Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

Jugurtha, King of Numidia

You remember Masinissa, King of Numidia, who had such fine cavalry, and helped the Romans fight the Carthaginians, do you not? Well, by this time, Masinissa and his sons were dead, and his kingdom was divided among his three grandsons, Jugurtha, Hiempsal, and Adherbal.

The first of these three kings, Jugurtha, was bold and cruel, and was noted for being one of the best riders in the whole country. He was not satisfied to have only a share of Numidia, and began to plan how he could get hold of his cousins' lands.

He began by murdering Hiempsal, and then proceeded to besiege Adherbal in his capital. In his distress, the besieged king sent a messenger to the Romans, imploring them to come and help him. But when Jugurtha heard that his cousin had asked for aid, he, too, sent a messenger to the senate.

Now the Roman nobles were so greedy for gold that they would do anything, however mean, to obtain it. Jugurtha knew this, so he bade his messenger make rich presents to all he met. The man obeyed. The Roman senators accepted the bribes, and then cruelly refused to help Adherbal, who soon fell into Jugurtha's hands.

Instead of merely depriving his cousin of his kingdom, Jugurtha put him in prison, and tortured him in the most awful and inhuman way until he died. The Romans had been base enough to accept bribes; but they were nevertheless very indignant when they heard how cruel Jugurtha had been, and called him to Rome to defend himself for the murder of his cousin.

Jugurtha came, pretended to be very sorry for what he had done, put on mourning, and secretly gave so many presents that none of the senators would condemn him. But, even while he was thus making believe to repent, he was planning a new crime.

Before he left Rome, he sent an assassin to kill the last relative he had left. Then, as he passed out of the Eternal City,—as the Romans boastfully call their town,—he is said to have scornfully cried: "Venal city, thou wouldst sell thyself to any one rich enough to buy thee!"

When Jugurtha reached home, all his pretended sorrow and repentance vanished. He felt such contempt for the Romans, who had accepted his presents, that he no longer thought it necessary to keep friends with them, and soon openly declared war against them.

The war between Jugurtha and the Romans was fought in Africa, and lasted several years. Indeed, the Romans endured several defeats before a young general called Marius finally conquered Jugurtha, and gained possession of the last Numidian fortress.

This stronghold was situated on a rock so high and so steep that it seemed impossible to climb it. But a young Roman soldier discovered that there were many snail holes and cracks in the rock, in which he could stick his bare toes. Taking advantage of this, he led a party up into the fortress, and became master of it while the garrison slept.

Soon after this, Jugurtha himself was made captive, and taken to Rome, where he was forced to march before the victor's chariot in the triumph. This ceremony over, he was thrust naked into a damp prison, where he died at the end of six days, without any one having offered to give him a bit of bread or a drink of water. He had pitied no one, so no one pitied him.


Front Matter

The First Settlers
Escape from the Burning City
The Clever Trick
The Boards Are Eaten
The Wolf and the Twins
Romulus Builds Rome
The Maidens Carried Off
Union of Sabines and Romans
Death of Romulus
Strange Signs of the Romans
The Quarrel with Alba
The Horatii and Curiatii
Tarquin and the Eagle
The Roman Youths
The King Outwitted
The Murder of Tarquin
The Ungrateful Children
The Mysterious Books
Tarquin's Poppies
The Oracle of Delphi
The Death of Lucretia
The Stern Father
A Roman Triumph
A Roman Triumph (Cont.)
Defense of the Bridge
The Burnt Hand
The Twin Gods
The Wrongs of the Poor
Fable of the Stomach
The Story of Coriolanus
The Farmer Hero
The New Laws
Death of Virginia
Plans of a Traitor
A School-Teacher Punished
Invasion of the Gauls
The Sacred Geese
Two Heroes of Rome
Disaster at Caudine Forks
Pyrrhus and His Elephants
The Elephants Routed
Ancient Ships
Regulus and the Snake
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
The Romans Defeated
The Inventor Archimedes
The Roman Conquests
Destruction of Carthage
Roman Amusements
The Jewels of Cornelia
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Caius Gracchus
Jugurtha, King of Numidia
The Barbarians
The Social War
The Flight of Marius
The Proscription Lists
Sertorius and His Doe
Revolt of the Slaves
Pompey's Conquests
Conspiracy of Catiline
Caesar's Conquests
Crossing of the Rubicon
Battle of Pharsalia
The Death of Caesar
The Second Triumvirate
The Vision of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
The Poisonous Snake
The Augustan Age
Death of Augustus
Varus Avenged
Death of Germanicus
Tiberius Smothered
The Wild Caligula
Wicked Wives of Claudius
Nero's First Crimes
Christians Persecuted
Nero's Cruelty
Two Short Reigns
The Siege of Jerusalem
The Buried Cities
The Terrible Banquet
The Emperor's Tablets
The Good Trajan
Trajan's Column
The Great Wall
Hadrian's Death
Antoninus Pius
The Model Pagan
Another Cruel Emperor
An Unnatural Son
The Senate of Women
The Gigantic Emperor
Invasion of the Goths
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra
A Prophecy Fulfulled
First Christian Emperor
Roman Empire Divided
An Emperor's Penance
Sieges of Rome
End of the Western Empire