The War with Jugurtha, 27–32

Sallust  translated by J. C. Rolfe

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27When this outrage became known at Rome and the matter was brought up for discussion in the senate, those same tools of the king, by interrupting the discussions and wasting time, often through their personal influence, often by wrangling, tried to disguise the atrocity of the deed. 2And had not Gaius Memmius, tribune of the commons elect, a man of spirit who was hostile to the domination of the nobles, made it clear to the populace of Rome that the motive of these tactics was to condone Jugurtha’s crime through the influence of a few of his partisans, the deliberations would undoubtedly have been protracted until all indignation had evaporated: so great was the power of the king’s influence and money. 3But when the senate from consciousness of guilt began to fear the people, Numidia and Italy, as the Sempronian law required, were assigned to the consuls who should next be elected. The consuls in question were Publius Scipio Nasica and Lucius Calpurnius Bestia; 4Numidia fell to Bestia, Italy to Scipio. 5An army was then enrolled to be transported to Africa, the soldiers’ pay and other necessaries of war were voted.

28When Jugurtha heard this unexpected news (for he had a firm conviction that at Rome anything could be bought) he sent his son, and with him two friends, as envoys to the senate, giving them the same directions that he had given those whom he sent after murdering Hiempsal, namely, to try the power of money on everybody. 2As this deputation drew near the city, Bestia referred to the senate the question whether they would consent to receive Jugurtha’s envoys within the walls. The members thereupon decreed that unless the envoys had come to surrender the king and his kingdom, they must leave Italy within the next ten days. 3The consul gave orders that the Numidians should be notified of the senate’s action; they therefore went home without fulfilling their mission.

4Meanwhile Calpurnius, having levied his army, chose as his lieutenants men of noble rank and strong party spirit, by whose influence he hoped that any misdeeds of his would be upheld. 5Among these was Scaurus, whose character and conduct I described a short time ago. For though our consul possessed many excellent qualities of mind and body, they were all nullified by avarice. He had great endurance, a keen intellect, no little foresight, considerable military experience, and a stout heart in the face of dangers and plots. 6Now the legions were transported across Italy to Rhegium, from there to Sicily, from Sicily to Africa. 7Then Calpurnius, having provided himself with supplies, began by making a vigorous attack on the Numidians, taking many prisoners and storming several of their towns.

29But when Jugurtha through his emissaries began to try the power of money upon Calpurnius and to point out the difficulty of the war which he was conducting, the consul’s mind, demoralized as it was by avarice, was easily turned from its purpose. 2Moreover, he took Scaurus as an accomplice and tool in all his designs; for although at first, even after many of his own party had been seduced, Scaurus had vigorously opposed the king, a huge bribe had turned him from honour and virtue to criminality. 3At first, however, Jugurtha merely purchased a delay in hostilities, thinking that he could meanwhile effect something at Rome by bribery or by his personal interest. But as soon as he learned that Scaurus was implicated, he conceived a strong hope of gaining peace, and decided to discuss all the conditions in person with the envoys.

4But meanwhile, as a token of good faith, the consul sent his quaestor Sextius to Vaga, a town of Jugurtha’s, ostensibly to receive the grain which Calpurnius had publicly demanded of the envoys in return for observing an armistice until a surrender should be arranged. 5Thereupon the king, as he had agreed, came to the camp and after he had spoken a few words in the presence of the council in justification of his conduct and had asked to be received in surrender, he arranged the rest privately with Bestia and Scaurus. Then on the next day an irregular vote was taken and the surrender accepted. 6As had been ordered before the council, thirty elephants, many cattle and horses, with a small amount of silver were handed over to the quaestor. 7Calpurnius went to Rome to preside at the elections. In Numidia and in our army peace reigned.

30When the news was circulated at Rome of what had happened in Africa, and how it was brought about, the consul’s conduct was discussed wherever men gathered together. The commons were highly indignant, while the senators were in suspense and unable to make up their minds whether to condone such an outrage or to set aside the consul’s decree. 2In particular the power of Scaurus, who was reported to be Bestia’s abettor and accomplice, deterred them from acting justly and honourably. 3But while the senate delayed and hesitated, Gaius Memmius, of whose independence and hatred of the power of the nobles I have already spoken, urged the assembled people to vengeance, warned them not to prove false to their country and their own liberties, pointed out the many arrogant and cruel deeds of the nobles: in short, did his utmost in every way to inflame the minds of the commons. 4And since the eloquence of Memmius was famous and potent in Rome at that time, I have thought it worth while to reproduce one of his numerous speeches, and I shall select the one which he delivered before the people after the return of Bestia. It ran as follows:

31“Were not devotion to our country paramount, I should be deterred, fellow citizens, from addressing you by many considerations: the power of the dominant faction, your spirit of submission, the absence of justice, and especially because more danger than honour awaits integrity. 2Some things, indeed, I am ashamed to speak of: how during the past fifteen years you have been the sport of a few men’s insolence; how shamefully your defenders have perished unavenged; 3how your own spirits have been so demoralized because of weakness and cowardice that you do not rise even now, when your enemies are in your power, but still fear those in whom you ought to inspire fear. 4But although conditions are such, yet my spirit prompts me to brave the power of this faction. 5At least, I shall make use of the freedom of speech which is my inheritance from my father; but whether I shall do so in vain or to good purpose lies in your hands, my countrymen. 6I do not urge you to take up arms against your oppressors, as your fathers often did; there is no need of violence, none of secession. They must go to ruin their own way. 7After the murder of Tiberius Gracchus, whom they accused of trying to make himself king, prosecutions were instituted against the Roman commons. Again, after Gaius Gracchus and Marcus Fulvius were slain, many men of your order suffered death in the dungeon.In both cases bloodshed was ended, not by law, but by the caprice of the victors.

8“But let us admit that to restore their rights to the commons was the same thing as to aspire to royal power, and that whatever cannot be avenged without shedding the blood of citizens was justly done. 9In former years you were silently indignant that the treasury was pillaged, that kings and free peoples paid tribute to a few nobles, that those nobles possessed supreme glory and vast wealth. Yet they were not satisfied with having committed with impunity these great crimes, and so at last the laws, your sovereignty, and all things human and divine have been delivered to your enemies. 10And they who have done these things are neither ashamed nor sorry, but they walk in grandeur before your eyes, some flaunting their priesthoods and consulships, others their triumphs, just as if these were honours and not stolen goods.

11“Slaves bought with a price do not put up with unjust treatment from their masters; will you, Roman citizens born to power, endure slavery with patience? 12But who are they who have seized upon our country? Men stained with crime, with gory hands, of monstrous greed, guilty, yet at the same time full of pride, who have made honour, reputation, loyalty, in short everything honourable and dishonourable, a source of gain. 13Some of them are safeguarded by having slain tribunes of the commons, others by unjust prosecutions, many by having shed your blood. 14Thus the more atrocious the conduct, the greater the safety. They have shifted fear from their crimes to your cowardice, united as they are by the same desires, the same hatred, the same fears. 15This among good men constitutes friendship; among the wicked it is faction. 16But if your love of freedom were as great as the thirst for tyranny which spurs them on, surely our country would not be torn asunder as it now is, and your favours would be bestowed on the most virtuous, not on the most reckless. 17Your forefathers, to assert their legal rights and establish their sovereignty, twice seceded and took armed possession of the Aventine; will you not exert yourselves to the utmost in order to retain the liberty which they bequeathed to you? And will you not show the greater ardour, because it is more shameful to lose what has been won than never to have won it?

18“I seem to hear someone say, ‘What then do you advise?’ I reply, ‘Let those who have betrayed their country to the enemy be punished, not by arms or violence, which it is less becoming for you to inflict than for them to suffer, but by the courts and Jugurtha’s own testimony. 19If he is a prisoner of war, he will surely be obedient to your commands; but if he scorns them, you may well ask yourselves what kind of peace or surrender that is from which Jugurtha has gained impunity for his crimes and a few powerful men immense wealth, while our country suffers damage and disgrace. 20Unless haply you are not even yet sated with their domination, unless these times please you less than the days when kingdoms, provinces, statutes, laws, courts, war and peace, in short all things human and divine, were in the hands of a few; and when you, that is to say the Roman people, unconquered by your enemies, rulers of all nations, were content to retain the mere breath of life. For which of you dared to refuse slavery?

21“For my own part, although I consider it most shameful for a true man to suffer wrong without taking vengeance, yet I could willingly allow you to pardon those most criminal of men, since they are your fellow citizens, were it not that mercy would end in destruction. 22For such is their insolence that they are not satisfied to have done evil with impunity, unless the opportunity for further wrong-doing be wrung from you; and you will be left in eternal anxiety, because of the consciousness that you must either submit to slavery or use force to maintain your freedom.

23“Pray, what hope have you of mutual confidence or harmony? They wish to be tyrants, you to be free; they desire to inflict injury, you to prevent it; finally, they treat our allies as enemies and our enemies as allies. 24Are peace and friendship compatible with sentiments so unlike? 25They are not, and therefore I warn and implore you not to let such wickedness go unscathed. It is not a matter of plundering the treasury or of extorting money from our allies—serious crimes, it is true, but so common now-a days as to be disregarded. Nay, the senate’s dignity has been prostituted to a ruthless enemy, your sovereignty has been betrayed, your country has been offered for sale at home and abroad. 26Unless cognizance is taken of these outrages, unless the guilty are punished, what will remain except to pass our lives in submission to those who are guilty of these acts? For to do with impunity whatever one fancies is to be a king. 27I am not urging you, Romans, to rejoice rather in the guilt than in the innocence of your fellow citizens; but you should not insist upon ruining the good by pardoning the wicked. 28Moreover, in a republic it is far better to forget a kindness than an injury. The good man merely becomes less active in well doing when you neglect him, but the bad man grows more wicked. 29Finally, if there should be no wrongs, you would not often need help.”

32By repeating these and similar sentiments Memmius induced the people to send Lucius Cassius, who was praetor at the time, to Jugurtha. Cassius was instructed to bring the king to Rome under pledge of public protection, in order that through his testimony the offences of Scaurus and the rest who were accused of taking bribes might the more readily be disclosed.

2While all this was going on at Rome, those who had been left by Bestia in command of the army in Numidia, following their general’s example, were guilty of many shameless misdeeds. 3Some were induced by bribes to return his elephants to Jugurtha, others sold him his deserters, and a part plundered those who were at peace with us: 4so strong was the love of money which had attacked their minds like a pestilence. 5But when, to the consternation of all the nobility, the bill of Gaius Memmius was passed, the praetor Cassius went to Jugurtha and, in spite of the king’s fears and the distrust due to his guilty conscience, persuaded him that since he had surrendered himself to the Roman people, it would be better to experience their mercy than their force. He also gave Jugurtha his personal pledge of safety, which the king rated no less highly than that of the state; such was the repute which Cassius enjoyed at that time.

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