Thursday , June 22 2017

Massinissa, king of Numidia

By Mr. A. Haddadou, June 30, 2015 ,

MASSINISSA whose name was transcribed MSNSN on the libyques steles – with probably reading farmhouse N SEN “their lord” – wasthe son of king Gaïa.

Massinissa, king of Numidia c210–149.
Massinissa, king of Numidia c210–149.

One knows very few things of Gaïa but it is known that under the direction of this sovereign, the kingdom massyle had started to reach a high degree of civilization, but Syphax, the king of Massaessyles rivals, had not ceased badgering it, seizing, with each time it could it, its cities and territories. Rome supporting Syphax, Gaïa had been combined with the Carthaginians. It provides them, in exchange of their protection, of the troops which the Massinissa young person ordered in
Spain, from 212 or 211 before J.C until autumn 206, with the frequent one: voyages in Africa. The war was not long in turning in favour of the Romans. The Carthaginians, beaten with Ilipa, lost their possessions in the Mediterranean. The Scipion general who ordered the Roman army in Spain, thought of carrying the war to Africa, but he wanted, to before secure the support of the kingdoms numides. He had already gained the friendship of Massinissa, with which he had made secret agreement, then he went to Africa to try to convince Syphax to join to alliance. But the king massaessyle, having had wind of the agreement with Massinissa, had already approached Carthage.

Gaïa died this year there and the royalty passed, the rule of succession of the kingdoms amazighs, with the oldest male of the family, her Oezalcès brother. This one was not long in dying in its turn. One of its sons, Capusa, succeeded a man without scale to him which saw at once drawing up against him certain Mazetul which was to belong to with a rival branch of the family. Capusa was killed during a combat but It did not take the title of king. It conferred it to the brother of Capusa, Lacumazes, which was a child. However the throne was to return this time in Massinissa, become the elder one of the children of the family. The young man, feeling injured, left Spain, with a troop of riders, décié to take advantage of his rights.
Lucamazès called Syphax with its help. The powerful king massaessyle drove out Massinissa but, in return, it annexed the kingdom massyle.
Massinissa, taken refuge in the mountains, with a handle the faithful ones, knew a life of proscribe. It less did not continue to badger its enemies and the men of Syphax did not succeed in coming to end from him.
Its hour arrived when Scipion, decided to finish some, with Carthage, unloaded in Africa. The Romain crafty one tested a new faith, to attract Syphax throwing alliance suggested again, it turned again to Massinissa, the first engagements turned in favour of the two allied The latter, encouraged by their successes, attacked Uttique, fortified town Carthaginian, but the intervention of Syphax, obliged them to be withdrawn. they took their winter quarters and Scipion, in hiding-place of Massinissa, came again into contact with Syphax. Fault of detaching it from the Carthaginians, it required of him to propose a solution to put an end to the conflict between Rome and Carthage. Syphax proposed that the Carthaginians evacuate Italy, where they are in shift, exchanges the Romans of them would leave Africa. If the Asdrubal general, who ordered the Carthaginians accepted the offer, Scipion, which wanted in fact the pure and simple rendering of the punic City, rejected it.
Massinissa and Scipion took again their attacks, obliging this time the punic troops to fold up itself on Carthage. Syphax, not wanting to him to lose more men, was withdrawn in his kingdom.
The Carthaginians, understanding that the Romans would not leave them respite, decided, after having adopted a defensive attitude, to pass to the offensive. They raised a strong army which, joined by Syphax, gave the attack. It was the battle of the Large Plains (April 203 before J.C) which was completed by the victory of the united forces of Massinissa and Scipion.
There was a respite during which each camp reconstituted its troops, then the war began again. A combat engaged between Massinissa and Syphax, and this last, surrounded by many soldiers, was about to carry it, when the Roman army intervened. Thrown with ground, Syphax was stopped. It was connected and one led it under the walls of Cirta which, seeing its king in sorry state, decided to go. Massinissa, after several years of wander, could thus take again the kingdom of his/her fathers.
Carthage, overcome, was obliged to sign a peace which deprived it of most of its territories and of its fleet. The return of Hannibal, who had put an end to the countryside of Italy, raised the hopes of incidental Cité.Un broke soon peace and the war began again.
Hannibal was combined in Vermina, the son and successor of Syphax and, together, they invaded the kingdom of Massyles. Massinissa and Scipion joined them in Zama (either current Souk Ahras, in Algeria, or Jama, in Tunisia) and a great battle began (202 before J.C). The shock was hard and there were losses on the two sides, then the battle turned to the advantage of Massinissa and Scipion. The Latin historian Tite-Live makes a very picturesque account of this battle:
“A singular combat engages between Massinissa and Hannibal. Hannibal avoids a javelin with his shield and cuts down the horse of his adversary. Massinissa is raised and, with foot, springs towards Hannibal, through a hail of features, which it receives on his shield in skin of elephant. It tears off one of the javelins and aims Hannibal who it still misses. While it tears off some another, it is wounded with the arm and is withdrawn a little with the variation… Its bandaged wound, it returns in the fray, on another horse. The fight begins again with a new eagerness, because the soldiers are excited by the presence of their chiefs. Hannibal sees his soldiers bending little by little, some move away from the battle field to bandage their wounds, others withdraw himself definitively. He goes everywhere, encourages his men, cuts down by-Ci, by-there his adversaries, but its efforts remain vain. Despaired, it only thinks of saving the remainders of its army. It springs ahead, surrounded by some riders, spawning time, way and leaves the camp of battle. Massinissa which sees it launches with its group behind him. It presses it, in spite of the pain which its wound causes him, because it burns to bring back it captive. Hannibal escapes from the favour from the night whose darkness starts to cover nature.”
Carthage was again forced to negotiate. But the preceding treaty was revised and the punic city had to restore in Massinissa all the territories which had been torn off with its ancestors. Hannibal revolted and tried to be opposed to the treaty but threatened to be delivered to the Romans, flees in Syria where it committed suicide into 143 before J.C.

Tomb of Masinissa, Cirta/Constantine, Algeria
Tomb of Masinissa, Cirta/Constantine, Algeria

After the battle of Zama, Massinissa still lived of many years. It kept its life during the friendship of Rome but it was not its vassal and, counters its appetites imperialists, declared, in a famous formula, that Africa belonged to the Africans. It recovered not only the territories which granted to him the treaty made with Carthage but also from many areas cities under the authority of the Carthaginians or Vermina, the son of Syphax. From 174 to 172, it occupied sixty ten cities and forts!
The social and political work of Massinissa was as large as its military work. It sédentarisa the amazighs, it unified them, it built a State Numide powerful and equipped it with inscriptions, inspired by those of Rome and Carthage. It made a national currency, maintained regular and a fleet which it sometimes put at its Roman allies.
Massinissa which was a hard warrior, will encourage the literature and arts, sent his/her children to study in Greece and accepted at its court of many writers and foreign artists. It was a courageous man, who kept until a advanced age, large a vigor. There could remain one day whole with horse and, like the last of its soldiers, support all the deprivations. It was eighty eight years old when it ordered a battle against the Carthaginians. The following day, Scipion Emilien found it upright, in front of its tent, eating a piece of wafer, which formed its meal.
But it could also behave as a refined sovereign, carrying rich person clothing and a crown on the head, giving, in its palate of Cirta, of the banquets where the tables were charged with money and gold plate and where the musicians from Greece occurred.
Massinissa had fought the Carthaginians but it hardly scorned the Carthaginian civilization, of which it could draw advantage. The punic language was wise running in its capital where one also spoke, in addition to the amazigh, languages Greek and Latin.
It had several wives and a considerable number including forty three males. The majority disappeared before him but it remained about it, with its death, ten. It loved the children and it kept around him its grandchildren. Does a Greek merchant, having come to buy monkeys in Numidie, to distract the rich person, it say “the women of your country, do not give you they not children?”
Massinissa was famous in all the countries of the Mediterranean and the island of Delos, in Greece, raised three statues to him. Towards the end of its life, he wanted to seize Carthage to make his capital of it. The Romans who feared that it acquires a power even more large only that of the Carthaginians and that it is not turned over against them, were opposed to this project. Caton, drawing the attention to the danger which Massinissa represented, launched its famous formula: “It is necessary to destroy Carthage! ”
It was again the war in Africa and, after rough combat, Carthage was delivered to the flames, then with plundering. The survivors were reduced in slavery and the city was entirely shaven (149 before J.C). Massinissa, dead a few times earlier, had not attended the fall of the coveted city. Its subjects, which liked it, drew up a mausoleum to him, not far from Cirta, its capital, and a temple with Thougga, current Dougga, in Tunisia

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