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the slaves, who were in great part of kindred lineage, to arms.

The Provinces
Occupation of Cilicia

The provinces suffered still more in comparison. We shall have an
idea of the condition of Sicily and Asia, if we endeavour to realize
what would be the aspect of matters in the East Indies provided the
English aristocracy were similar to the Roman aristocracy of that
day. The legislation, which entrusted the mercantile class with
control over the magistrates, compelled the latter to make common cause
to a certain extent with the former, and to purchase for themselves
unlimited liberty of plundering and protection from impeachment by
unconditional indulgence towards the capitalists in the provinces.
In addition to these official and semi-official robbers, freebooters
and pirates pillaged all the countries of the Mediterranean. In the
Asiatic waters more especially the buccaneers carried their outrages
so far that even the Roman government found itself under the necessity
in 652 of despatching to Cilicia a fleet, mainly composed of the vessels
of the dependent mercantile cities, under the praetor Marcus Antonius,
who was invested with proconsular powers. This fleet captured a number
of corsair-vessels and destroyed some rock-strongholds and not only so,
but the Romans even settled themselves permanently there, and in order
to the suppression of piracy in its chief seat, the Rugged or western
Cilicia occupied strong military positions - the first step towards the
establishment of the province of Cilicia, which thenceforth appears
among the Roman magistracies.(7) The design was commendable, and the
scheme in itself was suitable for its purpose; only, the continuance
and the increase of the evil of piracy in the Asiatic waters, and
especiallyin Cilicia, unhappily showed with how inadequate means
the pirates were combated from the newly-acquired position.

Revolt of the Slaves

But nowhere did the impotence and perversity of the Roman provincial
administration come to light so conspicuously as in the insurrections
of the slave proletariate, which seemed to have revived on their
former footing simultaneously with the restoration of the aristocracy.
These insurrections of the slaves swelling from revolts into wars -
which had emerged just about 620 as one, and that perhaps the proximate,
cause of the Gracchan revolution - were renewed and repeated with dreary
uniformity. Again, as thirty years before, a ferment pervaded the body
of slaves throughout the Roman empire. We have already mentioned
the Italian conspiracies. The miners in the Attic silver-mines rose
in revolt, occupied the promontory of Sunium, and issuing thence
pillaged for a length of time the surrounding country. Similar
movements appeared at other places.

The Second Sicilian Slave-War

But the chief seat of these fearful commotions was once more Sicily
with its plantations and its hordes of slaves brought thither from
Asia Minor. It is significant of the greatness of the evil, that
an attempt of the government to check the worst iniquities of the
slaveholders was the immediate cause of the new insurrection. That
the free proletarians in Sicily were little better than the slaves,
had been shown by their attitude in the first insurrection;(8)
after it was subdued, the Roman speculators took their revenge and
reduced numbers of the free provincials into slavery. In consequence
of a sharp enactment issued against this by the senate in 650, Publius
Licinius Nerva, the governor of Sicily at the time, appointed a court
for deciding on claims of freedom to sit in Syracuse. The court
went earnestly to work; in a short time decision was given in eight
hundred processes against the slave-owners, and the number of causes in
dependence was daily on the increase. The terrified planters hastened
to Syracuse, to compel the Roman governor to suspend such unparalleled
administration of justice; Nerva was weak enough to let himself be
terrified, and in harsh language informed the non-free persons
requesting trial that they should forgo their troublesome demand for
right and justice and should instantly return to those who called
themselves their masters. Those who were thus dismissed, instead of
doing as he bade them, formed a conspiracy and went to the mountains.

The governor was not prepared for military measures, and even the
wretched militia of the island was not immediately at hand; so that he
concluded an alliance with one of the best known captains of banditti
in the island, and induced him by the promise of personal pardon to
betray the revolted slaves into the hands of the Romans. He thus
gained the mastery over this band. But another band of runaway
slaves succeeded in defeating a division of the garrison of Enna
(Castrogiovanni); and this first success procured for the insurgents -
what they especially needed - arms and a conflux of associates.
The armour of their fallen or fugitive opponents furnished the first
basis of their military organization, and the number of the insurgents
soon swelled to many thousands. These Syrians in a foreign land
already, like their predecessors, seemed to themselves not unworthy
to be governed by kings, as were their countrymen at home; and -
parodying the trumpery king of their native land down to the very
name - they placed the slave Salvius at their head as king Tryphon.
In the district between Enna and Leontini (Lentini) where these bands
had their head-quarters, the open country was wholly in the hands of
the insurgents and Morgantia and other walled towns were already
besieged by them, when the Roman governor with his hastily-collected
Sicilian and Italian troops fell upon the slave-army in front
of Morgantia. He occupied the undefended camp; but the slaves,
although surprised, made a stand. In the combat that ensued the
levy of the island not only gave way at the first onset, but, as the
slaves allowed every one who threw down his arms to escape unhindered,
the militia almost without exception embraced the good opportunity
of taking their departure, and the Roman army completely dispersed.
Had the slaves in Morgantia been willing to make common cause with
their comrades before the gates, the town was lost; but they preferred
to accept the gift of freedom in legal form from their masters, and by
their valour helped them to save the town - whereupon the Roman governor
declared the promise of liberty solemnly given to the slaves by the
masters to be void in law, as having been illegally extorted.

Athenion

While the revolt thus spread after an alarming manner in the interior
of the island, a second broke out on the west coast. It was headed
by Athenion. He had formerly been, just like Cleon, a dreaded
captain of banditti in his native country of Cilicia, and had been
carried thence as a slave to Sicily. He secured, just as his
predecessors had done, the adherence of the Greeks and Syrians
especially by prophesyings and other edifying impostures; but skilled
in war and sagacious as he was, he did not, like the other leaders, arm
the whole mass that flocked to him, but formed out of the men able for
warfare an organized army, while he assigned the remainder to peaceful
employment. In consequence of his strict discipline, which repressed
all vacillation and all insubordinate movement in his troops, and his
gentle treatment of the peaceful inhabitants of the country and even of
the captives, he gained rapid and great successes. The Romans were on
this occasion disappointed in the hope that the two leaders would fall
out; Athenion voluntarily submitted to the far less capable king
Tryphon, and thus preserved unity among the insurgents. These soon
ruled with virtually absolute power over the flat country, where
the free proletarians again took part more or less openly with the
slaves; the Roman authorities were not in a position to take the field
against them, and had to rest content with protecting the towns,
which were in the most lamentable plight, by means of the militia of
Sicily and that of Africa brought over in all haste. The administration
of justice was suspended over the whole island, and force was
the only law. As no cultivator living in town ventured any longer
beyond the gates, and no countryman ventured into the towns, the most
fearful famine set in, and the town-population of this island which
formerly fed Italy had to be supported by the Roman authorities
sending supplies of grain. Moreover, conspiracies of the town-
slaves everywhere threatened to break out within, while the insurgent
armies lay before, the walls; even Messana was within a hair's breadth
of being conquered by Athenion.

Aquillius

Difficult as it was for the government during the serious war with
the Cimbri to place a second army in the field, it could not avoid
sending in 651 an army of 14,000 Romans and Italians, not including
the transmarine militia, under the praetor Lucius Lucullus to the
island. The united slave-army was stationed in the mountains above
Sciacca, and accepted the battle which Lucullus offered. The better
military organization of the Romans gave them the victory; Athenion
was left for dead on the field, Tryphon had to throw himself into the
mountain-fortress of Triocala; the insurgents deliberated earnestly
whether it was possible to continue the struggle longer. But the
party, which was resolved to hold out to the last man, retained the
upper hand; Athenion, who had been saved in a marvellous manner,
reappeared among his troops and revived their sunken courage; above
all Lucullus with incredible negligence took not the smallest step
to follow up his victory; in fact, he is said to have intentionally
disorganized the army and to have burned his field baggage, with a
view to screen the total inefficacy of his administration and not to
be cast into the shade by his successor. Whether this was true or
not, his successor Gaius Servilius (652) obtained no better results;
and both generals were afterwards criminally impeached and condemned
for their conduct in office - which, however, was not at all a certain
proof of their guilt. Athenion, who after the death of Tryphon
(652) was invested with the sole command, stood victorious at the
head of a considerable army, when in 653 Manius Aquillius, who had
during the previous year distinguished himself under Marius in the
war with the Teutones, was as consul and governor entrusted with the
conduct of the war. After two years of hard conflicts - Aquillius is
said to have fought in person with Athenion, and to have killed him
in single combat - the Roman general at length put down the desperate
resistance, and vanquished the insurgents in their last retreats by
famine. The slaves on the island were prohibited from bearing arms
and peace was again restored to it, or, in other words, its recent
tormentors were relieved by those of former use and wont; in fact,
the victor himself occupied a prominent place among the numerous
and energetic robber-magistrates of this period. Any one who still
required a proof of the internal quality of the government of
the restored aristocracy might be referred to the origin and
to the conduct of this second Sicilian slave-war, which,
lasted for five years.

The Dependent States

But wherever the eye might turn throughout the wide sphere of Roman
administration, the same causes and the same effects appeared.
If the Sicilian slave-war showed how far the government was from
being equal to even its simplest task of keeping in check the
proletariate, contemporary events in Africa displayed the skill with
which the Romans now governed the client-states. About the very time
when the Sicilian slave-war broke out, there was exhibited before
the eyes of the astonished world the spectacle of an unimportant
client-prince able to carry out a fourteen years' usurpation and
insurrection against the mighty republic which had shattered the
kingdoms of Macedonia and Asia with one blow of its weighty arm -
and that not by means of arms, but through the pitiful character
of its rulers.

Numidia
Jugurtha

The kingdom of Numidia stretched from the river Molochath to
the great Syrtis,(9) bordering on the one side with the Mauretanian
kingdom of Tingis (the modern Morocco) and on the other with Cyrene
and Egypt, and surrounding on the west, south, and east the narrow
district of coast which formed the Roman province of Africa.
In addition to the old possessions of the Numidian chiefs, it embraced
by far the greatest portion of the territory which Carthage had possessed
in Africa during the times of its prosperity - including several
important Old-Phoenician cities, such as Hippo Regius (Bona) and Great
Leptis (Lebidah) - altogether the largest and best part of the rich
seaboard of northern Africa. Numidia was beyond question, next to
Egypt, the most considerable of all the Roman client-states. After the
death of Massinissa (605), Scipio had divided the sovereign functions
of that prince among his three sons, the kings Micipsa, Gulussa, and
Mastanabal, in such a way that the firstborn obtained the residency
and the state-chest, the second the charge of war, and the third the
administration of justice.(10) Now after the death of his two brothers
Massinissa's eldest son, Micipsa,(11) reigned alone, a feeble peaceful
old man, who was fond of occupying himself more with the study of
Greek philosophy than with affairs of state. As his sons were not
yet grown up, the reins of government were practically held by an
illegitimate nephew of the king, the prince Jugurtha. Jugurtha was
no unworthy grandson of Massinissa. He was a handsome man and a
skilled and courageous rider and hunter; his countrymen held him
in high honour as a clear and sagacious administrator, and he had
displayed his military ability as leader of the Numidian contingent
before Numantia under the eyes of Scipio. His position in the
kingdom, and the influence which he possessed with the Roman
government by means of his numerous friends and war-comrades, made
it appear to king Micipsa advisable to adopt him (634), and to arrange
in his testament that his own two elder sons Adherbal and Hiempsal,
and his adopted son Jugurtha along with them, should jointly inherit
and govern the kingdom, just as he himself had done with his two
brothers. For greater security this arrangement was placed under
the guarantee of the Roman government.

The War for the Numidian Succession

Soon afterwards, in 636, king Micipsa died. The testament came into
force: but the two sons of Micipsa - the vehement Hiempsal still more
than his weak elder brother - soon came into so violent collision
with their cousin whom they looked on as an intruder into the
legitimate line of succession, that the idea of a joint reign of the
three kings had to be abandoned. An attempt was made to carry out
a division of the heritage; but the quarrelling kings could not agree
as to their quotas of land and treasure, and the protecting power, to
which in this case the decisive word by right belonged, gave itself,
as usual, no concern about this affair. A rupture took place;
Adherbal and Hiempsal were disposed to characterize their father's
testament as surreptitious and altogether to dispute Jugurtha's right
of joint inheritance, while on the other hand Jugurtha came forward
as a pretender to the whole kingdom. While the discussions as to the
partition were still going on, Hiempsal was made away with by hired
assassins; then a civil war arose between Adherbal and Jugurtha, in
which all Numidia took part. With his less numerous but better
disciplined and better led troops Jugurtha conquered, and seized the
whole territory of the kingdom, subjecting the chiefs who adhered to
his cousin to the most cruel persecution. Adherbal escaped to the
Roman province and proceeded to Rome to make his complaint there.
Jugurtha had expected this, and had made his arrangements to meet the
threatened intervention. In the camp before Numantia he had learned
more from Rome than Roman tactics; the Numidian prince, introduced
to the circles of the Roman aristocracy, had at the same time been
initiated into the intrigues of Roman coteries, and had studied at
the fountain-head what might be expected from Roman nobles. Even
then, sixteen years before Micipsa's death, he had entered into
disloyal negotiations as to the Numidian succession with Roman
comrades of rank, and Scipio had been under the necessity of gravely
reminding him that it was becoming in foreign princes to be on terms
of friendship with the Roman state rather than with individual
Roman citizens. The envoys of Jugurtha appeared in Rome, furnished
with something more than words: that they had chosen the right means
of diplomatic persuasion, was shown by the result. The most zealous
champions of Adherbal's just title were with incredible rapidity
convinced that Hiempsal had been put to death by his subjects on
account of his cruelty, and that the originator of the war as to the
succession was not Jugurtha, but Adherbal. Even the leading men in
the senate were shocked at the scandal; Marcus Scaurus sought to
check it, but in vain. The senate passed over what had taken place
in silence, and ordained that the two surviving testamentary heirs
should have the kingdom equally divided between them, and that, for
the prevention of fresh quarrels, the division should be undertaken
by a commission of the senate. This was done: the consular Lucius
Opimius, well known through his services in setting aside the
revolution, had embraced the opportunity of gathering the reward
of his patriotism, and had got himself placed at the head of the
commission. The division turned out thoroughly in favour of Jugurtha,
and not to the disadvantage of the commissioners; Cirta (Constantine)
the capital with its port of Rusicade (Philippeville) was no doubt
given to Adherbal, but by that very arrangement the portion which
fell to him was the eastern part of the kingdom consisting almost
wholly of sandy deserts, while Jugurtha obtained the fertile
and populous western half (what was afterwards Mauretania
Caesariensis and Sitifensis).

Siege of Cirta

This was bad; but matters soon became worse. In order to be able
under the semblance of self-defence to defraud Adherbal of his portion,
Jugurtha provoked him to war; but when the weak man, rendered wiser
by experience, allowed Jugurtha's horsemen to ravage his territory
unhindered and contented himself with lodging complaints at Rome,
Jugurtha, impatient of these ceremonies, began the war even without
pretext. Adherbal was totally defeated in the region of the modern
Philippeville, and threw himself into his capital of Cirta in the
immediate vicinity. While the siege was in progress, and Jugurtha's
troops were daily skirmishing with the numerous Italians who were
settled in Cirta and who took a more vigorous part in the defence of
the city than the Africans themselves, the commission despatched by
the Roman senate on Adherbal's first complaint made its appearance;
composed, of course, of young inexperienced men, such as the
government of those times regularly employed in the ordinary missions
of the state. The envoys demanded that Jugurtha should allow them
as deputed by the protecting power to Adherbal to enter the city,
and generally that he should suspend hostilities and accept their
mediation. Jugurtha summarily rejected both demands, and the envoys
hastily returned home - like boys, as they were - to report to the
fathers of the city. The fathers listened to the report, and
allowed their countrymen in Cirta just to fight on as long as they
pleased. It was not till, in the fifth month of the siege, a
messenger of Adherbal stole through the entrenchments of the enemy
and a letter of the king full of the most urgent entreaties reached
the senate, that the latter roused itself and actually adopted a
resolution - not to declare war as the minority demanded but to send a
new embassy - an embassy, however, headed by Marcus Scaurus, the great
conqueror of the Taurisci and the freedmen, the imposing hero of
the aristocracy, whose mere appearance would suffice to bring the
refractory king to a different mind. In fact Jugurtha appeared, as
he was bidden, at Utica to discuss the matter with Scaurus; endless
debates were held; when at length the conference was concluded, not
the slightest result had been obtained. The embassy returned to Rome
without having declared war, and the king went off again to the
siege of Cirta. Adherbal found himself reduced to extremities and
despaired of Roman support; the Italians in Cirta moreover, weary of
the siege and firmly relying for their own safety on the terror of the
Roman name, urged a surrender. So the town capitulated. Jugurtha
ordered his adopted brother to be executed amid cruel tortures, and
all the adult male population of the town, Africans as well as
Italians, to be put to the sword (642).

Roman Intervention
Treaty between Rome and Numidia

A cry of indignation rose throughout Italy. The minority in the
senate itself and every one out of the senate unanimously condemned
the government, with whom the honour and interest of the country
seemed mere commodities for sale; loudest of all was the outcry of
the mercantile class, which was most directly affected by the sacrifice
of the Roman and Italian merchants at Cirta. It is true that the
majority of the senate still even now struggled; they appealed to
the class-interests of the aristocracy, and set in motion all the
contrivances of collegiate procrastination, with a view to preserve
still longer the peace which they loved. But when Gaius Memmius,
designated as tribune of the people for next year, an active and
eloquent man, brought the matter publicly forward and threatened in
his capacity of tribune to call the worst offenders to judicial account,
the senate permitted war to be declared against Jugurtha (642-3).
The step seemed taken in earnest. The envoys of Jugurtha were dismissed
from Italy without being admitted to an audience; the new consul
Lucius Calpurnius Bestia, who was distinguished, among the members of
his order at least, by judgment and activity, prosecuted the warlike
preparations with energy; Marcus Scaurus himself took the post of a
commander in the African army. In a short time a Roman army was on
African ground, and marching upward along the Bagradas (Mejerdah)
advanced into the Numidian kingdom, where the towns most remote from
the seat of the royal power, such as Great Leptis, already voluntarily
sent in their submission, while Bocchus king of Mauretania, although
his daughter was married to Jugurtha, offered friendship and alliance
to the Romans. Jugurtha himself lost courage, and sent envoys to the
Roman headquarters to request an armistice. The end of the contest
seemed near, and came still more rapidly than was expected. The treaty
with Bocchus broke down, because the king, unacquainted with Roman
customs, had conceived that he should be able to conclude a treaty so
advantageous for the Romans without any gratuity, and therefore had
neglected to furnish his envoys with the usual market price of Roman
alliances. Jugurtha at all events knew Roman institutions better,
and had not omitted to support his proposals for an armistice by a
due accompaniment of money; but he too was deceived. After the first
negotiations it turned out that not an armistice merely but a peace
was purchaseable at the Roman head-quarters. The royal treasury
was still well filled with the savings of Massinissa; the transaction
was soon settled. The treaty was concluded, after it had been for the
sake of form submitted to a council of war whose consent was procured
after an irregular and extremely summary discussion. Jugurtha
submitted at discretion; but the victor was merciful and gave him back
his kingdom undiminished, in consideration of his paying a moderate
fine and delivering up the Roman deserters and the war elephants
(643); the greater part of the latter the king afterwards repurchased
by bargaining with the individual Roman commandants and officers.

On the news of this peace the storm once more broke forth in Rome.
Everybody knew how the peace had been brought about; even Scaurus was
evidently open to bribery, only at a price higher than the ordinary
senatorial average. The legal validity of the peace was seriously
assailed in the senate; Gaius Memmius declared that the king, if he
had really submitted unconditionally, could not refuse to appear in
Rome, and that he should accordingly be summoned before them, with



Online LibraryTheodor MommsenThe History of Rome (Volumes 1-5) → online text (page 116 of 216)