Hiarbas (died 82/81 BC) was the king of eastern Numidia from in or shortly after 88 BC until his death. His name is sometimes given as Iarbas, Hiartas or Hiarbal. Hiarbas may be the historical inspiration for the legendary figure of Iarbas, rejected suitor of Dido, described by Virgil as a Gaetulian.
His origins are obscure. He may have been a Gaetulian. He was probably not related to the ruling family of Numidia, which had largely been wiped out following the Jugurthine War in 106. On the death of Gauda in 88, Numidia was divided into a smaller western and a larger eastern kingdom. Hiempsal II inherited the eastern kingdom, but was immediately confronted by a revolt led by Hiarbas. He was deposed and Hiarbas, who would have been regarded as a usurper by the Romans, seized the throne.
After their defeat in the Roman civil war of 83–82, the supporters of Marius fled or were exiled to the Roman province of Africa. Under Domitius Ahenobarbus they succeeded in taking control of the province and allied with Hiarbas. Pompey the Great was sent to Africa to restore Roman control. In a campaign that lasted a mere forty days, he defeated and killed Domitius and forced Hiarbas to flee. The latter was soon captured near Bulla Regia and executed. Hiempsal was restored to the throne and the Gaetulians were formally placed under his authority. According to Plutarch, Pompey took Numidia from Hiarbas and gave it to Massinissa II. This seems to indicates that the petty kingdom of western Numidia (which belonged to Massinissa) was also formally recognized by the Romans at this time, having perhaps been under Hiarbas' authority. These events took place either in 82 or 81 BC.
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