During his consulship, he was the first Roman commander sent against Jugurtha during the Jugurthine War.
He was a tribune in 121 BCE and consul in 111 BCE with Publius Scipio Nasica.
Cicero reports that he was “ a man of spirit and a tolerable speaker” (Brutus 128). Most notably, during his time as tribune, he passed a law to recall Popillius, who had been banished after his harsh measures against the supporters of Tiberius Gracchus.
When Jugurtha sent envoys to Rome, Bestia did not meet with them, by request of the Senate (Sallust BJ 28). Sallust reports,
For though our consul possessed many excellent qualities of mind and body, they were all nullified by avarice. He had great endurance, a keen intellect, no little foresight, considerable military experience, and a stout heart in the face of dangers and plots.
After Jugurtha’s actions against the Romans at Cirta, Bestia was placed in charge of Numidia and his fellow consul,
Nasica, was placed in charge of Italy. Bestia, after he refused to hear the Numidian ambassadors, he marched on Numidia and began taking prisoners and storming towns. Jugurtha’s emissaries were able to bribe him first to delay hostilities, and Jugurtha hoped to be able to gain peace. Bestia returned to Rome to preside over the elections, where Gaius Memmius rallied the Senate against him.