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JUGURTHA, THE PURCHASER OF ROME
 MASINISSA, the valiant old king of Numidia, who had
ravaged Carthage in its declining days, left his
kingdom to his three sons. On the death of Micipsa, the
last remaining of these, in 118 B.C., he, in turn, left
the kingdom to his two sons. They were still young, and
Jugurtha, their cousin, was appointed their guardian
and the regent of the kingdom.
Shrewd, bold, ambitious, and unscrupulous, Jugurtha was
the most dangerous man in Numidia to whose care the
young princes could have been confided. Scipio read his
character rightly, and said to him, "Trust to your own
good qualities, and power will come of itself. Seek it
by base arts, and you will lose all."
Some of the young nobles in Scipio's camp gave baser
advice. "At Rome," they told him, "all things could be
had for money." They advised him to buy the support of
Rome, and seize the crown of Numidia.
Jugurtha took this base advice, instead of the wise
counsel of Scipio. He was destined to pay dearly for
his ambition and lack of faith and honor. One
 of the young princes showed a high spirit, and Jugurtha
had him assassinated. The other fled to Rome and sought
the support of the senate. Jugurtha now, following the
suggestions of his false friends, sent gold and
promises to Rome, purchased the support of venal
senators, and had voted to him the strongest half of
the kingdom; Adherbal, the young prince, being given
the weaker half.
But the young man was not left in peace, even in this
reduced inheritance. Jugurtha sent more presents to
Rome, and, confident of his strength there, boldly
invaded the dominions of Adherbal. A Roman commission
threatened him with Rome's displeasure if he did not
keep within his own dominions. He affected to submit,
but as soon as the commissioners turned their backs the
daring adventurer renewed his efforts, got possession
of his cousin through treachery, and at once ordered
him to be put to death with torture.
Since Rome had become great and powerful no one had
dared so openly to contemn its decrees. But Jugurtha
knew the Romans of that day, and trusted to his gold.
He bought a majority in the senate, defied the
minority, and would have gained his aim but for one
honest man. This was the tribune Memmius, who, seeing
that the senate was hopelessly corrupt, called the
people together in the Forum, told them of the crimes
of Jugurtha, and demanded justice and redress at their
And now a struggle arose like that between the Gracchi
and the rich senators. Jugurtha sent more gold to Rome.
An army was despatched against
 him, but he purchased it also. He gave up his elephants
in pledge of good faith, and then bought them back at a
high price. The officers divided the money, and the
army failed to advance.
Jugurtha would have triumphed but for Memmius, who
resolutely kept up his attacks. In the end the usurper
was ordered to come to Rome,—under a safe-conduct. He
came, and here by his gold purchased one of the
tribunes, who protected him against the wrath of
Memmius and the people. But Memmius was resolute and
determined. Another Numidian prince was found and asked
to demand the crown from the senate. Jugurtha learned
what was afoot, and sent an agent, Bomilcar by name, to
assassinate the new prince. An indictment was laid
against Bomilcar, but Jugurtha, fearing to have his own
share in the murder exposed, sent him off secretly to
This was too much, even for the purchased members of
the senate. Such open disdain of the majesty of Rome no
man, however avaricious, dared support. Jugurtha had a
safe-conduct, and could not be seized, but he was
ordered to quit Rome immediately. He did so, and as he
passed out of the gates he looked back and said, "A
city for sale if she can find a purchaser."
The remainder of Jugurtha's history is one of war. The
time for winning power by bribery was past. The people
were so thoroughly aroused and incensed that none dared
yield to cupidity. The indignation grew. The first army
sent against Jugurtha was baffled by the wily African,
caught in a
 defile, and only escaped by passing under the yoke, and
agreeing to evacuate Numidia.
This disgrace stirred Rome more deeply still. A new
consul was elected and a new army raised. A commission
was appointed to inquire into the conduct of the
senate, and several of the leading members were found
guilty of high treason and put to death without mercy.
Rome had begun to purge itself.
The new general, Metellus, was not one to be sent under
the yoke. He defeated Jugurtha in the field and pursued
him so unrelentingly that soon the African usurper was
a fugitive, without an army, and with only some
fortresses under his control.
Metellus had with him as his principal officer a man
who was to become famous in Roman history. This man,
Caius Marius, was then fifty years of age. Yet he had
years enough before him to play a mighty part. He was a
man of the people, rough and uneducated; scorned
learning, but had a vigorous ambition and a striking
military genius. He claimed to be a New Man, knew no
Greek, and boasted that he had no images but "prizes
won by valor and scars upon his breast."
This man made himself the favorite of the populace, was
elected consul, and by undisguised trickery took the
conduct of the war out of the hands of Metellus just as
the latter was about to succeed. With him to Africa
went another man who was to become equally famous, L.
Cornelius Sulla, the future chief of Rome. Sulla was
not a New Man. He was an aristocrat, knew Greek better
than Marius knew Latin, was educated and dissipated,
 and showed the marks of a dissolute life in his face.
When he rode into the camp of Marius at the head of the
cavalry he had seen no service, and the rugged soldier
looked with contempt on this effeminate pleasure-seeker
who had been sent as his lieutenant. He soon learned
his mistake, and before the campaign ended Sulla was
his most trusted officer and chief adviser.
In the subsequent conduct of the war there is an
interesting story to tell. There were two hill-forts in
Numidia which still remained in Jugurtha's control. One
of these was taken easily. The other—which contained
all that was left of the usurper's treasures—was a
formidable place, which long defied the Roman
engineers. It stood on a precipitous rock, with only a
single narrow ascent; was well garrisoned and supplied
with arms, food, and water; and so long defied all the
efforts of Marius that he almost despaired of its
In this dilemma a happy chance came to his aid. A
Ligurian soldier, a practised mountaineer, being in
search of water, saw a number of snails crawling up the
rock in the rear of the castle. These were a favorite
food with him, and he gathered what he saw, and climbed
the cliff in search of more. Higher and higher he went,
till he had nearly reached the summit of the rock. Here
he found himself near a large oak, which had rooted
itself in the rock crevices, and grew upward so as to
overtop the castle hill.
The Ligurian, led by curiosity, climbed the tree, and
gained a point from which he could see the
 castle, undefended on this side, and without sentinels.
Having taken a close observation, he descended,
carefully examining every point as he went. He now
hastened to the tent of Marius, recounted to him his
exploit, and offered to guide a party up the perilous
Marius was quick to seize this hopeful chance. Five
trumpeters and four centurions were selected, who were
placed under the leadership of the mountaineer. Laying
aside all clothing and arms that would obstruct them,
they followed the Ligurian up the rock. He, an alert
and skilful climber, here and there tied ropes to
projecting points, here lent them the aid of his hand,
here sent them up ahead and carried their arms after
them. At length, with great toil and risk, they reached
the summit, and found the castle at this point
undefended and unwatched, the Numidians being all on
the opposite side.
Marius, being apprised of their success, ordered a
vigorous assault in front. The garrison rushed to the
defence of their outer works. In the heat of the action
a sudden clangor of trumpets was heard in their rear.
This unexpected sound spread instant alarm. The women
and children who had come out to watch the contest fled
in terror. The soldiers nearest the walls followed. At
length the whole body, stricken suddenly with panic,
took to flight, followed in hot pursuit by their foes.
Over the deserted works the Romans clambered, into the
castle they burst, all who opposed them were cut down,
and in a short time the place which
 had so long defied them was theirs, while the four
trumpets to which their victory was due sounded loudly
the war-peal of triumph.
Jugurtha was still at large. He was supported by
Bocchus, king of Mauritania, whose daughter he had
married. Sulla was sent to demand his surrender.
Bocchus refused at first, but at length, through fear
of Rome, consented, and the bold usurper was betrayed
into Sulla's bands.
The end of Jugurtha was one in accordance with the
brutal cruelty of Rome, yet it was one which he richly
deserved. It was in the month of January, 104 B.C.,
three years after his capture, that Marius entered Rome
in triumphal procession, displaying to the people the
spoils of his victories, while before his car walked
his captive in chains.
The African seemed sunk in stupor as he walked. He was
roused by the brutal mob, who tore off his clothes and
plucked the gold rings from his ears. Then he was
thrust into the dungeon at the foot of the Capitoline
Hill. "Hercules, what a cold bath this is!" he
exclaimed. There he who had defied Rome and lorded it
over Africa starved to death. A prince of the line of
Masinissa succeeded him on the throne.