I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. — James Madison

Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

The Gold of Jugurtha

Jugurtha was king, King of Numidia. It is true that he had stolen his kingdom, or at least the greater part of it, from his two young cousins, the grandsons of Masinissa, yet he was safely seated on the throne.

One of the princes Jugurtha had murdered, the other had escaped to Rome and claimed her help.

But Jugurtha was rich, and he knew that at Rome gold could purchase what he wished. So now he sent large sums of money to some of the senators, and these could not resist the wealth that was offered to them.

In this way justice went awry, to the bewilderment of Adherbal the prince, for the senators who were bribed, voted that Jugurtha should keep the wealthiest and strongest part of Numidia, while Adherbal might claim what was left.

But even this was not enough to satisfy the ambition of the king. He now wished to wrest from the prince even the small dominion that had been allotted to him.

Again and again Adherbal appealed to Rome, but her hands were filled with the gold of the tyrant, and she would do nothing to help his victim.

At length Jugurtha besieged his cousin in his capital town of Cirta.

The prince was not strong enough to defy his enemy, and there was no choice but to surrender, and this Adherbal did, on condition that his life and that of the inhabitants should be spared.

But it was vain to trust Jugurtha. He cared little for the promise he had given, and no sooner had the prince left the city than his cousin ordered that he should be put to death, while the inhabitants, Italians as well as Numidians, were also slain.

The treachery of Jugurtha was known in Rome, but it was ignored. How could it be otherwise when those who should have rebuked and punished him were spending his money.

But among the tribunes there was one man, whose hands were clean, and he, in the Assembly of the people, denounced the nobles for taking bribes and allowing Jugurtha to go on his treacherous way unchecked.

So earnest were the words of Memmius that the people were roused, and the Senate dared no longer refuse to call the tyrant to account. War was therefore declared against the King of Numidia in 112 B.C.

But it was useless to send an army to Africa unless the officers were honourable men.

Bestia, the Consul, when he reached the enemy's country, did at first attack and capture several towns, as well as take many of Jugurtha's men prisoners.

Then, all at once, the activities of the Consul came to an end. He fought no more against the enemy. For Bestia had been offered the gold of Jugurtha and had accepted it, and the tyrant was again left to use his power as he chose.

At home, however, Memmius did not scruple to expose the conduct of Bestia, and to denounce it as unworthy of a Roman. His persistence won the day.

In 110 B.C. Jugurtha was brought to Rome under a safe conduct, that he might give evidence against those who had accepted his gold.

But even now the king still found some willing to handle his money, and justice was delayed, if it was not altogether turned aside.

One of the Consuls meanwhile wished to depose Jugurtha and make a young prince King of Numidia.

When Jugurtha heard this he did not hesitate to order his slave to go at once to put his rival to death.

Such a deed was more than Rome could tolerate, and Jugurtha found it necessary to escape from the city.

The Senate saw that the war in Africa must be carried on. But to do so with any hope of success it was necessary to find a general who would scorn to take a bribe.

In the summer of 109 B.C. such a man was found in the Consul Metellus, who was now sent to Numidia as commander of the army. With him, as his lieutenant or legate, he took Gaius Marius, of whose boyhood I must tell you.


Front Matter

The Lady Roma
The She-Wolf
The Twin Boys
Numitor's Grandson
The Sacred Birds
The Founding of Rome
The Sabine Maidens
The Tarpeian Rock
The Mysterious Gate
The King Disappears
The Peace-Loving King
Horatius Slays His Sister
Pride of Tullus Hostilius
King Who Fought and Prayed
The Faithless Friend
A Slave Becomes a King
Cruel Deed of Tullia
Fate of the Town of Gabii
Books of the Sibyl
Industry of Lucretia
Death of Lucretia
Sons of Brutus
Horatius Cocles
Mucius Burns Right Hand
The Divine Twins
The Tribunes
Coriolanus and His Mother
The Roman Army in a Trap
The Hated Decemvirs
The Death of Verginia
The Friend of the People
Camillus Captures Veii
The Statue of the Goddess
Schoolmaster Traitor
Battle of Allia
The Sacred Geese
The City Is Rebuilt
Volscians on Fire
Battle on the Anio
The Curtian Lake
Dream of the Two Consuls
The Caudine Forks
Caudine Forks Avenged
Fabius among the Hills
Battle of Sentinum
Son of Fabius Loses Battle
Pyrrhus King of the Epirots
Elephants at Heraclea
Pyrrthus and Fabricius
Pyrrhus is Defeated
Romans Build a Fleet
Battle of Ecnomus
Roman Legions in Africa
Regulus Taken Prisoner
Romans Conquer the Gauls
The Boy Hannibal
Hannibal Invades Italy
Hannibal Crosses the Alps
Battle of Trebia
Battle of Lake Trasimenus
Hannibal Outwits Fabius
Fabius Wins Two Victories
Battle of Cannae
Despair of Rome
Defeat of Hasdrubal
Claudius Enjoy a Triumph
Capture of New Carthage
Scipio Sails to Africa
Romans Set Fire to Camp
Hannibal Leaves Italy
The Battle of Zama
Scipio Receives a Triumph
Flamininus in Garlands
Death of Hannibal
Hatred of Cato for Carthage
The Stern Decree
Carthaginians Defend City
Destruction of Carthage
Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi
Tiberius and Octavius
Death of Tiberius Gracchus
Death of Gaius Gracchus
The Gold of Jugurtha
Marius Wins Notice of Scipio
Marius Becomes Commander
Capture of Treasure Towns
Capture of Jugurtha
Jugurtha Brought to Rome
Marius Conquers Teutones
Marius Mocks the Ambassadors
Metellus Driven from Rome
Sulla Enters Rome
The Flight of Marius
Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius
Marius Returns to Rome
The Orator Aristion
Sulla Besieges Athens
Sulla Fights the Samnites
The Proscriptions of Sulla
The Gladiators' Revolt
The Pirates
Pompey Defeats Mithridates
Cicero Discovers Conspiracy
Death of the Conspirators
Caesar Captured by Pirates
Caesar Gives up Triumph
Caesar Praises Tenth Legion
Caesar Wins a Great Victory
Caesar Invades Britain
Caesar Crosses Rubicon
Caesar and the Pilot
The Flight of Pompey
Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr
Caesar is Loaded with Honours
Nobles Plot against Caesar
The Assassination of Caesar
Brutus Speaks to Citizens
Antony Speaks to Citizens
The Second Triumvirate
Battle of Philippi
Death of Brutus
Antony and Cleopatra
Battle of Actium
Antony and Cleopatra Die
Emperor Augustus