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grachi tiberius gaius rome

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Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was bon in 163 B.C. and came from a distinguished family. His grandfather conquered Hannibal, his father brought the Celtiberian war successfully to a close, reduced Sardinia, and was elected consul for two terms and sensor for one. His mother Cornelia was a woman of wide-culture who employed Greek tutors to educate her sons, Tiberius and Gaius. Two tutors who influenced Tiberius at a young age were Diophanes, a teacher of oration and Blossius of Cumae, a philosopher.

After taking part in the campaign of 146 BC, which ended with the destruction of Carthage, Tiberius was elected quaestor in 137. Travelling through Etruria, Tiberius saw large estates worked by slaves and noticed the absence of free peasants. It is said that Tiberius realized the need for reform while visiting this province on his way to Spain. There, Tiberius served in a war against Numantia under the consul Mancinus. After suffering numerous defeats in battle, Mancinus attempted to abandon camp. However the Numantines, realizing what was happening seized the camp before they could escape. Tiberius saved the Roman army from slaughter by securing a treaty with the Spaniards. When they returned to Rome, Tiberius was seen as a saviour and blame was placed on the incompetent generals who were handed back to the Spaniards for execution. Tiberius himself escaped judgement by the skin of his teeth. According to Plutarch, ‘It would seem…that Scipio, who was then the greatest and most influential man at Rome helped to save them’ (1988, 159)

There are a number of dominant motives for Gracchus’ want for reform. His knowledge of Greek political thought and practices allowed him to understand the needs and potential of the state, the Spanish campaign, slave revolts in Sicily, the increase in Rome’s unemployment rate and the impact the changing economy had on the republic. It doubtful that only one of these fuelled Gracchus’ desires for change, it is more likely a combination of many or all. When Tiberius began to speak out in politics he did not do so alone. He was backed by his father-in-law Appius Claudius Pulcher, who was Princeps Senatus and two others, Pontifex Mucius Scaevola and Pontifex licinius Crassus Mucianus.

IN 133 Tiberius Gracchus was elected tribune. He proposed a ‘lex agraria’ which would make land owned by the state available for distribution ...

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...ople. During Gaius’ visit to Junonia to oversee the construction effort, rumours were spread in Rome by his opponents of the delay and failure of his new colony. Through these rumours, Gaius lost favour with the people. This can be seen due to his failure to get re-elected for a third tribunate in 121.

As tribune Minucius Rufus proposed to repeal one of Gaius’ bills, he gathered support. In a minor disturbance, a servant of consul Opimius was killed. The senate was forced to pass a resolution that consuls should see to it that the Republic came to no harm. Opimius summoned to arms senators and equites against Gaius and Flaccus who had occupied the Aventine hill. After failed negotiations they and their supporters were defeated and killed. It is said that the weight of their heads in gold was to be awarded to the man who brought Opimius the heads of Gaius and Flaccus. Once again political differences in Rome resulted in bloodshed and brought an end to the remaining Gracchi.


H.H. Scullard, From the Gracchi to Nero 2003 Routledge, London

Plutarch, Roman Lives 1988 Penguin

E.S. Shuckburgh, History of Rome 1896 Macmillan & Co. Ltd, London

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