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Jugurtha - Numidian King

The Man for Whom the Jugurthine War Was Named

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Marius

Marius

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Jugurtha (c. 160 - 104 B.C.) was an African king from Numidia, who fought the Romans in a war named after him.

The people of Numidia were semi-nomadic, indistinguishable from the other Berbers in North Africa until the reign of Masinissa (Massinissa), who became a Roman ally in 206 B.C., with a kingdom roughly equivalent to modern Algeria. Masinissa's son Micipsa succeeded him in 148 B.C. Jugurtha was Masinissa's popular, ambitious illegitimate grandson. He was so popular among the Numidians that Micipsa sent him away to Spain where Jugurtha made influential Roman contacts.

When Micipsa died in 118, the kingdom of Numidia was ruled by his two sons, Hiempsal (whom Jugurtha had assassinated) and Adherbal, and Jugurtha. When Jugurtha attacked Adherbal he fled to Rome for help. Jugurtha, meanwhile, bribed officials in Rome. They divided Numidia into two parts, with Jugurtha assigned the western and Adherbal the eastern half.

By 112, Jugurtha was no longer content with his half, so he went east to attack Adherbal. Doing so violated the provisions made by Rome. Jugurtha also attacked Italian businessmen. A well-placed bribe cooled the Roman hot water Jugurtha should have been in. Jugurtha received a treaty instead of a Roman attack. Soon, however, he was summoned to Rome to explain the terms of the suspicious treaty. At Rome, after Jugurtha arranged to have a rival killed, his luck finally faltered and he lost all Roman support.

War broke out between Numidia and Rome. At first Jugurtha fared well because of Roman incompetence, and drove the Romans out, but in 107, the new consul, Gaius Marius, appeared on the scene along with his quastor and future enemy, Lucius Cornelius Sulla. With the help of Bocchus I, ruler of Mauretania and Jugurtha's father-in-law, Sulla captured Jugurtha. Marius received credit for the victory and a triumph. Sulla was not happy....

Jugurtha was executed by the Romans in 104 B.C.

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