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A History of Rome, Vol 1 by A H.J. Greenidge

Part 6 out of 11

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than when buying allotments which might be held to be still liable to
the public dues. On the other hand, the remission of the impost must
have relieved, and the sense of private ownership inspired, the labours
of the smaller proprietors; and the perpetuation of a considerable
proportion of the Gracchan settlers is probable on general grounds. The
reason why it is difficult to give specific reasons for this belief is
that, at the time when we next begin to get glimpses of the condition of
the Italian peasant class, the great reform had been effected which
incorporated the nations of Italy into Rome. The existence of numerous
small proprietors in the Ciceronian period is attested, but many of
these may have been citizens recently given to Rome by the Italian
stocks, amongst whom agriculture on a small scale had never
become extinct.

But the political import of this measure is considerable. By restricting
to narrow limits all the land of Italy to which the State could make a
claim, it altered the character of agrarian agitation for the future. It
did not indeed fulfil its possible object of obviating such measures;
but it rendered the vested interests of all Italian cultivators secure,
with the exception of the lessees of the leased domain, who perhaps had
no claim to permanence of tenure. This domain was represented chiefly by
the Campanian land: and the reformer who would make this territory his
prey, injured the finances of the State more than the interests of the
individual. If he desired more, he must seek it either in the foreign
domains of Rome or by the adoption of some scheme of land purchase.
Assignment of lands in particular districts of Italy or in the provinces
naturally took the form of colonisation, and this is the favourite shape
assumed by the agrarian schemes of the future. Rome was still to witness
many fierce controversies as to the merits of the policy of colonial
expansion, and as to the wisdom of employing public property and public
revenues to this end; the rights of the conqueror to the lands of his
vanquished fellow-citizens were also to be cruelly asserted, and the
civil wars also invited a species of brigandage for the attainment of
possession which too often replaced the judgments of the courts; but
never again do we find a regular political warfare waged between the
rich and the poor for the possession of territories to which each of the
disputants laid claim. The storm which had burst on the Roman world with
the land law of Tiberius Gracchus had now spent its force. It had
undoubtedly produced a great change on the face of Italy; but this was
perhaps more striking in appearance than in reality; neither the work of
demolition, nor the opportunities offered for renewal, attained the
completeness which they had presented in the reformer's dreams.

But the peace of the citizen body was not the only blessing believed to
be secured by this removal of a temptation to tamper with Italian lands.
The anxieties of the Latins and Italians were also quieted, although it
may be questioned whether the memory of past wrongs, now rendered
irrevocable by the progress of recent agrarian experiments, did not
enter into the agitation for the conferment of the franchise, which they
still continued to sustain. The last great law, following the spirit of
the enactment of Drusus which had preceded it by about a year, does
indeed show traces of an anxiety to respect Italian claims. Apart from
the fact, which we have already mentioned, that all lands which had been
granted in usufruct to colonists, were still to be public and were,
therefore, in the case of Latin colonies, to be at the disposal of the
communities to which they had been granted by treaty, the law contains a
special provision for the maintenance of the rights of Latins and
Italians, so far as they are in harmony with the rights allowed to Roman
citizens by the enactment.[781] The guarantees which had been sanctioned
by Drusus, were therefore respected; but their observance was
conditioned by the rule that all prohibitions now created for Romans
should be extended to the allies. As we do not know the purport of
Drusus's measure, or the practices current on the Roman domains occupied
by Latins, we cannot say whether this clause produced any derogation of
their rights; but it must have limited the right of free pasturage on
the public commons, if they had possessed this in a higher degree than
was now permitted, and the right to occupy public land was also
forbidden them in the future. But it was from the negative point of view
that the law might be interpreted as creating or perpetuating a
grievance; for some of the positive benefits which it conferred seem to
have been limited to Romans. The land which it makes private property,
is land which has been assigned by colonial or agrarian commissioners,
or land which has been occupied up to a certain limit. If colonial land
had really been assigned to Latins by Caius Gracchus, their rights are
retained by this law, if they had been made Roman citizens at the time
of the settlement; but if they had been admitted as participants in the
agrarian distribution throughout Italy, their rights as owners are not
confirmed with those of Roman citizens; and the Latin who merely
occupied land was not given the privilege of the Roman possessor of
becoming the owner of the soil, if his occupation were restricted within
a certain limit.[782] He still retained merely a precarious possession,
for which dues to the State were probably exacted. It was something to
have rights confirmed, but they probably appeared less valuable when
those of others were extended. A more generous treatment could hardly
have been expected from a law of Rome dealing with her own domain,
primarily in the interests of her own citizens; but the Italians were
tending to forget their civic independence, and chose rather to compare
their personal rights with those of the Roman burgesses. Such a
comparison applied to the final agrarian settlement must have done
something to emphasise their belief in the inferiority of
their position.

This review of the legislation on social questions which was initiated
or endured by the senate, shows the tentative attitude adopted by the
nobility in their dealings with the people, and proves either a
statesmanlike view of the needs of the situation or the entire lack of a
proud consciousness of their own immunity from attack. Even had they
possessed the power to dictate to the Comitia, they were hemmed in on
another side; for they had not dared to raise a protest against the law
of Gracchus which transferred criminal jurisdiction over the members of
their own order to the knights. The equestrian courts sat in judgment on
the noblest members of the aristocracy; for the political or personal
motives which urged to prosecution were stronger even than the
camaraderie of the order, and governors of provinces were still in
danger of indictment by their peers. Within two years of the
transference of the courts, Quintus Mucius Scaevola, known in later life
as "the Augur" and famed for his knowledge of the civil law, returned
from his province of Asia to meet the accusation of Titus Albucius.[783]
The knights did not begin by a vindictive exercise of their authority.
Although Asia was the most favoured sphere of their activity, Scaevola
was acquitted. Seven years later they gave a stern and perhaps righteous
example of their severity in the condemnation of Caius Porcius
Cato.[784] The accused when consul had obtained Macedonia as his
province, and had waged a frontier war with the Scordisci, which ended
in the annihilation of his forces and his own narrow escape from the
field of battle. His ill-success perhaps deepened the impression made by
his extortions in Macedonia, and he was sentenced to the payment of a
fine. Neither in the case of the acquittal nor in that of the
condemnation does political bias seem to have influenced the judgment of
the courts, and the equestrian jurors may have seemed for a time to
realise the best hopes which had inspired their creation.

The attention of the leading members of the nobility was probably too
absorbed by the problem of adapting senatorial rule to altered
circumstances to allow them the leisure or the inclination to embark on
fresh legislative projects of their own. Our record of these years is so
imperfect that it would be rash to conclude that the scanty proposals on
new subjects which it reveals exhausted the legislative activity of the
senate; but had they done so, the circumstance would be intelligible;
for the work that invited the attention of the senate in its own
interest, was one of consolidation rather than of reform; the political
feeling of the time put measures of a distinctly reactionary character,
such as might have been welcomed by the more conservative members of the
order, wholly out of the question; and the government was not likely,
except under compulsion, to undertake legislation of a progressive type.
The only important law of the period certainly proceeding from
governmental circles, and dealing with a question that was novel, in the
sense that it had not been heard of for a considerable number of years
and had played no part in the Gracchan movements, was one passed by the
consul Marcus Aemilius Scaurus. It dealt with the voting power of the
freedmen,[785] and probably confirmed its restriction to the four city
tribes. It is difficult to assign a political meaning to this law, as we
do not know the practice which prevailed at the time of Scaurus's
intervention; but it is probable that the restriction imposed by the
censors of 169, who had confined the freedmen to a single tribe,[786]
had not been observed, that great irregularity prevailed in the manner
of their registration, and that Scaurus's measure, which was a return to
the arrangement reached at the end of the fourth century, was intended
to restrict the voting privileges of the class. This interpretation of
his intention would seem to show that the increasing liberality of the
Roman master had created a class the larger portion of which was not
dependent on the wealthier and more conservative section of the citizen
body, or was at least enabled to assert its freedom from control through
the secrecy of the ballot. The interests of the class were almost
identical with those of the free proletariate, in which the descendants
of the freedmen were merged: and the law of Scaurus, which strengthened
the country vote by preventing this urban influence spreading through
all the tribes, may be an evidence that the senate distrusted the
present passivity of the urban folk, and looked forward with
apprehension to a time when they might have to rely on the more stable
element which the country districts supplied. We shall see in the sequel
that this anticipation of the freedmen's attitude was not unjustified,
and that the increase of their voting power still continued to be an
effective battle-cry for the demagogue who was eager to increase his
following in the city.

Scaurus was also the author of a sumptuary law.[787] It came
appropriately from a man who had been trained in a school of poverty,
and shows the willingness of the nobility to submit, at least in
appearance, to the discipline which would present it to the world as a
self-sacrificing administration, reaping no selfish reward for its
intense labour, and submitting to that equality of life with the average
citizen which is the best democratic concession that a powerful
oligarchy can make. The activity of the censorship was exhibited in the
same direction. Foreign and expensive dishes were prohibited by the
guardians of public morals, as they were by Scaurus's sumptuary
law:[788] and the censors of 115, Metellus and Domitius, undertook a
scrutiny of the stage which resulted in the complete exclusion from Rome
of all complex forms of the histrionic art and its reduction to the
simple Latin type of music and song.[789] Their energy was also
displayed in a destructive examination of the morals of their own order,
and as a result of the scrutiny thirty-two senators were banished from
the Curia.[790] To guard the senate-house from scandal was indeed the
necessary policy of a nobility which knew that its precarious power
rested on the opinion of the streets; and the efforts of the censors,
directed like those of their predecessors, to a regeneration which had a
national type as its goal, show that that opinion could not yet have
been considered wholly cosmopolitan or corrupt. The frequent splendour
of triumphal processions, such as those which celebrated the victories
of Domitius and Fabius over the Allobroges, of Metellus over the
Dalmatians, and of Scaurus over the Ligurians,[791] produced a
comfortable impression of the efficiency of the government in extending
or preserving the frontiers of the empire; the triumph itself was the
symbol of success, and few could have cared to question the extent and
utility of the achievement. Satisfied with the belief that they were
witnessing the average type of successful administration, the electors
pursued the course, from which they so seldom deflected, of giving their
unreserved confidence to the ancient houses; and this epoch witnessed a
striking instance of hereditary influence, if not of hereditary talent,
when Metellus Macedonicus was borne to his grave by sons, of whom four
had held curule office, three had possessed the consulship, and one had
fulfilled in addition the lofty functions of the censor and enjoyed the
honour of a triumph.[792]

Yet distinction without a certain degree of fitness was now, as at every
other time, an impossibility in Rome. The nobility, although it did not
love originality, extended a helping hand to the capacity that was
willing to support its cause and showed the likelihood of dignifying its
administration; a career was still open to talent and address, if they
were held to be wisely directed; and the man of the period who best
deserves the title of leader of the State, was one who had not even
sprung from the second strata of Roman society, but had struggled with a
poverty which would have condemned an ordinary man to devote such
leisure as he could spare for politics to swelling the babel of the
Forum and the streets. It is true that Marcus Aemilius Scaurus bore a
patrician name, and was one of those potential kings who, once in the
senate, might assume the royal foot-gear and continue the holy task,
which they had performed from the time of Romulus, of guarding and
transmitting the auspices of the Roman people. But the splendour of the
name had long been dimmed. Even in the history of the great wars of the
beginning of the century but one Aemilius Scaurus appears, and he holds
but a subordinate command as an officer of the Roman fleet. The father
of the future chief of the senate had been forced to seek a livelihood
in the humble calling of a purveyor of charcoal.[793] The son, resolute,
ambitious and conscious of great powers, long debated with himself the
question of his future walk in life.[794] He might remain in the ranks
of the business world, supply money to customers in place of coal, and
seize the golden opportunities which were being presented by the
extension of the banking industry in the provincial world. Had he chosen
this path, Scaurus might have been the chief of the knights and the most
resolute champion of equestrian claims against the government. But his
course was decided by the afterthought that the power of words was
greater than that of gold, and that eloquence might secure, not only
wealth, but the influence which wealth alone cannot attain. The fame
which he gained in the Forum led inevitably to service in the field. He
reaped distinction in the Spanish campaigns and served under Orestes in
Sardinia. His narrow means rather than his principles may have been the
reason why his aedileship was not marked by the generous shows to which
the people were accustomed and by which their favour was usually
purchased; in Scaurus's tenure of that office splendour was replaced by
a rigorous performance of judicial duties;[795] but that such an
equivalent could serve his purpose, that it should be even no hindrance
to his career, proves the respect that his strenuous character had won
from the people, and the anticipation formed by the government of the
value of his future services. Now, when he was nearing his fiftieth
year, he had secured the consulship, the bourne of most successful
careers, but not to be the last or greatest prize of a man whose stately
presence, unbending dignity, and apparent simplicity of purpose, could
generally awe the people into respect, and whose keenness of vision and
talent for intrigue impressed the senatorial mind with a sense of his
power to save, when claims were pressing and difficulties acute.[796]
His consulship, though without brilliancy, added to the respectable
laurels that he had already attained. A successful raid on some Illyrian
tribes[797] showed at least that he had retained the physical endurance
of his youth; while his legislation on sumptuary matters and the
freedman's vote showed the spirit of a milder Cato, and the moderate
conservatism, not distasteful to the Roman of pure blood, which would
preserve the preponderance in political power to the citizen untainted
by the stain of servitude. A stormy event of his period of office gave
the crowd an opportunity of seeing the severity with which a magistrate
of the older school could avenge an affront to the dignity of his
office. Publius Decius, who was believed to be a conscious imitator of
Fulvius Flaccus in the exaggerated vehemence of his oratory, and who had
already proved by his prosecution of Opimius that he was ready to defend
certain features of the Gracchan cause even when such championship was
fraught with danger, was in possession of the urban praetorship at the
time when Scaurus held the consulship. One day the consul passed the
open court of justice when the praetor was giving judgment from the
curule chair. Decius remained seated, either in feigned oblivion or in
ostentatious disregard of the presence of his superior. The politic
wrath of Scaurus was aroused; an enemy had been delivered into his
hands, and the people might be given an object-lesson of the way in
which the most vehement champion of popular rights was, even when
covered with the dignity of a magistracy, but a straw in the iron grasp
of the higher Imperium. The consul ordered Decius to rise, his official
robe to be rent, the chair of justice to be shattered in pieces, and
published a warning that no future litigant should resort to the court
of the contumacious praetor.[798] The vulgar mind is impressed, when it
is not angered, by such scenes of violence. A repute for sternness is
the best cloak for the flexibility which, if revealed, would excite
suspicion. Scaurus to the popular mind was an embodiment of stiff
patrician dignity, perhaps happily devoid of that touch of insolence
which is often the mark of a career assured without a struggle; of a
self-complacent dignity, quietly conscious of its own deserts and
demanding their due reward, of the calmness of a soul that is above
suspicion and refuses to admit even in its inmost sanctuary the thought
that its motives can be impugned. Meanwhile certain disrespectful
onlookers were expressing wonder at his mysteriously growing wealth and
marvelling as to its source. But, marvel as they might, they never drove
Scaurus to the necessity of an explanation. We shall find him as an old
man repelling all attacks by the irresistible appeal to his services and
his career. The condemnation of Scaurus appealed to the conservative as
a blow struck at the dignity of the State itself; to the man of a more
open mind it was at least the shattering of a delightful illusion.

The period which witnessed the crowning of the efforts of the poor and
struggling patrician was also sufficiently liberal, or sufficiently poor
in aristocratic talent, to admit the initial steps in the official
career of a genuine son of the people. It was now that Caius Marius was
laboriously climbing the grades of curule rank, and showing in the
pursuit of political influence at home the rugged determination which
had already distinguished him in the field. A Volscian by descent, he
belonged to Rome through the accident of birth in the old municipality
of Arpinum, which since the early part of the second century had enjoyed
full Roman citizenship and therefore gave its citizens the right of
suffrage and of honours in the capital. Born of good yeoman stock in the
village of Cereatae in the Arpinate territory,[799] he had passed a
boyhood which derived no polish from the refinements, and no taint from
the corruptions, of city life. In his case there was no puzzling
discrepancy between the outer and the inner man. His frame and visage
were the true index of a mind, somewhat unhewn and uncouth, but with a
massive reserve of strength, a persistence not blindly obstinate, a
patience that could wear out the most brilliant efforts of his rivals
and opponents. He did not court hostility, but simply shouldered his way
sturdily to the front, encouraged by Rome's better spirits, who saw in
him the excellent officer with qualities that might make the future
general, and appealing to the people, when they gradually became
familiar with his presence, as a type of that venerable myth, the rustic
statesman of the past. The poverty of his early lot was perhaps
exaggerated by historians[800] who wished to point the contrast between
his humble origin and his later glory, and to find a suitable cradle for
his rugged nature; even the initial stages of his career afford no
evidence of a struggle against pressing want, nor is there any proof
that he was supported by the bounty of his powerful friends. Even if he
entered the army as a common foot-soldier, he would merely have shared
the lot of many a well-to-do yeoman who obeyed the call of the
conscription. With Marius, however, military service was not to be an
incident, but a profession. The needs of a widening empire were calling
for special capacities such as had never been demanded in the past. The
career of Scaurus had shown the successful pleader surmounting the
obstacle of poverty; even the higher barrier of birth might be leaped
amidst the democratising influences of the camp. The nobility was not
sufficiently self-centred to be wholly blind to its own interests; and
it was easier to patronise a soldier than a pleader. In the latter case
the aspirant's political creed must be examined; in the former the last
question that would be asked was whether the officer possessed any
political creed at all. It might be a question of importance for the
future with respect to the candidature for those offices which alone
conferred high military command, even though there was as yet no dream
of the sword becoming the arbiter of political life; but the genuine
commander, engaged in the difficult task of remodelling an army, had no
eye but for the bearing and qualities of the soldier, and would not
scruple to cast aside his patrician prejudices in a despairing effort to
find the fittest instruments for the perfecting of his great design. It
was Marius's fortunate lot to enter the field at a time of trial, and to
serve his first campaign under a general, who was combating the adverse
forces of influence, licence and incompetence in the official staff
supplied by the government and represented by the young scions of the
nobility. To the camp before Numantia, where Scipio was scourging his
men into obedience, rooting out the amenities of life, and astonishing
his officers with new ideas of the meaning of a campaign, Marius brought
the very qualities on which the general had set his heart. An
unflinching courage, shown on one occasion in single combat when he
overthrew a champion of the foe, a power of physical endurance which
could submit to all changes of temperature and food, a minute precision
in the performance of the detailed duties of the camp, soon led to his
rapid advancement and to his selection as a member of the intimate
circle which surrounded the commander-in-chief. Every great specialist
has a small claim to the gift of prophecy; for he possesses an instinct
which reveals more than his reason will permit him to prove; and we need
not wonder at the story that, when once the debate grew warm round
Scipio's table as to who would succeed him as the chosen commander of
the Roman host, he lightly touched the shoulder of Marius and answered
"Perhaps we shall find him here".[801]

The higher commands in the army could be sought only through a political
career; and Marius, inspired with the highest hopes by Scipio's
commendation, was forced to breathe the uncongenial atmosphere of the
city and to fight his way upwards to the curule offices. There is no
proof that he took advantage of the current of democratic feeling which
accompanied the movements of the Gracchi. It was, perhaps, as well that
he did not; for such an association might have long delayed his higher
political career. The nobles who posed as democrats probably attached
more importance to forensic skill than to military merit; and the
support which Marius enjoyed was sought and found amongst the
representatives of the opposite party. Scipio's death removed a man who
might have been a powerful advocate on his behalf; the vague
relationship of clientship in which the family of Marius had stood to
the clan of the Herennii[802]--a relation common between Roman families
and the members of Italian townships, and in this case probably dating
from a time before Arpinum had received full Roman rights--seems never
to have led to active interference on his behalf on the part of the
representatives of that ancient Samnite house. Perhaps the Herennii were
too weak to assist the fortunes of their client; they certainly give no
names to the Fasti of this period. It is also possible that the proud
soldier was galled by the memory of the hereditary yoke, and sought
assistance where it would be given simply as a mark of merit, not as a
duty conditioned by the claim to irksome reciprocal obligations. The
all-powerful family of the Caecilii Metelli, who were at this time
vigorously fulfilling the destiny of office which heaven had prescribed
for their clan, stretched out a helping hand to the distinguished
soldier;[803] a family born to military command might consult its
interests, while it gratified its sympathies, by attaching to its
_clientèle_ a warrior who had received the best training of the school
of Africanus. After he had held the military tribunate and the
quaestorship,[804] Marius attained the tribunate of the Plebs with the
assistance of Lucius Caecilius Metellus.[805] He was in his thirty-ninth
year when he entered on the first office which gave him the opportunity
of claiming the attention of the people by the initiation of legislative
measures. The slowness of his rise may have led him to believe that he
might accelerate his career by taking his fortune into his own hands;
certainly if the law which bore his name was not unwelcome to the better
portion of the nobility, the methods by which he forced it through did
not commend themselves even to his patron. His proposal was meant to
limit the exercise of undue influence at the Comitia, and although the
law doubtless referred to legislative meetings summoned for every
purpose, it was chiefly directed to securing the independence of the
voter in such public trials as still took place before the people,[806]
and was perhaps inspired by scenes that might have been witnessed at the
acquittal of Opimius one year previously. One of the clauses of the bill
provided that the exits to the galleries, through which the voters filed
to give their suffrages to the tellers, should be narrowed,[807] the
object being to exclude the political agents who were accustomed to
occupy the sides of the passages, and influence or intimidate, by their
presence if not by their words, the voting citizen at the critical
moment when he was about to record his verdict. Such methods were
probably found effective even where the ballot was used, but their
success must have been even greater in trials for treason, at which
voting by word of mouth was still employed. It was difficult for a
government, which had accepted the ballot, to offer a decent resistance
to a measure of this kind. The proposal attacked indifferently political
methods which might be, and probably were, employed by both parties;
and, although its success would no doubt inflict more injury on the
government than on the opposition, it could not be repudiated by the
senate on the ground that it was tainted by an aggressively "popular"
character. The opposition which it actually encountered was apparently
based on the formal ground that the heads of the administration had not
been sufficiently consulted. The law was not the outcome of any
senatorial decree, nor had the senate's opinion been deliberately taken
on the utility of the measure. The consul Cotta persuaded the house to
frame a resolution expressing dissatisfaction with the proposal as it
stood, and to summon Marius for an explanation. The summons was promptly
obeyed, but the expected scene of humiliation of the untried parvenu was
rudely interrupted at an early period of the debate. Marius knew that he
had the people and the tribunician college with him, and that even the
most perverse ingenuity could never construe the measure as a factious
opposition to the interests of the State. Obedience to the senate would
in this instance mean the sacrifice of a reputation for political
honesty and courage; it might be better to burn his boats and to trust
for the future to the generosity of the people for the gifts which the
nobility so grudgingly bestowed. He chose to regard the controversy as
one of those cases of hopeless conflict between the members of the
magistracy, for the solution of which the law had provided regular
though exceptional means. He fell back on the majesty of the tribunician
power, and threatened Cotta with imprisonment if he did not withdraw his
resolution.[808] It is probable that up to this point no decree
expressing wholesale condemnation of the bill had been passed, and the
senate might therefore be coerced through the magistrate, without its
authority being utterly disregarded. Cotta turned to his colleague
Metellus, known to be the friend of the obstinate tribune, and Metellus
rising gave the consul his support. Marius, undaunted by the attitude of
his patron, hurried matters to a close. He summoned his attendant to the
Curia, and bade him take Metellus himself into custody and conduct him
to a place of confinement. Metellus appealed to the other tribunes, but
none would offer his help; and the senate was forced to save the
situation by sacrificing its vote of censure. So rapid and complete a
victory, even on an issue of no great importance, delighted the popular
mind. The senate was then in good favour at Rome; but a chance for
realising their superiority over the greatest of their servants was
always welcome to the people. They also loved those exhibitions of
physical force by which the genius of Rome had solved the difficulties
of her constitution: and the violence of a tribune was as impressive now
as was that of a consul four years later. Marius had gained a character
for sturdy independence and unshaken constancy, which was to produce
unexpected results in the political world of the future, and was to be
immediately tested in a manner that must have proved profoundly
disappointing to many who acclaimed him. It seems as though this victory
over the resolution of the senate may have urged certain would-be
reformers to believe that measures of a Gracchan type might win the
favour of the people, and secure the support of a tribunician college
which seemed to be out of sympathy with the government. Some proposal
dealing with the distribution of corn,[809] perhaps an extension of the
existing scheme, was made. It found no more resolute opponent than
Marius, and his opposition helped to secure its utter defeat. In this
resistance we may perhaps see the genuinely neutral character of the
man; for the attribution of interested motives, although the historian's
favourite revenge for the difficulties of his task, endows his
characters with a foresight which is as abnormal as their lack of
principle; although it is questionable whether Marius would have gained
by identifying himself with a cause which had not yet emerged from the
ruin of its failure.

The lack of official support and the alienation of a section of the
people may perhaps be traced in the successive defeats of his
candidature for the curule and plebeian aedileships,[810] although in
the elections to these offices the attention of the people was so keenly
directed to the candidate's pecuniary means as a guarantee of their
gratification by brilliant shows, that the aedileship must have been of
all magistracies the most difficult of attainment by merit unsupported
by wealth. Even when the rejected candidate had won favour on other
grounds, the electors could salve their consciences with the reflection
that the aedileship was no obligatory step in an official career, and
that, where merit and not money was in question, they could show their
appreciation of personal qualities in the elections to the praetorship.
A year after his repulse Marius turned to the candidature for this
office, which conveyed the first opportunity of the tenure of an
independent military command. He was returned at the bottom of the poll,
and even then had to fight hard to retain his place in the praetorian
college.[811] A charge of undue influence was brought against the man
who had struggled successfully to preserve the purity of the Comitia,
and it was pretended that a slave of one of his closest political
associates had been seen within the barriers mixing with the voters.
That the charge was supported by powerful influences, or was generally
believed to be correct, is perhaps shown by the conduct of the censors
of the succeeding year who expelled this associate from the senate.[812]
The jurors[813] before whom the case was tried--representatives, as we
must suppose, of the equestrian order and therefore presumably
uninfluenced by senatorial hostility--were long perplexed by the
conflict of evidence. During the first days of the trial it seemed as
though the doom of Marius was sealed, and his unexpected acquittal was
only secured by the scrutiny of the tablets revealing an equality of
votes, a condition which, according to the rules of Roman process,
necessitated a favourable verdict.

His praetorship, in accordance with the rules which now governed this
magistracy in consequence of the multiplication of the courts of
justice, confined his energies to Rome. We do not know what department
of this office he administered; but, as the charge of no department
could make an epoch in the career of any one but a lawyer gifted with
original ideas, we are not surprised to find that Marius's tenure of
this magistracy, although creditable, did not excite any marked
attention.[814] After his praetorship he obtained his first independent
military command in Farther Spain. Such a province had always its little
problems of pacification to present to an energetic commander, and
Marius's military talents were moderately exercised by the repression of
the habitual brigandage of its inhabitants.[815] His tenure of a foreign
command may have added to his wealth, for provincial government could be
made to increase the means of the most honest administrator. It was
still more important that his tenure of the praetorship had added him to
the ranks of the official nobility. His birth was now no bar to any
social distinction to which his simple and resolute soul might think it
profitable to aspire: and a family of the patrician Julii was not
ashamed to give one of its daughters to the adventurer from
Arpinum.[816] Thus Marius remained for a while; to Roman society an
interesting specimen of the self-made man, marked by a bluntness and
directness appropriate to the type and provocative of an amused regard;
to the professed politician a man with a fairly successful but puzzling
political career, and one that perhaps needed not to be too seriously
considered. For to all who understood the existent conditions of Roman
public life, his attainment of the consulship and of a dominant position
in the councils of the State must have seemed impossible. There was but
one contingency that could make Marius a necessary man. This was war on
a grand scale. But the contingency was distant, and, even if it arose,
the government might employ his skill while keeping him in a
subordinate position.

The career of Marius is not the only proof that the tradition of
successful opposition to the senate could be easily revived. In the year
following his tribunate a new and successful effort was made in the
direction of transmarine colonisation.[817] The pretext for the measure
was the necessity for preserving command of the territory which had been
won by the great victories of Domitius and Fabius on the farther side of
the Alps; the strategic value of the foundation was undeniable, and the
opposition of the government was probably directed by the form which it
was proposed that the new settlement should take. It was not to be a
mere fort in the enemy's country, like the already-established Aquae
Sextiae,[818] but a true _colonia_ of Roman citizens,[819] the creation
of which was certain to lead to excessive complications in the foreign
policy which dealt with the frontiers of the north. Such a colony would
become the centre of an active trade with the surrounding tribes; though
professedly founded in the people's interest, it would rapidly become a
mere feeler for extending the operations of the great mercantile class;
the growth of Roman trade-interests would necessarily involve a policy
of defence and probably of expansion, which would tell heavily on the
resources of the State. The success of the government was dependent on
the restriction of its efforts, and there is nothing surprising in the
hearty opposition which it offered to the projected colony of Narbo
Martius. Even after the original measure sanctioning the settlement had
passed the Comitia, senatorial influence led to the promulgation of a
new proposal in which the people was asked to reconsider its
decision.[820] But the project had found an ardent champion in the young
Lucius Crassus, who strengthened the position which he had won in the
previous year, by a speech weighty beyond the promise of his age.[821]
In his successful advocacy of a national undertaking he was not afraid
to impugn the authority of the senate, and reaped an immediate reward in
being selected, despite his youth, as one of the commissioners for
establishing the settlement.[822]

It is probable that without the support of the equestrian order the
project for the foundation of Narbo Martius might have fallen through.
The man of popular sympathies whose measures attracted their support was
tolerably certain of success, and the man who posed as the champion of
the order was still more firmly placed. The latter position was occupied
for a considerable time by Caius Servilius Glaucia, whose tribunate
probably belongs to the close of the period which we are
describing.[823] Glaucia himself, probably one of those scions of the
nobility whom an original bent of mind had alienated from the narrow
interests of his order, was a man who, lacking in the gift of passionate
but steadfast seriousness which makes the great reformer, possessed
powers admirably adapted for holding the popular ear and inspiring his
auditors with a kind of robust confidence in himself. Ready, acute and
witty,[824] he possessed the happy faculty of taking the Comitia, under
the guise of the plain and honest man, into his confidence. The very
ignorance of his auditors became a respectable attribute, when it was
figured as ingenuous simplicity which needed protection against the
tortuous wiles of the legislator and the official draughtsman. On one
occasion he told his audience that the essence of a law was its
preamble. If, when read to them, it was found to contain the words
"dictator, consul, praetor or magister equitum," the bill was no concern
of theirs. But, if they caught the utterance "and whosoever after this
enactment," then they must wake up, for some new fetter of law was being
forged to bind their limbs.[825] A man of this unconventional type was
not likely to be popular in the senate, and the opprobrious name, which
he subsequently bore in the Curia,[826] is a proof of the liveliness
which he imparted to debate.

At the time of Glaucia's tribunate some subtle movement seems to have
been on foot for undoing the judiciary law of Caius Gracchus and ousting
the knights from their possession of the court before which senators
most frequently appeared. The law which dealt with the crime of
extortion by Roman officials had been frequently renewed, and, whenever
a proposal was made for recasting the enactment with a view to effecting
improvements in procedure, the equestrian tenure of the court was
threatened; for a new law might state qualifications for the jurors
differing from those which had given this department of jurisdiction to
the knights. The relief of the order was therefore great when the
necessary work of revision was undertaken by one who showed himself an
ardent champion of equestrian claims.[827] Glaucia's alteration in
procedure was thorough and permanent. He introduced the system of the
"second hearing "--an obligatory renewal of the trial, which rendered it
possible for counsel to discuss evidence which had been already given,
and for jurors to get a grasp of the mass of scattered data which had
been presented to their notice--[828] and he also made it possible to
recover damages, not only from the chief malefactor, but from all who
had dishonestly shared his spoils.[829] These principles continued to be
observed in trials for extortion to the close of the Republic, and may
have been the only permanent relic of Glaucia's feverish political
career. But for the moment the clauses of his law which dealt with the
qualifications of the jurors, were those most anxiously awaited and most
heartily acclaimed. He had stemmed a reaction and consolidated, beyond
hope of alteration for a long term of years, the system of dual control
established by Caius Gracchus.

The careers and successes of Marius, Crassus and Glaucia exhibit the
spirit of unrest which broke at intervals through the apathetic
tolerance displayed by the people towards the rule of the nobility.
These alternations of confidence and distrust find their counterpart in
the religious history of the times; but a panic springing from a belief
in the anger of the gods was even more difficult to control than the
alarm excited by the attitude of the government. Such a panic knew no
distinctions of station, sex or age; it seized on citizens who cared
nothing for the problems of administration, it was strong in proportion
to the weakness of its victims, and gathered from the dark thoughts and
wild words of the imbecile the poison which infected the sober mind and
assumed, from the very universality of the sickness, the guise of a
healthy effort at rooting out some deep-seated pollution from the State.
The gloomy record of the religious persecutions of the past made it
still more difficult for a government, which prided itself on the
retention of the ancient control of morals, which gloried in its
monopoly of an historic priesthood that had often set its hand to the
work of extirpation, to stifle such a cry. The demand for atonement was
the voice of the conserver of Rome's moral life, of the patriotic
devotee who was striving earnestly to reclaim the waning favour of her
tutelary gods. If it was further believed that the seat of the
corruption was to be found amidst the families of the nobility itself,
the last barrier to resistance had been broken down, for even to seem to
shield the unholy thing was to make its lurking place an object of
horror and execration.

The nerves of the people were first excited by various prodigies that
had appeared; a confirmation of their fears might have been found in the
utter destruction of the army of Porcius Cato in Thrace;[830] and a
strange calamity soon gave an index to the nature of the offence which
excited the anger of the gods. When Helvius, a Roman knight, was
journeying with his wife and daughter from Rome to Apulia, they were
enveloped in a sudden storm. The alarm of the girl urged the father to
seek shelter with all speed. The horses were loosed from the vehicle,
the maiden was placed on one, and the party was hastening along the
road, when suddenly there was a blinding flash and, when it had passed,
the young Helvia and her horse were seen prone upon the ground. The
force of the lightning had stripped every garment and ornament from her
body, and the dead steed lay a few paces off with its trappings riven
and scattered around it.[831] Death by a thunderbolt had always a
meaning, which was sometimes hard to find; but here the gods had not
left the inquiring votary utterly in doubt. The nakedness of the
stricken maiden was a riddle that the priests could read. It was a
manifest sign that a virginal vow had been broken, and that some of the
keepers of the eternal fire were tainted with the sin of unchastity. The
destruction of the horse seemed to portend that a knight would be found
to be a partner in the crime.[832] Evidence was invited and was soon
forthcoming. The slave of a certain Barrus came forward and deposed to
the corruption of three of the vestal virgins, Aemilia, Licinia and
Marcia.[833] He pretended that the incestuous intercourse had been of
long standing, and he named his own master amongst many other men whom
he declared to be the authors of the sacrilege. The maidens were
believed to have added to their lovers to screen their first offence;
the sacrifice of their honour became the price of silence; and their
first corrupters were forced to be dumb when jealousy was mastered by
fear. The knowledge of the crime is believed to have been widely spread
amongst the circles of the better class, until the conspiracy of silence
was broken down by the action of a slave,[834] and all who would not be
deemed accomplices were forced to add their share to the weight of the
accusing testimony.

A scandal of this magnitude called for a formal trial by the supreme
religious tribunal, and towards the close of the year[835] Lucius
Metellus, the chief pontiff, summoned the incriminated vestals before
the college. Aemilia was condemned, but Licinia and Marcia were
acquitted. There was an immediate outcry; the pontiff's leniency was
severely censured; and the anger and fear of the people emboldened a
tribune, Sextus Peducaeus, to propose for the first time that the
secular arm should wrest from the pontifical college the spiritual
jurisdiction that it had abused. He carried a resolution that a special
commission should be established by the people to continue the
investigation.[836] The judges were probably Roman knights after the
model of the Gracchan jurors; the president was the terrible Lucius
Cassius Longinus, already known for his severity as a censor and famed
for his penetration as a criminal judge. This fatal penetration, which
had endowed his tribunal with the nickname "the reef of the
accused," [837] was now welcomed as a surety that the inquiry would be
searching, and that the innocence which survived it would be so well
established that all doubt and fear would be dissolved. This commission
condemned, not only the two vestals whom the pontiffs had acquitted, but
many of their female intermediaries as well.[838] Some of their supposed
paramours must also have been convicted; amongst the accused was Marcus
Antonius, who was in future days to share the realm of oratory with
Lucius Crassus. He was on the eve of his departure to Asia, where he was
to exercise the duties of a quaestor, when he was summoned to appear
before the court over which Cassius presided. He might have pleaded the
benefit of his obligation to continue his official duties;[839] but he
preferred to waive his claim and face his judges. His escape was
believed to have been mainly due to the heroic conduct of a young slave,
who, presented of his own free will to the torture, bore the anguish of
the rack, the scourge and the fire without uttering a word that might
incriminate his master.[840] The free employment of such methods in
trials for incest throws a grave doubt on the value of the judgment
which they elicited; and, when a court is established for the purpose of
appeasing the popular conscience, a part at least of its conduct may be
easily suspected of being preordained. Cassius's rigour in this matter
was thought excessive;[841] but, even had he and the jurors meted out
nothing but the strictest justice, the memory of their sentence would
long have rankled in the minds of the influential families whose members
they had condemned, and thus perpetuated the tradition of their
unnecessary severity. It may be doubted, however, whether a secular
court was competent to inflict the horrible penalties of pontifical
jurisdiction, to condemn the vestal to a living grave and her paramour
to death by the scourge;[842] interdiction, and perhaps in the more
serious cases the death by strangling usually reserved for traitors, may
have been meted out to the men, while the women may have been handed
over to their relatives for execution. But even this exemplary
visitation of the vices which lurked in the heart of the State was not
deemed sufficient to appease the gods or to quiet the popular
conscience. To punish the guilty was to offer the barest satisfaction to
heaven and to conscience; a fuller atonement was demanded, and the
Sibylline oracles, when consulted on the point, were understood to
ordain the cultivation of certain strange divinities by the living
sacrifice of four strangers, two of Hellenic and two of Gallic
race.[843] The accomplishment of this act must have been a severe strain
on the reason and conscience of a government which sixteen years later
absolutely prohibited the performance of human sacrifice[844] and soon
made efforts to stamp out the barbarous ritual even in its foreign
dependencies.[845] Even this concession to the panic of the times could
not be regarded as fraught with much worldly success. The gods seemed
still to retain an unkind feeling both to the city and the government.
Two years later there was a return of dreadful prodigies, and a great
part of Rome was laid waste by a terrible fire. A few months more and
news was brought from Africa which shook to its very foundations the
fabric of senatorial rule.[846]

CHAPTER VI

The land, on which the eyes of the world were soon to be fastened, was
the neglected protectorate which had been built up to secure the
temporary purpose of the overthrow of Carthage, and had since remained
in the undisturbed possession of the peaceful descendants of Masinissa.
The fortunes of the kingdom of Numidia, so far as they affected that
kingdom itself, deserved to be neglected by its suzerain; for the power
which Masinissa had won by arms and diplomacy was more than sufficient
to protect its own interests. The Numidia of the day formed in
territorial extent one of the mightiest kingdoms of the world, and
ranked only second to Egypt amongst the client powers of Rome.[847] It
extended from Mauretania to Cyrenaica,[848] from the river Muluccha to
the greater Syrtis, thus touching on the west the Empire of the Moors,
at that time confined to Tingitana, on the east almost penetrating to
Egypt, and enjoying the best part of the fertile region which borders
the coast of the Mediterranean.[849] For the Moroccan boundary of the
kingdom--the river Muluccha or Molocath--see Göbel _Die Westküste
Afrikas im Altertum_ pp. 79,80. From this vast tract of country Rome had
cut out for herself a small section on the north-east. In the creation
of the province of Africa her moderation and forbearance must have
astonished her Numidian client; and, if Masinissa showed signs of
hesitancy in rousing himself for the destruction of Carthage, the fears
of his sons must have been immediately dispelled when they saw the
slender profits which Rome meant to reap from the suppression of their
joint rival. The Numidian kings were even allowed to keep the territory
which had been wrested from Carthage between the Second and Third Punic
Wars. This comprised the region about the Tusca, which boasted not less
than fifty towns, the district known as the Great Plains,[850] which has
been identified with the great basin of the Dakhla of the
Oulad-bon-Salem, and probably the plateau of Vaga (Bêdja) which
dominates this basin.[851] The Roman lines merely extended from the
Tusca (the Wäd El-Kebir) in the North, where that river flows into the
Mediterranean opposite the island of Thabraca (Tabarka) to Thenae
(Henschir Tina) on the south-east.[852] But even the upper waters of the
Tusca belonged to Numidia, as did the towns of Vaga, Sicca Veneria and
Zama Regia. Consequently the Roman frontier must have curved eastward
until it reached the point where a rocky region separates the basin of
the Bagradas (Medjerda) from the plains of the Sahel; thence it ran to
the neighbourhood of Aquae Regiae and thence, probably following the
line of a ditch drawn between the two great depressions of Kairouan and
El-Gharra, to its ultimate bourne at Thenae.[853] It is clear that the
Romans did not look on their province as an end desirable in itself.
They had left in the hands of their Numidian friends some of the most
fertile lands, some of the richest commercial towns, situated in a
district which they might easily have claimed. Against such annexation
Masinissa could have uttered no word of legitimate protest. His kingdom
had already been almost doubled by the acquisition of the lands of his
rival Syphax, and his sons saw themselves through the aid of Rome in
possession of an artificially created kingdom, which was so entirely out
of harmony with the traditions of Numidian life that it could scarcely
have entered into the dreams of any prince of that race. But the
conquering city reposed some faith in gratitude, and reposed still more
in its habitual policy of caution. The province which it created was
simply a political and strategic necessity. It was intended to secure
the negative object of preventing the reconstitution of the great
political and commercial centre which had fallen.[854] If Carthage was
never to rise again, a fragment of the coast-line must be kept in the
hands of the possessors of its devastated site. It might have been
better for the peace of Africa had the Romans been a little more
grasping and had the Roman position been stronger than it was. The
Phoenicians scattered along the coast had become familiar objects to the
Berber inhabitants and their kings; to the enlightened monarch they were
a valuable addition to the population of any of his cities--all the more
valuable now that they were politically powerless. But with the Roman
official and the Roman trader it was different. Here was an alien and
(in spite of the restraint of the government) an encroaching
civilisation, utterly unfamiliar to the eyes of the natives, but known
to justify its lordly security by that dim background of power which
clung to the name of the paramount city of the West. The Roman
possessions were an ugly eyesore to a man who held that Africa should be
for the Africans. The wise Masinissa might tolerate the spectacle,
content (as, indeed, he should have been) with the power and security
which Rome's friendship had brought to her ally. But it remained to be
seen whether his views would always be held by his own subjects or by
some less cautious or less happily placed successor of his own line.

It was indeed possible that a hostile feeling of nationality might be
awakened beyond the limits even of the great kingdom of Numidia. The
designations which the Romans employ for the natives of North Africa
obscure the fact, which was recognised in later times by the Arab
conquerors, of the unity of the great Berber folk.[855] Roman historians
and geographers speak of the Numidians and Mauretanians as though they
were distinct peoples; but there can be little doubt that, then as
to-day, they were but two fractions of the same great race, and that
even the wild Gaetulians of the South are but representatives of the
parent stock of this indigenous people. As in the case of nearly all
races which in default of historical data we are forced to call
indigenous, two separate elements may be distinguished in this stock, an
earlier and a later, and survivals of the original distinctions between
these elements were clearly discernible in many parts of Northern
Africa; but, as the fusion between these stocks had been effected in
prehistoric times, a common Berber nationality may be held to have
extended from the Atlantic almost to Egypt, at the time when the Romans
were added to the immigrant Semites and Greeks who had already sought to
dwell amidst its borders. The basis of this nationality is thought to be
found in the aborigines of the Sahara who had gradually moved up from
the desert to the present littoral. There they were joined by a race of
another type who were wending their way from what is now the continent
of Europe. The Saharic man was of a dark-brown colour but with no traces
of the negroid type. His European comrade was a man of fair complexion
and light hair; and these curiously blended races continued to live side
by side and to form a single nation, preserving perhaps each some of its
own psychical characteristics, but speaking in common the language of
the older Saharic stock.[856] But the two races were not uniformly
distributed over the various territories of Northern Africa. The white
race was perhaps more in evidence in Mauretania, as it is in the Morocco
of to-day;[857] the dark race was probably most strongly represented
amongst the Gaetulians of the South. There were, in short, in Northern
Africa two zones, marked by differences of civilisation as well as of
ethnic descent, which were clearly distinguished in antiquity. The first
is represented by the Afri, Numidians, and Moors, who inhabited the
coast region from East to West. These were early subjected to alien
influences, the greatest of which, before the coming of the Roman, was
the advent of the Semite. The second is shown by the vast aggregate of
tribes which form a curve along the south from the ocean to the
Cyrenaica. These tribes, which were called by the common name of
Gaetuli, were almost exempt from European influences in historic, and
probably in prehistoric, times. A few intermingled with the Aethiopians
of the Sahara,[858] but, taken as a whole, they are believed to
represent the primitive race of brown Saharic dwellers in all
its purity.

Had the term Nomad or Numidian been applied to the southern races, the
designation might have been justified by the migratory character of
their life. But it is more than questionable whether the designation is
defensible as applied to the people to whom it is usually attached. The
Numidians do not seem to have possessed either the character or habits
of a genuinely nomadic people such as the Arabs.[859] They lived in huts
and not in tents. These huts (_mapalia_), which had the form of an
upturned boat, may have seemed a poor habitation to Phoenicians, Greeks
and Romans; but, as habitations, they were meant to be permanent; they
were an index of the possession of property, of a lasting attachment to
the soil. The village formed by a group of these little homes clustering
round a steep height, was a still further index of a political and
military society that intended to maintain and defend the area on which
it had settled. The pages of Sallust give ample evidence of an active
village life engrossed with the toils of agriculture, and the mass of
the population of the region of the Tell must have been for a long time
fixed to the soil which yielded it a livelihood. Elsewhere there was
indeed need of something like periodic migration. On the high plateaux
pastoral life made the usual change from summer to winter stations
necessary. But this regulated movement does not correspond strictly to
the desultory life of a truly nomadic people. Yet it is easy to see how,
in contrast to the regular and often sedentary mercantile life of the
Phoenician and the Greek, that of the Numidian might be considered wild
and migratory. He was in truth a "trekker" rather than a nomad, and he
possessed the invaluable military attributes of the man unchained by
cities and accustomed to wander far in a hard and bracing country. A
skill in horsemanship that was the wonder of the world, the eye for a
country hastily traversed, the memory for the spot once seen, the power
of rapid mobilisation and of equally rapid disappearance, the gift of
being a knight one day, a shepherd or a peasant the next--these were the
attributes that made a Roman conquest of Numidia so long impossible and
rendered diplomacy imperative as a supplement to war.

It is less easy to reconstruct the moral and political attributes of
this people from the data which we at present possess, or to reconcile
the experience of to-day with the impressions of ancient historians. But
so permanent has been the great bulk of the population of Northern
Africa that it is tempting to interpret the ancient Numidian in the
light of the modern Kabyle. One who has had experience of the latter
endows him with an intelligent head, a frank and open physiognomy and a
lively eye, describes him as active and enterprising, lively and
excitable, possessed of moral pride, eminently truthful, a stern holder
of his plighted word and a respecter of women--a respect shown by the
general practice of monogamy.[860] Even when stirred to war he is said
not to lend himself to unnecessary cruelty.[861] The activity,
liveliness and excitability of this people may be traced in the accounts
of antiquity; but Roman records would add the impression of duplicity,
treachery and cruelty as characteristics of the race. Yet as these
characteristics are exhibited in the record of a great national war
against a hated invader, and are chiefly illustrated in the persons of a
king or his ministers--individuals spoilt by power or maddened by
fear--we need not perhaps attach too much importance to the discrepancy
between the evidence of the ancient and modern world.

Much of the history of Numidia, especially during the epoch of the war
of the Romans against Jugurtha, would be illuminated if we could
interpret the political tendencies of its ancient inhabitants by those
of the Kabyle of modern times. The latter is said to be a sturdy
democrat, founding his society on the ideas of equality and
individuality. Each member of this society enjoys the same rights and is
bound down to the same duties. There is no military or religious
nobility, there are no hereditary chiefs. The affairs of the society,
about which all can speak or vote, are administered by simple
delegates.[862] There is nothing in the history of the war with Jugurtha
to belie these characteristics, there is much which confirms them. In
the narrative of that war there is no mention of a nobility. The
influential men described are simply those who have been elevated by
wealth or familiarity with the king. The monarchy itself is a great
power where the king is present, but the life of the community is not
broken when the king is a fugitive; and loyalty to the crown centres
round a great personality, who is expected to drive the hated invaders
into the sea, not merely round the name of a legitimate dynasty.

Monarchy, in fact, seems a kind of artificial product in Numidia; but,
artificial as it may have been, it had done good work. An active reign
of more than fifty years by a man who united the absolutism of the
savage potentate with the wisdom and experience of the civilised ruler,
had produced effects in Numidia that could never die, Masinissa had
proved what Numidian agriculture might become under the guidance of
scientific rules by the creation of model farms, whose fertile acres
showed that cultivated plants of every kind could be grown on native
soil;[863] while under his rule and that of his son Micipsa the life of
the city showed the same progress as that of the country. Numidia could
not become one of the granaries of the world without its capital rising
to the rank of a great commercial city. Cirta, though situated some
forty-eight Roman miles from the sea,[864] was soon sought by the
Greeks, those ubiquitous bankers of the Mediterranean world,[865] while
Roman and Italian capitalists eagerly plied their business in this new
and attractive sphere which had been presented to their efforts by the
conquests of Rome and the civilising energy of its native rulers.

The kingdom of Numidia suffered from a weakness common to monarchies
where the strong spirits of subjects and local chiefs can be controlled
only by the still stronger hand of the central potentate, and where the
practice of polygamy and concubinage in the royal house sometimes gave
rise to many pretenders but to no heir with an indefeasible claim to
rule. There was no settled principle of succession to the throne, and
the death of the sovereign for the time being threatened the peace or
unity of the kingdom, while it entailed grave responsibilities upon its
nominal protector. Masinissa himself had been excluded from the throne
by an uncle,[866] and but for his vigour and energy might have remained
the subject of succeeding pretenders.

A crisis was threatened at his own decease but was happily averted by
the prudence of the dying monarch. Loath as he probably was to
acknowledge the supremacy of Rome, he thrust on her the invidious task
of deciding the succession to the throne. He felt that Roman authority
would be more effective than paternal wishes; perhaps he saw that
amongst his sons there was not one who could be trusted alone and
unaided to continue to build up the fortunes of the state and to claim
recognition from his brothers as their undisputed lord, while the show
of submission to Rome might weaken the vigilance and disarm the jealousy
of the protecting power. Scipio was summoned to his deathbed to
apportion the kingdom between the legitimate sons who survived him,
Micipsa, Gulussa and Mastanabal.[867] To Micipsa was given the capital
Cirta, the royal palace and the general administration of the kingdom,
the warlike Gulussa was made commander-in-chief, while to Mastanabal the
youngest was assigned the task of directing the judicial affairs of the
dominion.[868] This division of authority was soon disturbed by the
death of the two younger brothers, and Micipsa was left alone to indulge
his peaceful inclinations during a long and uneventful reign of nearly
thirty years. The fall of Carthage had left him free from all irritating
external relations; for the King of Numidia was no longer required to
act the part of a constant spy on the actions, and an occasional
trespasser on the territory, of the greatest of African powers. The
nearest scene of disturbance was the opposite continent of Spain, and
here he did Rome good service by sending her assistance against
Viriathus and the Numantines.[869] Unvexed by troubles within his
borders, Micipsa devoted his life to the arts of peace. He beautified
Cirta and attracted Greek settlers to the town, amongst them men of arts
and learning, who delighted the king with their literary and philosophic
discourse.[870] The period of rest fostered the resources of the
kingdom, and in spite of a devastating pestilence which is said to have
swept off eight hundred thousand of the king's subjects,[871] the state
could boast at his death of a regular army of ten thousand cavalry and
twenty thousand foot.[872] This was but the nucleus of the host that
might be raised in the interior, and swelled by the border tribes of
Numidia; and the man who could win the confidence of the soldiers and
the attachment of the peasantry held the fortune of Numidia in his
hands. This reflection may have cast a shadow over the latter years of
Micipsa. Certainly the prospect of the succession was as dark to him as
it had been to his father, Masinissa. Like his predecessor he believed
that a dynasty was stronger than an individual, and he deliberately
imitated the work of Scipio by leaving a collegiate rule to his
successors. One of these successors, however, was not his own offspring.
His brother Mastanabal had left behind him an illegitimate son named
Jugurtha. The boy had been neglected during the lifetime of his
grandfather, Masinissa; perhaps the hope that Mastanabal might yet beget
a representative worthy of the succession caused little importance to be
attached to the concubine's son, in spite of the fact that it was the
policy of the Numidian monarchs to keep as many heirs in reserve as it
was possible for them to procure. But when Gauda, the only legitimate
son of Mastanabal, proved to be weak in body and deficient in mind,[873]
greater regard was paid to the vigorous boy who was now the sole
efficient representative of one branch of the late dynasty. Even without
this motive the kindly nature of Micipsa would probably have led him to
look with favour on the orphan child of his brother; the young Jugurtha
was reared in the palace and educated with the heirs presumptive,
Adherbal and Hiempsal, the two sons of the reigning king. It soon became
manifest that a very lion had been begotten and was growing to strength
in the precincts of the royal court. All the graces of the love-born
offspring seem to have been present at Jugurtha's birth. A mighty frame,
a handsome face, were amongst his lesser gifts. More remarkable were the
vigour and acuteness of his mind, the moral strength which yielded to no
temptation of ease or indolence, the keen zest for life which led him to
throw himself into the hardy sports of his youthful compeers, to run, to
ride, to hurl the javelin with a skill known only to the nomad, the
_bonhomie_ and bright good temper which endeared him to the comrades
whom his skill had vanquished. Much of his leisure was passed in
tracking the wild beasts of the desert; his skill as a hunter was
matchless, or was equalled only by his easy indifference to his
success.[874]

The sight of these qualities gladdened Micipsa's heart; for the military
leader, so essential to the safety of the Numidian monarchy, seemed to
be now assured. We are told that a shade of anxiety crossed his mind
when he compared the youth of his own sons with the glorious manhood of
Jugurtha, and thought of the temptations which the prospect of an
undivided monarchy might present to a mind gradually weaned from loyalty
by the very sense of its own greatness;[875] but there is no reason to
believe that the good old king allowed his imagination to embrace
visions of the dagger or the poisoned bowl, and that the mysterious
death of his nephew was only hindered by the thought of the resentment
which it would arouse amongst the Numidian chiefs and their dependents.
Certainly the mission with which Jugurtha was soon credited--the mission
which was perhaps to alter the whole tone of his mind and to concentrate
its energies on an unlawful end--was one which any Numidian king might
have destined for the most favoured of his sons. Jugurtha was to be sent
to Numantia to lead the Numidian auxiliaries of horse and foot, to be a
member of the charmed circle that surrounded Scipio, to see, as he moved
amongst the young nobility, the promise of greatness that was in store
for Rome in the field whether of politics or of war, to form perhaps
binding friendships and to lay up stores of gratitude for future use. In
dismissing his nephew, Micipsa was putting the issue into the hands of
fate. Jugurtha might never return; but, if he did, it would be with an
experience and a prestige which would render him more than ever the
certain arbiter of the destinies of the kingdom.

The advantage which Jugurtha took of this marvellous opportunity was a
product of his nature and proves no ulterior design. Had he been the
simplest and most loyal of souls, he would have been forced to act as he
did. As a man of insight he soon learnt Scipio by heart, as a born
strategist and trained hunter he soon saw through the tricks of the
enemy, as a man devoid of the physical sense of fear he was foremost in
every action. He had grasped at once the secret of Roman discipline, and
his habit of implicit obedience to the word of command was as remarkable
as his readiness in offering the right suggestion, when his opinion was
asked. Intelligence was not a striking feature in the mental equipment
of the staff which surrounded Scipio; it was grasped by the general
wherever found without respect to rank or nationality; and while Marius
was rising step by step in virtue of his proved efficiency, the Numidian
prince, who might have been merely an ornamental adjunct to the army,
was made the leader or participant in almost every enterprise which
demanded a shrewd head and a stout heart. The favour of Scipio increased
from day to day.[876] This was to be won by merit and success alone.
With Romans of a weaker mould Jugurtha's wealth and social qualities
produced a similar result. He entertained lavishly, he was clever,
good-natured and amusing. He charmed the Romans whom he excelled as in
his childish days he had charmed the Numidian boys whom he outraced.

In these rare intervals of rest from warfare there was opportunity for
converse with men of influence and rank. Jugurtha's position and the
future of Numidia were sometimes discussed, and the youthful wiseacres
who claimed his friendship would sometimes suggest, with the cheerful
cynicism which springs from a shallow dealing with imperial interests,
that merit such as his could find its fitting sphere only if he were the
sole occupant of the Numidian throne.[877] The words may often have been
spoken in jest or idle compliment; although some who used them may have
meant them to be an expression of the maxim that a protectorate is best
served by a strong servant, and that a divided principality contains in
itself the seeds of disturbance. Others went so far as to suggest the
means as well as the end. Should difficulties arise with Rome, might not
the assent of the great powers be purchased with a price? Scipio had not
been blind to the colloquies of his favourite. When Numantia had been
destroyed and the army was folding its tents, he gave Jugurtha the
benefit of a public ovation and a private admonition. Before the
tribunal he decorated him with the prizes of war, and spoke fervidly in
his praise; then he invited him secretly to his tent and gave him his
word of warning. "The friendship of the Roman people should be sought
from the Roman people itself; no good could come of securing the support
of individuals by equivocal means; there was a danger in purchasing
public interest from a handful of vendors who professed to have power to
sell; Jugurtha's own qualities were his best asset; they would secure
him glory and a crown; if he tried to hasten on the course of events,
the material means on which he relied might themselves provoke his utter
ruin." [878]

On one point only Scipio seems to have been in agreement with the evil
counsellors of Jugurtha. He seems to have believed that the true
guardian of Numidia had been found, and the prince took with him a
splendid testimonial to be presented to his uncle Micipsa. Scipio wrote
in glowing terms of the great qualities which Jugurtha had displayed
throughout the war; he expressed his own delight at these services, his
own intention of making them known to the senate and Roman people, his
sense of the joy that they must have brought to the monarch himself. His
old friendship with Micipsa justified a word of congratulation; the
prince was worthy of his uncle and of his grandfather Masinissa.[879]

Whatever Micipsa's later intentions may have been, whether under
ordinary circumstances his natural benevolence and even his patriotism
would have continued to war with an undefined feeling of distrust, this
letter relieved his doubts, if only because it showed that Jugurtha
could never fill a private station. The act of adoption was immediately
accomplished, and a testament was drawn up by which Jugurtha was named
joint heir with Micipsa's own sons to the throne of Numidia.[880] A few
years later the aged king lay on his deathbed. As he felt his end
approaching, he is said to have summoned his friends and relatives
together with his two sons, and in their presence to have made a parting
appeal to Jugurtha. He reminded him of past kindnesses but acknowledged
the ample return; he had made Jugurtha, but Jugurtha had made the
Numidian name again glorious amongst the Romans and in Spain. He
exhorted him to protect the youthful princes who would be his colleagues
on the throne, and reminded him that in the maintenance of concord lay
the future strength of the kingdom. He appealed to Jugurtha as a
guardian rather than as a mere co-regent; for the power and name of the
mature and distinguished ruler would render him chiefly responsible for
harmony or discord; and he besought his sons to respect their cousin, to
emulate his virtues, to prove to the world that their father was as
fortunate in the children whom nature had given him as in the one who
had been the object of his adoption.[881] The appeal was answered by
Jugurtha with a goodly show of feeling and respect, and a few days later
the old king passed away. The hour which closed his splendid obsequies
was the last in which even a show of concord was preserved between the
ill-assorted trio who were now the rulers of Numidia. The position of
Jugurtha was difficult enough; for to rule would mean either the
reduction of his cousins to impotence or the perpetual thwarting of his
plans by crude and suspicious counsels. For that these would be
suspicious as well as crude, was soon revealed: and the situation was
immediately rendered intolerable by the conduct of Hiempsal. This
prince, the younger of the two brothers, was a headstrong boy filled
with a sense of resentment at Jugurtha's elevation to the throne and
smarting at the neglect of what he held to be the legitimate claim to
the succession. When the first meeting of the joint rulers was held in
the throne room, Hiempsal hurried to a seat at the right of Adherbal,
that Jugurtha might not occupy the place of honour in the centre; it was
with difficulty that he was induced by the entreaties of his brother to
yield to the claims of age and to move to the seat on the other side.
This struggle for precedence heralded the coming storm. In the course of
a long discussion on the affairs of the kingdom Jugurtha threw out the
suggestion that it might be advisable to rescind the resolutions and
decrees of the last five years, since during that period age had
impaired the faculties of Micipsa. Hiempsal said that he agreed, since
it was within the last three years that Jugurtha had been adopted to a
share in the throne. The object of this remark betrayed little emotion;
but it was believed that the peevish insult was the stimulus to an
anxious train of thought which, as was to be expected from the resolute
character of the thinker, soon issued into action. To be a usurper was
better than to be thought one; the first situation entailed power, the
second only danger. Anger played its part no doubt; but in a temperament
like Jugurtha's such an emotion was more likely to be the justification
than the cause of a crime. His thoughts from that moment were said to
have been bent on ensnaring the impetuous Hiempsal. But guile moves
slowly, and Jugurtha would not wait.[882]

The first meeting of the kings had given so thorough a proof of the
impossibility of united rule that a resolution was soon framed to divide
the treasures and territories of the monarchy. A time was fixed for the
partition of the domains, and a still earlier date for the division of
the accumulated wealth. The kings meanwhile quitted the capital to
reside in close propinquity to their cherished treasures. Hiempsal's
temporary home was in the fortified town of Thirmida,[883] and, as
chance would have it, he occupied a house which belonged to a man who
had once been a confidential attendant on Jugurtha.[884] The inner
history of the events which followed could never have been known with
certainty; but it was believed that Jugurtha induced this man to visit
the house under some pretext and bring back impressions of the keys. The
security of Hiempsal's person and treasures was supposed to be
guaranteed by his regularly receiving into his own hands the keys of the
gates after they had been locked; but a night came in which the portals
were noiselessly opened and a band of soldiers burst into the house.
They divided into parties, ranging each room in turn, prying into every
recess, bursting doors that barred their entrance, stabbing the
attendants, some in their sleep, others as they ran to meet the
invaders. At last Hiempsal was found crouching in a servant's room; he
was slain and beheaded, and those who held Jugurtha to be the author of
the crime reported that the head of the murdered prince was brought to
him as a pledge of the accomplished act.[885]

The news of the crime was soon spread through the whole of Northern
Africa. It divided Numidia into two camps. Adherbal was forced by panic
to arm in his own defence, and most of those who remained loyal to the
memory of Micipsa gathered to the standard of the legitimate heir. But
Jugurtha's fame amongst the fighting men of the kingdom stood him in
good stead. His adherents were the fewer in number, but they were the
more effective warriors.[886] He rapidly gathered such forces as were
available, and dashed from city to city, capturing some by storm and
receiving the voluntary submission of others. He had plunged boldly into
a civil war, and by his action declared the coveted prize to be nothing
less than the possession of the whole Numidian kingdom. But boldness was
his best policy; Rome might more readily condone a conquest than a
rebellion, and be more willing to recognise a king than a claimant.

Adherbal meanwhile had sent an embassy to the protecting State, to
inform the senate of his brother's murder and his own evil plight. But,
diffident as he was, he must have felt that a passive endurance of the
outrages inflicted by Jugurtha dimmed his prestige and imperilled his
position; he found himself at the head of the larger army, and trusting
to his superiority in numbers ventured to risk a battle with his veteran
enemy. The first conflict was decisive; his forces were so utterly
routed that he despaired of maintaining his position in any part of the
kingdom. He fled from the battlefield to the province of Africa and
thence took ship to Rome.[887]

Jugurtha was now undisputed master of the whole of Numidia and had
leisure to think out the situation. It could not have needed much
reflection to show that the safer course lay in making an appeal to
Rome. It was no part of his plan to detach Numidia entirely from the
imperial city; even if such an end were desirable, a national war could
not be successfully waged by a people divided in allegiance, against a
state whose tenacious policy and inexhaustible resources were only too
well known to Jugurtha. But he also knew that Rome, though tenacious,
had the tolerance which springs from the unwillingness to waste blood
and treasure on a matter of such little importance as a change in the
occupancy of a subject throne, that a dynastic quarrel would seem to
many _blasé_ senators a part of the order of nature in a barbarian
monarchy, that it is usually to the interest of a protecting state to
recognise a king in fact as one in law, and that he himself possessed
many powerful friends in the capital and had been told on good authority
that royal presents judiciously distributed might confirm or even mould
opinion. Within a few days of his victory he had despatched to Rome an
embassy well equipped with gold and silver. His ambassadors were to
confirm the affection of his old friends, to win new ones to his cause,
and to spare no pains to gain any fraction of support that a bountiful
generosity could buy.[888] Possibly few, who received courteous visits
or missives from these envoys, would have admitted that they had been
bribed. It was the custom of kings to send presents, and they did but
answer to the call of an old acquaintance and a man who had done signal
service to Rome. The news of Hiempsal's tragic end, the flight and
arrival of his exiled brother, had at the moment caused a painful
sensation in Roman circles. Now many members of the nobility plucked up
courage to remark that there might be another side to the question. The
newly gilded youth thronged their seniors in the senate and begged that
no inconsiderate resolution should be taken against Jugurtha. The
envoys, as men conscious of their virtue, calmly expressed their
readiness to await the senate's pleasure. The appointed day arrived, and
Adherbal, who appeared in person, unfolded the tale of his wrongs.[889]

Apart from the emotions of pity and consequent sympathy which may have
been awakened in some breasts by the story of the ruined and exiled
king, his appeal--passionate, vigorous and telling as it was--could not
have been listened to with any great degree of pleasure by the assembled
fathers; for it brought home to the government of a protecting state
that most unpleasant of lessons, its duty to the protected. With the
ingenuity of despair Adherbal exaggerated the degree of Roman
government, in order to emphasise the moral and political obligations of
the rulers to their dependents. If the King of Numidia was a mere agent
of the imperial[890] city, subordinating his wishes to her ends, seeing
the security of his own possessions in the extension of her influence
alone, clinging to her friendship with a trust as firm as that inspired
by ties of blood, it was the duty of the mistress to protect such a
servant, and to avenge an outrage which reflected alike on her gratitude
and her authority. It had been a maxim of Micipsa's that the clients of
Rome supported a heavy burden, but were amply compensated by the
immunity from danger that they enjoyed. And, if Rome did not protect, to
whom could a client-king look for aid? His very service to Rome had made
him the enemy of all neighbouring powers. It was true that Adherbal
could claim little in his own right; he was a suppliant before he could
be a benefactor, stripped of all power of benefiting his great protector
before his devotion could be put to the test. Yet he could claim a debt;
for he was the sole relic of a dynasty that had given their all to Rome.
Jugurtha was destroying a family whose loyalty had stood every test, he
was committing horrid atrocities on the friends of Rome, his insolence
and impunity were inflicting as grave an injury on the Roman name as on
the wretched victims of his cruelty.

Such was the current of subtle and cogent reasoning that ran through the
passionate address of the exiled king, crying for vengeance, but above
all for justice. The answer of Jugurtha's envoys was brief and to the
point. They had only to state their fictitious case. A plausible case
was all that was needed; their advocates would do the rest. Hiempsal,
they urged, had been put to death by the Numidians in consequence of the
cruelty of his rule. Adherbal had been the aggressor in the late war. He
had suffered defeat, and was now petitioning for help because he had
found himself unable to perpetrate the wrong which he had intended.
Jugurtha entreated the senate to let the knowledge which had been gained
of him at Numantia guide their opinion of him now, and to set his own
past deeds before the words of a personal enemy.[891] Both parties then
withdrew and the senate fell to debate.

It is sufficiently likely that, even had there been no corruption or
suspicion of corruption, the opinions of the House would have been
divided on the question that was put before them. Some minds naturally
suspicious might have been doubtful of the facts. Were Hiempsal's death
and Adherbal's flight due to national discontent or the unprovoked
ambition of Jugurtha? If the former was the case, was the restoration of
the king to an unwilling people by an armed force a measure conducive to
the interest of the protecting state? But even some who accepted
Adherbal's statement of the case, may have doubted the wisdom of a
policy of armed intervention; for it was manifest that a considerable
degree of force would have to be employed to lead Jugurtha to relinquish
his claims and to stamp out the loyalty of his adherents. The senate
could have been in no humour for another African war; they regarded
their policy as closed in that quarter of the world; they had shifted
the burden of frontier defence on to the Kings of Numidia, and must have
viewed with alarm the prospect of something far worse than a frontier
war arising from the quarrels of those kings. It is probable, therefore,
that proposals for a peaceful settlement would in any case have
commanded the respectful attention of the senate; had these been made
with a show of decency, with a general recognition of Adherbal's claims,
and some censure of Jugurtha's overbearing conduct (for this must have
been better attested than his share in Hiempsal's death), but little
adverse comment might have been excited by the tone of the debate. As it
was, when member after member rose, lauded Jugurtha's merits to the
skies and poured contempt on the statements of Adherbal,[892] an
unpleasant feeling was excited that this fervour was not wholly due to a
patriotic interest in the security of the empire. The very
boisterousness of the championship induced a more rigorous attitude on
the part of those who had not been approached by Jugurtha's envoys or
had resisted their overtures. They maintained that Adherbal must be
helped at all costs, and that strict punishment should be exacted for
Hiempsal's murder. This minority found an ardent advocate in Scaurus,
the keeper of the conscience of the senate, the man who knew better than
any that an individual or a government lives by its reputation, who saw
with horror that no specious pretexts were being employed to clothe a
policy which the malevolent might interpret as a political crime, and
that the sinister rumours which had been current in Rome were finding
their open verification in the senate. A vigorous championship of the
cause of right from the foremost politician of the day, might not
influence the decision of the House, and would certainly not lead to a
quixotic policy of armed intervention; but it might prove to critics of
the government that the inevitable decision had not been reached wholly
in defiance of the claims of the suppliant and wholly in obedience to
the machinations of a usurper. The decision, which closed the unreal
debate, recognised Jugurtha and Adherbal as joint rulers of Numidia. It
wilfully ignored Hiempsal's death, it wantonly exposed the lamb to the
wolf, it was worthless as a settlement of the dynastic question, unless
Jugurtha's supporters entertained the pious hope that their favourite's
ambition might be satisfied with the increase now granted to his wealth
and territory, and that his prudence might withhold him from again
testing the forbearance of the protecting power. But those who possessed
keener insight or who knew Jugurtha better, must have foreseen the
probable result of the impunity which had been granted; they must have
presaged, with anxious foreboding or with patient cynicism, the final
disappearance of Adherbal from the scene and a fresh request for the
settlement of the Numidian question, which would have become less
complex when there was but one candidate for the throne. The decree of
the senate enjoined the creation of a commission of ten, which should
visit Numidia and divide the whole of the kingdom which had been
possessed by Micipsa, between the rival chiefs.[893]

The head of the commission was Lucius Opimius, whose influence amongst
the members of his order had never waned since he had exercised and
proved his right of saving the State from the threatened dangers of
sedition. His selection on this occasion gave an air of impartiality to
the commission, for he was known to be no friend to Jugurtha.[894]

That prince, however, did not allow his past relations to be an obstacle
to his present enterprise. The conquest of Opimius was the immediate
object to which he devoted all his energies. As soon as the
commissioners had appeared on African soil, they and their chief were
received with the utmost deference by the king. The frequent and secret
colloquies which took place between the arbitrators and one of the
parties interested in their decision were not a happy omen for an
impartial judgment, and, if the award could by the exercise of
malevolent ingenuity be interpreted as unfair, would certainly breed the
suspicion, and, in case the matter was ever submitted to a hostile court
of law, the proof that the honour of the commissioners had succumbed to
the usual vulgar and universally accredited methods of corruption. On
the face of it the award seemed eminently just. Numidia was becoming a
commercial and agricultural state; but since commerce and agriculture
did not flourish in the same domains, it was impossible to endow each of
the claimants equally with both these sources of wealth. To Adherbal was
given that part of the kingdom which in its external attributes seemed
the more desirable; he was to rule over the eastern half of Numidia
which bordered on the Roman province, the portion of the country which
enjoyed a readier access to the sea and could boast of a fuller
development of urban life. Cirta the capital lay within this sphere, and
Adherbal could continue to give justice from the throne of his fathers.
But those who held that the strength of a country depended mainly on its
people and its soil, believed that Jugurtha had received the better
part. The territories with which he was entrusted were those bordering
on Mauretania, rich in the products of the soil and teeming with healthy
human life.[895] From the point of view of military resources there
could be no question as to which of the two kings was the stronger. The
peaceful character of Adherbal may have seemed a justification for his
peaceful sphere of rule; but the original aggressor was kept at his
normal strength. Jugurtha ruled over the lands in which the national
spirit, of which he was himself the embodiment, found its fullest and
fiercest expression. He did not mean to acquiesce for a moment in the
settlement effected by the commission. No sooner had it completed its
task and returned home, than he began to devise a scheme which would
lead to war between the two principalities and the consequent
annihilation of Adherbal. He shrank at first from provoking the senate
by a wanton attack on the neighbouring kingdom which they had just
created; his design was rather to draw Adherbal into hostilities which
would lead to a pitched battle, a certain victory, the disappearance of
the last of Micipsa's race and the union of the two crowns. With this
object he massed a considerable force on the boundary between the two
kingdoms and suddenly crossed the frontier. His mounted raiders captured
shepherds with their flocks, ravaged the fields of the peasantry, looted
and burned their homes; then swept back within their own borders.[896]
But Adherbal was not moved to reprisals. His circumstances no less than
his temperament dictated methods of peace: and, if he could not keep his
crown by diplomacy, he must have regarded it as lost. The Roman people
was a better safeguard than his Numidian subjects, and it was necessary
to temporise with Jugurtha until the senate could be moved by a strong
appeal. Envoys were despatched to the court of the aggressor to complain
of the recent outrage; they brought back an impudent reply; but
Adherbal, steadfast in his pacific resolutions, still remained
quiescent, Jugurtha's plan had failed and he was in no mood for further
delay; he held now, as he had done once before, that his end could best
be effected by vigorous and decisive action. The lapse of time could not
improve his own position but might strengthen that of Adherbal, and it
was advisable that a new Roman commission should witness an accomplished
fact and make the best of it rather than engage again in the settlement
of a disputed claim. It was no longer a predatory band but a large and
regular army that he now collected; his present purpose was not a foray
but a war.[897] He advanced into his rival's territory ravaging its
fields, harrying its cities and gathering booty as he went. At every
step the confidence of his own forces, the dismay of the enemy
increased.

Adherbal was at last convinced that he must appeal to the sword for the
security of his crown. A second flight to Rome would have utterly
discredited him in the eyes of his subjects, perhaps in those of the
Roman government itself; yet, as his chief hope still lay in Rome, he
hurriedly despatched an embassy to the suzerain city[898] while he
himself prepared to take the field. With unwilling energy he gathered
his available forces and marched to oppose Jugurtha's triumphant
progress. The invading host had now skirted Cirta to the west and was
apparently attempting to cut off its communications with the sea. The
disastrous results that would have followed the success of this attempt,
may have been the final motive that spurred Adherbal to his appeal to
arms; and it was somewhere within the fifty miles that intervened
between the capital and its port of Rusicade and at a spot nearer to the
sea than to Cirta,[899] that the opposing armies met. The day was
already far spent when Adherbal came into touch with his enemy: there
was no thought of a pitched battle in the gathering gloom, and either
party took up his quarters for the night. Towards the late watches of
the night, in the doubtful light of the early dawn, the soldiers of
Jugurtha crept up to the outposts of the enemy; at a given signal they
rushed on the camp and carried it by storm. Adherbal's soldiers, heavy
with sleep and groping for their arms, were routed or slain; the prince
himself sprang on his horse and with a handful of his knights sped for
safety to the walls of Cirta, Jugurtha's troops in hot pursuit. They had
almost closed on the fugitive before the walls were reached; but the
race had been watched from the battlements, and, as the flying Adherbal
passed the gates, the walls were manned by a volunteer body of Italian
merchants who kept the pursuing Numidians at bay.[900] It was the
merchant class that had most to fear from the cruelty and cupidity of
the nomad hordes that now beat against the fortress, and during the
siege that followed they controlled the course of events far more
effectually than the unhappy king whom they had for the moment saved
from destruction.

Jugurtha's plans were foiled; Adherbal had escaped, and there lay before
him the irksome prospect of a siege, of probable interference from Rome
and, it might be, of the necessity of openly defying the senate's
commands. But it was now too late to draw back, and he set himself
vigorously to the work of reducing Cirta by assault or famine. The task
must have been an arduous one. The town formed one of the strongest
positions for defence that could be found in the ancient world. It was
built on an isolated cube of rock that towered above the vast cultivated
tracts of the surrounding plain. At its eastern extremity the precipice
made a sheer drop of six hundred feet, and was perhaps quite
inaccessible on this side, although it threw out spurs, whether natural
or of artificial construction, which formed a difficult and easily
defensible communication with the lower land around. Its natural
bastions were completed by a natural moat, for the river Ampsaga (the
Wäd Remel) almost encircled the town, and on the eastern side its deep
and rushing waters could only be crossed by a ledge of rock, through
which it bored a subterranean channel and over which some kind of bridge
or causeway had probably been formed.[901] The natural and easy mode of
approach to the city was to be found in the south-west, where a neck of
land of half a furlong's breadth led up to the principal gate.

In spite of the formidable difficulties of the task Jugurtha attempted
an assault, for it was of the utmost importance that he should possess
the person of Adherbal before interference was felt from Rome. Mantlets,
turrets and all the engines of siege warfare were vigorously employed to
carry the town by storm;[902] but the stout walls baffled every effort,
and Jugurtha was forced to face as best he might another Roman embassy
which Adherbal's protests had brought to African soil. The senate, when
it had learnt the news of the renewed outbreak of the war, was as
unwilling as ever to intervene as a third partner in a three-sided
conflict. To play the part of the policeman as well as of the judge was
no element in Roman policy; the very essence of a protectorate was that
it should take care of itself; were intervention necessary, it should be
decisive, and it would be a lengthy task and an arduous strain to gather
and transport to Africa a force sufficient to overawe Jugurtha. The easy
device of a new commission was therefore adopted. If its Suggestions
were obeyed, all would be well; if they were neglected, matters could
not be much worse than they were at present. As the new commissioners
had merely to take a message and were credited with no discretionary
power, it was thought unnecessary to burden the higher magnates of the
State with the unenviable task, or to expose them to the undignified
predicament of finding their representations flouted by a rebel who
might have eventually to be recognised as a king. A chance was given to
younger members of the senatorial order, and the three who landed in
Africa were branded by the hostile criticism that was soon to find
utterance and in the poverty of its indictment to catch at every straw,
as lacking the age and dignity demanded by the mission--qualities which,
had they been present, would probably have failed to make the least
impression on Jugurtha's fixed resolve. The commissioners were to
approach both the kings and to bring to their notice the will and
resolution of the Roman senate and people, which were to the effect that
hostilities should be suspended and that the questions at issue between
the rivals should be submitted to peaceful arbitration. This conduct the
senate recommended as the only one worthy of its royal clients and of
itself.[903]

The speed of the envoys was accelerated by the impression that they
might find but one king to be the recipient of their message. On the eve
of their departure the news of the decisive battle and the siege of
Cirta had reached their ears. Haste was imperative, if they were to
retain their position as envoys, for the next despatch might bring news
of Adherbal's death. The actual news received fell short of the
truth,[904] and was perhaps still further softened for the public ear;
the fact that the envoys had sailed was itself an official indication
that all hope had not been abandoned. If they cherished a similar
illusion themselves, it must almost have vanished before the sight that
met their eyes in Numidia. They saw a closely beleaguered town in which
one of the kings, who were to be the recipients of their message, was so
closely hemmed that access to him was impossible.[905] The other,
without abating one jot of his military preparations, met them with an
answer as uncompromising as it was courteous. Jugurtha held nothing more
precious than the authority of the senate; from his youth up he had
striven to meet the approbation of the good; it was by merit not by
artifice, that he had gained the favour of Scipio; it was desert that
had won him a place amongst Micipsa's children and a share in the
Numidian crown. But qualities carry their responsibilities; the very
distinction of his services made it the more incumbent on him to avenge
a wrong. Adherbal had treacherously plotted against his life; the crime
had been revealed and he had but taken steps to forestall it; the Roman
people would not be acting justly or honourably, if they hindered him
from taking such steps in his own defence as were the common right of
all men.[906]

He would soon send envoys to Rome to deal with the whole question in
dispute.

This answer showed the Roman commissioners the utter helplessness of
their position. Their presence in Jugurtha's camp within sight of a city
in which a client king and a number of their own citizens were
imprisoned, was itself a stigma on the name of Rome. If they had prayed
to see Adherbal, the request, must have been refused; to prolong the
negotiations was to court further insult, and they set their faces once
more for Rome after faithfully performing the important mission of
repeating a message of the senate with verbal correctness. Jugurtha
granted them the courtesy of not renewing his active operations until he
thought that they had quitted Africa. Then, despairing of carrying the
town by assault, he settled to the work of a regular siege. The nature
of the ground must have made a complete investment impossible; but it
also rendered it unnecessary. The cliffs and the river bed made escape
as difficult as attack. On some sides it was but necessary to maintain a
strenuous watch on every possible egress; on others lines of
circumvallation, with ramparts and ditches, kept the beleaguered within
their walls. Siege-towers were raised to mate the height of the
fortifications which they threatened, and manned with garrisons to harry
the town and repel all efforts of its citizens to escape. The blockade
was varied by a series of surprises, of sudden assaults by day or night;
no method of force or fraud was left untried; the loyalty of the
defenders who appeared on the walls was assailed by threats or promises;
the assailants were strenuously exhorted to effect a speedy entry.

It would seem that Cirta was ill-provided with supplies.[907] Adherbal,
who had made it the basis of his attack and must have foreseen the
probability of his defeat, should have seen that it was well
provisioned; and the vast cisterns and granaries cut in the solid rock,
that were in later times to be found within the city, should have
supplied water and food sufficient to prolong the siege to a degree that
might have tried the senate's patience as sorely as Jugurtha's. But
neither the king nor his advisers were adepts in the art of war; it must
have been difficult to regulate the distribution of provisions amidst
the trading classes, of unsettled habits and mixed nationalities, that
were crowded within the walls; discontent could not be restrained by
discipline and might at any moment be a motive to surrender. The
imprisoned king saw no prospect of a prolongation of the war that could
secure even his personal safety; no help could be looked for from
without and a ruthless enemy was battering at his gates. His only hope,
a faint one, lay in a last appeal to Rome; but the invader's lines were
drawn so close that even a chance of communicating with the protecting
city seemed denied. At length, by urgent appeals to pity and to avarice,
he induced two of the comrades who had joined his flight from the field
of battle, to risk the venture of penetrating the enemy's lines and
reaching the sea.[908] The venture, which was made by night, succeeded;
the two bold messengers stole through the enclosing fortifications,
rapidly made for the nearest port, and thence took ship to Rome. Within
a few days they were in the presence of the senate,[909] and the
despairing cry of Adherbal was being read to an assembly, to whom it
could convey no new knowledge and on whom it could lay no added burden
of perplexity. But emotion, although it cannot teach, may focus thought
and clarify the promptings of interest. To many a loose thinker
Adherbal's missive may have been the first revelation, not only of the
shame, but of the possible danger of the situation. The facts were too
well known to require detailed treatment. It was sufficient to remind
the senate that for five months a friend and ally of the Roman people
had been blockaded in his own capital; his choice was merely one between
death by the sword and death by famine. Adherbal no longer asked for his
kingdom; nay, he barely ventured to ask for his life; but he deprecated
a death by torture--a fate that would most certainly be his if he fell
into the hands of his implacable foe. The appeal to interest was
interwoven with that made to pity and to honour. What were Jugurtha's
ultimate motives? When he had consummated his crimes and absorbed the
whole of Numidia, did he mean to remain a peaceful client-king, a
faithful vassal of Rome? His fidelity and obedience might be measured by
the treatment which he had already accorded to the mandate and the
envoys of the senate. The power of Rome in her African possessions was
at stake; and the majesty of the empire was appealed to no less than the
sense of friendship, loyalty, and gratitude, as a ground for instant
assistance which might yet save the suppliant from a terrible and
degrading end.

The impression produced by this appeal was seen in the bolder attitude
adopted by that section of the senate which had from the first regarded
Jugurtha as a criminal at large, and had never approved the policy of
leaving Numidia to settle its own affairs. Voices were heard advocating
the immediate despatch of an army to Africa, the speedy succour of
Adherbal, the consideration of an adequate punishment for the contumacy
of Jugurtha in not obeying the express commands of Rome.[910] But the
usual protests were heard from the other side, protests which were
interpreted as a proof of the utter corruption of those who uttered
them,[911] but which were doubtless veiled in the decent language, and
may in some cases have been animated by the genuine spirit, of the
cautious imperialist who prefers a crime to a blunder. The conflict of
opinion resulted in the usual compromise. A new commission was to be
despatched with a more strongly worded message from the senate; but, as
rumour had apparently been busy with the adventures of the "three young
men" whom Jugurtha had turned back, it was deemed advisable to select
the present envoys from men whose age, birth and ample honours might
give weight to a mission that was meant to avert a war.[912] The
solemnity of the occasion was attested, and some feeling of assurance
may have been created, by the fact that there figured amongst the
commissioners no less a person than the chief of the senate Marcus
Aemilius Scaurus, beyond all question the foremost man of Rome,[913] the
highest embodiment of patrician dignity and astute diplomacy. The
pressing appeal of Adherbal's envoys, the ugly rumours which were
circulating in Rome, urged the commissioners to unwonted activity.
Within three days they were on board, and after a short interval had
landed at Utica in the African province. The experience of the former
mission had taught them that their dignity might be utterly lost if they
quitted the territory of the Roman domain. They did not deign to set
foot in Numidia, but sent a message to Jugurtha informing him that they
had a mandate from the senate and ordering him to come with all speed to
the Roman province.

Jugurtha was for the moment torn by conflicting resolutions. The very
audacity of his acts had been tempered and in part directed by a secret
fear of Rome. Whether in any moments of ambitious imagination he had
dreamed of throwing off the protectorate and asserting the unlimited
independence of the Numidian kingdom, must remain uncertain; but in any
case that consummation must belong to the end, not to the intermediate
stage, of his present enterprise. His immediate plan had been to win or
purchase recognition of an accomplished fact from the somnolence,
caution or corruption of the government; and here was intervention
assuming a more formidable shape while the fact was but half
accomplished and he himself was but playing the part of the rebel, not
of the king. The dignity of the commissioners, and the peremptory nature
of their demand, seemed to show that negotiations with Rome were losing
their character of a conventional game and assuming a more serious
aspect. It is possible that Jugurtha did not know the full extent of the
danger which he was running; it is possible that, like so many other
potentates who had relations with the imperial city, he made the mistake
of imagining that the senate was in the fullest sense the government of
Rome, and had no cognisance of the subtle forces whose equilibrium was
expressed in a formal control by the nobility; but even what he saw was
sufficient to alarm him and to lead him, in a moment of panic or
prudence, to think of the possibility of obeying the commission. At the
next moment the new man, which the deliberate but almost frenzied
pursuit of a single object had made of Jugurtha, was fully
reasserted.[914] But his passion was not blind; his recklessness still
veiled a plan; his one absorbing desire was to see Adherbal in his hands
before he should himself be forced to meet the envoys. He gave orders
for his whole force to encircle the walls of Cirta; a simultaneous
assault was directed against every vulnerable point; the attention of
the defenders was to be distracted by the ubiquitous nature of the
attack; a failure of vigilance at any point might give him the desired
entry by force or fraud. But nothing came of the enterprise; the
assailants were beaten back, and Jugurtha had another moment for cool
reflection. He soon decided that further delay would not strengthen his
position. The name of Scaurus weighed heavily on his mind.[915] He was
an untried element with respect to the details of the Numidian affair;
but all that Jugurtha knew of him--his influence with the senate, his
uncompromising respectability, his earlier attitude on the
question--inspired a feeling of fear. Obedience to the demand which the
commissioners had made for his presence might be the wiser course;
whatever the result of the interview, such obedience might prolong the
period of negotiation and delay armed intervention until his own great
object was fulfilled. With a few of his knights Jugurtha crossed into
the Roman province and presented himself before the commissioners. We
have no record of the discussion which ensued. The senate's message was
almost an ultimatum; it threatened extreme measures if Jugurtha did not
desist from the siege of Cirta; but the peremptory nature of the missive
did not prevent close and lengthy discussions between the envoys and the
king. The plausible personality of Jugurtha may have told in his favour
and may have led to the hopes of a compromise; for it is not probable
that he ventured on a summary rejection of their orders or advice. But
the commissioners could merely threaten or advise; they had no power to
wring promises from the king or to keep him to them when they were made.
Thus when, at the close of the debates, Jugurtha returned to Numidia and
the envoys embarked at Utica, it was felt on all sides that nothing had
been accomplished.[916] The commissioners may have believed that they
had made Jugurtha sensible of his true relations to Rome; they had
perhaps threatened open war as the result of disobedience; but they had
neither checked his progress nor stayed his hand; and the taint with
which all dealings with the wealthy potentate infected his environment,
clung even to this select body of distinguished men.

The immediate effect of the fruitless negotiations was the disaster
which every one must have foreseen. Cirta and her king had been utterly
betrayed by their protectress; and when the news of the departure of the
envoys and the return of Jugurtha penetrated within the walls, despair
of further resistance gave substance to the hope of the possibility of
surrender on tolerable terms. The hope was never present to the mind of
Adherbal; he knew his enemy too well. Nor could it have been entertained
in a very lively form by the king's Numidian councillors and subjects.
But the Numidian was not the strongest element in Cirta. There the
merchant class held sway. In the defence of their property and commerce,
the organised business and the homes which they had established in the
civilised state, they had taken the lead in repelling the hordes of
Western Numidians which Jugurtha led; and amongst the merchant class
those of Italian race had been the most active and efficient in
repelling the assaults of the besiegers. To these men the choice was not
between famine and the sword; but merely between famine and the loss of
property or comfort. For what Roman or Italian could doubt that the most
perfect security for his life and person was still implicit in the magic
name of Rome? Confident in their safety they advised Adherbal to hand
over the town to Jugurtha; the only condition which he needed to make
was the preservation of his own life and that of the besieged; all else
was of less importance, for their future fortunes rested not with
Jugurtha but with the senate.[917] It is questionable whether the
Italians were really inspired with this blind confidence in the senate's
power to restore as well as to save; even their ability to save was more
than doubtful to Adherbal; still more worthless was a promise made by
his enemy. The unhappy king would have preferred the most desperate
resistance to a trust in Jugurtha's honour; but the advice of the
Italians was equivalent to a command; and a gleam of hope, sufficient at
least to prevent him from taking his own life, may have buoyed him up
when he yielded to their wishes and made the formal surrender. The hope,
if it existed, was immediately dispelled. Adherbal was put to death with
cruel tortures.[918] The Italians then had their proof of the present
value of the majesty of the name of Rome. Their calculations had been
vitiated by one fatal blunder. They forgot that they were letting into
their stronghold an exasperated people drawn from the rudest parts of
Numidia--a people to whom the name of Rome was as nothing, to whom the
name of merchant or foreigner was contemptible and hateful. As the
surging crowd of Jugurtha's soldiery swept over the doomed city,
massacring every Numidian of adult age, the claim of nationality made by
the protesting merchants was not unnaturally met by a thrust from the
sword. If even the assailants could distinguish them in the frenzy of
victory, they knew them for men who had occupied the fighting line; and
this fact was alone sufficient to doom them to destruction. Jugurtha may
also have made his blunder. Unless we suppose that his penetrating mind
had been, suddenly clouded by the senseless rage which prompts the
half-savage man to a momentary act of demoniacal folly, he could never
have willed the slaughter of the Roman and Italian merchants.[919] If he
willed it in cold blood, he was consciously making war on Rome and
declaring the independence of Numidia. For, even with his limited
knowledge of the balance of interests in the capital, he must have seen
that the act was inexpiable. His true policy, now as before, was not to
cross swords with Rome, but merely to wring from her indifference a
recognition of a purely national crime. His wits had failed him if he
had ordered a deed which put indifference and recognition out of the
question. It is probable that he did not calculate on the fury of his
troops; it is possible that he had ceased to lead and was a mere unit
swept along in the avalanche which sated its wrath at the prolonged
resistance, and avenged the real or fancied crimes committed by the
merchant class.

The massacre of the merchants caused a complete change in the attitude
with which Numidian events were viewed at Rome. It cut the commercial
classes to the quick, and this third party which moulded the policy of
Rome began closing up its ranks. The balance of power on which the
nobility had rested its presidency since the fall of Caius Gracchus,
began to be disturbed. It was possible again for a leader of the people
to make his voice heard; not, however, because he was the leader of the
people, but because he was the head of a coalition. The man of the hour
was Caius Memmius, who was tribune elect for the following year. He was
an orator, vehement rather than eloquent, of a mordant utterance, and
famed in the courts for his power of attack.[920] His critical
temperament and keen eye for abuses had already led him to join the
sparse ranks of politicians who tried still to keep alive the healthy
flame of discontent, and to utter an occasional protest against the
manner in which the nobility exercised their trust.[921] His influence
must have been increased by the growing suspicion of the last few years
and the scandal that fed on tales of bribery in high places; it was
assured by the latest news which, through the illogical process of
reasoning out of which great causes grow, seemed to make rumour a
certainty and to justify suspicion by the increased numbers and
respectability of the suspecting. A pretext for action was found in the
shifty and dilatory proceedings of the senate. Even the latest phase of
the Numidian affair was not powerful or horrible enough to crush all
attempts at a temporising policy.[922] Men were still found to interrupt
the course of a debate which promised to issue in some strong and speedy
resolution, by raising counter-motions which the great names of the
movers forced on the attention of the house; every artifice which
influence could command was employed to dull the pain of a wounded
self-respect; and when this method failed, idle recrimination took the
place of argument as a means of consuming the time for action and
passing the point at which anger would have cooled into indifference, or
at least into an emotion not stronger than regret. It was plain that the
stimulus must be supplied from without; and Memmius provided it by going
straight to the people and embodying their floating suspicions in a bald
and uncompromising form. He told them[923] that the prolonged
proceedings in the senate meant simply that the crime of Jugurtha was
likely to be condoned through the influence of a few ardent partisans of
the king; and it is probable that he dealt frankly and in the true Roman
manner with the motives for this partisanship. The pressure was
effectual in bringing to a head the deliberations of the senate. The
council as a whole did not need conversion on the main question at
issue, for most of its members must have felt that it had exhausted the
resources of peaceful diplomacy, and it showed its characteristic
aversion to the provocation of a constitutional crisis, which might
easily arise if the people chose to declare war on the motion of a
magistrate without waiting for the advice of the fathers; while the
obstructive minority may have been alarmed by the distant vision of a
trial before the Assembly or before a commission of inquiry composed of
judges taken from the angry Equites. The senate took the lead in a
formal declaration of war; Numidia was named as one of the provinces
which were to be assigned to the future consuls in accordance with the
provisions of the Sempronian law. The choice of the people fell on
Publius Scipio Nasica and Lucius Calpurnius Bestia as consuls for the
following year.[924] The lot assigned the home government and the
guardianship of Italy to Nasica, while Bestia gained the command in the
impending war. Military preparations were pushed on with all haste; an
army was levied for service in Africa; pay and supplies were voted on an
adequate scale.

The news is said to have surprised Jugurtha.[925] Perhaps earlier
messages of a more cheerful import had reached him from Rome during the
days when successful obstruction seemed to be achieving its end, and had
dulled the fears which the massacre of Cirta most have aroused even in a
mind so familiar with the acquiescent policy of the senate. Yet even now
he did not lose heart, nor did his courage take the form, prevalent
amongst the lower types of mind, of a mere reliance on brute force, on
the resources of that Numidia of which he was now the undisputed lord.
With a persistence born of successful experience he still attempted the
methods of diplomacy-methods which prove a lack of insight only in the
sense that Rome was an impossible sphere for their present exercise. The
king had not gauged the situation in the capital; but subsequent events
proved that he still possessed a correct estimate of the real
inclinations of the men who were chiefly responsible for Roman policy.
The Numidian envoy was no less a person than the king's own son, and he
was supported by two trusty counsellors of Jugurtha.[926] As was usual
in the case of a diplomatic mission arriving from a country which had no
treaty relations, or was actually in a state of war, with Rome, the
envoys were not permitted to pass the gates until the will of the senate
was known. An excellent opportunity was given for proving the conversion
of the senate. When the consul Bestia put the question "Is it the
pleasure of the house that the envoys of Jugurtha be received within the
walls?" the firm answer was returned that "Unless these envoys had come
to surrender Numidia and its king to the absolute discretion of the
Roman people, they must cross the borders of Italy within ten
days".[927] The consul had this message conveyed to the prince, and he
and his colleagues returned from their fruitless mission.

Bestia meanwhile was consumed with military zeal. His army was ready,
his staff was chosen, and he was evidently bent on an earnest
prosecution of the war. He was in many respects as fit a man as could
have been selected for the task. His powers of physical endurance and
the vigour of his intellect had already been tested in war; he possessed
the resolution and the foresight of a true general. But the canker of
the age was supposed to have infected Bestia and neutralised his
splendid qualities.[928] The proof that he allowed greed to dominate his
public conduct is indeed lacking; but he would have departed widely from
the spirit of his time if he had allowed no thought of private gain to
add its quota to the joy of the soldier who finds himself for the first
time in the untrammelled conduct of a war. To the commanders of the age
foreign service was as a matter of course a source of profit as well as
a sphere of duty or of glory. To Bestia it was also to be a sphere for
diplomacy; and diplomacy and profit present an awkward combination,
which gives room for much misinterpretation. Although the war was in
some sense a concession to outside influences, the consul did not
represent the spirit to which the senate had yielded. Nine years earlier
he had served the cause of the nobility by effecting the recall of
Popillius from exile, and was now a member of that inner circle of the
government whose cautious manipulation of foreign affairs was veiled in
a secrecy which might easily rouse the suspicion, because it did not
appeal to the intelligence, of the masses. How vital a part diplomacy
was to play in the coming war, was shown by Bestia's selection of his
staff. It was practically a committee of the inner ring of governing
nobles,[929] and the importance attached to the purely political aspect
of the African war was proved by the fact that Scaurus himself deigned
to occupy a position amongst the legates of the commander. It was a
difficult task which Bestia and his assistants had to perform. They were
to carry out the mandate of the people and pursue Jugurtha as a
criminal; they were to follow out their own conviction as to the best
means of saving Rome from a prolonged and burdensome war with a whole
nation-a conviction which might, force them to recognise Jugurtha as a
king. To avenge honour and at the same time to secure peace was, in the
present condition of the public mind, an almost impossible task. Its
gravity was increased by the fact that, through the method of selection
employed for composing the general's council, a certain section of the
nobility, already marked out for suspicion, would be held wholly
responsible for its failure. It was a gravity that was probably
undervalued by the leaders of the expedition, who could scarcely have
looked forward to the day when it might be said that Bestia had selected
his legates with a view of hiding the misdeeds which, he meant to commit
under the authority of their names.[930]

When the time for departure had arrived, the legions were marched
through Italy to Rhegium, were shipped thence to Sicily and from Sicily
were transferred to the African province. This was to be Bestia's basis
of operations; and when he had gathered adequate supplies and organised
his lines of communication, he entered Numidia. His march was from a
superficial point of view a complete success; large numbers of prisoners
were taken and several cities were carried by assault.[931] But the
nature of the war in hand was soon made painfully manifest. It was a war
with a nation, not a mere hunting expedition for the purpose of tracking
down Jugurtha. The latter object could be successfully accomplished only
if some assistance were secured from friendly portions of Numidia or
from neighbouring powers. But there was no friendly portion of Numidia.
The mercantile class had been wiped out, and though the Romans seem to
have regained possession of Cirta at an early period of the war,[932] it
is not likely that it ever resumed the industrial life, which might have
supplied money and provisions, if not men; while the position of the
town rendered it useless as a basis of operations for expeditions into
that western portion of Numidia, from which the chief military strength
of Jugurtha was drawn. In these regions a possible ally was to be found
in Bocchus King of Mauretania; but his recent overtures to Rome had been
deliberately rejected by the senate. Nothing but the name of this great
King of the Moors, who ruled over the territory stretching from the
Muluccha to Tingis, had hitherto been known to the Roman people; even
the proximity of a portion of his kingdom to the coast of Spain had
brought him into no relations, either friendly or hostile, to the
imperial government.[933]

Bocchus had secured peace with his eastern neighbour by giving his
daughter in marriage to Jugurtha; but he never allowed this family
connection to disturb his ideas of political convenience and, as soon as
he heard that war had been declared against Jugurtha, he sent an embassy
to Rome praying for a treaty with the Roman people and a recognition as
one of the friends of the Republic.[934] This conduct may have been due
to the belief that a victory of the Romans over Jugurtha would entail
the destruction of the Numidian monarchy and the reduction of at least a
portion of the territory to the condition of a province. In this case
Mauretania would itself be the frontier kingdom, playing the part now
taken by Numidia; and Bocchus may have wished to have some claim on Rome
before his eastern frontier was bordered, as his northern was commanded,
by a Roman province. He may even have hoped to benefit by the spoils of
war, as Masinissa had once benefited by those which fell from Syphax and
from Carthage, and to increase his territories at the expense of his
son-in-law. There can be no better proof of the real intentions of the
government as regards Numidia, even after war had been declared, than
the senate's rejection of the offer made by Bocchus. His aid would be
invaluable from a strategic point of view, if the aim of the expedition
were to make Numidia a province or even to crush Jugurtha. But the most
constant maxim of senatorial policy was to avoid an extension of the
frontiers, and this principle was accompanied by a strong objection to
enter into close relations with any power that was not a frontier state.
Such relations might involve awkward obligations, and were inconsistent
with the policy which devolved the whole obligation for frontier defence
and frontier relations on a friendly client prince. Whether the
maintenance of the traditional scheme of administration in Africa
demanded the renewed recognition of Jugurtha as King of Numidia, was a
subordinate question; its answer depended entirely on the possibility of
the Numidians being induced to accept any other monarch.

It must have required but a brief experience of the war to convince
Bestia and his council that a Numidian kingdom without the recognition
of Jugurtha as king was almost unthinkable, unless Rome was prepared to
enter on an arduous and harassing war for the piecemeal conquest of the
land or (a task equally difficult) for the purpose of securing the
person of an elusive monarch, who could take every advantage of the
natural difficulties of his country and could find a refuge and ready
assistance in every part of his dominions. The tentative approaches of

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