PEOPLE OF THE ANCIENT WORLD: Jugurtha (King of Numidia)
JUGURTHA (r. 118-105 BCE) was King of Numidia in North Africa and grandson of the first Numidian king Masinissa (r. c. 202-148 BCE). He was the illegitimate son of Mastanabal, Masinissa’s youngest son, and was the least likely of Masinissa’s grandsons to ever come to power. His personal ambition, intelligence, and ruthlessness, however, coupled with a keen insight into human motivation and enough finances to buy influence, brought him to power following the death of his uncle Micipsa (r. 148-118 BCE) who had succeeded Masinissa.
Micipsa had divided the kingdom between his two sons Hiempsal I and Adherbal and his adopted son Jugurtha, but Jugurtha assassinated both. He bribed the Roman senate and the various envoys and generals sent against him until in 105 BCE, after a number of stunning defeats at the hands of Roman generals, he was finally betrayed and handed over to the Romans by his son in law, Bocchus, the king of neighboring Mauretania. He was brought back to Rome in chains and died in prison – either executed or by starvation – in 104 BCE.