The Jugurthine War (112-105 B.C.):
The Jugurthine War gave Rome power, but no territory in Africa. It was more significant for bringing into prominence two new leaders of Republican Rome, Marius, who had fought alongside Jugurtha in Spain, and Marius' enemy Sulla.
After reading this profile of the Jugurthine War, try the Jugurthine War Quiz
Numidia and Rome:
Numidia, a north African [see map] ally of Rome in the Punic Wars, was part of the Roman and Greek bread basket, so Roman merchants lived there. When Numidia's King Massinissa died, his son King Micipsa continued the Roman relationship. Micipsa lent help to the Romans in their campaigns in Spain and Gaul. He died in 118 leaving his kingdom to be divided among three heirs, his legitimate sons Adherbal and Hiempsal, and his adopted heir Jugurtha, who was also one of Massinissa's grandsons.
What Jugurtha Did to Ignite the Roman Anger:
After Jugurtha had Hiempsal killed, Rome, guided by L. Opimius, divided Numidia into two parts, assigning one to Jugurtha and the other to Adherbal. Jugurtha wanted it all and attacked Adherbal's capital at Cirta in 112 B.C. There he not only attacked Numidians, but massacred the resident Roman merchants.
Rome Tries to Fight in Numidia:
L. Calpurnius Bestia, consul in 111, tried to fight Jugurtha, but his forces were inadequate against the Numidian light-armed horse soldiers, so he negotiated.
The next year, a new consul, Sp. Postumius Albinus went to Numidia with about 40,000 troops. Again, he was unsuccessful and returned to Rome, leaving his brother Aulus in charge. Aulus waged a disastrous winter campaign at Suthul. Jugurtha forced not only Aulus' surrender, but made the defeated soldiers pass under the yoke, a symbolic humiliation. We don't know what happened to Aulus, but his brother, Calpurnius Bestia, and Opimius were exiled.
Q. Caecilius Metellus:
In 109, Q. Caecilius Metellus was consul and in charge of the African force. His infantry was no match for Jugurtha's light-armed cavalry so he attacked towns. Metellus won a victory in 108 at the Metellus River, but Jugurtha retreated quickly enough to escape serious consequences. When Metellus couldn't force Jugurtha to surrender he tried to hire an assassin. It didn't work. Jugurtha hired more soldiers and made an alliance with the king of Mauretania, Bocchus.
Gaius Marius, a novus homo 'new man', was serving under Metellus, but left Africa to run for the office of consul in Rome. By virtue of some political shenanigans, he then returned to Africa to command the campaign in place of Metellus. After making various significant changes to the army, Marius had a larger force with which to attack Numidia. With this well-trained force, he was able to capture Jugurtha's treasure house which meant the king would have trouble paying and keeping the loyalty of his troops.
Bocchus and Sulla:
Sulla was Marius' quaestor and a patrician. Marius sent him to negotiate with Bocchus. Sulla persuaded Bocchus to switch alliances and hand Jugurtha over to the Romans. After their discussion, the Mauretanian king did as asked. Jugurtha was surrendered and later executed by the Romans in 104 B.C. Bocchus received part of Jugurtha's land, eastern Numidia was given to someone else and Rome's territory did not expand.
Marius and Sulla:
Sulla did the diplomatic wrangling that led to the solution of the Jugurthine War, but Marius was the leader of the Roman forces. Marius was awarded the triumph. Sulla was not happy about it. Sulla and Marius would continue their animosity at the expense of Rome.
Jugurthine War People:
- Masinissa - Jugurtha's Grandfather
- Micipsa (d. 118) - Masinissa's successor
Heirs of Micipsa
- Micipsa's legitimate sons
- Jugurtha - Micipsa's adopted son and a grandson of Masinissa
- Bocchus - King of Mauretania and fickle ally of Jugurtha
- L. Opimius - Divided Numidia between Adherbal and Jugurtha
- C. Memmius - Tribune
- L. Calpurnius Bestia - Consul
- Sp. Postumius Albinus - Consul
- Aulus - Brother of Sp. Postumius Albinus
- C. Mamilius - Tribune who helped force Sp. P. Albinus, Calpurnius Bestia and Opimius into exile for financial improbity.
- Q. Caecilius Metellus - Consul
- C. Marius - Served under Metellus but became 7 time Consul
- Sulla - Marius' subordinate who arranged the deal by which King Bocchus kidnapped Jugurtha to hand over to the Romans.