It is notoriously difficult, in all or nearly all military history, to disentangle the conscious purposes and previous plans of the commanders from the results of pure chance or the improvisation of the moment; probably few wars have ever worked out entirely according to plan, and even an accurate analysis of the chief factors in the success of any particular campaign would, to those who really knew the facts, appear as an over-simplified diagram. Yet there is a correct use of diagrams, and we need not be ashamed of trying to pick out the true strategical significance from even the most complex military events, provided we are honest with ourselves. In attempting such a task with regard to the Jugurthine War, we must take very special care to notice the limitations that surround us : our results can be, at best, hypothetically sound, since our authorities are neither complete nor notably trustworthy in such important matters as personal impartiality and chronological detail. We have no contemporary source. Sallust is notoriously partisan, on the political if not also on the military side; he is, moreover, open to the suspicion, to put it mildly, of choosing for detailed description the more picturesque rather than the more vitally important episodes; and comparison with Orosius (who almost certainly derives from Livy) suggests that one battle, if not more, may have been altogether misrepresented.