After the destruction of Carthage

MICIPSA and the kingdom of the Numidians

In destroying Carthage, Rome did not immediately take the place of his empire, She understood first of all the difficulties which the direct administration of a country in which the prestige of her name was yet to prevail, would be offered to her, and confined herself to exercising high patronage over Africa. The tributary or colonial cities of the coast, which had been marked by an excessive attachment to their metropolis, were destroyed or dismantled; the others, on the contrary, like Utica, enriched themselves with his remains and seized his commerce. Italian colonies were not long in forming, and soon Rome could claim as his own the sea which his pride had long called the mare nostrum. As to all those little Numidian princes who, in the struggle of the two republics, had sided with one or the other, she kept them in view of the policy of Carthage; she shared with them an authority which she did not wish to exercise herself, without, however, abandoning the right of sovereignty conferred on her by conquest. From the first steps it took on the African soil, Rome applied herself to reward her allies magnificently; but as her power was consolidated, her liberality became rarer and rarer, and she even ended by withdrawing from the sons the largesse she had made to the fathers: this is what happened to the descendants of Massinissa.

Micipsa, son of that intrepid leader, whose continual aggression against Carthage had prepared the triumph of the Romans, continued the work of civilization undertaken by his father. Under this prince, Cirta (Constantine) is enriched by magnificent buildings; a colony composed of Greek and Roman emigrants came to settle there, and little by little its inhabitants became acquainted with the arts of Europe. Such were the importance and wealth of Cirta at that time, that, according to Strabo, she could put up ten thousand horsemen and a double number of infantrymen. The thirty years that Micipsa spent on the throne were very favorable to the prosperity of the kingdom of Numidia. Agriculture especially took an extraordinary development there; several branches of industry were successfully cultivated there, and the literature of Greece and Italy found skillful interpreters there. But this great prosperity disappeared with him.


In dying, Micipsa had distributed his kingdom between two of his sons, Hiempsal and Adherbal, and a nephew whom he had adopted and called for the division of his succession, less out of affection than fear. The latter, famous in history under the name of Jugurtha, was known to the Romans, among whom he had served in Spain under the command of Scipio (Jugurtha was especially distinguished at the siege of Numantia and in the campaign that followed the of this city).

His prodigious strength, his rare beauty, his indomitable courage, his lively, supple and penetrating mind, made him adore the Numidians, who believed that Massinissa, the founder of their empire, was reviving in him. His ambition knew neither scruple nor fear; it brought about his fall and the ruin of his country. Called to the throne jointly with two princes younger than himself, devoid of talent and experience, it was not difficult for him to get rid of it and to reign alone. Hiempsal, the eldest, was assassinated in his residence at Thermida; Adherbal, the second, having taken up arms to avenge his brother and defend himself, was warned by his fierce competitor, who attacked him unexpectedly and drove him out of his states. Adherbal, finding himself no longer safe in Africa, came to Rome to seek refuge, and to implore the assistance of the senate.


But already a deep demoralization reigned among these proud patricians; gold was upon them all-powerful. Jugurtha knew it. Numidian ambassadors set out at once with orders to conciliate the favor of all the influential men of the republic, and his rich presents were not long in overthrowing the just complaints of his despoiled relative. The senators who had accused him with the most fierceness showed themselves to be his most ardent defenders; and if some others, remaining incorruptible, demanded that Jugurtha be punished and that Adherbal should be helped, the majority, gained by the emissaries of the usurper, was able to suppress this generous impulse. Instead of immediately sending an army to Africa, they contented themselves with sending ten commissioners to make a new division of Numidia between the two competitors. Already shaken at Rome by the promises of Jugurtha, these commissioners were entirely corrupted by his largesse, and in the division ordered by the senate, the neighboring districts of Mauritania, the most fertile and the most warlike, were allotted to him. Adherbal had those of the eastern part, who, by the number of ports and the splendor of the cities, made him a brighter than solid part, for they gave him no means of defense against his enemy.

Immediately after the departure of these commissioners, Jugurtha, more than ever persuaded that he would get everything from Rome for money, attacked Adherbal, beat him in several meetings, and locked him in Cirta (Constantine), his capital, whose he squeezed the siege vigorously. This unfortunate prince had only time to send back to Rome to beg for help. Other commissioners came to Africa; but, this time again, some were seduced by the promises, others won by Jugurtha’s wealthy presents. The siege of Cirta continued none the less, pushed with the obstinate energy of ambition which is seen to reach its goal. Too strong to be taken by storm, the city was closely invested, and soon reduced to famine. Italian merchants and foreign soldiers on whom the defense of the place was chiefly reluctant, tired of the length of the siege, persuaded Adherbal to surrender himself to the promise of life. The imprudent listened to this dangerous advice, and without respect for the law. People and for his word, Jugurtha killed him in terrible tortures. The Italians and the Numidians who had fought with him were put to the sword.

This atrocious crime excited such indignation in Rome, that the numerous friends Jugurtha counted in the Senate could not avert the storm which threatened him. A Roman army was ordered to invade Numidia and seized several cities. But as much as these troops remained brave and disciplined, so much did their leaders become greedy and greedy. The consul and his principal officers were corrupted, as had the senators and then the commissioners, and Jugurtha obtained from them a treaty which, with a feeble tribute left him master of the whole kingdom. Some elephants, some horses, a small sum of money, were delivered for the form, after which the consul retired with his army into the Roman province. However, at the news of this shameful pacification, the people, excited by one of their tribunes, rendered, in spite of the opposition of the senate, a plebiscite which sent Jugurtha to Rome. This prince obeyed, and his habitual intrigues, his gold profusely poured out among the people and the senators, might still afford him impunity, when a new assassination committed in the city itself on the person of a Numidian prince Massiva, grandson of Massinissa, another competitor whom he thought it would be useful to undo, rekindled the popular outrage that these delays had dampened. The war was again declared, and the Senate ordered him to leave Italy. It is reported that on going away, Jugurtha turned his eyes several times to Rome, and exclaimed, “O venal city, you will perish on the day when there will be a man rich enough to buy you. “

A new consul passed into Africa this time, and the hostilities took on a serious character. This war of Numidia is really the first that the Romans supported in these countries. Carthage had defended herself much less at home than in Sicily, Spain, Italy, and the Mediterranean; when it fell, it left to the power of its conquerors only the place occupied by its walls, and a right of supremacy over the nearest provinces, a right often disputed, that it was incessantly necessary to support arms at the hand. The insurrection of Jugurtha was a national war; if it had been successful, it could have forever compromised the power of Rome in Africa. The senate felt it and neglected nothing to secure the triumph.

The war against Jugurtha lasted seven years without interruption. Six great armies, commanded by the most skillful generals, were successively sent there, and each of them, on several occasions, received reinforcements from Europe, which renewed them almost entirely. Although masters of the coasts and of a part of the country, though allied with several Numidian and Moorish tribes who fought in their ranks, the Romans were not less obliged to bring from Italy almost all the material necessary for the maintenance and the subsistence of the troops. The obstinate genius of the Numidian prince took advantage of everything: time, places, seasons. The first consul, C. Bestia, sent against him, had allowed himself to be seduced, and had signed a shameful treaty; the second, Albinus, hesitating between the desire to follow this example and the fear of being punished if he followed him, consumed in this indecision the whole year of his consulate, and returned to Rome for the comitia, without having made any progress. His brother Aulus, charged during his absence from the command of the army, deceived by words of peace and feigned promises of submission, allowed himself to be dragged, in pursuit of the Numidians, into difficult places, cut with wood and parades. There, wrapped up, betrayed by some of his officers and his soldiers, who only imitated the contagious example of their generals, he was obliged, in order to save the rest of his army, to undertake to evacuate under ten days all Numidia, and even to pass under the yoke, which was then the last ignominy for the vanquished.

The people of Rome, exasperated, rose again against Jugurtha’s unworthy fathers. A third consul, Metellus, charged with repairing the shame of the Roman armies, succeeded in rendering them the splendor which they had lost; but though as skillful general as a good citizen, and incapable of yielding to the same seductions as his predecessors, he could not finish the war. He won battles, seized places deemed impregnable, employed in turn the force and cunning all was useless; the Numidian prince escaped him incessantly. The glory of seizing him and dragging him to the Capitol was reserved for his lieutenant. Marius.

The latter, who finally fell to the Department of Africa, the year 646 of Rome, took command of the army. However, despite the victories of Metellus, who seemed to have left him nothing to do, despite his unquestionable military capacity, despite the clever negotiations of his lieutenant Sylla, the war lasted nearly three years. Deprived of all resources in his kingdom, Jugurtha found new ones in that of a neighboring prince: Bocchus, king of Mauritania, his father-in-law, and his ally, united his forces to his own. The Romans, who believed the war over, still had great battles to fight. Force itself is not enough; the Numidian prince was conquered only by the weapon he had so often employed: treason. Shaken by the proposals of the Roman generals, exhausted by the sacrifices he made for the cause of his ally, finally fearing to lose his state in a prolonged struggle against all the forces of the republic, Bocchus abandoned Jugurtha and delivered it to his enemies. Taken and led to Rome, the king of Numidia was one of the ornaments of the triumph of Marius; then he was thrown into a damp and muddy dungeon, where he died of hunger after horrible anxieties.

Thus died, at the age of fifty-four, a prince who, in spite of his crimes, had become, by his courage and genius, one of the glories of Africa. The Romans had so much trouble overcoming him that they regarded him as another Hannibal. After his death, his states were dismembered; new sharing in which Rome did not fail to make the lion’s share. The western portion was given to King Bocchus as a reward for his betrayal; from the center, a little kingdom was created, at the head of which the senate put Hiempsal II, less for the sake of the great services of his grandfather Massinissa, than to conceal the secret designs of his invading policy; all the rest were united to the proconsular province, that is to say to the former territory of Carthage, increased by some neighboring cantons which had belonged to Numidia.

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