(King of Numidia)

156–104 BC

Jugurtha was a grandson of Masinissa, who, with the cooperation of his Roman allies, usurped the throne of Numidia. At first he secured the support of Rome with bribery and promises of good behavior, but over a few years, his treachery began to wear on Rome's patience. Eventually Jugurtha committed an outrageous massacre of his cousin, and in 111 B.C., Rome sent an army to resist Jugurtha, but instead of fighting, the consul Bestia succumbed to bribery and negotiated a very favorable peace. This caused so much indignation in Rome that Jugurtha was sent for to defend his actions. However, Jugurtha had won over so many partisans in Rome through bribery that nothing could be done against him. At this time he uttered his famous expression: "Rome is a city for sale, and doomed to perish as soon as it finds a purchaser!"

Rome then resumed the war with Jugurtha. The consul Metellus was sent against him and won some important victories, but was unable to capture Jugurtha himself. By 106 B.C., Marius, who had served with distinction in Numidia, was elected and replaced Metellus. He also was successful in capturing Numidian towns and forts, but Jugurtha still eluded his capture. Eventually a lieutenant of Marius, by the name of Sulla, arranged an ambush with the cooperation of Bocchus, king of Mauretania. Sulla took credit for the capture, and this was the first disagreement between the two, that in years to come would grow into a cavernous rift.

Jugurtha was brought to Italy and imprisoned until finally in the year 104 B.C. he was led with his two sons through Rome in a triumph. The humiliation of such a dangerous enemy was of great interest to the Roman people, although he had apparently lost his mind by this time. He starved to death in a dark prison cell at the foot of Capitoline Hill within a week of the triumph.

Key events during the life of jugurtha:

134 BC
Jugurtha serves in Spain with a Numidian force under Scipio Aemilianus.
118 BC
Micipsa, king of Numidia died—Jugurtha assumes the throne after quarrels with other princes.
  Jugurtha secures his claims to the throne with bribery, treachery, murder and double-dealing.
111 BC
After years of treachery, Rome sends an army against Jugurtha, but he bribes his way to disgraceful peace.
110 BC
Jugurtha goes to Rome to defend his conduct, but his visit is an opportunity to deliver more bribes.
109 BC
Metellus is elected consul and sent to prosecute war with Jugurtha.
106 BC
Marius replaces Metellus as commander. Jugurtha is captured in an ambush with the help of Sulla.
104 BC
Jugurtha was presented in triumph of Marius. Went insane and died in prison dungeon.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Jugurtha, King of Numidia  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Caius Marius  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Gold of Jugurtha  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Gaius Marius Becomes Commander of the Army  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Jugurtha, the Purchaser of Rome  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris

Image Links

Jugurtha came to the tent of his father-in-law unarmed.
 in The Story of Rome

Short Biography
Marius Renowned general. Modernized legions. Waged a bloody feud with party of Sulla.
Sulla Defeated Mithradates in Greece. Marched on Rome, defeated the party of his enemy Marius.
Metellus Commanded troops in Numidia against Jugurtha. Enemy of Marius.
Bestia First consul sent to oppose Jugurtha, was bribed and concluded a dishonorable peace.
Bocchus King of Mauretania, father-in-law and ally of Jugurtha—betrayed him, and cooperated in his capture.