The Numidian king, who fought against the Roman Republic over the command of his kingdom.
Jugurtha was born to Mastanbal, the brother of king
Micipsa, and a concubine. Because of this mixed lineage, he remained a commoner.
Sallust describes Jugurtha as such:
As soon as Jugurtha grew up, endowed as he was with physical strength, a handsome person, but above all with a vigorous intellect, he did not allow himself to be spoiled by luxury or idleness, but following the custom of that nation, he rode, he hurled the javelin, he contended with his fellows in foot-races; and although he surpassed them all in renown, he nevertheless won the love of all. Besides this, he devoted much time to the chase, he was the first or among the first to strike down the lion and other wild beasts, he distinguished himself greatly, but spoke little of his own exploits (BJ 6).
Seeing this, Micipsa sent him to fight alongside the Romans during the Second Punic War. During this time, Jugurtha became well-acquainted with the Roman general, Publius Cornelius Scipio. After fighting alongside one another and becoming friends, Scipio sent him home with a letter:
The valour of your Jugurtha in the Numantine war was most conspicuous, as I am sure you will be glad to learn. To us he is dear because of his services, and we shall use our best efforts to make him beloved also by the senate and people of Rome. As your friend I congratulate you; in him you have a hero worthy of yourself and of his grandfather Masinissa (BJ 9).
Having learned of Jugurtha’s successes, Micipsa adopted Jugurtha as one of his sons, joining his natural-born sons
and Hiempsal, and named him joint heir with them. Upon his death bed, Micipsa even expressed a preference for Jugurtha since he was older and seemingly wiser than his sons. Both Hiempsal and Adherbal questioned his legitimacy as a joint heir.
When Hiempsal chose to stay the night with a friend of Jugurtha, he was killed by allies of Jugurtha. After this event, the Numidians were divided into two parties between Adherbal and Jugurtha.