The Jugurthine War

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The Jugurthine War, Partly in the Original and partly in Translation  (1921) 
by Sallust, translated by H. E. Butler



‘Life is brief and man is weak; chance rules all and virtue goes for naught.’ So cries mankind. But they deceive themselves. Look closer, and what shall you find that is greater or more highly to be praised than man’s nature? For it is not strength nor length of days he lacks, but the will to work. The ruler and governor of this mortal life is the soul, which, if it follow after fame by the way of virtue, has power, might, and renown in plenty, nor needs help of fortune, since uprightness and energy and all other excellences are beyond her power to give or take away. But if the soul, enslaved by base desire, falls to indolence and sensual indulgence, for a brief space enjoying its disastrous lusts, then so soon as sloth has wasted time, strength, and wit, the blame is laid upon the infirmity of our nature, and the sinner reproaches not himself, but the perversity of things. Yet, if men pursued that which is good with that zeal which they give to winning alien things that will profit them naught, but oft bring them to destruction, they would control that chance of which they are now the sport, and would climb to such a height of greatness that in place of this transitory life they should have glory everlasting.


For as man is composed of body and soul, so all our possessions and pursuits hang on the nature either of body or of soul. Thus, beauty, great riches, bodily strength, and the like pass swiftly away, but the triumphs of the mind are like the soul immortal. Lastly all good things, whether of the body or of fortune, end even as they began, and all things rise but to set, and wax but to wane. Only the soul, itself incorruptible and the eternal ruler of mankind, moves all things and possesses all in perfect freedom. Wherefore there is all the more cause to marvel at the perversity of those who pass their days in luxury and indolence, enslaved to the pleasures of the body, but suffer the mind, than which there is nothing greater or better in this mortal nature, to grow dull through neglect and sloth, notwithstanding that the mind has so many and varied accomplishments at command, whereby it may win to the summits of renown.


But of all such paths to fame, the least to be desired at this present time are magistracies and commands and service of the state, since worth will not bring a man to public office, while those that win to high places by foul means are none the more secure or honoured in their position of power. For though ’tis true that by force we may rule our country and our kin and chastise wickedness, yet it is a perilous enterprise, more especially since all changes in government are accompanied by slaughter and banishments and other abominations. But to struggle in vain and get naught from all our toil save hatred is utter madness. And yet some there be that are consumed by base desire to forfeit their own honour and freedom that so they may win the favour of a powerful few.


Now of those pursuits of the understanding that remain for our choice the most profitable is the writing of history. Many have spoken of its excellences, and I therefore will say naught thereon, nor would I have any man regard me as a braggart exalting my own art by vainglorious praise. But it is like that there will be some, who, because I have resolved to pass my life far from business of state, will brand my labours as mere idleness, great and profitable though they be. Such at least will be the way of those whose utmost effort is confined to greeting the rabble with lavish courtesies and seeking to win men’s love by keeping open house. Yet if such as judge me will reflect, when it was that I obtained office, and who they were that failed where I succeeded, and what manner of men later were given entry to the senate, they will assuredly conclude that reason, not indolence, led me to change my purpose, and that the state is like to get more profit from my leisure than from other men’s business. For I have often heard that Quintus Maximus, Publius Scipio, and other famous Romans used to say that there was naught so kindled their souls to the pursuit of virtue as the contemplation of the portraits of their forefathers. Now it was not the mere sight of these that had such power upon them, but the memory of great deeds that fanned the fire that burned unquenchable in those heroic hearts, till by their own virtue they had matched the fame and glory of their fathers of old. But who, amid the all-devouring wickedness of these days, does not rather seek to surpass his forefathers in riches and extravagance rather than in energy and uprightness? Even commoners, who in old time were wont to outstrip the nobles by worth alone, now strive to win place and power by stealthy cunning and foul play; as though praetors and consuls were glorious and magnificent in themselves and did not win the esteem in which they are held by worth alone. But the grief and vexation that overcome me when I consider the ways of this generation have wrought upon me to speak too much and too forthright, and it behoves me to return to the task that I have taken on me to perform.

Events leading up to the story of Jugurtha.


The story which I am about to tell is that of the war between Rome and Jugurtha, king of Numidia. I have made this choice, firstly because it was a great war, fiercely fought and with varying success, and secondly because it was the occasion of the first serious challenge to the pride of the nobles. The ensuing strife wrought such havoc among all our institutions, human or divine, and reached such a pitch of madness that war and the desolation of Italy made an end of our freedom. But before I begin my tale, I must recall certain things that happened in earlier days, that those that read may have a clearer and readier understanding.

In the second war with Carthage, wherein Hannibal struck Italy a sorer blow than any she had endured since Rome had attained her full stature, Masinissa, king of Numidia, was admitted to our friendship by Publius Scipio, later styled Africanus, and afterward wrought many glorious feats of arms. In return for his help, after the fall of Carthage and the taking of Syphax, the lord of a great kingdom in Africa, the Roman people bestowed upon Masinissa all the cities and lands that he had seized by force of arms. Wherefore he remained our faithful ally, and his friendship brought us no small honour. At his death the royal power was divided between his three sons Micipsa, Mastanabal, and Gulussa. The two last were carried off by sickness so that Micipsa reigned alone. He had two sons named Adherbal and Hiempsal and a nephew whom he brought up as though he had been his own child, to wit, Jugurtha, the natural son of his brother Mastanabal.

Jugurtha, loved by all for his prowess, is sent by Micipsa to serve with the Romans in the Numantine war, that so he may be slain. But he prospers mightily and becomes the friend of the Roman general, Scipio.


Qui ubi primum adolevit, pollens viribus decora facie sed multo maxume ingenio validus, non se luxu neque inertiae corrumpundum dedit, sed, uti mos gentis illius est, equitare iaculari, cursu cum aequalibus certare et, cum omnis gloria anteiret, omnibus tamen carus esse; ad hoc pleraque tempora in venando agere, leonem atque alias feras primus aut in primis ferire, plurumum facere, minumum ipse de se loqui. quibus rebus Micipsa, tametsi initio laetus fuerat, existumans virtutem Iugurthae regno suo gloriae fore, tamen postquam hominem adulescentem exacta sua aetate et parvis liberis magis magisque crescere intellegit, vehementer eo negotio permotus, multa cum animo suo volvebat. terrebat explendam animi cupidinem, praeterea opportunitas suae liberorumque aetatis, quae etiam mediocris viros spe praedae transvorsos agit; ad hoc studia Numidarum in Iugurtham accensa, ex quibus, si talem virum dolis interfecisset, ne qua seditio aut bellum oriretur anxius erat.


His difficultatibus circumventus ubi videt neque per vim neque insidiis opprimi posse hominem tam acceptum popularibus, quod erat Iugurtha manu promptus et adpetens gloriae militaris, statuit eum obiectare periculis et eo modo fortunam temptare. igitur bello Numantino Micipsa, cum populo Romano equitum atque peditum auxilia mitteret, sperans vel ostentando virtutem vel hostium saevitia facile eum occasurum, praefecit Numidis, quod in Hispaniam mittebat. sed ea res longe aliter ac ratus erat evenit. nam Iugurtha, ut erat inpigro atque acri ingenio, ubi naturam P. Scipionis, qui tum Romanis imperator erat, et morem hostium cognovit, multo labore multaque cura, praeterea modestissume parendo et saepe obviam eundo periculis in tantam claritudinem brevi pervenerat, ut nostris vehementer carus, Numantinis maxumo terrori esset. ac sane, quod difficillumum in primis est, et proelio strenuus erat et bonus consilio, quorum alterum ex providentia timorem, alterum ex audacia temeritatem adferre plerumque solet. igitur imperator omnis fere res asperas per Iugurtham agere, in amicis habere, magis magisque eum in dies amplecti, quippe cuius neque consilium neque inceptum ullum frustra erat. huc adcedebat munificentia animi et ingeni sollertia, quis rebus sibi multos ex Romanis familiari amicitia coniunxerat.

Jugurtha’s ambition is kindled by unscrupulous Romans.


At that time there were in our army not a few, both commoner and noble, who set the winning of wealth above the pursuit of honour and virtue. At home they were turbulent partisans, abroad they made themselves powerful among our allies, and though they made a name, it was not a name of honour. These men enflamed the ambitious heart of Jugurtha by promising that, when Micipsa was dead, he should reign alone over all Numidia, saying that he was a man of great parts and there was naught that money could not buy at Rome.

Scipio’s warning.

But after the destruction of Numantia, Publius Scipio, having resolved to dismiss his auxiliary forces and himself to return home, first rewarded and praised Jugurtha before all the army and then, taking him apart into his tent, bade him seek the friendship of the Roman people by public acts rather than by private intrigue, nor ever to put his trust in the power of gifts. ‘It is perilous,’ he said, ‘to buy from a few what belongs to many. Continue to exercise those talents that are your own, and glory and power will come unasked. But seek to move too fast, and the money that you pour forth will work your own doom.’


After these words he sent him home with a letter for Micipsa, of which this was the purport: ‘Your nephew Jugurtha has approved himself the most valiant man in the war against Numantia, whereof you will be right glad. He is dear to me for his own worth, and I will do all that I may to make him no less dear to the senate and people of Rome. In Jugurtha you have a man worthy of yourself and of his grandsire Masinissa.’

Micipsa adopts Jugurtha.

When the king found from Scipio’s letter that rumour had spoken true, he sought to win Jugurtha’s love by showing him all manner of favour, made him his son by adoption and joint-heir with his own sons: for he both honoured his worth and feared his power. A few years after, when brought low by old age and sickness he perceived that his end was near, he is said to have spoken to Jugurtha after this fashion, in the presence of his counsellors and kinsfolk and of his two sons Adherbal and Hiempsal:

Micipsa’s speech.


‘Jugurtha, you were fatherless, without hopes or wealth, when I welcomed you to my kingdom, deeming that gratitude would make me no less dear to you than to my own sons. My hope has found fulfilment. For, to say naught of your other great and manifold excellences, you brought honour and glory to myself and my kingdom from your warfare in Spain, and by your valour turned to love the good will that the Romans had toward me. The honour of our house has flowered anew in the fields of Spain. And furthermore you accomplished what is most hard for man’s achievement: you won glory without enkindling enmity. And now, since my end draws near, by this right hand and by the honour of a king, I charge you to love these, your kin by blood and brothers by adoption, nor ever to prize the love of strangers above that of kith and kin. For it is not armies nor treasure that keep kingdoms in security but friends: and they cannot be won by force or bought by gold, but are gotten by loyalty and true service. And what closer bond is there than the love of brothers? and what stranger shall be true to you, if you are false to your own kin? Naught shall shake the kingdom that I leave to you, my sons, if only you prove true: play false, and your realm shall have no sure foundation. For unity makes little things grow great, whereas dissension brings the mightiest fortunes to ruin. But the task of seeing that naught falls out amiss will be yours, Jugurtha, rather than your brothers’; for you are their elder in years and wisdom. And in every quarrel, the stronger, even though it be he that suffers wrong, is regarded as the wrongdoer, because he is the stronger. And do you, Adherbal and Hiempsal, honour and love Jugurtha for what he is; imitate his virtue and strive to save me from the reproach of having found a better man in my adopted son than in those whom I begot.’

Micipsa dies. The three kings meet for a conference.


Ad ea Iugurtha tametsi regem ficta locutum intellegebat et ipse longe aliter animo agitabat, tamen pro tempore benigne respondit. Micipsa paucis post diebus moritur. postquam illi more regio iusta magnifice fecerant, reguli in unum convenerunt, ut inter se de cunctis negotiis disceptarent. sed Hiempsal, qui minumus ex illis erat, natura ferox et iam antea ignobilitatem Iugurthae, quia materno genere inpar erat, despiciens, dextra Adherbalem adsedit, ne medius ex tribus, quod apud Numidas honori ducitur, Iugurtha foret. dein tamen ut aetati concederet fatigatus a fratre, vix in partem alteram transductus est. ibi cum multa de administrando imperio dissererent, Iugurtha inter alias res iacit, oportere quinquenni consulta et decreta omnia rescindi: nam per ea tempora confectum annis Micipsam parum animo valuisse. tum idem Hiempsal placere sibi respondit: nam ipsum illum tribus proxumis annis adoptatione in regnum pervenisse. quod verbum in pectus Iugurthae altius quam quisquam ratus erat descendit. itaque ex eo tempore ira et metu anxius moliri parare atque ea modo cum animo habere, quibus Hiempsal per dolum caperetur. quae ubi tardius procedunt neque lenitur animus ferox, statuit quovis modo inceptum perficere.

Jugurtha has Hiempsal assassinated.


Primo conventu, quem ab regulis factum supra memoravi, propter dissensionem placuerat dividi thesauros finisque imperi singulis constitui. itaque tempus ad utramque rem decernitur, sed maturius ad pecuniam distribuendam. reguli interea in loca propinqua thesauris alius alio concessere. sed Hiempsal in oppido Thirmida forte eius domo utebatur, qui proxumus lictor Iugurthae carus acceptusque ei semper fuerat. quem ille casu ministrum oblatum promissis onerat impellitque, uti tamquam suam visens domum eat, portarum clavis adulterinas paret—nam verae ad Hiempsalem referebantur—ceterum, ubi res postularet, se ipsum cum magna manu venturum. Numida mandata brevi conficit atque, uti doctus erat, noctu Iugurthae milites introducit. qui postquam in aedis irrupere, divorsi regem quaerere, dormientis alios alios occursantis interficere, scrutari loca abdita, clausa effringere, strepitu et tumultu omnia miscere, cum interim Hiempsal reperitur occultans se tugurio mulieris ancillae, quo initio pavidus et ignarus loci perfugerat. Numidae caput eius, uti iussi erant, ad Iugurtham referunt.

Adherbal flies to Rome.


In a short time the news of this foul murder filled all Africa. Adherbal and all those whom Micipsa had ruled were stricken with terror and Numidia was divided into two factions. Most followed Adherbal, but the more warlike favoured Jugurtha, who therefore armed all whom he could gather round him, took possession of cities either by fear or their good will, and prepared to make himself master of all Numidia. Adherbal, although he had sent ambassadors to Rome to inform the senate of his brother’s death and his own plight, none the less, relying on the numbers at his command, made ready for war. But, vanquished in the first affray, he fled into the province of Africa and afterwards proceeded to Rome. Then Jugurtha having fulfilled his designs and being in the way to master all Numidia, began at his leisure to reflect on what he had done, to fear how Rome would take it and to feel that his one hope of escape from her wrath lay in the greed of the nobles and his own wealth. And so he too shortly sent ambassadors to Rome, laden with silver and gold, and charged first to glut his old friends with gifts, then to win new friends and to effect all that lay within the power of bribes to perform. When the ambassadors were come to Rome, in accordance with the king’s command they sent splendid gifts to his friends and others who at that time were powerful in the senate, whereby they so changed men’s opinion that Jugurtha’s cause, for which the nobles had shown little liking, now became very dear to them. For moved by hope or by the gifts they had received, they wrought upon the senate to the end that they might do naught against Jugurtha. So soon, then, as the ambassadors were sure of success, the senate gave audience to both parties. Whereupon Adherbal, it is said, spoke in this fashion:

Adherbal’s speech.


‘Fathers of the city, Micipsa my father, as he lay dying, charged me to remember that I was no more than your steward, and you the true sovereigns of Numidia. And he bade me do all that in my lay to serve the Roman people and to deem you my kith and kin. For then, he said, I should have your friendship as my treasure-house and bulwark of defence. While I was yet pondering his commands, Jugurtha, than whom there breathes no fouler villain, spurning your sovereignty, drove me, grandson of Masinissa and Rome’s hereditary friend, an exile from my kingdom. And since these calamities were written in the book of fate, would that my own services, not those of my forefathers, gave me claim to your succour; would that the Roman people owed me services of which I had no need or, if need were mine, that I might avail me of the debt. But seeing that uprightness alone cannot save me and that it lay not with me whether Jugurtha should be good or bad, I fly to you for refuge, to be (alas!) a burden rather than a profit. Other kings have been granted your friendship after you had conquered them in war, or sought your alliance when their fortunes trembled in the balance. But my house became the friends of Rome during the war with Carthage when Rome, however true, had little power to aid. Those friends were my forefathers; let not Masinissa’s grandson seek your help in vain! Had I no claim on you save the misfortunes of one who, but late a king in all the pride of ancestry and warlike might, now helpless and disfigured with his woe, seeks others’ help, still it would be worthy Rome’s greatness to beat back aggression and to forbid any man to increase his dominion by crime. But the kingdom from which I have been cast forth was that which Rome gave my forefathers, and from which my father and grandsire fighting at your side drove Syphax and the Carthaginians. It is your gifts of which I am robbed, it is you that are mocked in the wrong done to me. Alas! my father, has all your kindness come to this, that he whom you made your children’s peer and the partner of their royalty, should himself be the destroyer of your race? Shall our house never find rest? Must bloodshed, battle, and exile ever be its lot? While Carthage still stood in all her power, we could not complain of the cruelties which we endured; the enemy was at our flank, you, our friends, were far away, all our hope was in the sword. When the cursed race were driven from Africa, we walked in the paths of peace with joy, having no enemies save only such as you might bid us have. And, lo! now of a sudden Jugurtha, in all the reckless insolence of crime, slew my brother, his own kinsman, as the firstfruits of his dark designs. Next, when he could not ensnare me by guile, while I never dreamed that war or violence could assail me within the bounds of your empire, he cast me forth from my country and my hopes, a helpless wretch, anywhere safer than in my own dominions. I had always deemed that my father spoke the truth when he declared that such as zealously honoured your friendship must shoulder many a burden, but in return were of all men most secure. My house has ever, so far as in it lay, aided you in all your wars. It is for you then to ensure us the fruition of security and peace. Our father left two sons, my brother and myself; to us he added a third, Jugurtha, and trusted that gratitude would keep him our friend. One of these two sons has been slain, the other has scarce escaped the same guilty hands. What shall I do? Where find a refuge? All those of my blood that might have saved me have perished. My father died, an old man, in his bed. My brother, who of all men least deserved it, fell by a kinsman’s crime; and the rest of my kindred and my friends have been destroyed by one calamity or another. Those whom Jugurtha took, for the most part he crucified or cast to the wild beasts. The few that survive drag out a life that is worse than death in the darkness of their dungeons, with sorrow and lamentation. If all that I have lost, or that has turned from a blessing to a curse, were mine, as of old, I should still entreat your aid in the hour of sudden calamity, seeing that the lords of so mighty an empire must needs uphold justice and chastise iniquity. But now I am an exile from my home and country, forsaken and despoiled of my royalty. Whither shall I betake me and to whom make my supplication? To the tribes and chiefs of Africa? Nay, they all hate our house for its friendship with you. Wherever I turn, I shall find memorials of the countless triumphs won by my forefathers over their enemies, but no pity among any that have ever been your foes. And lastly, fathers, Masinissa taught us all to honour none save the Roman people and to have them only for allies, since your friendship would be our sure defence and, if your star set, we too must go down into darkness. Virtue and the blessing of heaven have made you great. All things befriend you and are obedient to your will. Therefore the more easily may you redress the wrongs of your allies. One thing only I fear, lest some of you be led astray through friendship for Jugurtha. They know not how little his friendship is worth. These men, I am told, are striving with all their power and cunning to hinder you from giving your sentence in Jugurtha’s absence, while his cause is yet unknown, and to that end they say that my tale is all a lie and my exile but counterfeit, since there was naught to drive me from my throne. Oh that I might see him, whose unnatural wickedness has brought me to this pass, playing the same counterfeit! Oh that you or the immortal gods would at last have some regard for the fortunes of mankind! May he that now glories emboldened in his sins, be haunted by all manner of calamity, paying bitter retribution for his foul ingratitude to our father, for the murder of my brother and for the sorrows he has brought on me! Happy, not wretched, dearest of brothers, do I account your lot, though you were slain untimely by a traitor’s hand! For it was not a kingdom that death took from you, but flight, exile, poverty, and all the woes that now are mine. But I, unhappy, cast from my father’s throne into the depths of misery, show forth an example of the fickleness of mortal fortunes. What shall I do? Seek to avenge your wrongs, when I myself lack succour? Or to save my kingdom, when my royalty hangs on the will of others? Oh for a speedy death, if that could end my sorrows with honour, not brand me with just scorn as a coward who, outworn by grief, bowed beneath the outrage of his enemies. But now to live is hateful and death dishonour. Fathers, by your own selves, by your children and those that bore you, by the majesty of the Roman people, I entreat you, help me in my need, redress my wrongs and suffer not your domain of Numidia to fall in ruin under the crimes of blood that now afflict my house!’

Jugurtha’s ambassadors reply that Hiempsal was put to death by his subjects for his cruelty and that Adherbal is the aggressor. The senate allot West Numidia to Jugurtha, East to Adherbal.


Postquam rex finem loquendi fecit, legati Iugurthae largitione magis quam causa freti paucis respondent. Hiempsalem ob saevitiam suam ab Numidis interfectum, Adherbalem ultro bellum inferentem, postquam superatus sit, queri quod iniuriam facere nequivisset: Iugurtham ab senatu petere ne se alium putarent ac Numantiae cognitus esset, neu verba inimici ante facta sua ponerent. deinde utrique curia egrediuntur. senatus statim consulitur. fautores legatorum, praeterea senatus magna pars gratia depravata, Adherbalis dicta contemnere, Iugurthae virtutem extollere laudibus: gratia, voce, denique omnibus modis pro alieno scelere et flagitio sua quasi pro gloria nitebantur. at contra pauci, quibus bonum et aequum divitiis carius erat, subveniundum Adherbali et Hiempsalis mortem severe vindicandam censebant, sed ex omnibus maxume Aemilius Scaurus, homo nobilis impiger factiosus avidus potentiae honoris divitiarum, ceterum vitia sua callide occultans. is postquam videt regis largitionem famosam impudentemque, veritus, quod in tali re solet, ne polluta licentia invidiam accenderet, animum a consueta lubidine continuit.


Vicit tamen in senatu pars illa, quae vero pretium aut gratiam anteferebat. decretum fit uti decem legati regnum, quod Micipsa obtinuerat, inter Iugurtham et Adherbalem dividerent. cuius legationis princeps fuit L. Opimius, homo clarus et tum in senatu potens, quia consul C. Graccho et M. Fulvio Flacco interfectis acerrume victoriam nobilitatis in plebem exercuerat. eum Iugurtha tametsi Romae in inimicis habuerat, tamen adcuratissume recepit, dando et pollicendo multa perfecit uti famae, fide, postremo omnibus suis rebus commodum regis anteferret. reliquos legatos eadem via adgressus plerosque capit, paucis carior fides quam pecunia fuit. in divisione quae pars Numidiae Mauretaniam attingit, agro virisque opulentior, Iugurthae traditur, illam alteram specie quam usu potiorem, quae portuosior et aedificiis magis exornata erat, Adherbal possedit.

There follows a rambling and highly legendary digression on the geography and inhabitants of Africa. After a brief preface he proceeds:


The sea along its coasts is stormy and harbourless. The land is fertile in crops and provides excellent pasture, but produces few trees owing to lack of rain and streams. Its inhabitants are a healthy race, swift of foot and enduring of toil. Most die of old age, except such as fall in war or are killed by wild beasts; for death from disease is very rare, while dangerous animals abound.

Sallust then turns to the inhabitants, basing his account on the writings of Hiempsal II, a later king of Numidia. The original inhabitants were the Gaetulians and Libyans, wild and lawless savages, without fixed habitations. On the death of Hercules in Spain his army broke up, and contingents of Persians, Medes, and Armenians crossed into Africa. The Persians in course of time intermarried with the Gaetulians and came to be known as Nomads or Numidians. The Medes and Armenians joined forces with the Libyans and formed the Moorish nation, the name Moor being a corruption of Mede. Later, Phoenician immigrations took place, and thus Carthage, Hippo, Hadrumetum, Leptis, and other cities came into existence. Numidia extends westward as far as the river Mulucha and the Gaetulians to the south for the most part own her sway. West of the Mulucha lies Mauretania which at this time was governed by Bocchus ‘who knew nothing of Rome save the name, while we for our part had no previous acquaintance with him either in peace or war’.

Jugurtha encouraged by the senate’s award attacks Adherbal, who takes refuge in Cirta and sends envoys to Rome. The senate send out three commissioners to restore peace.


Postquam diviso regno legati Africa decessere et Iugurtha contra timorem animi praemia sceleris adeptum sese videt, certum esse ratus, quod ex amicis apud Numantiam acceperat, omnia Romae venalia esse, simul et illorum pollicitationibus accensus, quos paulo ante muneribus expleverat, in regnum Adherbalis animum intendit. ipse acer bellicosus, at is quem petebat quietus imbellis, placido ingenio, opportunus iniuriae, metuens magis quam metuendus. igitur ex improviso finis eius cum magna manu invadit, multos mortalis cum pecore atque alia praeda capit, aedificia incendit, pleraque loca hostiliter cum equitatu adcedit, deinde cum omni multitudine in regnum suum convortit, existumans Adherbalem dolore permotum iniurias suas manu vindicaturum eamque rem belli causam fore. at ille, quod neque se parem armis existumabat et amicitia populi Romani magis quam Numidis fretus erat, legatos ad Iugurtham de iniuriis questum misit. qui tametsi contumeliosa dicta rettulerant, prius tamen omnia pati decrevit quam bellum sumere, quia temptatum antea secus cesserat. neque eo magis cupido Iugurthae minuebatur, quippe qui totum eius regnum animo iam invaserat. itaque non uti antea cum praedatoria manu, sed magno exercitu comparato bellum gerere coepit et aperte totius Numidiae imperium petere. ceterum qua pergebat urbis agros vastare, praedas agere, suis animum hostibus terrorem augere.


Adherbal ubi intellegit eo processum, uti regnum aut relinquundum esset aut armis retinendum, necessario copias parat et Iugurthae obvius procedit. interim haud longe a mari prope Cirtam oppidum utriusque exercitus consedit et quia diei extremum erat, proelium non inceptum. sed ubi plerumque noctis processit, obscuro etiam tum lumine milites Iugurthini signo dato castra hostium invadunt, semisomnos partim, alios arma sumentis fugant funduntque. Adherbal cum paucis equitibus Cirtam profugit et, ni multitudo togatorum fuisset, quae Numidas insequentis moenibus prohibuit, uno die inter duos reges coeptum atque patratum bellum foret. igitur Iugurtha oppidum circumsedit, vineis turribusque et machinis omnium generum expugnare adgreditur, maxume festinans factum ad Adherbale Romam missos audiverat.

sed postquam senatus de bello eorum accepit, tres adulescentes in Africam legantur, qui ambos reges adeant, senatus populique Romani verbis nuntient velle et censere eos ab armis discedere, de controvorsiis suis iure potius quam bello disceptare: ita seque illisque dignum esse.

Adherbal besieged in Cirta.


The envoys made all haste to reach Africa, for the news of the battle and of the siege of Cirta had reached Rome as they were setting out, though rumour told less than the truth. Jugurtha after hearing what they had to say, replied that he held nothing greater or more dear than the authority of the senate. ‘I have endeavoured,’ he went on, ‘all my life to win the approval of the best among men. It was by worth, not wickedness, that I pleased the great Publius Scipio, and it was for the same cause and not by reason of childlessness that Micipsa adopted me as his son. But as I prospered, I became more impatient against those that did me wrong. Adherbal plotted against my life, and when I discovered it, I did what I could to bring his crime to naught. The Roman people will be both unjust and unwise, if they refuse me my natural rights.’ He made an end by saying that he would shortly send ambassadors to Rome to treat concerning all matters in dispute. Both parties then went their way. The Roman envoys were unable to have speech with Adherbal.


So soon as he thought them to have left Africa, Jugurtha, being unable to storm Cirta owing to the strength of its position, surrounded the walls with a rampart and a ditch, built towers in which he set guards, and further ceased not night or day from attempts upon the city either by force or by guile, now seeking to bribe and now to terrify the besieged into surrender, while he kindled his own men to valour by his exhortations and spared no pains in preparing the way to victory. When Adherbal saw that his fortunes were on the verge of ruin, that he had a relentless enemy, no hope of succour from without, and no supplies such as might enable him to prolong the war, he chose out two of the boldest of those who had fled with him to Cirta. By promises and entreaties he persuaded them to steal through the enemy’s lines by night to the nearest point on the sea-coast, and thence to make their way to Rome. The Numidians performed his commands in a few days. Adherbal’s letter was read out in the senate. Its purport was as follows:

Adherbal’s letter. Fresh commissioners are sent to Jugurtha, but to no purpose. They return to Rome, Cirta falls and Adherbal and all his men are massacred.


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