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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David


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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

The Hebrew Race From Abraham To The Sale Of Joseph

The Civil Wars Between Caesar And Pompey

Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David





The Wars With Jugurtha And The Cimbri








The fall of the Gracchi restored Rome to the rule of the oligarchy. The
government of the Senate was resumed, and a war of prosecution was carried
on against the followers of Gracchus. His measures were allowed to drop.
The claims of the Italian allies were disregarded, the noblest of all the
schemes of the late tribune, that of securing legal equality between the
Roman burgesses and their Italian allies. The restoration of Carthage was
set aside. Italian colonies were broken up. The allotment commission was
abolished, and a fixed rent was imposed on the occupants of the public
domains, but the proletariate of the capital continued to have a
distribution of corn, and jurymen or judges (judices) were still
selected from the mercantile classes. The Senate continued to be composed
of effeminated nobles, and insignificant persons were raised to the
highest offices.

The administration, under the restoration, was feeble and unpopular.
Social evils spread with alarming rapidity. Both slavery and great
fortunes increased. The provinces were miserably governed, while pirates
and robbers pillaged the countries around the Mediterranean. There was a
great revolt of slaves in Sicily, who gained, for a time, the mastery of
the island.

While public affairs were thus disgracefully managed, a war broke
out between Numidia and Rome. That African kingdom extended from the river
Molochath to the great Syrtis on the one hand, and to Cyrene and Egypt on
the other, and included the greatest part of the ancient Carthaginian
territories. Numidia, next to Egypt, was the most important of the Roman
client States. On the fall of Carthage, it was ruled by the eldest son of
Masinassa, Micipsa, a feeble old man, who devoted himself to the study of
philosophy, rather than affairs of State. The government was really in the
hands of his nephew, Jugurtha, courageous, sagacious, and able. He was
adopted by Micipsa, to rule in conjunction with his two sons, Adherbal and
Hiempsal. In the year B.C. 118 Micipsa died, and a collision arose, as was
to be expected, among his heirs. Hiempsal was assassinated, and the
struggle for the Numidian crown lay between Adherbal and Jugurtha. The
latter seized the whole territory, and Adherbal escaped to Rome, and laid
his complaint before the Senate. Jugurtha's envoys also appeared, and the
Senate decreed that the two heirs should have the kingdom equally divided
between them, but Jugurtha obtained the more fertile western half.

Then war arose between the two kings, and Adherbal was defeated, and
retired to his capital, Aita, where he was besieged by Jugurtha. Adherbal
made his complaints to Rome, and a commission of aristocratic but
inexperienced young men came to the camp of Jugurtha to arrange the
difficulties. Jugurtha rejected their demands, and the young men returned
home. Adherbal sent again messengers to Rome, being closely pressed,
demanding intervention. The Senate then sent Marcus Scaurus, who held
endless debates with Jugurtha, at Utica, to which place he was summoned.
These were not attended with any results. Scaurus returned to Rome, and
Jugurtha pressed the siege of Aita, which soon capitulated. Adherbal was
executed with cruel torture, and the adult population was put to the
sword.

A cry of indignation arose in Italy. The envoys of Jugurtha were summarily
dismissed, and Scaurus was sent to Africa with an army, but a peace with
Rome was purchased by the African prince through the bribery of the
generals. The legal validity of the peace was violently assailed in the
Senate, and Massiva, a grandson of Masinissa, then in Rome, laid claim to
the Numidian throne. But this prince was assassinated by one of the
confidants of Jugurtha, which outrage, perpetrated under the eyes of the
Roman government, led to a renewed declaration of war, and Spurius Albinus
was intrusted with the command of an army. But Jugurtha bribed the Roman
general into inaction, and captured the Roman camp. This resulted in the
evacuation of Numidia, and a second treaty of peace.

Such an ignoble war created intense dissatisfaction at Rome, and
the Senate was obliged to cancel the treaty, and renewed the war in
earnest, intrusting the conduct of it to Quintus Metellus, an aristocrat,
of course, but a man of great ability. Selecting for his lieutenants able
generals, he led over his army to Africa. Jugurtha made proposals of
peace, which were refused, and he prepared for a desperate defense.
Intrenched on a ridge of hills in the wide plain of Muthul, he awaited the
attack of his enemies, but was signally defeated by Metellus, assisted by
Marius, a brave plebeian, who had arisen from the common soldiers. After
this battle Jugurtha contented himself with a guerrilla warfare, while his
kingdom was occupied by the conquerors. Metellus even intrigued to secure
the assassination of the king.

The war continued to be prosecuted without decisive results, as is
so frequently the case when civilized nations fight with barbarians. Like
the war of Charlemagne against the Saxons, victories were easily obtained,
but the victors gained unsubstantial advantages. Jugurtha retired to
inaccessible deserts with his children, his treasures, and his best
troops, to await better times. Numidia was seemingly reduced, but its king
remained in arms.

It was then, in the third year of the renewed war, that Metellus
was recalled, and Marius, chosen consul, was left with the supreme
command. But even he did not find it easy, with a conquering army, to
seize Jugurtha, and he was restricted to a desultory war. At last Bocchus,
king of Mauritania, slighted by the Romans, but in alliance with Jugurtha,
effected by treachery what could not be gained by arms. He entered into
negotiations with Marius to deliver up the king of Numidia, who had
married his daughter, and had sought his protection. Marius sent Sulla to
consummate the treachery. Jugurtha, the traitor, was thus in turn
sacrificed, and became a Roman prisoner.

This miserable war lasted seven years, and its successful
termination secured to Marius a splendid triumph, at which the conquered
king, with his two sons, appeared in chains before the triumphal car, and
was then executed in the subterranean prison on the Capitoline Hill.

Numidia was not converted into a Roman province, but into a client
State, because the country could not be held without an army on the
frontiers. The Jugurthan war was important in its consequences, since it
brought to light the venality of the governing lords, and made it evident
that Rome must be governed by a degenerate and selfish oligarchy, or by a
tyrant, whether in the form of a demagogue, like Gracchus, or a military
chieftain, like Marius.

But a more difficult war than that waged against the barbarians of
the African deserts was now to be conducted against the barbarians of
European forests. The war with the Cimbri was also more important in its
political results. There had been several encounters with the northern
nations of Spain, Gaul, and Italy, under different names, with different
successes, which it would be tedious to describe. But the contest with the
Cimbri has a great and historic interest, since they were the first of the
Germanic tribes with which the Romans contended. Mommsen thinks these
barbarians were Teutonic, although, among older historians, they were
supposed to be Celts. The Cimbri were a migratory people, who left their
northern homes with their wives and children, goods and chattels, to seek
more congenial settlements than they had found in the Scandinavian
forests. The wagon was their house. They were tall, fair-haired, with
bright blue eyes. They were well armed with sword, spear, shield, and
helmet. They were brave warriors, careless of danger, and willing to die.
They were accompanied by priestesses, whose warnings were regarded as
voices from heaven.

This homeless people of the Cimbri, prevented from advancing south
on the Danube by the barrier raised by the Celts, advanced to the passes
of the Carnian Alps, B.C. 113, protected by Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, not far
from Aquileia. An engagement took place not far from the modern Corinthia,
where Carbo was defeated. Some years after, they proceeded westward to the
left bank of the Rhine, and over the Jura, and again threatened the Roman
territory. Again was a Roman army defeated under Silanus in Southern Gaul,
and the Cimbri sent envoys to Rome, with the request that they might be
allowed peaceful settlements. The Helvetii, stimulated by the successes of
the Cimbri, also sought more fertile settlements in Western Gaul, and
formed an alliance with the Cimbri. They crossed the Jura, the western
barrier of Switzerland, succeeded in decoying the Roman army under
Longinus into an ambush, and gained a victory.

In the year B.C., 105 the Cimbrians, under their king Boiorix,
advanced to the invasion of Italy. They were opposed on the right bank of
the Rhone by the proconsul Caepio, and on the left by the consul Gnaeus
Mallius Maximus, and the consular Marcus Aurelius Scaurus. The first
attack fell on the latter general, who was taken prisoner and his corps
routed. Maximus then ordered his colleague to bring his army across the
Rhone, where the Roman force stood confronting the whole Cimbrian army,
but Caepio refused. The mutual jealousy of these generals, and refusal to
co-operate, led to one of the most disastrous defeats which the Romans
ever suffered. No less than eighty thousand soldiers, and half as many
more camp followers, perished. The battle of Aransio (Orange) filled Rome
with alarm and fear, and had the Cimbrians immediately advanced through
the passes of the Alps to Italy, overwhelming disasters might have ensued.

In this crisis, Marius was called to the supreme command, hated as
he was by the aristocracy, which still ruled, and in defiance of the law
which prohibited the holding of the consulship more than once. He was
accompanied by a still greater man, Lucius Sulla, destined to acquire
great distinction. Marius maintained a strictly defensive attitude within
the Roman territories, training and disciplining his troops for the
contest which was yet to come with the most formidable antagonists the
Romans had ever encountered, and who were destined in after times to
subvert the empire.

The Cimbri formed a confederation with the Helvetii and the
Teutons, and after an unsuccessful attempt to sweep away the Belgae, who
resisted them, concluded to invade Italy, through Roman Gaul and the
Western passes of the Alps. They crossed the Rhone without difficulty, and
resumed the struggle with the Romans. Marius awaited them in a well-chosen
camp, well fortified and provisioned, at the confluence of the Rhone and
the Isere, by which he intercepted the passage of the barbarians, either
over the Little St. Barnard--the route Hannibal had taken--or along the
coast. The barbarians attacked the camp, but were repulsed. They then
resolved to pass the camp, leaving an enemy in the rear, and march to
Italy. Marius, for six days, permitted them to defile with their immense
baggage, and when their march was over, followed in the steps of the
enemy, who took the coast road. At Aquae Sextiae the contending parties came
into collision, and the barbarians were signally defeated; the whole horde
was scattered, killed, or taken prisoners. It would seem that these
barbarians were Teutons or Germans; but on the south side of the Alps, the
Cimbri and Helvetii crossed the Alps by the Brenner Pass, and descended
upon the plains of Italy. The passes had been left unguarded, and the
Roman army, under Catulus, on the banks of the Adige, suffered a defeat,
and retreated to the right bank of the Po. The whole plain between the Po
and the Alps was in the hands of the barbarians, who did not press
forward, as they should have done, but retired into winter quarters, where
they became demoralized by the warm baths and abundant stores of that
fertile and lovely region. Thus the Romans gained time, and the victorious
Marius, relinquishing all attempts at the conquest of Gaul, conducted his
army to the banks of the Po, and formed a junction with Catulus.

The two armies met at Vercillae, not far from the place where

Hannibal had fought his first battle on the Italian soil. The day of the
battle was fixed beforehand by the barbaric general and Marius, on the
30th of June, B.C. 101. A complete victory was gained by the Romans, and
the Cimbri were annihilated. The victory of the rough plebeian farmer was
not merely over the barbarians, but over the aristocracy. He became, in
consequence, the leading man in Rome. He had fought his way from the ranks
to the consulship, and had distinguished himself in all the campaigns in
which he fought. In Spain, he had arisen to the grade of an officer. In
the Numantine war he attracted, at twenty-three, the notice of Scipio. On
his return to Rome, with his honorable scars and military eclat, he
married a lady of the great patrician house of the Julii. At forty, he
obtained the praetorship; at forty-eight, he was made consul, and
terminated the African war, and his victories over the Cimbri and Teutons
enabled him to secure his re-election five consecutive years, which was
unexampled in the history of the republic. As consul he administered
justice impartially, organized the military system, and maintained in the
army the strictest discipline. He had but little culture; his voice was
harsh, and his look wild. But he was simple, economical, and
incorruptible. He stood aloof from society and from political parties,
exposed to the sarcasms of the aristocrats into whose ranks he had
entered.

He made great military reforms, changing the burgess levy into a
system of enlistments, and allowing every free-born citizen to enlist. He
abolished the aristocratic classification, reduced the infantry of the
line to a level, and raised the number of the legion from four thousand
two hundred to six thousand, to which he gave a new standard--the silver
eagle, which proclaims the advent of emperors. The army was changed from a
militia to a band of mercenaries.

After effecting these military changes, he sought political supremacy by
taking upon himself the constitutional magistracies. In effecting this he
was supported by the popular, or democratic party, which now regained its
political importance. He, therefore, obtained the consulship for the sixth
time, while his friends among the popular party were made tribunes and
praetors. He was also supported at the election by his old soldiers who had
been discharged.

But the whole aristocracy rallied, and Marius was not sufficiently a
politician to cope with experienced demagogues. He made numerous blunders,
and lost his political influence. But he accepted his position, and waited
for his time. Not in the field of politics was he to arise to power, but
in the strife and din of arms. An opportunity was soon afforded in the
convulsions which arose from the revolt of the Roman allies in Italy, soon
followed by civil wars. It is these wars which next claim our notice.





Next: The Revolt Of Italy And The Social War

Previous: The Reform Movement Of The Gracchi



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