This was done: the consular Lucius Opimius, well known through his services in setting aside the revolution, had embraced the opportunity of gathering the reward of his patriotism, and had got himself placed at the head of the commission. The division turned out thoroughly in favour of Jugurtha, and not to the disadvantage of the commissioners; Cirta (Constantine) the capital with its port of Rusicade (Philippeville) was no doubt given to Adherbal, but by that very arrangement the portion which fell to him was the eastern part of the kingdom consisting almost wholly of sandy deserts, while Jugurtha obtained the fertile and populous western half (what was afterwards Mauretania Caesariensis and Sitifensis).

Siege Of Cirta

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

Roman Intervention Treaty Between Rome And Numidia

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

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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