According to the Greek and Roman historians, the Numidians adhered to a vegetarian diet, abstained from alcohol, and engaged in regular exercise. Men would take a wife and then other women as concubines, so families were usually large.
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Children and adults often went naked around their homes and wore loose-fitting tunics without a belt at public gatherings; they also wore sandals or went barefoot. Their high-energy, vegetarian lifestyle, coupled with the climate of the region, afforded them long lives and robust health.
The Numidians of the Massylii are often praised for their skill with horses, more so than the Masaesyli, and it is said that the people grew up in such close contact with their horses that they formed an unspoken bond and required neither saddle nor bridle to control their steeds though they did use a whip or prod in battle.
The Romans employed Numidian cavalry as mercenaries, as did Carthage, in the Second Punic War, which pit the tribes against each other according to their allegiance. The Numidian cavalry were lightly armed with a javelin and possibly a sword or dagger. They would engage the enemy, hurl their javelins, and retreat, usually inflicting heavy casualties. Each federation of tribes was led by their king or chief who may originally have been a war-chief selected to lead in times of conflict and who led his troops as mercenaries in the wars of other nations.
The Numidians were part of the rebel army against Carthage in the Mercenary Wars BCE which started when negotiations on their payment broke down. This conflict was resolved by Hamilcar Barca c. Carthage suffered greatly following the war, due to their loss of territory and control of the Mediterranean , but especially because of the indemnity Rome insisted they pay. When Gala died he was succeeded by his son Masinissa. Masinissa initially maintained the alliance with Carthage until he witnessed how effective Scipio was in battle and switched sides, knowing that Rome would win the war.
Syphax, meanwhile, had become disillusioned with Rome and changed his allegiance to Carthage. Masinissa married Sophonsiba, a Carthaginian noblewoman daughter of the general Hasdrubal Gisco, d. After she had been taken to Rome, Scipio said, Masinissa could work through the proper channels to have her returned. Sophonsiba was allegedly betrothed to Masinissa before he defected to Rome and only married Syphax after he switched his allegiance to Carthage though this claim is challenged. When Scipio insisted that she be sent to Rome to appear in the Roman Triumph , Masinissa gave her a vial of poison with which she killed herself.
He expanded his territory, built grand monuments, and enlarged Numidian towns such as Thugga and Hippo Regius into cities. He established his capital at Cirta and improved the port city of Russicada. He was given a free hand by Rome in territorial expansion as long as whatever he pursued thwarted the interests of Carthage. Masinissa encouraged raiding parties into Carthaginian territory at the same time that Rome was proposing to raze the city and have it rebuilt further inland. The Carthaginians met the Numidian and Roman threat with military force, breaking the treaty which had ended the war, and so started the Third Punic War BCE which ended with the destruction of Carthage.
After campaigning in Spain, Jugurtha was sent home to Cirta with a letter of recommendation strongly encouraging Micipsa to make him his heir. When Micipsa died, however, Heimpsal insulted Jugurtha who promptly had him killed. Jugurtha then led his forces against Adherbal, captured him, and tortured him to death. The western lands of Numidia which had once been those of the Masaesyli were given to Bocchus I of Mauretania who had been instrumental in the betrayal and capture of Jugurtha.
Juba sided with Pompey during his war with Caesar, and when defeat was certain following the Battle of Thapsus in 46 BCE, he killed himself. He remained in Rome where he was educated according to Roman custom and became completely Romanized. He went on military campaigns with the young Octavius and was instrumental in his victory at Actium. The pyramids of Numidia date from this period as does the Royal Mausoleum which still stands in Tipasa Province, Algeria. Juba II was a highly respected scholar and author of a number of works cited regularly by later ancient historians.
He initiated no military expeditions but is said to have sponsored a number of scholarly missions of exploration and possibly archaeology. Under his reign, Numidian art, science, and civilization flourished, and this continued even after he moved his capital to Mauretania c. He made his son, Ptolemy c. Ptolemy was murdered by the Roman emperor Caligula in 40 CE after Caligula had invited the scholar to visit him. The motivation behind the murder remains unclear. Numidia had long been a Roman province and would continue as such after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in CE.
The region would be dominated by a number of different nationalities over the centuries until it won its independence from France in CE as modern-day Algeria and was free to direct its own fate. The story of the Masaesyli and Massylii has been seen largely as a footnote in Roman history and, unless excavations are encouraged in modern-day North Africa, will no doubt continue to be.
It is hoped that this situation changes in the future and a clearer picture of the people of ancient Numidia, and their grand history, will then emerge in its own right. Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. We're a small non-profit organisation run by a handful of volunteers. Become a Member. Mark, J. The Masaesyli and Massylii of Numidia. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Mark, Joshua J.
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Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. Related Content Filters: All. Kahina 7th century CE was a Berber Imazighen warrior-queen Jugurtha r. However, only part of the besieging force left for Rome and, under continued siege, Capua fell to Rome soon afterwards.
Hannibal fought another pitched battle near Rome. In the spring of , Marcellus stormed the walls of Syracuse in a surprise night assault and conquered several districts inside the city. In BC, Hannibal sent a force of Numidian cavalry to Sicily, which was led by the skilled Liby-Phoenician officer Mottones, who inflicted heavy losses on Marcellus' army through hit-and-run attacks.
In BC, Scipio Africanus arrived in Spain on with a proconsular imperium and more reinforcements that increased the strength of his army to 28, infantry and 3, cavalry. In a brilliant assault in BC, Scipio succeeded in capturing lightly-defended Cartago Nova , which was the centre of Carthaginian power in Spain. Carthage sent more reinforcements to Sicily and Hanno and Mottones went over to the offensive, capturing Macella and re-capturing Morgantina. Laevinus captured 66 other Sicilian towns, of which 40 surrendered and 26 were taken through force or treachery.
Hannibal caught the proconsul Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus off guard during his siege of Herdonia and destroyed his army in a pitched battle with up to 13, Romans dead of 20, Hannibal, at that time, had been able to disengage from Marcellus and was only 8. In the spring of BC, Hasdrubal Barca marched across the Alps and invaded Italy with an army of 30, men to link up with Hannibal.
Second Punic War
Nero then tricked Hannibal into believing that the whole Roman army was still in camp, while he marched with a selected corps north and reinforced the Romans engaged against Hasdrubal. The combined Roman force attacked Hasdrubal and destroyed his army at the Battle of the Metaurus on 22 June BC, killing Hasdrubal and scattering the survivors of his army. The outcome of Metaurus confirmed Roman dominance in Italy.
Without Hasdrubal's troops, Hannibal was compelled to evacuate allied towns in Italy and withdraw to Bruttium. In the Battle of Ilipa BC , Scipio with 48, men, half of them Italians and the rest Spaniards, defeated a combined army of 54, men and 32 elephants under the command of Mago Barca , Hasdrubal Gisco and Masinissa , thus bringing Carthaginian dominance in Spain to an end. It was followed by the Roman capture of Gades in BC after the city had already rebelled against Carthaginian rule.
The Tribal leaders Indibilis and Mandonius of the Ausetani thought that, after the expulsion of the Carthaginians, the Romans would leave and they would gain control of Spain again. This didn't happen, however, so they participated with the mutineers at the Sucro camp against the Romans. This mutiny was ultimately squelched by Scipio Africanus. So, in the same year, Mago left Spain, setting sail from the Balearic islands to Italy with his remaining forces. In BC, there was a quick succession of kings in Eastern Numidia that temporarily ended with the division of the land between Carthage and the Western Numidian king Syphax , a former Roman ally.
For this bargain, Syphax was to marry Sophonisba , daughter of Hasdrubal Gisco. Massinissa , who had thus lost his fiancee , went over to the Romans with whom he had already established contact during his military service in Spain. At the same time, Scipio Africanus Major was given command of the legions in Sicily and was allowed to levy volunteers for his plan to end the war by an invasion of Africa.
The legions in Sicily were mainly the survivors of Cannae, who were not allowed home until the war was finished. Scipio was also one of the survivors but, unlike the ordinary soldiers, had been allowed to return to Rome along with the other surviving tribunes , and had run successfully for public office and had been given command of the troops in Iberia. When a Carthaginian and Numidian relief army under Hasdrubal Barca and Syphax moved to confront Scipio, the Romans mounted a surprise attack on their enemies at the Battle of Utica BC and defeated them with complete success.
Scipio broke out into the Carthaginian hinterland and a second Carthaginian-Numidian army was attacked and destroyed at the Battle of the Great Plains in BC. King Syphax of the Massaesylians western Numidians , was defeated and taken prisoner after the Battle of Cirta. Masinissa , a Numidian rival of Syphax and, at that time, an ally of the Romans, seized a large part of his kingdom with their help.
Second Punic War - Ancient History Encyclopedia
These setbacks persuaded some in the Carthaginian Senate that it was time to sue for peace. Others pleaded for the recall of Hannibal and Mago, who were still fighting the Romans in Bruttium and Cisalpine Gaul , respectively. In , Mago landed in Genua by sea the remnants of his Spanish army.
This was the third Carthaginian force invading Italy. It soon received Gallic and Ligurian reinforcements. Mago's arrival in the north of the Italian peninsula was followed by Hannibal's Battle of Crotona in in the south of the peninsula. Mago marched his reinforced army towards the lands of the Boii and Insubres, Carthage's main Gallic allies and a place of retreat for Hasdrubal's defeated remnants. This hindered the third attempted invasion of Italy early, by preventing Mago from uniting with Hannibal's army in the south.
In BC, while Scipio was carrying all before him in Africa and the Carthaginian peace party were arranging an armistice , Hannibal was recalled from Italy by the war party at Carthage. After leaving a record of his expedition engraved in Punic and Greek upon bronze tablets in the temple of Juno at Crotone , he sailed back to Africa. These records were later quoted by Polybius. Hannibal's arrival immediately restored the predominance of the war party, who placed him in command of a combined force of Mediterranean mercenaries, African levies and his veterans from Italy.
In BC, Hannibal met Scipio in a peace conference. Despite the two generals' mutual admiration, negotiations floundered, according to the Romans due to "Punic faith", meaning bad faith. This Roman expression referred to the alleged breach of protocols which ended the First Punic War by the Carthaginian attack on Saguntum, Hannibal's perceived breaches of what the Romans perceived as military etiquette i.
The decisive battle soon followed. Unlike most battles of the Second Punic War, the Romans had superiority in cavalry and the Carthaginians had superiority in infantry. Scipio countered an expected Carthaginian elephant charge, which caused some of Hannibal's elephants to turn back into his own ranks, throwing his cavalry into disarray. The Roman cavalry was able to capitalize on this and drive the Carthaginian cavalry from the field.
The battle remained closely fought and, at one point, it seemed that Hannibal was on the verge of victory. Scipio's cavalry then returned from chasing the Carthaginian cavalry and attacked Hannibal's rear. This two-pronged attack caused the Carthaginian formation to disintegrate and collapse. After their defeat, Hannibal convinced the Carthaginians to accept peace. Afterwards, he was obliged to apologize for his behaviour. Carthage lost Hispania forever, and Rome firmly established her power there over large areas.
The Numidians took the opportunity to capture and plunder Carthaginian territory.
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Half a century later, when Carthage raised an army to defend itself from these incursions, Rome destroyed her in the Third Punic War — BC. Rome, on the other hand, by her victory, had taken a key step towards what ultimately became her domination of the Mediterranean world. The end of the war did not meet with a universal welcome in Rome. When the Senate decided upon a peace treaty with Carthage, Quintus Caecilius Metellus , a former consul, said he did not look upon the termination of the war as a blessing to Rome, since he feared that the Roman people would now sink back again into its former slumbers, from which it had been roused by the presence of Hannibal.
Even after the peace, Cato insisted on the destruction of Carthage, ending all his speeches with "Carthage must be destroyed" , even if they had nothing to do with Carthage. Archaeology has discovered that the famous circular military harbour at Carthage, the Cothon , received a significant buildup during or after this war.
Though shielded from external sight, it could house and quickly deploy about triremes. This appears a surprising development as, after the war, one of the terms of surrender restricted the Carthaginian fleet to only ten triremes. One possible explanation: as has been pointed out for other Phoenician cities, privateers with warships played a significant role besides trade, even when the Roman Empire was fully established and officially controlled all coasts. In this case it is not clear whether the treaty included private warships.
The only reference to Carthaginian privateers comes from the First Punic War: one such privateer, Hanno the Rhodian, owned a quinquereme faster than the serial production models that the Romans had copied , manned with about men and then among the heaviest warships in use. Later pirates in Roman waters are all reported with much smaller vessels, which could outrun naval vessels, but operated with lower personnel costs.
Thus piracy was probably highly developed in Carthage and the state did not have a monopoly of military forces. Pirates probably played an important role in capturing slaves, one of the most profitable trade-goods, but merchant ships with tradeable goods and a crew were also their targets. No surviving source reports the fate of Carthaginian privateers in the periods between and after the Punic Wars.
Hannibal became a businessman for several years and later enjoyed a leadership role in Carthage. However, the Carthaginian nobility, upset by his policy of democratisation and his struggle against corruption, persuaded the Romans to force him into exile in Asia Minor , where he again led armies against the Romans and their allies on the battlefield. He eventually committed suicide c. Constant low-level warfare persisted between Carthage and Numidia, but, by the time of the Third Punic War — BC , Carthage had lost most of its African territories and the Numidians traded independently with the Greeks.
In this conflict, intelligence played an important role on both sides. Hannibal mastered an intelligence service that enabled him to achieve outstanding victories. In BC, a Carthaginian resident spy in Rome—probably a Roman citizen—was caught and had his hands cut off as a punishment. For never did any states and nations more efficient in their resources engage in contest; nor had they themselves at any other period so great a degree of power and energy. They brought into action too no arts of war unknown to each other, but those which had been tried in the first Punic war ; and so various was the fortune of the conflict, and so doubtful the victory, that they who conquered were more exposed to danger.
The hatred with which they fought also was almost greater than their resources. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Second Punic War. Punic Wars. First Mercenary Second Third.
- DEATH ON A WIND The Numidians of the Second Punic War — Charles R. King | Kristin King Author.
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The Fall of Carthage. Lancel, Serge Hannibal in French. Lazenby, John Francis Hannibal's War. Lomas, Kathryn Mahaney, W. C, Palmer, Robert E. Rome and Carthage at Peace. Rawlings, Louis Zimmermann, Klaus Zlattner, Max Second Punic War category. Eryx 2nd Mt. Eryx Aegates.