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The Story of Rome by  Mary Macgregor


 

 

THE CAPTURE OF JUGURTHA

[290] SULLA, who joined Marius in Numidia, was nineteen years younger than his commander.

The young officer was a patrician, while Marius was a plebeian, and he had had many advantages which had been denied to Marius.

But if the Consul was envious of his subordinate's accomplishments, he successfully hid it, and even scoffed at the attainments he did not possess.

As Sulla had ridden into the Roman camp the soldiers had looked at him with sudden interest. He was so unlike a soldier, and indeed he had not then been on a battlefield. But although he had looked to the troops like a man who had spent his days in pleasure, they had noticed that his blue eyes were keen, and gazed at them with fierce mastery.

That he was clever and quick was soon evident to all, and Marius speedily found that he could count on Sulla's brains and on Sulla's strength. As for the soldiers, they learned to respect him, although he was so unlike their own rough, uneducated hero.

Jugurtha had meanwhile again persuaded Bocchus to join him, although to do so he had been forced to promise him a large part of his kingdom.

The Roman army soon knew that Jugurtha was again supported by an ally, for the two kings, each with his army, followed and harassed it as it marched away from the border-fort towards Cirta.

Twice, indeed, the enemy had been in front, and the [291] Romans had found their road blocked, and twice, before they could go forward, they had been forced to fight with their foes.

The latter time it was Sulla, who, by a skilful movement, saved the army from a disastrous defeat. He had proved an apt pupil in the art of war.

At length, after a tedious and difficult march, Marius reached Cirta, where he meant to remain during the winter.

But the campaign of 106 B.C. had convinced him that it would be well to treat with King Bocchus, if he was to redeem his promise to Rome and capture or kill Jugurtha.

So when Bocchus again sent to ask Marius to enter into negotiations with him, the Consul agreed to do so, and sent Sulla and his legate Manlius to treat with him.

But Bocchus himself was so treacherous that he distrusted other people, and after hearing from the Consul's officers what he was willing to do, he dismissed them. For he had determined to send an embassy to the Senate at Rome, lest it should refuse to confirm the promises of the Consul.

The ambassadors returned with a reassuring answer, at least King Bocchus seemed to think it was such, although the annalists couch it in Rome's most arrogant manner. "The Senate and the people of Rome are wont to remember kindness and wrong. They pardon the offence of Bocchus because he repents it, and will grant him alliance and friendship when he shall have deserved them."

This sounds as though it were a reproof as well as a pardon offered to a wilful child, and historians tell us it is not the answer that was actually sent to the king.

However, that may be, Bocchus now determined to cast in his fortune with Rome, and to betray Jugurtha to his enemies.

To do this would be no easy task, for Jugurtha was [292] sure to be on his guard, knowing that his father-in-law had been negotiating with Marius.

So Bocchus asked the Roman general to send Sulla again to his tent, that he might ask Jugurtha to meet him. He intended to tell his victim that Sulla wished to discuss with him the terms offered by Rome.

Sulla set off for the camp of Bocchus, escorted by a body of the best Italian soldiers.

On his way he was met by the son of Bocchus, with a large troop of cavalry. As Jugurtha and his Numidian army were not far off, Sulla knew that it would be easy to take him prisoner, should Jugurtha play him false. However, the Numidians allowed him to pass unharmed, and Sulla was soon seated in the tent of Bocchus.

Even here he was in greater danger than he knew. For the king hesitated whether, after all, he would not give Sulla to Jugurtha, rather than Jugurtha to the Roman.

But it would have been no easy matter to play fast and loose with Rome, and Bocchus determined to keep to his first plan.

So he invited Jugurtha to meet Sulla in his tent, and made the king believe that Sulla was to be given into his hands.

Jugurtha's suspicions had been laid to rest entirely, and he came to the tent of his father-in-law unarmed, with only a few servants.


[Illustration]

Jugurtha came to the tent of his father-in-law unarmed.

But almost at once he found himself surrounded by troops, and before he had recovered from his surprise, he and his son were secured. Sulla then ordered them to be taken to the Roman camp and delivered to Marius.

Jugurtha was at last in chains, but the joy of Marius in his capture was spoiled.

It was he, he said to himself, who had made it possible to secure the dangerous enemy of Rome, yet Sulla seemed to claim the glory as his own. Marius felt bitter as he [293] thought of it. And as the days passed his anger against Sulla grew.

He, Sulla, had dared to have a seal made, with a picture of Jugurtha being delivered into his hands stamped upon it. Nor did he scruple to use the seal to stamp his letters, so that all the world might see.

Moreover, those who were jealous of Marius tried to take away from his renown, muttering to one another: "The chief battles of the war were fought by Metellus, and its end is achieved by Sulla."

These things chafed the pride and ambition of Marius.


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