King of Numidia (238–148 bc). After many adventures, he joined Cornelius Scipio Africanus, when he landed in Africa in 204, and commanded the Numidian cavalry on Scipio's right at Zama (202). His recognition as ‘king’ by Scipio was confirmed by the senate; and the terms of the subsequent peace gave him virtual carte blanche in his dealings with Carthage. By loyally supporting Rome in her wars in Spain, Macedonia, and Greece, he usually enjoyed her support. His continuous aggression eventually led to Carthage's resorting to war against him, contrary to her treaty with Rome, and though Masinissa was victorious—or perhaps because he was—war with Rome became inevitable, Masinissa living to see its outbreak, though not its end.
Tough, brave, and ruthless, Masinissa was a skilled commander, esp. of cavalry, and a wily statesman. He was one of the very few Mediterranean potentates to grasp the overwhelming power of Rome, and, caught up in a struggle between two great powers, he managed to emerge with his own territory enlarged. Although there are signs that even the Romans were becoming exasperated by, if not wary of, his ambitions, he managed to die in his bed, at the age of 90, and to bequeath his kingdom to his sons.
Subjects: Classical Studies.