THE CAPTURE OF JUGURTHA'S TREASURE TOWNS
 JUGURTHA and Bocchus knew that they had cause to dread the new
Roman General. Certainly he would move swiftly, so the
king and his ally resolved to march in different
directions, in the hope that one of them would be able
to fall upon Marius when he was least expecting an
But it was Marius who in the end surprised Jugurtha,
near the town of Cirta, and after a skirmish forced him
to fly, hearing that he was defeated, determined to
forsake him and make peace with Rome. But Marius was
too anxious to capture Jugurtha to pay much attention
to the advances of King Bocchus.
As the kings had foreseen, Marius moved swiftly. He
marched first to Capsa, a city in which Jugurtha kept
many of his royal treasures.
It was taken without much difficulty and burned, while
the inhabitants were either killed or sold into
City after city, fort after fort, fell into the hands
of the untiring general, until at length he reached
another of the king's treasure forts.
The name of the fort is unknown. It was not a town,
but a mere border citadel in the far west of Numidia,
and was built on the top of a high rock, which looked
impossible to scale. The one way of approach to the
fort was by a steep and narrow path.
Marius besieged the fort, but it was strongly defended,
and had a large store of arms, as well as of food and
 It was here that a reinforcement of Italian cavalry
joined him, under the command of Cornelius Sulla. As
Marius had proved a thorn in the flesh to Metellus, so
Sulla was to prove to his commander. In days to come
he was his rival and his most bitter enemy.
Marius had at length decided to give up the siege of
the border fort, when a way was found to take it.
A soldier from the Roman camp was one day looking at
the steep rock which sloped down from the fort, when he
noticed a ledge on which there were a number of snails.
As snails happened to be his favourite food, he climbed
up to gather them, then clambered farther in search of
Higher and higher he mounted, until at length he found
himself near the top of the cliff.
He now saw that he was close to an oak tree, the root
of which was embedded deep in a crevice.
The soldier mounted to the topmost branch, and looking
over into the fort he saw that no sentinels were near.
He had made a great discovery.
Down the rock he clambered as quickly as he dared, and
hastening back to the camp, told Marius that it was
possible to scale the cliff at a point where the
citadel was not guarded.
Marius promptly ordered some soldiers to follow the
mountaineer up the face of the cliff.
It was no easy task, for the soldiers were cumbered
with weapons, but by the help of their guide they
reached the top in safety. Not a sentinel was to be
Marius waited until he thought the soldiers had had
time to accomplish their hazardous climb, then he
ordered an attack to be made at the front of the fort.
The garrison rushed to the walls to repel the assault,
but in the midst of their struggle they were startled
to hear behind them the noise of trumpets, the clash of
The soldiers who had scaled the rock had entered the
fort, and the garrison and the wretched inhabitants
were seized with sudden panic at their appearance and
 Then the Romans pursued the fugitives, cutting down all
who resisted, and soon the citadel, which had so nearly
defied them, was in their hands.
But Marius was not yet satisfied, for Jugurtha was
still free, and he had promised the Roman people that
he would speedily capture or kill the king.