Masinissa's Depredations -- Factions in Carthage -- The Visit of Cato -- War with Masinissa -- A Battle with Masinissa -- Carthaginian Army surrounded and captured
Thus the second war between the Romans and the 366 Carthaginians, which began in Spain and terminated in Africa with the aforesaid treaty, came to an end. This was about the 144th Olympiad according to the Greek reckoning. Presently Masinissa, being incensed against the Carthaginians and relying on the friendship of the Romans, seized a considerable part of the territory belonging to the former on the ground that it had once belonged to himself. The Carthaginians appealed to the Romans to bring Masinissa to terms. The Romans accordingly sent arbitrators, but told them to favor Masinissa as much as they could. Thus Masinissa appropriated a part of the Carthaginian territory and made a treaty with them which lasted about fifty years, during which Carthage, blessed with peace, advanced greatly in population and wealth by reason of the fertility of her soil and the profits of her commerce.
By and by (as frequently happens in periods of prosperity) 368 factions arose. There was a Roman party, a democratic party, and a party which favored Masinissa as king. Each had leaders of eminence in position and in bravery. Hanno the Great was the leader of the Romanizing faction; Hannibal, surnamed the Starling, was the chief of those who favored Masinissa; and Hamilcar, surnamed the Samnite, and Carthalo, of the democrats. The latter party, watching their opportunity while the Romans were at war with the Celtiberians, and Masinissa was marching to the aid of his son, who was surrounded by other Spanish forces, persuaded Carthalo (the commander of auxiliaries and in discharge of that office going about the country) to attack the subjects of Masinissa, whose tents were on disputed territory. Accordingly he slew some of them, carried off booty, and incited the rural Africans against the Numidians. Many other hostile acts took place on both sides, until the Romans again sent envoys to restore peace, telling them as before to help Masinissa secretly. They artfully 369 confirmed Masinissa in the possession of what he had taken 370 before, in this way. They would neither say anything nor listen to anything, so that Masinissa might not be worsted in the controversy, but they passed between the two litigants with outstretched hands, and this was their way of 371 commanding both to keep the peace. Not long afterward 372 Masinissa raised a dispute about the land known as the "big fields" and the country belonging to fifty towns, which is called Tysca. Again the Carthaginians had recourse to the Romans. Again the latter promised to send envoys to arbitrate the matter, but they delayed until it seemed probable that the Carthaginian interests would be utterly ruined.
At length they sent the envoys, and among others 374 Cato. These went to the disputed territory and they asked that both parties should submit all their differences to them. Masinissa, who was grabbing more than his share and who had confidence in the Romans, consented. The Carthaginians hesitated, because their former experience had led them to fear that they should not receive justice. They said therefore that it was of no use to have a new dispute and a correction of the treaty made with Scipio, they only complained about transgressions of the treaty. As the envoys would not consent to arbitrate on the controversy in parts, they returned home. But they carefully observed the country; they saw how diligently it was cultivated, and what great estates it possessed. They entered the city and saw how greatly it had increased in wealth and population since its overthrow by Scipio not long before. When they returned to Rome they declared that Carthage was to them an object of apprehension rather than of jealousy, the city being so ill affected, so near them, and growing so rapidly. Cato especially said that even the liberty of Rome would never be secure until Carthage was destroyed. When the Senate learned these things it resolved upon war but waited for a pretext, and meanwhile concealed the intention. It is said that Cato, from that time, continually expressed the opinion in the Senate that Carthage must be destroyed. Scipio Nasica held the contrary opinion that Carthage ought to be spared so that the Roman discipline, which was already relaxing, might be preserved through fear of her.
The democratic faction in Carthage sent the leaders of the party favoring Masinissa into banishment, to the 376 number of about forty, and confirmed it by a vote and an oath that they should never be taken back, and that the question of taking them back should never be discussed. The banished took refuge with Masinissa and urged him to declare war. He, nothing loath, sent his two sons, Gulussa and Micipsa, to Carthage to demand that those who had been expelled on his account should be taken back. When they came to the city gates the botharch warned them off, fearing lest the relatives of the exiles should prevail with the multitude by their tears. When Gulussa was returning Hamilcar the Samnite set upon him, killed some of his attendants, and thoroughly frightened him. Thereupon Masinissa, making this an excuse, laid siege to the town of Oroscopa, which he desired to possess contrary to the treaty. The Carthaginians with 25,000 foot and 400 city 377 horse under Hasdrubal, their botharch, marched against 378 Masinissa. At their approach, Asasis and Suba, Masinissa's lieutenants, on account of some difference with his sons, deserted with 6000 horse. Encouraged by this accession, Hasdrubal moved his forces nearer to the king and in some skirmishes gained the advantage. But Masinissa by stratagem retired little by little as if in flight, until he had drawn him into a great desert surrounded by hills and crags, and destitute of provisions. Then turning about he pitched his camp in the open plain. Hasdrubal drew up among the hills as being a stronger position.
They were to fight the following day. Scipio the younger, who afterwards captured Carthage, and who was then serving Lucullus in the war against the Celtiberians, was on his way to Masinissa's camp, having been sent thither to procure elephants. Masinissa, as he was preparing his own person for battle, sent a body of horse to meet him, and charged some of his sons to receive him when he should arrive. At daylight he put his army in order of battle in person, for although he was eighty-eight years old he was still a vigorous horseman and rode bareback, as is the Numidian custom, both when fighting and when performing the duties of a general. Indeed, the Numidians are the most robust of all the African peoples and of the long-lived they live the longest. The reason probably is that their winter is not cold enough to do them much harm and their summer not so extremely hot as that of Ethiopia and of India; for which reason also this country produces the most powerful wild beasts, and the men are always performing labor in the open air. They use very little wine and their food is simple and frugal. When Masinissa, upon his charger, drew up his army Hasdrubal drew up his in opposition. It was very large, since many recruits had flocked in from the country. Scipio witnessed this battle from a height, as one views a spectacle in a theatre. He often said afterwards that he had witnessed various contests, but never enjoyed any other so much, for here only had he seen at his ease 110,000 join battle. He added with an air of solemnity that only two had had such a spectacle before him: Jupiter from Mount Ida, and Neptune from Samothrace, in the Trojan war.
The battle continued from morning till night, many falling on both sides, and it seemed that Masinissa had the advantage. As he was returning from the field Scipio presented himself, and Masinissa greeted him with the greatest attention, having been a friend of his grandfather. When the Carthaginians learned of Scipio's arrival they besought him to make terms for them with Masinissa. He brought them to a conference, and the Carthaginians made proposals that they would surrender to Masinissa the territory belonging to the town of Emporium and give him 200 talents of silver now and 800 talents later. When he asked for the deserters they would not give them up. So they separated without coming to an agreement. Then Scipio returned to Spain with his elephants. Masinissa drew a line of circumvallation around the hill where the enemy were encamped and prevented them from bringing in any food. Nor could any be found in the neighborhood, for it was with the greatest difficulty that he could procure a scant supply for himself from a long distance. Now Hasdrubal thought that he should be able to break through the enemy's line with his army, which was still strong and unharmed. Having more supplies than Masinissa, he thought it would be a good plan to provoke him to battle and he delayed because he had just learned that envoys were on their way from Rome to settle the difficulty. By and by they came. They had been instructed if Masinissa were beaten to put an end to the strife, but if he were successful, to spur him on. And they carried out their orders.
In the meantime hunger wasted Hasdrubal and the Carthaginians and, being much debilitated, they were no longer able to assault the enemy. First they ate their pack animals, and after them their horses, and they boiled their leather straps for food. They also fell sick of various diseases due to lack of food, want of exercise, and the season, for they were enclosed in one place and in a contracted camp -- a great multitude of men exposed to the heat of an African summer. When the supply of wood for cooking failed they burned their shields. They could not carry out the bodies of the dead because Masinissa kept strict guard; nor could they burn them for want of fuel. So there was a terrible pestilence among them in consequence of living in the stench of putrefying corpses. The greater part of the army was already wasted away. The rest, seeing no hope of escape, agreed to give up the deserters to Masinissa and to pay him 5000 talents of silver in fifty years, and to take back those who had been banished, although this was contrary to their oath. They were to pass out through their enemies, one by one, through a single gate, and with nothing but a short tunic for each. Gulussa, full of wrath at the assault made upon him not long before, either with the connivance of his father or upon his own motion, made a charge upon them with a body of Numidian cavalry as they were going out. As they had neither arms to resist nor strength to fly, many were slain. So, out of 58,000 men composing the army only a few returned safe to Carthage, among them Hasdrubal, the general, and others of the nobility.