6As soon as Jugurtha grew up, endowed as he was with physical strength, a handsome person, but above all with a vigorous intellect, he did not allow himself to be spoiled by luxury or idleness, but following the custom of that nation, he rode, he hurled the javelin, he contended with his fellows in foot-races; and although he surpassed them all in renown, he nevertheless won the love of all. Besides this, he devoted much time to the chase, he was the first or among the first to strike down the lion and other wild beasts, he distinguished himself greatly, but spoke little of his own exploits.
2At first Micipsa was delighted with this conduct, believing that the prowess of Jugurtha would contribute to the glory of his kingdom; but when he realized that the man was young and constantly growing in power, while he himself was advanced in years and his children were small, he was seriously troubled by the situation and gave it constant thought. 3He dreaded the natural disposition of mankind, which is greedy for power and eager to gratify its heart’s desire, while his own years and the youthfulness of his sons offered that opportunity which through the hope of gain leads astray even men of moderate ambition. He observed too the devotion which Jugurtha had inspired in the Numidians, and was apprehensive of some rebellion or war from that source, if by treachery he should cause the death of such a man.
7Embarrassed by these problems, and seeing that one so dear to the people could not be put out of the way by violence or by stratagem, he resolved, inasmuch as Jugurtha was full of energy and eager for military glory, to expose him to dangers and thus put fortune to the proof. 2Accordingly, when Micipsa sent cavalry and infantry to aid the Romans in the war with Numantia, he gave Jugurtha command of the Numidians whom he sent to Spain, hoping that he would easily fall a victim either to a desire to display his valour or to the ruthless foe.
3But the result was not at all what he had expected; 4for Jugurtha, who had an active and keen intellect, soon became acquainted with the character of Publius Scipio, who then commanded the Romans, and with the tactics of the enemy. Then by hard labour and attention to duty, at the same time by showing strict obedience and often courting dangers, he shortly acquired such a reputation that he became very popular with our soldiers and a great terror to the Numantians. 5In fact, he was both valiant in war and wise in counsel, a thing most difficult to achieve, for most often wisdom through caution leads to timorousness and valour through boldness to rashness. 6Therefore Scipio relied upon Jugurtha for almost all difficult undertakings, treated him as a friend, and grew more and more attached to him every day, since the young Numidian failed neither in judgment nor in any enterprise. 7He had, besides, a generous nature and a ready wit, qualities by which he had bound many Romans to him in intimate friendship.
8At that time there were a great many in our army, both new men and nobles, who cared more for riches than for virtue and self-respect; they were intriguers at home, influential with our allies, rather notorious than respected. These men fired Jugurtha’s ambitious spirit by holding out hopes that if king Micipsa should die, he might gain the sole power in Numidia, since he himself stood first in merit, while at Rome anything could be bought.
2Now when Numantia had been destroyed and Publius Scipio determined to disband his auxiliary troops and return to Rome himself, after giving Jugurtha gifts and commending him in the highest terms before the assembled soldiers, he took him into his tent. There he privately advised the young man to cultivate the friendship of the Roman people at large rather than that of individual Roman citizens, and not to form the habit of bribery. It was dangerous, he said, to buy from a few what belonged to the many. If Jugurtha would continue as he had begun, fame and a throne would come to him unsought; but if he acted too hastily, he would bring about his ruin by means of his own money.
9After speaking in this way, Scipio dismissed the young man with a letter to be delivered to Micipsa, the purport of which was this: 2“The valour of your Jugurtha in the Numantine war was most conspicuous, as I am sure you will be glad to learn. To us he is dear because of his services, and we shall use our best efforts to make him beloved also by the senate and people of Rome. As your friend I congratulate you; in him you have a hero worthy of yourself and of his grandfather Masinissa.”
3Then the king, upon learning from the general’s letter that the reports which had come to his ears were true, was led both by Jugurtha’s merits and by his influential position to change his plans and attempt to win the young man by kindness. He adopted him at once and in his will named joint heir with his sons. 4But a few years later and upon his own motion the king, then enfeebled by years and illness and realizing that the end of his life was near, is said to have talked with Jugurtha in the presence of his friends and kinsfolk, including his sons Adherbal and Hiempsal, in some such terms as the following.
10“When you were a small boy, Jugurtha, an orphan without prospects or means, I took you into the royal household, believing that because of my kindness you would love me as if you were my own child. And I was not mistaken; 2for, to say nothing of your other great and noble actions, of late on your return from Numantia you have conferred honour upon me and my realm by your glory, and by your prowess have made the Romans still more friendly to Numidia than before; while in Spain the name of our family has been given new life. Finally, by the glory you have won you have overcome envy, a most difficult feat for mortal man. 3Now, since nature is bringing my life to its close, I conjure and implore you by this right hand, by the loyalty due to the kingdom, hold dear these youths who are your kinsmen by birth and through my favour are your brothers; and do not desire to make new friends among strangers in preference to keeping the love of those who are bound to you by ties of blood. 4Neither armies nor treasure form the bulwarks of a throne, but friends; these you can neither acquire by force of arms nor buy with gold; it is by devotion and loyalty that they are won. 5But who is more bound by ties of friendship than brother to brother, or what stranger will you find loyal, if you become the enemy of your kindred? 6I deliver to you three a realm that is strong if you prove virtuous, but weak if you do ill; for harmony makes small states great, while discord undermines the mightiest empires. 7As for the rest, it devolves upon you, Jugurtha, rather than upon these children, since you are older and wiser than they, to see to it that my hopes are not disappointed. For in all strife the stronger, even though he suffer wrong, is looked upon as the aggressor because of his superior power. 8As for you, Adherbal and Hiempsal, love and respect this great man, emulate his virtues, and strive to show that I did not adopt better children than I begat.”
11Although Jugurtha knew that the king spoke insincerely, and though he had very different designs in his own mind, yet he returned a gracious answer, suited to the occasion. 2A few days later Micipsa died. After the princes had performed his obsequies with regal splendour, they met together for a general discussion of their affairs. 3Then Hiempsal, the youngest of the three, who was naturally haughty and even before this had shown his contempt for Jugurtha’s inferior birth because he was not his equal on the maternal side, sat down on the right of Adherbal, in order to prevent Jugurtha from taking his place between the two, a position which is regarded as an honour among the Numidians. 4Afterwards, however, when his brother begged him to show respect to greater years, he was reluctantly induced to move to the other side.
5At this meeting, in the course of a long discussion about the government of the kingdom, Jugurtha suggested, among other measures, that they ought to annul all laws and decrees passed within the past five years, on the ground that during that time Micipsa was far gone in years and hardly of sound mind. 6Thereupon Hiempsal again spoke up and declared that he approved the suggestion; for it was within the last three years, he said, that Jugurtha himself had been adopted and thus given a share in the kingdom. 7This remark sank more deeply into Jugurtha’s mind than anyone would have supposed. 8So, from that moment he was a prey to resentment and fear, planned and schemed, and thought of nothing except some means by which he might outwit and ensnare Hiempsal. 9But since his plans moved too slowly and his proud spirit retained its anger, he resolved to effect his design in any possible way.
12At the first meeting of the princes, which I have already mentioned, they failed to agree and therefore determined to divide the treasures and partition the kingdom among the three. 2Accordingly, they set a time for both events, that for the division of the money being the earlier, and meanwhile came by different routes to a place near the treasury. 3Now it chanced that Hiempsal was occupying a house in the town of Thirmida which belonged to Jugurtha’s most confidential attendant, who had always been his master’s dear and beloved friend. This man, whom chance threw in his way as an agent, Jugurtha loaded with promises, and induced him to go to his house on the pretext of inspecting it and to have false keys made for the doors; for the true ones used to be delivered to Hiempsal. As to the rest, Jugurtha himself promised to be at hand at the proper time with a strong force. 4The Numidian promptly carried out his instructions, and, as he had been directed, let in Jugurtha’s soldiers by night. 5They rushed into the house, scattered in search of the king, slew some of the household in their sleep and others as they offered resistance, ransacked all hiding-places, broke down doors, and filled the whole place with noise and confusion. Meanwhile, Hiempsal was found hiding in the cell of a maid-servant, where in his first terror, unacquainted as he was with the premises, he had taken refuge. The Numidians did as they were ordered, and brought his head to Jugurtha.