to maintain the advantage he had gained, was enclosed both on the right and left by our horse; when, by a desperate effort, he broke singly through the enemy, and escaped amid a shower of darts. By this time Marius, who had routed the cavalry, came to the relief of that division of the army which was said to be giving way, and by his presence helped to complete the victory.
The field now displayed a shocking spectacle of carnage and destruction; some flying, others pursuing; some killed, others taken prisoners; horses and men prostrate in the agonies of death: many covered with wounds and striving to escape, yet falling to the ground in the fruitless endeavour. Along the plain, as far as the eye could reach, nothing was to be seen but swords, and javelins, and bucklers, amid the carcasses of the slain; and the earth died with human gore.
The consul, now undoubtedly conqueror, pursued his march to Cirta, as he at first intended. Here, five days after the defeat of the Barbarians, deputies arrived from Bocchus, requesting of him, in the name of the king their master, to despatch two persons in whom he could confide, that he might treat with them on matters which concerned his own interest and that of the Roman people. The consul, without delay, sent Sylla and Manlius, who, although the king had solicited the embassy, yet thought proper to take the lead in opening the conference, in order to dispose him to peace, if he appeared adverse to it; or, if he were really inclined to it, to strengthen that disposition. Accordingly Sylla, to whom Manlius gave precedence, in consideration of his eloquence, and not of his seniority, thus briefly addressed himself to Bocchus:—
“It is a great pleasure to us, King Bocchus, that the gods have disposed a prince of your merit to prefer peace to war, and no longer to stain your own distinguished character by uniting with Jugurtha, the most profligate of mankind; since you have thus delivered us from the disagreeable necessity of pursuing you both with the like vengeance: you, for the too easy credulity with which you have rendered him assistance; and him, for his enormous crimes. The Roman people, even in the infancy of their state, when their territory was but limited, always deemed it better policy to procure friends than subjects; thinking it safer to rule over such as yielded a willing obedience, than those who obeyed only through compulsion.
“Nor can any alliance be more truly advantageous to you than ours: one great reason for which is, that we are placed at so great a distance from you, that you cannot be apprehensive of receiving any injuries from us; and yet we are ready to be as serviceable to you, as though we were your neighbours. As another inducement, our subjects are sufficiently numerous, and we are only anxious to increase the number of our friends, of whom neither we nor any other state ever had enough.
“Happy had it been for yourself, had you earlier adopted the present course: and in that case you would certainly, before now, have received more benefits from the Roman people, than you have suffered calamities from their arms. But since it is the determination of Fortune, which overrules the greatest part of human affairs, that you should make trial of the force of our enmity, as well as of our friendship, embrace quickly the occasion she now offers, and accomplish speedily what you have now begun. You have many opportunities, and many things in your power, for retrieving your past conduct by future services. To conclude: be firmly persuaded of this, that the Romans are never to be surpassed in generosity: of their prowess in war you have already had sufficient experience.”
To this address Bocchus returned a very courteous answer, making at the same time a brief apology for his misconduct; and alleging, “that he had recourse to arms from no hostile intention, but purely to defend his own territories; that he could not remain an indifferent spectator of the progress of Marius, who had lain waste that part of Numidia which was his own by the right of war, having conquered it from Jugurtha; that he had formerly sent ambassadors to Rome, to solicit her friendship and alliance, but was rejected; yet, that as he was unwilling to dwell on the past, he would again send deputies to the senate, if permitted to do so by Marius.”
When this offer was laid before the consul, he readily assented to the proposition; but the mind of the Barbarian was again changed by such of his confidants as were corrupted by presents from Jugurtha; who, when informed that Sylla and Manlius had been sent to Bocchus, naturally apprehended that their visit portended no good to his cause.
Marius, meanwhile, having settled his army in winter cantonments, marched into the deserts with a detachment of light-armed cohorts and part of his cavalry, with intent to besiege a castle belonging to Jugurtha, in which he had placed all the Roman deserters to defend the garrison. During this siege, Bocchus, either reflecting on his late defeats, or wrought on by some others of his confidants, whom Jugurtha had not already corrupted, resumed his former sentiments, and chose from among his friends five ambassadors, and chose from among his friends five ambassadors, of proved integrity and eminent abilities: these he ordered to go to Marius, and afterward, if he should think proper, to Rome; giving them full powers to negotiate affairs, and end the war on any terms.
The ambassadors departed speedily for the winter-quarters of the Romans; but being beset on the road, and stripped of all they had, by Gætulian robbers, they pursued their march to Sylla, whom the consul, when he began his expedition, had left with the rank of proprætor. Sylla received them not as faithless enemies, but in a respectful and generous manner; with which the Barbarians were so much pleased, that they discredited all they had heard of the avarice of the Romans, and concluded Sylla to be their friend, from his munificence towards them: for many were still ignorant, in those days, that bounties were ever bestowed from interested views; every generous man being then thought benevolent, and all presents to proceed from kindness.
Before Sylla, therefore, they laid their orders from Bocchus, beseeching him at the same time to assist them with his advice and good offices. They also spoke in high terms of the wealth, honour, and power of their king, forgetting nothing which they thought would be subservient to their design, or tend to gain the favour of the quæstor. When Sylla had promised all they desired, and instructed them in what manner to address Marius, and afterward the senate, they still remained there about forty days.
Marius, unsuccessful in his enterprise, now returned to Cirta; and being informed of the arrival of the ambassadors, he sent for them to his head-quarters, together with Sylla. He likewise summoned Lucius Bellienus the prætor from Utica, with every other person of senatorian rank, to take into consideration the proposals of Bocchus, whose deputies were at length permitted to proceed to Rome, and, at their request, a cessation of arms was granted until they should return. Sylla and the greater part of the council approved of this measure; but there were a few who, unacquainted with the nature of human affairs, forgot that they are ever fluctuating and inconstant, and often for the worse, proposed harsher measures.
The Moors having thus far succeeded, three of them proceeded to Rome, with C. Octavius Rufo, who had come into Africa as quæstor, with money for the army; two returned to the king, who heard with pleasure the account they gave him of all that had passed, and especially of the kindness of Sylla, and the many demonstrations of friendship they had received from him.
On their arrival at Rome, they implored pardon of the senate for the misconduct of the king, into which, they said, he had fallen through the artifices of Jugurtha, and desiring to be admitted into friendship and alliance, received the following answer: “That the senate and people of Rome were always mindful both of favours and injuries; that they were willing to pardon Bocchus, because he repented of his transgression, and would admit him into friendship and alliance when his conduct and services deserved it.”
When Bocchus received this intelligence, he wrote to Marius, requesting that Sylla might be sent to him, through whose counsel and advice matters might be adjusted between them. Sylla was accordingly sent, with a guard of horse and foot, composed of Balearian slingers, a certain number of archers, and a cohort from Pelignum, with light arms for the sake of expedition; which however secured them, and enabled them to resist the light weapons of the enemy.
On the fifth say of their march, Volux, the son of Bocchus, appeared on a sudden in the open plains at the head of a thousand horse, who, advancing hastily and without any regularity, appeared to be still more numerous, and caused Sylla and his party to suspect they were enemies. Impressed with that idea, the troops instantly made ready their arms, and put themselves in a posture of defence. They were not, indeed, without apprehension; but their hopes preponderated, as the contest was to be with adversaries with whom they had often contended, and as frequently defeated. In the mean time, the horsemen who were sent to reconnoitre them returned with tidings which removed all their apprehensions.
Volux immediately rode up, and, addressing himself to the quæstor, informed him that he was sent forward by his father to receive and to guard him. Accordingly, they continued their march together for that and the following day without alarm; but in the evening, when they had already pitched their camp, the Moorish prince ran to Sylla with an air of consternation, and told him with trepidation that he had just learned from his scouts, “that Jugurtha was near at hand;” at the same time asking and entreating the quæstor “to fly away with him privately in the night.” To which Sylla resolutely replied, “that he was not afraid of the Numidian, whom he had so often vanquished; that he did not distrust the courage of his troops; and that, were he sure of meeting certain destruction, he would stand his ground, rather than basely fly, and betray those who were placed under his command, merely to save a life at best but of precarious tenure, and which might perhaps in a short time become the victim of disease.”
Volux, however, proposing to him to march in the night-time, he approved of the measure; and immediately ordered his men to make a great number of fires in the camp, after they had taken some refreshment, and then to march silently at the first watch of the night. Next morning about sunrise, when they were all thoroughly fatigued with their march, as Sylla was about to encamp, the Moorish horsemen acquainted him that Jugurtha had pitched his camp about two miles distant. On hearing this, our men were seized with great consternation, believing themselves betrayed and led into an ambush by Volux; and some even proposed that he should be put to death, declaring that such perfidy called aloud for vengeance.
Sylla, although he entertained the same suspicion as others, would not suffer his men to offer any violence to the prince. He exhorted them “to be firm and courageous; reminded them that a few brave troops had often prevailed against a numerous army; that the less they spared themselves in battle, the more secure they would be; that those who had arms in their hands should never seek refuge in flight; nor in the midst of danger turn their backs, which were blind and defenceless, towards the weapons of the enemy.” Then, invoking the mighty Jove to bear testimony to the guilt and treachery of Bocchus, he ordered Volux to depart from the camp, as one who had hostile intentions.
The prince, with tears in his eyes, entreated him “not to entertain any such suspicion; that nothing of this had happened by any treachery on his part, but rather through the subtlety of Jugurtha, who, being constantly in quest of intelligence, had discovered his route. However, as he had no great force with him, and depended entirely on Bocchus for strength and support, he did not imagine that he would dare to make any open attempt, where the son of Bocchus must be witness to it; so that he thought his best course would be to march boldly through the middle of his camp. That for himself, he would either order his men to lead the way, or halt them there, and then proceed alone, in company with Sylla.”
In such an extremity, this proposal was approved of. Accordingly, they immediately advanced, and passed without molestation; Jugurtha being surprised at their unexpected conduct, and not having time to form any resolution. In a few days after, they reached their destination.
There was at that time a certain Numidian, called Aspar, in the court of Bocchus, with whom he enjoyed great freedom and familiarity, and who had been despatched thither by Jugurtha, on the rumour of Sylla’s journey, in order to promote his interest, and to pry narrowly into all the designs of Bocchus. There was also one Dabar in his court, the son of Massugrada, and descended from Masinissa, but of extraction inferior by the mother’s side, as he himself had been born of a concubine. Bocchus, whose favour and confidence he had gained by his many excellent accomplishments, having found him on many former occasions a true friend to the Romans, despatched him forthwith to Sylla to acquaint him, “that he was ready to comply with whatever the Romans required; that Sylla himself might appoint the day, the place, and even the hour of the conference; that he had reserved every thing to be adjusted by himself and Sylla; that the presence of an ambassador from Jugurtha ought not to give him umbrage, since he was admitted to the negotiation with the sole view of facilitating it, as it was impossible by any other means to defeat the dark measures of the Numidian prince.”
But it appears, from every fact which can be learned, that Bocchus acted more like a perfidious African than agreeably to his professions, amusing both the Romans and Jugurtha with hopes of peace; that he frequently debated within himself whether he should deliver up Jugurtha to the Romans, or Sylla to Jugurtha; and that he was hostile to us in his heart, but his fears operated in our favour.
In answer to the message by Dabar, Sylla replied, “that he should say but little in the presence of Aspar, reserving what he might desire to add to be communicated in secret to the king alone, or at least in the presence of very few:” instructing Dabar at the same time as to the answer which he expected to receive from Bocchus, in the presence of others. When the time appointed for the conference arrived, Sylla declared, “that he came by order of the consul, to know his final resolution as to peace or war.”
The king, agreeably to his instructions, desired Sylla to return in about ten days, when he should have a decisive answer, for that as yet he had not been able to come to a determination. On this, both departed to their respective camps.
But when the night was far advanced, Bocchus sent privately for Sylla; none were admitted on either side but trusty interpreters, except Dabar, a man of strict honour, who mediated between them, and was sworn, by mutual consent, to make faithful representations to each. On which the king thus began:
“I never imagined, that I, the most powerful prince in this part of the world, and the richest of all those I know, should ever be under obligations to a private person. And indeed, Sylla, before I knew you, I have often assisted great numbers at their own request, and many of my own accord, but never stood in need of a return. The case is now altered; an alteration for which others usually mourn, but in which I rejoice. I shall always glory once to have had occasion for you friendship, which I value above every thing. And as a proof of my sincerity, accept of my forces, my arms, my money, and whatever else you desire; use them as your own; and after all, never think, so long as you live, that I have made you a sufficient requital for your favours. My gratitude shall still continue the same; nor shall you ever desire any thing in vain that is in my power to grant: for, in my opinion, it is more dishonourable for a prince to be outdone in generosity, than vanquished in arms.
“As to the affairs of your commonwealth, whose interests you are come hither to take care of, hear what I have briefly to say. I never made war on the Roman people; nor so much as intended it: I only defended my own dominions against an armed force that came to invade them; and now, since it is your pleasure, I shall desist. Carry on the war with Jugurtha just as you think proper. I shall never pass the river Mulucha, the boundary between me and Micipsa, nor suffer Jugurtha to come over to my side. If you have any thing further to ask worthy of Bocchus and your republic, it shall be granted you.”
Sylla returned a brief and modest reply to all that related to himself; on the business of peace, and the object of the negotiation, he enlarged with eloquence and ability. He told the king, “that the proposition he had made could not be considered in the light of a favour by the senate and people of Rome, who, having evinced themselves superior in arms, might claim it as their right. He must do something that would appear more for their benefit than for his own,—an easy task, as he had Jugurtha in his power: and if he would deliver him up to the Romans, they would then be greatly indebted to him, and admit him freely to their friendship and alliance, with a grant of that part of Numidia which he claimed.”
The king at first refused this condition, urging the ties of blood, those of affinity, and existing solemn leagues; alleging, too, that he was apprehensive lest, by acting so treacherously, he should lose the affections of his own subjects, who loved Jugurtha, and abhorred the Romans. But yielding at last to the importunity of Sylla, he reluctantly consented to all that was required of him.
Measures were then concerted for carrying on the semblance of a negotiation for peace, in which Jugurtha, now quite weary of the war, was solicitous to be included. Having thus laid their plot, they parted.
Bocchus next day summoned before him Aspar, Jugurtha’s minister, and informed him, that in consequence of an overture, through Dabar, from Sylla, the war might now be concluded on proper terms: he should therefore go and discover the sentiments of his master. Aspar hastened with joy to Jugurtha’s camp; and having received ample instructions, returned with expedition to Bocchus, in eight days, and represented to him, “that Jugurtha was disposed to comply with whatever was required of him; but that he could not rely on Marius, as he had often made treaties of peace with the Roman generals, which were never ratified at Rome. If Bocchus wished to consult, not only Jugurtha’s interest, but his own, and to secure a peace both permanent and advantageous, he would procure a meeting of all the parties, under pretence of conferring respecting the terms of it, and then deliver Sylla into his hands. Were they once in possession of a person of such importance, a treaty of peace would then be concluded by order of the senate and people of Rome, who would never suffer one of his quality to remain in the hands of an enemy, into which he had fallen, not through ill conduct, but in the performance of his duty to the state.”
The Moor, after having long reflected on this proposal, at length assented; but whether sincerely, or with a view to render Jugurtha the dupe of his own artifice, it is not easy to determine. The inclinations of princes, indeed, as they are generally violent, so they are unsteady, and often inconsistent. Time and place being now appointed for a treaty, Bocchus one while conferred with Sylla, another with Jugurtha’s minister; caressed each, and flattered them separately with the same prospect of success.
On the night preceding the day fixed for the treaty, the Moor, calling his friends together, then suddenly changing his sentiments, and dismissing them, is reported to have had many violent struggles within himself; insomuch, that his frequent changes of countenance, and external agitations, clearly discovered, notwithstanding his silence, the various emotions of his mind. At length he resolved, sent for Sylla, and, in concert with him, gave final orders for preparing an ambush for the Numidian king.
When the day dawned, and intelligence was brought of Jugurtha’s approach, Bocchus went forth to meet him, attended by Sylla and a few of his own courtiers, under pretence of doing him honour, as far as a small eminence, in full view of the troops who were posted in secret. The Numidian prince, according to agreement, came wholly unarmed, with many of his friends and dependants; and immediately, on a signal given, those who lay in wait to seize him rushed forward and surrounded the place. All his attendants were put to the sword, and he himself delivered over in chains to Sylla, who conducted him to the camp of Marius.
About this period, in Gaul, ill success and discomfiture had attended our arms. Quintus Cæpio and Marcus Silanus, who commanded in that province, had been defeated by the Cimbri, the terror of whose name began to fill all Italy with consternation. From that period down to the present times, it is certain that, while other nations yielded to our valour, our contests with the Gauls furnished no subject for glory: as, instead of being subdued, they were with difficulty restrained within their own frontier.
When intelligence reached Rome of the successful issue of the war against Jugurtha, and that that prince was coming over from Africa in chains, Marius, though absent, was elected consul for the second time, and soon had the province of Gaul assigned him. On the first of January, the day on which he entered into office, he triumphed with extraordinary splendour; and thus the hopes and the resources of his country were centred in the efforts of a single man.
- Numidia, according to Sallust, seems to correspond with the modern kingdom of Algiers: none of the descriptions of this country given by ancient geographers convey an accurate idea of it.
- The historian here alludes to the cruel wars between Marius and Sylla.
- This prince was eminent for his pacific as well as warlike virtues. Before his time, agriculture and the arts were almost unknown in Numidia.
- Jugurtha, it is probable, was born in the year of Rome 595, two years before the birth of Caius Marius not long before the commencement of the third Punic war.
- The siege of Numantia, the chief city of the Celtiberians, was one of the most memorable recorded in Roman history. Polybius and Strabo make its duration nearly twenty years.
- Micipsa died at Cirta, A. U. C. 635, after having reigned thirty years.
- Livy, in his account of the death of Hiempsal, states that Jugurtha made war against the young prince, and, having conquered and taken him prisoner, ordered him to be put to death.
- The speech of Adherbal exhibits a picture of the mild and amiable character of this injured prince, contrasted with that of Jugurtha, who, even in the infancy of his career, felt no restraint from any tie, divine or human.
- This geographical account of Africa, from the pen of Sallust, has been highly extolled: he had been governor of that province, and had the best opportunities of investigating both the situation of the different countries, and the history of the people by whom they were inhabited.
- In the time of Cæsar, this Hiempsal reigned over a part of Numidia, and was succeeded by his son Juba.
- Fabulous heroes of this name were numerous among the ancients: some writers enumerate three; Cicero six; and Varro no less than forty-three. According to Virgil and Livy, Hercules travelled from Spain to Italy.
- Tents, or portable cottages, covered with straw, and round in shape, according to Cato. St. Jerome represents them as shaped like ovens; but they were probably of an oblong figure.
- This celebrated city was founded by Cadmus, about 1233 years before the Christian era, and forty-nine after the memorable siege of Troy. In later ages, the Carthaginians possessed great maritime strength, and their dominion extended over the whole coast of Africa, the best part of Spain and Sicily, Sardinia, and several smaller islands. The city was destroyed by the younger Scipio Africanus, 1080 years from the time of Cadmus; was rebuilt by Augustus, as a Roman colony, and finally demolished by the Saracens, in the seventh century.
- Now a part of the kingdom of Tripoli.
- Two bays or gulfs of the Mediterranean, mentioned by most ancient writers as extremely dangerous to mariners. Horace alludes to them in his ode to Augustus on the battle of Actium; and the frightful notions entertained of them by the ancients are described in the fourth book of the Argonautics of Apollonius Rhodius; where the poet conducts the sacred vessel, with his heroes, to the dangerous and inhospitable shores of Libya. The following spirited version of this passage is from the pen of Mr. Preston:
Full in their view the land of Pelops lay:
When northern blasts arose with furious sway.
Nine dreadful nights the storm incessant roars;
As many days it rends the Libyan shores.
The driving winds the helm, the pilot scorn:—
Near the fell Syrtes is the vessel borne.
There shifting sands the lab’ring bark embay;
Thence never crew pursued the homeward way.
A hideous tract the slimy marshes spread:
The putrid waves are motionless and dead:
A treacherous depth of seeming land is seen,
Devouring water, cloth’d in fraudful green.
Along the brine a spume corrupted lies,
And pestilential vapours load the skies.
Inhospitably rise the sandy heaps.
No bird has dwelling there, no thing that creeps.
The winds, conspiring with the refluent surge,
On these unhappy shoals the vessel urge;
Where tides resistless, with alternate roar,
Now to the main return, now break upon the shore.
Part of the keel within the wave remained;
The greater portion now the land sustain’d.
Rennel, in his Essay on the Geographical System of Herodotus, gives an interesting description of those celebrated bays.
- The Numidian territory, in the time of Jugurtha, formed the most extensive kingdom possessed by any African power after the destruction of Carthage.
- Herodotus says, the parts of Libya beyond the seacoast are filled with beasts of prey, while the more remote regions, alike infested with those noxious animals, are scorched by the rays of the sun, and exhibit a barren, sandy, and immeasurable desert.
- The historian has been charged with an error in this place, probably referable to his transcribers. Cirta, the modern Constantia, is said to be nearly forty-eight English miles from the sea.
- The most disgraceful massacres followed the death of the Gracchi. Velleius Paterculus furnishes some interesting reflections on the fate and character of these celebrated brothers, describes the manner of their death, and the indecent circumstances of their bodies being thrown into the Tiber. The same historian remarks, that if the conduct of the Gracchi was intemperate, that of their opponents was disgraced by the most atrocious acts. As a striking example, the son of Fulvius Flaccus, not implicated in the guilt of his father, was cruelly put to death by the order of Opimius. While they were carrying him to execution, a soothsayer of Etruria, and friend of the young man, perceiving his tears, and that he began to launch out into useless lamentation, nobly cried out to him, to show greater firmness, and that he himself would set the example how he should meet his father. With these words he rushed against one of the door-posts of the prison, which were made of stone; and, dashing out his brains with the violence of the blow, he expired on the spot.
- Livy, Florus, and Eutropius confirm this account; and the history of Cæsar, at no very distant period, amply verified Jugurtha’s prediction.
- Almost all the ancient writers agree in referring the decline of the Roman manners, and the ruin of those manly virtues which had raised the republic to power and grandeur, to the overthrow of Carthage, in which it so blindly exulted.
- The weight which a Roman soldier carried, when equipped for a march, was prodigious: provisions for fifteen days, sometimes longer, and usually corn, as being the lightest sort; labouring tools, and necessary utensils, such as a saw, pickaxe, hook, basket, chain, camp-kettle, &c.; usually three to four stakes, sometimes twelve; the whole amounting to no less than sixty pounds in weight. All this was exclusive of his arms, which made a vast addition: but these, says Cicero, a soldier never considers a burden, as they are, like his shoulders, his hands, or the arms of his body, a part of himself.
- This custom was by no means peculiar to the Numidians. The Old Testament ascribes the same conduct to the Israelites; Herodotus to most of the Asiatic tribes; Herodian to the Parthians; Thucydides to the Illyrians; and Tacitus records it as well known to the Germans.
- The Romans inflicted very severe punishments on deserters when they came into their power; such as cutting off their hands and arms, beheading, crucifying, or scourging them to death, and, in later times, exposing them to wild beasts.
- In the camp, the general had his chair of state, corresponding nearly to the curule chair of the civil magistrate.
- By the Valerian and Porcian laws, exile was substituted for death, as the highest punishment that could be inflicted on a Roman citizen; but it does not appear that the benefit of those extended either to citizens of Latium or yet to Roman citizens while under military authority.
- Sallust has been accused of suppressing, for a culpable purpose, certain facts connected with the fate of Turpilius, of whom Plutarch speaks in terms of high commendation; and from the account given by the latter, it may be justly concluded that this citizen of Latium fell a victim to the disgraceful conduct of Marius.
- The intrepid Bruce gives an interesting account of this phenomenon. “At the time it appeared,” he says, “the description which Syphax gives of it in his speech to Sempronius (in Addison’s Cato) was perpetually before my mind:”—
So, where our wide Numidian wastes extend,
Sudden th’ impetuous hurricanes descend,
Wheel through the air, in circling eddies play,
Tear up the sands, and sweep whole plains away.
The helpless traveller, with wild surprise,
Sees the dry desert all around him rise,
And, smother’d in the dusty whirlwind, dies.
“These lines,” adds Mr. Bruce, “are capital, and are a fine copy, which can only appear tame by the original having been before our eyes, painted by the great master, the Creator and Ruler of the world.”
- Pomponius Mela and Valerius Maximus relate this story. Pliny says the altars erected to those celebrated brothers were originally constructed of sand or earth; but it is probable that some monument of stone was afterwards erected by the Carthaginians on the spot; as the altars, during a long period, are said to have marked the boundary of their empire.
- This speech, which the historian puts into the mouth of Marius, has always been considered as among the most vigorous and characteristic in his history. The composition is undoubtedly Sallust’s; but the sentiments are those of Marius himself, as may be seen from the testimony of other ancient writers.
- Juvenal, in his eighth satire, seems to have had in view this speech of Marius. Of the source of true nobility, he says,
Fond man! though all the heroes of your line
Bedeck your halls, and round your galleries shine
In wax or stone; yet take this truth from me,
Virtue alone is true nobility.
Be, then, what Drusus, Cossus, Paulus were;
The bright examples of their lives prefer
To all your statues; nay, to all the state,
Chairs, fasces, lictors of your consulate.
No slave to birth, the virtues I require,
Inherent, not reflected from the sire,
Must aggrandize the son. Dare to be just,
Firm to your word, and faithful to you trust;
These praises hear, at least deserve to hear,
I grant your claim, and recognise the peer.
- Metellus was honoured with a triumph, and deservedly obtained the surname of Numidicus. The rancour and severity with which he was soon after persecuted by Marius and the popular faction, were equally disgraceful to themselves and to the republic.
- This was on the death of Metella, his second wife, to whom he is said to have been ardently attached. The circumstances of Metella’s death are thus stated by Plutarch:—“Sylla,” he says, “gave the people a magnificent entertainment, on account of his dedicating the tenth of his substance to Hercules. The provisions were so overabundant, that a great quantity was thrown, every day, into the river; and the wine that was drunk was forty years old at least. In the midst of this feasting, which lasted many days, Metella sickened and died. As the priests forbade him to approach her, and to have his house defiled with mourning, he sent her a bill of divorce, and ordered her to be carried to another house, while the breath was in her body; his superstition making him very punctilious in observing these laws of the priests.”
- Plutarch says, that Bocchus had, for some time, both hated and feared his son-in-law Jugurtha; but that he chose rather to allow Sylla to seize him than to commit that act of violence himself. When he saw, however, both Jugurtha and Sylla at his disposal, and was under the necessity of betraying either the one or the other, he debated long with himself, which should be the victim: at last he decided in favour of the Romans.
- Cæpio was consul, A. U. C. 647, and Manlius in 648. The senate had continued for another year the appointment of the former to Narbonese Gaul, in order that there might be two consular armies, to make head against the Barbarians. But so unfortunate was the issue of the campaign, that the camps of both commanders were stormed, the two sons of the consul Manlius slain, together with the loss, according to Valerius Antias, of no fewer than eighty thousand men, on the part of the Romans, and fifty thousand sutlers, slaves, and other retainers of the camp. But this ancient historian, as Livy tells us, was extremely apt to exaggerate in his computations. It is certain that the commonwealth never was in greater danger than at this period. The enemy were Barbarians of the most fierce and warlike character. Sallust calls them Gauls; but they were, more properly speaking, Germans, under the names of Cimbri and Teutones, from the coast of the Baltic Sea, and were joined by the Tigurini, who dwelt near the Alps, in the country which is now the canton of Zurich. The Barbarian host consisted of no fewer than three hundred thousand fighting men, besides a still greater number of women and children that accompanied them; a computation, says Plutarch, that was at first thought incredible, but afterward turned out to be short of the truth. This vast multitude were in quest of lands on which they might subsist, and of cities wherein they might dwell. They knew the success of the Celtæ, in former periods, in expelling the Tuscans, and possessing themselves of their territories; and leaving their woods and marshes in the north, they hung like a cloud over Gaul and Italy, and threatened the destruction of both countries. Being refused by the senate a grant of lands, as they had requested, they resolved to seize by force what by entreaty they could not obtain, and for that purpose they prepared to cross the Alps. The first general that went against them was Silanus, and him they soon defeated. Manlius and Cæpio had, if possible, still worse success. In a word, says Florus, the republic was undone, had not Marius arisen in this critical juncture, and by his military talents saved his country.
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