The land, on which the eyes of the world were soon to be fastened, was the neglected protectorate which had been built up to secure the temporary purpose of the overthrow of Carthage, and had since remained in the undisturbed possession of the peaceful descendants of Masinissa. The fortunes of the kingdom of Numidia, so far as they affected that kingdom itself, deserved to be neglected by its suzerain; for the power which Masinissa had won by arms and diplomacy was more than sufficient to protect its own interests. The Numidia of the day formed in territorial extent one of the mightiest kingdoms of the world, and ranked only second to Egypt amongst the client powers of Rome. It extended from Mauretania to Cyrenaica, from the river Muluccha to the greater Syrtis, thus touching on the west the Empire of the Moors, at that time confined to Tingitana, on the east almost penetrating to Egypt, and enjoying the best part of the fertile region which borders the coast of the Mediterranean. For the Moroccan boundary of the kingdom--the river Muluccha or Molocath--see Göbel Die Westküste Afrikas im Altertum pp. 79,80. From this vast tract of country Rome had cut out for herself a small section on the north-east. In the creation of the province of Africa her moderation and forbearance must have astonished her Numidian client; and, if Masinissa showed signs of hesitancy in rousing himself for the destruction of Carthage, the fears of his sons must have been immediately dispelled when they saw the slender profits which Rome meant to reap from the suppression of their joint rival. The Numidian kings were even allowed to keep the territory which had been wrested from Carthage between the Second and Third Punic Wars. This comprised the region about the Tusca, which boasted not less than fifty towns, the district known as the Great Plains, which has been identified with the great basin of the Dakhla of the Oulad-bon-Salem, and probably the plateau of Vaga (Bêdja) which dominates this basin. The Roman lines merely extended from the Tusca (the Wäd El-Kebir) in the North, where that river flows into the Mediterranean opposite the island of Thabraca (Tabarka) to Thenae (Henschir Tina) on the south-east. But even the upper waters of the Tusca belonged to Numidia, as did the towns of Vaga, Sicca Veneria and Zama Regia. Consequently the Roman frontier must have curved eastward until it reached the point where a rocky region separates the basin of the Bagradas (Medjerda) from the plains of the Sahel; thence it ran to the neighbourhood of Aquae Regiae and thence, probably following the line of a ditch drawn between the two great depressions of Kairouan and El-Gharra, to its ultimate bourne at Thenae. It is clear that the Romans did not look on their province as an end desirable in itself. They had left in the hands of their Numidian friends some of the most fertile lands, some of the richest commercial towns, situated in a district which they might easily have claimed. Against such annexation Masinissa could have uttered no word of legitimate protest. His kingdom had already been almost doubled by the acquisition of the lands of his rival Syphax, and his sons saw themselves through the aid of Rome in possession of an artificially created kingdom, which was so entirely out of harmony with the traditions of Numidian life that it could scarcely have entered into the dreams of any prince of that race. But the conquering city reposed some faith in gratitude, and reposed still more in its habitual policy of caution. The province which it created was simply a political and strategic necessity. It was intended to secure the negative object of preventing the reconstitution of the great political and commercial centre which had fallen. If Carthage was never to rise again, a fragment of the coast-line must be kept in the hands of the possessors of its devastated site. It might have been better for the peace of Africa had the Romans been a little more grasping and had the Roman position been stronger than it was. The Phoenicians scattered along the coast had become familiar objects to the Berber inhabitants and their kings; to the enlightened monarch they were a valuable addition to the population of any of his cities--all the more valuable now that they were politically powerless. But with the Roman official and the Roman trader it was different. Here was an alien and (in spite of the restraint of the government) an encroaching civilisation, utterly unfamiliar to the eyes of the natives, but known to justify its lordly security by that dim background of power which clung to the name of the paramount city of the West. The Roman possessions were an ugly eyesore to a man who held that Africa should be for the Africans. The wise Masinissa might tolerate the spectacle, content (as, indeed, he should have been) with the power and security which Rome's friendship had brought to her ally. But it remained to be seen whether his views would always be held by his own subjects or by some less cautious or less happily placed successor of his own line.
It was indeed possible that a hostile feeling of nationality might be awakened beyond the limits even of the great kingdom of Numidia. The designations which the Romans employ for the natives of North Africa obscure the fact, which was recognised in later times by the Arab conquerors, of the unity of the great Berber folk. Roman historians and geographers speak of the Numidians and Mauretanians as though they were distinct peoples; but there can be little doubt that, then as to-day, they were but two fractions of the same great race, and that even the wild Gaetulians of the South are but representatives of the parent stock of this indigenous people. As in the case of nearly all races which in default of historical data we are forced to call indigenous, two separate elements may be distinguished in this stock, an earlier and a later, and survivals of the original distinctions between these elements were clearly discernible in many parts of Northern Africa; but, as the fusion between these stocks had been effected in prehistoric times, a common Berber nationality may be held to have extended from the Atlantic almost to Egypt, at the time when the Romans were added to the immigrant Semites and Greeks who had already sought to dwell amidst its borders. The basis of this nationality is thought to be found in the aborigines of the Sahara who had gradually moved up from the desert to the present littoral. There they were joined by a race of another type who were wending their way from what is now the continent of Europe. The Saharic man was of a dark-brown colour but with no traces of the negroid type. His European comrade was a man of fair complexion and light hair; and these curiously blended races continued to live side by side and to form a single nation, preserving perhaps each some of its own psychical characteristics, but speaking in common the language of the older Saharic stock. But the two races were not uniformly distributed over the various territories of Northern Africa. The white race was perhaps more in evidence in Mauretania, as it is in the Morocco of to-day; the dark race was probably most strongly represented amongst the Gaetulians of the South. There were, in short, in Northern Africa two zones, marked by differences of civilisation as well as of ethnic descent, which were clearly distinguished in antiquity. The first is represented by the Afri, Numidians, and Moors, who inhabited the coast region from East to West. These were early subjected to alien influences, the greatest of which, before the coming of the Roman, was the advent of the Semite. The second is shown by the vast aggregate of tribes which form a curve along the south from the ocean to the Cyrenaica. These tribes, which were called by the common name of Gaetuli, were almost exempt from European influences in historic, and probably in prehistoric, times. A few intermingled with the Aethiopians of the Sahara, but, taken as a whole, they are believed to represent the primitive race of brown Saharic dwellers in all its purity.
Had the term Nomad or Numidian been applied to the southern races, the designation might have been justified by the migratory character of their life. But it is more than questionable whether the designation is defensible as applied to the people to whom it is usually attached. The Numidians do not seem to have possessed either the character or habits of a genuinely nomadic people such as the Arabs. They lived in huts and not in tents. These huts (mapalia), which had the form of an upturned boat, may have seemed a poor habitation to Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans; but, as habitations, they were meant to be permanent; they were an index of the possession of property, of a lasting attachment to the soil. The village formed by a group of these little homes clustering round a steep height, was a still further index of a political and military society that intended to maintain and defend the area on which it had settled. The pages of Sallust give ample evidence of an active village life engrossed with the toils of agriculture, and the mass of the population of the region of the Tell must have been for a long time fixed to the soil which yielded it a livelihood. Elsewhere there was indeed need of something like periodic migration. On the high plateaux pastoral life made the usual change from summer to winter stations necessary. But this regulated movement does not correspond strictly to the desultory life of a truly nomadic people. Yet it is easy to see how, in contrast to the regular and often sedentary mercantile life of the Phoenician and the Greek, that of the Numidian might be considered wild and migratory. He was in truth a "trekker" rather than a nomad, and he possessed the invaluable military attributes of the man unchained by cities and accustomed to wander far in a hard and bracing country. A skill in horsemanship that was the wonder of the world, the eye for a country hastily traversed, the memory for the spot once seen, the power of rapid mobilisation and of equally rapid disappearance, the gift of being a knight one day, a shepherd or a peasant the next--these were the attributes that made a Roman conquest of Numidia so long impossible and rendered diplomacy imperative as a supplement to war.
It is less easy to reconstruct the moral and political attributes of this people from the data which we at present possess, or to reconcile the experience of to-day with the impressions of ancient historians. But so permanent has been the great bulk of the population of Northern Africa that it is tempting to interpret the ancient Numidian in the light of the modern Kabyle. One who has had experience of the latter endows him with an intelligent head, a frank and open physiognomy and a lively eye, describes him as active and enterprising, lively and excitable, possessed of moral pride, eminently truthful, a stern holder of his plighted word and a respecter of women--a respect shown by the general practice of monogamy. Even when stirred to war he is said not to lend himself to unnecessary cruelty. The activity, liveliness and excitability of this people may be traced in the accounts of antiquity; but Roman records would add the impression of duplicity, treachery and cruelty as characteristics of the race. Yet as these characteristics are exhibited in the record of a great national war against a hated invader, and are chiefly illustrated in the persons of a king or his ministers--individuals spoilt by power or maddened by fear--we need not perhaps attach too much importance to the discrepancy between the evidence of the ancient and modern world.
Much of the history of Numidia, especially during the epoch of the war of the Romans against Jugurtha, would be illuminated if we could interpret the political tendencies of its ancient inhabitants by those of the Kabyle of modern times. The latter is said to be a sturdy democrat, founding his society on the ideas of equality and individuality. Each member of this society enjoys the same rights and is bound down to the same duties. There is no military or religious nobility, there are no hereditary chiefs. The affairs of the society, about which all can speak or vote, are administered by simple delegates. There is nothing in the history of the war with Jugurtha to belie these characteristics, there is much which confirms them. In the narrative of that war there is no mention of a nobility. The influential men described are simply those who have been elevated by wealth or familiarity with the king. The monarchy itself is a great power where the king is present, but the life of the community is not broken when the king is a fugitive; and loyalty to the crown centres round a great personality, who is expected to drive the hated invaders into the sea, not merely round the name of a legitimate dynasty.
Monarchy, in fact, seems a kind of artificial product in Numidia; but, artificial as it may have been, it had done good work. An active reign of more than fifty years by a man who united the absolutism of the savage potentate with the wisdom and experience of the civilised ruler, had produced effects in Numidia that could never die, Masinissa had proved what Numidian agriculture might become under the guidance of scientific rules by the creation of model farms, whose fertile acres showed that cultivated plants of every kind could be grown on native soil; while under his rule and that of his son Micipsa the life of the city showed the same progress as that of the country. Numidia could not become one of the granaries of the world without its capital rising to the rank of a great commercial city. Cirta, though situated some forty-eight Roman miles from the sea, was soon sought by the Greeks, those ubiquitous bankers of the Mediterranean world, while Roman and Italian capitalists eagerly plied their business in this new and attractive sphere which had been presented to their efforts by the conquests of Rome and the civilising energy of its native rulers.
The kingdom of Numidia suffered from a weakness common to monarchies where the strong spirits of subjects and local chiefs can be controlled only by the still stronger hand of the central potentate, and where the practice of polygamy and concubinage in the royal house sometimes gave rise to many pretenders but to no heir with an indefeasible claim to rule. There was no settled principle of succession to the throne, and the death of the sovereign for the time being threatened the peace or unity of the kingdom, while it entailed grave responsibilities upon its nominal protector. Masinissa himself had been excluded from the throne by an uncle, and but for his vigour and energy might have remained the subject of succeeding pretenders.
A crisis was threatened at his own decease but was happily averted by the prudence of the dying monarch. Loath as he probably was to acknowledge the supremacy of Rome, he thrust on her the invidious task of deciding the succession to the throne. He felt that Roman authority would be more effective than paternal wishes; perhaps he saw that amongst his sons there was not one who could be trusted alone and unaided to continue to build up the fortunes of the state and to claim recognition from his brothers as their undisputed lord, while the show of submission to Rome might weaken the vigilance and disarm the jealousy of the protecting power. Scipio was summoned to his deathbed to apportion the kingdom between the legitimate sons who survived him, Micipsa, Gulussa and Mastanabal. To Micipsa was given the capital Cirta, the royal palace and the general administration of the kingdom, the warlike Gulussa was made commander-in-chief, while to Mastanabal the youngest was assigned the task of directing the judicial affairs of the dominion. This division of authority was soon disturbed by the death of the two younger brothers, and Micipsa was left alone to indulge his peaceful inclinations during a long and uneventful reign of nearly thirty years. The fall of Carthage had left him free from all irritating external relations; for the King of Numidia was no longer required to act the part of a constant spy on the actions, and an occasional trespasser on the territory, of the greatest of African powers. The nearest scene of disturbance was the opposite continent of Spain, and here he did Rome good service by sending her assistance against Viriathus and the Numantines. Unvexed by troubles within his borders, Micipsa devoted his life to the arts of peace. He beautified Cirta and attracted Greek settlers to the town, amongst them men of arts and learning, who delighted the king with their literary and philosophic discourse. The period of rest fostered the resources of the kingdom, and in spite of a devastating pestilence which is said to have swept off eight hundred thousand of the king's subjects, the state could boast at his death of a regular army of ten thousand cavalry and twenty thousand foot. This was but the nucleus of the host that might be raised in the interior, and swelled by the border tribes of Numidia; and the man who could win the confidence of the soldiers and the attachment of the peasantry held the fortune of Numidia in his hands. This reflection may have cast a shadow over the latter years of Micipsa. Certainly the prospect of the succession was as dark to him as it had been to his father, Masinissa. Like his predecessor he believed that a dynasty was stronger than an individual, and he deliberately imitated the work of Scipio by leaving a collegiate rule to his successors. One of these successors, however, was not his own offspring. His brother Mastanabal had left behind him an illegitimate son named Jugurtha. The boy had been neglected during the lifetime of his grandfather, Masinissa; perhaps the hope that Mastanabal might yet beget a representative worthy of the succession caused little importance to be attached to the concubine's son, in spite of the fact that it was the policy of the Numidian monarchs to keep as many heirs in reserve as it was possible for them to procure. But when Gauda, the only legitimate son of Mastanabal, proved to be weak in body and deficient in mind, greater regard was paid to the vigorous boy who was now the sole efficient representative of one branch of the late dynasty. Even without this motive the kindly nature of Micipsa would probably have led him to look with favour on the orphan child of his brother; the young Jugurtha was reared in the palace and educated with the heirs presumptive, Adherbal and Hiempsal, the two sons of the reigning king. It soon became manifest that a very lion had been begotten and was growing to strength in the precincts of the royal court. All the graces of the love-born offspring seem to have been present at Jugurtha's birth. A mighty frame, a handsome face, were amongst his lesser gifts. More remarkable were the vigour and acuteness of his mind, the moral strength which yielded to no temptation of ease or indolence, the keen zest for life which led him to throw himself into the hardy sports of his youthful compeers, to run, to ride, to hurl the javelin with a skill known only to the nomad, the bonhomie and bright good temper which endeared him to the comrades whom his skill had vanquished. Much of his leisure was passed in tracking the wild beasts of the desert; his skill as a hunter was matchless, or was equalled only by his easy indifference to his success.
The sight of these qualities gladdened Micipsa's heart; for the military leader, so essential to the safety of the Numidian monarchy, seemed to be now assured. We are told that a shade of anxiety crossed his mind when he compared the youth of his own sons with the glorious manhood of Jugurtha, and thought of the temptations which the prospect of an undivided monarchy might present to a mind gradually weaned from loyalty by the very sense of its own greatness; but there is no reason to believe that the good old king allowed his imagination to embrace visions of the dagger or the poisoned bowl, and that the mysterious death of his nephew was only hindered by the thought of the resentment which it would arouse amongst the Numidian chiefs and their dependents. Certainly the mission with which Jugurtha was soon credited--the mission which was perhaps to alter the whole tone of his mind and to concentrate its energies on an unlawful end--was one which any Numidian king might have destined for the most favoured of his sons. Jugurtha was to be sent to Numantia to lead the Numidian auxiliaries of horse and foot, to be a member of the charmed circle that surrounded Scipio, to see, as he moved amongst the young nobility, the promise of greatness that was in store for Rome in the field whether of politics or of war, to form perhaps binding friendships and to lay up stores of gratitude for future use. In dismissing his nephew, Micipsa was putting the issue into the hands of fate. Jugurtha might never return; but, if he did, it would be with an experience and a prestige which would render him more than ever the certain arbiter of the destinies of the kingdom.
The advantage which Jugurtha took of this marvellous opportunity was a product of his nature and proves no ulterior design. Had he been the simplest and most loyal of souls, he would have been forced to act as he did. As a man of insight he soon learnt Scipio by heart, as a born strategist and trained hunter he soon saw through the tricks of the enemy, as a man devoid of the physical sense of fear he was foremost in every action. He had grasped at once the secret of Roman discipline, and his habit of implicit obedience to the word of command was as remarkable as his readiness in offering the right suggestion, when his opinion was asked. Intelligence was not a striking feature in the mental equipment of the staff which surrounded Scipio; it was grasped by the general wherever found without respect to rank or nationality; and while Marius was rising step by step in virtue of his proved efficiency, the Numidian prince, who might have been merely an ornamental adjunct to the army, was made the leader or participant in almost every enterprise which demanded a shrewd head and a stout heart. The favour of Scipio increased from day to day. This was to be won by merit and success alone. With Romans of a weaker mould Jugurtha's wealth and social qualities produced a similar result. He entertained lavishly, he was clever, good-natured and amusing. He charmed the Romans whom he excelled as in his childish days he had charmed the Numidian boys whom he outraced.
In these rare intervals of rest from warfare there was opportunity for converse with men of influence and rank. Jugurtha's position and the future of Numidia were sometimes discussed, and the youthful wiseacres who claimed his friendship would sometimes suggest, with the cheerful cynicism which springs from a shallow dealing with imperial interests, that merit such as his could find its fitting sphere only if he were the sole occupant of the Numidian throne. The words may often have been spoken in jest or idle compliment; although some who used them may have meant them to be an expression of the maxim that a protectorate is best served by a strong servant, and that a divided principality contains in itself the seeds of disturbance. Others went so far as to suggest the means as well as the end. Should difficulties arise with Rome, might not the assent of the great powers be purchased with a price? Scipio had not been blind to the colloquies of his favourite. When Numantia had been destroyed and the army was folding its tents, he gave Jugurtha the benefit of a public ovation and a private admonition. Before the tribunal he decorated him with the prizes of war, and spoke fervidly in his praise; then he invited him secretly to his tent and gave him his word of warning. "The friendship of the Roman people should be sought from the Roman people itself; no good could come of securing the support of individuals by equivocal means; there was a danger in purchasing public interest from a handful of vendors who professed to have power to sell; Jugurtha's own qualities were his best asset; they would secure him glory and a crown; if he tried to hasten on the course of events, the material means on which he relied might themselves provoke his utter ruin." 
On one point only Scipio seems to have been in agreement with the evil counsellors of Jugurtha. He seems to have believed that the true guardian of Numidia had been found, and the prince took with him a splendid testimonial to be presented to his uncle Micipsa. Scipio wrote in glowing terms of the great qualities which Jugurtha had displayed throughout the war; he expressed his own delight at these services, his own intention of making them known to the senate and Roman people, his sense of the joy that they must have brought to the monarch himself. His old friendship with Micipsa justified a word of congratulation; the prince was worthy of his uncle and of his grandfather Masinissa.
Whatever Micipsa's later intentions may have been, whether under ordinary circumstances his natural benevolence and even his patriotism would have continued to war with an undefined feeling of distrust, this letter relieved his doubts, if only because it showed that Jugurtha could never fill a private station. The act of adoption was immediately accomplished, and a testament was drawn up by which Jugurtha was named joint heir with Micipsa's own sons to the throne of Numidia. A few years later the aged king lay on his deathbed. As he felt his end approaching, he is said to have summoned his friends and relatives together with his two sons, and in their presence to have made a parting appeal to Jugurtha. He reminded him of past kindnesses but acknowledged the ample return; he had made Jugurtha, but Jugurtha had made the Numidian name again glorious amongst the Romans and in Spain. He exhorted him to protect the youthful princes who would be his colleagues on the throne, and reminded him that in the maintenance of concord lay the future strength of the kingdom. He appealed to Jugurtha as a guardian rather than as a mere co-regent; for the power and name of the mature and distinguished ruler would render him chiefly responsible for harmony or discord; and he besought his sons to respect their cousin, to emulate his virtues, to prove to the world that their father was as fortunate in the children whom nature had given him as in the one who had been the object of his adoption. The appeal was answered by Jugurtha with a goodly show of feeling and respect, and a few days later the old king passed away. The hour which closed his splendid obsequies was the last in which even a show of concord was preserved between the ill-assorted trio who were now the rulers of Numidia. The position of Jugurtha was difficult enough; for to rule would mean either the reduction of his cousins to impotence or the perpetual thwarting of his plans by crude and suspicious counsels. For that these would be suspicious as well as crude, was soon revealed: and the situation was immediately rendered intolerable by the conduct of Hiempsal. This prince, the younger of the two brothers, was a headstrong boy filled with a sense of resentment at Jugurtha's elevation to the throne and smarting at the neglect of what he held to be the legitimate claim to the succession. When the first meeting of the joint rulers was held in the throne room, Hiempsal hurried to a seat at the right of Adherbal, that Jugurtha might not occupy the place of honour in the centre; it was with difficulty that he was induced by the entreaties of his brother to yield to the claims of age and to move to the seat on the other side. This struggle for precedence heralded the coming storm. In the course of a long discussion on the affairs of the kingdom Jugurtha threw out the suggestion that it might be advisable to rescind the resolutions and decrees of the last five years, since during that period age had impaired the faculties of Micipsa. Hiempsal said that he agreed, since it was within the last three years that Jugurtha had been adopted to a share in the throne. The object of this remark betrayed little emotion; but it was believed that the peevish insult was the stimulus to an anxious train of thought which, as was to be expected from the resolute character of the thinker, soon issued into action. To be a usurper was better than to be thought one; the first situation entailed power, the second only danger. Anger played its part no doubt; but in a temperament like Jugurtha's such an emotion was more likely to be the justification than the cause of a crime. His thoughts from that moment were said to have been bent on ensnaring the impetuous Hiempsal. But guile moves slowly, and Jugurtha would not wait.
The first meeting of the kings had given so thorough a proof of the impossibility of united rule that a resolution was soon framed to divide the treasures and territories of the monarchy. A time was fixed for the partition of the domains, and a still earlier date for the division of the accumulated wealth. The kings meanwhile quitted the capital to reside in close propinquity to their cherished treasures. Hiempsal's temporary home was in the fortified town of Thirmida, and, as chance would have it, he occupied a house which belonged to a man who had once been a confidential attendant on Jugurtha. The inner history of the events which followed could never have been known with certainty; but it was believed that Jugurtha induced this man to visit the house under some pretext and bring back impressions of the keys. The security of Hiempsal's person and treasures was supposed to be guaranteed by his regularly receiving into his own hands the keys of the gates after they had been locked; but a night came in which the portals were noiselessly opened and a band of soldiers burst into the house. They divided into parties, ranging each room in turn, prying into every recess, bursting doors that barred their entrance, stabbing the attendants, some in their sleep, others as they ran to meet the invaders. At last Hiempsal was found crouching in a servant's room; he was slain and beheaded, and those who held Jugurtha to be the author of the crime reported that the head of the murdered prince was brought to him as a pledge of the accomplished act.
The news of the crime was soon spread through the whole of Northern Africa. It divided Numidia into two camps. Adherbal was forced by panic to arm in his own defence, and most of those who remained loyal to the memory of Micipsa gathered to the standard of the legitimate heir. But Jugurtha's fame amongst the fighting men of the kingdom stood him in good stead. His adherents were the fewer in number, but they were the more effective warriors. He rapidly gathered such forces as were available, and dashed from city to city, capturing some by storm and receiving the voluntary submission of others. He had plunged boldly into a civil war, and by his action declared the coveted prize to be nothing less than the possession of the whole Numidian kingdom. But boldness was his best policy; Rome might more readily condone a conquest than a rebellion, and be more willing to recognise a king than a claimant.
Adherbal meanwhile had sent an embassy to the protecting State, to inform the senate of his brother's murder and his own evil plight. But, diffident as he was, he must have felt that a passive endurance of the outrages inflicted by Jugurtha dimmed his prestige and imperilled his position; he found himself at the head of the larger army, and trusting to his superiority in numbers ventured to risk a battle with his veteran enemy. The first conflict was decisive; his forces were so utterly routed that he despaired of maintaining his position in any part of the kingdom. He fled from the battlefield to the province of Africa and thence took ship to Rome.
Jugurtha was now undisputed master of the whole of Numidia and had leisure to think out the situation. It could not have needed much reflection to show that the safer course lay in making an appeal to Rome. It was no part of his plan to detach Numidia entirely from the imperial city; even if such an end were desirable, a national war could not be successfully waged by a people divided in allegiance, against a state whose tenacious policy and inexhaustible resources were only too well known to Jugurtha. But he also knew that Rome, though tenacious, had the tolerance which springs from the unwillingness to waste blood and treasure on a matter of such little importance as a change in the occupancy of a subject throne, that a dynastic quarrel would seem to many blasé senators a part of the order of nature in a barbarian monarchy, that it is usually to the interest of a protecting state to recognise a king in fact as one in law, and that he himself possessed many powerful friends in the capital and had been told on good authority that royal presents judiciously distributed might confirm or even mould opinion. Within a few days of his victory he had despatched to Rome an embassy well equipped with gold and silver. His ambassadors were to confirm the affection of his old friends, to win new ones to his cause, and to spare no pains to gain any fraction of support that a bountiful generosity could buy. Possibly few, who received courteous visits or missives from these envoys, would have admitted that they had been bribed. It was the custom of kings to send presents, and they did but answer to the call of an old acquaintance and a man who had done signal service to Rome. The news of Hiempsal's tragic end, the flight and arrival of his exiled brother, had at the moment caused a painful sensation in Roman circles. Now many members of the nobility plucked up courage to remark that there might be another side to the question. The newly gilded youth thronged their seniors in the senate and begged that no inconsiderate resolution should be taken against Jugurtha. The envoys, as men conscious of their virtue, calmly expressed their readiness to await the senate's pleasure. The appointed day arrived, and Adherbal, who appeared in person, unfolded the tale of his wrongs.
Apart from the emotions of pity and consequent sympathy which may have been awakened in some breasts by the story of the ruined and exiled king, his appeal--passionate, vigorous and telling as it was--could not have been listened to with any great degree of pleasure by the assembled fathers; for it brought home to the government of a protecting state that most unpleasant of lessons, its duty to the protected. With the ingenuity of despair Adherbal exaggerated the degree of Roman government, in order to emphasise the moral and political obligations of the rulers to their dependents. If the King of Numidia was a mere agent of the imperial city, subordinating his wishes to her ends, seeing the security of his own possessions in the extension of her influence alone, clinging to her friendship with a trust as firm as that inspired by ties of blood, it was the duty of the mistress to protect such a servant, and to avenge an outrage which reflected alike on her gratitude and her authority. It had been a maxim of Micipsa's that the clients of Rome supported a heavy burden, but were amply compensated by the immunity from danger that they enjoyed. And, if Rome did not protect, to whom could a client-king look for aid? His very service to Rome had made him the enemy of all neighbouring powers. It was true that Adherbal could claim little in his own right; he was a suppliant before he could be a benefactor, stripped of all power of benefiting his great protector before his devotion could be put to the test. Yet he could claim a debt; for he was the sole relic of a dynasty that had given their all to Rome. Jugurtha was destroying a family whose loyalty had stood every test, he was committing horrid atrocities on the friends of Rome, his insolence and impunity were inflicting as grave an injury on the Roman name as on the wretched victims of his cruelty.
Such was the current of subtle and cogent reasoning that ran through the passionate address of the exiled king, crying for vengeance, but above all for justice. The answer of Jugurtha's envoys was brief and to the point. They had only to state their fictitious case. A plausible case was all that was needed; their advocates would do the rest. Hiempsal, they urged, had been put to death by the Numidians in consequence of the cruelty of his rule. Adherbal had been the aggressor in the late war. He had suffered defeat, and was now petitioning for help because he had found himself unable to perpetrate the wrong which he had intended. Jugurtha entreated the senate to let the knowledge which had been gained of him at Numantia guide their opinion of him now, and to set his own past deeds before the words of a personal enemy. Both parties then withdrew and the senate fell to debate.
It is sufficiently likely that, even had there been no corruption or suspicion of corruption, the opinions of the House would have been divided on the question that was put before them. Some minds naturally suspicious might have been doubtful of the facts. Were Hiempsal's death and Adherbal's flight due to national discontent or the unprovoked ambition of Jugurtha? If the former was the case, was the restoration of the king to an unwilling people by an armed force a measure conducive to the interest of the protecting state? But even some who accepted Adherbal's statement of the case, may have doubted the wisdom of a policy of armed intervention; for it was manifest that a considerable degree of force would have to be employed to lead Jugurtha to relinquish his claims and to stamp out the loyalty of his adherents. The senate could have been in no humour for another African war; they regarded their policy as closed in that quarter of the world; they had shifted the burden of frontier defence on to the Kings of Numidia, and must have viewed with alarm the prospect of something far worse than a frontier war arising from the quarrels of those kings. It is probable, therefore, that proposals for a peaceful settlement would in any case have commanded the respectful attention of the senate; had these been made with a show of decency, with a general recognition of Adherbal's claims, and some censure of Jugurtha's overbearing conduct (for this must have been better attested than his share in Hiempsal's death), but little adverse comment might have been excited by the tone of the debate. As it was, when member after member rose, lauded Jugurtha's merits to the skies and poured contempt on the statements of Adherbal, an unpleasant feeling was excited that this fervour was not wholly due to a patriotic interest in the security of the empire. The very boisterousness of the championship induced a more rigorous attitude on the part of those who had not been approached by Jugurtha's envoys or had resisted their overtures. They maintained that Adherbal must be helped at all costs, and that strict punishment should be exacted for Hiempsal's murder. This minority found an ardent advocate in Scaurus, the keeper of the conscience of the senate, the man who knew better than any that an individual or a government lives by its reputation, who saw with horror that no specious pretexts were being employed to clothe a policy which the malevolent might interpret as a political crime, and that the sinister rumours which had been current in Rome were finding their open verification in the senate. A vigorous championship of the cause of right from the foremost politician of the day, might not influence the decision of the House, and would certainly not lead to a quixotic policy of armed intervention; but it might prove to critics of the government that the inevitable decision had not been reached wholly in defiance of the claims of the suppliant and wholly in obedience to the machinations of a usurper. The decision, which closed the unreal debate, recognised Jugurtha and Adherbal as joint rulers of Numidia. It wilfully ignored Hiempsal's death, it wantonly exposed the lamb to the wolf, it was worthless as a settlement of the dynastic question, unless Jugurtha's supporters entertained the pious hope that their favourite's ambition might be satisfied with the increase now granted to his wealth and territory, and that his prudence might withhold him from again testing the forbearance of the protecting power. But those who possessed keener insight or who knew Jugurtha better, must have foreseen the probable result of the impunity which had been granted; they must have presaged, with anxious foreboding or with patient cynicism, the final disappearance of Adherbal from the scene and a fresh request for the settlement of the Numidian question, which would have become less complex when there was but one candidate for the throne. The decree of the senate enjoined the creation of a commission of ten, which should visit Numidia and divide the whole of the kingdom which had been possessed by Micipsa, between the rival chiefs.
The head of the commission was Lucius Opimius, whose influence amongst the members of his order had never waned since he had exercised and proved his right of saving the State from the threatened dangers of sedition. His selection on this occasion gave an air of impartiality to the commission, for he was known to be no friend to Jugurtha.
That prince, however, did not allow his past relations to be an obstacle to his present enterprise. The conquest of Opimius was the immediate object to which he devoted all his energies. As soon as the commissioners had appeared on African soil, they and their chief were received with the utmost deference by the king. The frequent and secret colloquies which took place between the arbitrators and one of the parties interested in their decision were not a happy omen for an impartial judgment, and, if the award could by the exercise of malevolent ingenuity be interpreted as unfair, would certainly breed the suspicion, and, in case the matter was ever submitted to a hostile court of law, the proof that the honour of the commissioners had succumbed to the usual vulgar and universally accredited methods of corruption. On the face of it the award seemed eminently just. Numidia was becoming a commercial and agricultural state; but since commerce and agriculture did not flourish in the same domains, it was impossible to endow each of the claimants equally with both these sources of wealth. To Adherbal was given that part of the kingdom which in its external attributes seemed the more desirable; he was to rule over the eastern half of Numidia which bordered on the Roman province, the portion of the country which enjoyed a readier access to the sea and could boast of a fuller development of urban life. Cirta the capital lay within this sphere, and Adherbal could continue to give justice from the throne of his fathers. But those who held that the strength of a country depended mainly on its people and its soil, believed that Jugurtha had received the better part. The territories with which he was entrusted were those bordering on Mauretania, rich in the products of the soil and teeming with healthy human life. From the point of view of military resources there could be no question as to which of the two kings was the stronger. The peaceful character of Adherbal may have seemed a justification for his peaceful sphere of rule; but the original aggressor was kept at his normal strength. Jugurtha ruled over the lands in which the national spirit, of which he was himself the embodiment, found its fullest and fiercest expression. He did not mean to acquiesce for a moment in the settlement effected by the commission. No sooner had it completed its task and returned home, than he began to devise a scheme which would lead to war between the two principalities and the consequent annihilation of Adherbal. He shrank at first from provoking the senate by a wanton attack on the neighbouring kingdom which they had just created; his design was rather to draw Adherbal into hostilities which would lead to a pitched battle, a certain victory, the disappearance of the last of Micipsa's race and the union of the two crowns. With this object he massed a considerable force on the boundary between the two kingdoms and suddenly crossed the frontier. His mounted raiders captured shepherds with their flocks, ravaged the fields of the peasantry, looted and burned their homes; then swept back within their own borders. But Adherbal was not moved to reprisals. His circumstances no less than his temperament dictated methods of peace: and, if he could not keep his crown by diplomacy, he must have regarded it as lost. The Roman people was a better safeguard than his Numidian subjects, and it was necessary to temporise with Jugurtha until the senate could be moved by a strong appeal. Envoys were despatched to the court of the aggressor to complain of the recent outrage; they brought back an impudent reply; but Adherbal, steadfast in his pacific resolutions, still remained quiescent, Jugurtha's plan had failed and he was in no mood for further delay; he held now, as he had done once before, that his end could best be effected by vigorous and decisive action. The lapse of time could not improve his own position but might strengthen that of Adherbal, and it was advisable that a new Roman commission should witness an accomplished fact and make the best of it rather than engage again in the settlement of a disputed claim. It was no longer a predatory band but a large and regular army that he now collected; his present purpose was not a foray but a war. He advanced into his rival's territory ravaging its fields, harrying its cities and gathering booty as he went. At every step the confidence of his own forces, the dismay of the enemy increased.
Adherbal was at last convinced that he must appeal to the sword for the security of his crown. A second flight to Rome would have utterly discredited him in the eyes of his subjects, perhaps in those of the Roman government itself; yet, as his chief hope still lay in Rome, he hurriedly despatched an embassy to the suzerain city while he himself prepared to take the field. With unwilling energy he gathered his available forces and marched to oppose Jugurtha's triumphant progress. The invading host had now skirted Cirta to the west and was apparently attempting to cut off its communications with the sea. The disastrous results that would have followed the success of this attempt, may have been the final motive that spurred Adherbal to his appeal to arms; and it was somewhere within the fifty miles that intervened between the capital and its port of Rusicade and at a spot nearer to the sea than to Cirta, that the opposing armies met. The day was already far spent when Adherbal came into touch with his enemy: there was no thought of a pitched battle in the gathering gloom, and either party took up his quarters for the night. Towards the late watches of the night, in the doubtful light of the early dawn, the soldiers of Jugurtha crept up to the outposts of the enemy; at a given signal they rushed on the camp and carried it by storm. Adherbal's soldiers, heavy with sleep and groping for their arms, were routed or slain; the prince himself sprang on his horse and with a handful of his knights sped for safety to the walls of Cirta, Jugurtha's troops in hot pursuit. They had almost closed on the fugitive before the walls were reached; but the race had been watched from the battlements, and, as the flying Adherbal passed the gates, the walls were manned by a volunteer body of Italian merchants who kept the pursuing Numidians at bay. It was the merchant class that had most to fear from the cruelty and cupidity of the nomad hordes that now beat against the fortress, and during the siege that followed they controlled the course of events far more effectually than the unhappy king whom they had for the moment saved from destruction.
Jugurtha's plans were foiled; Adherbal had escaped, and there lay before him the irksome prospect of a siege, of probable interference from Rome and, it might be, of the necessity of openly defying the senate's commands. But it was now too late to draw back, and he set himself vigorously to the work of reducing Cirta by assault or famine. The task must have been an arduous one. The town formed one of the strongest positions for defence that could be found in the ancient world. It was built on an isolated cube of rock that towered above the vast cultivated tracts of the surrounding plain. At its eastern extremity the precipice made a sheer drop of six hundred feet, and was perhaps quite inaccessible on this side, although it threw out spurs, whether natural or of artificial construction, which formed a difficult and easily defensible communication with the lower land around. Its natural bastions were completed by a natural moat, for the river Ampsaga (the Wäd Remel) almost encircled the town, and on the eastern side its deep and rushing waters could only be crossed by a ledge of rock, through which it bored a subterranean channel and over which some kind of bridge or causeway had probably been formed. The natural and easy mode of approach to the city was to be found in the south-west, where a neck of land of half a furlong's breadth led up to the principal gate.
In spite of the formidable difficulties of the task Jugurtha attempted an assault, for it was of the utmost importance that he should possess the person of Adherbal before interference was felt from Rome. Mantlets, turrets and all the engines of siege warfare were vigorously employed to carry the town by storm; but the stout walls baffled every effort, and Jugurtha was forced to face as best he might another Roman embassy which Adherbal's protests had brought to African soil. The senate, when it had learnt the news of the renewed outbreak of the war, was as unwilling as ever to intervene as a third partner in a three-sided conflict. To play the part of the policeman as well as of the judge was no element in Roman policy; the very essence of a protectorate was that it should take care of itself; were intervention necessary, it should be decisive, and it would be a lengthy task and an arduous strain to gather and transport to Africa a force sufficient to overawe Jugurtha. The easy device of a new commission was therefore adopted. If its Suggestions were obeyed, all would be well; if they were neglected, matters could not be much worse than they were at present. As the new commissioners had merely to take a message and were credited with no discretionary power, it was thought unnecessary to burden the higher magnates of the State with the unenviable task, or to expose them to the undignified predicament of finding their representations flouted by a rebel who might have eventually to be recognised as a king. A chance was given to younger members of the senatorial order, and the three who landed in Africa were branded by the hostile criticism that was soon to find utterance and in the poverty of its indictment to catch at every straw, as lacking the age and dignity demanded by the mission--qualities which, had they been present, would probably have failed to make the least impression on Jugurtha's fixed resolve. The commissioners were to approach both the kings and to bring to their notice the will and resolution of the Roman senate and people, which were to the effect that hostilities should be suspended and that the questions at issue between the rivals should be submitted to peaceful arbitration. This conduct the senate recommended as the only one worthy of its royal clients and of itself.
The speed of the envoys was accelerated by the impression that they might find but one king to be the recipient of their message. On the eve of their departure the news of the decisive battle and the siege of Cirta had reached their ears. Haste was imperative, if they were to retain their position as envoys, for the next despatch might bring news of Adherbal's death. The actual news received fell short of the truth, and was perhaps still further softened for the public ear; the fact that the envoys had sailed was itself an official indication that all hope had not been abandoned. If they cherished a similar illusion themselves, it must almost have vanished before the sight that met their eyes in Numidia. They saw a closely beleaguered town in which one of the kings, who were to be the recipients of their message, was so closely hemmed that access to him was impossible. The other, without abating one jot of his military preparations, met them with an answer as uncompromising as it was courteous. Jugurtha held nothing more precious than the authority of the senate; from his youth up he had striven to meet the approbation of the good; it was by merit not by artifice, that he had gained the favour of Scipio; it was desert that had won him a place amongst Micipsa's children and a share in the Numidian crown. But qualities carry their responsibilities; the very distinction of his services made it the more incumbent on him to avenge a wrong. Adherbal had treacherously plotted against his life; the crime had been revealed and he had but taken steps to forestall it; the Roman people would not be acting justly or honourably, if they hindered him from taking such steps in his own defence as were the common right of all men.
He would soon send envoys to Rome to deal with the whole question in dispute.
This answer showed the Roman commissioners the utter helplessness of their position. Their presence in Jugurtha's camp within sight of a city in which a client king and a number of their own citizens were imprisoned, was itself a stigma on the name of Rome. If they had prayed to see Adherbal, the request, must have been refused; to prolong the negotiations was to court further insult, and they set their faces once more for Rome after faithfully performing the important mission of repeating a message of the senate with verbal correctness. Jugurtha granted them the courtesy of not renewing his active operations until he thought that they had quitted Africa. Then, despairing of carrying the town by assault, he settled to the work of a regular siege. The nature of the ground must have made a complete investment impossible; but it also rendered it unnecessary. The cliffs and the river bed made escape as difficult as attack. On some sides it was but necessary to maintain a strenuous watch on every possible egress; on others lines of circumvallation, with ramparts and ditches, kept the beleaguered within their walls. Siege-towers were raised to mate the height of the fortifications which they threatened, and manned with garrisons to harry the town and repel all efforts of its citizens to escape. The blockade was varied by a series of surprises, of sudden assaults by day or night; no method of force or fraud was left untried; the loyalty of the defenders who appeared on the walls was assailed by threats or promises; the assailants were strenuously exhorted to effect a speedy entry.
It would seem that Cirta was ill-provided with supplies. Adherbal, who had made it the basis of his attack and must have foreseen the probability of his defeat, should have seen that it was well provisioned; and the vast cisterns and granaries cut in the solid rock, that were in later times to be found within the city, should have supplied water and food sufficient to prolong the siege to a degree that might have tried the senate's patience as sorely as Jugurtha's. But neither the king nor his advisers were adepts in the art of war; it must have been difficult to regulate the distribution of provisions amidst the trading classes, of unsettled habits and mixed nationalities, that were crowded within the walls; discontent could not be restrained by discipline and might at any moment be a motive to surrender. The imprisoned king saw no prospect of a prolongation of the war that could secure even his personal safety; no help could be looked for from without and a ruthless enemy was battering at his gates. His only hope, a faint one, lay in a last appeal to Rome; but the invader's lines were drawn so close that even a chance of communicating with the protecting city seemed denied. At length, by urgent appeals to pity and to avarice, he induced two of the comrades who had joined his flight from the field of battle, to risk the venture of penetrating the enemy's lines and reaching the sea. The venture, which was made by night, succeeded; the two bold messengers stole through the enclosing fortifications, rapidly made for the nearest port, and thence took ship to Rome. Within a few days they were in the presence of the senate, and the despairing cry of Adherbal was being read to an assembly, to whom it could convey no new knowledge and on whom it could lay no added burden of perplexity. But emotion, although it cannot teach, may focus thought and clarify the promptings of interest. To many a loose thinker Adherbal's missive may have been the first revelation, not only of the shame, but of the possible danger of the situation. The facts were too well known to require detailed treatment. It was sufficient to remind the senate that for five months a friend and ally of the Roman people had been blockaded in his own capital; his choice was merely one between death by the sword and death by famine. Adherbal no longer asked for his kingdom; nay, he barely ventured to ask for his life; but he deprecated a death by torture--a fate that would most certainly be his if he fell into the hands of his implacable foe. The appeal to interest was interwoven with that made to pity and to honour. What were Jugurtha's ultimate motives? When he had consummated his crimes and absorbed the whole of Numidia, did he mean to remain a peaceful client-king, a faithful vassal of Rome? His fidelity and obedience might be measured by the treatment which he had already accorded to the mandate and the envoys of the senate. The power of Rome in her African possessions was at stake; and the majesty of the empire was appealed to no less than the sense of friendship, loyalty, and gratitude, as a ground for instant assistance which might yet save the suppliant from a terrible and degrading end.
The impression produced by this appeal was seen in the bolder attitude adopted by that section of the senate which had from the first regarded Jugurtha as a criminal at large, and had never approved the policy of leaving Numidia to settle its own affairs. Voices were heard advocating the immediate despatch of an army to Africa, the speedy succour of Adherbal, the consideration of an adequate punishment for the contumacy of Jugurtha in not obeying the express commands of Rome. But the usual protests were heard from the other side, protests which were interpreted as a proof of the utter corruption of those who uttered them, but which were doubtless veiled in the decent language, and may in some cases have been animated by the genuine spirit, of the cautious imperialist who prefers a crime to a blunder. The conflict of opinion resulted in the usual compromise. A new commission was to be despatched with a more strongly worded message from the senate; but, as rumour had apparently been busy with the adventures of the "three young men" whom Jugurtha had turned back, it was deemed advisable to select the present envoys from men whose age, birth and ample honours might give weight to a mission that was meant to avert a war. The solemnity of the occasion was attested, and some feeling of assurance may have been created, by the fact that there figured amongst the commissioners no less a person than the chief of the senate Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, beyond all question the foremost man of Rome, the highest embodiment of patrician dignity and astute diplomacy. The pressing appeal of Adherbal's envoys, the ugly rumours which were circulating in Rome, urged the commissioners to unwonted activity. Within three days they were on board, and after a short interval had landed at Utica in the African province. The experience of the former mission had taught them that their dignity might be utterly lost if they quitted the territory of the Roman domain. They did not deign to set foot in Numidia, but sent a message to Jugurtha informing him that they had a mandate from the senate and ordering him to come with all speed to the Roman province.
Jugurtha was for the moment torn by conflicting resolutions. The very audacity of his acts had been tempered and in part directed by a secret fear of Rome. Whether in any moments of ambitious imagination he had dreamed of throwing off the protectorate and asserting the unlimited independence of the Numidian kingdom, must remain uncertain; but in any case that consummation must belong to the end, not to the intermediate stage, of his present enterprise. His immediate plan had been to win or purchase recognition of an accomplished fact from the somnolence, caution or corruption of the government; and here was intervention assuming a more formidable shape while the fact was but half accomplished and he himself was but playing the part of the rebel, not of the king. The dignity of the commissioners, and the peremptory nature of their demand, seemed to show that negotiations with Rome were losing their character of a conventional game and assuming a more serious aspect. It is possible that Jugurtha did not know the full extent of the danger which he was running; it is possible that, like so many other potentates who had relations with the imperial city, he made the mistake of imagining that the senate was in the fullest sense the government of Rome, and had no cognisance of the subtle forces whose equilibrium was expressed in a formal control by the nobility; but even what he saw was sufficient to alarm him and to lead him, in a moment of panic or prudence, to think of the possibility of obeying the commission. At the next moment the new man, which the deliberate but almost frenzied pursuit of a single object had made of Jugurtha, was fully reasserted. But his passion was not blind; his recklessness still veiled a plan; his one absorbing desire was to see Adherbal in his hands before he should himself be forced to meet the envoys. He gave orders for his whole force to encircle the walls of Cirta; a simultaneous assault was directed against every vulnerable point; the attention of the defenders was to be distracted by the ubiquitous nature of the attack; a failure of vigilance at any point might give him the desired entry by force or fraud. But nothing came of the enterprise; the assailants were beaten back, and Jugurtha had another moment for cool reflection. He soon decided that further delay would not strengthen his position. The name of Scaurus weighed heavily on his mind. He was an untried element with respect to the details of the Numidian affair; but all that Jugurtha knew of him--his influence with the senate, his uncompromising respectability, his earlier attitude on the question--inspired a feeling of fear. Obedience to the demand which the commissioners had made for his presence might be the wiser course; whatever the result of the interview, such obedience might prolong the period of negotiation and delay armed intervention until his own great object was fulfilled. With a few of his knights Jugurtha crossed into the Roman province and presented himself before the commissioners. We have no record of the discussion which ensued. The senate's message was almost an ultimatum; it threatened extreme measures if Jugurtha did not desist from the siege of Cirta; but the peremptory nature of the missive did not prevent close and lengthy discussions between the envoys and the king. The plausible personality of Jugurtha may have told in his favour and may have led to the hopes of a compromise; for it is not probable that he ventured on a summary rejection of their orders or advice. But the commissioners could merely threaten or advise; they had no power to wring promises from the king or to keep him to them when they were made. Thus when, at the close of the debates, Jugurtha returned to Numidia and the envoys embarked at Utica, it was felt on all sides that nothing had been accomplished. The commissioners may have believed that they had made Jugurtha sensible of his true relations to Rome; they had perhaps threatened open war as the result of disobedience; but they had neither checked his progress nor stayed his hand; and the taint with which all dealings with the wealthy potentate infected his environment, clung even to this select body of distinguished men.
The immediate effect of the fruitless negotiations was the disaster which every one must have foreseen. Cirta and her king had been utterly betrayed by their protectress; and when the news of the departure of the envoys and the return of Jugurtha penetrated within the walls, despair of further resistance gave substance to the hope of the possibility of surrender on tolerable terms. The hope was never present to the mind of Adherbal; he knew his enemy too well. Nor could it have been entertained in a very lively form by the king's Numidian councillors and subjects. But the Numidian was not the strongest element in Cirta. There the merchant class held sway. In the defence of their property and commerce, the organised business and the homes which they had established in the civilised state, they had taken the lead in repelling the hordes of Western Numidians which Jugurtha led; and amongst the merchant class those of Italian race had been the most active and efficient in repelling the assaults of the besiegers. To these men the choice was not between famine and the sword; but merely between famine and the loss of property or comfort. For what Roman or Italian could doubt that the most perfect security for his life and person was still implicit in the magic name of Rome? Confident in their safety they advised Adherbal to hand over the town to Jugurtha; the only condition which he needed to make was the preservation of his own life and that of the besieged; all else was of less importance, for their future fortunes rested not with Jugurtha but with the senate. It is questionable whether the Italians were really inspired with this blind confidence in the senate's power to restore as well as to save; even their ability to save was more than doubtful to Adherbal; still more worthless was a promise made by his enemy. The unhappy king would have preferred the most desperate resistance to a trust in Jugurtha's honour; but the advice of the Italians was equivalent to a command; and a gleam of hope, sufficient at least to prevent him from taking his own life, may have buoyed him up when he yielded to their wishes and made the formal surrender. The hope, if it existed, was immediately dispelled. Adherbal was put to death with cruel tortures. The Italians then had their proof of the present value of the majesty of the name of Rome. Their calculations had been vitiated by one fatal blunder. They forgot that they were letting into their stronghold an exasperated people drawn from the rudest parts of Numidia--a people to whom the name of Rome was as nothing, to whom the name of merchant or foreigner was contemptible and hateful. As the surging crowd of Jugurtha's soldiery swept over the doomed city, massacring every Numidian of adult age, the claim of nationality made by the protesting merchants was not unnaturally met by a thrust from the sword. If even the assailants could distinguish them in the frenzy of victory, they knew them for men who had occupied the fighting line; and this fact was alone sufficient to doom them to destruction. Jugurtha may also have made his blunder. Unless we suppose that his penetrating mind had been, suddenly clouded by the senseless rage which prompts the half-savage man to a momentary act of demoniacal folly, he could never have willed the slaughter of the Roman and Italian merchants. If he willed it in cold blood, he was consciously making war on Rome and declaring the independence of Numidia. For, even with his limited knowledge of the balance of interests in the capital, he must have seen that the act was inexpiable. His true policy, now as before, was not to cross swords with Rome, but merely to wring from her indifference a recognition of a purely national crime. His wits had failed him if he had ordered a deed which put indifference and recognition out of the question. It is probable that he did not calculate on the fury of his troops; it is possible that he had ceased to lead and was a mere unit swept along in the avalanche which sated its wrath at the prolonged resistance, and avenged the real or fancied crimes committed by the merchant class.
The massacre of the merchants caused a complete change in the attitude with which Numidian events were viewed at Rome. It cut the commercial classes to the quick, and this third party which moulded the policy of Rome began closing up its ranks. The balance of power on which the nobility had rested its presidency since the fall of Caius Gracchus, began to be disturbed. It was possible again for a leader of the people to make his voice heard; not, however, because he was the leader of the people, but because he was the head of a coalition. The man of the hour was Caius Memmius, who was tribune elect for the following year. He was an orator, vehement rather than eloquent, of a mordant utterance, and famed in the courts for his power of attack. His critical temperament and keen eye for abuses had already led him to join the sparse ranks of politicians who tried still to keep alive the healthy flame of discontent, and to utter an occasional protest against the manner in which the nobility exercised their trust. His influence must have been increased by the growing suspicion of the last few years and the scandal that fed on tales of bribery in high places; it was assured by the latest news which, through the illogical process of reasoning out of which great causes grow, seemed to make rumour a certainty and to justify suspicion by the increased numbers and respectability of the suspecting. A pretext for action was found in the shifty and dilatory proceedings of the senate. Even the latest phase of the Numidian affair was not powerful or horrible enough to crush all attempts at a temporising policy. Men were still found to interrupt the course of a debate which promised to issue in some strong and speedy resolution, by raising counter-motions which the great names of the movers forced on the attention of the house; every artifice which influence could command was employed to dull the pain of a wounded self-respect; and when this method failed, idle recrimination took the place of argument as a means of consuming the time for action and passing the point at which anger would have cooled into indifference, or at least into an emotion not stronger than regret. It was plain that the stimulus must be supplied from without; and Memmius provided it by going straight to the people and embodying their floating suspicions in a bald and uncompromising form. He told them that the prolonged proceedings in the senate meant simply that the crime of Jugurtha was likely to be condoned through the influence of a few ardent partisans of the king; and it is probable that he dealt frankly and in the true Roman manner with the motives for this partisanship. The pressure was effectual in bringing to a head the deliberations of the senate. The council as a whole did not need conversion on the main question at issue, for most of its members must have felt that it had exhausted the resources of peaceful diplomacy, and it showed its characteristic aversion to the provocation of a constitutional crisis, which might easily arise if the people chose to declare war on the motion of a magistrate without waiting for the advice of the fathers; while the obstructive minority may have been alarmed by the distant vision of a trial before the Assembly or before a commission of inquiry composed of judges taken from the angry Equites. The senate took the lead in a formal declaration of war; Numidia was named as one of the provinces which were to be assigned to the future consuls in accordance with the provisions of the Sempronian law. The choice of the people fell on Publius Scipio Nasica and Lucius Calpurnius Bestia as consuls for the following year. The lot assigned the home government and the guardianship of Italy to Nasica, while Bestia gained the command in the impending war. Military preparations were pushed on with all haste; an army was levied for service in Africa; pay and supplies were voted on an adequate scale.
The news is said to have surprised Jugurtha. Perhaps earlier messages of a more cheerful import had reached him from Rome during the days when successful obstruction seemed to be achieving its end, and had dulled the fears which the massacre of Cirta most have aroused even in a mind so familiar with the acquiescent policy of the senate. Yet even now he did not lose heart, nor did his courage take the form, prevalent amongst the lower types of mind, of a mere reliance on brute force, on the resources of that Numidia of which he was now the undisputed lord. With a persistence born of successful experience he still attempted the methods of diplomacy-methods which prove a lack of insight only in the sense that Rome was an impossible sphere for their present exercise. The king had not gauged the situation in the capital; but subsequent events proved that he still possessed a correct estimate of the real inclinations of the men who were chiefly responsible for Roman policy. The Numidian envoy was no less a person than the king's own son, and he was supported by two trusty counsellors of Jugurtha. As was usual in the case of a diplomatic mission arriving from a country which had no treaty relations, or was actually in a state of war, with Rome, the envoys were not permitted to pass the gates until the will of the senate was known. An excellent opportunity was given for proving the conversion of the senate. When the consul Bestia put the question "Is it the pleasure of the house that the envoys of Jugurtha be received within the walls?" the firm answer was returned that "Unless these envoys had come to surrender Numidia and its king to the absolute discretion of the Roman people, they must cross the borders of Italy within ten days". The consul had this message conveyed to the prince, and he and his colleagues returned from their fruitless mission.
Bestia meanwhile was consumed with military zeal. His army was ready, his staff was chosen, and he was evidently bent on an earnest prosecution of the war. He was in many respects as fit a man as could have been selected for the task. His powers of physical endurance and the vigour of his intellect had already been tested in war; he possessed the resolution and the foresight of a true general. But the canker of the age was supposed to have infected Bestia and neutralised his splendid qualities. The proof that he allowed greed to dominate his public conduct is indeed lacking; but he would have departed widely from the spirit of his time if he had allowed no thought of private gain to add its quota to the joy of the soldier who finds himself for the first time in the untrammelled conduct of a war. To the commanders of the age foreign service was as a matter of course a source of profit as well as a sphere of duty or of glory. To Bestia it was also to be a sphere for diplomacy; and diplomacy and profit present an awkward combination, which gives room for much misinterpretation. Although the war was in some sense a concession to outside influences, the consul did not represent the spirit to which the senate had yielded. Nine years earlier he had served the cause of the nobility by effecting the recall of Popillius from exile, and was now a member of that inner circle of the government whose cautious manipulation of foreign affairs was veiled in a secrecy which might easily rouse the suspicion, because it did not appeal to the intelligence, of the masses. How vital a part diplomacy was to play in the coming war, was shown by Bestia's selection of his staff. It was practically a committee of the inner ring of governing nobles, and the importance attached to the purely political aspect of the African war was proved by the fact that Scaurus himself deigned to occupy a position amongst the legates of the commander. It was a difficult task which Bestia and his assistants had to perform. They were to carry out the mandate of the people and pursue Jugurtha as a criminal; they were to follow out their own conviction as to the best means of saving Rome from a prolonged and burdensome war with a whole nation-a conviction which might, force them to recognise Jugurtha as a king. To avenge honour and at the same time to secure peace was, in the present condition of the public mind, an almost impossible task. Its gravity was increased by the fact that, through the method of selection employed for composing the general's council, a certain section of the nobility, already marked out for suspicion, would be held wholly responsible for its failure. It was a gravity that was probably undervalued by the leaders of the expedition, who could scarcely have looked forward to the day when it might be said that Bestia had selected his legates with a view of hiding the misdeeds which, he meant to commit under the authority of their names.
When the time for departure had arrived, the legions were marched through Italy to Rhegium, were shipped thence to Sicily and from Sicily were transferred to the African province. This was to be Bestia's basis of operations; and when he had gathered adequate supplies and organised his lines of communication, he entered Numidia. His march was from a superficial point of view a complete success; large numbers of prisoners were taken and several cities were carried by assault. But the nature of the war in hand was soon made painfully manifest. It was a war with a nation, not a mere hunting expedition for the purpose of tracking down Jugurtha. The latter object could be successfully accomplished only if some assistance were secured from friendly portions of Numidia or from neighbouring powers. But there was no friendly portion of Numidia. The mercantile class had been wiped out, and though the Romans seem to have regained possession of Cirta at an early period of the war, it is not likely that it ever resumed the industrial life, which might have supplied money and provisions, if not men; while the position of the town rendered it useless as a basis of operations for expeditions into that western portion of Numidia, from which the chief military strength of Jugurtha was drawn. In these regions a possible ally was to be found in Bocchus King of Mauretania; but his recent overtures to Rome had been deliberately rejected by the senate. Nothing but the name of this great King of the Moors, who ruled over the territory stretching from the Muluccha to Tingis, had hitherto been known to the Roman people; even the proximity of a portion of his kingdom to the coast of Spain had brought him into no relations, either friendly or hostile, to the imperial government.
Bocchus had secured peace with his eastern neighbour by giving his daughter in marriage to Jugurtha; but he never allowed this family connection to disturb his ideas of political convenience and, as soon as he heard that war had been declared against Jugurtha, he sent an embassy to Rome praying for a treaty with the Roman people and a recognition as one of the friends of the Republic. This conduct may have been due to the belief that a victory of the Romans over Jugurtha would entail the destruction of the Numidian monarchy and the reduction of at least a portion of the territory to the condition of a province. In this case Mauretania would itself be the frontier kingdom, playing the part now taken by Numidia; and Bocchus may have wished to have some claim on Rome before his eastern frontier was bordered, as his northern was commanded, by a Roman province. He may even have hoped to benefit by the spoils of war, as Masinissa had once benefited by those which fell from Syphax and from Carthage, and to increase his territories at the expense of his son-in-law. There can be no better proof of the real intentions of the government as regards Numidia, even after war had been declared, than the senate's rejection of the offer made by Bocchus. His aid would be invaluable from a strategic point of view, if the aim of the expedition were to make Numidia a province or even to crush Jugurtha. But the most constant maxim of senatorial policy was to avoid an extension of the frontiers, and this principle was accompanied by a strong objection to enter into close relations with any power that was not a frontier state. Such relations might involve awkward obligations, and were inconsistent with the policy which devolved the whole obligation for frontier defence and frontier relations on a friendly client prince. Whether the maintenance of the traditional scheme of administration in Africa demanded the renewed recognition of Jugurtha as King of Numidia, was a subordinate question; its answer depended entirely on the possibility of the Numidians being induced to accept any other monarch.
It must have required but a brief experience of the war to convince Bestia and his council that a Numidian kingdom without the recognition of Jugurtha as king was almost unthinkable, unless Rome was prepared to enter on an arduous and harassing war for the piecemeal conquest of the land or (a task equally difficult) for the purpose of securing the person of an elusive monarch, who could take every advantage of the natural difficulties of his country and could find a refuge and ready assistance in every part of his dominions. The tentative approaches of Jugurtha, who negotiated while he fought, were therefore admitted both by the consul and by Scaurus, who inevitably dominated the diplomatic relations of the war. That Jugurtha sent money as well as proposals at the hands of his envoys, was a fact subsequently approved by a Roman court of law, and deserves such credence as can be attached to a verdict which was the final phase of a political agitation. That Bestia was blinded by avarice and lost all sense of his own and his country's honour, that Scaurus's sense of respectability and distrust of Jugurtha went down before the golden promises of the king, were beliefs widely held, and perhaps universally, professed, by the democrats who were soon thundering at the doors of the Curia--by men, that is, who did not understand, or whose policy led them to profess misunderstanding of, the problem in statecraft, as dishonouring in some of its aspects as such problems usually are, which was being faced by a general and a statesman who were pursuing a narrow and traditional but very intelligible line of policy. The policy was indeed sufficiently ugly even had there been no suspicion of personal corruption; its ugliness could be tested by the fact that even the sanguine and cynical Jugurtha could hardly credit the extent of the good fortune revealed to him by the progress of the negotiations. At first his diplomatic manoeuvres had been adopted simply as a means of staying the progress of hostilities, of gaining a breathing space while he renewed his efforts at influencing opinion in the imperial city. But when he saw that the very agents of war were willing to be missionaries of peace, that the avengers sent out by an injured people were ready for conciliation before they had inflicted punishment, he concentrated his efforts on an immediate settlement of the question. It was necessary for the enemy of the Roman people to pass through a preliminary stage of humiliation before he could be recognised as a friend; it was all the more imperative in this case since a number of angry people in Rome were clamouring for Jugurtha's punishment. It was also necessary to arrange a plan by which the humiliation might be effected with the least inconvenience to both parties. An armistice had already been declared as a necessary preliminary to effective negotiations for a surrender. This condition of peace rendered it possible for Jugurtha to be interviewed in person by a responsible representative of the consul. Both the king and the consul were in close touch with one another near the north-western part of the Roman province, and Jugurtha was actually in possession of Vaga, a town only sixty miles south-west of Utica. The town, in spite of its geographical position, was an appanage of the Numidian kingdom, and the pretext under which Bestia sent his quaestor to the spot, was the acceptance of a supply of corn which had been demanded of the king as a condition of the truce granted by the consul. The presence of the quaestor at Vaga was really meant as a guarantee of good faith, and perhaps he was regarded as a hostage for the personal security of Jugurtha. Shortly afterwards the king rode into the Roman camp and was introduced to the consul and his council. He said a few words in extenuation of the hostile feeling with which his recent course of action had been received at Rome, and after this brief apology asked that his surrender should be accepted. The conditions, it appeared, were not for the full council; they were for the private ear of Bestia and Scauras alone. With these Jugurtha was soon closeted, and the final programme was definitely arranged, On the following day the king appeared again before the council of war; the consul pretended to take the opinion of his advisers, but no clear issue for debate could possibly be put before the board; for the gist of the whole proceedings, the recognition of the right of Jugurtha to retain Numidia, was the result of a secret understanding, not of a definite admission that could be blazoned to the world. There was some formal and desultory discussion, opinions on the question of surrender were elicited without any differentiation of the many issues that it might involve, and the consul was able to announce in the end that his council sanctioned the acceptance of Jugurtha's submission. The council, however, had deemed it necessary that some visible proof, however slight, should be given that a surrender had been effected; for it was necessary to convey to the minds of critics at home the impression that some material advantage had been won and that Jugurtha had been humiliated. With this object in view the king was required to hand over something to the Roman authorities. He kept his army, but solemnly transferred thirty elephants, some large droves of cattle and horses, and a small sum of money--the possessions, presumably, which he had ready at hand in his city of Vaga--to the custody of the quaestor of the Roman army. The year meanwhile was drawing to a close, and the consul, now that peace had been restored, quitted his province for Rome to preside at the magisterial elections. The army still remained in the Roman province or in Numidia, but the cessation of hostilities reduced it to a state of inaction which augured ill for its future discipline should it again be called upon to serve.
The agreement itself must have seemed to its authors a triumph of diplomacy. They had secured peace with but an inconsiderable loss of honour; they had saved Rome from a long, difficult and costly war, whilst a modicum of punishment might with some ingenuity be held to have been inflicted on Jugurtha. They must have been astounded by the chorus of execration with which the news of the compact was received at Rome. Nor indeed can any single reason, adequate in itself and without reference to others, be assigned for this feeling of hostility. First, there was the idle gossip of the public places and the clubs--gossip which, in the unhealthy atmosphere of the time, loved to unveil the interested motives which were supposed to underlie the public actions of all men of mark, and which exhibited moderation to an enemy as the crowning proof of its suspicions. Secondly there was the feeling that had been stirred in the proletariate at Rome. The question of Jugurtha, little as they understood its merits, was still to them the great question of the hour, a matter of absorbing interest and expectation. Their feelings had been harrowed by the story of his cruelties, their fears excited by rumours of his power and intentions. They had roused the senate from its lethargy and forced that illustrious body to pursue the great criminal; they had seen a great army quitting the gates of Rome to execute the work of justice; their relatives and friends had been subjected to the irksome duties of the conscription. Everywhere there had been a fervid blaze of patriotism, and this blaze had now ended in the thinnest curl of smoke. But to the masses the imagined shame of the Jugurthine War had now become but a single count in an indictment. The origin of the movement was now but its stimulus; as is the case with most of such popular awakenings, the agitation was now of a wholly illimitable character. The one vivid element in its composition was the memory of the recent past. It was easy to arouse the train of thought that centred round the two Gracchan movements and the terrible moments of their catastrophe. The new movement against the senate was in fact but the old movement in another form. The senate had betrayed the interests of the people; now it was betraying the interests of the empire; but to imagine that the form of the indictment as it appealed to the popular mind was even so definite as this, is to credit the average mind with a power of analysis which it does not, and probably would not wish to, possess. It is less easy to gauge the attitude of the commercial classes in this crisis. Their indignation at the impunity given to Jugurtha after the massacre of the merchants at Cirta is easily understood; but with this class sentiment was wont to be outweighed by considerations of interest, and the preservation of peace in Numidia, and consequently of facilities for trade, must have been the end which they most desired. But perhaps they felt that the only peace which would serve their purposes was one based on a full reassertion of Roman prestige, and perhaps they knew that Jugurtha, the reawakener of the national spirit of the Numidians, would show no friendship to the foreign trader. They must also have seen that, whatever the prospects of the mercantile class under Jugurtha's rule might be, the convention just concluded could not be lasting. Their own previous action had determined its transitory character. By their support of the agitation awakened by Memmius they had created a condition of feeling which could not rest satisfied with the present suspected compromise. But if satisfaction was impossible, a continuance of the war was inevitable. They had before them the prospect of continued unsettlement and insecurity in a fruitful sphere of profit; and they intended to support the present agitation by their influence in the Comitia and, if necessary, by their verdicts in the courts, until a strong policy had been asserted and a decisive settlement attained.
Even before the storm of criticism had again gathered strength, there was great anxiety in the senate over the recent action in Numidia. That body could doubtless read between the lines and see the real motives of policy which had led up to the present compact; they could see that the agreement was a compromise between the views of two opposing sections of their own house; and they must have approved of it in their hearts in so far as it expressed the characteristic objection of the senate as a whole to imperil the security of their imperial system, perhaps even to expose the frontiers of their northern possessions now threatened by barbarian hordes, through undertaking an unnecessary war in a southern protectorate. But none the less they saw clearly the invidious elements in the recent stroke of diplomacy, the combination of inconsistency and dishonesty exhibited in the comparison between the magnificent preparations and the futile result--a result which, as interpreted by the ordinary mind, made its authors seem corrupt and the senate look ridiculous. Their anxiety was increased by the fact that an immediate decision on their part was imperative. Were they to sanction what had been done, or to refuse to ratify the decision of the consul?
The latter was of itself an extreme step, but it was rendered still more difficult by the fact that every one knew that Bestia would never have ventured on such a course had he not possessed the support of Scaurus. To frame a decision which must be interpreted to mean a vote of lack of confidence in Scaurus, was to unseat the head of the administration, to abandon their ablest champion, perhaps to invite the successful attacks of the leaders of the other camp who were lying in wait for the first false step of the powerful and crafty organiser. Again, as in the discussion which had followed the fall of Cirta, the debates in the senate dragged on and there was a prospect of the question being indefinitely shelved--a result which, when the popular agitation had cooled, would have meant the acceptance of the existing state of things. Again the stimulus to greater rapidity of decision was supplied by Memmius. The leader of the agitation was now invested with the tribunate, and his position gave him the opportunity of unfettered intercourse with the people. His Contiones were the feature of the day, and these popular addresses culminated in the exhortation which he addressed to the crowd after the return of the unhappy Bestia. His speech shows Memmius to be both the product and the author of the general character which had now been assumed by this long continued agitation on a special point. The golden opportunity had been gained of emphasising anew the fundamental differences of interest between the nobility and the people, of reviewing the conduct of the governing class in its continuous development during the last twenty years, of pointing out the miserable consequences of uncontrolled power, irresponsibility and impunity. For the purpose of investing an address with the dignity and authority which spring from distant historical allusion, of brightening the prosaic present with something of the glamour of the half-mythical past, even of flattering his auditors with the suggestion that they were the descendants and heirs of the men who had seceded to the Aventine, it was necessary for a popular orator to touch on the great epoch of the struggle between the orders. But Memmius, while satisfying the conditions of his art by the introduction of the subject, uses it only to point the contrast between the epoch when liberty had been won and that wherein it had been lost, or to illustrate the uselessness of such heroic methods as the old secessions as weapons against a nobility such as the present which was rushing headlong to its own destruction. More important was the memory of those recent years which had seen the life of the people and of their champions become the plaything of a narrow oligarchy. The judicial murders that had followed the overthrow of the Gracchi, the spirit of abject patience with which they had been accepted and endured, were the symbol of the absolute impunity of the oligarchy, the source of their knowledge that they might use their power as they pleased. And how had they used it? A general category of their crimes would be misleading; it was possible to exhibit an ascending scale of guilt. They had always preyed on the commonwealth; but their earlier depredations might be borne in silence. Their earlier victims had been the allies and dependants of Rome; they had drawn revenues from kings and free peoples, they had pillaged the public treasury. But they had not yet begun to put up for sale the security of the empire and of Rome itself. Now this last and monstrous stage had been reached. The authority of the senate, the power which the people had delegated to its magistrate, had been betrayed to the most dangerous of foes; not satisfied with treating the allies of Rome as her enemies, the nobility were now treating her enemies as allies. And what was the secret of the uncontrolled power, the shameless indifference to opinion that made such misdeeds possible? It was to be found partly in the tolerance of the people--a tolerance which was the result of the imposture which made ill-gained objects of plunder--consulships, priesthoods, triumphs--seem the proof of merit. But it was to be found chiefly in the fact that co-operation in crime had been raised to the dignity of a system which made for the security of the criminal. The solidarity of the nobility, its very detachment from the popular interest, was its main source of strength. It had ceased even to be a party; it had become a clique--a mere faction whose community of hope, interest and fear had given it its present position of overweening strength. This strength, which sprang from perfect unity of design and action, could only be met and broken successfully by a people fired with a common enthusiasm. But what form should this enthusiasm assume? Should an adviser of the people advocate a violent resumption of its rights, the employment of force to punish the men who have betrayed their country? No! Acts of violence might indeed be the fitting reward for their conduct, but they are unworthy instruments for the just vengeance of an outraged people. All that we demand is full inquiry and publicity. The secrets of the recent negotiations shall be probed. Jugurtha himself shall be the witness. If he has surrendered to the Roman people, as we are told, he will immediately obey your orders; if he despises your commands, you will have an opportunity of knowing the true nature of that peace and that submission which have brought to Jugurtha impunity for his crimes, to a narrow ring of oligarchs a large increase in their wealth, to the state a legacy of loss and shame.
It was on this happily constructed dilemma that Memmius acted when he brought his positive proposal before the people. It was to the effect that the praetor Lucius Cassius Longinus should be sent to Jugurtha and bring him to Rome on the faith of a safe conduct granted by the State; Jugurtha's revelations were to be the key by which the secret chamber of the recent negotiations was to be unlocked, with the desired hope of convicting Scaurus and all others whose contact with the Numidian king, whether in the late or in past transactions, had suggested their corruption. The object of this mission had been rapidly regaining the complete control of Numidia, which had been momentarily shaken by the Roman invasion. The presence of the Roman army, some portion of which was still quartered in a part of his dominions, was no check on his activity; for the absence of the commander, the incapacity and dishonesty of the delegates whom he had left in his place, and the demoralising indolence of the rank and file, had reduced the forces to a condition lower than that of mere ineffectiveness or lack of discipline. The desire of making a profit out of the situation pervaded every grade. The elephants which had been handed over by Jugurtha, were mysteriously restored; Numidians who had espoused the cause of Rome and deserted from the army of the king--loyalists whom, whatever their motives and character, Rome was bound to protect--were handed back to the king in exchange for a price; districts already pacified were plundered by desultory bands of soldiers. The Roman power in Numidia was completely broken when Cassius arrived and revealed his mission to the king. The strange request would have alarmed a timid or ignorant ruler; Jugurtha himself wavered for a moment as to whether he should put himself unreservedly into the power of a hostile people; but he had sufficient imagination and familiarity with Roman life to realise that the principles of international honour that prevailed amongst despotic monarchies were not those of the great Republic even at its present stage, and he professed himself encouraged by the words of the amiable praetor that "since he had thrown himself on the mercy of the Roman people, he would do better to appeal to their pity than to challenge their might". His guide added his own word of honour to that of the Republic, and such was the repute of Cassius that this assurance helped to remove the momentary scruples of the king. Once he was assured of personal safety, Jugurtha's visit to Rome became merely a matter of policy, and his rapid mind must have surveyed every issue depending on his acceptance or refusal before he committed himself to so doubtful a step. His real plan of action is unfortunately unknown; for we possess but the barest outline of these incidents, and we have no information on the really vital point whether communications had reached him from his supporters in the capital, which enabled him to predict the course events would take if he obeyed the summons of Cassius. Had such communications reached him, he might have known that the projected investigation would be nugatory. But a failure in the purpose for which he was summoned could convey no benefit to Jugurtha or his supporters; it would simply incense the people and place both the king, and his friends amongst the nobility, in a worse position than before. The course of action, by turns sullen, shifty and impudent, which he pursued at Rome, must have been due to the exigencies of the moment and the frantic promptings of his frightened friends; for it could scarcely have appealed to a calculating mind as a procedure likely to lead to fruitful results. Its certain issue was war; but war could be had without the trouble of a journey to Rome. He had but to stay where he was and decline the people's request, and this policy of passive resistance would have the further merit of saving his dignity as a king. It may seem strange that he never adopted the bold but simple plan of standing up in Rome and telling the whole truth, or at least such portions of the truth as might have satisfied the people. It was a course of action that might have secured him his crown. Doubtless if his transactions with Roman officials had been innocent, the truth, if he adhered to it, might not have been believed; but, if his evidence was damning, the people might well have been turned from the insignificant question "Who was to be King of Numidia?" to the supreme task of punishing the traitors whom he denounced. But we have no right to read Jugurtha's character by the light of the single motive of a self-interest which knew no scruples. He may have had his own ideas of honour and of the protection due to a benefactor or a trusty agent. Self-interest too might in this matter come to the aid of sentiment; for it was at least possible that the popular storm might spend its fury and leave the nobility still holding their ground. So far as we with our imperfect knowledge can discern, Jugurtha could have had no definite plan of action when he consented to take the journey to Rome. But he had abundant prospects, if even he possessed no plan. His presence in the capital was a decided advantage, in so far as it enabled him to confer with his leading supporters, and to attend to a matter affecting his dynastic interests which we shall soon find arousing the destructive energy which was becoming habitual to his jealous and impatient mind.
When Jugurtha appeared in Rome under the guidance of Cassius, he had laid aside all the emblems of sovereignty and assumed the sordid garb that befitted a suppliant for the mercy of the sovereign people. He seemed to have come, not as a witness for the prosecution, but as a suspected criminal who appeared in his own defence. He was still keeping up the part of one whom the fortune of war had thrown absolutely into the power of the conquering state--a part perhaps suggested by the friendly Cassius, but one that was perfectly in harmony with the pretensions of Bestia and Scaurus. But the heart beneath that miserable dress beat high with hope, and he was soon cheered by messages from the circle of his friends at Rome and apprised of the means which had been taken to baffle the threatened investigation, The senate had, as usual, a tribune at its service. Caius Baebius was the name of the man who was willing to play the part, so familiar to the practice of the constitution, of supporter of the government against undue encroachments on its power and dignity, or against over-hasty action by the leaders of the people. The government undoubtedly had a case. It was contrary to all accepted notions of order and decency that a protected king should be used as a political instrument by a turbulent tribune. Memmius had impeached no one and had given no notice of a public trial; yet he intended to bring Jugurtha before a gathering of the rabble and ask him to blacken the names of the foremost men in Rome. It was exceedingly probable that the grotesque proceeding would lead to a breach of the peace; the sooner it was stopped, the better; and, although it was unfortunately impossible to prevent Memmius from initiating the drama by bringing forward his protagonist, the law had luckily provided means for ending the performance before the climax had been reached. It was believed that the sound constitutional views of Baebius were strengthened by a great price paid by Jugurtha, and, if we care to believe one more of those charges of corruption, the multitude of which had not palled even on the easily wearied mind of the lively Roman, it is possible to imagine that the implicated members of the senate, in whose interest far more than in that of Jugurtha Baebius was acting, had persuaded the king that it was to his advantage to make the gift.
The eagerly awaited day arrived, on which the scandal-loving ears of the people were to be filled to the full with the iniquities of their rulers, on which their long-cherished suspicions should be changed to a pleasantly anticipated certainty. Memmius summoned his Contio and produced the king. Even the suppliant garb of Jugurtha did not save him from a howl of execration. From the tribunal, to which he had been led by the tribune, he looked over a sea of angry faces and threatening hands, while his ears were deafened by the roar of fierce voices, some crying that he should be put in bonds, others that he should suffer the death of the traitor if he failed to reveal the partners of his crimes. Memmius, anxious for the dignity of his unusual proceedings which were being marred by this frantic outburst, used all his efforts to secure order and a patient hearing, and succeeded at length in imposing silence on the crowd--a silence which perhaps marked that psychological moment when pent up feeling had found its full expression and passion had given way to curiosity. The tribune also vehemently asserted his intention of preserving inviolate the safe conduct which had been granted by the State. He then led the king forward and began a recital of the catalogue of his deeds. He spared him nothing; his criminal activity at Rome and in Numidia, his outrages on his family--the whole history of that career, as it continued to live in the minds of democrats, was fully rehearsed. He concluded the story, which he assumed to be true, by a request for the important details of which full confirmation was lacking. "Although the Roman people understood by whose assistance and ministry all this had been done, yet they wished to have their suspicions finally attested by the king. If he revealed the truth, he could repose abundant hope on the honour and clemency of the Roman people; if he refused to speak, he would not help the partners of his guilt, but his silence would ruin both himself and his future." Memmius ceased and asked the king for a reply; Baebius stepped forward and ordered the king to be silent. The voice of Jugurtha could legally find utterance only through the will of the magistrate who commanded; it was stifled by the prohibition of the colleague who forbade. The people were in the presence of one of those galling restraints on their own liberty to which the jealousy of the magistracy, expressed in the constitutional creations of their ancestors, so often led. Baebius was immediately subjected to the terrorism which Octavius, his forerunner in tribunician constancy, had once withstood. The frantic mob scowled, shouted, made rushes for the tribunal, and used every effort short of personal assault which anger could suggest, to break the spirit of the man who balked their will. But the resolution--or, as his enemies said, the shamelessness--of Baebius prevailed. The multitude, tricked of its hopes, melted from the Forum in gloomy discontent. It is said that the hopes of Bestia and his friends rose high. Perhaps they had lived too long in security to realise the danger threatened by a disappointed crowd that might meet to better purpose some future day; that had gained from the insulting scene itself an embittered confirmation of its views, with none of the softening influence which springs from a curiosity completely satiated; that, as an assembly of the sovereign people, might at any moment avenge the latest outrage which had been inflicted on its dignity.
Jugurtha had, perhaps through no fault of his own, sorely tried the patience of the people on the one occasion on which, as a professed suppliant, he had come into contact with his sovereign. He was now, on his own initiative, to try it yet further, and to test it in a manner which aroused the horror and resentment of many who did not share the views of Memmius. The king was not the only representative of Masinissa's house at present to be found in Rome. There resided in the city, as a fugitive from his power, his cousin Massiva, son of Gulussa and grandson of Masinissa. It is not known why this scion of the royal house had been passed over in the regulation of the succession, although it is easily intelligible that Micipsa, with two sons of his own, might not have wished to increase the number of co-regents of Numidia by recognising his brother's heirs, and would not have done so had he not been forced by circumstances to adopt Jugurtha. During the early struggles between the three kings, Massiva had attached himself to the party of Hiempsal and Adherbal, and had thus incurred Jugurtha's enmity; but he had continued to live in Numidia as long as there was any hope of the continuance of the dual kingship. The fall of Cirta and the death of Adherbal had forced him to find a refuge at Rome, where he continued to reside in peace until fate suddenly made him a pawn in the political game. At last there had arisen a definite section amongst the nobility which found it to its interest to offer an active opposition to Jugurtha's claims. The consuls who succeeded Bestia and Nasica, were Spurius Albinus and Quintus Minucius Rufus. The latter had won the province of Macedonia and the protection of the north-eastern frontier; to the former had fallen Numidia and the conduct of affairs in Africa. The fact that the senate had declared Numidia a consular province before the close of the previous year, was the ostensible proof that they had yielded to the pressure applied by Memmius and nominally at least repudiated the pacification effected by Bestia and Scaurus. But the rejection of this arrangement seems never to have been officially declared; there was still a chance of the recognition of Jugurtha's claims, and of the governor of Numidia being assigned the inglorious function of seeing to the restoration of the king and then evacuating his territory. Such a modest rôle did not at all harmonise with the views of Albinus. He wished a real command and a genuine war; but it was not easy to wage such a war as long as Jugurtha was the only candidate in the field. Even if his surrender were regarded as fictitious and the war were resumed on that ground, it was difficult to assign it an ultimate object, since the senate had no intention of making Numidia a province. But the object which would make the war a living reality could be secured, if a pretender were put forward for the Numidian crown; and such a pretender Albinus sought in the scion of Masinissa's race now resident in Rome, whose birth gave him a better hereditary claim than Jugurtha himself. The consul approached Massiva and urged him to make a case out of the odium excited and the fears inspired by Jugurtha's crimes, and to approach the senate with a request for the kingdom of Numidia. The prince caught at the suggestion, the petition was prepared, and this new and unexpected movement began to make itself felt. Jugurtha's fear and anger were increased by the sudden discovery that his friends at Rome were almost powerless to help him. They could not parade a question of principle when it came to persons; a kingdom in Numidia was more easily defended than its king; every act of assistance which they rendered plunged them deeper in the mire of suspicion; it was a time to walk warily, for those who had no judge in their own conscience found one in the keen scrutiny of a hostile world. But the danger was too great to permit Jugurtha to relax his efforts through the failure of his friends. He appealed to his own resources, which consisted of the passive obedience of his immediate attendants and the power of his purse. To Bomilcar his most trusted servant he gave the mission of making one final effort with the gold which had already done so much. Men might be hired who would lie in wait for Massiva. If possible, the matter was to be effected secretly. If secrecy was impossible, the Numidian must yet be slain. His death was deserving of any risk. Bomilcar was prompt in carrying out his mission. A band of hired spies watched every movement of Massiva. They learnt the hours at which he left and returned to his home; the places he visited, the times at which his visits were paid. When the seasonable hour arrived, the ambush was set by Bomilcar. The elaborate precautions which had been taken proved to have been thrown away; the assassin who struck the fatal blow was no adept in the art of secret killing. Hardly had Massiva fallen when the alarm was given and the murderer seized. The men who had an interest in Massiva's life were too numerous and too great to make it possible for the act to sink to the level of ordinary street outrages, or for the assassin caught red-handed to be regarded as the sole author of the crime. The consul Albinus amongst others pressed the murderer to reveal the instigator of the deed, and the senate must have promised the immunity that was sometimes given to the criminal who named his accomplices. The man named Bomilcar, who was thereupon formally arraigned of the murder and bound over to stand his trial before a criminal court. Even this step was taken with considerable hesitation, for it was admitted that the safe-conduct which protected Jugurtha extended to his retinue. The king and his court were strictly speaking extra-territorial, and the strict letter of international law would have handed Bomilcar over for trial by his sovereign. But it was felt that a departure from custom was a less evil than to allow such an outrage to remain unpunished, and it was easier to satisfy the popular conscience by finding Bomilcar guilty than to fix the crime on the man whom every one named as its ultimate author. Jugurtha himself was inclined for a time to acquiesce in this view; he regarded the trial of his favourite as inevitable and furnished fifty of his own acquaintances who were willing to give bail for the appearance of the accused. But reflection convinced him that the sacrifice was unnecessary; his name could not be saved by Bomilcar's doom, and no influence or wealth could create even a pretence at belief in his own innocence. His standing in Rome was gone, and this made him the more eager to consider his standing as King of Numidia. If Bomilcar were sacrificed, his powerlessness to protect the chief member of his retinue might shake the allegiance of his own subjects. He therefore smuggled his accused henchman from Rome and had him conveyed secretly to Numidia. This, of all Jugurtha's acts of perfidy perhaps the mildest and most excusable, in spite of the awkward predicament in which it left the fifty securities, was the last of the baffling incidents that had been crowded into his short sojourn at Rome. His presence must have been an annoyance to every one. He had exhausted his friends, had failed to serve the purposes of the opposition leader, and had inspired in the senate memories and anticipations which they were willing to forget. When that body ordered him to quit Italy--it must have expressed the wish of every class. Within a few days of Bomilcar's disappearance the king himself was leaving the gates. It is said that he often turned and took a long and silent look at the distant town, and that at last the words broke from him "A city for sale and ripe for ruin, if only a purchaser can be found!" 
The departure of Jugurtha implied the renewal of the war. The compact made with Bestia and Scaurus had been tacitly, if not formally, repudiated by the senate, and the fiction that Jugurtha had surrendered, although it had played its part in the negotiations which brought him to Rome, disappeared with the compact. Since, however, the right of Jugurtha to retain Numidia, which was the objectionable element in the late agreement, seems to have been implied rather than expressed, it may have seemed possible to take the view that Jugurtha's surrender was unconditional, and that the war was now the pursuit of an escaped prisoner of Rome. Such a conception was absolutely worthless so far as most of the practical difficulties of the task were concerned; for, whether Jugurtha was an enemy or a rebel, he was equally difficult to secure; but it may have had a considerable influence on the principles on which the Numidian war was now to be conducted, and we shall find on the part of Rome a growing disinclination to give Jugurtha the benefits of those rules of civilised warfare of which she generally professed a scrupulous observance in the letter if not in the spirit. The object of the war was, through its very simplicity, extraordinarily difficult of attainment. It was neither more nor less than the seizure of the person of Jugurtha. Numidia had no common government and no unity but those personified in its king, and the conquest of fragments of the country would be almost useless until the king was secured. The hope of setting up a rival pretender, whose recognition by Rome might have enabled organisation to keep pace with conquest, had perished with the murder of Massiva, although it is very questionable whether the name even of the son of the warlike Gulussa would have detached any of the military strength of Numidia from a monarch who had stirred the fighting spirit of the nation and was regarded as the embodiment of its manliest traditions. The outlook of the consul Albinus, the new organiser of the war on the Roman side, was indeed a poor one, and it was made still poorer by the fact that a considerable portion of his year of office had already lapsed, and the events of his campaign must of necessity be crowded into the few remaining months of the summer and the early autumn. Had there been any spirit of self-sacrifice in Roman commanders, or any true continuity in Roman military policies, Albinus might have set himself the useful task of organising victory for his successors; yet he cannot be wholly blamed for the hope, wild and foolish as it seems, of striking some decisive blow in the narrow time allowed him. The military operations of the war at this stage become almost wholly subordinate to political considerations. Senate and consuls were being swept off their feet and forced into a disastrous celerity or superficiality of action by the growing tide of indignation which animated commons and capitalists alike; and the feeling that something decisive must be accomplished for the satisfaction of public opinion, was supplemented by the lower but very human consideration that a general must seem to have attained some success if he hoped to have his command prolonged for another year. The senate, it is true, might have insight enough to see that success in a war such as that in Numidia could not be gauged by the brilliance of the results obtained; but how were they to defend their verdict to the people unless they could point to exploits such as would dazzle the popular eye? But although a feverish policy seemed the readiest mode of escape from public suspicion or inglorious retirement, it had its own particular nemesis, of which Albinus seemed for the moment to be oblivious. To finish the war in a short time meant to finish it by any means that came to hand. But, if a striking victory did not surrender Jugurtha into the hands of his conqueror--and even the most glorious victory did not under the circumstances of the war imply the capture of the vanquished--what means remained except negotiation and the voluntary surrender of the king? Such means had been employed by Bestia, and every one knew now with what result. The policy of haste might breed more suspicion and bitterness than the most desultory conduct of the campaign.
Albinus made rapid but ample preparation of supplies, money and munitions of war, and hurried off to the scene of his intended successes. The army which he found must have been in a miserable condition, if we may judge by the state which the last glimpse of it revealed; but his fixed intention of accomplishing something, no matter what, must have rendered adequate re-organisation impossible, and he took the field against Jugurtha with forces whose utter demoralisation was soon to be put to a frightful test. The war immediately assumed that character of an unsuccessful hunt, varied by indecisive engagements and fruitless victories, which it was to retain even under the guidance of the ablest that Rome could furnish. Jugurtha adhered to his inevitable plan of a prolonged and desultory campaign over a vast area of country; the size and physical character of his kingdom, the extraordinary mobility of his troops, the credulity and anxious ambition of his opponent, were all elements of strength which he used with consummate skill. He retired before the threatening column; then, that his men might not lose heart, he threw himself with startling suddenness on the foe; at other times he mocked the consul with hopes of peace, entered into negotiations for a surrender and, when he had disarmed his adversary by hopes, suddenly drew back in a pretended access of distrust. The futility of Albinus's efforts was so pronounced--a futility all the more impressive from the intensity of his preparations and his excessive eagerness to reach the field of action--that people ignorant of the conditions of the campaign began again to whisper the perpetual suspicion of collusion with the king. The suspicion might not have been avoided even by a commander who declined negotiation; but Albinus's case had been rendered worse by his unsuccessful efforts to play with a master of craft, and it was with a reputation greatly weakened from a military, and slightly damaged from a moral, point of view that he brought the campaign to a close, sent his army into winter quarters, and left for Rome to preside at the electoral meetings of the people. The Comitia for the appointment of the consuls and the praetors were at this time held during the latter half of the year, but at no regular date, the time for their summons depending on the convenience of the presiding consul and on his freedom from other and more pressing engagements. Albinus may have arrived in Rome during the late autumn. Had he been able to get the business over and return to Africa for the last month or two of the year, his conduct of the war might have been considered ineffective but not disastrous, and the senate might have been spared a problem more terrible than any that had yet arisen out of its relations with Jugurtha. For Albinus, though sanguine and unpractical, seems to have been reasonably prudent, and he might have handed over an army, unsuccessful but not disgraced, and recruited in strength by its long winter quarters, to the care of a more fortunate successor. But, as it happened, every public department in Rome was feeling the strain caused by a minor constitutional crisis which had arisen amongst the magistrates of the Plebs. The sudden revival of the people's aspirations had doubtless led to a certain amount of misguided ambition on the part of some of its leaders, and the tribunate was now the centre of an agitation which was a faint counterpart of the closing scenes in the Gracchan struggles. Two occupants of the office, Publius Lucullus and Lucius Annius, were attempting to secure re-election for another year. Their colleagues resisted their effort, probably on the ground that the conditions requisite for re-election were not in existence, and this conflict not merely prevented the appointment of plebeian magistrates from being completed, but stayed the progress of the other elective Comitia as well. The tribunes, whether those who aimed at re-election or those who attempted to prevent it, had either declared a justitium or threatened to veto every attempt made by a magistrate of the people to hold an electoral assembly; and the consequence of this impasse was that, when the year drew to a close, no new magistrates were in existence and the consul Albinus was still absent from his African command.
Unfortunately the absence of the proconsul, as Albinus had now become in default of the appointment of a successor, did not have the effect of checking the enterprise of the army. It was now under the authority of Aulus Albinus, to whom his brother had delegated the command of the province and the forces during his stay at Rome. The stimulus which moved Aulus to action is not known. The unexpected duration of his temporary command may have familiarised him with power, stimulated his undoubted confidence in himself, and suggested the hope that by one of those unexpected blows, with which the annals of strategic genius were filled, he might redeem his brother's reputation and win lasting glory for himself. Others believed that the perpetually suspected motive of cupidity was the basis of his enterprise, that he had no definitely conceived plan of conquest, but intended by the terror of a military demonstration to exact money from Jugurtha. If the latter view was correct, it is possible that Aulus imagined himself to be acting in the interest of his army as well as of himself. The long winter quarters may have betrayed a deficiency in pay and provisions, and if Jugurtha purchased the security of a district, its immunity would be too public an event to make it possible for the commander of the attacking forces to pocket the whole of the ransom.
It was in the month of January, in the very heart of a severe winter, that Aulus summoned his troops from the security of their quarters to a long and fatiguing march. His aim was Suthul, a strongly fortified post on the river Ubus, nearly forty miles south of Hippo Regius and the sea, and so short a distance from the larger and better-known town of Calama, the modern Gelma, that the latter name was sometimes used to describe the scene of the incidents that followed. We are not told the site of the winter quarters from which the march began; but the ineffectiveness of the former campaign and the caution of Albinus, who did not mean his legions to fight during his absence, might lead us to suppose that the troops had been quartered in or near the Roman province; and in this case Aulus might have marched along the valley of the Bagradas to reach his destined goal, which would finally have been approached from the south through a narrow space between two ranges of hills, the westernmost of which was crowned at its northern end by the fortifications of Suthul. This was reported to be the chief treasure-city of Jugurtha; could Aulus capture it, or even bargain for its security with the king, he might cripple the resources of the Numidian monarch and win great wealth for himself and his army. By long and fatiguing marches he reached the object of his attack, only to discover at the first glance that it was impregnable--nay even, as a soldier's eye would have seen, that an investment of the place was utterly impossible. The rigour of the season had aggravated the difficulties presented by the site. Above towered the city walls perched on their precipitous rock; below was the alluvial plain which the deluging rains of a Numidian winter had turned into a swamp of liquid mud. Yet Aulus, either dazzled by the vision of the gold concealed within the fortress which it had caused him such labour to reach, or with some vague idea that a pretence at an investment might alarm the king into coming to terms for the protection of his hoard, began to make formal preparations for a siege, to bring up mantlets, to mark out his lines of circumvallation, to deceive his enemy, if he could not deceive himself, into a belief that the conditions rendered an attack on Suthul possible.
It is needless to say that Jugurtha knew the possibilities of his treasure-city far better than its assailant. But the simple device of Aulus was admirably suited to his plans. Humble messages soon reached the camp of the legate; the missives of every successive envoy augmented his illusion and stirred his idle hopes to a higher pitch. Jugurtha's own movements began to give proof of a state of abject terror. So far from coming to the relief of his threatened city, he drew his forces farther away into the most difficult country he could find, everywhere quitting the open ground for sheltered spots and mountain paths. At last from a distance he began to hold out definite hopes of an agreement with Aulus. But it was one that must be transacted personally and in private. The plain round Suthul was much too public a spot; let the legate follow the king into the fastnesses of the desert and all would be arranged. The legate advanced as the king retired; but at every point of the difficult march Numidian spies were hovering around the Roman column. The disgust of the soldiers at the hardships to which they had been submitted in the pursuit of this phantom gold, the last evidence of which had vanished when their commander turned his back on the walls of Suthul, now resulted in a frightful state of demoralisation. The lower officers in authority, centurions and commanders of squadrons of horse, stole from the camp to hold converse with Jugurtha's spies; some sold themselves to desert to the Numidian army, others to quit their posts at a given signal. The mesh was at last prepared. On one dark night, at the hour of the first sleep when attack is least suspected, the camp of Aulus was suddenly surrounded by the Numidian host. The surprise was complete. The Roman soldiers, in the shock of the sudden din, were utterly unnerved. Some groped for their arms; others cowered in their tents; a few tried to create some order amongst their terror-stricken comrades. But nowhere could a real stand be made or real discipline observed. The blackness of the night and the heavy driving clouds prevented the numbers of the enemy from being seen, and the size of the Numidian host, large in itself, was perhaps increased by a terrified imagination. It was difficult to say on which side the greater danger lay. Was it safer to fly into darkness and some unknown ambush or to keep one's ground and meet the approaching enemy? The evils of preconcerted treachery were soon added to those of surprise. The defections were greatest amongst the auxiliary forces. A cohort of Ligurian infantry with two squadrons of Thracian cavalry deserted to the king. Their example was followed by but a handful of the legionaries; but the fatal act of treason was committed by a Roman centurion of the first rank. He let the Numidians through the post which he had been given to defend, and through this ingress they poured to every part of the camp. The panic was now complete; most of the Romans threw their arms away and fled from slaughter to the temporary safety of a neighbouring hill. The early hour at which the attack had been made, prevented an effective pursuit, for there was much of the night yet to run; and the Numidians were also busied with the plunder of the camp. The dawn of day revealed the hopelessness of the Roman position and forced Aulus into any terms that Jugurtha cared to grant. The latter adopted the language of humane condescension. He said that, although he held the Roman army at his mercy, certain victims of famine or the sword, yet he was not unmindful of the mutability of human fortune, and would spare the lives of all his prisoners, if the Roman commander would make a treaty with him. The army was to pass under the yoke; the Romans were to evacuate Numidia within ten days. The degrading terms were accepted: an army that before its defeat had numbered forty thousand men, passed under the spear that symbolised their submission and disgrace, and peace reigned in Numidia--a peace which lacked no element of shame, dictated by a client king to the sovereign that had decreed his chastisement.
The Roman public had become so familiar with discredit as to be in the habit of imagining it even when it did not exist; but humiliation exhibited in an actual disaster on this colossal scale was sufficiently novel to stir the people to the profoundest depths of grief and fear. To men who thought only of the empire, its glory seemed to be extinguished by the fearful blow; but many of the masses, who knew nothing of war or of Rome's relations with peoples beyond the seas, were filled with a fear too personal to permit their thoughts to dwell solely on the loss of honour. To yet another class, whose knowledge exempted them from such idle terror, the army seemed more than the empire. Rome had not yet learnt to fight with mercenary forces; and the men who had seen service formed a considerable element in the Roman proletariate. Such veterans, especially those whose repute in war could give their words an added point, were unmeasured in their condemnation of the conduct of Aulus. The general had had a sword in his hand; yet he had thought a disgraceful capitulation his only means of deliverance. On no side could a word be heard in defence of the action of the unhappy commander. The blessings of the wives and children of the men whom Aulus's treaty had saved were, if breathed, apparently smothered under a weight of patriotic execration.
The feeling of insecurity must have been rendered greater by the fact that the State still lacked an official head, and the African dependencies possessed no governor in whom any confidence could be reposed. The year must have opened with a series of interregna, since no consuls had been elected to assume the government on the 1st of January; Numidia had again been made by senatorial decree a consular province; but since no consul existed to assume the administration, Albinus was still in command of the African army. It was the painful duty of the ex-consul to raise in the senate the question of the ratification of his brother's treaty. Even he could never have attempted to defend it; his dominant feeling was an overwhelming sense of the weight of undeserved ignominy under which he lay, tempered by an undercurrent of fear as to the danger that might follow in the track of the universal disfavour with which he and his brother were regarded. The action that he took even before the senate's opinion was known, was a proof that he regarded the continuance of the war as inevitable. He relieved his mind and sought to restore his credit by pushing on military preparations with a fevered energy; supplementary drafts for the African army were raised from the citizens; auxiliary cohorts were demanded of the Latins and Italian allies. While these measures were in progress, the judgment of the senate was given to the world. It was a judgment based on the often-repeated maxim that no legitimate treaty could be concluded without the consent of the senate and people. It was a decision that recalled the days of Numantia or the more distant history of the Caudine Forks; but the formal sacrifice that followed and was thought to justify those famous instances of breach of contract, was no longer deemed worthy of observance, and Aulus was not surrendered to the vengeance or mercy of the foe with whom he had involuntarily broken faith. This summary invalidation of the treaty may have been the result of a deduction drawn from the peculiar circumstances which had preceded the renewal of the war--circumstances which, as we have seen, might be twisted to support the view that Jugurtha was not an independent enemy of Rome and was, therefore, not entitled to the full rights of a belligerent.
The senate's decision left Albinus free to act and to make use of the new military forces that he had so strenuously prepared. But a sudden hindrance came from another quarter. Some tribunes expressed the not unreasonable view that a commander of Albinus's record should not be allowed to expose Rome's last resources to destruction. Had they meant him to remain in command, their attitude would have been indefensible; but, when they forbade him to take the new recruits to Africa, they were merely reserving them for a more worthy successor. Albinus, however, meant to make the most of his limited tenure. He had his own and his brother's honour to avenge, and within a few days of the senate's decree permitting a renewal of the war, he had taken ship for the African province, where the whole army, withdrawn from Numidia in accordance with the compact, was now stationed in winter quarters. For a time his burning desire to clear his name made him blind to the defects of his forces; he thought only of the pursuit of Jugurtha, of some vigorous stroke that might erase the stain from the honour of his family. But hard facts soon restored the equilibrium of his naturally prudent soul. The worst feature of the army was not that it had been beaten, but that it had not been commanded. The reins of discipline had been so slack that licence and indulgence had sapped its fighting strength. The tyranny of circumstances demanded a peaceful sojourn in the province, and Albinus resigned himself to the inevitable.
At Rome meanwhile the movement for inquiry that had been stayed for the moment by the co-operation of Jugurtha and his senatorial friends, and by the obstructive attitude of Baebius, had been resumed with greater intensity and promise of success. It did not need the disaster of Aulus to re-awaken it to new life. That disaster no doubt accelerated its course and invested it with an unscrupulous thoroughness of character that it might otherwise have lacked; but the movement itself had perhaps taken a definite shape a month before the result of Aulus's experiment in Numidia was known, and was the natural result of the feeling of resentment which the conspiracy of silence had created. It now assumed the exact and legal form of the demand for a commission which should investigate, adjudicate and punish. The leaders of the people had conceived the bold and original design of wresting from the hands, and directing against the person, of the senate the powerful weapon with which that body had so often visited epidemics of crime or turbulence that were supposed to have fastened on the helpless proletariate. Down to this time special commissions had either been set up by the co-operation of senate and people, or had, with questionable legality, been established by the senate alone. The commissioners, who were sometimes consuls, sometimes praetors, had, perhaps always but certainly in recent history, judged without appeal; and in the judicial investigations which followed the fall of the Gracchi, the people had had no voice either in the appointment of the judge or in the ratification of the sentence which he pronounced. Now the senate as a whole was to be equally voiceless; it was not to be asked to take the initiative in the creation of the court, the penalties were to be determined without reference to its advice, and although the presidents would naturally be selected from members of the senatorial order, if they were to be chosen from men of eminence at all, these presidents were to be merely formal guides of the proceedings, like the praetor who sat in the court which tried cases of extortion, and the verdict was to be pronounced by judges inspired by the prevailing feeling of hostility to the crimes of the official class.
Caius Mamilius Limetanus, who proposed and probably aided in drafting this bill, was a tribune who belonged to the college which perhaps came into office towards the close of the month of December which had preceded the recent disaster in Numidia. The bill, the promulgation of which was probably one of the first acts of his tribunate, proposed "that an inquiry should be directed into the conduct of all those individuals, whose counsel had led Jugurtha to neglect the decrees of the senate, who had taken money from the king whether as members of commissions or as holders of military commands, who had handed over to him elephants of war and deserters from his army; lastly, all who had made agreements with enemies of the State on matters of peace or war". The comprehensive nature of the threatened inquiry spread terror amongst the ranks of the suspected. The panic was no sign of guilt; a party warfare was to be waged with the most undisguised party weapons: and mere membership of the suspected faction aroused fears almost as acute as those which were excited by the consciousness of guilt, There was a prospect of rough and ready justice, where proof might rest on prepossession and verdicts be considered preordained. The bitterness of the situation was increased by the impossibility of open resistance to the measure; for such a resistance would imply an unwillingness to submit to inquiry, and such a refusal, invidious in itself, would fix suspicion and be accepted as a confession of misdeeds which could not bear the light of investigation. With the city proletariate against them, the threatened members of the aristocracy could look merely to secret opposition by their own supporters, and to such moderate assistance as was secured by the friendly attitude which their recent agrarian measures had awakened in the Latins and Italian allies. But the latter support was moral rather than material, or if it became effective, could only secure this character by fraud. The allies, whom the senate had driven from Rome by Pennus's law, were apparently to be invited to flood the contiones and raise cries of protest against the threatened indictment. But this device could only be successful in the preliminary stages of the agitation. The Latins possessed but few votes, the Italians none, and personation, if resorted to, was not likely to elude the vigilance of the hostile presidents of the tribunician assembly, or, if undetected, to be powerful enough to turn the scale in favour of the aristocracy. For the unanimity of opposition which the nobility now encountered in the citizen body, was almost unexampled. The differences of interest which sometimes separated the country from the city voters, seem now to have been forgotten. The tribunes found no difficulty in keeping the agitation up to fever-heat, and its permanence was as marked as its intensity. The crowds that acclaimed the proposal, were sufficiently in earnest to remain at Rome and vote for it; the emphasis with which the masses assembled at the final meeting, "ordered, decreed and willed" the measure submitted for their approval, was interpreted (perhaps rightly) as a shout of triumphant defiance of the nobility, not as a vehement expression of disinterested affection for the State. The two emotions were indeed blended; but the imperial sentiment is oftenest aroused by danger; and the individuals who have worked the mischief are the concrete element in a situation, the reaction against which has roused the exaltation which veils vengeance and hatred under the names of patriotism and justice.
When the measure had been passed, it still remained to appoint the commissioners. This also was to be effected by the people's vote, and never perhaps was the effect of habit on the popular mind more strikingly exhibited than when Scaurus, who was thought to be trembling as a criminal, was chosen as a judge. The large personal following, which he doubtless possessed amongst the people, must have remained unshaken by the scandals against his name; but the reflection amongst all classes that any business would be incomplete which did not secure the co-operation of the head of the State, was perhaps a still more potent factor in his election. Never was a more splendid testimonial given to a public man, and it accompanied, or prepared the way for, the greatest of all honours that it was in the power of the Comitia to bestow--the control of morals which Scaurus was in that very year to exercise as censor. The presence of the venerable statesman amongst the three commissioners created under the Mamilian law, could not, however, exercise a controlling influence on the judgments of the special tribunal. Such an influence was provided against by the very structure of the new courts. The three commissioners were not to judge but merely to preside; for in the constitution of this commission the new departure was taken of modelling it on the pattern of the newly established standing courts, and the judges who gave an uncontrolled and final verdict were men selected on the same qualifications as those which produced the Gracchan jurors, and were perhaps taken from the list already in existence for the trial of cases of extortion. The knights were, therefore, chosen as the vehicle for the popular indignation, and the result justified the choice. The impatience of a hampered commerce, and perhaps of an outraged feeling of respectability, spent itself without mercy on the devoted heads of some of the proudest leaders of the faction that had so long controlled the destinies of the State. Expedition in judgment was probably secured by dividing the commissioners into three courts, each with his panel of judices and all acting concurrently. It was still more effectually secured by the mode in which evidence was heard, tested and accepted, and by the scandalous rapidity with which judgment was pronounced. The courts were influenced by every chance rumour and swayed by the wild caprices of public opinion. No sane democrat could in the future pretend to regard the Mamilian commission as other than an outrage on the name of justice; to the philosophic mind it seemed that a sudden turn in fortune's wheel had brought to the masses the same intoxication in the sense of unbridled power that had but a moment before been the disgrace of the nobility. An old score was wiped off when Lucius Opimius, the author of the downfall of Caius Gracchus, was condemned. Three other names completed the tale of victims who had been rendered illustrious by the possession of the consular fasces. Lucius Bestia was convicted for the conclusion of that dark treaty with Jugurtha, although his counsellor Scaurus had been elevated to the Bench. Spurius Albinus fell a victim to his own caution and the blunder of his too-enterprising brother; the caution was supposed to have been purchased by Jugurtha's gold, and the absent pro-consul was perhaps held responsible for the rashness or cupidity of his incompetent legate, who does not seem to have been himself assailed. Caius Porcius Cato was emerging from the cloud of a recent conviction for extortion only to feel the weight of a more crushing judgment which drove him to seek a refuge on Spanish soil. Caius Sulpicius Galba, although he had held no dominant position in the secular life of the State, was a distinguished member of the religious hierarchy; but even the memorable speech which he made in his defence did not save him from being the first occupant of a priestly office to be condemned in a criminal court at Rome.
We do not know the number of criminals discovered by the Mamilian courts, and perhaps only the names of their more prominent victims have been preserved. The worldly position of these victims may, however, have saved others of lesser note, and the dignity of the sacrifice may have been regarded in the fortunate light of a compensation for its limited extent. The object of the people and of their present agents, the knights, so far as a rational object can be discerned in such a carnival of rage and vengeance, was to teach a severe lesson to the governing class. Their full purpose had been attained when the lesson had been taught. It was not their intention, any more than it had been that of Caius Gracchus, to usurp the administrative functions of government or to attempt to wrest the direction of foreign administration out of the senate's hands. The time for that further step might not be long in coming; but for the present both the lower and middle classes halted just at the point where destructive might have given place to constructive energy. The leaders of the people may have felt the entire lack of the organisation requisite for detailed administration, and the right man who might replace the machine had not yet been found; while the knights may, in addition to these convictions, have been influenced by their characteristic dislike of pushing a popular movement to an extreme which would remove it from the guidance of the middle class.
The senate had indeed learnt a lesson, and from this time onward the history of the Numidian war is simplified by the fact that its progress was determined by strategic, not by political, considerations. There is no thought of temporising with the enemy; the one idea is to reduce him to a condition of absolute submission--a submission which it was known could be secured only by the possession of his person. It is true that the conduct of the campaign became more than ever a party question; but the party struggle turned almost wholly on the military merit of the commander sent to the scene of action, and although there was a suspicion that the war was being needlessly prolonged for the purpose of gratifying personal ambition, there was no hint of the secret operation of influences that were wholly corrupt. Such a suspicion was rendered impossible by the personality of the man who now took over the conduct of the campaign. The tardily elected consuls for the year were Quintus Caecilius Metellus and Marcus Junius Silanus. Of these Metellus was to hold Numidia and Silanus Gaul. It is possible that, in the counsels of the previous year, considerations of the Numidian campaign may to some extent have determined the election of Metellus; the senate may have welcomed the candidature of a man of approved probity, although not of approved military skill, for the purpose of obviating the chance of another scandal; and the people may in the same spirit have now ratified his election. But, when we remember the almost mechanical system of advancement to the higher offices which prevailed at this time, it is equally possible that Metellus's day had come, that the senate was fortunate rather than prescient in its choice of a servant, and that, although the people in their present temper would probably have rejected a suspicious character, they accepted rather than chose Metellus. The existing system did not even make it possible to elect a man who would certainly have the conduct of the African war; and if we suppose that in this particular case the division of the consular provinces did not depend on the unadulterated use of the lot, but was settled by agreement or by a mock sortition, the probity rather than the genius of Metellus must have determined the choice, for Silanus was assigned a task of far more vital importance to the welfare of Rome and Italy.
The repute of Metellus was based on the fact that, although an aristocrat and a staunch upholder of the privileges of his order, he was honest in his motives and, so far at least as civic politics were concerned, straightforward in his methods. Rome was reaching a stage at which the dramatic probity of Hellenic annals, as exemplified by the names of an Aristeides or a Xenocrates, could be employed as a measure to exalt one member of a government among his fellows; the incorruptibility which had so lately been the common property of all, had become the monopoly of a few, and Metellus was a witness to the folly of a caste which had not recognised the policy of honesty. The completeness with which the prize for character might be won, was shown by the attitude of a jury before which he had been impeached on a charge of extortion. Even the jealous Equites did not deign to glance at the account-books which were handed in, but pronounced an immediate verdict of acquittal. But the merely negative virtue of unassailability by grossly corrupting influences could not have been the only source of the equable repute which Metellus enjoyed amongst the masses. It was but one of the signs of the self-sufficient directness, repose and courtesy, which marked the better type of the new nobility, of a life that held so much that it needed not to grasp at more, of the protecting impulse and the generosity which, in the purer type of minds constricted by conservative prejudices, is an outcome of the conviction of the unbridgeable gulf that separates the classes. The nobility of Metellus was wholly in his favour; it justified the senate while it hypnotised the people. The man who was now consul and would probably within a short space of time attach the name of a conquered nationality to his own, was but fulfilling the accepted destiny of his family. Metellus could show a father, a brother, an uncle and four cousins, all of whom had held the consulship. Since the middle of the second century titles drawn from three conquered peoples had become appellatives of branches of his race. His uncle had derived a name from Macedon, a cousin from the Baliares, his own elder brother from the Dalmatians. It remained to see whether the best-loved member of this favoured race would be in a position to add to the family names the imposing designation of Numidicus.
Metellus was a man of intellect and energy as well as of character, and he showed himself sufficiently exempt from the prejudices of his caste, and sufficiently conscious of the seriousness of the work in hand, to choose real soldiers, not diplomatists or ornamental warriors, as his lieutenants. If the restiveness of Marius had left a disturbing memory behind, it was judiciously forgotten by the consul, who drew the protégé of his family from the uncongenial atmosphere of the city to render services in the field, and to teach an ambitious and somewhat embittered man that each act of skill and gallantry was performed for the glory of his superior. Another of his legates was Publius Rutilius Rufus, who like Marius had held the praetorship, and was not only a man of known probity and firmness of character, but a scientific student of tactics with original ideas which were soon to be put to the test in the reorganisation of the army which followed the Numidian war. For the present it was necessary to create rather than reorganise an army, and Metellus in his haste had no time for the indulgence of original views. The reports of the forces at present quartered in the African province were not encouraging; and every means had to be taken to find new soldiers and fresh supplies. A vigorous levy was cheerfully tolerated by the enthusiasm of the community; the senate showed its earnestness by voting ample sums for the purchase of arms, horses, siege implements and stores. Renewed assistance was sought from, and voluntarily rendered by, the Latins and Italian allies, while subject kings proved their loyalty by sending auxiliary forces of their own free will. When Metellus deemed his preparations complete, he sailed for his province amidst the highest hopes. They were hopes based on the probity of a single man; for the impression still prevailed that Roman arms were invincible and had been vanquished only by the new vices of the Roman character. Such hopes are not always the best omen for a commander to take with him; a joy in the present, they are likely to prove an embarrassment in the immediate future.