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DISSENSIONS BETWEEN THE CARTHAGINTANG AND
MASINISSA, KING OF NUMIDIA. AMONG the conditions of the peace granted to the Carthaginians, there was one which enacted, that they should restore to Masinissa all the territories and cities he possessed before the war; and farther, Scipio, to reward the zeal and fidelity which that monarch had shown towards the Romans, had added to his dominions those of Syphax. This present afterwards gave rise to disputes and quarrels between the Carthaginians and Numidians.
These two princes, Syphax and Masinissa, were both kings in Nuinidia, but reigned over different nations. The subjects of Syphax were called Masæsuli, and their capital was Cirtha. Those of Masinissa were the Massyli: but they are better known by the name of Numidians, which was common to them both. Their prin cipal strength consisted in their cavalry. They always rode without saddles, and some even without bridles, whence Virgil calls them Numidæ infroni.*
In the beginning of the second punic war,f Syphax siding with the Romans, Gala, the father of Masinissa, to check the career of so powerful a neighbour, thought it his interest to join the Carthaginians, and accordingly sent out against Syphax a powerful army under the conduct of his son, at that time but seventeen years of age. Syphax, being overconie in a battle, in which it is said he lost 30,000 men, escaped into Mauritánia. However, the face of things was afterwards greatly changed.
Masinissa, after his father's death, was often reduced to the brink of ruin ;* being driven from his kingdom by a usurper; pursued warmly by Syphax; in danger every instant of falling into the hands of his enemies; destitute of forces, money, and of every resource. He was at that time in alliance with the Romans, and the friend of Scipio, with whom he had had an interview in Spain. His misfortunes would not permit him to bring great succours to that general. When Lælius arrived in Africa, Masinissa joined him with a few horse, and from that time continued inviolably attached to the Roman interest. Syphax, on the contrary, having married the famous Sophonisba, daughter of Asdrubal, went over to the Carthaginians.f
The fate of these two princes again changed, but the change was now final. Syphax lost a great battle, and was taken alive by the enemy. Masinissa, the victor, besieged Cirtha, his capital, and took it. But he met with a greater danger in that city than he had faced in the field; and this was Sophonisba, whose charms and endearments he was unable to resist. To secure this princess to himself, he married her; but a few days after, he was obliged to send her a dose of poison, as her nuptial present; this being the only way he could devise to keep his promise with his queen, and preserve her from the power of the Romans.
This was a considerable error in itself, and one that could not fail to disoblige a nation that was so jealous of its authority: but this young prince gloriously made amends for his fault, by the signal services he afterwards rendered to Scipio. We observed, that after the defeat and capture of Syphax, the dominions of this prince were bestowed upon him; and that the Carthaginians were forced to restore all he possessed before. This gave rise to the divisions which we are now going to relate.
A territory situated towards the sea-side, near the lesser Syrtis, was the subject of the dispute.|| The country was very rich, and the soil extremely fruitful; a proof of which is, that the city of Leptis alone, which belonged to that territory, paid daily a talent to the Carthaginians, by way of trìbute. Masinissa had seized part of thi: territory. Each side despatched deputies to Rome, to plead the cause of their respective superiors before the senate. This assembly thought proper to send Scipio Africanus, with two other commissioners, to examine the controversy upon the spot. However, they returned without coming to any decision, and left the business in the same uncertain state in which they had found it. Possibly they acted in this manner by order of the senate, and had received private instructions to favour Masinissa, who was then possessed of the district in question.
Ten years after,f new commissioners having been 4. Rom. 567. appointed to examine the same affair, they acted as the former had done, and left the whole undetermined. * Liv. l. xxix. n. 29-34. | Id. I. xxix. n. 23. I ld. I. xxx. n 11, 12.
OLIV Id. l. xxxiv n. 62. | Id. 1 x. n. 47.
A. M. 3823.
1. xxx. n. 44.
A. M 3833.
After the like distance of time, the Carthaginians
again brought their complaint before the senate, but with greater importunity than before.* They represented, that besides the lands at first contested, Masanissa had, during the two preceding years, dispossessed them of upwards of seventy towns and castles: their hands were bound up by that article of the last treaty, which forbade their making war upon any of the allies of the Romans: that they could no longer bear the insolence, the avarice, and cruelty, of that prince: that they were deputed to Rome with three requests (one of which they desired might be immediately complied with,) viz. either that the affair might be examined and decided by the senate; or, secondly, that they might be permitted to repel force by force, and defend themselves by arms; or, lastly, that, if favour was to prevail over justice, they then entreated the Romans to specify, once for all, which of the Carthaginian lands they were desirous should be given up to Masinissa, that they, by this means, might hereafter know what they had to depend on; and that the Roman people would show some moderation in their behalf at a time that this prince set no other bounds to his pretensions, than his insatiable avarice. The deputies concluded with beseeching the Romans, that if they had any cause of complaint against the Carthaginians since the conclusion of the last peace, that they themselves would punish them; and not to give them up to the wild caprice of a prince, by whom their liberties were made precarious, and their lives insupportable. After ending their speech, being pierced with grief, shedding floods of tears, they fell prostrate upon the earth; a spectacle that moved all who were present to compassion, and raised a violent hatred against Masinissa. Gulussa, his son, who was then present, being asked what he had to reply, he answered, that his father had not given him any instructions, not knowing that any thing would be laid to his charge. He only desired the senate to reflect, that the circumstance which drew all this hatred upon him from the Carthaginians, was, the inviolable fidelity with which he had always been attached to the side of the Romans. The señate, after hearing both sides, answered, that they were inclined to do justice to either party to whom it might be due: that Gulussa should set out immediately with their orders to his father, who was thereby commanded to send immediately deputies with those of Carthage : that they would do all that lay in their power to serve him, but not to the prejudice of the Carthaginians: that it was but just the ancient limits should be preserved; and that it was far from being the intention of the Romans, to have the Carthaginians dispossessed, during the peace, of those territories and cities which had been left them by the treaty. The deputies of both powers were then dismissed with the usual presents.
But all these assurances were but mere words.t It is plain thai
* Id. l. xlii. n. 23, 24.
Polyb. p. 951.
A M. 3848.
the Romans did not once endeavour to satisfy the Carthaginians, or do them the least justice; and that they protracted the business, on purpose to give Masinissa time to establish himself in his usurpation, and weaken his enemies.
A new deputation was sent to examine the affair
upon the spot, and Cato was one of the commissionOn their arrival, they asked the parties if they were willing to abide by their determination. Masinissa readily complied. The Carthaginians answered, that they had fixed a rule to which they adhered, and that this was the treaty which had been concluded by Scipio, and desired that their cause might be examined with all possible rigour. They therefore could not come to any decision. The deputies visited all the country, and found it in a very good condition, especially the city of Carthage: and they were surprised to see it, after having been involved in such a calamity, so soon again raised to so exalted a pitch of power and grandeur. The deputies, on their return, did not fail to acquaint the senate with this circumstance; and declared, Rome could never be in safety so long as Carthage should subsist. From this time, whatever affair was debated in the senate, Cato always added the following words to his opinion, and I conclude that Carthage ought to be destroyed. This grave senator did not give himself the trouble to prove, that bare jealousy of the growing power of a neighbouring state, is a warrant sufficient for destroying a city, contrary to the faith of treaties. Scipio Nasica, on the other hand, was of opinion, that the ruin of this city would draw after it that of their commonwealth; because that the Romans having then no rival to fear, would quit the ancient severity of their manners, and abandon themselves to luxury and pleasures, the never failing subverters of the
most flourishing empires. In the mean time, divisions broke out in Carthage.t The popular faction, being now become superior to that of the grandees and senators, sent forty citizens into banishment, and bound the people by an oath, never to suffer the least mention to be made of recalling those exiles. They withdrew to the court of Masinissa, who despatched Gulussa and Micipsa, his two sons, to Carthage to solicit their recall. However, the gates of the city were shut against them, and one of them was closely pursued by Hamilcar, one of the generals of the republic. This gave occasion to a new war, and accordingly armies were levied on both sides. A battle was fought; and the younger Scipio, who afterwards ruined Carthage, was spectator of it. He had been sent from Lucullus, who was then carrying on war in Spain, and under whom Scipio then served, to Masinissa, to desire some elephants from that monarch. During the whole engagement, he stood upon a neighbouring hill ; and was surprised to see Masinissa, then upwards of eighty years of age, mounted (agreeably to the custom of the country) on a horse without a saddle : fiving