Thereupon the Roman army continued its retreat in better order and with greater caution; but it was yet again assailed simultaneously on ail the four sides and was in great danger, till the cavalry officer Lucius Cornelius Sulla first dispersed the squadrons opposed to him and then, rapidly returning from their pursuit, threw himself also on Jugurtha and Bocchus at the point where they in person pressed hard on the rear of the Roman infantry. Thus this attack also was successfully repelled; Marius brought his army back to Cirta, and took up his winter quarters there (648-9).

Negotiations With Bocchus

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

Surrender And Execution Of Jugurtha

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

Reorganization Of Numidia

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

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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