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

Part 8 out of 11

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Metellus before the king sent his final message.[1045] It was to the
effect that all the demands would be complied with, and that the kingdom
and its monarch would be surrendered unconditionally to the
representative of Rome. Metellus immediately summoned a council, to
which he gave as representative a character as was possible under the
circumstances. The transaction of delicate business by a clique of
friends had cast grave suspicions on the compact concluded by Bestia;
and it was important that the witnesses to the fact that the transaction
with Jugurtha contained no secret clause or understanding, should be as
numerous and weighty as possible. This result could be easily secured by
the general's power to summon all the men of mark available; and thus
Metellus called to the board not only every member of the senatorial
order whom he could find, but a certain number of distinguished
individuals who did not belong to the governing class.[1046] The policy
of the board was to make tentative and gradually increasing demands such
as had once tried the patience of the Carthaginians.[1047] Jugurtha
should give a pledge of his good faith; and, if it was unredeemed, Rome
would have the gain and he the loss. The king was now ordered to
surrender two hundred thousand pounds of silver, all his elephants and a
certain quantity of horses and weapons.[1048] He was also required to
furnish three hundred hostages.[1049] The request, at least as regards
the money and the materials for war, was immediately complied with. Then
the demands increased. The deserters from the Roman army must be handed
over. A few of these had fled from Jugurtha at the very first sign that
a genuine submission was being made, and had sought refuge with Bocchus
King of Mauretania;[1050] but the greater part, to the number of three
thousand,[1051] were surrendered to Metellus. Most of these were
auxiliaries, Thracians and Ligurians such as had abandoned Aulus at
Suthul; and the sense of the danger threatened by the treachery of
allies, who must form a vital element in all Roman armies, may have been
the motive for the awful example now given to the empire of Rome's
punishment for breach of faith. Some of these prisoners had their hands
cut off; others were buried in the earth up to their waists, were then
made a target for arrows and darts, and were finally burnt with fire
before the breath had left their bodies.[1052] The final order concerned
Jugurtha himself, He was required to repair to a place named
Tisidium,[1053] there to wait for orders. The confidence of the king now
began to waver. He may have hoped to the last moment for some sign that
his cause was being viewed with a friendly eye; but none had come.
Surrender to Rome was a thinkable position, while he was in a position
to bargain. It would be the counsel of a madman, if he put himself
wholly in the power of his enemy. He had sacrificed much; but the loss,
except in money, was not irremediable. Elephants were of no avail in
guerilla warfare, and Numidia, which was still his own, had horses and
men in abundance. He waited some days longer, probably more in
expectancy of a move by Metellus and in preparation of the step he
himself meant to take, than in doubt as to what that step should be;
when no modification of the demand came from the Roman side, he broke
off negotiations and continued the war. Metellus was still to be his
opponent; for earlier in the year the proconsulate of the commander had
been renewed.[1054]

The events of the summer and the peace of winter-quarters had given food
for reflection to others besides Metellus. We shall soon see what the
merchant classes in Africa thought of the progress of the war; more
formidable still were the emotions that had lately been excited in the
rugged breast of the great legate Marius. There are probably few
lieutenants who do not think that they could do better than their
commanders. Whether Marius held this view is immaterial; he soon came to
believe that he did, and expressed this belief with vigour. The really
important fact was that a man who had been praetor seven years before
and probably regarded himself as the greatest soldier of the age, was
carrying out the behests and correcting the blunders of a general who
owed his command to his aristocratic connections and blameless record in
civil life. The subordination in this particular form seemed likely to
be perpetuated in Numidia, for Metellus was entering on his second
proconsulate and his third year of power; in other forms and in every
sphere it was likely to be eternal, for it was an accepted axiom of the
existing regime that no "new man" could attain the consulship.[1055] The
craving for this office was the new blight that had fallen on Marius's
life; for it is the ambition which is legitimate that spreads the most
morbid influence on heart and brain. But the healthier part of his soul,
which was to be found in that old-fashioned piety so often maligned by
the question-begging name of superstition, soon came to the help of the
worldly impulse which the strong man might have doubted and crushed. On
one eventful day in Utica Marius was engaged in seeking the favour of
the gods by means of sacrificial victims. The seer who was interpreting
the signs looked and exclaimed that great and wonderful things were
portended. Let the worshipper do whatsoever was in his mind; he had the
support of the gods. Let him test fortune never so often, his heart's
desire would be fulfilled.[1056]

The gods had given a marvellous response in the only way in which the
gods could answer. They did not suggest, but they could confirm, and
never was confirmation more emphatic. Marius's last doubts were removed,
and he went straightway to his commander and asked for leave of absence
that he might canvass for the consulship in that very year. Metellus was
a good patron; that is, he was a bad friend. The aristocratic bristles
rose on the skin that had seemed so smooth. At first he expressed mild
wonder at Marius's resolution--the wonder that is more contemptuous than
a gibe--and exhorted him in words, the professedly friendly tone of
which must have been peculiarly irritating, not to let a distorted
ambition get the better of him; every one should see that his desires
were appropriate and limit them when they passed this stage; Marius had
reason to be satisfied with his position; he should be on his guard
against asking the Roman people for a gift which they would have a right
to refuse. There was no suspicion of personal jealousy in these
utterances; they reflected the standard of a caste, not of a man. But
Marius had measured the situation, and was not to be deterred by its
being presented again in a galling but not novel form. A further request
was met by the easy assumption that the matter was not so pressing as to
brook no delay; as soon as public business admitted of Marius's
departure, Metellus would grant his request. Still further entreaties
are said to have wrung from the impatient proconsul, whose good advice
had been wasted on a boor who did not know his place and could take no
hints, the retort that Marius need not hurry; it would be time enough
for him to canvass for the consulship when Metellus's own son should be
his colleague.[1057] The boy was about twenty, Marius forty-nine. The
prospective consulship would come to the latter when he had reached the
mature age of seventy-two. The jest was a blessing, for anything that
justified the whole-hearted renunciation of patronage, the dissolution
of the sense of obligation, was an avenue to freedom. Marius was now at
liberty to go his own way, and he soon showed that there was enough
inflammable material in the African province to burn up the credit of a
greater general than Metellus.

It is said that the division of the army, commanded by Marius, soon
found itself enjoying a much easier time than before;[1058] the stern
legate had become placable, if not forgetful--a circumstance which may
be explained either by the view that a care greater than that of
military discipline sat upon his mind, or by a belief that the new-born
graciousness was meant to offer a pleasing contrast to the rigour of
Metellus. But in this case the civilian element in the province was of
more importance than the army. The merchant-princes of Utica, groaning
over the vanished capital which they had invested in Numidian concerns,
heard a criticism and a boast which appealed strongly to their impatient
minds. Marius had said, or was believed to have said, that if but one
half of the army were entrusted to him, he would have Jugurtha in chains
in a few days;[1059] that the war was being purposely prolonged to
satisfy the empty-headed pride which the commander felt in his position.
The merchants had long been reflecting on the causes of the prolongation
of the war with all the ignorance and impatience that greed supplies;
now these causes seemed to be revealed in a simple and convincing light.

The unfortunate house of Masinissa was also made to play its part in the
movement. It was represented in the Roman camp by Gauda son of
Mastanabal, a prince weak both in body and mind, but the legitimate heir
to the Numidian crown, if it was taken from Jugurtha and Micipsa's last
wishes were fulfilled. For the old king in framing his testament had
named Gauda as heir in remainder to the kingdom, if his two sons and
Jugurtha should die without issue.[1060] The nearness of the succession,
now that the reigning king of Numidia was an enemy of the Roman people,
had prompted the prince to ask Metellus for the distinctions that he
deemed suited to his rank, a seat next that of the commander-in-chief, a
guard of Roman knights[1061] for his person. Both requests had been
refused--the place of honour because it belonged only to those whom the
Roman people had addressed as kings, the guard, because it was
derogatory to the knights of Rome to act as escort to a Numidian. The
prince may have taken the refusal, not merely as an insult in itself,
but as a hint that Metellus did not recognise him as a probable
successor to Jugurtha. He was in an anxious and moody frame of mind when
he was approached by Marius and urged to lean on him, if he would gain
satisfaction for the commander's contumely. The glowing words of his new
friend made hope appeal to his weak mind almost with the strength of
certainty. He was the grandson of Masinissa, the immediate occupant of
the Numidian throne, should Jugurtha be captured or slain; the crown
might be his at no distant date, should Marius be made consul and sent
to the war. He should make appeal to his friends in Rome to secure the
means which would lead to the desired end. The ship that bore the
prince's letter to Rome took many other missives from far more important
men--all of them with a strange unanimity breathing the same purport,
"Metellus was mismanaging the war, Marius should be made commander".
They were written by knights in the province--some of them officers in
the army, others heads of commercial houses[1062]--to their friends and
agents in Rome. All of these correspondents had not been directly
solicited by Marius, but in some mysterious way the hope of peace in
Africa had become indissolubly associated with his name. The central
bureau of the great mercantile system would soon be working in his
favour. Who would withstand it? Certainly not the senate still shaken by
the Mamilian law; still less the people who wanted but a new suggestion
to change the character of their attack. All things seemed working
for Marius.

It was soon shown that, whoever the future commander of Numidia was to
be, he would have a real war on his hands; for the struggle had suddenly
sprung into new and vigorous life, and one of the few permanent
successes of Rome was annihilated in a moment by the craft of the
reawakened Jugurtha. The preparations of the king must have been
conjectured from their results; their first issue was a complete
surprise; for few could have dreamed that the personal influence of the
monarch, who had given away so much for an elusive hope of safety and
had almost been a prisoner in the Roman lines, should assert itself in
the very heart of the country believed to be pacified and now held by
Roman garrisons. The town of Vaga, the intended basis of supplies for an
army advancing to the south or west, the seat of an active commerce and
the home of merchants from many lands who traded under the aegis of the
Roman peace and a Roman garrison perched on the citadel, was suddenly
thrilled by a message from the king, and answered to the appeal with a
burst of heartfelt loyalty--a loyalty perhaps quickened by the native
hatred of the ways of the foreign trader. The self-restraint of the
patriotic plotters was as admirable as their devotion to a cause so
nearly lost. Many hundreds must have been cognisant of the scheme, yet
not a word reached the ears of those responsible for the security of the
town. Even the poorest conspirator did not dream of the fortune that
might be reaped from the sale of so vast a secret, and the Roman was as
ignorant of the hidden significance of native demeanour as he was of the
subtleties of the native tongue. In eye and gesture he could read
nothing but feelings of friendliness to himself, and he readily accepted
the invitation to the social gathering which was to place him at the
mercy of his host.[1063] The third day from the date at which the plot
was first conceived offered a golden opportunity for an attack which
should be unsuspected and resistless. It was the day of a great national
festival, on which leisured enjoyment took the place of work and every
one strove to banish for the time the promptings of anxiety and fear.
The officers of the garrison had been invited by their acquaintances
within the town to share in their domestic celebrations. They and their
commandant, Titus Turpilius Silanus, were reclining at the feast in the
houses of their several hosts when the signal was given. The tribunes
and centurions were massacred to a man; Turpilius alone was spared; then
the conspirators turned on the rank and file of the Roman troops. The
position of these was pitiable. Scattered in the streets, without
weapons and without a leader, they saw the holiday throng around them
suddenly transformed into a ferocious mob. Even such of the meaner
classes as had up to this time been innocent of the murderous plot, were
soon baying at their heels; some of these were hounded on by the
conspirators; others saw only that disturbance was on foot, and the
welcome knowledge of this fact alone served to spur them to a senseless
frenzy of assault. The Roman soldiers were merely victims; there was
never a chance of a struggle which would make the sacrifice costly, or
even difficult.[1064] The citadel, in which their shields and standards
hung, was in the occupation of the foe; when they sought the city gates,
they found the portals closed; when they turned back upon the streets,
the line of fury was deeper than before, for the women and the very
children on the level housetops were hurling stones or any missiles that
came to hand on the hated foreigners below. Strength and skill were of
no avail; such qualities could not even prolong the agony; the veteran
and the tyro, the brave and the shrinking, were struck or cut down with
equal ease and swiftness. Only one man succeeded in slipping through the
gates. This was the commandant Turpilius himself. Even the lenient view
that a lucky chance or the pity of his host had given him his freedom,
did not clear him of the stain which the tyrannical tradition of Roman
arms stamped on every commander who elected to survive the massacre of
the division entrusted to his charge.[1065]

When the news was brought to Metellus, the heart-sick general buried
himself in his tent.[1066] But his first grief was soon spent, and his
thoughts turned to a scheme of vengeance on the treacherous town.
Rapidly and carefully the scheme was unfolded in his mind, and by the
setting of the sun the first steps towards the recovery of Vaga had been
taken. In the dusk he left his camp with the legion which had been
stationed in his own quarters and as large a force of Numidian cavalry
as he could collect. Both horse and foot were slenderly equipped, for he
was bent on a surprise and a long and hard night's march lay before him.
He was still speeding on three hours after the sun had risen on the
following day. The tired soldiers cried a halt, but Metellus spurred
them on by pointing to the nearness of their goal (Vaga, he showed, was
but a mile distant, just beyond the line of hills which shut out their
view), the sanctity of the work of vengeance, the certainty of a rich
reward in plunder. He paused but to reform his men. The cavalry were
deployed in open order in the van; the infantry followed in a column so
dense that nothing distinctive in their equipment or organisation could
be discerned from afar, and the standards were carefully
concealed.[1067] When the men of Vaga saw the force bearing down upon
their town, their first and right impression led them to close the
gates; but two facts soon served to convince them of their error. The
supposed enemy was not attempting to ravage their land, and the horsemen
who rode near the walls were clearly men of Numidian blood. It was the
king himself, they cried, and with enthusiastic joy they poured from the
gates to meet him. The Romans watched them come; then at a given signal
the closed ranks opened, as each division rushed to its appointed task.
Some charged and cut in pieces the helpless multitude that had poured
upon the plain; others seized the gates, others again the now undefended
towers on the walls. All sense of weariness had suddenly vanished from
limbs now stimulated by the lust of vengeance and of plunder. The
slaughter was pitiless, the search for plunder as thorough as the
slaughter. The war had not yet given such a prize as this great trading
town. Its ruin was the general's loss as it was the soldiers' gain; but
the need for rapid vengeance vanquished every other sentiment in
Metellus's mind. Roman punishment was as swift as it was sure, if but
two days could elapse between the sin and the suffering of the men of
Vaga. A gloomy task still remained. Inquiry must be made as to the mode
in which Turpilius the commandant had escaped unharmed from the
massacre. The investigation was a bitter trial to Metellus; for the
accused was bound to him by close ties of hereditary friendship, and had
been accredited by him with the command of the corps of engineers.[1068]
The command at Vaga had been a further mark of favour, and it was
believed by some that Turpilius had justified his commander's hopes only
too well, and that it was his very humanity and consideration for the
townsfolk under his command which had offered him means of escape such
as only the most resolute would have refused.[1069] But the scandal was
too grave to admit of a private inquiry, in which the honour of the army
might seem to be sacrificed to the caprice of the friendly judgment of
Metellus. His very familiarity with the accused entailed the duty of a
cold impartiality, and Turpilius found little credence or excuse for the
tale that he unfolded before the members of the court which adjudicated
on his case. The harsh view of Marius was particularly recalled in the
light of subsequent events. The fact or fancy that it was Marius who had
himself condemned and had urged his brother judges to deliver an adverse
vote, was seized by the gatherers of gossip, ever ready to discover a
sinister motive in the actions of the man who never forgot, was embedded
in that prose epic of the "Wrath of Marius" which subsequently adorned
the memoirs of the great, and became a story of how the relentless
lieutenant had, in malignant disregard of his own convictions, caused
Metellus to commit the inexpiable wrong of dooming a guest-friend to an
unworthy death.[1070] The death was inflicted with all the barbarity of
Roman military law; Turpilius was scourged and beheaded,[1071] and
through this final expiation the episode of Vaga remained to many minds
a still darker horror than before.

But much had been gained by the recovery of the revolted town. It is
true that in its present condition it was almost useless to its
possessors; but its fate must have stayed the progress of revolt in
other cities, and the rapidity of Metellus's movements had hampered
Jugurtha's immediate plans. The king had probably intended that Vaga
should be a second Zama, and that the Romans should be kept at bay by
its strong walls while he himself harassed their rear or attacked their
camp. Now the scene of a successful guerilla warfare must be sought
elsewhere. Its choice depended on the movements of the Roman army; but
the time for the commencement of the new struggle was postponed longer
than it might have been by a domestic danger which, while it confirmed
the king in his resolution to struggle to the bitter end, absorbed his
attention for the moment and hampered his operations in the field.
Bomilcar's negotiations with Rome were bearing their deadly fruit.[1072]
The minister was a victim of that expectant anguish, which springs from
the failure of a treacherous scheme, when the cause of that failure is
unknown. Why had the king broken off the negotiations? Was he himself
suspected? Would the danger be lessened, if he remained quiescent? It
might be increased, for the peril from Rome still existed, and there was
the new terror from the vengeance of a master, whose suspicion seemed to
his affrighted soul to be revealing itself in a cold neglect. Bomilcar
determined that he would face but a single peril, and plunged into a
course of intrigue far more dangerous than any which he had yet essayed.
He no longer worked through underlings or appealed to the emissaries of
Rome. He aimed at internal revolution, at the fall of the king by the
hands of his servants--a stroke which he might exhibit to the suzerain
power as his own meritorious work--and he adopted as a confidant a man
of his own rank and at the moment of greater influence than himself.
Nabdalsa was the new favourite of Jugurtha. He was a man of high birth,
of vast wealth, of great and good repute in the district of Numidia
which he ruled. His fame and power had been increased by his appointment
to the command of such forces as the king could not lead in person, and
he was now operating with an army in the territory between the
head-quarters of Jugurtha and the Roman winter camp, his mission being
to prevent the country being overrun with complete impunity by the
invaders. His reason for listening to the overtures of Bomilcar is
unknown; perhaps he knew too much of the military situation to believe
in his master's ultimate success, and aimed at securing his own
territorial power by an appeal to the gratitude of Rome. But he had not
his associate's motive for hasty execution; and when Bomilcar warned him
that the time had come, his mind was appalled by the magnitude of a deed
that had only been prefigured in an ambiguous and uncertain shape. The
time for meeting came and passed. Bomilcar was in an agony of impatient
fear. The doubtful attitude of his associate opened new possibilities of
danger; a new terror had been added to the old, and the motive for
despatch was doubled. His alarm found vent in a brief but frantic letter
which mingled gloomy predictions of the consequences of delay with
fierce protestations and appeals. Jugurtha, he urged, was doomed, the
promises of Metellus might at any moment work the ruin of them both, and
Nabdalsa's choice lay between reward and torture.[1073]

When this missive was delivered by a faithful hand, the general, tired
in mind and body, had stretched himself upon a couch. The fiery words
did not stimulate his ardour; they plunged him still deeper in a train
of anxious thought, until utter weariness gave way to sleep. The letter
rested on his pillow. Suddenly the covering of the tent door was
noiselessly raised. His faithful secretary, who believed that he knew
all his master's secrets, had heard of the arrival of a courier. His
help and skill would be needed, and he had anticipated Nabdalsa's demand
for his presence. The letter caught his eye; he lightly picked it up and
read it, as in duty bound--for did he not deal with all letters, and
could there be aught of secrecy in a paper so carelessly laid down? The
plot now flashed across his eyes for the first time, and he slipped from
the tent to hasten with the precious missive to the king. When Nabdalsa
awoke, his thoughts turned to the letter which had harassed his last
waking moments. It was gone, and he soon found that his secretary had
disappeared as well. A fruitless attempt to pursue the fugitive
convinced him that his only hope lay in the clemency, prudence or
credulity of Jugurtha. Hastening to his master, he assured him that the
service which he had been on the eve of rendering had been anticipated
by the treachery of his dependent; let not the king forget their close
friendship, his proved fidelity; these should exempt him from suspicion
of participation in such a horrid crime.

Jugurtha replied in a conciliatory tone.[1074] Neither then nor
afterwards did he betray any trace of violent emotion. Bomilcar and many
of his accomplices were put to death swiftly and secretly; but it was
not well that rumours of a widely spread treason should be noised
abroad. The pretence of security was a means of ensuring safety, and he
had to ask too much of his Numidians to indulge even the severity that
he held to be his due. Yet it was believed that the tenor of Jugurtha's
life was altered from that moment. It was whispered that the bold
soldier and intrepid ruler searched dark corners with his eyes and
started at sudden sounds, that he would exchange his sleeping chamber
for some strange and often humble resting place at night, and that
sometimes in the darkness he would start from sleep, seize his sword and
cry aloud, as though maddened by the terror of his dreams.

The news of the fall of Bomilcar swept from Metellus's mind the last
faint hope that the war might be brought to a speedy close by the
immediate surrender of Jugurtha,[1075] and he began to make earnest
preparations for a fresh campaign. In the new struggle he was to be
deprived of the services of his ablest officer, for Marius had at length
gained his end and had won from his commander a tardy permit to speed to
Rome and seek the prize, which was doubtless still believed in the
uninformed circles of the camp to be utterly beyond his grasp. The
consent, though tardy, was finally given with a good will, for Metellus
had begun to doubt the wisdom of keeping by his side a lieutenant whose
restless discontent and growing resentment to his superior were beyond
all concealment. Marius must have wished that his general's choler had
been stirred at an earlier date, for the leave had been deferred to a
season which would have deterred a less strenuous mind, from all
thoughts of a political campaign during the current year. Delay,
however, might be fatal; the war might be brought to a dazzling close
before the consular elections again came round; the political balance at
Rome might alter; it was necessary to reap at once the harvest of
mercantile greed and popular distrust that had been so carefully
prepared. It is possible that the usual date for the elections had
already been passed and that It was only the postponement of the Comitia
that gave Marius a chance of success.[1076] Even then it was a slender
one, for it was believed in later times that his leave had been won only
twelve days before the day fixed for the declaration of the
consuls.[1077] In two days and a night he had covered the ground that
lay between the camp and Utica. Here he paused to sacrifice before
taking ship to Italy. The cheering words of the priest who read the
omens[1078] seemed to be approved by the good fortune of his voyage. A
favourable wind bore him in four days across the sea, and he reached
Rome to find men craving for his presence as the crowning factor in a
popular movement, delightful in its novelty and entered into with a
genuine enthusiasm by the masses, who were fully conscious that there
was a wrong of some undefined kind to be set right, and were as a whole
perhaps blissfully ignorant of the intrigues by which they were being
moved. Yet the thinking portion of the community had some grounds for
resentment and alarm. The Numidian was not merely injuring those
interested in African finance, but was engaging an army that was sadly
needed elsewhere. The struggle in the North was going badly for Rome,
and despatches had lately brought the news of the defeat of the consul
Silanus by a vast and wandering horde known as the Cimbri,[1079] who
hovered like a threatening cloud on the farther side of the Alps and
might at no distant date sweep past the barrier of Italy. The senatorial
government, although its position had not been formally assailed, had
been sufficiently shaken by the Mamilian commission to distrust its
power of stemming an adverse tide; and Scaurus, its chief bulwark, had
lately been so ill-advised as to force a conflict with constitutional
procedure in a way which could not be approved by a class of men to
which the smallest precedent of political life that had once been
stereotyped, appealed as a vital element in administration. He had
spoilt a magnificent display of energy during his tenure of the
censorship--an energy that issued in the rebuilding of the Mulvian
bridge[1080] and in the continuance of the great coast road[1081] from
Etruria past Genua to Dertona in the basin of the Po--by an
unconstitutional attempt to continue in his office after the death of
his colleague. His resignation had been enforced by some of the
tribunes;[1082] and the great man seems still to have been under the
passing cloud engendered by his own obstinate ambition, when the
intrigues of the ever-dreaded coalition of the mercantile classes and
the popular leaders were completed by the arrival of Marius.

This new figurehead of the democracy had a comparatively easy part
assigned him. Had it been necessary for him to persuade, he would
probably have failed, for he lacked the gifts of the orator and the
suppleness of the intriguer; but he was expected only to confirm, and
better confirmation was to be gained from his martial bearing and his
rugged manner than from his halting words. The speaking might be done by
others more practised in the art; a few words of harsh verification from
this living exemplar of the virtues of the people were all that was
demanded. His censure of Metellus was followed by a promise that he
would take Jugurtha alive or dead.[1083] The censure and the promise
gave the text for a fiery stream of opposition oratory. Threats of
prosecuting Metellus on a capital charge were mingled with passionate
assertions of confidence in the true soldier who could vindicate the
honour of Rome. The excitement spread even beyond the lazier rabble of
the city. Honest artisans, who were usually untouched by the delirious
forms of politics, and even thrifty country farmers,[1084] to whom time
meant money at this busy season of the year, were drawn into the throng
that gazed at Marius and listened to the burning words of his
supporters. Against such a concourse the nobility and its dependents
could make no head. The people who had come to listen stayed to vote,
and the suffrage of the centuries gave the "new man" as a colleague to
Lucius Cassius Longinus. But this triumph was but the prelude to
another. The people, now assembled in the plebeian gathering of the
tribes, were asked by the tribune Titus Manlius Mancinus whom they
willed to conduct the war against Jugurtha. The answer "Marius" was
given by overwhelming numbers, and the decision already reached by the
senate was brushed aside. That body had, in the exercise of its legal
authority, determined the provinces which should be administered by the
consuls of the coming year.[1085] Numidia had not been one of these, for
it had unquestionably been destined for Metellus. Gaul, on the other
hand, called for the presence of a consul and a soldier; and the senate,
although it had no power to make a definite appointment to this
province, had perhaps intended that Marius, if elected, should be
entrusted with its defence. Had this resolution been adopted, the paths
of Marius and Metellus would have ceased to cross; the Numidian war,
which demanded patience and diplomacy but not genius, might have
dwindled gradually away; and the barbarians of the North might have
yielded to their future victor before they had established their gloomy
record of triumphs over the arms of Rome. But this was not to be. The
party triumph would be incomplete if the senate's nominee was not ousted
from his command. We cannot say whether Marius shared in the blindness
which saw a more glorious field for military energy in Numidia than in
Gaul; personal rivalry and political passion may have already blunted
the instincts of the soldier. But, whatever his thoughts may have been,
his actions were determined by a superior force. He was but a pawn in
the hands of tribunes and capitalists; he had made promises which had
raised hopes, definitely commercial and vaguely political. These hopes
it must be his mission to fulfil. Before quitting Rome he found
words[1086] which vented all the spleen of the classes screened out of
office by the close-drawn ring of the nobility. The platitudes of merit,
tested by honest service and approved by distinctions won in war, were
advanced against the claims of birth; the luxurious life of the nobility
was gibbeted on the ground that sensuality was a bar to energy and
efficiency; even the elegant and conscientious taste of the cultured
commander, who supplied the defects of experience by the perusal of
Greek works on military tactics during his journey to the scene of war,
was held up to criticism as a sign that the vain and ignorant amateur
was usurping the tasks that belonged to the tried and hardy
expert.[1087] Fortunately the energy of Marius was better expended on
deeds than words. Whether the African war really required a more
vigorous army than that serving under Metellus, might be an open
question. Marius pretended that the need was patent, and exhibited the
greatest energy in beating up veteran legionaries and attracting to his
standard such of the Latin allies as had already approved their skill in
service.[1088] The senate lent a ready hand. Nothing was more unpopular
than a drastic levy, and the favourite might fail when he called for a
fulfilment of the brave language that had been heard on every side. But
the confidence in the new commander baffled its hopes; the conscripts
were marching to glory not to danger, and the supplementary army, that
was to avert a phantom peril and save an imaginary situation, was soon
enrolled. Such a demonstration had often been seen before in Rome; the
energy of an ambitious commander had with lamentable frequency rebuked
the indolence or confidence of his predecessor, and Marius was but
following in the footsteps of Bestia and Albinus. The real merits of his
labours were due to his freedom from a strange superstition which had
hitherto clung to the minds even of the best commanders that the later
Republic had produced. They had continued to hold the theory that the
effective soldier must be a man of means--a belief inherited from the
simple days of border warfare, when each conscript supplied his panoply
and the landless man could serve only as a half-armed skirmisher. For
ages past the principle had been breaking down. The vast forces required
for foreign wars demanded a wider area for the conscription; but this
area, as defined by the old conditions of service, so far from
increasing, was ever becoming less. In the age of Polybius the minimum
qualification requisite for service in the legions had sunk from eleven
thousand to four thousand asses;[1089] later it had been reduced to a
yet lower level;[1090] but, in spite of these concessions to necessity,
the senate had refused to accept the lesson, taught by the military
needs of the State and the social condition of Italy, that an empire
cannot be garrisoned by an army of conscripts. The legal power to effect
a radical alteration had long been in their hands; for the poorer
proletariate of Rome whom the law described as the men assessed "on
their heads," not on their holdings, had probably been liable to
military service of any kind in time of need.[1091] Perhaps it was mere
conservatism, perhaps it was a faint perception of the truth that an
armed rabble is fonder of men than institutions, and an appreciation of
the fact that the hold of the nobility over the capital would be
weakened if their clients were allowed to don the armour which made them
men, that had kept the senate within the strait limits of the antiquated
rules. Fortunately, however, the methods of raising an army depended
almost entirely on the discretion of the general engaged on the task.
Did he employ the conscription in a manner not justified by convention,
he might be met by resistance and appeals; but, if he chose to invite to
service, there was no power which could prescribe the particular modes
in which he should employ the units that flocked to his standard. It was
this latter method that was adopted by Marius. He did not strain his
popularity, and invite a conflict with senatorial tribunes, by forcing
foreign service on the ragged freemen who had hailed him as the saviour
of the State; but he invited their assistance in the glorious work and
asked them to be his comrades in the triumphal progress that lay before
him.[1092] The spirit of adventure, if not of patriotism, was touched:
the call was readily answered, and the stalwart limbs that had lounged
idly on the streets or striven vainly to secure the subsistence of the
favoured slave, became the instruments by which the State was to be
first protected and finally controlled. The conscription still remained
as the resort of necessity; but the creation of the first mercenary army
of Rome pointed to the mode in which any future commander could avoid
the friction and unpopularity which often attended the enforcement of
liability to service. The innovation of Marius was sufficiently
startling to attract comment and invite conjecture. Some held that the
army had been democratised to suit the consulship, and that the masses
who had seen in Marius's elevation the realisation of the vague and
detached ambitions of the poor, would continue to furnish a sure support
to the power which they had created.[1093] It is not unlikely that
Marius, with his knowledge of the tone of the army of Metellus, may have
wished to create for himself an environment that would mould the temper
of his future officers; but those more friendly critics who held that
efficiency was his immediate aim, and that "the bad" were chosen only
because "the good" were scarce,[1094] suggested the reason that was
probably dominant as a motive and was certainly adequate as a defence.
No thought of the ultimate triumph of the individual over the State by
the help of a devoted soldiery could have crossed the mind either of the
consul or of his critics. The Republic was as yet sacred, however
unhealthy its chief organs might be deemed; and although Marius was to
live to see the sinister fruit of his own reform, the harvest was to be
reaped by a rival, and the first fruits enjoyed by the senate whom that
rival served.

While the election of Marius, his appointment to Numidia, and his
preparations for the campaign were in progress, the war had been passing
through its usual phases of skirmishes and sieges. For a time no certain
news could be had of the king; he was reported at one moment to be near
the Roman lines, at another to be buried in the solitude of the
desert;[1095] the annoyance caused by his baffling changes of plan was
avenged by the interpretation that they were symptoms of a disordered
mind; his old counsellors were said to have been dispersed, his new ones
to be distrusted; it was believed that he changed his route and his
officers from day to day, and that he retreated or retraced his steps as
the terrors of suspicion and despair alternated with the faintly
surviving hope that a stand might yet be made. Only once did he come
into conflict with Metellus.[1096] The site of the skirmish is unknown,
and its result was indecisive. The Numidian army is said to have been
surprised and to have formed hastily for battle. The division led by the
king offered a brief resistance; the rest of the line yielded at once to
the Roman onset. A few standards and arms, a handful of prisoners, were
all that the victors had to show for their triumph. The nimble enemy had
disappeared beyond all hope of capture or pursuit.

After a time news was brought that the king had made for the southern
desert with a fraction of his mounted troops and the Roman deserters,
whose despair ensured their loyalty. He had shut himself up in
Thala,[1097] a large and wealthy town to which his treasures and his
children had already been transferred. This city lay some thirteen miles
east of the oasis of Capsa, and a dismal and waterless desert stretched
between the Romans and the refuge of the king. No Roman army had at any
part of the campaign attempted to penetrate such trackless regions, and
the court at Thala may have believed even this foretaste of the desert
to be an adequate protection against an enemy which clung to towns and
cultivated lands and relied, in the cumbrous manner of civilised
warfare, on organised lines of communication. But the news that Jugurtha
had at last occupied a position, the strength of which, together with
the presence of his family and treasures within its walls, might supply
a motive for a lengthy residence within the town and even suggest the
resolution of holding it against every hazard, fired Metellus with a
hope which the awkward political situation at Rome must have made more
real than it deserved to be. The end of the war might be in sight, if he
could only cross that belt of burning land. His plan was rapidly formed.
The burden of the baggage animals was reduced to ten days' supply of
corn; skins of water were laid upon their backs; the domestic cattle
from the fields were driven in, and they were laden with every kind of
vessel that could be gathered from the Numidian homesteads. The
villagers in the neighbourhood of the recent victory, whom the flight of
the king had made for the moment the humble servants of Rome, were
bidden to bring water to a certain spot, and the day was named on which
this mission was to be fulfilled. Metellus's own vessels were filled
from the river, and the rapid march to Thala was begun. The resting
place was reached and the camp was entrenched; water was there in
greater abundance than had been asked or hoped, for a sharp downpour of
rain made the plethoric skins presented by the punctual Numidians almost
a superfluous luxury and, as a happy omen, cheered the souls of the
soldiers as much as it refreshed their bodies.[1098] The devoted
villagers had also brought an unexpectedly large supply of corn, so
eager were they to give emphatic proof of their newly acquired loyalty.
But one day more and the walls of Thala came in sight. Its citizens were
surprised but not dismayed; they made preparations for the siege, while
their king vanished into the desert with his children and a large
portion of his hoarded wealth. It was too much to hope that Jugurtha
would be caught in such a trap. The alternative prospects at Thala were
immediate capture or a siege as protracted as the nature of the
territory would permit. In the latter case a cordon would be drawn round
the town and a price would probably be put upon the rebel's head. It is
strange that the desperate band of deserters did not accompany the king
in his flight. There may have been no time for the retreat of so large a
force, or the strength and desolation of the site may have filled them
with confidence of success. But, if things came to the worst, they had a
surprise in store for their former comrades who were now battering
against the walls.

Metellus, in spite of the fact that he had lightened his baggage animals
of all the superfluities of the camp, must have brought his siege train
with him; it would, indeed, have been madness to attempt an assault on a
fortified town without the necessary instruments of attack. He seems in
his lines round Thala to have had all that he needed for a blockade;
even the planks for the great moving turrets were ready to his
hand.[1099] The engines were soon in place on an artificial mound raised
by the labour of the troops, the soldiers advanced under cover of the
mantlets, and the rams began to batter against the walls. For forty days
the courage of the besieged tried the patience of assailants already
wearied with the toils of a long forced march. Had human endurance been
the deciding factor, Metellus might have been forced to retire. But the
wall of Thala was weaker than the spirit of its defenders; a portion of
the rampart crumbled beneath the blows of the ram, and the victorious
Romans rushed in to seize the plunder of the treasure-city. They found
instead a holocaust of wealth and human victims. The royal palace had
been invaded by the deserters from the Roman army whom Jugurtha had left
behind. Thither they had borne the gold, the silver and the precious
stuffs which formed the glory of the town. A feast was spread and
continued until the banqueters were heavy with meat and wine. The palace
was then fired, and when the plundering mob of Romans had made their way
to the centre of the city's wealth, they found but the smouldering
traces of a baffled vengeance and a disappointed greed.

The capture of Thala was one of those successes which might have been
important, had it been possible to limit the area of the war or to check
the disaffection which was now spreading throughout almost the whole of
Northern Africa. The fringe of the desert had but been reached; the king
had fled beyond it; the south and west were soon to be in a blaze; we
shall soon see Metellus forced to take up his position in the north; and
a slight incident which occurred while Metellus was at Thala showed that
even cities of the distant east, which had never been under the
immediate sway of the Numidian power, were wavering in their attachment
to Rome. The Greater Leptis, situate in the territory of the Three
Cities between the gulfs which separated Roman Africa from the territory
of Cyrene, had sought the friendship and alliance of Rome from the very
commencement of the war. A Sidonian settlement,[1100] it had, like most
commercial towns which sought a life of peace, preferred the
protectorate of Rome to that of the neighbouring dynasties, and had
readily responded to the calls made on it by Bestia, Albinus and
Metellus.[1101] Such assistance as it furnished must have been supplied
by sea, for it was more than four hundred miles by land from the usual
sphere of Roman operations; but the commissariat of the Roman army was
so serious a problem that the ships of the men of Leptis must always
have been a welcome sight at the port of Utica. Now the stability of
their constitution, and their service to Rome, were threatened by the
ambition of a powerful noble. This Hamilcar was defying the authority
both of laws and magistrates, and Leptis, they wrote, would be lost, if
Metellus did not send timely help. Four cohorts of Ligurians with a
praefect at their head were sent to the faithful state, and the Roman
general turned to meet the graver dangers which were threatening in
the west.

Jugurtha had crossed the desert with a handful of his men and was now
amongst the Gaetulian tribes,[1102] who stretched from the limits of his
own dominions far across the southern frontier of his brother king of
Mauretania. His eyes were now turned to the west; the men of the desert,
the King of the Moors, would be infallible means of prolonging the war
with Rome, if their help could be secured. No Roman army had yet dared
to penetrate even into Western Numidia, and such a venture would be more
hopeless than ever, if the nomad tribes of the desert frontier and
Bocchus of Mauretania enclosed that district with myriads of mounted men
that might sweep it at any time from point to point, and destroy in a
moment the laborious efforts at occupation that might be made by Rome.
The Gaetulians, although perhaps a nomad, were not a barbarian people.
They plied with Mediterranean cities a trade in purple dye, the material
for which was gathered on the Atlantic coast; and their merchants were
sometimes seen in the marketplace at Cirta;[1103] but as fighting men
they lacked even the organisation to which the Numidians had attained,
and Jugurtha, while he sought or purchased their help, was obliged to
teach them the rudiments of disciplined warfare. Gradually they learnt
to keep the line, to follow the standards, to wait for the word of
command before they threw themselves upon the foe;[1104] these untrained
warriors must have been fired mainly by the love of adventure, of pay or
of plunder, or have been impressed by the greatness of the fugitive who
had suddenly appeared amongst their tribes; they had no hatred or
previous fear of the power of Rome, for most of the Gaetulian chiefs
were ignorant even of the name of the imperial city.[1105]

This name, however, had long been in the mind of the king who governed
the northern neighbours of the Gaetulians, and it was to the fears or
hopes of Bocchus of Mauretania that Jugurtha now appealed with the
design of gaining an auxiliary force greater than any which he himself
could put into the field. He had a claim on the Mauretanian king which
might have been valid in a land in which polygamy did not prevail, for
he was the husband of that monarch's daughter; but the dissipation of
affection amongst a multitude of wives and their respective progeny did
not permit the connection with a son-in-law to be a particularly binding
tie.[1106] There were, however, other motives which might spur the king
to action. His early overtures to Rome had been rejected, and this
neglect must have aroused in his mind a feeling of anxiety as well as of
wounded pride. If Rome conquered Numidia, she might become his
neighbour. What in that case would be the position of Mauretania,
connected as it would be by no previous ties of friendship or alliance
with the conquering state? If Bacchus joined Jugurtha, he would
immediately become a power with whom Rome would be forced to deal. An
ally detached from her enemies had often become her most trusted friend;
it was thus that the power of Masinissa had been secured and his kingdom
had been increased. If Jugurtha were victorious, the Romans would be
kept at bay; if he showed signs of failure, the defection of Bocchus
might be bought at a great price. The game on which he had entered was
absolutely safe; he could only be the loser if at the critical moment
chivalry or national sentiment interfered with the designs of a
calculating prudence. The great necessity of his position was to force
the hand of the Roman general and the Roman senate; but meanwhile he
would keep an open mind and see whether the power which he dreaded might
not be permanently kept at bay.

It may have been with thoughts like these that Bocchus bowed to the
teaching of his counsellors when they urged a meeting with
Jugurtha.[1107] The meeting was that of equals, not of a suppliant and
his protector. The Numidian king again headed an army of his own, and,
after the oath of alliance had been given and received, exhorted his
father-in-law in his own interest to join in a war that was as necessary
as it was just. The Romans, he pointed out, had been made by their lust
for conquest the common enemies of the human race. One had only to look
at their treatment of Perseus of Macedon, of Carthage, of himself. Who
was Bocchus that he alone should be immune from such a danger? The mood
of the king responded to Jugurtha's words, and without an instant's
delay they took the field together. Jugurtha was insistent on despatch,
for he knew the varying temper of his relative and feared that even a
slight delay would cool his resolve for decisive action.

The scene of the war now shifts with amazing suddenness to the north and
centres for the first time round the walls of Cirta.[1108] Metellus had
evidently been drawn from the south by the news of the threatened
coalition; for, if the territories near the coast were undefended, the
Mauretanians might sweep like a devastating storm over the land that
might have been held with some show of justice to be in the possession
of Rome. Cirta now appears as within the pacified territory and,
although we have no record as to the time when it was lost by
Jugurtha,[1109] its possession by the Romans need excite no surprise. It
may have been lost at an early period of the war, for there is no sign
that it was employed by Jugurtha either as a military or political
capital, and if, in spite of the massacre that had followed its capture
from Adherbal, its cosmopolitan mercantile life had been revived, the
attachment of the town to Rome would be assured on the news of the
waning fortunes of its king. Its surrender was certainly peaceful, and
the strength which might have defied the arms of Rome had rendered it
incapable of recovery by its former owner. To Cirta Metellus had
transferred his prisoners, his booty and his baggage,[1110] and it was
against Cirta that the two kings moved with their formidable force.
Jugurtha was the moving spirit in the enterprise, his idea being that,
even if the town could not be taken, the Romans would be forced to come
to its support and a battle would be fought beneath its walls. A battle
was now an issue to be courted, for never had he faced the enemy with
greater numbers on his side.

Metellus was as fully conscious of the change in the situation. Lately
he had been forcing himself on Jugurtha at every point; now he held back
and waited for the favourable chance. He wished above all to learn
something of the fighting spirit and methods of the Moors;[1111] they
were an untried foe, and Roman success was usually the fruit of
knowledge and not of experiment. He waited in his fortified camp near
Cirta to watch events, when news was brought from Rome which proved to
his mind that cautious inaction was now not merely the wiser but the
only policy. The news that came by letter was of stunning force.
Metellus had already learnt of Marius's election to the consulship. This
knowledge should have prepared him for the worst; but a proud man,
conscious of his deserts, will not meet in anticipation an event that,
however probable, seems incredible. Yet here it was before him in black
and white. He had been superseded in his command and the province of
Numidia belonged to Marius.[1112] There was no pretence of
self-restraint; tears rose to his eyes, as bitter language flowed from
his lips. It was disputed whether natural pride or the sense of
unmerited wrong was the secret of his wrath, or whether he held (as many
thought) that a victory already won was being wrested from his grasp.
But it was safely conjectured that his grief would not have been so
violent had any man but Marius been his successor.

To risk a defeat at the moment when the command was slipping from his
grasp seemed to Metellus the height of folly; but, even had he not
possessed this additional motive for inaction, the situation would
probably have forced him to temporise and to attempt to dissolve the
hostile coalition by diplomacy. He therefore sent a message to Bocchus
urging him to think seriously of the course of action which he had
adopted.[1113] An opportunity was still open to him of becoming the
friend and ally of Rome; why should he adopt this motiveless attitude of
hostility? The cause of Jugurtha was desperate; did the King of
Mauretania wish to bring his own country into the same miserable plight?
These were the first words that Bocchus had heard of a possible
convention with Rome; he had scored the first point, but was much too
wise to give away the game. Definite offers must be made and securely
guaranteed before he would withdraw the terror of his presence. Firmness
and conciliation must be blended in his answer, which, when delivered,
was both gracious and chivalrous. He longed, he said, for peace, but was
stirred to pity for the fortunes of Jugurtha. If the latter were also
given the chance of making terms with Rome, all might be arranged.
Metellus replied with another message framed to meet the position taken
up by the king; the answer of Bocchus was a cautious mixture of assent
and protest. As he showed no unwillingness to continue the discussion,
Metellus occupied the remainder of his own tenure of the command in
further parleyings. Envoys came and went, and the war was practically
suspended. A delicate and promising negotiation was on foot; it remained
to be seen whether it would be patiently continued or rudely interrupted
by the new governor of Numidia.


The summer must have been well advanced when Marius landed at Utica with
his untried forces. The veterans were handed over to his care by the
legate Rutilius[1114] for Metellus had fled the sight of the man, whose
success had been based on a slanderous attack on his own reputation. It
must have been with a heavy heart that he accomplished the voyage to
Rome; for the greatest expert in the moods of the people could scarcely
have foretold the surprise that awaited him there. The popular passion
was spent; it was a feverish force that had burnt itself out; the
country voters had at last bethought themselves of their work and
returned to their farms; many of the most active and disorderly spirits,
the restless loud-voiced men who are the potent minority in an
agitation, had been removed by the levy of Marius; with the city mob
docility generally alternated with revolution, and it was now inclined
to look to the verdict of the recognised heads of the State. In this
moment of reaction, too, many must have been inclined to wonder what
after all could be said against this general who had never lost a
battle, who had conquered cities and pitilessly revenged the one
disaster which was not his fault, who had constantly swept the terrible
King of Numidia as a helpless fugitive before him. The presence of
Metellus completed the work by giving stability to these half-formed
views. The common folk are the true idealists. They love a hero rather
better than a victim, although it often depends on the turn of a hair
which part the object of their attentions is to play. Now they followed
the lead of the senate; the returned commander was the man of the
day[1115] he had exalted the glory of the Roman name; and if there was
no fault, there could only have been misfortune; but misfortune might be
compensated by honour. There was the prospect of a triumph in store,
that mixed source of sensuous satisfaction and national
self-congratulation. Thus Metellus won his prizes from the Numidian war,
a parade through the streets to the Capitol and the addition of the
surname "Numidicus" to the already lengthy nomenclature of his

The war itself, under the guidance of Marius, soon assumed the character
which it had possessed under that of all his predecessors. The
originality of the new commander seemed to have spent itself in the
selection of his troops; no new idea seems to have been introduced into
the conduct of operations, which resumed their old shapes of precautions
against surprise, weary marches from end to end of Numidia, and the
siege of strongholds which were no sooner taken than they proved to be
beyond the area of actual hostilities. Perhaps no new idea was possible
except one that exchanged the weapons of war for those of diplomacy; but
even the final attempt that had been made in this direction by Metellus
was not continued by Marius. Bocchus, unwilling to lose the chance which
had been presented of a definite convention with Home, sent repeated
messages to her new representative to the effect that he desired the
friendship of the Roman people, and that no acts of hostility on his
part need be feared[1117] but his protestations were received with
distrust, and Marius, accustomed to the duplicity of the African mind
and rejecting the view that the king might really be wavering between
war and peace, chose to regard them as the treacherous cover for a
sudden attack. The desultory campaign which followed seems to have been
directed by two motives. The first was the training of the raw levies
which had just been brought from Rome; the second the supposed necessity
of cutting Jugurtha off from the strongholds which he still held at the
extremities of his kingdom. As these extremities were now threatened or
commanded, on the south by the Gaetulians and on the west by the
Mauretanians, the area of the war was no less than that of Numidia
itself; and, as the occupation of such an area was impossible, the
destruction of these strongholds, which was little loss to a mobile
self-supporting force such as that which Jugurtha had at his command,
was the utmost end which could be secured.

The practice of the untrained Roman levies was rendered easy by the fact
that Jugurtha had resumed the offensive. He no longer had the help of
his Mauretanian auxiliaries, for Bocchus had retired to his own kingdom,
and he had therefore lost his desire for a pitched battle; but his
swarms of Gaetulian horse had enabled him to resume his old style of
guerilla fighting, and he had taken advantage of the practical
suspension of hostilities which had accompanied the change in the Roman
command, to set on foot a series of raids against the friends of Rome
and even to penetrate the borders of the Roman province itself.[1118]
For some time the attention of Marius was absorbed in following his
difficult tracks, in striving to anticipate his rapidly shifting plans,
in creating in his own men the habits of endurance, the mobility and the
strained attention, which even a brief period of such a chase will
rapidly engender in the rawest of recruits. The pursuit gradually
shifted to the west, and a series of sharp conflicts on the road ended
finally in the rout of the king in the neighbourhood of Cirta. With
troops now seasoned to the toils of long marches and deliberate attack,
Marius turned to the more definite, if not more effective, enterprise of
beleaguering such fortified positions as were still strongly held, and
by their position seemed to give a strategic advantage to the enemy. His
object was either to strip Jugurtha of these last garrisons or to force
him to a battle if he came to their defence. At first he confined his
operations within a narrow area; the best part of the summer months
seems to have been spent in the territory lying east and south of Cirta,
and within this region several fortresses and castles still adhering to
the king were reduced by persuasion or by force.[1119] Yet Jugurtha made
no move, and Marius gained a full experience of the helpless irritation
of the commander who hears that his enemy is far away, neglectful of his
efforts and wholly absorbed in some deep-laid scheme the very rudiments
of which are beyond the reach of conjecture. His operations seem to have
brought him to a point somewhere in the neighbourhood of Sicca, and this
proximity to the southern regions of Numidia suggested the thought of an
enterprise that might rival and even surpass Metellus's storm of Thala.
About thirteen miles west of that town[1120] lay the strong city of
Capsa.[1121] It marked almost the extremest limit of Jugurtha's empire
in this direction, placed as it was just north of the great lakes and
west of the deepest curve of the Lesser Syrtis. The town was the gift of
an oasis, which here broke the monotony of the desert with pleasant
groves of dates and olives and a perennial stream of water. The sources
of this stream, which was formed by the union of two fountains, had been
enclosed within the walls, and supplied drinking water for the city
before it passed beyond it to irrigate the land. Even this supply hardly
sufficed for the moderate needs of the Numidians, who supplemented it by
rain water[1122] which they caught and stored in cisterns. A siege of
Capsa in the dry season might therefore prove irksome to the
inhabitants; but the invading army might be even less well supplied, for
although four other springs outside the walls fed the canals which
served the work of irrigation, they tended to run low when the season of
rain was past. The security of the city, although its defences and its
garrison were strong, was thought to reside mainly in its desert
barrier. The waste through which an invading army would have to pass was
waterless and barren, while the multitude of snakes and scorpions that
found a congenial home on the arid soil increased the horror, if not the
danger, of the route.[1123] Jugurtha had dealt kindly by the lonely
citizens of Capsa; they were free from taxes and had seldom to answer to
any demand of the king: and this favour, which was perhaps as much the
product of necessity as of policy, had strengthened their loyalty to the
Numidian throne. It is probable that some strategic, or at least
military, motive was mingled in the mind of Marius with the mere desire
of excelling his predecessor and creating a deep impression in the minds
of the proletariate in his army and at home. Although Capsa, with its
limited resources, could hardly ever have served as the point of
departure for a large Numidian or Gaetulian host, it might have been of
value as a refuge for the king when he wished to vanish from the eyes of
his enemies, and perhaps as a means of communication with friendly
cities or peoples situated between the two Syrtes. To vanquish the
difficulties of such an enterprise might also strike terror into the
Numidian garrisons of other towns, and the subjects of Jugurtha might
feel that no stronghold was safe when the unapproachable Capsa had been
taken or destroyed. But the difficulties of the task were great. The
Numidians of these regions were more attached to a pastoral life than to
agriculture; the stores of corn to be found along the route were
therefore scanty, and their scarcity was increased by the fact that the
king, who seems but lately to have passed through these regions, had
ordered that large supplies of grain should be conveyed from the
district and stored in the fortresses which his garrisons still
held.[1124] Nothing could be got from the fields, which at this late
period of the autumn showed nothing but arid stubble. It was fortunate
that some stores still lay at Lares (Lorbeus), a town at a short
distance to the south-east of his present base;[1125] these were to be
supplemented by the cattle that the foraging parties had driven in, and
the Roman soldier would at least have his unwelcome supply of meat
tempered by a moderate allowance of meal. Yet the terrors of the journey
were so great that Marius thought it wise to conceal the object of his
enterprise even from his own men, and even when, after a six days' march
to the south, he had reached a stream called the Tana,[1126] the motive
of the expedition was still in all probability unknown. Here, as in
Metellus's march on Thala, a large supply of water was drawn from the
river and stored in skins, all heavy baggage was discarded, and the
lightened column prepared for its march across the desert. By day the
soldiers kept their camp and every stage of the journey was accomplished
between night-fall and dawn. On the morning of the third day they had
reached some rising ground not more than two miles from Capsa.[1127] The
sun had not yet risen when Marius halted his men in a hollow of the
dunes, and watched the town to see whether his cautious plans had really
effected a surprise. Evidently they had; for, when day broke, the gates
were seen to open and large numbers of Numidians could be observed
leaving the city for the business of the fields. The word was given, and
in a moment the whole of the cavalry and the lightest of the infantry
were dashing on the town. They were meant to block the gates; while
Marius and the heavier troops followed as speedily as they could,
driving the straggling Numidians before them. It was the possession of
these hostages that decided the fate of the town. The commandant
parleyed and agreed to admit the Romans within the walls, the condition,
whether tacit or expressed, of this surrender being that the lives of
the citizens should be spared. The condition was immediately broken. The
town was given over to the flames, all the Numidians of full age were
put to the sword, the rest were sold into slavery, and the movable
property which had been seized was divided amongst the soldiers. The
breach of international custom was not denied; the only attempt at
palliation was drawn from the reflection that it was due neither to
motiveless treachery nor to greed; a position like Capsa, it was
urged,--difficult of approach, open to the enemy, the home of a race
notorious for its mobile cunning-could be held neither by leniency nor
by fear.[1128] The expedition had miscarried, if the town was not
destroyed; and, as frequently happens in the pursuit of wars with
peoples to whom the convenient epithet of "barbarian" can be applied,
the successful fruit of cruelty and treachery was perhaps defended on
the ground that the obligations of international law must be either
reciprocal or non-existent.

The destruction of Capsa was followed by other successes of a similar
though less arduous kind. The event had served the purpose of Marius
well in so far as it spread before him a name of terror which caused
some of the Numidian garrisons to flee their strong places without a
struggle. In the few cases where resistance was met, it was beaten down,
and the fortified places which Jugurtha's soldiers were not rash enough
to defend, were utterly destroyed by fire.[1129] Marius left a
wilderness behind him on his return march to winter quarters,[1130] and
perhaps renewed his devastating course in the south-eastern parts of
Numidia during the spring of the following year, before his attention
was suddenly called to another point in the vast area of the war. This
easy triumph which cost little Roman blood and enriched the soldiers
with the spoils of war, created in his men a belief in his foresight and
prowess which seemed sufficient to stand the severest strain.[1131] A
great effort had now to be made in a quarter of Numidia which lay not
less than seven hundred miles from the recent scene of operations. As
neither the site of Marius's recent winter quarters nor the base which
he chose for his spring campaign are known to us, we cannot say whether
the expedition which he now directed to the extreme west of Numidia was
an unpleasant diversion from a scheme already in operation, or whether
it was the result of a plan matured in the winter camp; but in either
case this conviction of the necessity for sweeping the country in such
utterly diverse directions proves the full success of the plan which
Jugurtha was pursuing. It is more difficult to determine whether Marius
increased the success of this plan by a political blunder of his own.
The point at which he is now found operating was near the river Muluccha
or Molocath,[1132] the dividing line between the kingdoms of Numidia and
Mauretania. If the incursion which he made into this region was
unprovoked, it was a challenge to King Bocchus and an impolitic
disturbance of the recent attitude of quiescence that had been assumed
by that hesitating monarch; but it is possible that news had reached
Marius that a Mauretanian attack was impending, and that the same motive
which had impelled Metellus to hasten from the south to the defence of
Cirta, now urged his successor to push his army more than five hundred
miles farther to the west up to the very borders of Mauretania. The
movement seems to have been defensive, for at the moment when we catch
sight of his efforts he had not attempted to cross the admitted
frontier,[1133] but was endeavouring to secure a strong position that
lay within what he conceived to be the Numidian territory. A giant rock
rose sheer out of the plain, tapering into the narrow fortress which
continued by its walls an ascent so smoothly precipitous that it seemed
as though the work of nature had been improved by the hand of man.[1134]
But one narrow path led to the summit and was believed to be the only
way, not merely to a position of supreme value for defensive purposes,
but also to one of those rich deposits which the many-treasured king was
held to have laid up in the strongest parts of his dominions. The
difficulties of a siege were almost insurmountable. The garrison was
strong and well supplied with food and water; the only avenue for a
direct assault upon the walls was narrow and dangerous; the site was as
ill-suited as it could be for the movement of the heavier engines of
war. When the attack was made, the mantlets of the besiegers were easily
destroyed by fire and stones hurled from above; yet the soldiers could
not leave cover, nor get a firm hold on the steeply sloping ground; the
foremost amongst the storming party fell stricken with wounds, and a
panic seemed likely to prevail amidst the ever-victorious army if it
were again urged to the attack. While Marius was brooding over this
unexpected check, and his mind was divided between the wisdom of a
retreat and the chances that might be offered by delay, an accident
supplied the defects of strength and counsel.[1135] A Ligurian in quest
of snails was tempted to pursue his search from ridge to ridge on that
side of the hill which lay away from the avenue of attack and had
hitherto been deemed inaccessible. He suddenly found that he had nearly
reached the summit; a spirit of emulation urged him to complete the work
which he had unconsciously begun, and the branches of a giant holmoak,
which twisted amongst the rocks, gave him a hold and footing when the
perpendicular walls of the last ascent seemed to deny all chance of
further progress. When at length he craned over the edge of the highest
ridge, the interior of the fort lay spread before him. No member of the
garrison was to be seen, for every man was engaged in repelling the
assault which had been renewed on the opposite side. A prolonged survey
was therefore possible, and all the important details of the fortress
were imprinted on the mind of the Ligurian before he began his leisurely
descent. The features of the slope he traversed were also more
cautiously observed; the next ascent would be attempted by more than
one, and every irregularity that might give a foothold must be noted by
the man who would have to prove and illustrate his tale. When the story
was told to Marius he sent some of his retinue to view the spot; their
reports differed according to the character of their minds; some of the
investigators were sanguine, others more than doubtful; but the consul
eventually determined to make the experiment. The escalade was to be
attempted by a band of ten; five of the trumpeters and buglemen were
selected and four centurions, the Ligurian was to be their guide. With
head and feet bare, their only armour a sword and light leathern shield
slung across their backs, the soldiers painfully imitated the daring
movements of their active leader. But he was considerate as well as
daring. Sometimes he would weave a scaling ladder of the trailing
creepers; at others he would lend a helping hand; at others again he
would gather up their armour and send them on before him, then step
rapidly aside and pass with his burden up and down their struggling
line. His cheery boldness kept them to their painful task until every
man had reached the level of the fort. It was as desolate as when first
seen by the Ligurian, for Marius had taken care that a frontal attack
should engage the attention of the garrison. The climb had been a long
one, and the battle had now been raging many hours when news was brought
to the anxious commander that his men had gained the summit.[1136] The
assault was now renewed with a force that astonished the besieged, and
soon with a recklessness that led them to think the besiegers mad. They
could see the Roman commander himself leaving the cover of the mantlets
and advancing in the midst of his men up the perilous ascent under a
tortoise fence of uplifted shields. Over the heads of the advancing
party came a storm of missiles from the Roman lines below. Confident as
the Numidians were in the strength of their position, scornful as were
the gibes which a moment earlier they had been hurling against the foe,
they could not think lightly of the serried mass that was moving up the
hill and the rain of bullets that heralded its advance. Every hand was
busy and every mind alert when suddenly the Roman trumpet call was heard
upon their rear. The women and boys, who had crept out to watch the
fight, were the first to take the alarm and to rush back to the shelter
of the fort; most of the men were fighting in advance of their outer
walls; those nearest to the ramparts were the first to be seized with
the panic; but soon the whole garrison was surging backwards, while
through and over it pressed the long and narrow wedge of Romans, cutting
their way through the now defenceless mass until they had seized the
outworks of the fort.

It is difficult to gauge the positive advantages secured by this feat of
arms; but it is probable that the capture of this particular
hill-fortress, although its difficulty gave it undue prominence in the
annals of the war, was not an isolated fact, but one of a series of
successful attempts to establish a chain of posts upon the Mauretanian
border, which might bring King Bocchus to better counsels and interrupt
his communications with Jugurtha. The enterprise may have been followed
by a tolerably long campaign in these regions. This campaign has not
been recorded, but that it was contemplated is proved by the fact that
Marius had ordered an enormous force of cavalry to meet him near the
Muluccha.[1137] The force thus summoned actually served the purpose of
covering a retirement that was practically a retreat; but this could not
have been the object which it was intended to fulfil when its presence
was commanded. A large force of horse was essential, if Bocchus was to
be paralysed and the border country swept clear of the enemy. The cloud
that was to burst from Mauretania was not the only chance that could be
foretold; it was the issue to be dreaded, if all plans at prevention
failed; but it was one that might possibly be averted by the presence of
a commanding force in the border regions.

It had taken nearly a year to collect and transport from Italy the
cavalry force that now entered the camp of Marius. The reason why Italy
and not Africa was chosen as the recruiting ground is probably to be
found in the lack of confidence which the Romans felt even in those
Numidians who professed a friendly attitude; otherwise cheapness and
even efficiency might seem to have dictated the choice of native
contingents, although it is possible that, as a defensive force, the
tactical solidarity of the Italians gave them an advantage even over the
Numidian horse. The Latins and Italian allies had furnished the troopers
that had lately landed on African soil,[1138] perhaps not at the port of
Utica, but at some harbour on the west, for the time consumed by Marius
in the march to his present position, even had not his campaign been
planned in winter quarters, would have given him an opportunity to send
notice of his whereabouts to the leader of the auxiliary force. This
leader was Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who had spent nearly the whole of the
first year of his quaestorship in beating up on Italian soil the troops
of horsemen which he now led into the camp. In comparison with the
arrival of the force that of the quaestor was as nothing; yet the advent
of such a subordinate was always a matter of interest to a general.
Tradition had determined that the ties between a commander and his
quaestor should be peculiarly close; the superior was responsible for
every act of the minor official whom the chance of the lot might thrust
upon him; if his subordinate were capable, he was the chosen delegate
for every delicate operation in finance, diplomacy, jurisdiction, or
even war: if he were incapable, he might be dismissed,[1139] but could
not be neglected, for he was besides the general the only man in the
province holding the position of a magistrate, and was in titular rank
superior even to the oldest and most distinguished of the legates.[1140]
It was a matter of chance whether a government or a campaign was to be
helped or hindered by the arrival of a new quaestor; and Marius, when he
first heard of the man whom destiny had brought to his side, was
inclined to be sceptical as to the amount of assistance which was
promised by the new appointment.[1141] Apart from a remarkable personal
appearance--an impression due to the keen blueness of the eyes, the
clear pallor of the face, the sudden flush that spread at moments over
the cheeks as though the vigour of the mind could be seen pulsing
beneath the delicate skin[1142]--there was little to recommend Sulla to
the mind of a hard and stern man engaged in an arduous and disappointing
task. The new lieutenant had no military experience, he was the scion of
a ruined patrician family, and, if the gossip of Rome were true, his
previous life suggested the light-hearted adventurer rather than the
student of politics or war. In his early youth he seemed destined to
continue the later traditions of his family--those of an unaspiring
temper or a careless indolence, which had allowed the consulship to
become extinct in the annals of the race and had been long content with
the minor prize of the praetorship. Even this honour had been beyond the
reach of the father of Sulla; the hereditary claim to office had been
completely broken, and the family fortune had sunk so low that there
seemed little chance of the renewal of this claim. The present bearer of
the name, the elder son of the house, had lived in hired rooms, and such
slender means as he could command seemed to be employed in gratifying a
passion for the stage.[1143] Yet this taste was but one expression of a
genuine thirst for culture;[1144] and, whatever the opinion of men might
be, this youth whose most strenuous endeavours were strangely mingled
with a careless geniality and an appetite that never dulled for the
pleasures of the senses and the flesh, had a wonderful faculty for
winning the love of women. His father had made a second marriage with a
lady of considerable means; and the affection of the step-mother, who
seems to have been herself childless, was soon centred on her husband's
elder son.[1145] At her death he was found to be her heir, and the
fortune thus acquired was added to or increased by another that had also
come by way of legacy from a woman. This benefactress was Nicopolis, a
woman of Greek birth, whose transitory loves, which had Brought her
wealth, were closed by a lasting passion for the man to Whom this wealth
was given.[1146] The possession of this competence, which might have
completed the wreck of the nerveless pleasure-seeker that Sulla seemed
to be, proved the true steel of which the man was made. The first steps
in his political career gave the immediate lie to any theory of wasted
opportunities. He had but exceeded by a year or two the minimum age for
office when he was elected to the quaestorship; he was but thirty-one
when he was scouring Italy for recruits;[1147] a year later he had
entered Marius's camp near the Muluccha with his host of cavalry. A very
brief experience was sufficient to convert the general's prejudice into
the heartiest approval of his new officer. Any spirit of emulation which
Sulla possessed was but shown in action and counsel; none could outstrip
him in prowess and forethought, yet all that he did seemed to be the
easy outcome either of opportunity or of a ready wit which charmed
without startling: and he was never heard to breathe a word which
reflected on the conduct of the pro-consul or his staff. Over the petty
officers and the soldiers he attained the immediate triumph which
attends supreme capacity combined with a facile temper and a sense of
humour. His old companions of the stage had been perhaps his best
instructors in the art of moulding the will of the common man. He had
the right address for every one; a grumble was met by a few kind words;
a roar of laughter was awakened by a ready jest, and its recipient was
the happier for the day. When help was wanted, his resources seemed
boundless; yet he never gave as though he expected a return, and the
idea of obligation was dismissed with a shrug and a smile.[1148] Sulla
was not one of the clumsy intriguers who laboriously lay up a store of
favour and are easily detected in the attempt. He was a terrible man
because his insight and his charm were a part of his very nature, as
were also the dark current of ambition, scarcely acknowledged even by
its possessor, and the surging tides of passion, carefully dammed by an
exquisitely balanced intellect into a level stream, on which crowds
might float and believe themselves to be victims or agents of an
overmastering principle, not of a single man's caprice.

The capacity of every officer in Marius's army was soon to be put to an
effective test; for the coalition of Jugurtha and Bocchus, which the
campaign might have been meant to prevent, turned out to be its
immediate result. The Moor was still hesitating between peace and
war--looking still, it may be, for another bid from the representative
of Rome, and waiting for the moment when he might compel the attention
of Metellus's rude successor, who preferred the precautions of war to
those of diplomacy--when the Numidian king, in despair at this ruinous
passivity and at the loss of the magnificent strategic chance that was
being offered by the enemy, approached his father-in-law with the
proposal that the cession of one-third of Numidia should be the price of
his assistance. The cession was to take effect, either if the Romans
were driven out of Africa, or if a settlement was reached with Rome
which left the boundaries of Numidia intact.[1149] Bocchus may not have
credited the likelihood of the realisation of the first alternative; but
combined action might render the second possible, and even if that
failed, his chances of a bargain with Rome were not decreased by
entering on a policy of hostility which might be closed at the opportune
moment. For the time, however, he played vigorously for Jugurtha's
success. His troops of horsemen poured over the border to join the
Numidian force, and the combined armies moved rapidly to the east to
encompass the columns of Marius, that had just begun their long march to
the site which had been chosen for winter quarters.

The object of the Roman general was to keep in touch with the sea for
the purpose of facilitating the supply of his army. But we cannot say
whether his original choice was a station so distant as the
neighbourhood of Cirta,[1150] or whether his movement in this direction,
which severed him by some hundreds of miles from the region which he had
lately commanded, was a measure forced on him by the danger to which his
army was exposed in the distant west from the overwhelming forces of the
enemy. He had at any rate covered a great stretch of territory before he
actually came into touch with the combined forces of Bocchus and
Jugurtha; for the almost continuous fighting that ensued, when once the
armies had come into contact, seems all to have been confined to the
last few days before Cirta was reached and to a period of time which
could have formed but a small fraction of the whole duration of the
march. The first attack was planned for the closing hours of the
day.[1151] The advent of night would be of advantage to the native force
whether they were victorious or defeated. In the first case their
knowledge of the ground would enable them to follow up their success, in
the second their retreat would be secured. Under all circumstances a
struggle in the darkness must increase the difficulties of the Romans. A
complete surprise was impossible, for Marius's scouting was good, and
from all directions horsemen dashed up to tell him the enemy was at
hand. But the quarter from which such an attack would be aimed could not
be determined, and so incredibly rapid were the movements of the Moorish
and Gaetulian horse that scarcely had the last messenger ridden up when
the Roman column was assailed on every side. The Roman army had no time
to form in line, and anything approaching battle array was scorned by
the enemy. They charged in separate squadrons, the formation of which
seemed to be due to chance as much as to design; this desultory mode of
attack enabled them to assail the Roman forces at every point and to
prevent any portion of the men from acquiring the stability that might
save the helplessness of the others; they harried the legionaries as
they shifted their heavy baggage, drew their swords and hurried into
line, and the cavalry soldiers as they strove to mount their frightened
horses. Horse and foot were inextricably mixed, and no one could tell
which was the van and which the rear of the surrounded army. The general
fought like a common soldier, but he did not forget the duties of a
commander. With his chosen troop of horse he rode up and down the field,
detecting the weak points of his own men, the strong points of the
enemy, lending a timely succour to the first and throwing his weight
against the second.[1152] But it was the experience of the well-trained
legionaries that saved the day. Schooled in such surprises, they began
to form small solid squares, and against these barriers the impact of
the light horsemen beat in vain.[1153] But night was drawing on--the
hour which the allied kings had chosen as the crowning moment of their
attack--and Marius was as fully conscious as his enemies how helpless
the Roman force would be if such a struggle were protracted into the
darkness. Fortunately the place of the attack had been badly chosen; the
neighbouring ground did not present a wholly level expanse on which
cavalry could operate at will. But a short distance from the scene of
the fight two neighbouring hills could be seen to rise above the plain;
the smaller possessed an abundant spring of water, the larger by its
rugged aspect seemed to promise an admirable rampart for defence.[1154]
It was impossible to withdraw the whole army to the elevation which
contained the welcome stream, for its space did not permit of an
encampment; but Marius instructed Sulla to seize it with the cavalry. He
then began to draw his scattered infantry together, taking advantage of
the disorder in the enemy which the last sturdy stand of the veterans
had produced, and when the divisions were at last in touch with one
another, he led the whole force at a quick march to the place which he
had chosen for its retreat. The kings soon recognised that this retreat
was unassailable; their plan of a night attack had failed; but they did
not lose the hope that they held the Romans at their mercy. The fight
had become a blockade; they would coop the Romans within their narrow
limits, or force them to straggle on their way under a renewal of the
same merciless assault. To have withstood the legions and occupied their
ground, was itself a triumph for Gaetulians and Moors. They spread their
long lines round either hill and lighted a great ring of watchfires; but
their minds were set on passing the night in a manner conducive neither
to sleep nor vigilance. They threw away their victory in a manner common
to barbarism, which often lacks neither courage nor skill, but finds its
nemesis in an utter lack of self-restraint. From the silent darkness of
the ridge above the Romans could see, in the circles of red light thrown
by the blazing watch-fires, the forms of their enemies in every attitude
of careless and reckless joy; while the delirious howls of triumph which
reached their ears, were a source, not of terror, but of hope. In the
Roman camp no sound was heard; even the call of the patrol was hushed by
the general's command.[1155] As the night wore on, the silence spread to
the Plain below, but here it was the silence of the deep and profound
sleep that comes on men wearied by the excesses of the night. Suddenly
there was a terrific uproar. Every horn and trumpet in the Roman lines
seemed to be alive, every throat to be swelling the clamour with
ear-piercing yells. The Moors and Gaetulians, springing from the ground,
found the enemy in their very midst. Where the slaughter ended, the
pursuit began. No battle in the war had shown a larger amount of slain;
for flight, which was the Numidian's salvation and the mockery of his
foe, had been less possible in this conflict than in any which had
gone before.

Marius continued his march, but with precautions even greater than those
which he had previously observed. He formed his whole army into a
"hollow square" [1156]--in fact, a great oblong, arranged equally for
defence on front, flanks, and rear, while the baggage occupied the
centre. Sulla with the cavalry rode on the extreme right; on the left
was Aulus Manlius with the slingers and archers and some cohorts of
Ligurians; the front and rear were covered by light infantry selected
from the legions under the command of military tribunes. Numidian
refugees scoured the country around, their knowledge of the land giving
them a peculiar value as a scouting force. The camp was formed with the
same scrupulous care; whole cohorts formed from legionaries kept watch
against the gates, fortified posts were manned at short distances along
the enclosing mound, and squadrons of auxiliary cavalry moved all night
before the ramparts. Marius was to be seen at all points and at all
hours, a living example of vigilance not of distrust, a master in the
art of controlling men, not by terror but by sharing in their toils.
Four days had the march progressed and Cirta was reported to be not far
distant, when suddenly an ominous but now familiar sight was seen.
Scouts were riding in on every hand; all reported an enemy, but none
could say with certainty the quarter from which he might appear.[1157]
The present disposition of the Roman troops had made the direction of
the attack a matter of comparatively little moment, and Marius called a
halt without making any change in the order of his march. Soon the enemy
came down, and Jugurtha, when he saw the hollow square, knew that his
plan had been partly foiled. He had divided his own forces into four
divisions; some of these were to engage the Roman van; but some at least
might be able to throw themselves at the critical moment on the
undefended rear of the Roman column, when its attention was fully
engaged by a frontal attack.[1158]

As things were, the Roman army presented no one point that seemed more
assailable than another, and Jugurtha determined to engage with the
Roman cavalry on the right, probably with the idea that by diverting
that portion of the Roman force which was under the circumstances its
strongest protecting arm, he might give an opportunity to his ally to
lead that attack upon the rear which was to be the crowning movement of
the day. His assault, which was directed near to the angle which the
right flank made with the van, was anticipated rather than received by
Sulla, who rapidly formed his force into two divisions, one for attack,
the other for defence. The first he massed in dense squadrons, and at
the head of these he charged the Moorish horse; the second stood their
ground, covering themselves as best they could from the clouds of
missiles that rose from the enemy's ranks, and slaughtering the daring
horsemen that rode too near their lines. For a time it seemed as if the
right flank and the van were to bear the brunt of the battle; the king
was known to be there in person: and Marius, knowing what Jugurtha's
presence meant, himself hastened to the front.

But suddenly the chief point of the attack was changed. Bocchus had been
joined by a force of native infantry, which his son Volux had just
brought upon the field. It was a force that had not yet known defeat,
for some delay upon the route had prevented it from taking part in the
former battle. With this infantry, and probably with a considerable body
of Moorish horse,[1159] Bocchus threw himself upon the Roman rear.
Neither the general nor his chief officers were present with the
division that was thus attacked; Marius and Sulla were both engrossed
with the struggle at the other end of the right wing, and Manlius seems
still to have kept his position on the left flank; the absence of an
inspiring mind amongst the troops assailed, their ignorance of the fate
of their distant comrades, moved Jugurtha to lend the weight of his
presence and his words to the efforts of his fellow king. With a handful
of horsemen he quitted the main force under his command and galloped
down the whole length of the right wing, until he wheeled his horse
amidst the front ranks of the struggling infantry. He raised a sword
streaming with blood and shouted in the Latin tongue that Marius had
already fallen by his hand, that the Romans might now give up the
struggle. The suggestion conveyed by his words shook the nerves even of
those who did not credit the horrifying news,[1160] while the presence
of the king, here as everywhere, stirred the Africans to their highest
pitch of daring. They pressed the wavering Romans harder than before,
the battle at this point had almost become a rout, when suddenly a large
body of Roman horse was seen to be bearing down on the right flank of
the Moorish infantry. They were led by Sulla, whose vigorous attacks had
scattered the enemy on the right wing; he could now employ his cavalry
for other purposes, and the Moorish infantry shook beneath the flank
attack, Jugurtha refused to see that the tide of victory had turned;
with a reckless courage he still strove to weld together the shattered
forces of the Moors and to urge them against the Roman lines; his own
escape was a miracle; men fell to left and right of him, he was pressed
on both sides by the Roman horse; at times he seemed almost alone amidst
his foes; yet at the last moment he vanished, and the capture which
would have ended the war was still beyond the reach of Roman skill and
prowess.[1161] Sulla had saved the day, the advent of Marius was but
needed to put the final touches to the victory. He had seen the cavalry
on the right scatter beneath the charges of the Roman horse, and almost
at the same moment news was brought him that his men were being driven
back upon the rear. His succour was scarcely needed, but his presence
gave an impulse to pursuit. The sight of the field when that pursuit was
at its height, lived ever in the minds of those who shared in its glory
and its horror. The sickening spectacle which a hard fought battle
yields, was protracted in this instance by the vast vista of the plains.
Wherever the eye could reach there were prostrate bodies of men and
horses, whose only claim to life was the writhing agony of their wounds;
on a stage dyed red with blood and strewn with the furniture of
shattered weapons little moving groups could be seen. The figures of
these puppets showed all the phases of helpless flight, violent pursuit,
and pitiless slaughter.

In spite of the carnage of this battlefield, victory here, as elsewhere
throughout the war, meant little more than driving off the foe. We
possess but a fragmentary record of this terrible retreat to Cirta, but
it is certain that its dangers and losses were by no means exhausted in
two pitched battles. A chance notice torn from its context[1162] tells
of a third great contest which closed a long period of harassing
attacks. Close to the walls of Cirta the Roman army was met by the two
kings at the head of sixty thousand horse. The combatants were swathed
in a cloud raised by the dust of battle, the Roman soldiers massed in a
narrow space were such helpless victims of the missiles of the enemy
that the Numidian and Moorish horsemen ceased to single out their
targets, and threw their javelins at random into the crowded ranks with
the certainty that each would find its mark. For three days was the
running fight continued. A charge was impossible against the volleys of
the foe, and retreat was cut off by the multitude of light horsemen that
hemmed the army in on every side. In the last desperate effort which
Marius made to free himself from the meshes of the kings, even the
centre of his column shook under the hail of missiles that assailed it,
and to the weapons of the enemy were soon added the terrors of blinding
heat and intolerable thirst. Suddenly a storm broke over the warring
hosts. It cooled the throats of the Romans and refreshed their limbs,
while it lessened the power of their foes. The strapless javelins[1163]
of the Numidians could not be hurled when wet, for they slipped from the
hands of the thrower; their shields of elephants' hide absorbed water
like a sponge and weighed down the arms on which they hung. The Moors
and Numidians, seeing that even their means of defence had failed them,
took to flight: but only to appear on another day with their army raised
to ninety thousand and to repeat the attempt to surround the Roman host.
This last effort ended in a signal victory for Marius. The forces of the
two kings were not only defeated but almost destroyed.

The events thus recorded can scarcely be regarded as mere variants of
the two battles which we have previously described. Vague and rhetorical
as is the account which sets them forth, it shows that there were
traditions of suffering and loss endured by the army of Marius such as
found no parallel in the campaign of his predecessor. Marius had
attempted what Metellus had never dared--a campaign in the far west of
Numidia. Its results were fruitless successes of the paladin type
followed by a burdensome and disastrous retreat. The west was lost, the
east was threatened, yet the lesson was not without its fruit. The
general when he reached the walls of Cirta had lost something of his
hardy faith in the use of blood and iron; he was more ready to appeal to
the motives which make for peace, to pretend a trust he did not feel, to
make promises which might induce the fluid treachery of Bocchus to
harden into a definite act of treason to his brother king, above all, to
lean on some other man who could play the delicate game of diplomatic
fence with a cunning which his own straightforward methods could not
attain. Everything depended on the attitude of the King of Mauretania;
and here again the campaign had not been without some healthful
consequences. If the Romans had gained no material advantage, Bocchus
had suffered some very material losses. His forces had been cut up, the
stigma of failure attached (perhaps for the first time) to their leader,
the first contact with the Romans had not been encouraging to his
subjects. And the campaign may also have revealed the difficulty, if not
the hopelessness, of Jugurtha's cause. The plan of driving the Romans
from Africa could not be perfected even with the combined forces of the
two kingdoms at their fullest strength; however much they might harass,
they had proved themselves utterly unable to attain such a success as
even the most complacent patriotism could name a victory; while the
sturdiness of the resistance of Rome seemed to banish the hypothesis
that Jugurtha would be included in any terms that might be made. Yet the
campaign had left Bocchus in an excellent position for negotiation. He
had shown that Mauretania was a great make-weight in the scale against
Rome; he had advertised his power as an enemy, his value as an ally; now
was the time to see whether the power and the value, so long ignored,
would be appreciated by Rome.

But five days are said to have elapsed since the last great conflict
with the Moors when envoys from Bocchus waited on Marius in his winter
quarters at Cirta.[1164] The request which they brought was that "two of
the Roman general's most trusty friends should wait on the king, who
desired to speak with them on a matter of interest to himself and the
Roman people".[1165] Marius forthwith singled out Sulla and Manlius, who
followed the envoys to the place of meeting that had been arranged. On
the way it was agreed by the representatives of Rome that they should
not wait for the king to open the discussion. Hitherto every proposal
had come from Bocchus; he had been played with, but never given a
straightforward answer, still less a sign of real encouragement. Yet no
good could be gained by expecting the king to assume a grovelling
attitude, by forcing him to begin proposals for peace with a confession
of his own humiliation. It would be far wiser if the commissioners
opened with a few spontaneous remarks which might restore rest and
dignity to the royal mind. Manlius the elder readily yielded the place
of first speaker to the more facile Sulla. If the words which history
has attributed to the quaestor[1166] were really used by him, they are a
record of one of those rare instances in which a diplomatist is able to
tell the naked truth. Sulla began by dwelling on the joy which he and
his friends derived from the change in Bocchus's mind--from the
heaven-sent inspiration which had taught the king that peace was
preferable to war. He then dwelt on the fact, which he might have
adduced the whole of his country's history to prove, that Rome had been
ever keener in the search for friends than subjects, that the Republic
had ever deemed voluntary allegiance safer than that compelled by force.
He showed that Roman friendship might be a boon, not a burden, to
Bocchus; the distance of his kingdom from the capital would obviate a
conflict of interests, but no distance was too great to be traversed by
the gratitude of Rome. Bocchus had already seen what Rome could do in
war; all that he needed to learn was the still greater lesson that her
generosity was as unconquerable as her arms. Sulla's words were a
genuine statement of the whole theory of the Protectorate, as it was
held and even acted on at this period of history. As a proof of the
ruinous lengths to which Roman generosity might proceed, he could have
pointed to the Numidian war now in the sixth year of its disastrous
course. The darker side of the Protectorate--the rapacity of the
individual adventurer--was no creation of the government, and needed not
to be reproduced on the canvas of the bright picture which he drew. The
hopes held out to Bocchus were genuine enough; the burden of his
alliance was but slight, its security immense.

The king seemed impressed by the gracious overtures of the
commissioners. His answer was not only friendly, but apologetic.[1167]
He urged that he had not taken up arms in any spirit of hostility to
Rome, but simply for the purpose of defending his own frontiers. He
claimed that the territory near the Muluccha, which had been harried by
Marius, did not belong to Jugurtha at all. He had expelled the Numidian
king from this region and it was his by the right of war. He appealed
finally to the fact of his own former embassy to Rome: he had made a
genuine effort to secure her friendship, but this had been
repulsed.[1168] He was, however, willing to forget the past; and, if
Marius permitted, he would like to send a fresh embassy to the senate.
This last request was provisionally granted by the commissioners;
Bocchus, in making it, showed a wise and, in consideration of some of
the events of this very war, a natural sense of the insecurity of the
promises made by Roman commanders, at the same time as he exhibited a
justifiable faith in a word once given by the great organ of the
Republic. Yet, when the commissioners had taken their departure, his old
hesitancy seemed to revive. He consented at least to listen to those of
his advisers who still urged the claims of Jugurtha.[1169] They had
raised their voices again, either at the time when the Roman
commissioners were waiting on Bocchus, or immediately after their
departure; for Jugurtha had no sooner learnt of his father-in-law's
renewed negotiations with Rome than he had used every means (amongst
others, we are told, that of costly gifts) to induce his Mauretanian
supporters to advocate his cause.

A further stage in the negotiations was reached before the winter season
was over, although it is probable that, at the time when this next step
was taken by the Mauretanian king, the new year had been passed and the
advent of spring was not far off. Marius, who was not fettered in his
operations by respect for the traditional seasons which were deemed
suitable to a campaign, had started with some flying columns of infantry
and a portion of the cavalry to some desert spot, with a view to besiege
a fortress still held by Jugurtha, and garrisoned by all the deserters
from the Roman army who were now in the king's service. Sulla had been
left with the usual title of pro-praetor to represent his absent
commander. To the headquarters of the winter camp[1170] Bocchus now sent
five of his closest friends, men chosen for their approved loyalty and
ability.[1171] His last access of hesitancy, if it were more than a
semblance, had certainly been shortlived, and the envoys were given full
powers to arrange the terms of peace. They had set out with all speed to
reach the Roman winter camp, but their journey had been long and
painful. They had been seized and plundered on the route by Gaetulian
brigands, and now appeared panic-stricken and in miserable plight before
the representative of Rome. Stripped of their credentials and the
symbols of their high office, they expected to be treated as vagrant
impostors from a hostile state; Sulla received them with the lavish
dignity that might be the due of princes. The simple nomads felt the
charm and the surprise of this first glimpse of the public manners of
Rome. Was it possible that these kindly and courteous men were the
spoilers of the world? The rumour must be the false invention of the
enemies of the bounteous Republic. The untrained mind rapidly argues
from the part to the whole, and Sulla's tact had done a great service to
his country. He had also established a claim on the Mauretanian
king,[1172] and this personal tie was not to be without its

The envoys revealed to the quaestor the instructions of their master,
and asked his help and advice in the mission that lay before them. They
dwelt with pardonable pride on the wealth, the magnificence, and the
honour of their king, and dilated on every point in which the alliance
with such a potentate was likely to serve the cause of Rome.[1173] Sulla
promised them the plenitude of his help; he instructed them in the mode
in which they should address Marius, in which they should approach the
senate, and continued to be their host for forty days, until his
commander was ready to listen to their proposals and forward them on
their way. When Marius returned to Cirta after the successful completion
of his brief campaign, and heard of the arrival of the envoys, he asked
Sulla to bring them[1174] to his quarters, and made preparations for
assembling as formal a council as the resources of the province
permitted. A praetor happened to be within its limits and several men of
senatorial rank. All these sat to listen to the proposals made by
Bocchus. The verdict of the council was in favour of the genuineness of
the king's appeal, and the proconsul granted the envoys permission to
make their way to Rome. They asked an armistice for their king[1175]
until the mission should be completed. Loud and angry voices were heard
in protest--the voices of the narrow and suspicious men who are haunted
by the fixed conviction that a request for a cessation of hostilities is
always a treacherous attempt at renewed preparations for war. But Sulla
and the majority of the board supported the request of the envoys, and
the wiser counsel at length prevailed. The embassy now divided; two of
its members returned to their king, while three were escorted to Rome by
Cnaeus Octavius Ruso, a quaestor who had brought the last instalment of
pay for the army and was ready for his return homewards. The language of
the envoys before the Roman senate assumed the apologetic tone which had
been suggested by Sulla. Their king, they said, had erred; Jugurtha had
been the cause of this error. Their master asked that Rome should admit
him to treaty relations with herself, that she should call him her
friend. It is not impossible that these negotiations had a secret
history; that Bocchus was told of some very material reward that he
might expect, if Jugurtha were surrendered. But the assumption is not
necessary. The magic of the name of Rome had fired the imagination of
the African king at the commencement of the struggle; now that his fears
were quieted, the end, in whatever form it was attained, may have seemed
supremely desirable in itself. His envoys had been schooled by Sulla to
expect much more than was promised and to read the senate's words
aright. Certainly, if a prize had been offered for Bocchus's fidelity,
the offer was carefully concealed. The official form in which the
government accepted the petitioner's request, granted a free pardon and
expressed a cold probation. "The senate and Roman people (so ran the
resolution) are used to be mindful of good service and of wrongs. Since
Bocchus is penitent for the past, they excuse his fault. He will be
granted a treaty and the name of friend, when he has proved that he
deserves the grant." [1176]

When Bocchus received this answer, he despatched a letter to Marius
asking that Sulla should be sent to advise with him on the matters that
touched the common interests of himself and Rome.[1177] It was tolerably
clear what the subject of interest was. If it could be made "common,"
the end of the war had been reached. Sulla was despatched, and the final
triumph, if attained, would be that of the diplomatist, not of the
soldier. The quaestor was accompanied by an escort of cavalry, slingers,
and archers, and a cohort of Italians bearing the weapons of a
skirmishing force; for the adventures of Bocchus's envoys had shown the
insecurity of the route. On the fifth day of the march, a large body of
horse was seen approaching from a distance--a force that looked larger
and more threatening than it afterwards proved to be; for it rode in
open order, and the wild evolutions of the horsemen seemed to be the
preliminary to an attack. Sulla's escort sprang to their arms; but the
returning scouts soon removed all sense of fear. The approaching band of
cavalry proved to be but a thousand strong and their leader to be Volux
the son of Bocchus. The prince saluted Sulla and told him that he had
been sent to meet and escort him to the presence of the king. For two
days the combined forces advanced together, and there were no adventures
by the road; but on the evening of the second day, when their resting
place had been already chosen, the Moorish prince came hastily to Sulla
with a look of perplexity on his face. He said that his scouts had just
informed him that Jugurtha was close at hand, he entreated Sulla to join
him in flight from the camp while it was yet night.[1178] The request
was met by an indignant refusal; Sulla pointed to his men, whose lives
might be sacrificed by the disgraceful disappearance of their leader.
But, when Volux shifted his ground and merely insisted on the utility of
a march by night from the dangerous neighbourhood, the quaestor yielded
assent. He ordered that the soldiers should take their evening meal, and
that a large number of fires should be lit which were to be left burning
in the deserted camp. At the first watch the Moors and Romans stole
silently from the lines. The dawn found them jaded, heavy with sleep,
and longing for rest. Sulla was supervising the measurement of a camp,
when some Moorish horsemen galloped up with the news that Jugurtha was
but two miles in advance of their position. It was clear that the
anxious Numidian was watching their every movement; the question to be
answered was "Was Prince Volux in the plot?" The facts seemed dark
enough to justify any suspicion. The nerves of the Romans had been
shaken by the unknown danger which had forced them to leave their camp,
by the night of sleepless watchfulness which had followed its
abandonment. A panic was the inevitable result, and panic leads to fury.
Voices were raised that the Moorish traitor should be slain, and that,
if the fruit of his treason was reaped, he at least should not be
allowed to see it. Sulla himself was weighed down with the same
suspicion that animated his men, but he would not allow them to lay
violent hands on the Moor.[1179] He encouraged them as best he might,
then he turned with a passionate protest on his dubious companion. He
called the protecting god of his own race, the guardian of its
international honour, Jupiter Maximus, to witness the crime and perfidy
of Bocchus, and he ordered Volux to leave his camp. The unhappy prince
was probably in a state of genuine terror of Jugurtha, of complete
uncertainty as to the intentions of that jealous kinsman and ally. Even
had Volux known that his father Bocchus wished to play a double game, to
balance the helplessness of Sulla against that of Jugurtha, to hold two
valuable hostages in his hands at once, how could he be certain that
Jugurtha would be content to play the part of a mere pawn in the king's
game, to be dependent for his safety on the passing whim of a man whom
he distrusted? Jugurtha might have everything to gain by massacring the
Romans and seizing Sulla. The act would compromise Bocchus hopelessly in
the eyes of the Roman government. There was hardly a man that would not
believe in his treason, and from that time forth Bocchus would have no
choice but to be the firm ally of Numidia against the vengeance of Rome.
Yet, if Volux acted or spoke as though he believed in the possibility of
this issue, he might seem to be incriminating his father and himself, he
might seem to deserve the stern rebuke of Sulla and the order of
expulsion from the Roman camp. His fears must therefore be concealed and
he must profess a confidence which he did not feel. With tears which may
have expressed a genuine emotion, he entreated Sulla not to harbour the
unworthy suspicion. There had been no preconcerted treachery; the danger
was at the most the product of the cunning of Jugurtha, who had
discovered their route. Volux implied that the object of the Numidian's
movement was to compromise the Moorish government in the eyes of Sulla;
but he stated his emphatic belief that Jugurtha would, or could, do no
positive hurt to the Roman envoy or his retinue. He pointed out that the
king had no great force at his command, and (what was more important
still) that he was now wholly dependent on the favour of his
father-in-law. It was incredible, he maintained, that Jugurtha would
attempt any overt act of hostility, when the son of Bocchus was present
to be a witness to the crime. Their best plan would be to show their
indifference to his schemes, to ride in broad daylight through the
middle of his camp. If Sulla wished, he would send on the Moorish
escort, or leave it where it was and ride with him alone.

It was one of those situations which are the supreme tests of the
qualities of a man. Sulla knew that his life depended on the caprice, or
the momentary sense of self-interest, of a barbarian who was believed to
have shrunk from no crime and on whose head Rome had put a price. Yet he
did not hesitate. He passed with Volux through the lines of Jugurtha's
camp, and the desperate Numidian never stirred. What motive held his
hand was never known; it may have been that Jugurtha never intended
violence; yet the failure of his plan of compromising Bocchus might well
have stirred such a ready man to action; it may have been that he still
relied on his influence with the Mauretanian king, which was perpetuated
by his agents at the court. But some believed that his inaction was due
to surprise, and that the transit of Sulla through the hostile camp was
one of those actions which are rendered safe by their very

In a few days the travellers had reached the spot where Bocchus held his
court. The secret advocates of Numidia and Rome were already in
possession of the king.[1181] Jugurtha's representative was Aspar, a
Numidian subject who had been sent by his master as soon as the news had
been brought of Bocchus's demand for the presence of Sulla. He had been
sent to watch the negotiations and, if possible, to plead his monarch's
cause. The advocate of Rome was Dabar, also a Numidian but of the royal
line and therefore hostile to Jugurtha. He was a grandson of Masinissa,
but not by legitimate descent, for his father had been born of a
concubine of the king.[1182] His great parts had long recommended him to
Bocchus, and his known loyalty to Rome made him a useful intermediary
with the representative of that power. He was now sent to Sulla with the
intimation that Bocchus was ready to meet the wishes of the Roman
people; that he asked Sulla himself to choose a day, an hour and a place
for a conference; that the understanding, which already existed between
them, remained wholly unimpaired. The presence of a representative of
Jugurtha at the court should cause no uneasiness. This representative
was only tolerated because there was no other means of lulling the
suspicion of the Numidian king. We do not know what Sulla made of this
presentment of the case; but somewhere in the annals of the time there
was to be found an emphatic conviction that Bocchus was still playing a
double game, that he was still revolving in his mind the respective
merits of a surrender of Jugurtha to the Romans and of Sulla to
Jugurtha;[1183] that his fears prompted the first step, his inclinations
the second, and that this internal struggle was waged throughout the
whole of the tortuous negotiations which ensued.

Sulla, in accepting the promised interview, replied that he did not
object to the presence of Jugurtha's legate at the preliminaries; but
that most of what he wished to say was for the king's ear alone, or at
least for those of a very few of his most trusted counsellors. He
suggested the reply that he expected from the king, and after a short
interval was led into Bocchus's presence. At this meeting he gave the
barest intimation of his mission; he had been sent, he said, by the
proconsul[1184] to ask the king whether he intended peace or war. It had
been arranged that Bocchus should make no immediate answer to this
question, but should reserve his reply for another date. The king now
adjourned the audience to the tenth day, intimating that on that day his
intention would be decided and his reply prepared. Sulla and Bocchus
both retired to their respective camps; but the king was restless, and
at a late hour of that very night a message reached Sulla entreating an
immediate and secret interview. No one was present but Dabar, the trusty
go-between, and interpreters whose secrecy was assured. The narrative of
this momentous meeting[1185] is therefore due to Sulla, whose fortunate
possession of literary tastes has revealed a bit of secret history to
the world. The king began with some complimentary references to his
visitor, an acknowledgment of the great debt that he owed him, a hope
that his benefactor would never be weary of attempting to exhaust his
boundless gratitude. He then passed to the question of his own future
relations with Rome. He repeated the assertion, which he had made on the
occasion of Sulla's earlier visit, that he had never made, or even
wished for, war with the people of Rome, that he had merely protected
his frontiers against armed aggression. But he was willing to waive the
point. He would impose no hindrance to the Romans waging war with
Jugurtha in any way they pleased. He would not press his claim to the
disputed territory east of the Muluccha. He would be content to regard
that river, which had been the boundary between his own kingdom and that
of Micipsa, as his future frontier. He would not cross it himself nor
permit Jugurtha to pass within it. If Sulla had any further request to
urge, which could be fairly made by the petitioner and honourably
granted by himself, he would not refuse it.

A strict and safe neutrality was the tentacle put out by Bocchus. The
only shadow of a positive service by which he proposed to deserve the
alliance of Rome, was the abandonment of a highly disputable claim to a
part of Jugurtha's possessions. It was certainly time to bring the
monarch to the real point at issue, and Sulla pressed it home. He began
by a brief acknowledgment of the complimentary references which the king
had made to himself, and then indulged in some plain speaking as to the
expectations which the Roman government had formed of their would-be
ally.[1186] He pointed out that the offers made by Bocchus were scarcely
needed by Rome. A power that possessed her military strength would not
be likely to regard them in the light of favours. Something was expected
which could be seen to subserve the interests of Rome far more than
those of the king himself. The service was patent. He had Jugurtha in
his power; if he handed him over to Rome, her debt would certainly be
great, and it would be paid. The recognition of friendship, the treaty
which he sought, and the portion of Numidia which he claimed--all these
would be his for the asking. The king drew back; he urged the sacred
bonds of relationship, the scarce less sacred tie of the treaty which
bound him to his son-in-law; he emphasised the danger to himself of such
a flagrant breach of faith. It might alienate the hearts of his
subjects, who loved Jugurtha and hated the name of Rome.[1187] But Sulla
continued to press the point; the king's resistance seemed to give way,
and at last he promised to do everything that his persistent visitor
demanded. It was agreed, however, between the two conspirators that it
was necessary to preserve a semblance of peaceful relations with
Jugurtha. A pretence must be made of admitting him to the terms of the
convention; this would be a ready bait, for he was thoroughly tired of
the war. Sulla agreed to this arrangement as the only means of
entrapping his victim; to Bocchus it may have had another significance
as well; it still left his hands free.

The next day witnessed the beginning of the machinations that were to
end in the sacrifice of a Numidian king or a Roman magistrate. Bocchus
summoned Aspar, the agent of Jugurtha, and told him that a communication
had been received from Sulla to the effect that terms might be
considered for bringing the war to a close; he therefore asked the
legate to ascertain the views of his sovereign.[1188] Aspar departed
joyfully to the headquarters of Jugurtha, who was now at a considerable
distance from the scene of the negotiations. Eight days later he
returned with all speed, bearing a message for the ear of Bocchus.
Jugurtha, it appeared, was willing to submit to any conditions. But he
had little confidence in Marius. It had often happened that terms of
peace sanctioned by Roman generals had been declared invalid. But there
was a way of obtaining a guarantee. If Bocchus wished to secure their
common interests and to enjoy an undisputed peace, he should arrange a
meeting of all the principals to the agreement, on the pretext of
discussing its terms. At that meeting Sulla should be handed over to
Jugurtha. There could be no doubt that the possession of such a hostage
would wring the consent of the senate and people to the terms of the
treaty; for it was incredible that the Roman government would leave a
member of the nobility, who had been captured while performing a public
duty, in the power of his foes.

Bocchus after some reflection consented to this course. Then, as later,
it was a disputed question whether the king had even at this stage made
up his mind as to his final course of action.[1189] When the time and
place for the meeting had been arranged, the nature of the treachery was
still uncertain. At one moment the king was holding smiling converse
with Sulla, at another with the envoy of Jugurtha. Precisely the same
promises were made to both; both were satisfied and eager for the
appointed day. On the evening before the meeting Bocchus summoned a
council of his friends; then the whim took him that they should be
dismissed, and he passed some time in silent thought. Before the night
was out he had sent for Sulla, and it was the cunning of the Roman that
set the final toils for the Numidian. At break of day the news was
brought that Jugurtha was at hand. Bocchus, attended by a few friends
and the Roman quaestor, advanced as though to do him honour, and halted
on some rising ground which put the chief actors in the drama in full
view of the men who lay in ambush. Jugurtha proceeded to the same spot
amidst a large retinue of his friends; it had been agreed that all the
partners to the conference should come unarmed.[1190] A sign was given,
and the men of the ambuscade had sprung from every side upon the mound.
Jugurtha's retinue was cut down to a man; the king himself was seized,
bound and handed over to Sulla. In a short while he was the prisoner
of Marius.

Every one had long known that the war would be closed with the capture
of the king. Marius could leave for other fields and dream other dreams
of glory. But even the utter collapse of resistance in Numidia did not
obviate the necessity for a considerable amount of detailed labour,
which absorbed the energy of the commander during the closing months of
the year. Even when news had been brought from Rome that a grateful
people had raised him to the consulship for the second time, and that a
task greater than that of the Numidian war had been entrusted to his
hand,[1191] he did not immediately quit the African province, and it is
probable that at least the initial steps of the new settlement of
Numidia determined by the senate, were taken by him. The settlement was
characteristic of the imperialism of the time. The government declined
to extend the evils of empire westward and southward, to make of
Mauretania another Numidia, and to enter on a course of border warfare
with the tribes that fringed the desert. It therefore refused to
recognise Numidia as a province. In default of an abler ruler, Gauda was
set upon the throne of his ancestors;[1192] he had long had the support
of Marius, and seems indeed to have been the only legitimate claimant.
But he was not given the whole of the realm which had been swayed by
Masinissa and Micipsa. The aspirations of Bocchus for an extension of
the limits of Mauretania had to be satisfied, partly because it would
have been ungenerous and impolitic to deprive of a reward that had been
more than hinted at, a man who had violated his own personal
inclinations and the national traditions of the subjects over whom he
ruled, for the purpose of performing a signal service to Rome; partly
because it would have been dangerous to the future peace of Numidia, and
therefore of Rome, to leave the question of Bocchus's claims to
territory east of the Muluccha unsettled, especially with such a ruler
as Gauda on the throne. The western part of Numidia was therefore
attached to the kingdom of Mauretania; nearly five hundred miles of
coast line may have been transferred, and the future boundary between
the two dominions may have been the port of Saldae on the west of the
Numidian gulf.[1193] The wisdom of this settlement is proved by its
success. Until Rome herself becomes a victim to civil strife, and her
exiles or conquerors play for the help of her own subjects, Numidia
ceases to be a factor in Roman politics. The mischief of interfering in
dynastic questions had been made too patent to permit of the rash
repetition of the dangerous experiment.

In comparison with the settlement of Numidia, the ultimate fate of its
late king was a matter of little concern. But Jugurtha had played too
large a part in history to permit either the historian, or the lounger
of the streets who jostled his neighbour for the privilege of gazing
with hungry eyes at the visage and bearing of the terrible warrior, to
be wholly indifferent to his end. The prisoner was foredoomed. Had he
not for years been treated as an escaped criminal, not as a hostile
king? If one ignored his outrages on his own race, had he not massacred
Roman merchants, prompted the treacherous slaughter of a Roman garrison,
and devised the murder of a client of the Roman people in the very
streets of Rome? In truth, a formidable indictment might be brought
against Jugurtha, nor was it the care of any one to discriminate which
of the counts referred to acts of war, and which must be classed in the
category of merely private crimes. It was sufficient that he was an
enemy (which to the Roman mind meant traitor) who had brought death to
citizens and humiliation to the State, and it is probable that, had the
Numidian been the purest knight whose chivalrous warfare had shaken the
power of Rome, he would have taken that last journey to the Capitol. It
was the custom of Rome, and any derogation of the iron rule was an act
of singular grace. The stupidity of the mob, which is closely akin to
its brutality, was utterly unable to distinguish between the differences
in conduct which are the result of the varying ethical standards of the
races of the world, or even to balance the enormities committed by their
own commanders against those which could be fastened on the enemy whom
they had seized. And this lack of imagination was reflected in a
cultured government, partly because their culture was superficial and
they were still the products of the grim old school which had produced
their ferocious ancestors, partly for reasons that were purely politic.
The light hold which Rome held over her dependants, could only be

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