The Rule of the Restoration

Vacancy in the Government

The new structure, which Gaius Gracchus had reared, became on his death a ruin. His death indeed, like that of his brother, was primarily a mere act of vengeance; but it was at the same time a very material step towards the restoration of the old constitution, when the person of the monarch was taken away from the monarchy, just as it was on the point of being established. It was all the more so in the present instance, because after the fall of Gaius and the sweeping and bloody prosecutions of Opimius there existed at the moment absolutely no one, who, either by blood-relationship to the fallen chief of the state or by preeminent ability, might feel himself warranted in even attempting to occupy the vacant place. Gaius had departed from the world childless, and the son whom Tiberius had left behind him died before reaching manhood; the whole popular party, as it was called, was literally without any one who could be named as leader. The Gracchan constitution resembled a fortress without a commander; the walls and garrison were uninjured, but the general was wanting, and there was no one to take possession of the vacant place save the very government which had been overthrown.

The Restored Aristocracy

So it accordingly happened. After the decease of Gaius Gracchus without heirs, the government of the senate as it were spontaneously resumed its place; and this was the more natural, that it had not been, in the strict sense, formally abolished by the tribune, but had merely been reduced to a practical nullity by his exceptional proceedings. Yet we should greatly err, if we should discern in this restoration nothing further than a relapse of the state-machine into the old track which had been trodden and worn for centuries. Restoration is always revolution; but in this case it was not so much the old government as the old governor that was restored. The oligarchy made its appearance newly equipped in the armour of the -tyrannis- which had been overthrown. As the senate had beaten Gracchus from the field with his own weapons, so it continued in the most essential points to govern with the constitution of the Gracchi; though certainly with the ulterior idea, if not of setting it aside entirely, at any rate of thoroughly purging it in due time from the elements really hostile to the ruling aristocracy.

Prosecutions of the Democrats

At first the reaction was mainly directed against persons. Publius Popillius was recalled from banishment after the enactments relating to him had been cancelled (633), and a warfare of prosecution was waged against the adherents of Gracchus; whereas the attempt of the popular party to have Lucius Opimius after his resignation of office condemned for high treason was frustrated by the partisans of the government (634). The character of this government of the restoration is significantly indicated by the progress of the aristocracy in soundness of sentiment. Gaius Carbo, once the ally of the Gracchi, had for long been a convert,(1) and had but recently shown his zeal and his usefulness as defender of Opimius. But he remained the renegade; when the same accusation was raised against him by the democrats as against Opimius, the government were not unwilling to let him fall, and Carbo, seeing himself lost between the two parties, died by his own hand. Thus the men of the reaction showed themselves in personal questions pure aristocrats. But the reaction did not immediately attack the distributions of grain, the taxation of the province of Asia, or the Gracchan arrangement as to the jurymen and courts; on the contrary, it not only spared the mercantile class and the proletariate of the capital, but continued to render homage, as it had already done in the introduction of the Livian laws, to these powers and especially to the proletariate far more decidedly than had been done by the Gracchi. This course was not adopted merely because the Gracchan revolution still thrilled for long the minds of its contemporaries and protected its creations; the fostering and cherishing at least of the interests of the populace was in fact perfectly compatible with the personal advantage of the aristocracy, and thereby nothing further was sacrificed than merely the public weal.

The Domain Question under the Restoration

All those measures which were devised by Gaius Gracchus for the promotion of the public welfare—the best but, as may readily be conceived, also the most unpopular part of his legislation—were allowed by the aristocracy to drop. Nothing was so speedily and so successfully assailed as the noblest of his projects, the scheme of introducing a legal equality first between the Roman burgesses and Italy, and thereafter between Italy and the provinces, and—inasmuch as the distinction between the merely ruling and consuming and the merely serving and working members of the state was thus done away— at the same time solving the social question by the most comprehensive and systematic emigration known in history. With all the determination and all the peevish obstinacy of dotage the restored oligarchy obtruded the principle of deceased generations—that Italy must remain the ruling land and Rome the ruling city in Italy—afresh on the present. Even in the lifetime of Gracchus the claims of the Italian allies had been decidedly rejected, and the great idea of transmarine colonization had been subjected to a very serious attack, which became the immediate cause of Gracchus' fall. After his death the scheme of restoring Carthage was set aside with little difficulty by the government party, although the individual allotments already distributed there were left to the recipients. It is true that they could not prevent a similar foundation by the democratic party from succeeding at another point: in the course of the conquests beyond the Alps which Marcus Flaccus had begun, the colony of Narbo (Narbonne) was founded there in 636, the oldest transmarine burgess- city in the Roman empire, which, in spite of manifold attacks by the government party and in spite of a proposal directly made by the senate to abolish it, permanently held its ground, protected, as it probably was, by the mercantile interests that were concerned. But, apart from this exception—in its isolation not very important—the government was uniformly successful in preventing the assignation of land out of Italy.

The Italian domain-question was settled in a similar spirit. The Italian colonies of Gaius, especially Capua, were cancelled, and such of them as had already been planted were again broken up; only the unimportant one of Tarentum was allowed to subsist in the form of the new town Neptunia placed alongside of the former Greek community. So much of the domains as had already been distributed by non-colonial assignation remained in the hands of the recipients; the restrictions imposed on them by Gracchus in the interest of the commonwealth—the ground-rent and the prohibition of alienation—had already been abolished by Marcus Drusus. With reference on the other hand to the domains still possessed by right of occupation—which, over and above the domain-land enjoyed by the Latins, must have mostly consisted of the estates left with their holders in accordance with the Gracchan maximum(2)—it was resolved definitively to secure them to those who had hitherto been occupants and to preclude the possibility of future distribution. It was primarily from these lands, no doubt, that the 36,000 new farm-allotments promised by Drusus were to have been formed; but they saved themselves the trouble of inquiring where those hundreds of thousands of acres of Italian domain-land were to be found, and tacitly shelved the Livian colonial law, which had served its purpose;—only perhaps the small colony of Scolacium (Squillace) may be referred to the colonial law of Drusus. On the other hand by a law, which the tribune of the people Spurius Thorius carried under the instructions of the senate, the allotment-commission was abolished in 635, and there was imposed on the occupants of the domain-land a fixed rent, the proceeds of which went to the benefit of the populace of the capital—apparently by forming part of the fund for the distribution of corn; proposals going still further, including perhaps an increase of the largesses of grain, were averted by the judicious tribune of the people Gaius Marius. The final step was taken eight years afterwards (643), when by a new decree of the people(3) the occupied domain-land was directly converted into the rent-free private property of the former occupants. It was added, that in future domain-land was not to be occupied at all, but was either to be leased or to lie open as public pasture; in the latter case provision was made by the fixing of a very low maximum of ten head of large and fifty head of small cattle, that the large herd- owner should not practically exclude the small. In these judicious regulations the injurious character of the occupation-system, which moreover was long ago given up,(4) was at length officially recognized, but unhappily they were only adopted when it had already deprived the state in substance of its domanial possessions. While the Roman aristocracy thus took care of itself and got whatever occupied land was still in its hands converted into its own property, it at the same time pacified the Italian allies, not indeed by conferring on them the property of the Latin domain-land which they and more especially their municipal aristocracy enjoyed, but by preserving unimpaired the rights in relation to it guaranteed to them by their charters. The opposite party was in the unfortunate position, that in the most important material questions the interests of the Italians ran diametrically counter to those of the opposition in the capital; in fact the Italians entered into a species of league with the Roman government, and sought and found protection from the senate against the extravagant designs of various Roman demagogues.

The Proletariate and the Equestrian Order under the Restoration

While the restored government was thus careful thoroughly to eradicate the germs of improvement which existed in the Gracchan constitution, it remained completely powerless in presence of the hostile powers that had been, not for the general weal, aroused by Gracchus. The proletariate of the capital continued to have a recognized title to aliment; the senate likewise acquiesced in the taking of the jurymen from the mercantile order, repugnant though this yoke was to the better and prouder portion of the aristocracy. The fetters which the aristocracy wore did not beseem its dignity; but we do not find that it seriously set itself to get rid of them. The law of Marcus Aemilius Scaurus in 632, which at least enforced the constitutional restrictions on the suffrage of freedmen, was for long the only attempt—and that a very tame one—on the part of the senatorial government once more to restrain their mob-tyrants. The proposal, which the consul Quintus Caepio seventeen years after the introduction of the equestrian tribunals (648) brought in for again entrusting the trials to senatorial jurymen, showed what the government wished; but showed also how little it could do, when the question was one not of squandering domains but of carrying a measure in the face of an influential order. It broke down.(5) The government was not emancipated from the inconvenient associates who shared its power; but these measures probably contributed still further to disturb the never sincere agreement of the ruling aristocracy with the merchant- class and the proletariate. Both were very well aware, that the senate granted all its concessions only from fear and with reluctance; permanently attached to the rule of the senate by considerations neither of gratitude nor of interest, both were very ready to render similar services to any other master who offered them more or even as much, and had no objection, if an opportunity occurred, to cheat or to thwart the senate. Thus the restoration continued to govern with the desires and sentiments of a legitimate aristocracy, and with the constitution and means of government of a -tyrannis-. Its rule not only rested on the same bases as that of Gracchus, but it was equally ill, and in fact still worse, consolidated; it was strong, when in league with the populace it overthrew serviceable institutions, but it was utterly powerless, when it had to face the bands of the streets or the interests of the merchants. It sat on the vacated throne with an evil conscience and divided hopes, indignant at the institutions of the state which it ruled and yet incapable of even systematically assailing them, vacillating in all its conduct except where its own material advantage prompted a decision, a picture of faithlessness towards its own as well as the opposite party, of inward inconsistency, of the most pitiful impotence, of the meanest selfishness—an unsurpassed ideal of misrule.

The Men of the Restoration

It could not be otherwise; the whole nation was in a state of intellectual and moral decline, but especially the upper classes. The aristocracy before the period of the Gracchi was truly not over- rich in talent, and the benches of the senate were crowded by a pack of cowardly and dissolute nobles; nevertheless there sat in it Scipio Aemilianus, Gaius Laelius, Quintus Metellus, Publius Crassus, Publius Scaevola and numerous other respectable and able men, and an observer favourably predisposed might be of opinion that the senate maintained a certain moderation in injustice and a certain decorum in misgovernment. This aristocracy had been overthrown and then reinstated; henceforth there rested on it the curse of restoration. While the aristocracy had formerly governed for good or ill, and for more than a century without any sensible opposition, the crisis which it had now passed through revealed to it, like a flash of lightning in a dark night, the abyss which yawned before its feet. Was it any wonder that henceforward rancour always, and terror wherever they durst, characterized the government of the lords of the old nobility? that those who governed confronted as an united and compact party, with far more sternness and violence than hitherto, the non- governing multitude? that family-policy now prevailed once more, just as in the worst times of the patriciate, so that e. g. the four sons and (probably) the two nephews of Quintus Metellus—with a single exception persons utterly insignificant and some of them called to office on account of their very simplicity—attained within fifteen years (631-645) all of them to the consulship, and all with one exception also to triumphs—to say nothing of sons-in-law and so forth? that the more violent and cruel the bearing of any of their partisans towards the opposite party, he received the more signal honour, and every outrage and every infamy were pardoned in the genuine aristocrat? that the rulers and the ruled resembled two parties at war in every respect, save in the fact that in their warfare no international law was recognized? It was unhappily only too palpable that, if the old aristocracy beat the people with rods, this restored aristocracy chastised it with scorpions. It returned to power; but it returned neither wiser nor better. Never hitherto had the Roman aristocracy been so utterly deficient in men of statesmanly and military capacity, as it was during this epoch of restoration between the Gracchan and the Cinnan revolutions.

Marcus Aemilius Scaurus

A significant illustration of this is afforded by the chief of the senatorial party at this time, Marcus Aemilius Scaurus. The son of highly aristocratic but not wealthy parents, and thus compelled to make use of his far from mean talents, he raised himself to the consulship (639) and censorship (645), was long the chief of the senate and the political oracle of his order, and immortalized his name not only as an orator and author, but also as the originator of some of the principal public buildings executed in this century. But, if we look at him more closely, his greatly praised achievements amount merely to this much, that, as a general, he gained some cheap village triumphs in the Alps, and, as a statesman, won by his laws about voting and luxury some victories nearly as serious over the revolutionary spirit of the times. His real talent consisted in this, that, while he was quite as accessible and bribable as any other upright senator, he discerned with some cunning the moment when the matter began to be hazardous, and above all by virtue of his superior and venerable appearance acted the part of Fabricius before the public. In a military point of view, no doubt, we find some honourable exceptions of able officers belonging to the highest circles of the aristocracy; but the rule was, that the lords of quality, when they were to assume the command of armies, hastily read up from the Greek military manuals and the Roman annals as much as was required for holding a military conversation, and then, when in the field, acted most wisely by entrusting the real command to an officer of humble lineage but of tried capacity and tried discretion. In fact, if a couple of centuries earlier the senate resembled an assembly of kings, these their successors played not ill the part of princes. But the incapacity of these restored aristocrats was fully equalled by their political and moral worthlessness. If the state of religion, to which we shall revert, did not present a faithful reflection of the wild dissoluteness of this epoch, and if the external history of the period did not exhibit the utter depravity of the Roman nobles as one of its most essential elements, the horrible crimes, which came to light in rapid succession among the highest circles of Rome, would alone suffice to indicate their character.

Administration under the Restoration
Social State of Italy

The administration, internal and external, was what was to be expected under such a government. The social ruin of Italy spread with alarming rapidity; since the aristocracy had given itself legal permission to buy out the small holders, and in its new arrogance allowed itself with growing frequency to drive them out, the farms disappeared like raindrops in the sea. That the economic oligarchy at least kept pace with the political, is shown by the opinion expressed about 650 by Lucius Marcius Philippus, a man of moderate democratic views, that there were among the whole burgesses hardly 2000 families of substantial means. A practical commentary on this state of things was once more furnished by the servile insurrections, which during the first years of the Cimbrian war broke out annually in Italy, e. g. at Nuceria, at Capua, and in the territory of Thurii. This last conspiracy was so important that the urban praetor had to march with a legion against it and yet overcame the insurrection not by force of arms, but only by insidious treachery. It was moreover a suspicious circumstance, that the insurrection was headed not by a slave, but by the Roman knight Titus Vettius, whom his debts had driven to the insane step of manumitting his slaves and declaring himself their king (650). The apprehensions of the government with reference to the accumulation of masses of slaves in Italy are shown by the measures of precaution respecting the gold- washings of Victumulae, which were carried on after 611 on account of the Roman government: the lessees were at first bound not to employ more than 5000 labourers, and subsequently the workings were totally stopped by decree of the senate. Under such a government as the present there was every reason in fact for fear, if, as was very possible, a Transalpine host should penetrate into Italy and summon the slaves, who were in great part of kindred lineage, to arms.

The Provinces
Occupation of Cilicia

The provinces suffered still more in comparison. We shall have an idea of the condition of Sicily and Asia, if we endeavour to realize what would be the aspect of matters in the East Indies provided the English aristocracy were similar to the Roman aristocracy of that day. The legislation, which entrusted the mercantile class with control over the magistrates, compelled the latter to make common cause to a certain extent with the former, and to purchase for themselves unlimited liberty of plundering and protection from impeachment by unconditional indulgence towards the capitalists in the provinces. In addition to these official and semi-official robbers, freebooters and pirates pillaged all the countries of the Mediterranean. In the Asiatic waters more especially the buccaneers carried their outrages so far that even the Roman government found itself under the necessity in 652 of despatching to Cilicia a fleet, mainly composed of the vessels of the dependent mercantile cities, under the praetor Marcus Antonius, who was invested with proconsular powers. This fleet captured a number of corsair-vessels and destroyed some rock-strongholds and not only so, but the Romans even settled themselves permanently there, and in order to the suppression of piracy in its chief seat, the Rugged or western Cilicia occupied strong military positions—the first step towards the establishment of the province of Cilicia, which thenceforth appears among the Roman magistracies.(7) The design was commendable, and the scheme in itself was suitable for its purpose; only, the continuance and the increase of the evil of piracy in the Asiatic waters, and especiallyin Cilicia, unhappily showed with how inadequate means the pirates were combated from the newly-acquired position.

Revolt of the Slaves

But nowhere did the impotence and perversity of the Roman provincial administration come to light so conspicuously as in the insurrections of the slave proletariate, which seemed to have revived on their former footing simultaneously with the restoration of the aristocracy. These insurrections of the slaves swelling from revolts into wars— which had emerged just about 620 as one, and that perhaps the proximate, cause of the Gracchan revolution—were renewed and repeated with dreary uniformity. Again, as thirty years before, a ferment pervaded the body of slaves throughout the Roman empire. We have already mentioned the Italian conspiracies. The miners in the Attic silver-mines rose in revolt, occupied the promontory of Sunium, and issuing thence pillaged for a length of time the surrounding country. Similar movements appeared at other places.

The Second Sicilian Slave-War

But the chief seat of these fearful commotions was once more Sicily with its plantations and its hordes of slaves brought thither from Asia Minor. It is significant of the greatness of the evil, that an attempt of the government to check the worst iniquities of the slaveholders was the immediate cause of the new insurrection. That the free proletarians in Sicily were little better than the slaves, had been shown by their attitude in the first insurrection;(8) after it was subdued, the Roman speculators took their revenge and reduced numbers of the free provincials into slavery. In consequence of a sharp enactment issued against this by the senate in 650, Publius Licinius Nerva, the governor of Sicily at the time, appointed a court for deciding on claims of freedom to sit in Syracuse. The court went earnestly to work; in a short time decision was given in eight hundred processes against the slave-owners, and the number of causes in dependence was daily on the increase. The terrified planters hastened to Syracuse, to compel the Roman governor to suspend such unparalleled administration of justice; Nerva was weak enough to let himself be terrified, and in harsh language informed the non-free persons requesting trial that they should forgo their troublesome demand for right and justice and should instantly return to those who called themselves their masters. Those who were thus dismissed, instead of doing as he bade them, formed a conspiracy and went to the mountains.

The governor was not prepared for military measures, and even the wretched militia of the island was not immediately at hand; so that he concluded an alliance with one of the best known captains of banditti in the island, and induced him by the promise of personal pardon to betray the revolted slaves into the hands of the Romans. He thus gained the mastery over this band. But another band of runaway slaves succeeded in defeating a division of the garrison of Enna (Castrogiovanni); and this first success procured for the insurgents— what they especially needed—arms and a conflux of associates. The armour of their fallen or fugitive opponents furnished the first basis of their military organization, and the number of the insurgents soon swelled to many thousands. These Syrians in a foreign land already, like their predecessors, seemed to themselves not unworthy to be governed by kings, as were their countrymen at home; and— parodying the trumpery king of their native land down to the very name—they placed the slave Salvius at their head as king Tryphon. In the district between Enna and Leontini (Lentini) where these bands had their head-quarters, the open country was wholly in the hands of the insurgents and Morgantia and other walled towns were already besieged by them, when the Roman governor with his hastily-collected Sicilian and Italian troops fell upon the slave-army in front of Morgantia. He occupied the undefended camp; but the slaves, although surprised, made a stand. In the combat that ensued the levy of the island not only gave way at the first onset, but, as the slaves allowed every one who threw down his arms to escape unhindered, the militia almost without exception embraced the good opportunity of taking their departure, and the Roman army completely dispersed. Had the slaves in Morgantia been willing to make common cause with their comrades before the gates, the town was lost; but they preferred to accept the gift of freedom in legal form from their masters, and by their valour helped them to save the town—whereupon the Roman governor declared the promise of liberty solemnly given to the slaves by the masters to be void in law, as having been illegally extorted.


While the revolt thus spread after an alarming manner in the interior of the island, a second broke out on the west coast. It was headed by Athenion. He had formerly been, just like Cleon, a dreaded captain of banditti in his native country of Cilicia, and had been carried thence as a slave to Sicily. He secured, just as his predecessors had done, the adherence of the Greeks and Syrians especially by prophesyings and other edifying impostures; but skilled in war and sagacious as he was, he did not, like the other leaders, arm the whole mass that flocked to him, but formed out of the men able for warfare an organized army, while he assigned the remainder to peaceful employment. In consequence of his strict discipline, which repressed all vacillation and all insubordinate movement in his troops, and his gentle treatment of the peaceful inhabitants of the country and even of the captives, he gained rapid and great successes. The Romans were on this occasion disappointed in the hope that the two leaders would fall out; Athenion voluntarily submitted to the far less capable king Tryphon, and thus preserved unity among the insurgents. These soon ruled with virtually absolute power over the flat country, where the free proletarians again took part more or less openly with the slaves; the Roman authorities were not in a position to take the field against them, and had to rest content with protecting the towns, which were in the most lamentable plight, by means of the militia of Sicily and that of Africa brought over in all haste. The administration of justice was suspended over the whole island, and force was the only law. As no cultivator living in town ventured any longer beyond the gates, and no countryman ventured into the towns, the most fearful famine set in, and the town-population of this island which formerly fed Italy had to be supported by the Roman authorities sending supplies of grain. Moreover, conspiracies of the town- slaves everywhere threatened to break out within, while the insurgent armies lay before, the walls; even Messana was within a hair's breadth of being conquered by Athenion.


Difficult as it was for the government during the serious war with the Cimbri to place a second army in the field, it could not avoid sending in 651 an army of 14,000 Romans and Italians, not including the transmarine militia, under the praetor Lucius Lucullus to the island. The united slave-army was stationed in the mountains above Sciacca, and accepted the battle which Lucullus offered. The better military organization of the Romans gave them the victory; Athenion was left for dead on the field, Tryphon had to throw himself into the mountain-fortress of Triocala; the insurgents deliberated earnestly whether it was possible to continue the struggle longer. But the party, which was resolved to hold out to the last man, retained the upper hand; Athenion, who had been saved in a marvellous manner, reappeared among his troops and revived their sunken courage; above all Lucullus with incredible negligence took not the smallest step to follow up his victory; in fact, he is said to have intentionally disorganized the army and to have burned his field baggage, with a view to screen the total inefficacy of his administration and not to be cast into the shade by his successor. Whether this was true or not, his successor Gaius Servilius (652) obtained no better results; and both generals were afterwards criminally impeached and condemned for their conduct in office—which, however, was not at all a certain proof of their guilt. Athenion, who after the death of Tryphon (652) was invested with the sole command, stood victorious at the head of a considerable army, when in 653 Manius Aquillius, who had during the previous year distinguished himself under Marius in the war with the Teutones, was as consul and governor entrusted with the conduct of the war. After two years of hard conflicts—Aquillius is said to have fought in person with Athenion, and to have killed him in single combat—the Roman general at length put down the desperate resistance, and vanquished the insurgents in their last retreats by famine. The slaves on the island were prohibited from bearing arms and peace was again restored to it, or, in other words, its recent tormentors were relieved by those of former use and wont; in fact, the victor himself occupied a prominent place among the numerous and energetic robber-magistrates of this period. Any one who still required a proof of the internal quality of the government of the restored aristocracy might be referred to the origin and to the conduct of this second Sicilian slave-war, which, lasted for five years.

The Dependent States

But wherever the eye might turn throughout the wide sphere of Roman administration, the same causes and the same effects appeared. If the Sicilian slave-war showed how far the government was from being equal to even its simplest task of keeping in check the proletariate, contemporary events in Africa displayed the skill with which the Romans now governed the client-states. About the very time when the Sicilian slave-war broke out, there was exhibited before the eyes of the astonished world the spectacle of an unimportant client-prince able to carry out a fourteen years' usurpation and insurrection against the mighty republic which had shattered the kingdoms of Macedonia and Asia with one blow of its weighty arm— and that not by means of arms, but through the pitiful character of its rulers.


The kingdom of Numidia stretched from the river Molochath to the great Syrtis,(9) bordering on the one side with the Mauretanian kingdom of Tingis (the modern Morocco) and on the other with Cyrene and Egypt, and surrounding on the west, south, and east the narrow district of coast which formed the Roman province of Africa. In addition to the old possessions of the Numidian chiefs, it embraced by far the greatest portion of the territory which Carthage had possessed in Africa during the times of its prosperity—including several important Old-Phoenician cities, such as Hippo Regius (Bona) and Great Leptis (Lebidah)—altogether the largest and best part of the rich seaboard of northern Africa. Numidia was beyond question, next to Egypt, the most considerable of all the Roman client-states. After the death of Massinissa (605), Scipio had divided the sovereign functions of that prince among his three sons, the kings Micipsa, Gulussa, and Mastanabal, in such a way that the firstborn obtained the residency and the state-chest, the second the charge of war, and the third the administration of justice.(10) Now after the death of his two brothers Massinissa's eldest son, Micipsa,(11) reigned alone, a feeble peaceful old man, who was fond of occupying himself more with the study of Greek philosophy than with affairs of state. As his sons were not yet grown up, the reins of government were practically held by an illegitimate nephew of the king, the prince Jugurtha. Jugurtha was no unworthy grandson of Massinissa. He was a handsome man and a skilled and courageous rider and hunter; his countrymen held him in high honour as a clear and sagacious administrator, and he had displayed his military ability as leader of the Numidian contingent before Numantia under the eyes of Scipio. His position in the kingdom, and the influence which he possessed with the Roman government by means of his numerous friends and war-comrades, made it appear to king Micipsa advisable to adopt him (634), and to arrange in his testament that his own two elder sons Adherbal and Hiempsal, and his adopted son Jugurtha along with them, should jointly inherit and govern the kingdom, just as he himself had done with his two brothers. For greater security this arrangement was placed under the guarantee of the Roman government.

The War for the Numidian Succession

Soon afterwards, in 636, king Micipsa died. The testament came into force: but the two sons of Micipsa—the vehement Hiempsal still more than his weak elder brother—soon came into so violent collision with their cousin whom they looked on as an intruder into the legitimate line of succession, that the idea of a joint reign of the three kings had to be abandoned. An attempt was made to carry out a division of the heritage; but the quarrelling kings could not agree as to their quotas of land and treasure, and the protecting power, to which in this case the decisive word by right belonged, gave itself, as usual, no concern about this affair. A rupture took place; Adherbal and Hiempsal were disposed to characterize their father's testament as surreptitious and altogether to dispute Jugurtha's right of joint inheritance, while on the other hand Jugurtha came forward as a pretender to the whole kingdom. While the discussions as to the partition were still going on, Hiempsal was made away with by hired assassins; then a civil war arose between Adherbal and Jugurtha, in which all Numidia took part. With his less numerous but better disciplined and better led troops Jugurtha conquered, and seized the whole territory of the kingdom, subjecting the chiefs who adhered to his cousin to the most cruel persecution. Adherbal escaped to the Roman province and proceeded to Rome to make his complaint there. Jugurtha had expected this, and had made his arrangements to meet the threatened intervention. In the camp before Numantia he had learned more from Rome than Roman tactics; the Numidian prince, introduced to the circles of the Roman aristocracy, had at the same time been initiated into the intrigues of Roman coteries, and had studied at the fountain-head what might be expected from Roman nobles. Even then, sixteen years before Micipsa's death, he had entered into disloyal negotiations as to the Numidian succession with Roman comrades of rank, and Scipio had been under the necessity of gravely reminding him that it was becoming in foreign princes to be on terms of friendship with the Roman state rather than with individual Roman citizens. The envoys of Jugurtha appeared in Rome, furnished with something more than words: that they had chosen the right means of diplomatic persuasion, was shown by the result. The most zealous champions of Adherbal's just title were with incredible rapidity convinced that Hiempsal had been put to death by his subjects on account of his cruelty, and that the originator of the war as to the succession was not Jugurtha, but Adherbal. Even the leading men in the senate were shocked at the scandal; Marcus Scaurus sought to check it, but in vain. The senate passed over what had taken place in silence, and ordained that the two surviving testamentary heirs should have the kingdom equally divided between them, and that, for the prevention of fresh quarrels, the division should be undertaken by a commission of the senate. This was done: the consular Lucius Opimius, well known through his services in setting aside the revolution, had embraced the opportunity of gathering the reward of his patriotism, and had got himself placed at the head of the commission. The division turned out thoroughly in favour of Jugurtha, and not to the disadvantage of the commissioners; Cirta (Constantine) the capital with its port of Rusicade (Philippeville) was no doubt given to Adherbal, but by that very arrangement the portion which fell to him was the eastern part of the kingdom consisting almost wholly of sandy deserts, while Jugurtha obtained the fertile and populous western half (what was afterwards Mauretania Caesariensis and Sitifensis).

Siege of Cirta

This was bad; but matters soon became worse. In order to be able under the semblance of self-defence to defraud Adherbal of his portion, Jugurtha provoked him to war; but when the weak man, rendered wiser by experience, allowed Jugurtha's horsemen to ravage his territory unhindered and contented himself with lodging complaints at Rome, Jugurtha, impatient of these ceremonies, began the war even without pretext. Adherbal was totally defeated in the region of the modern Philippeville, and threw himself into his capital of Cirta in the immediate vicinity. While the siege was in progress, and Jugurtha's troops were daily skirmishing with the numerous Italians who were settled in Cirta and who took a more vigorous part in the defence of the city than the Africans themselves, the commission despatched by the Roman senate on Adherbal's first complaint made its appearance; composed, of course, of young inexperienced men, such as the government of those times regularly employed in the ordinary missions of the state. The envoys demanded that Jugurtha should allow them as deputed by the protecting power to Adherbal to enter the city, and generally that he should suspend hostilities and accept their mediation. Jugurtha summarily rejected both demands, and the envoys hastily returned home—like boys, as they were—to report to the fathers of the city. The fathers listened to the report, and allowed their countrymen in Cirta just to fight on as long as they pleased. It was not till, in the fifth month of the siege, a messenger of Adherbal stole through the entrenchments of the enemy and a letter of the king full of the most urgent entreaties reached the senate, that the latter roused itself and actually adopted a resolution—not to declare war as the minority demanded but to send a new embassy—an embassy, however, headed by Marcus Scaurus, the great conqueror of the Taurisci and the freedmen, the imposing hero of the aristocracy, whose mere appearance would suffice to bring the refractory king to a different mind. In fact Jugurtha appeared, as he was bidden, at Utica to discuss the matter with Scaurus; endless debates were held; when at length the conference was concluded, not the slightest result had been obtained. The embassy returned to Rome without having declared war, and the king went off again to the siege of Cirta. Adherbal found himself reduced to extremities and despaired of Roman support; the Italians in Cirta moreover, weary of the siege and firmly relying for their own safety on the terror of the Roman name, urged a surrender. So the town capitulated. Jugurtha ordered his adopted brother to be executed amid cruel tortures, and all the adult male population of the town, Africans as well as Italians, to be put to the sword (642).

Roman Intervention
Treaty between Rome and Numidia

A cry of indignation rose throughout Italy. The minority in the senate itself and every one out of the senate unanimously condemned the government, with whom the honour and interest of the country seemed mere commodities for sale; loudest of all was the outcry of the mercantile class, which was most directly affected by the sacrifice of the Roman and Italian merchants at Cirta. It is true that the majority of the senate still even now struggled; they appealed to the class-interests of the aristocracy, and set in motion all the contrivances of collegiate procrastination, with a view to preserve still longer the peace which they loved. But when Gaius Memmius, designated as tribune of the people for next year, an active and eloquent man, brought the matter publicly forward and threatened in his capacity of tribune to call the worst offenders to judicial account, the senate permitted war to be declared against Jugurtha (642-3). The step seemed taken in earnest. The envoys of Jugurtha were dismissed from Italy without being admitted to an audience; the new consul Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, who was distinguished, among the members of his order at least, by judgment and activity, prosecuted the warlike preparations with energy; Marcus Scaurus himself took the post of a commander in the African army. In a short time a Roman army was on African ground, and marching upward along the Bagradas (Mejerdah) advanced into the Numidian kingdom, where the towns most remote from the seat of the royal power, such as Great Leptis, already voluntarily sent in their submission, while Bocchus king of Mauretania, although his daughter was married to Jugurtha, offered friendship and alliance to the Romans. Jugurtha himself lost courage, and sent envoys to the Roman headquarters to request an armistice. The end of the contest seemed near, and came still more rapidly than was expected. The treaty with Bocchus broke down, because the king, unacquainted with Roman customs, had conceived that he should be able to conclude a treaty so advantageous for the Romans without any gratuity, and therefore had neglected to furnish his envoys with the usual market price of Roman alliances. Jugurtha at all events knew Roman institutions better, and had not omitted to support his proposals for an armistice by a due accompaniment of money; but he too was deceived. After the first negotiations it turned out that not an armistice merely but a peace was purchaseable at the Roman head-quarters. The royal treasury was still well filled with the savings of Massinissa; the transaction was soon settled. The treaty was concluded, after it had been for the sake of form submitted to a council of war whose consent was procured after an irregular and extremely summary discussion. Jugurtha submitted at discretion; but the victor was merciful and gave him back his kingdom undiminished, in consideration of his paying a moderate fine and delivering up the Roman deserters and the war elephants (643); the greater part of the latter the king afterwards repurchased by bargaining with the individual Roman commandants and officers.

On the news of this peace the storm once more broke forth in Rome. Everybody knew how the peace had been brought about; even Scaurus was evidently open to bribery, only at a price higher than the ordinary senatorial average. The legal validity of the peace was seriously assailed in the senate; Gaius Memmius declared that the king, if he had really submitted unconditionally, could not refuse to appear in Rome, and that he should accordingly be summoned before them, with the view of ascertaining how the matter actually stood as to the thoroughly irregular negotiations for peace by hearing both the contracting parties. They yielded to the inconvenient demand: but at the same time granted a safe-conduct to the king inconsistently with the law, for he came not as an enemy, but as one who had made his submission. Thereupon the king actually appeared at Rome and presented himself to be heard before the assembled people, which was with difficulty induced to respect the safe-conduct and to refrain from tearing in pieces on the spot the murderer of the Italians at Cirta. But scarcely had Gaius Memmius addressed his first question to the king, when one of his colleagues interfered in virtue of his veto and enjoined the king to be silent. Here too African gold was more powerful than the will of the sovereign people and of its supreme magistrates. Meanwhile the discussions respecting the validity of the peace so concluded went on in the senate, and the new consul Spurius Postumius Albinus zealously supported the proposal to cancel it, in the expectation that in that case the chief command in Africa would devolve on him. This induced Massiva, a grandson of Massinissa living in Rome, to assert before the senate his claims to the vacant Numidian kingdom; upon which Bomilcar, one of the confidants of king Jugurtha, doubtless under his instructions made away with the rival of his master by assassination, and, when he was prosecuted on account of it, escaped with Jugurtha's aid from Rome.

Cancelling of the Treaty
Declaration of War
Capitulation of the Romans
Second Peace

This new outrage perpetrated under the eyes of the Roman government was at least so far effectual, that the senate now cancelled the peace and dismissed the king from the city (winter of 643-644). The war was accordingly resumed, and the consul Spurius Albinus was invested with the command (644). But the African army down to its lowest ranks was in a state of disorganization corresponding to such a political and military superintendence. Not only had discipline ceased and the spoliation of Numidian townships and even of the Roman provincial territory become during the suspension of hostilities the chief business of the Roman soldiery, but not a few officers and soldiers had as well as their generals entered into secret understanding with the enemy. It is easy to see that such an army could do nothing in the field; and if Jugurtha on this occasion bribed the Roman general into inaction, as was afterwards judicially asserted against the latter, he did in truth what was superfluous. Spurius Albinus therefore contented himself with doing nothing. On the other hand his brother who after his departure assumed the interim command—the equally foolhardy and incapable Aulus Postumius— in the middle of winter fell on the idea of seizing by a bold coup de main the treasures of the king, which were kept in the town of Suthul (afterwards Calama, now Guelma) difficult of access and still more difficult of conquest. The army set out thither and reached the town; but the siege was unsuccessful and without prospect of result, and, when the king who had remained for a time with his troops in front of the town went into the desert, the Roman general preferred to pursue him. This was precisely what Jugurtha intended in a nocturnal assault, which was favoured by the difficulties of the ground and the secret understanding which Jugurtha had with some in the Roman army, the Numidians captured the Roman camp, and drove the Romans, many of whom were unarmed, before them in the most complete and disgraceful rout. The consequence was a capitulation, the terms of which—the marching off of the Roman army under the yoke, the immediate evacuation of the whole Numidian territory, and the renewal of the treaty cancelled by the senate—were dictated by Jugurtha and accepted by the Romans (in the beginning of 645).

Dissatisfaction in the Capital

This was too much to be borne. While the Africans were exulting and the prospect—thus suddenly opened up—of such an overthrow of the alien domination as had been reckoned scarcely possible was bringing numerous tribes of the free and half-free inhabitants of the desert to the standards of the victorious king, public opinion in Italy was vehemently aroused against the equally corrupt and pernicious governing aristocracy, and broke out in a storm of prosecutions which, fostered by the exasperation of the mercantile class, swept away a succession of victims from the highest circles of the nobility. On the proposal of the tribune of the people Gaius Mamilius Limetanus, in spite of the timid attempts of the senate to avert the threatened punishment, an extraordinary jury-commission was appointed to investigate the high treason that had occurred in connection with the question of the Numidian succession; and its sentences sent the two former commanders- in-chief Gaius Bestia and Spurius Albinus as well as Lucius Opimius, the head of the first African commission and the executioner withal of Gaius Gracchus, along with numerous other less notable men of the government party, guilty and innocent, into exile. That these prosecutions, however, were only intended to appease the excitement of public opinion, in the capitalist circles more especially, by the sacrifice of some of the persons most compromised, and that there was in them not the slightest trace of a rising of popular indignation against the government itself, void as it was of right and honour, is shown very clearly by the fact that no one ventured to attack the guiltiest of the guilty, the prudent and powerful Scaurus; on the contrary he was about this very time elected censor and also, incredible as it may seem, chosen as one of the presidents of the extraordinary commission of treason. Still less was any attempt even made to interfere with the functions of the government, and it was left solely to the senate to put an end to the Numidian scandal in a manner as gentle as possible for the aristocracy; for that it was time to do so, even the most aristocratic aristocrat probably began to perceive.

Cancelling of the Second Treaty
Metellus Appointed to the Command
Renewal of the War

The senate in the first place cancelled the second treaty of peace— to surrender to the enemy the commander who had concluded it, as was done some thirty years before, seemed according to the new ideas of the sanctity of treaties no longer necessary—and determined, this time in all earnest, to renew the war. The supreme command in Africa was entrusted, as was natural, to an aristocrat, but yet to one of the few men of quality who in a military and moral point of view were equal to the task. The choice fell on Quintus Metellus. He was, like the whole powerful family to which he belonged, in principle a rigid and unscrupulous aristocrat; as a magistrate, he, no doubt, reckoned it honourable to hire assassins for the good of the state and would presumably have ridiculed the act of Fabricius towards Pyrrhus as unpractical knight errantry, but he was an inflexible administrator accessible neither to fear nor to corruption, and a judicious and experienced warrior. In this respect he was so far free from the prejudices of his order that he selected as his lieutenants not men of rank, but the excellent officer Publius Rutilius Rufus, who was esteemed in military circles for his exemplary discipline and as the author of an altered and improved system of drill, and the brave Latin farmer's son Gaius Marius, who had risen from the pike. Attended by these and other able officers, Metellus presented himself in the course of 645 as consul and commander-in-chief to the African army, which he found in such disorder that the generals had not hitherto ventured to lead it into the enemy's territory and it was formidable to none save the unhappy inhabitants of the Roman province. It was sternly and speedily reorganized, and in the spring of 646.(12)

Metellus led it over the Numidian frontier. When Jugurtha perceived the altered state of things, he gave himself up as lost, and, before the struggle began, made earnest proposals for an accommodation, requesting ultimately nothing more than a guarantee for his life. Metellus, however, was resolved and perhaps even instructed not to terminate the war except with the unconditional subjugation and execution of the daring client-prince; which was in fact the only issue that could satisfy the Romans. Jugurtha since the victory over Albinus was regarded as the deliverer of Libya from the rule of the hated foreigners; unscrupulous and cunning as he was, and unwieldy as was the Roman government, he might at any time even after a peace rekindle the war in his native country; tranquillity would not be secured, and the removal of the African army would not be possible, until king Jugurtha should cease to exist. Officially Metellus gave evasive answers to the proposals of the king; secretly he instigated the envoys to deliver their master living or dead to the Romans. But, when the Roman general undertook to compete with the African in the field of assassination, he there met his master; Jugurtha saw through the plan, and, when he could not do otherwise, prepared for a desperate resistance.

Battle on the Muthul

Beyond the utterly barren mountain-range, over which lay the route of the Romans into the interior, a plain of eighteen miles in breadth extended as far as the river Muthul, which ran parallel to the mountain-chain. The plain was destitute of water and of trees except in the immediate vicinity of the river, and was only intersected by a hill-ridge covered with low brushwood. On this ridge Jugurtha awaited the Roman army. His troops were arranged in two masses; the one, including a part of the infantry and the elephants, under Bomilcar at the point where the ridge abutted on the river, the other, embracing the flower of the infantry and all the cavalry, higher up towards the mountain-range, concealed by the bushes. On debouching from the mountains, the Romans saw the enemy in a position completely commanding their right flank; and, as they could not possibly remain on the bare and arid crest of the chain and were under the necessity of reaching the river, they had to solve the difficult problem of gaining the stream through the entirely open plain of eighteen miles in breadth, under the eyes of the enemy's horsemen and without light cavalry of their own. Metellus despatched a detachment under Rufus straight towards the river, to pitch a camp there; the main body marched from the defiles of the mountain-chain in an oblique direction through the plain towards the hill-ridge, with a view to dislodge the enemy from the latter. But this march in the plain threatened to become the destruction of the army; for, while Numidian infantry occupied the mountain defiles in the rear of the Romans as the latter evacuated them, the Roman attacking column found itself assailed on all sides by swarms of the enemy's horse, who charged down on it from the ridge. The constant onset of the hostile swarms hindered the advance, and the battle threatened to resolve itself into a number of confused and detached conflicts; while at the same time Bomilcar with his division detained the corps under Rufus, to prevent it from hastening to the help of the hard- pressed Roman main army. Nevertheless Metellus and Marius with a couple of thousand soldiers succeeded in reaching the foot of the ridge; and the Numidian infantry which defended the heights, in spite of their superior numbers and favourable position, fled almost without resistance when the legionaries charged at a rapid pace up the hill. The Numidian infantry held its ground equally ill against Rufus; it was scattered at the first charge, and the elephants were all killed or captured on the broken ground. Late in the evening the two Roman divisions, each victorious on its own part and each anxious as to the fate of the other, met between the two fields of battle. It was a battle attesting alike the uncommon military talent of Jugurtha and the indestructible solidity of the Roman infantry, which alone had converted their strategical defeat into a victory. Jugurtha sent home a great part of his troops after the battle, and restricted himself to a guerilla warfare, which he likewise managed with skill.

Numidia Occupied by the Romans

The two Roman columns, the one led by Metellus, the other by Marius— who, although by birth and rank the humblest, occupied since the battle on the Muthul the first place among the chiefs of the staff— traversed the Numidian territory, occupied the towns, and, when any place did not readily open its gates, put to death the adult male population. But the most considerable among the eastern inland towns, Zama, opposed to the Romans a serious resistance, which the king energetically supported. He was even successful in surprising the Roman camp; and the Romans found themselves at last compelled to abandon the siege and to go into winter quarters. For the sake of more easily provisioning his army Metellus, leaving behind garrisons in the conquered towns, transferred it into the Roman province, and employed the opportunity of suspended hostilities to institute fresh negotiations, showing a disposition to grant to the king a peace on tolerable terms. Jugurtha readily entered into them; he had at once bound himself to pay 200,000 pounds of silver, and had even delivered up his elephants and 300 hostages, as well as 3000 Roman deserters, who were immediately put to death. At the same time, however, the king's most confidential counsellor, Bomilcar—who not unreasonably apprehended that, if peace should ensue, Jugurtha would deliver him up as the murderer of Massiva to the Roman courts—was gained by Metellus and induced, in consideration of an assurance of impunity as respected that murder and of great rewards, to promise that he would deliver the king alive or dead into the hands of the Romans. But neither that official negotiation nor this intrigue led to the desired result. When Metellus brought forward the suggestion that the king should give himself up in person as a prisoner, the latter broke off the negotiations; Bomilcar's intercourse with the enemy was discovered, and he was arrested and executed. These diplomatic cabals of the meanest kind admit of no apology; but the Romans had every reason to aim at the possession of the person of their antagonist. The war had reached a point, at which it could neither be carried farther nor abandoned. The state of feeling in Numidia was evinced by the revolt of Vaga,(13) the most considerable of the cities occupied by the Romans, in the winter of 646-7; on which occasion the whole Roman garrison, officers and men, were put to death with the exception of the commandant Titus Turpilius Silanus, who was afterwards—whether rightly or wrongly, we cannot tell—condemned to death by a Roman court-martial and executed for having an understanding with the enemy. The town was surprised by Metellus on the second day after its revolt, and given over to all the rigour of martial law; but if such was the temper of the easy to be reached and comparatively submissive dwellers on the banks of the Bagradas, what might be looked for farther inland and among the roving tribes of the desert? Jugurtha was the idol of the Africans, who readily overlooked the double fratricide in the liberator and avenger of their nation. Twenty years afterwards a Numidian corps which was fighting in Italy for the Romans had to be sent back in all haste to Africa, when the son of Jugurtha appeared in the enemy's ranks; we may infer from this, how great was the influence which he himself exercised over his people. What prospect was there of a termination of the struggle in regions where the combined peculiarities of the population and of the soil allowed a leader, who had once secured the sympathies of the nation, to protract the war in endless guerilla conflicts, or even to let it sleep for a time in order to revive it at the right moment with renewed vigour?

War in the Desert
Mauretanian Complications

When Metellus again took the field in 647, Jugurtha nowhere held his ground against him; he appeared now at one point, now at another far distant; it seemed as if they would as easily get the better of the lions as of these horsemen of the desert. A battle was fought, a victory was won; but it was difficult to say what had been gained by the victory. The king had vanished out of sight in the distance. In the interior of the modern beylik of Tunis, close on the edge of the great desert, there lay on an oasis provided with springs the strong place Thala;(14) thither Jugurtha had retired with his children, his treasures, and the flower of his troops, there to await better times. Metellus ventured to follow the king through a desert, in which his troops had to carry water along with them in skins forty-five miles; Thala was reached and fell after a forty days' siege; but the Roman deserters destroyed the most valuable part of the booty along with the building in which they burnt themselves after the capture of the town, and—what was of more consequence—king Jugurtha escaped with his children and his chest. Numidia was no doubt virtually in the hands of the Romans; but, instead of their object being thereby gained, the war seemed only to extend over a field wider and wider. In the south the free Gaetulian tribes of the desert began at the call of Jugurtha a national war against the Romans. In the west Bocchus king of Mauretania, whose friendship the Romans had in earlier times despised, seemed now not indisposed to make common cause with his son-in-law against them; he not only received him in his court, but, uniting to Jugurtha's followers his own numberless swarms of horsemen, he marched into the region of Cirta, where Metellus was in winter quarters. They began to negotiate: it was clear that in the person of Jugurtha he held in his hands the real prize of the struggle for Rome. But what were his intentions—whether to sell his son-in-law dear to the Romans, or to take up the national war in concert with that son-in-law—neither the Romans nor Jugurtha nor perhaps even the king himself knew; and he was in no hurry to abandon his ambiguous position.

Marius Commander-in-Chief

Thereupon Metellus left the province, which he had been compelled by decree of the people to give up to his former lieutenant Marius who was now consul; and the latter assumed the supreme command for the next campaign in 648. He was indebted for it in some degree to a revolution. Relying on the services which he had rendered and at the same time on oracles which had been communicated to him, he had resolved to come forward as a candidate for the consulship. If the aristocracy had supported the constitutional, and in other respects quite justifiable, candidature of this able man, who was not at all inclined to take part with the opposition, nothing would have come of the matter but the enrolment of a new family in the consular Fasti. Instead of this the man of non-noble birth, who aspired to the highest public dignity, was reviled by the whole governing caste as a daring innovator and revolutionist; just as the plebeian candidate had been formerly treated by the patricians, but now without any formal ground in law. The brave officer was sneered at in sharp language by Metellus—Marius was told that he might wait with his candidature till Metellus' son, a beardless boy, could be his colleague—and he was with the worst grace suffered to leave almost at the last moment, that he might appear in the capital as a candidate for the consulship of 647. There he amply retaliated on his general the wrong which he had suffered, by criticising before the gaping multitude the conduct of the war and the administration of Metellus in Africa in a manner as unmilitary as it was disgracefully unfair; and he did not even disdain to serve up to the darling populace—always whispering about secret conspiracies equally unprecedented and indubitable on the part of their noble masters— the silly story, that Metellus was designedly protracting the war in order to remain as long as possible commander-in-chief. To the idlers of the streets this was quite clear: numerous persons unfriendly for reasons good or bad to the government, and especially the justly-indignant mercantile order, desired nothing better than such an opportunity of annoying the aristocracy in its most sensitive point: he was elected to the consulship by an enormous majority, and not only so, but, while in other cases by the law of Gaius Gracchus the decision as to the respective functions to be assigned to the consuls lay with the senate (p. 355), the arrangement made by the senate which left Metellus at his post was overthrown, and by decree of the sovereign comitia the supreme command in the African war was committed to Marius.

Conflicts without Result

Accordingly he took the place of Metellus in the course of 647; and held the command in the campaign of the following year; but his confident promise to do better than his predecessor and to deliver Jugurtha bound hand and foot with all speed at Rome was more easily given than fulfilled. Marius carried on a desultory warfare with the Gaetulians; he reduced several towns that had not previously been occupied; he undertook an expedition to Capsa (Gafsa) in the extreme south-east of the kingdom, which surpassed even that of Thala in difficulty, took the town by capitulation, and in spite of the convention caused all the adult men in it to be slain—the only means, no doubt, of preventing the renewed revolt of that remote city of the desert; he attacked a mountain-stronghold—situated on the river Molochath, which separated the Numidian territory from the Mauretanian—whither Jugurtha had conveyed his treasure-chest, and, just as he was about to desist from the siege in despair of success, fortunately gained possession of the impregnable fastness through the coup de main of some daring climbers. Had his object merely been to harden the army by bold razzias and to procure booty for the soldiers, or even to eclipse the march of Metellus into the desert by an expedition going still farther, this method of warfare might be allowed to pass unchallenged; but the main object to be aimed at, and which Metellus had steadfastly and perseveringly kept in view— the capture of Jugurtha—was in this way utterly set aside. The expedition of Marius to Capsa was a venture as aimless, as that of Metellus to Thala had been judicious; but the expedition to the Molochath, which passed along the border of, if not into, the Mauretanian territory, was directly repugnant to sound policy. King Bocchus, in whose power it lay to bring the war to an issue favourable for the Romans or endlessly to prolong it, now concluded with Jugurtha a treaty, in which the latter ceded to him a part of his kingdom and Bocchus promised actively to support his son-in-law against Rome. The Roman army, which was returning from the river Molochath, found itself one evening suddenly surrounded by immense masses of Mauretanian and Numidian cavalry; they were obliged to fight just as the divisions stood without forming in a proper order of battle or carrying out any leading command, and had to deem themselves fortunate when their sadly-thinned troops were brought into temporary safety for the night on two hills not far remote from each other. But the culpable negligence of the Africans intoxicated with victory wrested from them its consequences; they allowed themselves to be surprised in a deep sleep during the morning twilight by the Roman troops which had been in some measure reorganized during the night, and were fortunately dispersed. Thereupon the Roman army continued its retreat in better order and with greater caution; but it was yet again assailed simultaneously on ail the four sides and was in great danger, till the cavalry officer Lucius Cornelius Sulla first dispersed the squadrons opposed to him and then, rapidly returning from their pursuit, threw himself also on Jugurtha and Bocchus at the point where they in person pressed hard on the rear of the Roman infantry. Thus this attack also was successfully repelled; Marius brought his army back to Cirta, and took up his winter quarters there (648-9).

Negotiations with Bocchus

Strange as it may seem, we can yet understand why the Romans now, after king Bocchus had commenced the war, began to make most zealous exertions to secure his friendship, which they had at first slighted and thereafter had at least not specially sought; by doing so they gained this advantage, that no formal declaration of war took place on the part of Mauretania. King Bocchus was not unwilling to return to his old ambiguous position: without dissolving his agreement with Jugurtha or dismissing him, he entered into negotiations with the Roman general respecting the terms of an alliance with Rome. When they were agreed or seemed to be so, the king requested that, for the purpose of concluding the treaty and receiving the royal captive, Marius would send to him Lucius Sulla, who was known and acceptable to the king partly from his having formerly appeared as envoy of the senate at the Mauretanian court, partly from the commendations of the Mauretanian envoys destined for Rome to whom Sulla had rendered services on their way. Marius was in an awkward position. His declining the suggestion would probably lead to a breach; his accepting it would throw his most aristocratic and bravest officer into the hands of a man more than untrustworthy, who, as every one knew, played a double game with the Romans and with Jugurtha, and who seemed almost to have contrived the scheme for the purpose of obtaining for himself provisional hostages from both sides in the persons of Jugurtha and Sulla. But the wish to terminate the war outweighed every other consideration, and Sulla agreed to undertake the perilous task which Marius suggested to him. He boldly departed under the guidance of Volux the son of king Bocchus, nor did his resolution waver even when his guide led him through the midst of Jugurtha's camp. He rejected the pusillanimous proposals of flight that came from his attendants, and marched, with the king's son at his side, uninjured through the enemy. The daring officer evinced the same decision in the discussions with the sultan, and induced him at length seriously to make his choice.

Surrender and Execution of Jugurtha

Jugurtha was sacrificed. Under the pretext that all his requests were to be granted, he was allured by his own father-in-law into an ambush, his attendants were killed, and he himself was taken prisoner. The great traitor thus fell by the treachery of his nearest relatives. Lucius Sulla brought the crafty and restless African in chains along with his children to the Roman headquarters; and the war which had lasted for seven years was at an end. The victory was primarily associated with the name of Marius. King Jugurtha in royal robes and in chains, along with his two sons, preceded the triumphal chariot of the victor, when he entered Rome on the 1st of January 650: by his orders the son of the desert perished a few days afterwards in the subterranean city-prison, the old -tullianum- at the Capitol— the "bath of ice," as the African called it, when he crossed the threshold in order either to be strangled or to perish from cold and hunger there. But it could not be denied that Marius had the least important share in the actual successes: the conquest of Numidia up to the edge of the desert was the work of Metellus, the capture of Jugurtha was the work of Sulla, and between the two Marius played a part somewhat compromising the dignity of an ambitious upstart. Marius reluctantly tolerated the assumption by his predecessor of the name of conqueror of Numidia; he flew into a violent rage when king Bocchus afterwards consecrated a golden effigy at the Capitol, which represented the surrender of Jugurtha to Sulla; and yet in the eyes of unprejudiced judges the services of these two threw the generalship of Marius very much into the shade—more especially Sulla's brilliant expedition to the desert, which had made his courage, his presence of mind, his acuteness, his power over men to be recognized by the general himself and by the whole army. In themselves these military rivalries would have been of little moment, if they had not been mixed up with the conflict of political parties, if the opposition had not supplanted the senatorial general by Marius, and if the party of the government had not, with the deliberate intention of exasperating, praised Metellus and still more Sulla as the military celebrities and preferred them to the nominal victor. We shall have to return to the fatal consequences of these animosities when narrating the internal history.

Reorganization of Numidia

Otherwise, this insurrection of the Numidian client-state passed away without producing any noticeable change either in political relations generally or even in those of the African province. By a deviation from the policy elsewhere followed at this period Numidia was not converted into a Roman province; evidently because the country could not be held without an army to protect the frontier against the barbarians of the desert, and the Romans were by no means disposed to maintain a standing army in Africa. They contented themselves accordingly with annexing the most westerly district of Numidia, probably the tract from the river Molochath to the harbour of Saldae (Bougie)—the later Mauretania Caesariensis (province of Algiers)—to the kingdom of Bocchus, and with handing over the kingdom of Numidia thus diminished to the last legitimate grandson of Massinissa still surviving, Gauda the half-brother of Jugurtha, feeble in body and mind, who had already in 646 at the suggestion of Marius asserted his claims before the senate.(15) At the same time the Gaetulian tribes in the interior of Africa were received as free allies into the number of the independent nations that had treaties with Rome.

Political Issues

Of greater importance than this regulation of African clientship were the political consequences of the Jugurthine war or rather of the Jugurthine insurrection, although these have been frequently estimated too highly. Certainly all the evils of the government were therein brought to light in all their nakedness; it was now not merely notorious but, so to speak, judicially established, that among the governing lords of Rome everything was treated as venal—the treaty of peace and the right of intercession, the rampart of the camp and the life of the soldier; the African had said no more than the simple truth, when on his departure from Rome he declared that, if he had only gold enough, he would undertake to buy the city itself. But the whole external and internal government of this period bore the same stamp of miserable baseness. In our case the accidental fact, that the war in Africa is brought nearer to us by means of better accounts than the other contemporary military and political events, shifts the true perspective; contemporaries learned by these revelations nothing but what everybody knew long before and every intrepid patriot had long been in a position to support by facts. The circumstance, however, that they were now furnished with some fresh, still stronger and still more irrefutable, proofs of the baseness of the restored senatorial government—a baseness only surpassed by its incapacity—might have been of importance, had there been an opposition and a public opinion with which the government would have found it necessary to come to terms. But this war had in fact exposed the corruption of the government no less than it had revealed the utter nullity of the opposition. It was not possible to govern worse than the restoration governed in the years 637-645; it was not possible to stand forth more defenceless and forlorn than was the Roman senate in 645: had there been in Rome a real opposition, that is to say, a party which wished and urged a fundamental alteration of the constitution, it must necessarily have now made at least an attempt to overturn the restored senate. No such attempt took place; the political question was converted into a personal one, the generals were changed, and one or two useless and unimportant people were banished. It was thus settled, that the so-called popular party as such neither could nor would govern; that only two forms of government were at all possible in Rome, a -tyrannis- or an oligarchy; that, so long as there happened to be nobody sufficiently well known, if not sufficiently important, to usurp the regency of the state, the worst mismanagement endangered at the most individual oligarchs, but never the oligarchy; that on the other hand, so soon as such a pretender appeared, nothing was easier than to shake the rotten curule chairs. In this respect the coming forward of Marius was significant, just because it was in itself so utterly unwarranted. If the burgesses had stormed the senate-house after the defeat of Albinus, it would have been a natural, not to say a proper course; but after the turn which Metellus had given to the Numidian war, nothing more could be said of mismanagement, and still less of danger to the commonwealth, at least in this respect; and yet the first ambitious officer who turned up succeeded in doing that with which the older Africanus had once threatened the government,(16) and procured for himself one of the principal military commands against the distinctly- expressed will of the governing body. Public opinion, unavailing in the hands of the so-called popular party, became an irresistible weapon in the hands of the future king of Rome. We do not mean to say that Marius intended to play the pretender, at least at the time when he canvassed the people for the supreme command in Africa; but, whether he did or did not understand what he was doing, there was evidently an end of the restored aristocratic government when the comitial machine began to make generals, or, which was nearly the same thing, when every popular officer was able in legal fashion to nominate himself as general. Only one new element emerged in these preliminary crises; this was the introduction of military men and of military power into the political revolution. Whether the coming forward of Marius would be the immediate prelude of a new attempt to supersede the oligarchy by the -tyrannis-, or whether it would, as in various similar cases, pass away without further consequence as an isolated encroachment on the prerogative of the government, could not yet be determined; but it could well be foreseen that, if these rudiments of a second -tyrannis- should attain any development, it was not a statesman like Gaius Gracchus, but an officer that would become its head. The contemporary reorganization of the military system—which Marius introduced when, in forming his army destined for Africa, he disregarded the property-qualification hitherto required, and allowed even the poorest burgess, if he was otherwise serviceable, to enter the legion as a volunteer—may have been projected by its author on purely military grounds; but it was none the less on that account a momentous political event, that the army was no longer, as formerly, composed of those who had much, no longer even, as in the most recent times, composed of those who had something, to lose, but became gradually converted into a host of people who had nothing but their arms and what the general bestowed on them. The aristocracy ruled in 650 just as absolutely as in 620; but the signs of the impending catastrophe had multiplied, and on the political horizon the sword had begun to appear by the side of the crown.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!