Massinissa ( MSNSN-Massinissan of farmhouse “lord” and inassen “people”, on the bilingual inscriptions of Cirta, current Constantine in Algeria, called by the Latin authors Massinissa), is the first king of the unified Numidie.
Wire of the king ( agellid in Berber) Gaïa (G.Y.Y, punic inscription), grandson of Zelalsan and back grandson of Islands. It was born towards 238 av. J. - C. in the tribe from the Massyles ( Mis Islands ). He died at the beginning of January 148 av. J. - C..
Massinissa, without the Roman assistance, worked during all its existence with the recovery of the territories annexed by Carthage since its establishment in Africa. It contributed in particular largely to the victory of the Bataille of Zama to the head of its famous cavalry Numide.
Youth during the Second Punic War
During the Second Punic War, Rome sought to be made allies in North Africa. Syphax, king of the Massaessyles in Numidie Western, whose capital was Siga (current Ain Temouchent in Algérie), sought to annex the territories of Numidie Eastern, directed by Gaïa, king of the Massyles.
Thus Syphax accepted three Centurie S Romans and was turned against Carthage. Carthage came to assistance of Gaïa, in exchange of five thousand riders numides under the command of the Massinissa young person, old of twenty-five years, starting from 212 or 211 av. J. - C.. Massinissa joined the Carthaginian troops in Spain until the autumn 206 av. J. - C.. It gained a decisive victory against Syphax, and conducted successfully a campaign guerilla against the Romans in Ibérie.
The Carthaginians, beaten with Ilipa, ended up losing their possessions in the Mediterranean. The Roman general Scipion, who ordered the army in Spain, thought of carrying the war in Africa and of making sure the support of the kingdoms numides. He gained the friendship of Massinissa starting from 206 av. J. - C., with which he had made an agreement in secrecy, then he went in Africa to try to convince Syphax to remain in alliance. But the king Massaessyle, having had wind of the agreement with Massinissa, had already approached Carthage.
Accession with the throne
Died of Gaïa (206 av. J. - C.), his/her brother Oezalces (Oulzacen) succeeds to him. Married to a Carthaginian niece of Hannibal, it profits from the support of the Carthaginians against its neighbors and its vassal turbulent. But Oezalces dies and Capussa goes up on the throne.
Capussa is immediately disputed by Meztul his/her cousin, resulting from the rival fraction to the reigning branch. Meztul obtains weapons and reinforcements of Syphax, attacks the forces of Capussa. The combat between the two clans gave the victory to Meztul. Capussa died in full battle, and Meztul seized the capacity to place on the throne Lacumazes, whereas, according to the tradition, the throne returned in Massinissa.
Carthage approving this usurpation, sealed alliance with Meztul and for wife the widow of Oezalces gave him.
Massinissa learned these events whereas it was in Spain, it decided to leave Gadès for the Maurétanie (-206), and fearing the reprisals of Syphax, combined of his cousin, it asked for the assistance of Baga, king of the Moors. This one offered an escort of 4000 men to him which accompanied it until the limits by its grounds. After having gathered 500 riders among his and the faithful partisans of the family, it attacked its adversaries.
Lacumazes, which was on the point of leaving Thapsus (current Skikda in Algérie), seat of its government to go to Cirta in order to present its homages to Syphax, was attacked by Massinissa in a procession not far from the city, overcome in this ambush, Lacumazes managed nevertheless to escape and to join Cirta. This victory was worth in Massinissa an surge of partisans who allowed him to consolidate his position. Lacumazes and Maztul gathered men of their clan, obtained the assistance of Syphax and returned to the load with 15000 infantrymen and 10000 riders. In spite of a quite less number of men, Massinissa is still victorious and a hard defeat inflicts to them. Beaten and given up by their, Lacumazes and Meztul take refuge in Carthage this time, in their parents-in-law.
Massinissa then occupied Thapsus, which became the capital of the Massyles. In order to consolidate its capacity, it carried out an effective fight against Carthage and preached the union of all Numides. To Lacumazes and Meztul it offered to return their good to them and the consideration due to their row if they returned in their fatherland. Those reassured as for the sincerity of their cousin, left Carthage and joined it.
This regrouping of the forces numides worried the Suffète S which dispatched then Hasdrubal Gisco at Syphax to persuade it of the danger that from now on such a neighbor represented. Syphax, then pretexted an old quarrel concerning of the territories which it had formerly disputed in Gaïa to attack Massinissa and to force it to exhaust its limited resources. Massinissa accepted the combat, its army was put in rout and Syphax adapted part of the Massyles kingdom then.
Massinissa, taken refuge in the mountains, with a handle the faithful ones, knew a life of outlaw. It less did not continue to badger its enemies by raids organized against the Carthaginian campaigns and the men of Syphax did not succeed in coming to end from him. The insecurity which it made weigh on the colonists and his growing popularity in Numidie worried the Carthaginian suffètes once more. Forwardings against Massinissa were sent, one believed it dead. But once its healed wounds Massinissa returned to the load and went once more against Syphax. Little by little, its compatriots recognized it, addressed their allegiance to him and the means offered to him of which it missed.
Its recovered kingdom, Massinissa attacked the close territories then. The Carthaginian colonists, to defend oneself bound with the Massaesyles and gathered an large army against the Massyles. Syphax was with the head of a vast kingdom and its war against Massinissa got only more prestige to him still. Satisfied with its victory which will hardly be eternal, Syphax grants in dowry to the marriage of beautiful the Sophonisbe, the territories which it had usurped in Gaïa. All that was held in 205 av. J. - C., less than one year after the return of Spain de Massinissa.
Roman intervention in Africa
Scipion, decided to finish some with Carthage, unloaded in Africa. The Romain crafty one tried once again to attract Syphax which again rejected alliance suggested. He turned then to Massinissa, the first engagements turned in favor of the two allied ones. The latter, encouraged by their successes, attacked Utique, 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 being able to detach 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 the Italy, where they are in shift, exchanges the Romans of them would leave Africa. If the general Asdrubal, 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 av. J. - C.)) who 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 wandering, 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, which had put an end to the countryside of Italy, raised the hopes of the City. An incident broke soon peace and the war began again.
War against Hannibal
Hannibal was combined with Vermina, the son and successor of Syphax and, together, they invaded the kingdom of the Massyles. Massinissa and Scipion joined them in Zama and large a battles engaged (202 av. 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 its shield and cuts down the horse of its adversary. Massinissa is raised and, with foot, springs towards Hannibal, through a hail of features, which it receives on its shield in skin of elephant. It tears off one of the javelins and aims Hannibal which 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 its soldiers bending little by little, some move away from the battle field to bandage their wounds, others are withdrawn definitively. It goes everywhere, encourages its men, cuts down by-Ci, by-there its adversaries, but its efforts remain vain. Despaired, he only thinks of saving the remainders of his army. He springs ahead, surrounded by some riders, spawning time a way and leaves the battle field. 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 favor from the night whose darkness starts to cover the 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 he flees in Syria where he will commit suicide in 183 av. J. - C..
The character and work
Appien known as of him: that it was beautiful in its youth and of high size. It kept, until the most advanced age, an astonishing strength. There could remain one day whole upright or with horse; octogenarian, it jumped on his mounting without any help and, like other Numides, it scorned the use of the saddle. It faced naked head the cold and the rain. From 88 years, it ordered its army in a great battle against the Carthaginians; the following day, Scipion Emilien found it on foot in front of its tent, holding a dry piece of wafer which constituted any sound repas.
Massinissa had several wives and a considerable number children including forty three males, among his/her many daughters, several were married with noble Carthaginians. The majority of the children of Massinissa disappeared before him but it remained about it, with its death, ten (Mikusan known as Micipsa, Gulusan, Mastanabal, Masucan…). Massinissa adored the children and it kept during several years near him some of its grandchildren. To Greek merchants, come to buy Monkey S in Numidie, to distract from the idle rich person, he would have said: “Don't the women of your country, thus give you children? ”
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. Courageous man and generous king (forgiveness granted to Lacumazes and Meztul, protection granted to Sophonisbe).
After the Battle of Zama, Massinissa still lived of many years. There kept its life during the friendship of Rome without never being its vassal and, against its appetites imperialists, declared, in a formula remained famous: “Africa belongs to the Africans”. It recovered not only the territories which granted to him the treaty passed with Carthage but also from many cities and areas under the authority of the Carthaginians or from Vermina, the son of Syphax. Of 174 with 172, it occupied sixty ten cities and forts.
But Massinissa 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 come from Greece occurred.
Massinissa had fought the Carthaginians but he hardly scorned the Carthaginian civilization, of which he could draw advantage. The language Punique was of everyday usage in its capital where one also spoke, in addition to the Berber one, languages Greek and Latin.
The social and political work of Massinissa was as large as its military work. It sédentarisa the Amazighs, built a State Numide powerful and equipped it with institutions, inspired by those of Rome and Carthage. It made strike a national currency and maintained a regular army and a fleet which it sometimes put at the service its Roman allies. It was large a aguellid, which kneads its people of its powerful hands and endeavoured to make of Berbérie a unified and independent State. Never this country was more close carrying out the outline of a free nation to develop its autonomous civilization. The attempt at Massinissa highlighted its exceptional qualities of sovereign.
Massinissa, was famous in all the countries of the the Mediterranean and the island of Délos, 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: “ Delenda is Carthago! ” (“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 (146 av. J. - C.). Massinissa, dead some time earlier, had not attended the fall of the coveted city. Its subjects, which liked it, drew up a Mausolée to him, not far from Cirta, its capital, and a temple with Thougga, current the Dougga, in Tunisia.
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