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A History of Rome, Vol 1 by A H.J. Greenidge

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not until he had been twice driven within the walls of his capital by
his victorious enemy.[498] His own peace and the interests of Rome were
now secured by his support of Nicomedes, the son of Prusias, who had won
the favour of the Romans and was placed on the throne of his father. He
had even interfered in the succession to the kingdom of the Seleucidae,
when the Romans thought fit to support the pretensions of Alexander
Balas to the throne of Syria.[499] Lastly he had sent assistance to the
Roman armies in the conflict which ended in the final reduction of
Greece.[500] There was no question of his abandoning his regency during
his life-time. Rome could not have found a better instrument, and it was
perhaps in obedience to the wishes of the senate, and certainly in
accordance with their will, that he held the supreme power until his
reign of twenty-one years was closed by his death.[501] Possibly the
qualities of the rightful heir may not have inspired confidence, for a
strong as well as a faithful friend was needed on the throne of
Pergamon. The new ruler, Attalus the Third, threatened only the danger
that springs from weakness; but, had not his rule been ended by an early
death, it is possible that Roman intervention might have been called in
to save the monarchy from the despair of his subjects, to hand it over
to some more worthy vassal, or, in default of a suitable ruler, to
reduce it to the form of a province. The restraint under which Attalus
had lived during his uncle's guardianship, had given him the sense of
impotence that issues in bitterness of temper and reckless suspicion.
The suspicion became a mania when the death of his mother and his
consort created a void in his life which he persisted in believing to be
due to the criminal agency of man. Relatives and friends were now the
immediate victims of his disordered mind,[502] and the carnival of
slaughter was followed by an apathetic indifference to the things of the
outer world. Dooming himself to a sordid seclusion, the king solaced his
gloomy leisure with pursuits that had perhaps become habitual during his
early detachment from affairs. He passed his time in ornamental
gardening, modelling in wax, casting in bronze and working in
metal.[503] His last great object in life was to raise a stately tomb to
his mother Stratonice. It was while he was engaged in this pious task
that exposure to the sun engendered an illness which caused his death.
When the last of the legitimate Attalids had gone to his grave, it was
found that the vacant kingdom had been disposed of by will, and that the
Roman people was the nominated heir.[504] The genuineness of this
document was subsequently disputed by the enemies of Rome, and it was
pronounced to be a forgery perpetrated by Roman diplomats.[505] History
furnishes evidence of the reality of the testament, but none of the
influences under which it was made.[506] It is quite possible that the
last eccentric king was jealous enough to will that he should have no
successor on the throne, and cynical enough to see that it made little
difference whether the actual power of Rome was direct or indirect. It
is equally possible that the idea was suggested by the Romanising party
in his court; although, when we remember the extreme unwillingness that
Rome had ever shown to accept a position of permanent responsibility in
the East, we can hardly imagine the plan to have received the direct
sanction of the senate. It is conceivable, however, that many leading
members of the government were growing doubtful of the success of merely
diplomatic interference with the troubled politics of the East; that
they desired a nearer point of vantage from which to watch the movements
of its turbulent rulers; and that, if consulted on the chances of
success which attended the new departure, they may have given a
favourable reply. It was impossible by the nature of the case to
question the validity of the act. The legatees were far too powerful to
make it possible for their living chattels to raise an effective protest
except by actual rebellion. But, from a legal point of view, a
principality like Pergamon that had grown out of the successful seizure
of a royal estate by its steward some hundred and fifty years before
this time, might easily be regarded as the property of its kings;[507]
and certainly if any heirs outside the royal family were to be admitted
to the bequest, these would naturally be sought in the power, which had
increased its dominions, strengthened its position and made it one of
the great powers of the world. Neglected by Rome the principality would
have become the prey of neighbouring powers; whilst the institution of a
new prince, chosen from some royal house, would, have excited the
jealousy and stimulated the rapacity of the others. The acceptance of
the bequest was inevitable, although by this acceptance Rome was
departing from the beaten track of a carefully chosen policy. It is
hinted that Attalus in his bequest, or the Romans in their acceptance,
stipulated for the freedom of the dominion.[508] This freedom may be
merely a euphemism for provincial rule when contrasted with absolute
despotism; but we may read a truer meaning into the term. Rome had often
guaranteed the liberty of Asiatic cities which she had wrested from
their overlord, she had once divided Macedonia into independent
Republics, she still maintained Achaea in a condition which allowed a
great deal of self-government to many of its towns, and the system of
Roman protectorate melted by insensible degrees into that of provincial
government. It is possible that her treatment of the bequeathed
communities might have been marked by greater liberality than was
actually shown, had not the dominion been immediately convulsed by a war
of independence.

A pretender had appeared from the house of the Attalids. He could show
no legitimate scutcheon; but this was a small matter. If there was a
chance of a national outbreak, it could best be fomented by a son of
Eumenes. Aristonicus was believed to have been born of an Ephesian
concubine of the king.[509] We know nothing of his personality, but the
history of his two years' conflict with the Roman power proves him to
have been no figure-head, but a man of ability, energy and resource. A
strictly national cause was impossible in the kingdom of Pergamon; for
there was little community of sentiment between the Greek coast line and
the barbaric interior. But the commercial prosperity of the one, and the
agricultural horrors of the other, might justify an appeal to interest
based on different grounds. At first Aristonicus tried the sea. Without
venturing at once into any of the great emporia, he raised his standard
at Leucae, a small but strongly defended seaport lying almost midway
between Phocaea and Smyrna, and placed on a promontory just south of the
point where the Hermus issues into its gulf. Some of the leading towns
seem to have answered to his call.[510] But the Ephesians, not content
with mere repudiation, manned a fleet, sailed against him, and inflicted
a severe defeat on his naval force off Cyme.[511] Evidently the
commercial spirit had no liking for his schemes; it saw in the Roman
protectorate the promise of a wider commerce and a broader civic
freedom. Aristonicus moved into the interior, at first perhaps as a
refugee, but soon as a liberator. There were men here desperate enough
to answer to any call, and miserable enough to face any danger. Sicily
had shown that a slave-leader might become a king; Asia was now to prove
that a king might come to his own by heading an army of the
outcasts.[512] The call to freedom met with an eager response, and the
Pergamene prince was soon marching to the coast at the head of "the
citizens of the City of the Sun," the ideal polity which these remnants
of nationalities, without countries and without homes, seem to have made
their own.[513] His success was instantaneous. First the inland towns of
Northern Lydia, Thyatira, and Apollonis, fell into his hands.[514]
Organised resistance was for the moment impossible. There were no Roman
troops in Asia, and the protected kings, to whom Rome had sent an urgent
summons, could not have mustered their forces with sufficient speed to
prevent Aristonicus sweeping towards the south. Here he threatened the
coast line of Ionia and Caria; Colophon and Myndus fell into his power:
he must even have been able to muster something of a fleet; for the
island of Samos was soon joined to his possessions.[515] It is probable
that the co-operation of the slave populations in these various cities
added greatly to his success. His conquests may have been somewhat
sporadic, and there is no reason to suppose that he commanded all the
country included in the wide range of his captured cities and extending
from Thyatira to the coast and from the Gulf of Hermus to that of
Iassus. The forces which he could dispose of seem to have been
sufficiently engaged in holding their southern conquests; there is no
trace of his controlling the country north of Phocaea or of his even
attempting an attack on Pergamon the capital of his kingdom. His army,
however, must have been increasing in dimensions as well as in
experience. Thracian mercenaries were added to his servile bands,[516]
and the movement had assumed dimensions which convinced the Romans that
this was not a tumult but a war. Their earlier efforts were apparently
based on the belief that local forces would be sufficient to stem the
rising. Even after the revolt of Aristonicus was known, they persisted
in the idea that the commission, which would doubtless in any case have
been sent out to inspect the new dependency, was an adequate means of
meeting the emergency. This commission of five,[517] which included
Scipio Nasica, journeyed to Asia only to find that they were attending
on a civil war, not on a judicial dispute, and that the country which
was to be organised required to be conquered. The client kings of
Bithynia, Paphlagonia, Cappadocia and Pontus, all eager for praise or
for reward, had rallied loyally to the cause of Rome;[518] but the
auxiliary forces that they brought were quite unable to pacify a country
now in the throes of a servile war, and they lacked a commander-in-chief
who would direct a series of ordered operations. Orders were given for
the raising of a regular army, and in accordance with the traditions of
the State this force would be commanded by a consul.

The heads of the State for this year were Lucius Valerius Flaccus and
Publius Licinius Crassus. Each was covetous of the attractive command;
for the Asiatic campaigns of the past had been easy, and there was no
reason to suppose that a pretender who headed a multitude of slaves
would be more difficult to vanquish than a king like Antiochus who had
had at his call all the forces of Asia. The chances of a triumph were
becoming scarcer; here was one that was almost within the commander's
grasp. But there were even greater prizes in store. The happy conqueror
would be the first to touch the treasure of the Attalids, and secure for
the State a prize which had already been the source of political strife;
he would reap for himself and his army a royal harvest from the booty
taken in the field or from the sack of towns, and he would almost
indubitably remain in the conquered country to organise, perhaps to
govern for years, the wealthiest domain that had fallen to the lot of
Rome, and to treat like a king with the monarchs of the protected states
around. These attractions were sufficient to overcome the religious
scruples of both the candidates; for it chanced that both Crassus and
Flaccus were hampered by religious law from assuming a command abroad.
The one was chief pontiff and the other the Flamen of Mars; and, if the
objections were felt or pressed, the obvious candidate for the Asiatic
campaign was Scipio Aemilianus, the only tried general of the time. But
Scipio's chances were small. The nature of the struggle did not seem to
demand extraordinary genius, and Scipio, although necessary in an
emergency, could not be allowed to snatch the legitimate prizes of the
holders of office.[519] So the contest lay between the pontiff and the
priest. The controversy was unequal, for, while the pontiff was the
disciplinary head of the state religion, the Flamen was in matters of
ritual and in the rules appertaining to the observance of religious law
subject to his jurisdiction. Crassus restrained the ardour of his
colleague by announcing that he would impose a fine if the Flamen
neglected his religious duties by quitting the shores of Italy. The
pecuniary penalty was only intended as a means of stating a test case to
be submitted, as similar cases had been twice before,[520] to the
decision of the people. Flaccus entered an appeal against the fine, and
the judgment of the Comitia was invited. The verdict of the people was
that the fine should be remitted, but that the Flamen should obey the
pontiff.[521] As Crassus had no superior in the religious world, it was
difficult, if not impossible, for the objections against his own tenure
of the foreign command to be pressed.[522] The people, perhaps grateful
for the Gracchan sympathies of Crassus, felt no scruple about dismissing
their pontiff to a foreign land, and readily voted him the conduct
of the war.

The story of the campaign which followed is confined to a few personal
anecdotes connected with the remarkable man who led the Roman armies.
The learning of Crassus was attested by the fact that, when he held a
court in Asia, he could not only deliver his judgments in Greek, but
adapt his discourse to the dialect of the different litigants.[523] His
discipline was severe but indiscriminating; it displayed the rigour of
the erudite martinet, not the insight of the born commander. Once he
needed a piece of timber for a battering ram, and wrote to the architect
of a friendly town to send the larger of two pieces which he had seen
there. The trained eye of the expert immediately saw that the smaller
was the better suited to the purpose; and this was accordingly sent. The
intelligence of the architect was his ruin. The unhappy man was stripped
and scourged, on the ground that the exercise of judgment by a
subordinate was utterly subversive of a commander's authority.[524]
Another account represents such generalship as he possessed as having
been diverted from its true aim by the ardour with which, in spite of
his enormous wealth, he followed up the traces of the spoils of
war.[525] But his death, which took place at the beginning of the second
year of his command,[526] was not unworthy of one who had held the
consulship. He was conducting operations in the territory between Elaea
and Smyrna, probably in preparation for the siege of Leucae,[527] still
a stronghold of the pretender. Here he was suddenly surprised by the
enemy. His hastily formed ranks were shattered, and the Romans were soon
in full retreat for some friendly city of the north. But their lines
were broken by uneven ground and by the violence of the pursuit. The
general was detached from the main body of his army and overtaken by a
troop of Thracian horse. His captors were probably ignorant of the value
of their prize; and, even had they known that they held in their hands
the leader of the Roman host, the device of Crassus might still have
saved him from the triumph of a rebel prince and shameful exposure to
the insults of a servile crowd. He thrust his riding whip into the eye
of one of his captors. Frenzied with pain, the man buried his dagger in
the captive's side.[528]

The death of Crassus created hardly a pause in the conduct of the
campaign; for Marcus Perperna, the consul for the year, was soon in the
field and organising vigorous measures against Aristonicus. The details
of the campaign have not been preserved, but we are told that the first
serious encounter resulted in a decisive victory for the Roman
arms.[529] The pretender fled, and was finally hunted down to the
southern part of his dominions. His last stand was made at Stratonicea
in Caria. The town was blockaded and reduced by famine, and Aristonicus
surrendered unconditionally to the Roman power.[530] Perperna reserved
the captive for his triumph, he visited Pergamon and placed on shipboard
the treasures of Attalus for transport to Rome;[531] by these decisive
acts he was proving that the war was over, for yet a third eager consul
was straining every nerve to get his share of glory and of gain. Manius
Aquillius was hastening to Asia to assume a command which might still be
interpreted as a reality;[532] the longer he allowed his predecessor to
remain, the more unsubstantial would his own share in the enterprise
become. A triumph would be the prize of the man who had finished the
war, and perhaps even Aristonicus's capture need not be interpreted as
its close. A scene of angry recrimination might have been the result of
an encounter between the rival commanders; but this was avoided by
Perperna's sudden death at Pergamon.[533] It is possible that
Aristonicus was saved the shame of a Roman triumph, although one
tradition affirms that he was reserved for the pageant which three years
later commemorated Aquillius's success in Asia.[534] But he did not
escape the doom which the State pronounced on rebel princes, and was
strangled in the Tullianum by the orders of the senate.[535]

Aquillius found in his province sufficient material for the prolongation
of the war. Although the fall of Aristonicus had doubtless brought with
it the dissolution of the regular armies of the rebels, yet isolated
cities, probably terrorised by revolted slaves who could expect no mercy
from the conqueror, still offered a desperate resistance. In his
eagerness to end the struggle the Roman commander is said to have shed
the last vestiges of international morality, and the reduction of towns
by the poisoning of the streams which provided them with water,[536]
while it inflicted an indelible stain on Roman honour, was perhaps
defended as an inevitable accompaniment of an irregular servile war. The
work of organisation had been begun even before that of pacification had
been completed. The State had taken Perperna's success seriously enough
to send with Aquillius ten commissioners for the regulation of the
affairs of the new province,[537] and they seem to have entered on their
task from the date of their arrival.[538] There was no reason for delay,
since the kingdom of Pergamon had technically become a province with the
death of Attalus the Third.[539] The Ephesians indeed even antedated
this event, and adopted an era which commenced with the September of the
year 134,[540] the reason for this anticipation being the usual Asiatic
custom of beginning the civil year with the autumnal equinox. The real
point of departure of this new era of Ephesus was either the death of
Attalus or the victory of the city over the fleet of Aristonicus. But,
though the work of organisation could be entered on at once, its
completion was a long and laborious task, and Aquillius himself seems to
have spent three years in Asia.[541] The limits of the province, which,
like that of Africa, received the name of the continent to which it
belonged, required to be defined with reference to future possibilities
and the rights of neighbouring kingdoms; the taxation of the country had
to be adjusted; and the privileges of the different cities proportioned
to their capacity or merits. The law of Aquillius remained in essence
the charter of the province of Asia down to imperial times, although
subsequent modifications were introduced by Sulla and Pompeius. The new
inheritance of the Romans comprised almost all the portion of Asia Minor
lying north of the Taurus and west of Bithynia, Galatia and Cappadocia.
Even Caria, which had been declared free after the war with Perseus,
seems to have again fallen under the sway of the Attalid kings. The
monarchy also included the Thracian Chersonese and most of the Aegean
islands.[542] But the whole of this territory was not included in the
new province of Asia. The Chersonese was annexed to the province of
Macedonia,[543] a small district of Caria known as the Peraea and
situated opposite the island of Rhodes, became or remained the property
of the latter state; in the same neighbourhood the port and town of
Telmissus, which had been given to Eumenes after the defeat of
Antiochus, were restored to the Lycian confederation.[544] With
characteristic caution Rome did not care to retain direct dominion over
the eastern portions of her new possessions, some of which, such as
Isauria, Pisidia and perhaps the eastern portion of Cilicia, may have
rendered a very nominal obedience to the throne of the Attalids. She
kept the rich, civilised and easily governed Hellenic lands for her own,
but the barbarian interior, as too great and distant a burden for the
home government, was destined to enrich her loyal client states.
Aquillius and his commissioners must have received definite instructions
not to claim for Rome any territory lying east of Mysia, Lydia and
Caria; but they seem to have had no instructions as to how the discarded
territories were to be disposed of. The consequence was that the kings
of the East were soon begging for territory from a Roman commander and
his assistants. Lycaonia was the reward of proved service; it was given
to the sons of Ariarathes the Fifth, King of Cappadocia, who had fallen
in the war.[545] Cilicia is also said to have accompanied this gift, but
this no man's land must have been regarded both by donor and recipient
as but a nominal boon. For Phrygia proper, or the Greater Phrygia as
this country south of Bithynia and west of Galatia was called,[546]
there were two claimants.[547] The kings of Pontus and Bithynia competed
for the prize, and each supported his petition by a reference to the
history of the past. Nicomedes of Bithynia could urge that his grandsire
Prusias had maintained an attitude of friendly neutrality during Rome's
struggle with Antiochus. The Pontic king, Mithradates Euergetes,
advanced a more specious pretext of hereditary right. Phrygia, he
alleged, had been his mother's dowry, and had been given her by her
brother, Seleucus Callinicus, King of Syria.[548] We do not know what
considerations influenced the judgment of Aquillius in preferring the
claim of Mithradates. He may have considered that the Pontic kingdom, as
the more distant, was the less dangerous, and he may have sought to
attract the loyalty of its monarch by benefits such as had already been
heaped on Nicomedes of Bithynia. His political enemies and all who in
subsequent times resisted the claim of the Pontic kings, alleged that he
had put Phrygia up to auction and that Mithradates had paid the higher
price; this transaction doubtless figured in the charges of corruption,
on which he was accused and acquitted: and, doubtful as the verdict
which absolved him seemed to his contemporaries and successors, we have
no proof that the desire for gain was the sole or even the main cause of
his decision. Had he considered that the investiture of Nicomedes would
have been more acceptable to the home government, the King of Bithynia
would probably have been willing to pay an adequate sum for his
advocacy. He may have been guilty of a wilful blunder in alienating
Phrygia at all. The senate soon discovered his and its own mistake. The
disputed territory was soon seen to be worthy of Roman occupation.
Strategically it was of the utmost importance for the security of the
Asiatic coast, as commanding the heads of the river valleys which
stretched westward to the Aegean, while its thickly strewn townships,
which opened up possibilities of inland trade, placed it on a different
plane to the desolate Lycaonia and Cilicia. It is possible that the
capitalist class, on whose support the senate was now relying for the
maintenance of the political equilibrium in the capital, may have joined
in the protest against Aquillius's mistaken generosity. But, though the
government rapidly decided to rescind the decision of its commissioners,
it had not the strength to settle the matter once for all by taking
Phrygia for itself. A decree of the people was still technically
superior to a resolution of the senate; it was always possible for
dissentients to urge that the people must be consulted on these great
questions of international interest; and Phrygia became, like Pergamon a
short time before, the sport of party politics. The rival kings
transferred their claims, and possibly their pecuniary offers, from the
province to the capital, and the network of intrigue which soon shrouded
the question was brutally exhibited by Caius Gracchus when, in his first
or second tribunate, he urged the people to reject an Aufeian law, which
bore on the dispute. "You will find, citizens," he urged, "that each one
of us has his price. Even I am not disinterested, although it happens
that the particular object which I have in view is not money, but good
repute and honour. But the advocates on both sides of this question are
looking to something else. Those who urge you to reject this bill are
expecting hard cash from Nicomedes; those who urge its acceptance are
looking for the price which Mithradates will pay for what he calls his
own; this will be their reward. And, as for the members of the
government who maintain a studious reserve on this question, they are
the keenest bargainers of all; their silence simply means that they are
being paid by every one and cheating every one." This cynical
description of the political situation was pointed by a quotation of the
retort of Demades to the successful tragedian "Are you so proud of
having got a talent for speaking? why, I got ten talents from the king
for holding my peace".[549] This sketch was probably more witty than
true; condemnation, when it becomes universal, ceases to be convincing,
and cynicism, when it exceeds a certain degree, is merely the revelation
of a diseased or affected mental attitude. Gracchus was too good a
pleader to be a fair observer. But the suspicion revealed by the
diatribe may have been based on fact; the envoys of the kings may have
brought something weightier than words or documents, only to find that
the balance of their gilded arguments was so perfect that the original
objection to Phrygia being given to any Eastern potentate was the only
issue which could still be supported with conviction. Yet the government
still declined to annex. Its hesitancy was probably due to its
unwillingness to see a new Eastern province handed over to the
equestrian tax-farmers, to whom Caius Gracchus had just given the
province of Asia. The fall of Gracchus made an independent judgment by
the people impossible, and, even had it been practicable for the Comitia
to decide, their judgment must have been so perplexed by rival interests
and arguments that they would probably have acquiesced in the equivocal
decision of the senate. This decision was that Phrygia should be
free.[550] It was to be open to the Roman capitalist as a trader, but
not as a collector; it was not to be the scene of official corruption or
regal aggrandisement. It was to be an aggregate of protected states
possessing no central government of its own. Yet some central control
was essential; and this was perhaps secured by attaching Phrygia to the
province of Asia in the same loose condition of dependence in which
Achaea had been attached to Macedonia. In one other particular the
settlement of Aquillius was not final. We shall find that motives of
maritime security soon forced Rome to create a province of Cilicia, and
it seems that for this purpose a portion of the gift which had been just
made to the kings of Cappadocia was subsequently resumed by Rome. The
old Pergamene possessions in Western Cilicia were probably joined to
some towns of Pamphylia to form the kernel of the new province. When
Rome had divested herself of the superfluous accessories of her bequest,
a noble residue still remained. Mysia, Lydia and Caria with their
magnificent coast cities, rich in art, and inexhaustible in wealth,
formed, with most of the islands off the coast,[551] that "corrupting"
province which became the Favourite resort of the refined and the
desperate resource of the needy. Its treasures were to add a new word to
the Roman vocabulary of wealth;[552] its luxury was to give a new
stimulus to the art of living and to add a new craving or two to the
insatiable appetite for enjoyment; while the servility of its population
was to create a new type of Roman ruler in the man who for one glorious
year wielded the power of a Pergamene despot, without the restraint of
kingly traditions or the continence induced by an assured tenure
of rule.

The western world witnessed the beginning of an equally remarkable
change. On both sides of Italy accident was laying the foundation for a
steady advance to the North, and forcing the Romans into contact with
peoples, whose subjection would never have been sought except from
purely defensive motives. The Iapudes and Histri at the head of the
Adriatic were the objects of a campaign of the consul Tuditanus,[553]
while four years later Fulvius Flaccus commenced operations amongst the
Gauls and Ligurians beyond the Alps,[554] which were to find their
completion seventy-five years later in the conquests of Caesar. But
neither of these enterprises can be intelligently considered in
isolation; their significance lies in the necessity of their renewal,
and even the proximate results to which they led would carry us far
beyond the limits of the period which we are considering. The events
completely enclosed within these limits are of subordinate importance.
They are a war in Sardinia and the conquest of the Balearic isles. The
former engaged the attention of Lucius Aurelius Orestes as consul in 126
and as proconsul in the following year.[555] It is perhaps only the
facts that a consul was deemed necessary for the administration of the
island, and that he attained a triumph for his deeds,[556] that justify
us in calling this Sardinian enterprise a war. It was a punitive
expedition undertaken against some restless tribes, but it was rendered
arduous by the unhealthiness of the climate and the difficulty of
procuring adequate supplies for the suffering Roman troops.[557] The
annexation of the Balearic islands with their thirty thousand
inhabitants[558] may have been regarded as a geographical necessity, and
certainly resulted in a military advantage. Although the Carthaginians
had had frequent intercourse with these islands and a Port of the
smaller of the two still bears a Punic name,[559] they had done little
to civilise the native inhabitants. Perhaps the value attached to the
military gifts of the islanders contributed to preserve them in a state
of nature; for culture might have diminished that marvellous skill with
the sling,[560] which was once at the service of the Carthaginian, and
afterwards of the Roman, armies. But, in spite of their prowess, the
Baliares were not a fierce people. They would allow no gold or silver to
enter their country,[561] probably in order that no temptation might be
offered to pirates or rapacious traders.[562] Their civilisation
represented the matriarchal stage; their marriage customs expressed the
survival of polyandric union; they were tenacious of the lives of their
women, and even invested the money which they gained on military service
in the purchase of female captives.[563] They made excellent
mercenaries, but shunned either war or commerce with the neighbouring
peoples, and the only excuse for Roman aggression was that a small
proportion of the peaceful inhabitants had lent themselves to piratical
pursuits.[564] The expedition was led by the consul Quintus Caecilius
Metellus and resulted in a facile conquest. The ships of the invaders
were protected by hides stretched above the decks to guard against the
cloud of well-directed missiles;[565] but, once a landing had been
effected, the natives, clad only in skins, with small shields and light
javelins as their sole defensive weapons, could offer no effective
resistance at close quarters and were easily put to rout. For the
security of the new possessions Metellus adopted the device, still rare
in the case of transmarine dependencies, of planting colonies on the
conquered land. Palma and Pollentia were founded, as townships of Roman
citizens, on the larger island; the new settlers being drawn from Romans
who were induced to leave their homes in the south of Spain.[566] This
unusual effort in the direction of Romanisation was rendered necessary
by the wholly barbarous character of the country; and the introduction
into the Balearic isles of the Latin language and culture was a better
justification than the easy victory for Metellus's triumph and his
assumption of the surname of "Baliaricus".[567] The islands flourished
under Roman rule. They produced wine and wheat in abundance and were
famed for the excellence of their mules. But their chief value to Rome
must have lain in their excellent harbours, and in the welcome addition
to the light-armed forces of the empire which was found in their warlike
inhabitants.

CHAPTER IV

Rome had lived for nine years in a feverish atmosphere of projected
reform; yet not a single question raised by her bolder spirits had
received its final answer. The agrarian legislation had indeed run a
successful course; yet the very hindrance to its operation at a critical
moment had, in the eyes of the discontented, turned success into failure
and left behind a bitter feeling of resentment at the treacherous
dexterity of the government. The men, in whose imagined interests the
people had been defrauded of their coveted land, had by a singular irony
of fortune been driven ignominiously from Rome and were now the victims
of graver suspicions on the part of the government than on that of the
Roman mob. The effect of the late senatorial diplomacy had been to
create two hostile classes instead of one. From both these classes the
aristocrats drew their soldiers for the constant campaigns that the
needs of Empire involved: and both were equally resentful of the burdens
and abuses of military service, for which no one was officially directed
to suggest a cure. The poorest classes had been given the ballot when
they wanted food and craved a less precarious sustenance than that
afforded by the capricious benevolence of the rich. The friction between
the senatorial government and the upper middle class was probably
increasing. The equites must have been casting hungry eyes at the new
province of Asia and asking themselves whether commercial interests were
always to be at the mercy of the nobility as represented by the senate,
the provincial administrators and the courts of justice. It was believed
that governors, commissioners and senators were being bought by the gold
of kings, and that mines of wealth were being lost to the honest
capitalist through the utter corruption of the governing few. The final
threats of Tiberius Gracchus were still in the air, and a vast unworked
material lay ready to the hand of the aspiring agitator. In an ancient
monarchy or aristocracy of the feudal type, where abuses have become
sanctified by tradition, or in a modern nation or state with its
splendid capacity for inertia due to the habitual somnolence of the
majority of its electors, such questions may vaguely suggest themselves
for half a century without ever receiving an answer. But Rome could only
avoid a revolution by discarding her constitution. The sovereignty of
the people was a thesis which the senate dared not attack; and this
sovereignty had for the first time in Roman history become a stern
reality. The city in its vastness now dominated the country districts:
and the sovereign, now large, now small, now wild, now sober, but ever
the sovereign in spite of his kaleidoscopic changes, could be summoned
at any moment to the Forum. Democratic agitation was becoming habitual.
It is true that it was also becoming unsafe. But a man who could hold
the wolf by the ears for a year or two might work a revolution in Rome
and perhaps be her virtual master.

It was no difficult task to find the man, for there was one who was
marked out by birth, traditions, temperament and genius as the fittest
exponent of a cause which, in spite of its intricate complications that
baffled the analysis of the ordinary mind, could still in its essential
features be described as the cause of the people. It is indeed singular
that, in a political civilisation so unkind as the Roman to the merits
of youth, hopes should be roused and fear inspired by a man so young and
inexperienced as Caius Gracchus. But the popular fancy is often caught
by the immaturity that is as yet unhampered by caution and undimmed by
disillusion, and by the fresh young voice that has not yet been attuned
to the poor half-truths which are the stock-in-trade of the worldly
wise. And those who were about Gracchus must soon have seen that the
traces of youth were to be found only in his passion, his frankness, his
impetuous vigour; no discerning eye could fail to be aware of the cool,
calculating, intellect which unconsciously used emotion as its mask, of
a mind that could map and plan a political campaign in perfect
self-confident security, view the country as a whole and yet master
every detail, and then leave the issue of the fight to burning words and
passionate appeals. This supreme combination of emotional and artistic
gifts, which made Gracchus so irresistible as a leader, was strikingly
manifested in his oratory. We are told of the intensity of his mien, the
violence of his gestures, the restlessness that forced him to pace the
Rostra and pluck the toga from his shoulder, of the language that roused
his hearers to an almost intolerable tension of pity or
indignation.[568] Nature had made him the sublimest, because the most
unconscious of actors; eyes, tone, gesture all answered the bidding of
the magic words.[569] Sometimes the emotion was too highly strung; the
words would become coarser, the voice harsher, the faultless sentences
would grow confused, until the soft tone of a flute blown by an
attendant slave would recall his mind to reason and his voice to the
accustomed pitch.[570] Men contrasted him with his gentle and stately
brother Tiberius, endowed with all the quiet dignity of the Roman
orator, and diverging only from the pure and polished exposition of his
cause to awake a feeling of commiseration for the wrongs which he
unfolded.[571] Tiberius played but on a single chord; Caius on many.
Tiberius appealed to noble instincts, Caius appealed to all and his
Protean manifestations were a symbol of a more complex creed, a wider
knowledge of humanity, a greater recklessness as to his means, and of
that burning consciousness, which Tiberius had not, that there were
personal wrongs to be avenged as well as political ideas to be realised.
To a narrow mind the vendetta is simply an act of justice; to an
intellectual hater such as Gracchus it is also a work of reason. The
folly of crime but exaggerates its grossness, and the hatred for the
criminal is merged in an exalting and inspiring contempt. Yet the man
thus attuned to passion was, what every great orator must be, a painful
student of the most delicate of arts. The language of the successful
demagogue seldom becomes the study of the schools; yet so it was with
Gracchus. The orators of a later age, whose critical appreciation was
purer than their practice, could find no better guide to the aspirant
for forensic fame than the speeches of the turbulent tribune. Cicero
dwells on the fulness and richness of his flow of words, the grandeur
and dignity of the expression, the acuteness of the thought.[572] They
seemed to some to lack the finishing touch;[573] which is equivalent to
saying that with him oratory had not degenerated into rhetoric. The few
fragments that survive awaken our wonder, first for their marvellous
simplicity and clearness: then, for the dexterous perfection of their
form. The balance of the rhythmic clauses never obscures or overloads
the sense. Gracchus could tell a tale, like that of the cruel wrongs
inflicted on the allies, which could arouse a thrill of horror without
also awakening the reflection that the speaker was a man of great
sensibility and had a wonderful command of commiserative terminology. He
could ask the crowd where he should fly, whether to the Capitol dripping
with a brother's blood, or to the home where the widowed mother sat in
misery and tears;[574] and no one thought that this was a mere figure of
speech. It all seemed real, because Gracchus was a true artist as well
as a true man, and knew by an unerring instinct when to pause. This type
of objective oratory, with its simple and vivid pictures, its brilliant
but never laboured wit, its capacity for producing the illusion that the
man is revealed in the utterance, its suggestion of something deeper
than that which the mere words convey--a suggestion which all feel but
only the learned understand--is equally pleasing to the trained and the
unlettered mind. The polished weapon, which dazzled the eyes of the
crowd, was viewed with respect even by the cultured nobles against whom
it was directed.

Caius's qualities had been tested for some years before he attained the
tribunate, and the promise given by his name, his attitude and his
eloquence was strengthened by the fact that he had no rival in the
popular favour. Carbo was probably on his way to the Optimates, and
Flaccus's failure was too recent to make him valuable in any other
quality than that of an assistant. But Caius had risen through the
opportunities given by the agitation which these men had sustained,
although his advance to the foremost place seemed more like the work of
destiny than of design. When a youth of twenty-one, he had found himself
elevated to the rank of a land commissioner;[575] but this accidental
identification with Tiberius's policy was not immediately followed by
any action which betrayed a craving for an active political career. He
is said to have shunned the Forum, that training school and advertising
arena where the aspiring youth of Rome practised their litigious
eloquence, and to have lived a life of calm retirement which some
attributed to fear and others to resentment. It was even believed by a
few that he doubted the wisdom of his brother's career.[576] But It was
soon found that the leisure which he cultivated was not that of easy
enjoyment and did not promise prolonged repose. He was grappling with
the mysteries of language, and learning by patient study the art of
finding the words that would give to thought both form and wings. The
thought, too, must have been taking a clearer shape: for Tiberius had
left a heritage of crude ideas, and men were trying to introduce some of
these into the region of practical politics. The first call to arms was
Carbo's proposal for legalising re-election to the tribunate. It drew
from Gracchus a speech in its support, which contained a bitter
indictment of those who had been the cause of the "human sacrifice"
fulfilled in his brother's murder.[577] Five years later he was amongst
the foremost of the opponents of the alien-act of Pennus, and exposed
the dangerous folly involved in a jealous policy of exclusion. But the
courts of law are said to have given him the first great opportunity of
revealing his extraordinary powers to the world. As an advocate for a
friend called Vettius, he delivered a speech which seemed to lift him to
a plane unapproachable by the other orators of the day. The spectacle of
the crowd almost raving with joy and frantically applauding the
new-found hero, showed that a man had appeared who could really touch
the hearts of the people, and is said to have suggested to men of
affairs that every means must be used to hinder Gracchus's accession to
the tribunate.[578] The chance of the lot sent him as quaestor with the
consul Orestes to Sardinia. It was with joyful hearts that his enemies
saw him depart to that unhealthy clime,[579] and to Caius himself the
change to the active life of the camp was not unpleasing. He is said
still to have dreaded the plunge into the stormy sea of politics, and in
Sardinia he was safe from the appeals of the people and the entreaties
of his friends.[580] Yet already he had received a warning that there
was no escape. While wrestling with himself as to whether he should seek
the quaestorship, his fevered mind had conjured up a vision. The phantom
of his brother had appeared and addressed him in these words "Why dost
thou linger, Caius? It is not given thee to draw back. One life, one
death is fated for us both, as defenders of the people's rights." His
belief in the reality of this warning is amply attested;[581] but the
sense that he was predestined and foredoomed, though it may have given
an added seriousness to his life, left him as calm and vigorous as
before. Like Tiberius he was within a sphere of his father's influence,
and this memory must have stimulated his devotion to his military and
provincial duties. He won distinction in the field and a repute for
justice in his dealings with the subject tribes, while his simplicity of
life and capacity for toil suggested the veteran campaigner, not the
tyro from the most luxurious of cities.[582] The extent of the services
in Sardinia and neighbouring lands which his name and character enabled
him to render to the State, has been perhaps exaggerated, or at least
faultily stated, by our authority; but, in view of the unquestioned
confidence shown by the Numantines in his brother when as young a man,
there is no reason to doubt their reality. It is said that, when the
treacherous winter of Sardinia had shaken the troops with chills, the
commander sent to the cities asking for a supply of clothing. These
towns, which were probably federate communities and exempt by treaty
from the requisitions of Rome, appealed to the senate. They feared no
doubt the easy lapse of an act of kindness into a burden fixed by
precedent. The senate, as in duty bound, upheld their contention; and
suffering and disease would have reigned in the Roman camp, had not
Gracchus visited the cities in person and prevailed on them to send the
necessary help.[583] On another occasion envoys from Micipsa of Numidia
are said to have appeared at Rome and offered a supply of corn for the
Sardinian army. The request had perhaps been made by Gracchus. To the
Numidian king he was simply the grandson of the elder Africanus: And the
envoys in their simplicity mentioned his name as the Intermediary of the
royal bounty. The senate, we are told, rejected the Proffered help. The
curious parallelism between the present career of Caius and the early
activities of his brother must have struck many; to the senate these
proofs of energy and devotion seemed but the prelude to similar
ingenious attempts to capture public favour at home: and their fears are
said to have helped them to the decision to keep Orestes for a further
year as proconsul in Sardinia.[584] It is possible that the resolution
was partly due to military exigencies; the fact that the troops were
relieved was natural in consideration of the sufferings which they had
undergone, but the retention of the general to complete a desultory
campaign which chiefly demanded knowledge of the country, was a wise and
not unusual proceeding. It was, however, an advantage that, as custom
dictated, the quaestor must remain in the company of his commander.
Gracchus's reappearance in Rome was postponed for a year. It was a
slight grace, but much might happen in the time.

It was in this latter sense that the move was interpreted by the
quaestor. A trivial wrong inflamed the impetuous and resentful nature
which expectation and entreaty had failed to move. Stung by the belief
that he was the victim of a disgraceful subterfuge, Gracchus immediately
took ship to Rome. His appearance in the capital was something of a
shock even to his friends.[585] Public sentiment regarded a quaestor as
holding an almost filial relation to his superior; the ties produced by
their joint activity were held to be indissoluble,[586] and the
voluntary departure of the subordinate was deemed a breach of official
duty. Lapses in conduct on the part of citizens engaged in the public
service, which fell short of being criminal, might be visited with
varying degrees of ignominy by the censorship: and it happened that this
court of morals was now in existence in the persons of the censors Cn.
Servilius Caepio and L. Cassius Longinus, who had entered office in the
previous year. The censorian judgments, although arbitrary and as a rule
spontaneous, were sometimes elicited by prosecution: and an accuser was
found to bring the conduct of Gracchus formally before the notice of the
magistrates. Had the review of the knights been in progress after his
arrival, his case would have been heard during the performance of this
ceremony; for he was as yet but a member of the equestrian order, and
the slightest disability pronounced against him, had he been found
guilty, would have assumed the form of the deprivation of his public
horse and his exclusion from the eighteen centuries. But it is possible
that, at this stage of the history of the censorship, penalties could be
inflicted upon the members of all classes at any date preceding the
lustral sacrifice, that the usual examination of the citizen body had
been completed, and that Gracchus appeared alone before the tribunal of
the censors. His defence became famous;[587] its result is unknown. The
trial probably ended in his acquittal,[588] although condemnation would
have exercised little influence on his subsequent career, for the
ignominy pronounced by the censors entailed no disability for holding a
magistracy. But, whatever may have been the issue, Gracchus improved the
occasion by an harangue to the people,[589] in which he defended his
conduct as one of their representatives in Sardinia. The speech was
important for its caustic descriptions of the habits of the nobility
when freed from the moral atmosphere of Rome. With extreme ingenuity he
worked into the description of the habits of his own official life a
scathing indictment, expressed in the frankest terms, of the
self-seeking, the luxury, the unnatural vices, the rampant robbery of
the average provincial despot. His auditors learnt the details of a
commander's environment--the elaborate cooking apparatus, the throng of
handsome favourites, the jars of wine which, when emptied, returned to
Rome as receptacles of gold and silver mysteriously acquired. Gracchus
must have delighted his audience with a subject on which the masses love
to dwell, the vices of their superiors. The luridness of the picture
must have given it a false appearance of universal truth. It seemed to
be the indictment of a class, and suggested that the speaker stood aloof
from his own order and looked only to the pure judgment of the people.
His enemies tried a new device. They knew that one flaw in his armour
was his sympathy with the claims of the allies. Could he be compromised
as an agent in that dark conspiracy which had prompted the impudent
Italian claims and ended in open rebellion, his credit would be gone,
even if his career were not closed by exile. He was accordingly
threatened with an impeachment for complicity in the movement which had
issued in the outbreak at Fregellae. It is uncertain whether he was
forced to submit to the judgment of a court; but we are told that he
dissipated every suspicion, and surmounted the last and most dangerous
of the obstacles with which his path was blocked.[590] Straightway he
offered himself for the tribunate, and, as the day of the election
approached, every effort was made by the nobility to secure his defeat.
Old differences were forgotten; a common panic produced harmony amongst
the cliques; it even seems as if his opponents agreed that no man of
extreme views should be advanced against him, for Gracchus in his
tribunate had to contend with no such hostile colleague as Octavius. The
candidature of an extremist might mean votes for Gracchus: and it was
preferable to concentrate support on neutral men, or even on men of
liberal views who were known to be in favour with the crowd. The great
_clientèle_ of the country districts was doubtless beaten up; and we
know that, on the other side, the hopes of the needy agriculturist, and
the gratitude of the newly established peasant farmer, brought many a
supporter to Gracchus from distant Italian homesteads. The city was so
flooded by the inrush of the country folk that many an elector found
himself without a roof to shelter him, and the place of voting could
accommodate only a portion of the crowd. The rest climbed on roofs and
tiles, and filled the air with discordant party cries until space was
given for a descent to the voting enclosures. When the poll was
declared, it was found that the electoral manoeuvres of the nobility had
been so far successful that Gracchus occupied but the fourth place on
the list.[591] But, from the moment of his entrance on office, his
predominance was assured. We hear nothing of the colleagues whom he
overshadowed. Some may have been caught in the stream of Gracchus's
eloquence; others have found it useless or dangerous to oppose the
enthusiasm which his proposals aroused, and the formidable combination
which he created by the alluring prospects that he held out to the
members of the equestrian order. The collegiate character of the
magistracy practically sank into abeyance, and his rule was that of a
single man. First he gave vent to the passions of the mob by dwelling,
as no one had yet dared to do, on the gloomy tragedy of his brother's
fall and the cruel persecution which had followed the catastrophe. The
blood of a murdered tribune was wholly unavenged in a state which had
once waged war with Falerii to punish a mere insult to the holy office,
and had condemned a citizen to death because he had not risen from his
place while a tribune walked through the Forum. "Before your very eyes,"
he said, "they beat Tiberius to death with cudgels; they dragged his
dead body from the Capitol through the midst of the city to cast it into
the river; those of his friends whom they seized, they put to death
untried. And yet think how your constitution guards the citizen's life!
If a man is accused on a capital charge and does not immediately obey
the summons, it is ordained that a trumpeter come at dawn before his
door and summon him by sound of trumpet; until this is done, no vote may
be pronounced against him. So carefully and watchfully did our ancestors
regulate the course of justice." [592] A cry for vengeance is here
merged in a great constitutional principle; and these utterances paved
the way for the measure immediately formulated that no court should be
established to try a citizen on a capital charge, unless such a court
had received the sanction of the people.[593] The power of the Comitia
to delegate its jurisdiction without appeal is here affirmed; the right
of the senate to institute an inquisition without appeal is here denied.
The measure was a development of a suggestion which had been made by
Tiberius Gracchus, who had himself probably called attention to the fact
that the establishment of capital commissions by the senate was a
violation of the principle of the _provocatio_ Caius Gracchus, however,
did not attempt to ordain that an appeal should be possible from the
judgment of the standing commissions (_quaestiones perpetuae_); for,
though the initiative in the creation of these courts had been taken by
the senate, they had long received the sanction of law, and their
self-sufficiency was perhaps covered by the principle that the people,
in creating a commission, waived its own powers of final jurisdiction.
But there were other technical as well as practical disadvantages in
instituting an appeal from these commissions. The _provocatio_ had
always been the challenge to the decision of a magistrate; but in these
standing courts the actions of the president and of the _judices_ who
sat with him were practically indistinguishable, and the sentence
pronounced was in no sense a magisterial decision. The courts had also
been instituted to avoid the clumsiness of popular jurisdiction; but
this clumsiness would be restored, if their decision was to be shaken by
a further appeal to the Comitia. Gracchus, in fact, when he proposed
this law, was not thinking of the ordinary course of jurisdiction at
all. He had before his mind the summary measures by which the senate
took on itself to visit such epidemics of crime as were held to be
beyond the strength of the regular courts, and more especially the
manner in which this body had lately dealt with alleged cases of
sedition or treason. The investigation directed against the supporters
of his brother was the crucial instance which he brought before the
people, and it is possible that, at a still later date, the inquiry
which followed the fall of Fregellae had been instituted on the sole
authority of the senate and had found a certain number of victims in the
citizen body. Practically, therefore, Gracchus in this law wholly
denied, either as the result of experience or by anticipation, the
legality of the summary jurisdiction which followed a declaration of
martial law.

In the creation of these extraordinary commissions the senate never took
upon itself the office of judge, nor was the commission itself composed
of senators appointed by the house. The jurisdiction was exercised by a
magistrate at the bidding of the senate, and the court thus constituted
selected its assessors, who formed a mere council for advice, at its own
discretion. It was plain that, if the law was to be effective, its chief
sanction must be directed, not against the corporation which appointed,
but against the judge. The responsibility of the individual is the
easiest to secure, and no precautions against martial law can be
effective if a division of authority, or even obedience to authority, is
once admitted. Gracchus, therefore, pronounced that criminal proceedings
should be possible against the magistrate who had exercised the
jurisdiction now pronounced illegal.[594] The common law of Rome went
even further, and pronounced every individual responsible for illegal
acts done at the bidding of a magistrate. The crime which the magistrate
had committed by the exercise of this forbidden jurisdiction was
probably declared to be treason: and, as there was no standing court at
Rome which took cognisance of this offence, the jurisdiction of the
Comitia was ordained. The penalty for the crime was doubtless a capital
one, and by ancient prescription such a punishment necessitated a trial
before the Assembly of the Centuries. It is, however, possible that
Gracchus rendered the plebeian assembly of the Tribes competent to
pronounce the capital sentence against the magistrate who had violated
the prescriptions of his law. But, although the magistrate was the
chief, he appears not to have been the sole offender under the
provisions of this bill. In spite of the fact that the senate as a whole
was incapable of being punished for the advice which had prompted the
magistrate to an illegal course of action, it seems that the individual
senator who moved, or perhaps supported, the decree which led to the
forbidden jurisdiction, was made liable to the penalties of the
law.[595] The operation of the enactment was made retrospective, or was
perhaps conceived by its very nature to cover the past abuses which had
called it into being; for in a sense it created no new crime, but simply
restated the principle of the appeal in a form suited to the proceedings
against which it wished to guard. It might have been argued that
customary law protected the consul who directed the proceedings of the
court which doomed the supporters of Tiberius Gracchus; but the
argument, if used, was of no avail. Popillius was to be the witness to
all men of the reality of this reassertion of the palladium of Roman
liberty. An impeachment was framed against him, and either before or
after his withdrawal from Rome, Caius Gracchus himself formulated and
carried through the Plebs the bill of interdiction which doomed him to
exile.[596] It was in vain that Popillius's young sons and numerous
relatives besought the people for mercy.[597] The memory of the outrage
was too recent, the joyful sense of the power of retaliation too novel
and too strong. All that was possible was a counter demonstration which
should emphasise the sympathy of loyalists with the illustrious victim,
and Popillius was escorted to the gates by a weeping crowd.[598] We know
that condemnation also overtook his colleague Rupilius,[599] and it is
probable that he too fell a victim to the sense of vengeance or of
justice aroused by the Gracchan law.

A less justifiable spirit of retaliation is exhibited by another
enactment with which Gracchus inaugurated his tribunate, although in
this, as in ail his other acts, the blow levelled at his enemies was not
devoid of a deep political significance. He introduced a proposal that a
magistrate who had been deposed by the people should not be allowed to
hold any further office.[600] Octavius was the obvious victim, and the
mere personal significance of the measure does not necessarily imply
that Gracchus was burning with resentment against a man, whose
opposition to his brother had rapidly been forgotten in the degradation
which he had experienced at that brother's hands. Hatred to the injured
may be a sentiment natural to the wrongdoer, but is not likely to be
imparted even to the most ardent supporter of the author of the
mischief. It were better to forget Octavius, if Octavius would allow
himself to be forgotten; but the sturdy champion of the senate, still in
the middle of his career, may have been a future danger and a present
eyesore to the people: Gracchus's invectives probably carried him and
his auditors further than he intended, and the rehabilitation of his
brother's tribunate in its integrity may have seemed to demand this
strong assertion of the justice of his act. But the legality of
deposition by the people was a still more important point. Merely to
assert it would be to imply that Tiberius had been wrong. How could it
be more emphatically proclaimed than by making its consequences
perpetual and giving it a kind of penal character? But the personal
aspect of the measure proved too invidious even for its proposer. A
voice that commanded his respect was raised against it: and Gracchus in
withdrawing the bill confessed that Octavius was spared through the
intercession of Cornelia.[601]

So far his legislation had but given an outlet to the justifiable
resentment of the people, and a guarantee for the security of their most
primitive rights. This was to be followed by an appeal to their
interests and a measure for securing their permanent comfort. The
wonderful solidarity of Gracchus and his supporters, the crowning
triumph of the demagogue which is to make each man feel that he is an
agent in his own salvation, have been traced to this constructive
legislation for the benefit of classes, which ancient authors, writing
under aristocratic prepossessions, have described by the ugly name of
bribery.[602] The poor of Rome, if we include in this designation those
who lived on the margin as well as those who were sunk in the depths of
destitution, probably included the majority of the inhabitants of the
town. The city had practically no organised industries. The retail
trader and the purveyor of luxuries doubtless flourished; but, in the
scanty manufactures which the capital still provided, the army of free
labour must have been always worsted by the cruel competition of the
cheaper and more skilful slave or freedman. But the poor of Rome did not
form the cowed and shivering class that are seen on the streets of a
northern capital. They were the merry and vivacious lazzaroni of the
pavement and the portico, composite products of many climes, with all
the lively endurance of the southerner and intellects sharpened by the
ingenious devices requisite for procuring the minimum sustenance of
life. Could they secure this by the desultory labour which alone was
provided by the economic conditions of Rome, their lot was far from
unhappy. As in most ancient civilisations, the poor were better provided
with the amenities than with the bare necessities of existence. Although
the vast provision for the pleasures of the people, by which the Caesars
maintained their popularity, was yet lacking, and even the erection of a
permanent theatre was frowned on by the senate,[603] yet the capital
provided endless excitement for the leisured mind and the observant eye.
It was for their benefit that the gladiatorial show was provided by the
rich, and the gorgeous triumph by the State; but it was the antics of
the nobility in the law courts and at the hustings that afforded the
more constant and pleasing spectacle. Attendance at the Contiones and
the Comitia not only delighted the eye and ear, but filled the heart
with pride, and sometimes the purse with money. For here the units,
inconsiderable in themselves, had become a collective power; they could
shout down the most dignified of the senators, exalt the favourite of
the moment, reward a service or revenge a slight in the perfect security
given by the secrecy of the ballot. Large numbers of the poorer class
were attached to the great houses by ancestral ties; for the descendants
of freedmen, although they could make no legal claim on the house which
represented the patron of their ancestors, were too valuable as voting
units to be neglected by its representatives, even when the sense of the
obligations of wealth, which was one of the best features of Roman
civilisation, failed to provide an occasional alleviation for the misery
of dependants. From a political point of view, this dependence was
utterly demoralising; for it made the recipients of benefits either
blind supporters of, or traitors to, the personal cause which they
professed. It was on the whole preferable that, if patronage was
essential, the State should take over this duty; the large body of the
unattached proletariate would be placed on a level with their more
fortunate brethren, and the latter would be freed from a dependence
which merely served private and selfish interests. A semi-destitute
proletariate can only be dealt with in three ways. They may be forced to
work, encouraged to emigrate, or partially supported by the State. The
first device was impossible, for it was not a submerged fraction with
which Rome had to deal, but the better part of the resident sovereign
body; the second, although discredited by the senate, had been tried in
one form by Tiberius Gracchus and was to be attempted in another shape
by Caius; but it is a remedy that can never be perfect, for it does not
touch the class, more highly strung, more intelligent, and at the same
time more capable of degradation, which the luxury of the capital
enthrals. The last device had not yet been attempted. It remained for
Gracchus to try it. We have no analysis of his motives; but many
provocatives to his modest attempt at state socialism may be suggested.
There was first the Hellenic ideal of the leisured and independent
citizen, as exemplified by the state payments and the "distributions"
which the great leaders of the old world had thought necessary for the
fulfilment of democracy. There was secondly the very obvious fact that
the government was reaping a golden harvest from the provinces and
merely scattering a few stray grains amongst its subjects. There was
thirdly the consideration that much had been done for the landed class
and nothing for the city proletariate. Other considerations of a more
immediate and economic character were doubtless present. The area of
corn production was now small. Sicily was still perhaps beggared by its
servile war, and the granary of Rome was practically to be found in
Africa. The import of corn from this quarter, dependent as it was on the
weather and controlled purely by considerations of the money-market, was
probably fitful, and the price must have been subject to great
variations. But, at this particular time, the supply must have been
diminished to an alarming extent, and the price proportionately raised,
by the swarm of locusts which had lately made havoc of the crops of
Africa.[604] Lastly, the purely personal advantage of securing a
subsidised class for the political support of the demagogue of the
moment--a consideration which is but a baser interpretation of the
Hellenic ideal--must have appealed to the practical politician in
Gracchus as the more impersonal view appealed to the statesman. He would
secure a permanent and stable constituency, and guard against the
danger, which had proved fatal to his brother, of the absence from Rome
of the majority of his supporters at some critical moment.

From the imperfect records of Gracchus's proposal we gather that a
certain amount of corn was to be sold monthly at a reduced price to any
citizen who offered himself as a purchaser.[605] The rate was fixed at
6-1/3 asses the modius, which is calculated to have been about half the
market-price.[606] The monthly distribution would practically have
excluded all but the urban proletariate, and would thus have both
limited the operation of the relief to the poor of the city and invited
an increase in its numbers. But the details of the measure, which would
be decisive as to its economic character, are unknown to us. We are not
told what proportion the monthly quantity of grain sold at this cheap
rate bore to the total amount required for the support of a family;
whether the relief was granted only to the head of a house or also to
his adult sons; whether any one who claimed the rights of citizenship
could appear at the monthly sale, or only those who had registered their
names at some given time. The fact of registration, if it existed, might
have been regarded as a stigma and might thus have limited the number of
recipients. Some of the economic objections to his scheme were not
unknown to Gracchus; indeed they were pressed home vigorously by his
opponents. It was pointed out that he was enervating the labourer and
exhausting the treasury, The validity of the first objection depends to
a large extent on the unknown "data" which we have just mentioned.
Gracchus may have maintained that a greater standard of comfort would be
secured for the same amount of work. The second objection he was so far
from admitting that he asserted that his proposal would really lighten
the burdens of the Aerarium.[607] He may have taken the view that a
moderate, steady and calculable loss on corn purchased in large
quantities, and therefore presumably at a reduced price, would be
cheaper in the end than the cost entailed by the spasmodic attempts
which the State had to make in times of crisis to put grain upon the
market; and there may have been some truth in the idea that, when the
State became for the first time a steady purchaser, competition between
the publicans of Sicily or the proprietors of Africa might greatly
reduce the normal market price. He does not seem to have been disturbed
by the consideration that the sale of corn below the market price at
Rome was hardly the best way of helping the Italian farmer. The State
would certainly buy in the cheapest market, and this was not to be found
in Italy. But it is probable that under no circumstances could Rome have
become the usual market for the produce of the recently established
proprietors, and that, except at times of unusual scarcity in the
transmarine provinces, imported corn could always have undersold that
which was grown in Italy. Under the new system the Italian husbandman
would find a purchaser in the State, if Sicily and Africa were visited
by some injury to their crops. A vulnerable point in the Gracchan system
of sale was exhibited in the fact that no inquiry was instituted as to
the means of the applicants. This blemish was vigorously brought home to
the legislator when the aged noble, Calpurnius Piso surnamed "the
Frugal," the author of the first law that gave redress to the
provincials, and a vigorous opponent of Gracchus's scheme, gravely
advanced on the occasion of the first distribution and demanded his
appropriate share.[608] The object lesson would be wasted on those who
hold that the honourable acceptance of relief implies the universality
of the gift: that the restraining influences, if they exist, should be
moral and not the result of inquisition. But neither the possibility nor
the necessity of discrimination would probably have been allowed by
Gracchus. It would have been resented by the people, and did not appeal
to the statesmanship, widely spread in the Greek and not unknown in the
Roman world, which regarded it as one of the duties of a State to
provide cheap food for its citizens. The lamentations of a later day
over a pauperised proletariate and an exhausted treasury[609] cannot
strictly be laid to the account of the original scheme, Except in so far
as it served as a precedent; they were the consequence of the action of
later demagogues who, instructed by Gracchus as to the mode in which an
easy popularity might be secured, introduced laws which sanctioned an
almost gratuitous distribution of grain. The Gracchan law contained a
provision for the building of additional store-houses for the
accumulation of the great reserve of corn, which was demanded by the new
system of regular public sales, and the Sempronian granaries thus
created remained as a witness of the originality and completeness of the
tribune's work.[610]

The Roman citizen was still frequently summoned from his work, or roused
from his lethargy, by the call of military service; and the practice of
the conscription fostered a series of grievances, one of which had
already attracted the attention of Tiberius Gracchus. Caius was bound to
deal with the question: and the two provisions of his enactment which
are known to us, show a spirit of moderation which neither justifies the
belief that the demagogue was playing to the army, nor accredits the
view that his interference relaxed the bonds of discipline amongst the
legions.[611] The most scandalous anomaly in the Roman army-system was
the miserable pittance earned by the conscript when the legal deductions
had been made from his nominal rate of pay. His daily wage was but
one-third of the denarius, or five and one-third asses a day, as it had
remained unaltered from the times of the Second Punic War, in spite of
the fact that the conditions of service were now wholly different and
that garrison duty in the provinces for long periods of years had
replaced the temporary call-to-arms which the average Italian campaign
alone demanded; and from this quota was deducted the cost of the
clothing which he wore and, as there is every reason to believe, of the
whole of the rations which he consumed. We should have expected a
radical reformer to have raised his pay or at least to have given him
free food. But Gracchus contented himself with enacting that the
soldier's clothing should be given him free of charge by the State.[612]
Another military abuse was due to the difficulty which commanders
experienced in finding efficient recruits. The young and adventurous
supplied better and more willing material than those already habituated
to the careless life of the streets, or already engaged in some settled
occupation: and, although it is scarcely credible that boys under the
age of eighteen were forced to enlist, they were certainly permitted and
perhaps encouraged to join the ranks. The law of Gracchus forbade the
enlistment of a recruit at an age earlier than the completion of the
seventeenth year.[613] These military measures, slight in themselves,
were of importance as marking the beginning of the movement by which the
whole question of army reform, utterly neglected by the government, was
taken up and carried out by independent representatives of the people.
But a Roman army was to a large extent the creation of the executive
power; and it required a military commander, not a tribune, to produce
the radical alterations which alone could make the mighty instrument,
which had won the empire, capable of defending it.

The last boon of Gracchus to the citizen body as a whole was a new
agrarian law.[614] The necessity of such a measure was chiefly due to
the suspension of the work of the agrarian commission, which had proved
an obstacle to the continued execution of his brother's scheme; and
there is every reason for believing that the new Sempronian law restored
their judicial powers to the commissioners. But experience may have
shown that the substance of Tiberius's enactment required to be
supplemented or modified; and Caius adopted the procedure usually
followed by a Roman legislator when he renewed a measure which had
already been in operation. His law was not a brief series of amendments,
but a comprehensive statute, so completely covering the ground of the
earlier Sempronian law that later legislation cites the law of Caius,
and not that of Tiberius Gracchus, as the authority for the regulations
which had revolutionised the tenure of the public land.[615] The new
provisions seem to have dealt with details rather than with principles,
and there is no indication that they aimed at the acquisition of
territory which had been exempted from the operation of the previous
measure, or even touched the hazardous question of the rights of Rome to
the land claimed by the Italian allies. We cannot attempt to define the
extent to which the executive power granted by the new agrarian law was
either necessary or effective. Certainly the returns of the census
during the next ten years show no increase in the number of registered
citizens;[616] but this circumstance may be due to the steps which were
soon to be taken by the opponents of the Gracchi to nullify the results
of their legislation. It is possible, however, that the new corn law may
have somewhat damped the ardour of the proletariate for a life of
agriculture which would have deprived them of its benefits.

The first tribunate of Caius Gracchus doubtless witnessed the completion
of these four acts of legislation, by which the debt to his supporters
was lavishly paid and their aid was enlisted for causes which could only
indirectly be interpreted as their own. But this year probably witnessed
as well the promulgation of the enactments which were to find their
fulfilment in a second tribunate.[617] Foremost amongst these was one
which dealt with the tenure of the judicial power as exercised, not by
the magistrate, but by the panels of jurors who were interpreters both
of law and fact on the standing commissions which had recently been
created by statute. The interest of the masses in this question was
remote. A permanent murder court seems indeed to have had its place
amongst the commissions; but, even though the corruption of its
president had on one occasion been clearly proved,[618] it is not likely
that senatorial judges would have troubled to expose themselves to undue
influences when pronouncing on the _caput_ of a citizen of the lower
class. The fact that this justice was administered by the nobility may
have excited a certain degree of popular interest; but the question of
the transference of the courts from the hands of the senatorial
_judices_ would probably never have been heard of, had not the largest
item in this judicial competence had a decisively political bearing. The
Roman State had been as unsuccessful as others of the ancient world in
keeping its judicial machinery free from the taint of party influences.
It had been accounted one of the surest signs of popular sovereignty
that the people alone could give judgment on the gravest crimes and
pronounce the capital penalty,[619] and recent political thought had
perhaps wholly adapted itself to the Hellenic view that the government
of a state must be swayed by the body of men that enforces criminal
responsibility in political matters. This vital power was still retained
by the Comitia when criminal justice was concerned with those elemental
facts which are the condition of the existence of a state. The people
still took cognisance of treason in all its degrees--a conception which
to the Roman mind embraced almost every possible form of official
maladministration--and the gloomy record of trials before the Comitia,
from this time onward to the close of the Republic, shows that the
weapon was exercised as the most forcible implement of political
chastisement. But chance had lately presented the opportunity of making
the interesting experiment of assimilating criminal jurisdiction in some
of its branches to that of the civil courts. The president and jurors of
one of the newly established _quaestiones_ formed as isolated a group as
the _judex_ of civil justice with his assessors, or the greater panels
of Centumvirs and Decemvirs. They possessed no authority but that of
jurisdiction within their special department; there seemed no reason why
they should be influenced by considerations arising from issues whether
legislative or administrative. But this appearance of detachment was
wholly illusory, and the well-intentioned experiment was as vain as that
of Solon, when he carefully separated the administrative and judicial
boards in the Athenian commonwealth and composed both bodies of
practically identical individuals. The new court for the trial of
extortion, constituted by the Calpurnian and renewed later by a Junian
law, was controlled by a detachment of the governing body which saw in
each impeachment a libel on its own system of administration, and in
each condemnation a new precedent for hampering the uncontrolled power
exercised in the past or coveted for the future by the individual juror.
This class spirit may have been more powerful than bribery in its
production of suspicious acquittals; and the fact that prosecution was
frankly recognised as the commonest of party weapons, and that speeches
for the prosecution and defence teemed with irrelevant political
allusions, reduced the question of the guilt of the accused to
subordinate proportions in the eyes of all the participants in this
judicial warfare. Charges of corruption were so recklessly hurled at
Rome that we can seldom estimate their validity; but the strong
suspicion of bribery is almost as bad for a government as the proved
offence; and it was certain that senatorial judges did not yield to the
evidence which would have supplied conviction to the ordinary man. Some
recent acquittals furnished an excellent text to the reformer. L.
Aurelius Cotta had emerged successfully from a trial, which had been a
mere duel between Scipio Aemilianus for the prosecution and Metellus
Macedonicus for the defence. The judges had shown their resentment of
Scipio's influence by acquitting Cotta; and few of the spectators of the
struggle seem even to have pretended to believe in the innocence of the
accused.[620] The whole settlement of Asia had been so tainted with the
suspicion of pecuniary influences that, when Manius Aquillius
successfully ran the gauntlet of the courts,[621] it was difficult to
believe that the treasures of the East had not co-operated towards the
result, especially as the senate itself by no means favoured some of the
features of Aquillius's organisation of the province. The legates of
some of the plundered dependencies were still in Rome, bemoaning the
verdict and appealing for sympathy with their helpless fellow
subjects[622] Circumstances favoured the reformer; it was possible to
bring a definite case and to produce actual sufferers before the people;
while the senate, perhaps in consequence of the attitude of some honest
dissentients, was unable to make any effectual resistance to the scandal
and its consequences.

Had Gracchus thought of restoring this jurisdiction to the Comitia, he
would have taken a step which had the theoretical justification that, of
all the powers at Rome, the people was the one which had least interest
in provincial misgovernment. But it would have been a retrograde
movement from the point of view of procedure; it would not necessarily
have abolished senatorial influence, and it would not have attained his
object of holding the government permanently in check by the political
recognition of a class which rivalled the senate in the definiteness of
its organisation and surpassed it in the homogeneity of its interests.
The body of capitalists who had assumed the titular designation of
knights, had long been chafing at the complete subjection of their
commercial interests to the caprice of the provincial governor and the
arbitrary dispositions of the home government. Tiberius Gracchus, when
he revealed the way to the promised land, had probably reflected rather
than suggested the ambition of the great business men to have a more
definite place in the administration assigned them. His appeal had come
too late, or seemed too hopeless of success, to win their support for a
reformer who had outraged their feelings as capitalists; but since his
death ten years for reflection had elapsed, and they were years which
witnessed a vast extension of their potential activity, and aroused an
agonised feeling of helplessness at the subordinate part which they
played both to senate and people when the disposal of kingdoms was in
question. The suggestions for giving them a share in the control of the
provincial world may have been numerous, and their variety is reflected
in the different plans which Caius Gracchus himself advanced. The system
at which his brother had hinted was that of a joint board composed of
the existing senators with the addition of an equal number of equites;
and we have already suggested the possibility that this House of Six
Hundred was intended to be the senate of the future, efficient for all
purposes and not exclusively devoted to the work of criminal
jurisdiction. The same significance may attach to the scheme, which
seems to have been propounded by Caius Gracchus during, or perhaps even
before, his first tenure of the tribunate, and appears at intervals in
proposals made by reformers down to the time of Sulla. Gracchus is said
to have suggested the increase of the senate by the addition of three,
or, as one authority states, six hundred members of the equestrian
order.[623] The proposal, if it was one for an enlarged senate, and not
for a joint panel of _judices_, in which a changing body of equites
would act as a check on the permanent senatorial jurors, must soon have
been seen to be utterly unsuited to its purpose. It is a scheme
characteristic of the aristocrat who is posing as a friend of the
mercantile class and hopes to deceive the vigilance of that keen-sighted
fraternity. To give the senate a permanent infusion of new blood would
be simply to strengthen its authority, while completely cutting away the
links which bound the new members to their original class. Even the
swamping of the existing body by a two-thirds majority of new members
would have been transitory in its effects. The new member of the Curia
would soon have shed his old equestrian views and assumed the outlook of
his older peers. It might indeed have been possible to devise a system
by which the senate would, at the recurring intervals of the _lustra_,
have been filled up in equal proportions from ex-magistrates and
knights: and in this way a constant supply of middle-class sentiment
might have been furnished to the governing body. But even this scheme
would have secured to the elected a life-long tenure of power, and this
was a fatal obstacle both to the intentions of the reformer and the
aspirations of the equestrian order. While the former desired a balance
of power, the latter wished that the interests of their class should be
enforced by its genuine representatives. Both knew that a participation
in the executive power was immaterial, and that all that was needed
might be gained by the possession of judicial authority alone.
Gracchus's final decision, therefore, was to create a wholly new panel
of _judices_ which should be made up exclusively from the members of the
titular class of knights.[624]

It was not necessary or desirable that the judiciary law should make any
mention of a class, or employ the courtesy title of _equites_ to
designate the new judges. The effect might be less invidiously secured
by demanding qualifications which were practically identical with the
social conditions requisite for the possession of titular knighthood.
One of the determining factors was a property qualification, and this
was possibly placed at the modest total of four hundred thousand
sesterces.[625] This was the amount of capital which seems at this
period to have given its possessor the right of serving on horseback in
the army and therefore the claim to the title of _eques_, but it was a
sum that did not convey alarming suggestions of government by
millionaires, but rather pointed to the upper middle class as the
fittest depositaries of judicial power. Not only were magistrates and
ex-magistrates excluded from the Bench, but the disqualification
extended to the fathers, brothers and sons of magistrates and of past or
present senators. The ostensible purpose of these provisions was
doubtless to ensure that the selected jurors should be bound by no tie
of kindred to the individuals who would appear before their judgment
seat; but they must have had the effect of excluding from the new panel
many of the true knights belonging to the eighteen centuries; for this
select corps was largely composed of members of the noble families. A
similar effect would have been produced by the age qualification. The
Gracchan jurors were to be over thirty and under sixty, while a large
number of the military _equites_ were under the former limit of age, in
consequence of the practice of retiring from the corps after the
attainment of the quaestorship or selection into the senate. The
aristocratic element in the equestrian order, if this latter expression
be used in its widest sense to include both the military and civilian
knights, was thus rigorously excluded: and there remained but the men
whose business interests were in no way complicated by respect for
senatorial traditions. The official list of the new jurors _(album
judicum)_ was probably to be made out annually; and there is every
reason to suppose that there was a considerable change of personnel at
each revision, since one of the conditions of membership of the
panel--residence within a mile of Rome--could hardly have been observed
by business men with world-wide interests for any extended period. The
conception which still prevailed that judicial service was a burden
_(munus)_, would alone have led the revising authority to free past
jurors from the service: and the practice must have been welcome to the
capitalists themselves, many of whom may well have desired the share of
power and perhaps of profit which jurisdiction over their superiors
conferred. We are told that the selection of the first panel was
entrusted to the legislator himself;[626] for the future the Foreign
Praetor was to draw up the annual list of four hundred and fifty who
were qualified to hear cases of extortion.[627] It is not known whether
this was the full number of the new jurors, or whether there were
additional members selected by a different authority for the trial of
other offences. It is not probable that the judiciary law of Gracchus
imposed the new class of _judices_ directly on the civil courts. The
_judex_ of private law still retained his character of an arbitrator
appointed by the consent of the parties, and it would have been improper
to restrict this choice to a class defined by statute. But the practical
monopoly of jurisdiction in important cases, which senators seem to have
acquired, was henceforth broken through, and the _judex_ in civil suits
was sometimes taken from the equestrian order.[628]

The superficial aspect of this great change seemed full of promise for
the future. The ample means of the new jurors might be taken as a
guarantee of their purity; their selection from the middle class, as a
security of the soundness and disinterestedness of their judgments.
Perhaps Gracchus himself was the victim of this hope, and believed that
the scourge of the nobility which he had placed in the hands of the
knights, might at least be decorously wielded. The judgment of the
after-world varied as to the mode in which they exercised their power.
Cicero, in advocating the claims of the order to a renewed tenure of
authority, could urge that during their possession of the courts for
nearly fifty years, their judgments had never been tainted by the least
suspicion of corruption.[629] This was a safe assertion if suspicion is
only justified by proof; for the Gracchan jurors seem to have been from
the first exempted from all prosecution for bribery.[630] This legal
exemption is all the more remarkable as Gracchus himself was the author
of a law which permitted a criminal prosecution for a corrupt
judgment.[631] It is difficult to understand the significance of this
enactment, for the magistrates, against whom it was directed, were in
few cases judges of fact, except in the military domain. It could not
have referred to the president of a standing commission who was a mere
vehicle for the judgment of the jury; but Gracchus probably contemplated
the occasional revival of special commissions sanctioned by the people,
and it is possible that even the two praetors who presided over the
civil courts may have been subject to the operation of the law, which
may not have been directed merely against corrupt sentences in criminal
matters, as was subsequently the case when the law was renewed by Sulla.
It is even possible that the law dates from a period anterior to the
creation of the equestrian _judices_; but, even on this hypothesis, the
exclusion of the latter from its operation was something of an anomaly;
for even the civil _judex_ of Rome, on whose analogy the jurors of the
standing commissions had been created, was in early times criminally,
and at a later period at least pecuniarily, liable for an unjust
sentence.[632] We shall elsewhere have occasion to dwell on the value
which the equestrian order attached to this immunity, and we shall see
that its relief at the freedom from vexatious prosecution is of itself
no sign of corruption. One of our authorities does indeed emphatically
assert the ultimate prevalence of bribery in the equestrian courts:[633]
and circumstances may be easily imagined which would have made this
resort natural, if not inevitable. A band of capitalists eager to secure
a criminal verdict, which had a purely commercial significance, would
scarcely be slow to employ commercial methods with their less wealthy
representatives on the Bench, and votes might have been purchased by
transactions in which cash payments played no part. But the corruption
of individuals was of far less moment than the solidarity of interest
and collective cupidity of the mercantile order as a whole. The verdicts
of the courts reflected the judgment of the Exchange. It was even
possible to create a prosecution[634] simply for the purpose of damning
a man who, in the exercise of his authority, had betrayed tendencies
which were interpreted as hostile to capitalism.

The future war between the senate and the equites would not have been
waged so furiously, had not Gracchus given his favoured class the chance
of asserting a positive control, in virtue of an almost official
position, over the richest domains of the Roman world. The fatal bequest
of Attalus was still the plaything of parties; but the prize which
Tiberius had destined for the people was used by Caius to seal his
compact with the knights. The concession, which could not be openly
avowed, was accomplished by means so indirect that its meaning must have
escaped the majority of the voters who sanctioned it, and its
consequences may not have been fully grasped by the legislator himself.
The masses who applauded the new law about the province of Asia, may
have seen in it but a promise of the increase of their revenues; while
the desire of swelling the public finances, which he had so heavily
burdened, of putting an end to the anomalous condition of a district
which was neither free nor governed, neither protectorate nor province,
perhaps even of meeting the wishes of some of the Asiatic provincials,
who preferred regular to irregular exactions, may have been combined in
the mind of Gracchus with the wish to see the equites confront the
senate in yet another sphere. The change which he proposed was one
concerned with the taxation of the province. It cannot be determined how
far he was responsible for the infliction of new burdens on Rome's
Asiatic subjects. The increase of the public revenue, of which he
boasted in one of his speeches to the people,[635] the new harbour dues
with which he is credited,[636] may point to certain creations of his
own; but the end at which he aimed seems to have been mainly a revival
of the system of taxation which had been current in the kingdom of the
Attalids, accompanied by a new and, as he possibly thought, better
system of collection. It could not have been he who first burdened the
taxpayer with the payment of tithes; for this method of revenue was of
immense antiquity in all Hellenised lands and is not likely to have been
unknown to the kings of Pergamon. It is a method that, from its elastic
nature, bears less heavily on the agriculturist than that of a direct
impost; for the payment is conditioned by the size of the crops and is
independent of the changing value of money. The chief objection to the
tax, considered in itself and apart from its accompanying circumstances,
was the immensity of the revenue which it yielded; the sums exacted by
an Oriental despot were unnecessary for the economical administration of
Rome; and the Roman administration of half a century earlier might have
reduced the tithe to a twentieth as it had actually cut down the taxes
of Macedonia to one-half of their original amount. Sicily, indeed,
furnished an example of the tithe system; but the expenses of a
government decrease in proportion to the area of administration, and
Sicily could not furnish the ample harbour dues and other payments in
money, which should have made the commercial wealth of Asia lighten the
burden on the holder of land. The rating of the new province was, in
fact, an admission of a change in the theory of imperial taxation. Asia
was not merely to be self-supporting; her revenues were to yield a
surplus which should supplement the deficit of other lands, or aid in
the support of the proletariate of the capital.

The realisation of this principle may not have imposed heavier burdens
than Asia had known in the time of her kings. But the fiction that the
new dependency was to be maintained in a state of "freedom," which even
after the downfall of Aristonicus seems to have exercised some influence
on Roman policy, had led to a suspension of regular taxation for the
purposes of the central government, which caused the Gracchan proposals
to be regarded by certain political circles at Rome in the light of a
novelty, and probably of a hardship.[637] They could hardly have borne
either character to the Asiatic provincials themselves. The war
indemnities and exactions which followed the great struggle, must have
been a more grievous burden than the system of taxation to which they
were inured: and it is incredible that during the six years which had
elapsed since the suppression of the revolt, or even the three years
that had passed since the completion of Aquillius's organisation, no
revenues had been raised by Rome from her new subjects for
administrative purposes. They probably had been raised, but in a manner
exasperating because irregular. What was needed was a methodical system,
which should abolish at once the fiction of "freedom" and the reality of
the exactions meted out at the caprice of the governor of the moment.
Such a system was supplied by Gracchus, and it was doubtless reached by
the application of the characteristic Roman method of maintaining,
whether for good or ill, the principles of organisation which were
already in existence in the new dependency.

The novelty of the Gracchan system lay, not in the manner of taxation,
but in the method adopted for securing the returns. The greatest
obstacle to the tithe system is the difficulty of instituting an
efficient method of collection. To gather in taxes which are paid in
kind and to dispose of them to the best advantage, is a heavy burden for
a municipality. The desire for a system of contract is sure to arise,
and in an Empire the efficient contractor is more likely to be found in
the central state than in any of its dependencies. It was of this
feeling that Gracchus took advantage when he enacted that the taxes of
Asia should be put up for auction at Rome,[638] and that the whole
province should be regarded as a single area of taxation at the great
auction which the censor held in the capital. It was certain that no
foreign competition could prevail in this sale of a kingdom's revenues.
The right to gather in the tithes could be purchased only by a powerful
company of Roman capitalists. The Decumani of Asia would represent the
heart and brain of the mercantile body; they would form a senate and a
Principate amongst the Publicani.[639] They would flood the province
with their local directors, their agents and their freedmen; and each
station would become a centre for a banking business which would involve
individuals and cities in a debt, of which the tithe was but a fraction.
Nor need their operations be confined to the dominions of Rome; they
would spread over Phrygia, rendered helpless by the gift of freedom, and
creep into the realms of the neighbouring protected kings, safe in the
knowledge that the magic name of "citizen of Rome" was a cover to the
most doubtful transaction and a safeguard against the slightest
punishment. The collectors were liable to no penalties for extortion,
for that crime could be committed only by a Roman magistrate: and their
possession of the courts enabled them to raise the spectre of conviction
on this very charge before the eyes of any governor who might attempt to
check the devastating march of the battalions of commerce.

As merchants and bankers the Knights would be sufficiently protected by
the judicial powers of their class; but their operations as speculators
in tithes needed another safeguard. The contracts made with the censor
would extend over a period of five years, and the keenness of the
competing companies would generally ensure to the State the promise of
an enormous sum for the privilege of farming the taxes. But the tithe
might be reduced in value by a bad harvest or the ravages of war, and
the successful company might overreach itself in its eagerness to secure
the contract. The power of revising such bargains had once assured to
the senate the securest hold which it possessed over the mercantile
class.[640] This complete dependence was now to be removed, and
Gracchus, while not taking the power of decision from the senate,
formulated in his law certain principles of remission which it was
expected to observe.[641]

By these indirect and seemingly innocent changes in the relations of the
mercantile order to the senate, a new balance of power had been created
in the State. The Republic, according to the reflection of a later
writer, had been given two heads,[642] and this new Janus, more ominous
than the old, was believed to be the harbinger of deadly conflict
between the rival powers. In moments of calm Gracchus may have believed
that his reforms were but a renewed illustration of that genius for
compromise out of which the Roman constitution had grown, and that he
had but created new and necessary defences against a recently developed
absolutism; but, in the heat of the conflict into which he was soon
plunged, his vindictive fancy saw but the gloomier aspect of his new
creation, and he boasted that the struggle for the courts was a dagger
which he had hurled into the Forum, an instrument which the possessor
would use to mangle the body of his opponent.[643]

But even these limitations of senatorial prerogative were not deemed
sufficient. A proposal was made which had the ingenious scope of
limiting the senate's control over the more important provinces in
favour of the magistrates, the equestrian order and the people. One of
the most valuable items of patronage which the senate possessed was the
assignment of the consular provinces. They claimed the right of deciding
which of the annual commands without the walls should be reserved for
the consuls of the year, and by their disposition in this matter could
reward a favourite with wealth or power, and condemn a political
opponent to impotence or barren exile. This power had long been employed
as a means of coercing the two chief magistrates into obedience to the
senate's will, and the equestrian order must have viewed with some alarm
the possibility of Asia becoming the prize of the candidates favoured by
the nobility. Had Gracchus declared that the direct election to
provincial commands should henceforth be in the hands of the people, the
change would have been but a slight departure from an admitted
constitutional precedent; for there is little more than a technical
difference between electing a man for an already ascertained sphere of
operations, as had been done in the cases of Terentius Varro and the two
Scipios during the Punic wars, and attaching a special command to an
individual already elected. But Gracchus preferred the traditional and
indirect method. He did not question the right of the senate to decide
what provinces should be assigned to the consuls, but he enacted that
this decision should be made before these magistrates were elected to
office.[644] The people would thus, in their annual choice of the
highest magistrates, be electing not only to a sphere of administration
at home, but to definite foreign commands as well; the prize which the
senate had hitherto bestowed would be indirectly the people's gift, and
the nominees of the Comitia would find themselves in possession of
departments which were presumably the most important that lay at the
disposal of the senate. To secure the finality of the arrangement made
by the senate, and to prevent this body subsequently reversing an
awkward assignment to which it had unwittingly committed itself,
Gracchus ordained that the tribunician veto should not be employed
against the senate's decision as to what provinces should be reserved
for the future consuls;[645] for he knew that the tribune was often the
instrument of the government, and that the suspensory veto of this
magistrate could cause the question of assignment to drag on until after
the consuls were elected, and thus restore to the senate its ancient
right of patronage. The change, although it produced the desired results
of freeing the magistrates from subservience, the mercantile order from
a reasonable fear, and the people from the pain of seeing their
favourite nominee rendered useless for the purposes for which he was
appointed, cannot be said to have added anything to the efficiency of
provincial administration. It may even be regarded as a retrograde step,
as the commencement of that system of routine in provincial
appointments, which regarded proved capacity for the government and
defence of the subjects of Rome as the last qualification necessary for
foreign command. The senate in its award may often have been swayed by
unworthy motives; but it was sometimes moved by patriotic fears. Of the
two consuls it might send the one of tried military ability to a
province threatened by war and dismiss the mere politician to a peaceful
district. But now, without any regard to present conditions or future
contingencies, it was forced to assign departments to men whose very
names were unknown. The people, in the exercise of their elective power,
were acting almost as blindly as the senate; for the issues of a Roman
election were often so ill-defined, its cross-currents, due to personal
influence and the power of the canvass, so strong and perplexing, that
it was rarely possible to predict the issue of the poll. On the other
hand, if there was a candidate so eminent that his return could be
predicted as a certainty, the senate might assign some insignificant
spheres of administration as the provinces of the future consuls; and
thus, in the one case where the decision might be influenced by
knowledge and reason, the Gracchan law was liable to defeat its own
ends. A further weakness of the enactment, from the point of view of
efficiency, was that it made no attempt to alter the mode in which the
designated provinces were to be occupied by their claimants. If the
consuls could not come to an agreement as to which _provincia_ each
should hold, the chance of the lot still decided a question on which the
future fortunes of the empire might turn.

It is a relief to turn from this work of demolition, which in spite of
its many justifications is pervaded by a vindictive suspicion, to some
great constructive efforts by which Gracchus proved himself an
enlightened and disinterested social reformer. He did not view agrarian
assignation as an alternative to colonisation, but recognised that the
industrial spirit might be awakened by new settlements on sites
favourable to commerce, as the agricultural interest had been aroused by
the planting of settlers on the desolated lands. Gracchus was, indeed,
not the first statesman to employ colonisation as a remedy for social
evils; for economic distress and the hunger for land had played their
part from the earliest times in the military settlements which Rome had
scattered over Italy. But down to his time strategic had preponderated
over industrial motives, and he was the first to suggest that
colonisation might be made a means of relief for the better classes of
the urban proletariate, whose activities were cramped and whose energies
were stifled by the crowded life and heated atmosphere of the city. His
settlers were to be carefully selected. They were actually to be men who
could stand the test of an investigation into character.[646] It seems
clear that the new opportunities were offered to men of the lower middle
class, to traders of cramped means or of broken fortunes. His other
protégés had been cared for in other ways; the urban masses who lived on
the margin of destitution had been assisted by the corn law, and the
sturdy son of toil could look for help to the agrarian commission. Of
the many settlements which he projected for Italy,[647] two which were
actually established during his second tribunate[648] occupied maritime
positions favourable for commerce. Scylacium, on the bay which lies
southward of the Iapygian promontory, was intended to revivify a decayed
Greek settlement and to reawaken the industries of the desolated
Bruttian coast; while Neptunia was seemingly the name of the new
entrepôt which he founded at the head of the Tarentine Gulf. It was
apparently established on the land which Rome had wrested from Tarentum,
and may have originally formed a town distinct from this Greek city,
once the great seaport of Calabria, but retaining little of its former
greatness since its partial destruction in the Punic wars.[649] Its
Hellenism was on the wane, and this decline in its native civilisation
may account for the fact that the new and the old foundations seem
eventually to have been merged into one, and that Tarentum could receive
a purely Latin constitution after the close of the Social War.[650] Its
purple fisheries and rich wine-producing territory were worthy objects
of the enterprise of Gracchus. Capua was a still greater disgrace to the
Roman administration than Tarentum. Its fertile lands were indeed
cultivated by lessees of Rome and yielded a large annual produce to the
State. But the unredeemed site, on which had stood the pride of Southern
Italy, was still a lamentable witness to the jealousy of the conqueror.
Here Gracchus proposed to place a settlement[651] which through its
commercial promise might amply have compensated for a loss of a portion
of the State's domain. Neither he nor his brother had ever threatened
the distribution of the territory of Capua, and it is, therefore,
probable that in this case he did not contemplate a large agricultural
foundation, but rather one that might serve better than the existing
village to focus the commerce of the Campanian plain. But the revenue
from the domain, and the jealousy of Rome's old and powerful rival,
which might be awakened in all classes, were strong weapons in the hands
of his opponents, and the renewal of Capua was destined to be the work
of a later and more fortunate leader of the party of reform. The
colonising effort of Gracchus was plainly one that had the regeneration
of Italy, as well as the satisfaction of distressed burgesses, as its
object; none of the three sites, on which he proposed to establish his
communes of citizens, possessed at the time an urban centre capable of
utilising the vast possibilities of the area in which it was placed. But
this twofold object was not to be limited to Italy. He dreamed of
transmarine enterprise taking a more solid and more generally useful
form than that furnished by the vagrant trader or the local agent of the
capitalist.[652] The idea and practice of colonisation across the sea
were indeed no new ones; isolated foundations for military purposes,
such as Palma and Pollentia in the Balearic Isles, were being planted by
the direction of the government. But these were small settlements
intended to serve a narrow purpose; they doubtless spread Roman customs
and formed a basis for Roman trade; but, if these motives had entered
into their foundation, the experiment would have been tried on a far
larger scale. In truth the idea of permanent settlement beyond the seas
did not appeal either to the Roman character or to the political
theories of the governing classes. It is questionable whether an
imperial people, forming but a tiny minority amongst its subjects, and
easily reaping the fruits of its conquests, could ever take kindly to
the adventure, the initial hardships, and the lasting exclusion from the
dazzling life of the capital, which are implied in permanent residence
abroad. The Roman in pursuit of gain was a restless spirit, who would
voyage to any land that was, or was likely to be, under imperial
control, establish his banking house and villa under any clime, and be
content to spend the most active years of his life in the exploitation
of the alien; but to him it was a living truth that all roads led to
Rome. The city was the nucleus of enterprise, the heart of commerce; and
such sentiment as the trader possessed was centred on the commercial
life of the Forum and the political devices on which it fed. Such a
spirit is not, favourable to true colonisation, which implies a
detachment from the affairs of the mother city; and it was not by this
means, but rather by the spontaneous evolution of natural centres for
the teeming Italian immigrants already settled in the provinces, that
the Romanisation of the world was ultimately assisted. Consequently no
great pressure had ever been put on the government to induce it to relax
the principles which led it to look with indifference or disfavour on
the foundation of Roman settlements abroad. There was probably a fear
that the establishment of communities of Roman citizens in the provinces
might awaken the desire of the subject states to participate in Roman
rights. It was deemed better that the highest goal of the provincial's
ambition should be the freedom of his state, and that he should never
dream of that absorption into the ruling body to which the Italian alone
was permitted to aspire. Added to this maxim of statecraft was one of
those curious superstitions which play so large a part in imperial
politics and attain a show of truth from the superficial reading of
history. It was pointed out by the wise that colonies had often proved
more potent than their parent states, that Carthage had surpassed Tyre,
Massilia Phocaea, Syracuse Corinth, and Cyzicus Miletus. In the same way
a daughter of Rome might wax greater than her mother, and the city that
governed Italy might be powerless to cope with a rebellious dependency
in the provinces.[653] This was not altogether an idle fear in the
earlier days of conquest; for at any period before the war with Pyrrhus
a transmarine city of Italian blood and customs might have proved a
formidable rival. Nor at the stage which the empire had reached at the
time of Gracchus was it without its justification; for Rome was by no
means a convenient centre for a government that ruled in Asia as well as
in Europe. It is more likely that the dread of rivalry was due to the
singular defects of the aspect and environment of Rome, of which its
citizens were acutely conscious, rather than to the awkwardness of its
geographical position; but, had the latter deficiency been realised, it
would be unfair to criticise the narrowness of view which failed to see
that the change of a capital does not necessarily involve the surrender
of a government. But, whether the objections implied in this
superstition were shadowy or well defined, they could not have been
lessened by the choice which was made by Gracchus and his friends of the
site for their new transmarine settlement. It was none other than
Carthage, the city which had been destroyed because the blessings of
nature had made a mockery of conquest, the city that, if revived, would
be the centre of the granary of Rome. A proposal for the renewal of
Carthage under the name of Junonia was formulated by Rubrius, one of the
colleagues of Gracchus in his first tribunate.[654] The number of the
colonists, which was less than six thousand, was specified in the
enactment, and the proportion of the emigrants to the immense territory
at his disposal rendered it possible for the legislator to assign
unusually large allotments of land. A better and an inferior class of
settlers were apparently distinguished, the former of whom were to hold
no less than two hundred _jugera_ apiece.[655] The recipients of all
allotments were to maintain them in absolute ownership, a system of
tenure which had hitherto been confined to Italy being thus extended to
provincial soil.[656] Caius Gracchus and Fulvius Flaccus were named
amongst the triumvirs who were to establish the new colony.[657] It is
probable that Roman citizens were alone considered eligible for the
colonies both in Italy and abroad, when these foundations were first
proposed, and that it was not until Gracchus had embarked on his
enterprise of enfranchising the Latins, that he allowed them to
participate in the benefits of his colonial schemes and thus indirectly
acquire full Roman citizenship.

But the commercial life of Italy might be quickened by other means than
the establishment of colonies whether at home or abroad. Gracchus saw
that the question of rapid and easy communication between the existing
towns was all important. The great roads of Rome betrayed their military
intent in the unswerving inflexibility of their course. The positions
which they skirted were of strategic, but not necessarily of industrial,
importance. To bring the hamlet into connection with the township, and
the township into touch with the capital, a series of good cross-roads
was needed; and it was probably to this object that the law of
Gracchus[658] was directed. But ease of communication may serve a
political as well as a commercial object. The representative character
of the Comitia would be increased by the provision of facilities for the
journey to Rome; and perhaps when Gracchus promulgated his measure,
there was already before his mind the possibility of the extension of
the franchise to the Latins, which would vastly increase the numbers of
the rural electorate. In any case, the measure was one which tended to
political centralisation, and Gracchus must have known that the
attainment of this object was essential to the unity and stability of a
popular government.

The great enterprise was carried through with extraordinary rapidity
during his second tribunate. But the hastiness of the construction did
not impair the beauty of the work. We are told that the roads ran
straight and fair through the country districts, showing an even surface
of quarried stone and tight-packed earth. Hollows were filled up,
ravines and torrent beds were bridged, and mounting-blocks for horsemen
lay at short and easy distances on both sides of the level course.[659]
Although the initial expense of this construction may have borne heavily
on the finances of the State, it is probable that the future maintenance
of the roads was provided for in other ways. The commerce which they
fostered may have paid its dues at toll-gates erected for the
purpose:[660] and the ancient Roman device of creating a class of
settlers on the line of a public road, for the purpose of keeping it in
repair,[661] was probably extended. Road-making was often the complement
of agrarian assignation,[662] and the two may have been employed
concurrently by Gracchus. It was the custom to assign public land on the
borders of a highway to settlers, the tenure of which was secured to
them and their heirs on condition of keeping the road in due repair.
Sometimes their own labour and that of their slaves were reckoned the
equivalent of the usual dues; at other times the dues themselves were
used by the public authorities for the purpose. Gracchus may thus have
turned his agrarian law to an end which was not contemplated by that
of Tiberius.

The execution of the law must have been a heavy blow to the power and
prestige of the senate. Its control of the purse was infringed and it
ceased to be the sole employer of public labour. For Gracchus, in
defiance of the principle that the author of a measure should not be its
executant,[663] was his own road-maker, as his brother Tiberius had been
his own land commissioner. He was the patron of the contractor and the
benefactor of the Italian artisan. The bounties which he now gave were
the reward of labour, and not subject to the criticism which had
attended his earlier efforts for the relief of poverty in Rome; but some
pretended to take the sinister view that the bands of workmen by which
he was surrounded might be employed for a less innocent purpose than the
making of roads.[664].

The proceedings of Gracchus during his first year of office had made it
inevitable that he should hold the tribunate for a second time. Enough
had been performed to win him the ardent support of the masses; enough
had been promised to make his return to office desirable, not only to
the people, but to the expectant capitalists. The legal hindrances to
re-election had been removed, or could be evaded, and the continuity of
power, which was essential to the realisation of an adequate programme
of reform, could now for the first time be secured. In the present state
of public feeling there was little probability of the veto being
employed by any one of his future colleagues, although some of these
would inevitably be moderates or members of the senatorial party. But
Gracchus was eager that his cause should be represented in another
department of the State, which presented possibilities of assistance or
of mischief, and that the spectacle of the tribunate as the sole focus
of democratic sentiment, exalting itself in opposition to the higher
magistracies of the people, should, if possible, be averted. In one of
his addresses to the commons he said he had to ask a favour of them.
Were it granted, he would value it above all things; should they think
good to refuse, he would bear no grudge against them. Here he paused;
the favour remained undisclosed; and he left popular imagination to
revel in the possibilities of his claims. It was a happy stroke; for he
had filled the minds of his auditors with a gratifying sense of their
own boundless power, and with suspicions of illegal ambitions, with
which it was well that they should become familiar, but which one
dramatic moment would for the time dispel. His words were interpreted as
a request for the consulship: and the prevalent opinion is said to have
been that he desired to hold this office in combination with the
tribunate. The time for the consular elections was approaching and
expectation was roused to its highest pitch, when Gracchus was seen
conducting Gaius Fannius into the Forum and, with the assistance of his
own friends, accosting the electors in his behalf.[665] The candidate
was a man whose political temperament Caius had had full opportunities
of studying. As a tribune he had been much under the influence of Scipio
Aemilianus,[666] and as he rose slowly through the grades of curule
rank,[667] he must still have retained his character as a moderate. He
was therefore preferable to any candidate put forward by the optimates:
and the influence of Gracchus secured Fannius the consulship almost at
the moment when, without the trouble of a canvass or even of a formal
candidature, he himself secured his second term of office. His position
was further strengthened by the return of the ex-consul Fulvius Flaccus,
as one of his colleagues in the tribunate.

It was now, when the grand programme was actually being carried through,
and the execution of the most varied measures was being pressed on by a
single hand, that the possibilities of personal government were first
revealed in Rome. The fiery orator was less to be dreaded than the
unwearied man of action, whose restless energy was controlled by a
clearness of judgment and concentration of purpose, which could
distinguish every item of his vast sphere of administration and treat
the task of the moment as though it were the one nearest to his heart.
Even those who hated and feared Gracchus were struck with amazement at
the practical genius which he revealed; while the sight of the leader in
the midst of his countless tasks, surrounded by the motley retinue which
they involved, roused the wondering admiration of the masses.[668] At
one moment he was being interviewed by a contractor for public works, at
another by an envoy from some state eager to secure his mediation; the
magistrate, the artisan, the soldier and the man of letters besieged his
presence chamber, and each was received with the appropriate word and
the kindly dignity, which kings may acquire from training, but men of
kingly nature receive from heaven as a seal of their fitness to rule.
The impression of overbearing violence which had been given by his
speeches, was immediately dispelled by contact with the man. The time of
storm and stress had been passed for the moment, and in the fruition of
his temporary power the true character of Gracchus was revealed. The
pure intellectual enjoyment which springs from the sense of efficiency
and the effective pursuit of a long-desired task, will not be shaken by
the awkward impediments of the moment. All the human instruments, which
the work demands, reflect the value of the object to which they
contribute: and Gracchus was saved from the insolent pride of the
patrician ruler and the helpless peevishness of the mere agitator whom
circumstances have thrust into power, by the fact that his emotional
nature was mastered by an intellect which had outlived prejudice and had
never known the sense of incapacity. By the very character of its
circumstances the regal nature was forced into a style of life which
resembled and foreshadowed that of the coming monarchy. The
accessibility to his friends and clients of every grade was the pride of
the Roman noble, and doubtless Gracchus would willingly have modelled
his receptions on the informal pattern which sufficed the proudest
patrician at the head of the largest _clientèle_. But Gracchus's callers
were not even limited to the whole of Rome; they came from Italy and the
provinces: and it was found to be essential to adopt some rules of
precedence, which would produce a methodical approach to his presence
and secure each of his visitors an adequate hearing. He was the first
Roman, we are told, to observe certain rules of audience. Some members
of the crowd which thronged his ante-chamber, were received singly,
others in smaller or in larger groups.[669] It is improbable that the
mode of reception varied wholly with the official or social rank of
those admitted; the nature of the client's business must also have
dictated the secrecy or publicity of the interview; but the system must
have seemed to his baffled enemies a welcome confirmation of their real
or pretended fears--a symptom of the coming, if not actual, overthrow of
Republicanism, the suspicion of which might one day be driven even into
the thick heads of the gaping crowds, who stood by the portals to gaze
at the ever-shifting throng of callers and to marvel at the power and
popularity of their leader. Had Gracchus been content to live in the
present and to regard his task as completed, it is just possible that
the diverse interests which he had so dexterously welded together might
have enabled him to secure, not indeed a continuity of power (for that
would have been as strenuously resisted by the middle as by the upper
class), but immediate security from the gathering conspiracy, the
preservation of his life, and the probability of a subsequent political
career. It is, however, difficult, to conceive that the position which
Gracchus held could be either resigned or forgiven; and, although we
cannot credit him with any conscious desire for holding a position not
admitted by the laws, yet his genius unconsciously led him to identify
the commonwealth with himself, while his mind, as receptive as it was
progressive, would not have readily acquiesced in the view that a
political creation can at any moment be called complete. The
disinterested statesman will cling to power as tenaciously as one
devoured by the most sordid ambition: and even on the lowest ground of
personal security, the possession of authority is perhaps more necessary
to the one than to the other. So indissolubly blended are the power and
the projects of a leader, that it is idle to raise the question whether
personal motives played any part in the project with which Gracchus was
now about to delight his enemies and alienate his friends. He took up
anew the question of the enfranchisement of the Italians--a question
which the merest political tyro could have told him was enough to doom
the statesman who spoke even a word in its favour. But Caius's position
was no ordinary one, and he may have regarded his present influence as
sufficient to induce the people to accept the unpalatable measure, the
success of which might win for himself and his successors a wider
constituency and a more stable following. The error in judgment is
excusable in one who had never veiled his sympathy with the Italian
cause, and had hitherto found it no hindrance to his popularity; but so
clear-sighted a man as Gracchus must have felt at times that he was
staking, not only his own career, but the fate of the programme and the
party which he had built up, on the chance of securing an end, which had
ceased to be regarded as the mere removal of an obstacle and had grown
to be looked on as the coping-stone of a true reformer's work.

The scope of his proposal[670] was more moderate than that which had
been put forward by Flaccus. He suggested the grant of the full rights
of citizenship to the Latins, and of Latin rights to the other Italian
allies.[671] Italy was thus, from the point of view of private law, to
be Romanised almost up to the Alps;[672] while the cities already in
enjoyment of some or all of the private privileges of the Roman, were to
see the one anomaly removed, which created an invidious distinction
between them and the burgess towns, hampered their commerce, and
imperilled their landed possessions. The proposal had the further
advantage that it took account of the possible unwillingness of many of
the federate cities to accept the Roman franchise; such a refusal was
not likely to be made to the offer of Latin rights: for the Latin
community was itself a federate city with its own laws, magistrates and
courts, and the sense of autonomy would be satisfied while many of the
positive benefits of Roman citizenship would be gained. Grades of
privilege would still exist in Italy, and a healthy discontent might in
time be fostered, which would lead all Italian communities to seek
absorption into the great city. Past methods of incorporation might be
held to furnish a precedent; the scheme proposed by Gracchus was hardly
more revolutionary than that which had, in the third and at the
beginning of the second centuries, resulted in the conferment of full
citizenship on the municipalities of half-burgesses. It differed from it
only in extending the principle to federate towns; but the rights of the
members of the Latin cities bore a close resemblance to those of the old
_municipes_, and they might easily be regarded as already enjoying the
partial citizenship of Rome. The conferment of this partial citizenship
on the other Italians, while in no way destroying local institutions or
impairing local privileges, would lead to the possibility of a common
law for the whole of Italy, would enable every Italian to share in the
benefits of Roman business life, and appear in the court of the urban
praetor to defend such rights as he had acquired, by the use of the
forms of Roman law. The tentativeness of the character of Gracchus's
proposal, while recommending it as in harmony with the cautious spirit
of Roman development which had worked the great changes of the past, may
also have been dictated by the feeling that the more moderate scheme
stood a better chance of acceptance by the mob of Rome. All he asked was
that the grievances which had led to the revolt of Fregellae, and the
dangers revealed by that revolt, should be removed. The numbers of the
added citizens would not be overwhelming; for the majority of Italians
all that was asked was the possession of certain private rights, which
had been so ungrudgingly granted to communities in the past. Throughout
the campaign he probably laid more stress on the duty of protecting the
individual than on the right of the individual to power. And the fact
that the protection was demanded, not against the Roman State, but
against an oppressive nobility that disgraced it by a misuse of its
powers, gave a democratic colouring to the demand, and suggested a
community of suffering, and therefore of sympathy, between the donors
and recipients of the gift. Even before his franchise law was before the
world, he seems to have been engaged in educating his auditors up to
this view of the case; for it was probably in the speeches with which he
introduced his law for the better protection of the life of the Roman
citizen, that he illustrated the cruel caprice of the nobility by grisly
stories of the sufferings of the Italians. He had told of the youthful
legate who had had a cow-herd of Venusia scourged to death, as an answer

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