The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

GRACCHUS.

election of those magistrates. The province of Asia, which had for many years been left unsettled, and had thus given to the governors ample scope for plunder and extortion, received at length a regular organisation, for which it is indebted to C. Gracchus. In all his measures relating to the ad­ministration he took great care of the interests of the republic; and although he acted with justice towards the provincials and the people, to whom lands were assigned, yet he always tried to secure to the republic her revenues. For the purpose of facilitating the commerce and intercourse between the several parts of Italy, and at the same time giving assistance and employment to the poor, he made new roads in all directions, and repaired the old ones'; milestones also were erected throughout Italy. Notwithstanding his great and numerous undertakings, he conducted and superintended everything himself, and each particular point was managed with a care and strictness as if he had nothing else to engage his attention. His skill and tact in his intercourse with persons of all classes with whom he was thus brought into connexion, and his talent for winning their affections, excited the admiration of every one. His favour with the people far and near, as well as with the equites, thus rose to the utmost height. . While things were thus in the most prosperous progress, and shortly before the election of the consuls for the next year took place, he once told the people that he was going to ask them a favour, which he would value above every thing, if they granted it; but he added, that he would not com­plain if they refused it. The people gladly pro­mised to do anything he might desire ; and every one believed that he was going to ask for the con­sulship: but on the day of the consular election, Gracchus conducted his friend C. Fannius into the assembly, ^ind canvassed with his friends for him. Fannius was accordingly elected consul in prefer­ence to Opimius, who had likewise offered himself as a candidate. C. Gracchus himself was elected tribune for the next year (b. c. 122) also, although he had not asked for it. M. Fulvius Flaccus, a friend of Caius, who had been consul in b. c. 125, had caused himself to be elected tribune, for the purpose of being .able to give his support to one important measure which Caius had in contemplation, viz. that of extending the Roman franchise. The plan was to grant the Roman franchise to all the Latins, and to-make the Italian allies step into the relation in which the Latins had stood until then. This measure, though it was the wisest and most salu­tary that could have been devised, was looked for­ward to by the senate with the greatest uneasiness and alarm. The Latins and Italian allies had for some time been aspiring to the privilege of the Roman franchise; and Fregellae, being disappointed in its expectations, had revolted, but had been de­stroyed by the praetor Opimius. But it is uncertain whether Gracchus did actually bring forward a bill about the extension of the franchise^ or whether he merely contemplated to dp so. The senate, instead of endeavouring to allay the ill feelings of those who thought that a right was withheld from them, provoked them still more by an edict forbidding any one who was not a Roman citizen to stay in the city or its vicinity so long as the discussions on the bills of C. Gracchus were going on. At the same time the senate had recourse to the meanest and most contemptible stratagem to check Cains in

GRACCHUS*

the progress of his excellent legislation. The course which the aristocrats now began to pursue shows most clearly-that the good of the republic was not the thing for which they were struggling, and that they looked upon it merely as a contest for power and wealth ; they cared little or nothing about the demoralisation of the people, or the ruin of the re­ public/so long as they could but preserve their power undiminished. -

Among the colleagues of C. Gracchus was M. Livius Drusus, a man of rank, wealth, and elo­quence; he was gained over by the senatorial party, and under their directions, and with their sanction, he endeavoured to outbid Cains in the proposal of popular measures. He acted the part of a real demagogue, for the purpose of supplanting the sincere friend of the people ; and the people, who at all times prize momentary gain more than solid advantages, which work slowly and almost imperceptibly, allowed themselves to be duped by the treacherous agent of the aristocracy. Drusus proposed a series of measures which were of a far more democratic nature than those of Caius. Caius: had proposed the establishment of two colonies at Tarentum and Capua, consisting of citizens of good and respectable character; but Drusus proposed the establishment of twelve colonies, each of which was to consist of 3000 needy Roman citizens. Caius had left the public land distributed among the poor, subject to a yearly payment to the trea­sury: Drusus abolished even this payment, and thus deprived the state of a large portion of its revenue. Gracchus contemplated granting the franchise to the Latins, but Drusus brought for-, ward a measure that the Latins should be exempt from corporal punishment even while they served in the armies. The people thus imposed upon by Drusus, who assured them that the senate sanc­tioned his measures from no other desire than that of serving the poor citizens, gradually became re­conciled to the senate; and the recollection of past sufferings was effaced by hypocritical assurances and demagogic tricks. Another means by which Drusus insinuated himself into the people's con­fidence was, that he asked no favour for himself, and took no part in carrying his laws into effect, which he left entirely to others ; while Caius, with the most unwearied activity, superintended and conducted every thing in person. In proportion as the ill feeling between the people and the senate abated, the popularity of Caius decreased, and his position between the two-became more and more perilous. Gracchus had proposed the establish­ment of a colony on the ruins of Carthage, and he himself was appointed one of the triumvirs to con­duct the colonists. He settled every thing in Africa with the utmost rapidity ; and after ah ab­sence of seventy days, he returned to Rome, shortly before the time at which the consuls for the next year were to be elected. Drusus had availed him­self of the absence of Caius for making various attacks on his party and his friends, especially on Fulvius Flaccus, who began openly to stir up the Italian allies to demand the Roman franchise. It was in vain that Caius, after his return, endeavoured to restore what his enemies and his sanguine and passionate friend had destroyed. Fannius; who had obtained the consulship through the influence of Caius, had soon after treated him with indiffer­ence, and in the end even made common cause with his enemies. Opimius, who had never for-

Pages
About | First

295

296

297
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.