Roman Republic v. Numidia Marius, Sulla, Q. Caecilius Metellus v. Jugurtha
Micispa (148-118 BCE) passed away, he left the kingdom Numidia to his two sons,
Hiempsal, and his nephew,
Jugurtha. These three struggled to rule together peacefully. Jugurtha murdered Hiempsal and defeated Adherbal, who fled to Rome for support. Some Romans, however, favored Jugurtha since he had fought for them. Becaues of this, the Roman Senate divided Numidia between the two brothers. Jugurtha received the less fertile western part, whereas Adherbal received the eastern half, which included the capital Cirta.
Jugurtha later besieged the city, Cirta. Italian merchants urged Adherbal to surrender so that his life might be spared. However, when Jugurtha's troops occupied the city, Adherbal was tortured to death, and many Italian merchants lost their lives. This prompted the Roman Equites and Roman people to demand a declaration of war. War was declared on Jugurtha and Numidia.
L. Calpurnius Bestia "persuaded" Jugurtha to surrender to the Romans, but allowed him to keep the throne. Sallust suggests that the consul had been bribed by Jugurtha to make such a favorable agreement.
Quintus Caecilius Metellus (Numidicus) was then sent to Africa. Though he was a successful military leader, he was accused of extending the war in order to gain more glory. There was an internal struggle began Metellus and his legate,
Gaius Marius. The Senate eventually elected Marius to the consulship and placed him in command of Numidia in 107 BCE. After this event, Jugurtha joined forces with his father-in-law
Bocchus, the King of Mauretania, a nearby kingdom to the east of Numidia. With the help of
Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the Romans made an agreement with Bocchus. If the Mauretanians handed over Jugurtha, Bocchus would receive part of the Numidian Kingdom. Jugurtha was subsequently thrown into the Tullianum, the famous jail in Rome, to die.
This war marks an important move by the Romans in their subjugation of Northern Africa. Jugurtha’s ability to bribe the Roman political leaders reflects a decline in morals and ethics. It also shows the beginning of a rivalry between Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who later competed against one another in the first civil war in Rome. This war is described in detail in the
Bellum Jugurthinum, written by the Roman historian, Sallust.