The royal treasury was still well filled with the savings of Massinissa; the transaction was soon settled. The treaty was concluded, after it had been for the sake of form submitted to a council of war whose consent was procured after an irregular and extremely summary discussion. Jugurtha submitted at discretion; but the victor was merciful and gave him back his kingdom undiminished, in consideration of his paying a moderate fine and delivering up the Roman deserters and the war elephants (643); the greater part of the latter the king afterwards repurchased by bargaining with the individual Roman commandants and officers.

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

Cancelling Of The Treaty Declaration Of War Capitulation Of The Romans Second Peace

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

Dissatisfaction In The Capital

This was too much to be borne. While the Africans were exulting and the prospect--thus suddenly opened up--of such an overthrow of the alien domination as had been reckoned scarcely possible was bringing numerous tribes of the free and half-free inhabitants of the desert to the standards of the victorious king, public opinion in Italy was vehemently aroused against the equally corrupt and pernicious governing aristocracy, and broke out in a storm of prosecutions which, fostered by the exasperation of the mercantile class, swept away a succession of victims from the highest circles of the nobility. On the proposal of the tribune of the people Gaius Mamilius Limetanus, in spite of the timid attempts of the senate to avert the threatened punishment, an extraordinary jury-commission was appointed to investigate the high treason that had occurred in connection with the question of the Numidian succession; and its sentences sent the two former commanders- in-chief Gaius Bestia and Spurius Albinus as well as Lucius Opimius, the head of the first African commission and the executioner withal of Gaius Gracchus, along with numerous other less notable men of the government party, guilty and innocent, into exile.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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