No fool can be silent at a feast. — Solon of Athens

Jugurthine War

112 to 105 A.D.
Rome — versus — Jugurtha, King of Numidia

The Jugurthine War was a minor war by Roman standards, involving only a few serious battles, none of which were decisive. The principal antagonist of the war, the Numidian chieftain Jugurtha, was captured by treachery rather than force, and the region at stake was not of critical strategic importance to Rome.

The war is historically interesting primarily for political rather than military reasons. The events leading up to the war caused an enormous scandal in Rome because in the years preceding the war, and even after war was declared, Jugurtha openly bribed numerous high ranking Romans in both the military and the senate in order to get favorable treatment. He flaunted his immunity from justice and is famously quoted as saying "Rome is a city for sale, and doomed to perish as soon as it finds a purchaser!" The reason this was scandalous was that the Roman Republic in previous years, was famous for its honesty and rectitude in public affairs. (In 279 BC for example, when Pyrrhus tried to gain favor by bribery, he found not a single Senator who would accept his gifts.) The war is also interesting because it marked the beginning of the rivalry between Marius and Sulla. Marius gained the consulship for the first time during the war, but before he could gain the glory of bringing the war to a close himself, Sulla aided in the capture of Jugurtha by means of trickery.

DateBattle Summary
108 BC  
Battle of the Muthal   Romans victory
Fought B.C. 108, between the Numidians, under Jugurtha, and the Romans, under Metellus Numidicus. The Numidians were strongly posted on the heights above the river, but were driven out by the legionaries with heavy loss, Jugurtha did not again face the Romans in the field, contenting himself with a guerilla warfare.
106 BC  
Battle of Cirta   Romans victory
Marius defeated Jugurtha and Bocchus in a battle near Cirta, while on his way to winter quarters.

Short Biography
Jugurtha Numedian king, flagrantly bribed senate to maintain power. Enemy of Rome.
Metellus Commanded troops in Numidia against Jugurtha. Enemy of Marius.
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.

Story Links
Book Links
Jugurtha, King of Numidia  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Gaius Marius Becomes Commander of the Army  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Capture of Jugurtha's Treasure Towns  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Capture of Jugurtha  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