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date: 25 March 2023



  • John F. Lazenby


King of *Numidia (238–148 bce). In about 213 he helped his father, in alliance with *Carthage, to defeat *Syphax, king of the western or Masaesylian Numidians, and then crossed to Spain, where he first appears in 211, commanding Numidian cavalry against P. *Cornelius Scipio(1) (Livy 25. 34). He continued to serve the Carthaginians in Spain down to Ilipa in 206, but then defected to Rome, pledging his support to P. *Cornelius Scipio Africanus himself should the Romans invade Africa (Livy 28. 34. 12 ff.).Shortly afterwards, on the death of his father, he returned to Africa, and recovered control of his kingdom from his nephew, only to be driven out again by Syphax. There followed a series of adventures which, according to the more probable version, left him little more than a hunted fugitive. But in 204 he was able to join Scipio Africanus, when the latter landed in Africa (Livy 29. 29. 4), and thereafter his fortunes rapidly improved. His services to Rome culminated in the defeat and capture of Syphax after the battle of the ‘Great Plains’, and command of the Numidian cavalry on Scipio's right at the decisive battle of *Zama.


  • Roman History and Historiography

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