Appian, The Numidian War

Appian of Alexandria (c.95-c.165): one of the most underestimated of all Greek historians, author of a Roman History in twenty-four books.

Although only Appian's books on the Roman Civil Wars survive in their entirety, large parts of the other books, devoted to Rome's foreign wars, have also come down to us. The parts on the Punic wars, the wars in Iberia, and the Mithridatic Wars are very important historical sources. This is also true for Appian's account of the Third Punic War, the second part of the book presented on these pages, which is one of our main sources for this conflict.

Because these texts have to be reconstructed from several medieval manuscripts, not all editions of Appian's account of Rome's foreign wars are numbered in the same way. On these pages, the separate units of a book are counted strictly chronologically.

The translation was made by Horace White; notes by Jona Lendering.


The Numidian War

[1] [From the Vatican manuscript of Cardinal Mai] Bomilcar being under accusation fled before his trial, and with him Jugurtha, who uttered that famous saying about bribetakers, that "the whole city of Rome could be bought if a purchaser could be found for it."note

[2] [From the Peiresc manuscript] Metellus went back to the African province, where he was accused by the soldiers of slothfulness toward the enemy and of cruelty toward his own men, because he punished offenders severely.note

[3] [From the Peiresc manuscript] Metellus put the whole senate of Vacca to death because they had betrayed the Roman garrison to Jugurtha, and with them, also, Turpilius, the prefect of the guard, a Roman citizen, who was under suspicion of being in league with the enemy.note After Jugurtha had delivered up to Metellus certain Thracian and Ligurian deserters, the latter cut off the hands of some, and others he buried in the earth up to their stomachs, and after transfixing them with arrows and darts set fire to them while they were still alive.

[4] [From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies] When Marius arrived at Cirtanote messengers came to him from Bocchus asking that he would send somebody to hold a conference with him. He accordingly sent Aulus Manlius, his lieutenant, and Cornelius Sulla, his quaestor. To them Bocchus said that he fought against the Romans on account of the acts of Marius, who had taken from him the territory which he himself had taken from Jugurtha. To this complaint of Bocchus, Manlius replied that the Romans had taken this territory from Syphax by the law of war, and had made a present of it to Massinissa, and that such gifts were made by the Romans to be kept by those who received them during the pleasure of the Senate and people of Rome. Nor did the Romans take back their gifts without reason. Massinissa was dead, and Jugurtha, who had murdered his grandchildren, was at war with the Romans. "It is not right," he said, "that an enemy should keep the gift that we made to a friend, nor should you think that you can take from Jugurtha property that belongs to the Romans." These were the words of Manlius concerning the territory in question.

[5] [From Constantine Porphyrogenitus, The Embassies] Bocchus sent another embassy who were to solicit peace from Marius and urge Sulla to assist them in the negotiation.note These ambassadors were despoiled by robbers on the road, but Sulla received them kindly and entertained them until Marius returned from Gaetulia. Marius advised them to urge Bocchus to consult with Sulla as to all his affairs. Accordingly, when Bocchus was inclined to betray Jugurtha he sent messengers around to the neighboring Ethiopians (who extend from eastern Ethiopia westward to the Mauritanian Mount Atlas) under pretense of raising a new army, and then asked Marius to send Sulla to him for a conference, and Marius did so. In this way Bocchus himself, and his friend Magdalses, and a certain freedman of Carthage, named Cornelius, deceived Apsar, the friend of Jugurtha, who had been left in Bocchus' camp to keep watch on his doings.