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

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might merely be assigned to settlers who were to belong to the existing
political organisations. It was the latter method of simple assignation
that Gracchus chose. There was felt to be no particular need for new
political creations; for the pacification of Italy seemed to be
accomplished, and the new farming class would perform their duty to the
State equally well as members of the territory of Rome or of that of the
existing municipia and coloniae of Roman citizens. There is some
evidence that the new proprietors were not all to be attached to the
city of Rome itself, but that many, perhaps most, were to be attributed
to the existing colonies and municipia, in the neighbourhood of which
their allotments lay.[342] The size of the new allotments which Gracchus
projected is not known; it probably varied with the needs and status of
the occupier, perhaps with the quality of the land, and there is some
indication that the maximum was fixed at thirty _jugera_.[343] This is
an amount that compares favourably with the two, three, seven or ten
_jugera_ of similar assignments in earlier times, and is at once a proof
of the decrease in the value of land--a decrease which had contributed
to the formation of the large estates--and of the large amount of
territory which was expected to be reclaimed by the provisions of the
new measure. The allotments thus assigned were not, however, to be the
freehold property of their recipients. They were, indeed, heritable and
to be held on a perfectly secure tenure by the assignees and their
descendants; but a revenue was to be paid to the State for their use:
and they were to be inalienable--the latter provision being a desperate
expedient to check the land-hunger of the capitalist, and to save the
new settlers from obedience to the economic tendencies of the

It is doubtful whether the social object of Gracchus could have been
fully accomplished, had he confined his attention wholly to the existing
citizens of Rome. The area of economic distress was wider than the
citizen body, and it was the salvation of Italy as a whole that Gracchus
had at heart.[345] There is much reason for supposing that some of the
Italian allies were to be recipients of the benefits of the
measure.[346] In earlier assignations the Latins had not been excluded,
and it is probable that at least these, whether members of old
communities or of colonies, were intended to have some share in the
distribution. There could be no legal hindrance to such participation.
With respect to rights in land, the Latins were already on a level with
Roman citizens, and their exclusion from the new allotments would have
been due to a mere political prejudice which is not characteristic
either of Gracchus or his plans.

The ineffectiveness of laws at Rome was due chiefly to the apathy of the
executive authority. Gracchus saw clearly that his measure would, like
other social efforts of the past, become a mere pious resolution, if its
execution were entrusted to the ordinary officials of the State.[347]
But a special commission, which should effectually carry out the work
which he contemplated, must be of a very unusual kind. The magnitude of
the task, and the impossibility of assigning any precise limit of time
to its completion, made it essential that the Triumvirate which he
established should bear the appearance of a regular but extraordinary
magistracy of the State. The three commissioners created by the bill
were to be elected annually by the Comitia of the Tribes.[348]
Re-election of the same individuals was possible, and the new magistracy
was to come to an end only with the completion of its work. Its
occupants, perhaps, possessed the Imperium from the date of the first
institution of the office; they certainly exercised it from the moment
when, as we shall see, their functions of assignment were supplemented
by the addition of judicial powers. Gracchus was doubtless led to this
new creation purely by the needs of his measure; but he showed to later
politicians the possibility of creating a new and powerful magistracy
under the guise of an agrarian law.

Such was the measure that seemed to its proposer a reasonable and
equitable means of remedying a grave injustice and restoring rather than
giving rights to the poor. He might, if he would, have insisted on
simple restitution. Had he pressed the letter of the law, not an atom of
the public domain need have been left to its present occupiers. The
possessor had no rights against the State; he held on sufferance, and
technically he might be supposed to be always waiting for his summons to
ejectment. To give such people something over and above the limit that
the laws had so long prescribed, to give them further a security of
tenure for the land retained which amounted almost to complete
ownership--were not these unexpected concessions that should be received
with gratitude? And even up to the eve of the polling the murmurs of the
opposition were sometimes met by appeals to its nobler sentiments. The
rich, said Gracchus, if they had the interests of Italy, its future
hopes and its unborn generations at heart, should make this land a free
gift to the State; they were vexing themselves about small issues and
refusing to face the greater problems of the day.[349]

But personal interests can never seem small, and the average man is more
concerned with the present than with the future. The opposition was
growing in volume day by day, and the murmurs were rising into shrieks.
The class immediately threatened must have been numerically small; but
they made up in combination and influence what they lacked in numbers.
It was always easy to startle the solid commercial world of Rome by the
cry of "confiscation". A movement in this direction might have no
limits; the socialistic device of a "re-division of land," which had so
often thrown the Greek commonwealths into a ferment, was being imported
into Roman politics. All the forces of respectability should be allied
against this sinister innovation. It is probable that many who
propagated these views honestly believed that they exactly fitted the
facts of the case. The possessors did indeed know that they were not
owners. They were reminded of the fact whenever they purchased the right
of occupation from a previous possessor, for such a title could not pass
by mancipation; or whenever they sued for the recovery of an estate from
which they had been ejected, for they could not make the plea before the
praetor that the land was theirs "according to the right of the
Quirites," but could rely only on the equitable assistance of the
magistrate tendered through the use of the possessory interdicts; or,
more frequently still, whenever they paid their dues to the Publicanus,
that disinterested middle-man, who had no object in compromising with
the possessors, and could seldom have allowed an acre of land to escape
his watchful eye. But, in spite of these reminders, there was an
impression that the tenure was perfectly secure, and that the State
would never again re-assert its lordship in the extreme form of
dispensing entirely with its clients. Gracchus might talk of
compensation, but was there any guarantee that it would be adequate,
and, even supposing material compensation to be possible, what solace
was that to outraged feelings? Ancestral homes, and even ancestral
tombs, were not grouped on one part of a domain, so that they could be
saved by an owner when he retained his five hundred _jugera_; they were
scattered all over the broad acres. Estates that technically belonged to
a single man, and were therefore subject to the operation of the law,
had practically ceased to confer any benefit on the owner, and were
pledged to other purposes. They had been divided as the _peculia_ of his
sons, they had been promised as the dowry of his daughters. Again those
former laws may have rightly forbidden the occupation of more than a
certain proportion of land; but much of the soil now in possession had
not been occupied by its present inhabitant; he had bought the right to
be there in hard cash from the former tenant. And think of the invested
capital! Dowries had been swallowed up in the soil, and the Gracchan law
was confiscating personal as well as real property, taking the wife's
fortune as well as the husband's. Nay, if the history of the public land
were traced, could it not be shown that such value as it now possessed
had been given it by its occupiers or their ancestors? The land was not
assigned in early times, simply because it was not worth assignation. It
was land that had been reclaimed for use, and of this use the authors of
its value were now to be deprived.[350]

Such was the plaint of the land-holders, one not devoid of equity and,
therefore, awakening a response in the minds of timid and sober business
men, who were as yet unaffected by the danger. But some of these found
their own personal interests at stake. So good had the tenure seemed,
that it had been accepted as security for debt,[351] and the Gracchan
attack united for once the usually hostile ranks of mortgagers and
mortgagees. The alarm spread from Rome to the outlying municipalities.
[352] Even in the city itself a very imperfect view of the scope of the
bill was probably taken by the proletariate. We may imagine the
distorted form in which it reached the ears of the occupants of the
country towns. "Was it true that the land which had been given them in
usufruct was to be taken away?" was the type of question asked in the
municipia and in the colonies, whether Roman or Latin. The needier
members of these towns received the news with very different feelings.
They had every chance of sharing in the local division of the spoils,
and their voices swelled the chorus of approval with which the poorer
classes everywhere received the Gracchan law. Amidst this proletariate
certain catch-words--well-remembered fragments of Gracchus's speeches--
had begun to be the familiar currency of the day. "The numberless
campaigns through which this land has been won," "The iniquity of
exclusion from what is really the property of the State," "The disgrace
of employing the treacherous slave in place of the free-born citizen"--
such was the type of remark with which the Roman working-man or idler
now entertained his fellow. All Roman Italy was in a blaze, and there
must have been a sense of insecurity and anxiety even in those allied
towns whose interest in Roman domain-land was remote. Might not State
interests be as lightly violated as individual interests by a sovereign
people: and was not the example of Rome almost as perilous as her action?

The opponents of Gracchus had no illusions as to the numerical strength
which he could summon to his aid. If the battle were fought to a finish
in the Comitia, there could be no doubt as to his triumphant victory.
Open opposition could serve no purpose except to show what a remnant it
was that was opposing the people's wishes. But there was a means of at
least delaying the danger, of staving off the attack as long as Gracchus
remained tribune, perhaps of giving the people an opportunity of
recovering completely from their delirium. When the college of tribunes
moved as a united body, its force was irresistible; but now, as often
before, there was some division in its ranks. It was not likely that ten
men, drawn from the order of the nobility, should view with equal favour
such a radical proposal as that of Tiberius Gracchus. But the popular
feeling was so strong that for a time even the unsympathetic members of
the board hesitated to protest, and no colleague of Tiberius is known to
have opposed the movement in its initial stages. Even the man who was
subsequently won over to the capitalist interest hesitated long before
taking the formidable step: It was believed, however, that the hesitancy
of Marcus Octavius was due more to his personal regard for Tiberius than
to respect for the people's wishes.[353] The tribune who was to scotch
the obnoxious measure was an excellent instrument for a dignified
opposition. He was grave and discreet, a personal friend and intimate of
Tiberius.[354] It is true that he was a large holder on the public
domain, and that he would suffer by the operation of the new agrarian
law. But it was fitting that the landlord class should be represented by
a landlord, and, if there had been the least suspicion of sordid
motives, it would have been removed by Octavius's refusal to accept
private compensation for himself from the slender means of Tiberius
Gracchus.[355] The offer itself reads like an insult, but it was
probably made in a moment of passionate and unreflecting fervour.
Neither the profferer nor the refuser could have regarded it in the
light of a bribe. Even when the veto had been pronounced, the daily
contest between the two tribunes in the Forum never became a scene of
unseemly recrimination. The war of words revolved round the question of
principle. Both disputants were at white heat; yet not a word was said
by either which conveyed a reflection on character or motive.[356]

These debates followed the first abortive meeting of the Assembly. As
the decisive moment approached, streams of country folk had poured into
Rome to register their votes in favour of the measure.[357] The Contio
had given way to the Comitia, the people had been ready to divide, and
Gracchus had ordered his scribe to read aloud the words of the bill.
Octavius had bidden the scribe to be silent;[358] the vast meeting had
melted away, and all the labours of the reformer seemed to have been in
vain. To accept a temporary defeat under such circumstances was in
accordance with the constitutional spirit of the times. The veto was a
mode of encouraging reflection; it might yield to a prolonged campaign,
but it was regarded as a barrier against a hasty popular impulse which,
if unchecked, might prove ruinous to some portion of the community.
Gracchus, however, knew perfectly well that it was now being used in the
interest of a small minority, and he held the rights which it protected
to be non-existent; he believed the question of agrarian reform to be
bound up with his own personality, and its postponement to be equivalent
to its extinction; he had no intention of allowing his own political
life to be a failure, and, instead of discarding his weapons of attack,
he made them more formidable than before. Perhaps in obedience to
popular outcries, he redrafted his bill in a form which rendered it more
drastic and less equitable.[359] It is possible that some of the
_douceurs_ given to the possessors by his original proposal were not
really in accordance with his own judgment. They were meant to disarm
opposition. Now that opposition had not been disarmed, they could be
removed without danger. The stricter measure had the same chance of
success or failure as the less severe. We do not know the nature of the
changes which were now introduced; but it is possible that the pecuniary
compensation offered for improvements on the land to be resumed was
either abolished or rendered less adequate than before.

But even the form of the law was unimportant in comparison with the
question of the method by which the new opposition was to be met. The
veto, if persisted in by Octavius, would suspend the agrarian measure
during the whole of Tiberius's year of office. It could only be
countered by a device which would make government so impossible that the
opposition would be forced to come to terms. The means were to be found
in the prohibitive power of the tribunes, that right, which flowed from
their _major potestas_, of forbidding under threat of penalties the
action of all other magistrates. It was now rarely used except at the
bidding of the senate and for certain specified purposes. It had become,
in fact, little more than the means of enforcing obedience to a
temporary suspension of business life decreed by the government. But
recent events suggested a train of associations that brought back to
mind the great political struggles of the past, and recalled the mode in
which Licinius and Sextius had for five years sustained their anarchical
edict for the purpose of the emancipation of the Plebs. The difference
between the conditions of life in primitive Rome and in the cosmopolitan
capital of to-day did not appeal to Tiberius. The Justitium was as
legitimate a method of political warfare as the Intercessio. He issued
an edict which forbade all the other magistracies to perform their
official functions until the voting on the agrarian law should be
carried through; he placed his own seals on the doors of the temple of
Saturn to prevent the quaestors from making payments to the treasury or
withdrawing money from it; he forbade the praetors to sit in the courts
of justice and announced that he would exact a fine from those who
disobeyed. The magistrates obeyed the edict, and most of the active life
of the State was in suspense.[360] The fact of their obedience showed
the overwhelming power which Tiberius now had behind him; for an
ill-supported tribune, who adopted such an obsolete method of warfare,
would have been unable to enforce his decrees and would merely have
appeared ridiculous. The opponents of the law were now genuinely
alarmed. Those who would be the chief sufferers put on garments of
mourning, and paced the silent Forum with gloom and despair written on
their faces, as though they were the innocent victims of a great wrong.
But, while they took this overt means of stirring the commiseration of
the crowd, it was whispered that the last treacherous device for
averting the danger was being tried. The cause would perish with the
demagogue, and Tiberius might be secretly removed. Confidence in this
view was strengthened when it was known that the tribune carried a
dagger concealed about his person.[361]

An attempt was now made to discover whether the pressure had been
sufficient and whether the veto would be repeated. Gracchus again
summoned the assembly, the reading of the bill was again commenced and
again stopped at the instance of Octavius.[362] This second
disappointment nearly led to open riot. The vast crowd did not
immediately disperse; it felt its great physical strength and the utter
weakness of the regular organs of government. There were ominous signs
of an appeal to force, when two men of consular rank, Manlius and
Fulvius,[363] intervened as peacemakers. They threw themselves at the
feet of Tiberius, they clasped his hands, they besought him with tears
to pause before he committed himself to an act of violence. Tiberius was
not insensible to the appeal. The immediate future was dark enough, and
the entreaties of these revered men had saved an awkward situation. He
asked them what they held that he should do. They answered that they
were not equal to advise on a matter of such vast import; but that there
was the senate. Why not submit the whole matter to the judgment of the
great council of the State? Tiberius's own attitude to this proposal may
have been influenced by the fact that it was addressed to his colleagues
as well as to himself,[364] and that they apparently thought it a
reasonable means of relieving the present situation. It is difficult to
believe that the man who had never taken the senate into his confidence
over so vital a matter as the agrarian law, could have had much hope of
its sympathy now. But his conviction of the inherent reasonableness of
his proposal,[365] of his own power of stating the case convincingly,
and his knowledge that the senate usually did yield at a crisis, that
its government was only possible because it consistently kept its finger
on the pulse of popular opinion, may have directed his acceptance of its
advice. Immediate resort was had to the Curia. The business of the house
must have been immediately suspended to listen to a statement of the
merits of the agrarian measure, and to a description of the political
situation which it had created. When the debate began, it was obvious
that there was nothing but humiliation in store for the leaders of the
popular movement. The capitalist class was represented by an
overwhelming majority; carping protests and riddling criticism were
heard on every side, and Tiberius probably had never been told so many
home truths in his life. It was useless to prolong the discussion, and
Tiberius was glad to get into the open air of the Forum again. He had
formed his resolution, and now made a proposal which, if carried
through, might remove the deadlock by means that might be construed as
legitimate. The new device was nothing less than the removal of his
colleague Octavius from office. He announced that at the next meeting of
the Assembly two questions would be put before the Plebs, the acceptance
of the law and the continuance by Octavius of his tenure of the
tribunate.[366] The latter question was to be raised on the general
issue whether a tribune who acted contrary to the interests of the
people was to continue in office. At the appointed time[367] Octavius's
constancy was again tested, and he again stood firm. Tiberius broke out
into one of his emotional outbursts, seizing his colleague's hands,
entreating him to do this great favour to the people, reminding him that
their claims were just, were nothing in proportion to their toils and
dangers. When this appeal had been rejected, Tiberius summed up the
impossibility of the situation in terms which contained a condemnation
of the whole growth and structure of the Roman constitution. It was not
in human power, he said, to prevent open war between magistrates of
equal authority who were at variance on the gravest matters of
state;[368] the only way which he saw of securing peace was the
deposition of one of them from office. He did not care in the present
instance which it was. The people would be the arbiter. Let his own
deposition be proposed by Octavius; he would walk quietly away into a
private station, if this were the will of the citizens. The man who
spoke thus had more completely emancipated himself from Roman formulae
than any Roman of the past. To Octavius it must have seemed a mere
outburst of Greek demagogism. The offer too was an eminently safe one to
make under the circumstances. On no grounds could it be accepted. At
this point the proceedings were adjourned to allow Octavius time for

On the following day Gracchus announced that the question of deposition
would be taken first, and a fresh and equally vain appeal was made to
the feelings of the unshaken Octavius.[369] The question was then put,
not as a vague and general resolution, but as a determinate motion that
Octavius be deprived of the tribunate. The thirty-five tribes voted, and
when the votes of seventeen had been handed up and proclaimed,[370] and
the voice of but one was Lacking to make Octavius a private citizen,
Tiberius as the presiding tribune stopped for a moment the machinery of
the election. He again showed himself as a revolutionist unfortunate in
the possession of a political and personal conscience. The people were
witnessing a more passionate scene than ever, one that may appear as the
last effort of reconciliation between the two social forces that were to
meet in terrible conflict. Gracchus's arms were round his opponent's
neck; broken appeals fell from his lips--the old one that he should not
break the heart of the people: the new one that he should not cause his
own degradation, and leave a bitter memory in the mind of the author of
his fall. Observers saw that Octavius's heart was touched; his eyes were
filled with tears, and for some time he kept a troubled silence. But he
soon remembered his duty and his pledge. Tiberius might do with him what
he would. Gracchus called the gods to witness that he would willingly
have saved his colleague from dishonour, and ordered the resumption of
the announcement of the votes. The bill became law and Octavius was
stripped of his office. It was probably because he declined to recognise
the legality of the act that he still lingered on the Rostra. One of the
tribunician _viatores_, a freedman of Gracchus, was commanded to fetch
him down. When he reached the ground, a rush was made at him by the mob;
but his supporters rallied round him, and Tiberius himself rushed from
the Rostra to prevent the act of violence. Soon he was lost in the crowd
and hurried unobserved from the tumult.[371] His place in the
tribunician college was filled up by the immediate election of one
Quintus Mummius.[372]

The members of the assembly that deposed Octavius may have been the
spectators and authors of a new precedent in Roman history, one that was
often followed in the closing years of the Republic, but one that may
have received no direct sanction from the records of the past. The
abrogation of the imperium of a proconsul had indeed been known,[373]
but the deposition of a city magistrate during his year of office seems
to have been a hitherto untried experiment. We cannot on this ground
alone pronounce it to have been illegal; for an act never attempted
before may have perfect legal validity, as the first occasion on which a
legitimate deduction has been made from admitted principles of the
constitution. It had always been allowed that under certain
circumstances (chiefly the neglect of the proper formalities of
election) a magistrate might be invited to abdicate his office; but the
fact of this invitation is itself an evidence for the absence of any
legal power of suspension. Tradition, however, often supplemented the
defects of historical evidence, and one, perhaps the older, tale of the
removal of the first consul Collatinus stated that it was effected by a
popular measure introduced by his colleague.[374] This story was a
fragment of that tradition of popular sovereignty which animated the
historical literature of the age of the Gracchi: and one deduction from
that theory may well have seemed to be that the sovereign people could
change its ministers as it pleased. It was a deduction, however, that
was not drawn even in the best period of democratic Athens; it ran
wholly counter to the Roman conception of the magistracy as an authority
co-ordinate with the people and one that, if not divinely appointed,
received at least something of a sacred character from the fact of
investiture with office. Even the prosecution of a magistrate for the
gravest crime, although technically permissible during his year of
office, had as a rule been relegated to the time when he again became a
private citizen; the tribunician college, in particular, had generally
thrown its protecting shield around its offending members, and had thus
sustained its own dignity and that of the people. But, even if it be
supposed that the sovereign could, at any moment and without any of the
due formalities, proclaim itself a competent court of justice, and even
though removal from office might be improperly represented as a
punishment, there was the question of the offence to be considered. No
crime known to the law had been charged against Octavius. In the
exercise of his admitted right, or, as he might have expressed it, of
his sacred duty, he had offended against the will of a majority. The
analogy of the criminal law was from this point of view hopeless, and
was therefore not pressed on this occasion. From another point of view
it was not quite so remote. The tumultuous popular assemblages that had,
on the bidding of a prosecuting tribune, often condemned commanders for
vague offences hardly formulated in any particular law, scarcely
differed, except in the fact that no previous magisterial inquiry had
been conducted, from the meeting that deposed Octavius. The gulf that
lies between proceedings in a parliament and proceedings in a court of
law, was far less in Rome than it would have been in those Hellenic
communities that possessed a developed system of criminal judicature.

If criminal analogies failed, a purely political ground of defence must
be adduced. This could hardly be based on considerations of abstract
justice, although, as we shall see, an attempt was made by Tiberius
Gracchus to give it even this foundation. Could it be based on
convenience? Obviously, as Gracchus saw, his act was the only effective
means of removing a deadlock created by a constitution which knew only
magistrates and people and had effectively crippled both. So far, it
might be defended on grounds of temporary necessity. But an act of this
kind could not die. To what consequences might not its repetition lead?
Imagine a less serious question, a less representative assembly. Think
of the possibility of a few hundred desperate members of the
proletariate gathering on the Capitoline hill and deposing a tribune who
represented the interests of the vast outlying population of Rome. This
is a consequence which, it is true, was not realised in the future. But
that was only because the tribunate was more than Gracchus conceived it,
and was too strong in tradition and associations of sanctity to be
broken even by his attack. The scruples which troubled him most arose
from the suspicion that the sacred office itself might have been held to
suffer by the deposition of Octavius, and it was to a repudiation of
this view that he subsequently devoted the larger part of his systematic
defence of his action.

At the same meeting at which Octavius was deposed, the agrarian bill was
for the first time read without interruption to the people and
immediately became law. Shortly after, the election of the commissioners
was proceeded with and resulted in the appointment of Tiberius Gracchus
himself, of his father-in-law Appius Claudius and of Gracchus's younger
brother Caius.[375] It was perhaps natural that the people should pin
their faith on the family of their champion; but it could hardly have
increased the confidence of the community as a whole in the wisdom with
which this delicate task would be executed, to find that it was
entrusted to a family party, one of which was a mere boy; and the
mistrust must have been increased when, somewhat later in the course of
the year, the thorny questions which immediately encompassed the task of
distribution led to the introduction by Tiberius of another law, which
gave judicial power to the triumvirs, for the purpose of determining
what was public land and what was private.[376] The fortunes of the
richer classes seemed now to be entrusted to one man, who combined in
his own person the tribunician power and the imperium, whose
jurisdiction must have seriously infringed that of the regular courts,
and who was assisted in issuing his probably inappellable decrees by a
father-in-law and a younger brother. But, although effective protest was
impossible, the senate showed its resentment by acts that might appear
petty and spiteful, did we not remember that they were the only means
open to this body of passing a vote of censure on the recent
proceedings. The senate controlled every item of the expenditure; and
when the commissioners appealed to it for their expenses, it refused a
tent and fixed the limit of supplies at a denarius and a half a day. The
instigator of this decree was the ex-consul Scipio Nasica, a heavy loser
by the agrarian law, a man of strong and passionate temper who was every
day becoming a more infuriated opponent of Tiberius Gracchus.[377]

Meanwhile the latter had celebrated a peaceful triumph which far
eclipsed the military pageants of the imperators of the past. The
country people, before they returned to their farms, had escorted him to
his house; they had hailed him as a greater than Romulus, as the
founder, not of a city nor of a nation, but of all the peoples of
Italy.[378] It is true that his escort was only the poor, rude mob.
Stately nobles and clanking soldiers were not to be seen in the
procession. But they were better away. This was the true apotheosis of a
real demagogism. And the suspicion of the masses was as readily fired as
their enthusiasm. A friend of Tiberius died suddenly and ugly marks were
seen upon the body. There was a cry of poison; the bier was caught up on
the shoulders of the crowd and borne to the place of burning. A vast
throng stood by to see the corpse consumed, and the ineffectiveness of
the flames was held a thorough confirmation of the truth of their
suspicions.[379] It remained to see how far this protective energy would
serve to save their favourite when the day of reckoning came.

Tiberius could hardly have shared in the general elation. To make
promises was one thing, to fulfil them another. Everything depended on
the effectiveness of the execution of the agrarian scheme; and, although
the mechanism for distribution was excellent, some of the material
necessary for its successful fulfilment was sadly lacking. There were
candidates enough for land, and there was sufficient land for the
candidates. But whence were the means for starting these penniless
people on their new road to virtue and prosperity to be derived? To give
an ardent settler thirty _jugera_ of soil and to withhold from him the
means of sowing his first crop or of making his first effort to turn
pasture into arable land, was both useless and cruel; and we may imagine
that the evicted possessors had not left their relinquished estates in a
very enviable condition. The doors of the Aerarium were closed, for its
key was in the hands of the senate; and Gracchus had to cast an anxious
eye around for means for satisfying the needs of his clients.

The opportunity was presented when the Roman people came into the
unexpected inheritance of Attalus the Third, king of Pergamon. The
testament was brought to Rome by Eudemus the Pergamene, whose first
business was with the senate. But, when Eudemus arrived in the city, he
saw a state of things which must have made him doubt whether the senate
was any longer the true director of the State. It sat passive and
sullen, while an energetic _prostates_ of the Greek type was doing what
he liked with the land of Italy. No sane ambassador could have refused
to neglect Gracchus, and it is practically certain that Eudemus
approached him. This fact we may believe, even if we do not accept the
version that the envoy had taken the precaution of bringing in his
luggage a purple robe and a diadem, as symbols that might be necessary
for a fitting recognition of Tiberius's future position.[380] It is also
possible that suspicion of the rule of senators and capitalists may also
have prompted the Greek to attempt to discover whether a more tolerable
settlement might not be gained for his country through the leader of the
popular party.[381] We cannot say whether Gracchus ever contemplated a
policy with respect to the province as a whole. His mind was probably
full of his immediate needs. He saw in the treasures of Attalus more
than an equivalent for the revenues enclosed in the locked Aerarium, and
he announced his intention of promulgating a plebiscite that the money
left by the king should be assigned to the settlers provided for by his
agrarian law.[382] It is possible that he contemplated the application
of the future revenues of the kingdom of Pergamon to this or some
similar purpose; and it was perhaps partly for this reason, partly in
answer to the objection that the treasure could not be appropriated
without a senatorial decree, that he announced the novel doctrine that
it was no business of the senate to decide the fate of the cities which
had belonged to the Attalid monarchy, and that he himself would prepare
for the people a measure dealing with this question.[383]

This was the fiercest challenge that he had yet flung to the senate.
There might be a difference of opinion as to the right of a magistrate
to put a question to the people without the guidance of a senatorial
decree; the assignment of land was unquestionably a popular right in so
far as it required ratification by the commons; even the deposition of
Octavius was a matter for the people and would avenge itself. But there
were two senatorial rights--the one usurped, the other created--whose
validity had never been questioned. These were the control of finance
and the direction of provincial administration. Were the possibility
once admitted that these might be dealt with in the Comitia, the
magistrates would cease to be ministers of the senate; for it was
chiefly through a system of judicious prize-giving that the senate
attached to itself the loyalty of the official class. There was perhaps
less fear of what Gracchus himself might do than of the spectre which he
was raising for the future. For in Roman history the events of the past
made those of the future; there were few isolated phenomena in its

From this time the attacks of individual senators on Gracchus became
more vehement and direct. They proceeded from men of the highest rank. A
certain Pompeius, in whom we may probably see an ex-consul and a future
censor, was not ashamed of raising the spectre of a coming monarchy by
reference to the story of the sceptre and the purple robe, and is said
to have vowed to impeach Gracchus as soon as his year of magistracy had
expired;[384] the ex-consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus, of Macedonian
fame, reproached Tiberius with his rabble escort. He compared the
demeanour of the father and the son. In the censorship of the former the
citizens used to quench their lights at night, as they saw him pass up
the street to his house, that they might impress the censorial mind with
the ideas of early hours and orderly conduct; now the son of this man
might be seen returning home amidst the blaze of torches, held in the
stout arms of a defiant body-guard drawn from the neediest classes.[385]
These arrows may have Missed the mark; the one that hit was winged by an
aged senator, Titus Annius Luscus, who had held the consulship twenty
years before. His wit is said to have been better established than his
character. He excelled in that form of ready altercation, of impaling
his opponent on the horns of a dilemma by means of some innocent
question, which, both in the courts and the senate, was often more
effective than the power of continuous oratory. He now challenged
Tiberius to a wager (_sponsio_), such as in the public life of Rome was
often employed to settle a disputed point of honour or of fact, to
determine the question whether he had dishonoured a colleague, who was
holy in virtue of his office and had been made sacrosanct by the laws.
The proposal was received by the senators with loud cries of
acclamation. A glance at Tiberius would probably have shown that Annius
had found the weak spot, not merely in his defensive armour, but in his
very soul. The deposition of Octavius was proving a very nemesis; it was
a democratic act that was in the highest degree undemocratic, an
assertion and yet a gross violation of popular liberty.[386] The
superstitious masses were in the habit of washing their hands and
purifying their bodies before they entered into the presence of a
tribune.[387] Might there not be a thrill of awe and repentance when the
idea was brought home to them that this holy temple had been violated:
and must not this be followed by a sense of repugnance to the man who
had prompted them to the unhallowed deed? Tiberius sprang to his feet,
quitted the senate-house and summoned the people. The majesty of the
tribunate in his person had been outraged by Annius. He must answer for
his words. The aged senator appeared before the crowd; he knew his
disadvantage if the ordinary weapons of comitial strife were employed.
In power of words and in repute with the masses he stood far behind
Tiberius. But his presence of mind did not desert him. Might he ask a
few questions before the regular proceedings began? The request was
allowed and there was a dead silence. "Now suppose," said Annius, "you,
Tiberius, were to wish to cover me with shame and abuse, and suppose I
were to call on one of your colleagues for help, and he were to come up
here to offer me his assistance, and suppose further that this were to
excite your displeasure, would you deprive that colleague of yours of
his office?" To answer that question in the affirmative was to admit
that the tribunician power was dead; to answer it in the negative was to
invite the retort that the _auxilium_ was only one form of the
_intercessio_. The quick-witted southern crowd must have seen the
difficulty at once, and Tiberius himself, usually so ready and bold in
speech, could not face the dilemma. He remained silent and dismissed the

But matters could not remain as they were. This new aspect of Octavius's
deposition was the talk of the town, and there were many troubled
consciences amongst the members of his own following. Something must be
done to quiet them; he must raise the question himself. The situation
had indeed changed rapidly. Tiberius Gracchus was on his defence. Never
did his power of special pleading appear to greater advantage than in
the speech which followed. He had the gift which makes the mighty
Radical, of diving down and seizing some fundamental truth of political
science, and then employing it with merciless logic for the illustration
or refutation of the practice of the present. The central idea here was
one gathered from the political science of the Greeks. The good of the
community is the only test of the rightness of an institution. It is
justified if it secures that end, unjustified if it does not: or, to use
the language of religion, holy in the one case, devoid of sanctity in
the other. And an institution is not a mere abstraction; we must judge
it by its use. We must, therefore, say that when it obeys the common
interest, it is right: when it ceases to obey it, it is wrong. But the
right must be preserved and the wrong plucked out. So Gracchus
maintained that the tribune was holy and sacrosanct because he had been
sanctified to the people's service and was the people's head. If then he
change his character and do the people wrong, cutting down its strength
and silencing its voice as expressed through the suffrage, he has
deprived himself of his office, for he has ceased to conform to the
terms on which he received it. Should we leave a tribune alone who was
pulling down the Capitolium or burning the docks? And yet a tribune who
did these things would remain a tribune, though a bad one. It is only
when a tribune is destroying the power of the people that he is no
longer a tribune at all. The laws give the tribune the power to arrest
the consul. It is a power given against a man elected by the people; for
consul and tribune are equally mandataries of the people. Shall not then
the people have the right of depriving the tribune of his authority,
when he uses this authority in a way prejudicial to the interests of the
giver? What does the history of the past teach us? Can anything have
been more powerful or more sacred than the ancient monarchy of Rome? The
Imperium of the king was unlimited, the highest priestly offices were
his. Yet the city expelled Tarquin for his crimes. The tyranny of a
single man was alone sufficient to bring to an end a government which
had its roots in the most distant past, which had presided over the very
birth of the city. And, if sanctity alone is to be the ground of
immunity, what are we to think of the punishment of a vestal virgin? Is
there anything in Rome more holy and awe-inspiring than the maidens who
tend and guard the eternal flame? Yet their sin is visited by the most
horrible of deaths. They hold their sacrosanct character through the
gods; they lose it, therefore, when they sin against the gods. Should
the same not be true of the tribune? It is on account of the people that
he is sacred; he cannot retain this divine character when he wrongs the
people; he is a man engaged in destroying the very power which is the
source of his strength. If the tribunate can justly be gained by a
favourable vote of the majority of the tribes, can it not with greater
justice be taken away by an adverse vote of all of them? Again, what
should be the limits of our action in dealing with sacred things? Does
sanctity mean immobility? By no means. What are more holy and inviolable
than things dedicated to the gods? Yet this character does not prevent
the people from handling, moving, transferring them as it pleases. In
the case of the tribunate, it is the office, not the man, that is
inviolable; it may be treated as an object of dedication and transferred
to another. The practice of our own State proves that the office is not
inviolable in the sense of being inalienable, for its holders have often
forsworn it and asked to be divested of it.[389]

The strongest part of this utterance was that which dealt with the
sacred character of office; it was a mere emanation from the performance
of certain functions; the protection, not the reality, of the thing.
Gracchus might have added that even a treaty might under certain
circumstances be legitimately broken. The weakest, from a Roman
standpoint or indeed from that of any stable political society, was the
identification of the permanent and temporary character of an
institution, the assumption that a meeting of the people was the people,
that a tribune was the tribune. How far the speech was convincing we do
not know; it certainly did not relieve Tiberius of his embarrassments,
which were now thickening around him.

Tiberius's success had been mainly due to the country voters. It is true
that he had a large following in the city; but this was numerically
inferior to a mass of urban folk, whose attitude was either indifferent
or hostile. They were indifferent in so far as they did not want
agrarian assignments, and hostile in so far as they were clients of the
noble houses which opposed Tiberius's policy. This urban party was now
in the ascendant, for the country voters had scattered to their
homes.[390] The situation demanded that he should work steadily for two
objects, re-election to the tribunate and the support of the city
voters. If, in addition to this support, he could hold out hopes that
would attract the great capitalists to his side, his position would be
impregnable. Hence in his speeches he began to throw out hints of a new
and wide programme of legislation.[391] There was first the military
grievance. Recent regulations, by the large decrease which they made in
the property qualifications required for service,[392] had increased the
liability to the conscription of the manufacturing and trading classes
of Rome. Gracchus proposed that the period of service should be
shortened--his suggestion probably being, not that the years of
liability to service (the seventeenth to the forty-sixth) should be
lessened, but that within these years a limited number of campaigns
should be agreed on, which should form the maximum amount of active
service for every citizen.[393] Two other proposals dealt with the
question of criminal jurisdiction. The first allowed an appeal to the
people from the decision of _judices_. The form in which this proposal
is stated by our authority, would lead us to suppose that the courts to
be rendered appellable were those constituted under standing laws. The
chief of these _quaestiones_ or _judicia publica_ was the court which
tried cases for extortion, established in the first instance by a Lex
Calpurnia, and possibly reconstituted before this epoch by a Junian
law.[394] A permanent court for the trial of murder may also have
existed at this time.[395] The judges of these standing commissions were
drawn from the senatorial order; and Gracchus, therefore, by suggesting
an appeal from their judgment to the people, was attacking a senatorial
monopoly of the most important jurisdiction, and perhaps reflecting on
the conduct of senatorial _judices_, as displayed especially in relation
to the grievances of distressed provincials. But it is probable that he
also meant to strike a blow at a more extraordinary prerogative claimed
by the senate, and to deny the right of that body to establish special
commissions which could decide without appeal on the life and fortunes
of Roman citizens.[396] So far his proposals, whether based on a
conviction of their general utility or not, were a bid for the support
of the average citizen. But when he declared that the qualification for
the criminal judges of the time could not be allowed to stand, and that
these judges should be taken either from a joint panel of senators and
knights, or from the senate increased by the addition of a number of
members of the equestrian order equal to its present strength, he was
holding out a bait to the wealthy middle class, who were perhaps already
beginning to feel senatorial jurisdiction in provincial matters irksome
and disadvantageous to their interests. We are told by one authority
that Gracchus's eyes even ranged beyond the citizen body and that he
contemplated the possibility of the gift of citizenship to the whole of
Italy.[397] This was not in itself a measure likely to aid in his
salvation by the people; if it was not a disinterested effort of
far-sighted genius, it may have been due to the gathering storm which
his experience showed him the agrarian commission would soon be forced
to meet.[398] Certainly, if all these schemes are rightly attributed to
Tiberius Gracchus, it was he more than any man who projected the great
programme of reform that the future had in store.

Unfortunately for Gracchus the time was short for nursing a new
constituency or spreading a new ideal. The time for the tribunician
elections was approaching, an active canvass was being carried on by the
candidates, and the aggrieved landowners were throwing the whole weight
of their influence into the opposite scale.[399] Wild rumours of his
plans were being circulated. The family clique that filled the agrarian
commission was to snatch at other offices; Gracchus's brother, a youth
still unqualified even for the quaestorship,[400] was to be thrust into
the tribunate, and his father-in-law Appius was destined for the
consulate.[401] Rome was to be ruled by a dynasty, and the tyranny of
the commission was to extend to every department of the State. Gracchus
felt that the city-combination against him was too strong, and sent an
earnest summons to his supporters in the country. But practical needs
were stronger than gratitude; the farmers were busy with their harvest;
and it was plain that on this occasion the man of the street was to have
the decisive voice. The result showed that even he was not unmoved by
Gracchus's services, and by his last appeal that a life risked on behalf
of the people should be protected by a renewed investiture with the

The day of the election arrived and the votes were taken. When they came
to be read out, it was found that the two first tribes had given their
voice for Gracchus. Then there was a sudden uproar. The votes were going
against the landlords; a legal protest must be made. Men rose in the
assembly, and shouted out that immediate re-election to the tribunate
was forbidden by the law. They were probably both right and wrong in
their protest, as men so often were who ventured to make a definite
assertion about the fluid public law of Rome. There was apparently no
enactment forbidding the iteration of this office, and appointment to
the tribunate must have been governed by custom. But recent custom seems
to have been emphatically opposed to immediate re-election, and the
appeal was justified on grounds of public practice.[403] It would
probably have been disregarded, had the Gracchan supporters been in an
overwhelming majority, or Gracchus's colleagues unanimous in their
support. But the people were divided, and the president was not
enthusiastic enough in the cause to risk his future impeachment.
Rubrius, to whom the lot had assigned the conduct of the proceedings on
that day, hesitated as to the course which he ought to follow. A bolder
spirit Mummius, the man who had been made by the deposition of Octavius,
asked that the conduct of the assembly should be handed over to him.
Rubrius, glad to escape the difficulty, willingly yielded his place; but
now the other members of the college interposed. The forms of the
Comitia were being violated; a president could not be chosen without the
use of the lot. The resignation of Rubrius must be followed by another
appeal to sortition. The point of order raised, as usual, a heated
discussion; the tribunes gathered on the Rostra to argue the matter out.
Nothing could be gained by keeping the people as the spectators of such
a scene, and Gracchus succeeded in getting the proceedings adjourned to
the following day.[404]

The situation was becoming more desperate; for each delay was a triumph
for the opposition, and could only strengthen the belief in the
illegality of Gracchus's claim. He now resorted to the last device of
the Roman; he ceased to be a protector and became a suppliant. Although
still a magistrate, he assumed the garb of mourning, and with humbled
and tearful mien begged the help of individuals in the market

He led his son by the hand; his children and their mother were to be
wards of the people, for he had despaired of his own life. Many were
touched; to some the tribunate of Gracchus seemed like a rift in a dark
cloud of oppression which would close around them at his fall, and their
hearts sank at the thought of a renewed triumph of the nobility. Others
were moved chiefly by the fears and sufferings of Gracchus. Cries of
sympathy and defiance were raised in answer to his tears, and a large
crowd escorted him to his house at nightfall and bade him be confident
of their support on the following day. During his appeals he had hinted
at the fear of a nocturnal attack by his foes: and this led many to form
an encampment round his house and to remain as its vigilant defenders
throughout the night.[406]

Before day-break he was up and engaged in hasty colloquy with his
friends. The fear of force was certainly present; and definite plans may
have been now made for its repulsion. Some even believed that a signal
for battle was agreed on by Gracchus, if matters should come to that
extreme.[407] With a true Roman's scruples he took the omens before he
left his house. They presaged ill. The keeper of the sacred chickens,
which Gracchus's Imperium now permitted him to consult, could get
nothing from the birds, even though he shook the cage. Only one of the
fowls advanced, and even that would not touch the food. And the unsought
omens were as evil as those invited. Snakes were found to have hatched a
brood in his helmet, his foot stumbled on the threshold with such
violence that blood flowed from his sandal; he had hardly advanced on
his way when crows were seen struggling on his left, and the true object
of the sign was pointed when a stone, dislodged by one of them from a
roof, fell at his own feet. This concourse of ill-luck frightened his
boldest comrades; but his old teacher, Blossius of Cumae, vehemently
urged the prosecution of the task. Was a son of Gracchus, the grandson
of Africanus, chief minister of the Roman people,[408] to be deterred by
a crow from listening to the summons of the citizens? If the disgrace of
his absence amused his enemies, they would keep their laughter to
themselves. They would use that absence seriously, to denounce him to
the people as a king who was already aping the luxury of the tyrant. As
Blossius spoke, men were seen running from the direction of the Capitol;
they came up, they bade him press on, as all was going well. And, in
fact, it seemed as if all might turn out brightly. The Capitoline
temple, and the level area before it, which was to be the scene of the
voting, were filled with his supporters. A hearty cheer greeted him as
he appeared, and a phalanx closed round him to prevent the approach of
any hostile element. Shortly after the proceedings began, the senate was
summoned by the consul to meet in the temple of Fides.[409] A few yards
of sloping ground was all that now separated the two hostile camps.[410]

The interval for reflection had strengthened the belief of some of the
tribunes that Gracchus's candidature was illegal, and they were ready to
support the renewed protests of the rich. The election, however, began;
for the faithful Mummius was now presiding, and he proceeded to call on
the tribes to vote. But the business of filing into their separate
compartments, always complicated, was now impossible. The fringe of the
crowd was in a continual uproar; from its extremities the opponents of
the measure were wedging their way in. As his supporters squared their
shoulders, the whole mass rocked and swayed. There was no hope of
eliciting a decision from this scuffling and pushing throng. Every
moment brought the assembly nearer to open riot. Suddenly a man was seen
at some distance from Tiberius gesticulating with his hand as though he
had something to impart. He was recognised as Fulvius Flaccus, a
senator, a man perhaps already known as a sympathiser with schemes of
reform. Gracchus asked the crowd immediately around him to give way a
little, and Fulvius fought his way up to the tribune. His news was that
in the sitting of the senate the rich proprietors had asked the consul
to use force, that he had declined, and that now they were preparing on
their own motion to slay Tiberius. For this purpose they had collected a
large band of armed slaves and retainers.[411] Tiberius immediately
imparted the news to his friends. Preparations for defence were hastily
made: an improvised body-guard was formed; togas were girt up, and the
staves of the lictors were broken into fragments to serve as clubs. The
Gracchans more distant from the centre of the scene were meanwhile
marvelling at the strange preparations of which they caught but
glimpses, and could be seen asking eager questions as to their meaning.
To reach these distant supporters by his voice was impossible; Tiberius
could but touch his forehead with his hand to indicate that his life was
in danger. Immediately a shout went up from the opposite side "Tiberius
is asking for the diadem," and eager messengers sped with the news to
the senate.[412] There was probably a knowledge that physical support
for their cause would be found in that quarter, and the exodus of these
excited capitalists was apparently assisted by an onslaught from the
mob. A regular tumult was brewing, and the tribunes, instead of striving
to preserve order, or staying to interpose their sacred persons between
the enraged combatants, fled incontinently from the spot. Their fear was
natural, for by remaining they might seem to be identifying themselves
with a cause that was either lost or lawless. With the tribunes vanished
the last trace of legality. The priests closed the temple to keep its
precincts from the mob. The more timorous of the crowd fled in wild
disorder, spreading wilder rumours. Tiberius was deposing the remaining
tribunes from office; he was appointing himself to a further tribunate
without the formalities of election.[413]

Meanwhile the senate was deliberating in the temple of Fides. In the old
days their deliberations might have resulted in the appointment of a
dictator, and one of the historians who has handed down the record of
these facts marvels that this was not the case now.[414] But the
dictatorship had been weakened by submission to the appeal, and long
before it became extinct had lost its significance as a means of
repressing sedition within the city. The Roman constitution had now no
mechanism for declaring a state of siege or martial law. From one point
of view the extinction of the dictatorship was to be regretted. The
nomination of this magistrate would have involved at least a day's
delay;[415] some further time would have been necessary before he had
collected round him a sufficient force in a city which had neither
police nor soldiers. Had it been decided to appoint a dictator, the
outrages of the next hour could never have occurred. As things were, it
seemed as though the senate had to choose between impotence and murder.
There was indeed another way. Such was the respect for members of the
senatorial order, that a deputation of that body, headed by the consul,
would probably have led to the dispersal of the mob. But passions were
inflamed and it was no time for peaceful counsels. The advocate of
summary measures was the impetuous Nasica. He urged the consul to save
the city and to put down the tyrant. He demanded that the sense of the
house should be taken as to whether extreme measures were now necessary.
Even at this time a tradition may have existed that a magic formula by
which the senate advised the magistrates "to see to it that the State
took no harm," [416] could justify any act of violence in an emergency.
The sense of the house was with Nasica, but a resolution could not be
framed unless the consul put the question. The answer of Scaevola was
that of a lawyer. He would commence no act of violence, he would put to
death no citizen uncondemned. If, however, the people, through the
persuasion or compulsion of Tiberius, should come to any illegal
decision, he would see that such a resolution was not observed. Nasica
sprang to his feet. "The consul is betraying the city; those who wish
the salvation of the laws, follow me." [417] With this he drew the hem
of his toga over his head,[418] and rushed from the door in the
direction of the Capitoline temple. He was followed by a crowd of
senators, all wrapping the folds of their togas round their left arms.
Outside the door they were joined by their retainers armed with clubs
and staves.[419]

Meanwhile the proceedings in the Area Capitolii had been becoming
somewhat less turbulent. The turmoil had quieted down with the exclusion
of the more violent members of the opposition. Gracchus had called a
Contio, for the purpose, it was said, of encouraging his supporters and
asserting his own constancy and defiance of senatorial authority. The
gathering had become a mere partisan mass meeting, such as had often
been seen in the course of the current year, and the herald was crying
"Silence," [420] when suddenly the men on the outskirts of the throng
fell back to right and left. A long line of senators had been seen
hastening up the hill. A deputation from the fathers had come. That must
have been the first impression: and the crowd fell back before its
masters. But in a moment it was seen that the masters had come to
chastise, not to plead. With set faces and blazing eyes Nasica and his
following threw themselves on the yielding mass. The unarmed senators
snatched at the first weapons that lay to hand, the fragments of the
shattered furniture of the meeting, severed planks and legs of benches,
while their retinue pressed on with clubs and sticks. The whole column
made straight for Tiberius and his improvised body-guard. Resistance was
hopeless, and the tribune and his friends turned to flee. But the idea
of restoring order occupied but a small place in the minds of the
maddened senators, The accumulated bitterness of a year found its outlet
in one moment of glorious vengeance. The fathers were behaving like a
Greek street mob of the lowest type which had turned against an
oppressive oligarchy. They were clubbing the Gracchans to death.
Tiberius was in flight when some one seized his toga. He slipped it off
and fled, clad only in his tunic, when he stumbled over a prostrate body
and fell. As he rose, a rain of blows descended on his head.[421] The
man who was seen to strike the first blow is said to have been Publius
Saturius, one of his own colleagues. The glory of his death was
vehemently disputed; one Rufus, since he could not claim the first blow,
is said to have boasted of being the author of the second. Tiberius is
said to have fallen by the very doors of the Capitoline temple, not far
from the statues of the Kings.[422] The number of his adherents that
perished was over three hundred, and it was noted that not one of these
was slain by the sword.[423] Their bodies were thrown into the
Tiber--not by the mob but by the magistrates; the hand of an aedile
committed that of Tiberius to the stream.[424]

The murder of a young man, who was still under thirty at the time of his
death,[425] and the slaughter of a few hundreds of his adherents, may
not seem to be an act of very great significance in the history of a
mighty empire. Yet ancient historians regarded the event as
epoch-marking, as the turning point in the history of Rome, as the
beginning of the period of the civil wars.[426] To justify this
conclusion it is not enough to point to the fact that this was the first
blood shed in civic discord since the age of the Kings;[427] for it
might also have been the last. Though the vendetta is a natural
outgrowth of Italian soil, yet masses of men are seldom, like
individuals, animated solely by the spirit of revenge. The blood of the
innocent is a good battle-cry in politics, but it is little more; it is
far from being the mere pretext, but it is equally far from being the
true cause, of future revolution. Familiarity with the use of force in
civic strife is also a fatal cause of its perpetuation; but familiarity
implies its renewed employment: it can hardly be the result of the first
experiment in murder. The repetition of this ghastly phenomenon in Roman
politics can only be accounted for by the belief that the Gracchan
_émeute_ was of its very nature an event that could not be isolated:
that Gracchus was a pioneer in a hostile country, and that his opponents
preserved all their inherent weakness after the first abortive
manifestation of their pretended strength. A bad government may be
securely entrenched. The senate, whether good or bad, had no defences at
all. Its weakness had in the old days been its pride. It ruled by
influencing opinion. Now that it had ceased to influence, it ruled by
initiating a riot in the streets. It had no military support except such
as was given it by friendly magistrates, and this was a dangerous weapon
which it hesitated to use. To ignore militarism was to be at the mercy
of the demagogue of the street, to admit it was found subsequently to be
equivalent to being at the mercy of the demagogue of the camp. In either
case authority must be maintained at the cost of civil war. But the
material helplessness of the senate was only one factor in the problem.
More fatal flaws were its lack of insight to discover that there were
new problems to be faced, and lack of courage in facing them. This moral
helplessness was due partly to the selfishness of individuals, but
partly also to the fixity of political tradition. In spite of the
brilliancy and culture of some of its members, the senate in its
corporate capacity showed the possession of a narrow heart and an
inexpansive intelligence. Its sympathies were limited to a class; it
learnt its new lessons slowly and did not see their bearing on the
studies of the future. Imperialism abroad and social contentment at home
might be preserved by the old methods which had worked so well in the
past. But to the mind of the masses the past did not exist, and to the
mind of the reformer it had buried its dead. The career of Tiberius
Gracchus was the first sign of a great awakening; and if we regard it as
illogical, and indeed impossible, to pause here and estimate the
character of his reforms, it is because the more finished work of his
brother was the completion of his efforts and followed them as
inexorably as the daylight follows the dawn.


The attitude of the senate after the fall of Gracchus was not that of a
combatant who had emerged secure from the throes of a great crisis. A
less experienced victor would have dwelt on the magnitude of the
movement and been guilty of an attempt at its sudden reversal. But the
government pretended that there had been no revolution, merely an
_émeute_. The wicked authors of the sedition must be punished; but the
Gracchan legislation might remain untouched. More than one motive
probably contributed to shape this view. In the first place, the
traditional policy of Rome regarded reaction as equivalent to
revolution. A rash move should be stopped in its inception; but, had it
gone a little way and yielded fruit in the shape of some permanent
organisation, it would be well to accept and, if possible, to weaken
this product; it would be the height of rashness to attempt its
destruction. The recognition of the _fait accompli_ had built up the
Roman Empire, and the dreaded consequences had not come. Why should not
the same be true of a new twist in domestic policy? Secondly, the
opposition of the senate to Gracchus's reforms was based far more
decidedly on political than on economic grounds. The frenzy which seized
the fathers during the closing act of the tribune's life, was excited by
his comprehensive onslaught on their monopoly of provincial, fiscal and
judicial administration. His attempt to annex their lands had aroused
the resentment of individuals, but not the hatred of a corporation. The
individual was always lost in the senate, and the wrongs of the
landowner could be ignored for the moment and their remedy left to time,
if political prudence dictated a middle course. Again, reflection may
have suggested the thought whether these wrongs were after all so great
or so irremediable. The pastoral wealth of Italy was much; but it was
little compared with the possibilities of enterprise in the provinces.
Might not the bait of an agrarian law, whose chances of success were
doubtful and whose operation might in time be impeded by craftily
devised legislation, lull the people into an acceptance of that
senatorial control of the foreign world, which had been so scandalously
threatened by Gracchus? There was a danger in the very raising of this
question; there was further danger in its renewal. A party cry seldom
becomes extinct; but its successful revival demands the sense of some
tangible grievance. To remove the grievance was to silence the
demagogue; what the people wanted was comfort and not power. And lastly,
the senate was not wholly composed of selfish or aggrieved land-holders.
Amongst the sternest upholders of its traditions there were probably
many who were immensely relieved that the troublesome land question had
received some approach to a solution. There are always men hide-bound by
convention and unwilling to move hand or foot in aid of a remedial
measure, who are yet profoundly grateful to the agitator whom they
revile, and profoundly thankful that the antics which they deem
grotesque, have saved themselves from responsibility and their country
from a danger.

It was with such mixed feelings that the senate viewed the Gracchan
_débâcle_. It was impossible, however, to accept the situation in its
entirety; for to recognise the whole of Gracchus's career as legitimate
was to set a dangerous precedent for the future. The large army of the
respectable, the bulwark of senatorial power, had not been sufficiently
alarmed. It was necessary to emphasise the fact that there had been an
outrageous sedition on the part of the lower classes. With this object
the senate commanded that the new consuls Popillius and Rupilius should
sit as a criminal commission for the purpose of investigating the
circumstances of the outbreak.[428] The commission was empowered to
impose any sentence, and it is practically certain that it judged
without appeal. The consuls, as usual, exercised their own discretion in
the choice of assessors. The extreme party was represented by Nasica.
Laelius, who also occupied a place on the judgment-seat, might have been
regarded as a moderate;[429] although, as popular sedition and not the
agrarian question was on its trial, there is no reason to suppose that a
member of the Scipionic circle would be less severe than any of his
colleagues in his animadversions on the wretched underlings of the
Gracchan movement whom it was his duty to convict of crime. It was in
fact the street cohort of Tiberius, men whose voices, torches and sticks
had so long insulted the feelings of respectable citizens, that seems to
have been now visited with the penalties for high treason; for no
illustrious name is found amongst the victims of the commission. On some
the ban of interdiction was pronounced, on others the death penalty was
summarily inflicted. Amongst the slain was Diophanes the rhetor; and one
Caius Villius, by some mysterious effort of interpretation which baffles
our analysis, was doomed to the parricide's death of the serpent and the
sack.[430] Blossius of Cumae was also arraigned, and his answer to the
commission was subsequently regarded as expressing the deepest villainy
and the most exalted devotion. His only defence was his attachment to
Gracchus, which made the tribune's word his law. "But what," said
Laelius "if he had willed that you should fire the Capitol?" "That would
never have been the will of Gracchus," was the reply, "but had he willed
it, I should have obeyed".[431] Blossius escaped the immediate danger,
but his fears soon led him to leave Rome, and now an exile from his
adopted as well as from his parent state, he could find no hope but in
the fortunes of Aristonicus, who was bravely battling with the Romans in
Asia. On the collapse of that prince's power he put himself to

The government may have succeeded in its immediate object of proving
itself an effective policeman. The sense of order may have been
satisfied, and the spirit of turbulence, if it existed, may have been
for the moment cowed. But the memory of the central act of the ghastly
tragedy on the Capitoline hill could not be so easily obliterated, and
the chief actor was everywhere received with lowered brows and
ill-omened cries.[433] It was superstition as well as hatred that
sharpened the popular feeling against Nasica. A man was walking the
streets of Rome whose hands were stained by a tribune's blood. He
polluted the city wherein he dwelt and the presence of all who met him.
The convenient theory that a mere street riot had been suppressed might
have been accepted but for the awkward fact that the sanctity of the
tribunate had been trodden under foot by its would-be vindicators. A
prosecution of Nasica was threatened; and in such a case might not the
arguments that vindicated Octavius be the doom of the accused? Popular
hatred finds a convenient focus in a single man; it is easier to loathe
an individual than a group. But for this very reason the removal of the
individual may appease the resentment that the group deserves. Nasica
was an embarrassment to the senate and he might prove a convenient
scapegoat. It was desirable that he should be at once rewarded and
removed; and the opportunity for an honourable banishment was easily
found. The impending war with Aristonicus necessitated the sending of a
commission to Asia, and Nasica was included amongst the five members of
this embassy.[434] There was honour in the possession of such a post and
wealth to be gained by its tenure; but the aristocracy had eventually to
pay a still higher price for keeping Nasica beyond the borders of Italy.
When the chief pontificate was vacated by the fall of Crassus in 130
B.C., the refugee was invested with the office so ardently sought by the
nobles of Rome.[435] He was forced to be contented with this shadow of a
splendid prize, for he was destined never to exercise the high functions
of his office in the city. He seems never to have left Asia and, after a
restless change of residence, he died near the city of Pergamon.[436]

The permanence of the land commission was the most important result of
the senate's determination to detach the political from the economic
consequences of the Gracchan movement.[437] But they tolerated rather
than accepted it. Had they wished to make it their own, every nerve
would have been strained to secure the three places at the annual
elections for men who represented the true spirit of the nobility. But
there was every reason for allowing the people's representatives to
continue the people's work. The commission was an experiment, and the
government did not wish to participate in possible failure; a seasonable
opportunity might arise for suspending or neutralising its activities,
and the senate did not wish to reverse its own work; whether success or
failure attended its operations, the task of the commissioners was sure
to arouse fears and excite odium, especially amongst the Italian allies;
and the nobility were less inclined to excite such sentiments than to
turn them to account. So the people were allowed year after year to
perpetuate the Gracchan clique and to replace its members by avowed
sympathisers with programmes of reform. Tiberius's place was filled by
Crassus, whose daughter Licinia was wedded to Caius Gracchus.[438] Two
places were soon vacated by the fall of Crassus in Asia and the death of
Appius Claudius. They were filled by Marcus Fulvius Flaccus and Gaius
Papirius Carbo.[439] The Former had already proved his sympathy with
Gracchus, the latter had Just brought to an end an agitating tribunate,
which had produced a successful ballot law and an abortive attempt to
render the tribune re-eligible. The personnel of the commission was,
therefore, a guarantee of its good faith. Its energy was on a level with
its earnestness. The task of annexing and distributing the domain land
was strenuously undertaken, and other officials, on whom fell the purely
routine function of enforcing the new limit of occupation, seem to have
been equally faithful to their work. Even the consul Popillius, one of
the presidents of the commission that tried the Gracchan rioters, has
left a record of his activity in the words that he was "the first to
expel shepherds from their domains and install farmers in their
stead".[440] The boundary stones of the commissioners still survive to
mark the care with which they defined the limits of occupied land and of
the new allotments; and the great increase in the census roll between
the years 131 and 125 B.C. finds its best explanation in the steady
increase of small landholders effected by the agrarian law. In the
former year the register had shown rather less than 319,000 citizens; in
the latter the number had risen to somewhat more than 394,000.[441] If
this increase of nearly 76,000 referred to the whole citizen body, it
would be difficult to connect it with the work of the commission, except
on the hypothesis that numerous vagrants, who did not as a rule appear
at the census, now presented themselves for assessment; but, when it is
remembered that the published census list of Rome merely contained the
returns of her effective military strength, and that this consisted
merely of the _assidui_, it is clear that a measure which elevated large
portions of the _capite censi_ to the position of yeoman farmers must
have had the effect of increasing the numbers on the register; and this
sudden leap in the census roll may thus be attributed to the successful
working of the new agrarian scheme.[442] A result such as this could not
have been wholly transitory; in tracing the agrarian legislation of the
post-Gracchan period we shall indeed find the trial of experiments which
prove that no final solution of the land question had been reached; we
shall see the renewal of the process of land absorption which again led
to the formation of gigantic estates; but these tendencies may merely
mark the inevitable weeding-out of the weaker of the Gracchan colonists;
they do not prove that the sturdier folk failed to justify the scheme,
to work their new holdings at a profit, and to hand them down to their
posterity. It is true that the landless proletariate of the city
continued steadily to increase; but the causes which lead to the
plethora of an imperial capital are too numerous to permit us to explain
this increase by the single hypothesis of a renewed depopulation of the
country districts.

The distribution of allotments, however, represented but the simpler
element of the scheme. The really arduous task was to determine in any
given case what land could with justice be distributed. The judicial
powers of the triumvirs were taxed to the utmost to determine what land
was public, and what was private. The possessors would at times make no
accurate profession of their tenure; such as were made probably in many
cases aroused distrust. Information was invited from third parties, and
straightway the land courts were the scene of harrowing litigation.[443]
It could at times be vaguely ascertained that, while a portion of some
great domain was held on occupation from the State, some other portion
had been acquired by purchase; but what particular part of the estate
was held on either tenure was undiscoverable, for titles had been lost,
or, when preserved, did not furnish conclusive evidence of the justice
of the original transfer. Even the ascertainment of the fact that a
tract of land had once belonged to the State was no conclusive proof
that the State could still claim rights of ownership; for some of it had
in early times been assigned in allotments, and no historical record
survived to prove where the assignment had ended and the permission of
occupation had begun. The holders of private estates had for purposes of
convenience worked the public land immediately adjoining their own
grounds, the original landmarks had been swept away, and, although they
had paid their dues for the possession of so many acres, it was
impossible to say with precision which those acres were. The present
condition of the land was no index; for some of the possessors had
raised their portion of the public domain to as high a pitch of
cultivation as their original patrimonies: and, as the commissioners
were naturally anxious to secure arable land in good condition for the
new settlers, the original occupiers sometimes found themselves in the
enjoyment of marsh or swamp or barren soil,[444] which remained the sole
relics of their splendid possessions. The judgments of the court were
dissolving ancestral ties, destroying homesteads, and causing the
transference of household gods to distant dwellings. Such are the
inevitable results of an attempt to pry into ancient titles, and to
investigate claims the basis of which lies even a few decades from the
period of the inquisition.

But, while these consequences were unfortunate, they were not likely to
produce political complications so long as the grievances were confined
to members of the citizen body. The vested interests which had been
ignored in the passing of the measure might be brushed aside in its
execution. Had the territory of Italy belonged to Rome, there would have
been much grumbling but no resistance; for effective resistance required
a shadow of legal right. But beyond the citizen body lay groups of
states which were interested in varying degrees in the execution of the
agrarian measure: and their grievances, whether legitimate or not,
raised embarrassing questions of public law. The municipalities composed
of Roman citizens or of half-burgesses had, as we saw, been alarmed at
the introduction of the measure, perhaps through a misunderstanding of
its import and from a suspicion that the land which had been given them
in usufruct was to be resumed. Possibly the proceedings of the
commission may have done something to justify this fear, for the limits
of this land possessed by corporate bodies had probably become very
ill-defined in the course of years. But, although a corporate was
stronger than an individual interest and rested on some public
guarantee, the complaints of these townships, composed as they were of
burgesses, were merely part of the civic question, and must have been
negligible in comparison with the protests of the federate cities of
Italy and the Latins. We cannot determine what grounds the Italian Socii
had either for fear or protest. It is not certain that land had been
assigned to them in usufruct,[445] and such portions of their conquered
territories as had been restored to them by the Roman State were their
own property. But, whether the territories which they conceived to be
threatened were owned or possessed by these communities, such ownership
or possession was guaranteed to them by a sworn treaty, and it is
inconceivable that the Gracchan legislation, the strongest and the
weakest point of which was its strict legality, should have openly
violated federative rights. When, however, we consider the way in which
the public land of Rome ran in and out of the territories of these
allied communities, it is not wonderful that doubts should exist as to
the line of demarcation between state territories and the Roman domain.
Vexed questions of boundaries might everywhere be raised, and the
government of an Italian community would probably find as much
difficulty as a private possessor in furnishing documentary evidence of
title. The fears of the Latin communities are far more comprehensible,
and it was probably in these centres that the Italian revolt against the
proceedings of the commission chiefly originated. The interests of the
Latins in this matter were almost precisely similar to those of the
Romans: and this identity of view arose from a similarity of status. The
Latin colonies had had their territories assigned by Roman
commissioners: and it is probable, although it cannot be proved, that
doubts arose as to the legitimate extent of these assignments in
relation to the neighbouring public land. Many of these territories may
have grown mysteriously at the expense of Rome in districts far removed
from the capital: and in Gaul especially encroachments on the Roman
domain by municipalities or individuals of the Latin colonies most
recently established may have been suspected. But the Latin community
had another interest in the question, which bore a still closer
resemblance to that shown by the Roman burgesses. As the individual
Latin might be a recipient of the favour of the commissioners, so he
might be the victim of their legal claims. The fact that he shared the
right of commerce with Rome and could acquire and sue for land by Roman
forms, makes it practically certain that he could be a possessor of the
Roman domain. So eager had been the government in early times to see
waste land reclaimed and defended, that it could hardly have failed to
welcome the enterprising Latin who crossed his borders, threw his
energies into the cultivation of the public land, and paid the required
dues. Many of the wealthier members of Latin communities may thus have
been liable to the fate of the ejected possessors of Rome; but even
those amongst them whose possessions did not exceed the prescribed limit
of five hundred _jugera_, may have believed that their claims would
receive, or had received, too little attention from the Roman
commission, while the difficulties resulting from the fusion of public
and private land in the same estates may have been as great in these
communities as they were in the territory of Rome. Such grievances
presented no feature of singularity; they were common to Italy, and one
might have thought that a Latin protest would have been weaker than a
Roman. But there was one vital point of difference between the two. The
Roman could appeal only as an individual; the Latin appealed as a member
of a federate state. He did not pause to consider that his grievance was
due to his being half a Roman and enjoying Roman rights. The truth that
a suzerain cannot treat her subjects as badly as she treats her citizens
may be morally, but is not legally, a paradox. The subjects have a
collective voice, the citizens have ceased to have one when their own
government has turned against them. The position of these Latins,
illogical as it may have been, was strengthened by the extreme length to
which Rome had carried her principle of non-interference in ail dealings
with federate allies. The Roman Comitia did not legislate for such
states, no Roman magistrate had jurisdiction in their internal concerns.
By a false analogy it could easily be argued that no Roman commission
should be allowed to disturb their peaceful agricultural relations and
to produce a social revolution within their borders. The allies now
sought a champion for their cause, since the constitution supplied no
mechanism for the direct expression of Italian grievances. The
complaints of individual cities had in the past been borne to the senate
and voiced by the Roman patrons of these towns. Now that a champion for
the confederacy was needed, a common patron had to be created. He was
immediately found in Scipio Aemilianus.[446]

The choice was inevitable and was dictated by three potent
considerations. There was the dignity of the man, recently raised to its
greatest height by the capture of Numantia; there was his known
detachment from the recent Gracchan policy and his forcibly expressed
dislike of the means by which it had been carried through; there was the
further conviction based on his recent utterances that he had little
liking for the Roman proletariate. The news of Gracchus's fall had been
brought to Scipio in the camp before Numantia; his epitaph on the
murdered tribune was that which the stern Hellenic goddess of justice
and truth breathes over the slain Aegisthus:--

So perish all who do the like again.[447]

To Scipio Gracchus's undertaking must have seemed an act of impudent
folly, its conduct must have appeared something worse than madness. In
all probability it was not the agrarian movement which roused his
righteous horror, but the gross violation of the constitution which
seemed to him to be involved in the inception and consequences of the
plan. Of all political temperaments that of the Moderate is the least
forgiving, just because it is the most timorous. He sees the gulf that
yawns at his own feet, he lacks the courage to take the leap, and sets
up his own halting attitude, of which he is secretly ashamed, as the
correct demeanour for all sensible and patriotic men. The Conservative
can appreciate the efforts of the Radical, for each is ennobled by the
pursuit of the impossible; but the man of half measures and
indeterminate aims, while contemning both, will find the reaction from
violent change a more potent sentiment even than his disgust at corrupt
immobility. Probably Scipio had never entertained such a respect for the
Roman constitution as during those busy days in camp, when the incidents
of the blockade were varied by messages describing the wild proceedings
of his brother-in-law at Rome. Yet Scipio must have known that an
unreformed government could give him nothing corresponding to his
half-shaped ideals of a happy peasantry, a disciplined and effective
soldiery, an uncorrupt administration that would deal honestly and
gently with the provincials. His own position was in itself a strong
condemnation of the powers at Rome. They were relying for military
efficiency on a single man. Why should not they rely for political
efficiency on another? But the latter question did not appeal to Scipio.
To tread the beaten path was not the way to make an army; but it was
good enough for politics.

Scipio did not scorn the honours of a triumph, and the victory of
Numantia was followed by the usual pageant in the streets.[448] He was
unquestionably the foremost man of Rome, and senate and commons hung on
his lips to catch some definite expression of his attitude to recent
events, or to those which were stirring men's minds in the present. They
had not long to wait, for a test was soon presented. When in 131 Carbo
introduced his bill permitting re-election to the tribunate, all the
resources of Scipio's dignified oratory were at the disposal of the
senate, and the coalition of his admirers with the voters whom the
senate could dispose of, was fatal to the chances of the bill.[449] Such
an attitude need not have weakened his popularity; for excellent reasons
could be given, in the interest of popular government itself, against
permitting any magistracy to become continuous, But his political
enemies were on the watch, and in one of the debates on the measure care
was taken that a question should be put, the answer to which must either
identify or compromise him with the new radicalism. Carbo asked him what
he thought about the death of Tiberius Gracchus. Scipio's answer was
cautious but precise; "If Gracchus had formed the intention of seizing
on the administration of the State, he had been justly slain." It was
merely a restatement of the old constitutional theory that one who aimed
at monarchy was by that very fact an outlaw. But the answer,
hypothetical as was its expression, implied a suspicion of Gracchus's
aims. It did not please the crowd; there was a roar of dissent. Then
Scipio lost his temper. The contempt of the soldier for the civilian, of
the Roman for the foreigner, of the man of pure for the man of mixed
blood--a contempt inflamed to passion by the thought that men such as he
were often at the mercy of these wretches--broke through all reserve. "I
have never been frightened by the clamour of the enemy in arms," he
shouted, "shall I be alarmed by your cries, ye step-sons of Italy?" This
reflection on the lineage of his audience naturally aroused another
protest. It was met by the sharp rejoinder, "I brought you in chains to
Rome; you are freed now, but none the more terrible for that!" [450] It
was a humiliating spectacle. The most respected man in Rome was using
the vulgar abuse of the streets to the sovereign people; and the man who
used this language was so blinded by prejudice as not to see that the
blood which he reviled gave the promise of a new race, that the mob
which faced him was not a crowd of Italian peasants, willing victims of
the martinet, that the Asiatic and the Greek, with their sordid clothes
and doubtful occupations, possessed more intelligence than the Roman
members of the Scipionic circle and might one day be the rulers of Rome.
The new race was one of infinite possibilities. It needed guidance, not
abuse. Carbo and his friends must have been delighted with the issue of
their experiment. Scipio had paid the first instalment to that treasury
of hatred, which was soon to prove his ruin and to make his following a
thing of the past.

Such was the position of Scipio when he was approached by the Italians.
His interest in their fortunes was twofold. First he viewed them with a
soldier's eye.[451] They were tending more and more to form the flower
of the Roman armies abroad: and, although in obedience to civic
sentiment he had employed a heavier scourge on the backs of the
auxiliaries than on those of the Roman troops before Numantia,[452] the
chastisement, which he would have doubtless liked to inflict on all, was
but an expression of his interest in their welfare. Next he admired the
type for its own sake. The sturdy peasant class was largely represented
here, and he probably had more faith in its permanence amongst the
federate cities than amongst the needy burgesses whom the commissioners
were attempting to restore to agriculture. He could not have seen the
momentous consequences which would follow from a championship of the
Italian allies against the interests of the urban proletariate; that
such a dualism of interests would lead to increased demands on the part
of the one, to a sullen resistance on the part of the other; that in
this mere attempt to check the supposed iniquities of a too zealous
commission lay the germ of the franchise movement and the Social War.
His protection was a matter of justice and of interest. The allies had
deserved well and should not be robbed; they were the true protectors of
Rome and their loyalty must not be shaken. Scipio, therefore, took their
protest to the senate. He respected the susceptibilities of the people
so far as to utter no explicit word of adverse criticism on the Gracchan
measure; but he dwelt on the difficulties which attended its execution,
and he suggested that the commissioners were burdened with an invidious
task in having to decide the disputed questions connected with the land
which they annexed. By the nature of the case their judgments might
easily appear to the litigants as tinged with prejudice. It would be
better, he suggested, if the functions of jurisdiction were separated
from those of distribution and the former duties given to some other
authority.[453] The senate accepted the suggestion, and its
reasonableness must have appealed even to the people, for the measure
embodying it must have passed the Comitia, which alone could abrogate
the Gracchan law.[454] Possibly some recent judgments of the
commissioners had produced a sense of uneasiness amongst large numbers
of the citizen body, and there may have been a feeling that it would be
to the advantage of all parties if the cause of scandal were removed.
Perhaps none but the inner circle of statesmen could have predicted the
consequences of the change. The decision of the agrarian disputes was
now entrusted to the consuls, who were the usual vehicles of
administrative jurisdiction. The history of the past had proved over and
over again the utter futility of entrusting the administration of an
extraordinary and burdensome department to the regular magistrates. They
were too busy to attend to it, even if they had the will. But in this
case even the will was lacking. Of the two consuls Manius Aquillius was
destined for the war in Asia, and his colleague Caius Sempronius
Tuditanus had no sooner put his hand to the new work than he saw that
the difficulties of adjudication had been by no means the creation of
the commissioners. He answered eagerly to the call of a convenient
Illyrian war and quitted the judgment seat for the less harassing
anxieties of the camp.[455] The functions of the commissioners were
paralysed; they seem now to have reached a limit where every particle of
land for distribution was the subject of dispute, and, as there was no
authority in existence to settle the contested claims, the work of
assignation was brought to a sudden close. The masses of eager
claimants, that still remained unsatisfied, felt that they had been
betrayed; the feeling spread amongst the urban populace, and the name of
Scipio was a word that now awoke suspicion and even execration.[456] It
was not merely the sense of betrayal that aroused this hostile
sentiment; the people charged him with ingratitude. Masses of men, like
individuals, love a _protégé_ more than a benefactor. They have a pride
in looking at the colossal figure which they have helped to create. And
had not they in a sense made Scipio? Their love had been quickened by
the sense of danger; they had braved the anger of the nobles to put
power into his hands; they had twice raised him to the consulship in
violation of the constitution. And now what was their reward? He had
deliberately chosen to espouse the cause of the allies and oppose the
interests of the Roman electorate. Scipio's enemies had good material to
work upon. The casual grumblings of the streets were improved on, and
formulated in the openly expressed belief that his real intention was
the repeal of the Sempronian law, and in the more far-fetched suspicion
that he meant to bring a military force to bear on the Roman mob, with
its attendant horrors of street massacre or hardly less bloody

The attacks on Scipio were not confined to the informal language of
private intercourse. Hostile magistrates introduced his enemies to the
Rostra, and men like Fulvius Flaccus inveighed bitterly against
him.[458] On the day when one of these attacks was made, Scipio was
defending his position before the people; he had been stung by the
charge of ingratitude, for he retorted it on his accusers; he complained
that an ill return was being made to him for his many services to the
State. In the evening Scipio was escorted from the senate to his house
by a crowd of sympathisers. Besides senators and other Romans the escort
comprised representatives of his new clients, the Latins and the Italian
allies.[459] His mind was full of the speech which he meant to deliver
to the people on the following day. He retired early to his sleeping
chamber and placed his writing tablet beside his bed, that he might fix
the sudden inspirations of his waking hours. When morning dawned, he was
found lying on his couch but with every trace of life extinct. The
family inquisition on the slaves of the household was held as a matter
of course. Their statements were never published to the world, but it
was believed that under torture they had confessed to seeing certain men
introduced stealthily during the night through the back part of the
house; these, they thought, had strangled their master.[460] The reason
which they assigned for their reticence was their fear of the people;
they knew that Scipio's death had not appeased the popular fury, that
the news had been received with joy, and they did not wish by invidious
revelations to become the victims of the people's hate. The fears of the
slaves were subsequently reflected in the minds of those who would have
been willing to push the investigation further. There was ground for
suspicion; for Scipio, although some believed him delicate,[461] had
shown no sign of recent illness. A scrutiny of the body is even said to
have revealed a livid impress near the throat.[462] The investigation
which followed a sudden death within the walls of a Roman household, if
it revealed the suspicion of foul play, was usually the preliminary to a
public inquiry. The duty of revenge was sacred; it appealed to the
family even more than to the public conscience. But there was no one to
raise the cry for retribution. He had no sons, and his family was
represented but by his loveless wife Sempronia. His many friends must
indeed have talked of making the matter public, and perhaps began at
once to give vent to those dark suspicions which down to a late age
clouded the names of so many of the dead man's contemporaries. But the
project is said to have been immediately opposed by representatives of
the popular party;[463] the crime, if crime there was, had been no
vulgar murder; a suspicion that violence had been used was an insult to
the men who had fought him fairly in the political field; a _quaestio_
instituted by the senate might be a mere pretext for a judicial murder;
it might be the ruse by which the nobles sought to compass the death of
the people's new favourite and rising hope, Caius Gracchus. Ultimately
those who believed in the murder and pined to avenge it, were
constrained to admit that it was wiser to avoid a disgraceful political
wrangle over the body of their dead hero. But, for the retreat to be
covered, it must be publicly announced by those who had most authority
to speak, that Scipio had died a natural death. This was accordingly the
line taken by Laelius, when he wrote the funeral oration which Quintus
Fabius Maximus delivered over the body of his uncle;[464] "We cannot
sufficiently mourn this death by disease" were words purposely spoken to
be an index to the official version of the decease. The fear of
political disturbance which veiled the details of the tragedy, also
dictated that the man, whom friends and enemies alike knew to have been
the greatest of his age, should have no public funeral.[465]

The government might well fear a scandalous scene--the Forum with its
lanes and porticoes crowded by a snarling holiday crowd, the laudation
of the speakers interrupted by gibes and howls, the free-fight that
would probably follow the performance of the obsequies.

But suppression means rumour. The mystery was profoundly enjoyed by this
and subsequent ages. Every name that political or domestic circumstances
could conveniently suggest, was brought into connection with Scipio's
death. Caius Gracchus,[466] Fulvius Flaccus,[467] Caius Papirius
Carbo[468] were all indifferently mentioned. Suspicion clung longest to
Carbo, probably as the man who had lately come into the most direct
conflict with his supposed victim; even Carbo's subsequent conversion to
conservatism could not clear his name, and his guilt seems to have been
almost an article of faith amongst the optimates of the Ciceronian
period. But there were other versions which hinted at domestic crime.
Did not Cornelia have an interest in removing the man who was undoing
the work of her son, and might she not have had a willing accomplice in
Scipio's wife Sempronia?[469] It was believed that this marriage of
arrangement had never been sanctioned by love; Sempronia was plain and
childless, and the absence of a husband's affection may have led her to
think only of her duties as a daughter and a sister.[470] People who
were too sane for these extravagances, but were yet unwilling to accept
the prosaic solution of a natural death and give up the pleasant task of
conjecture, suggested that Scipio had found death by his own hand. The
motive assigned was the sense of his inability to keep the promises
which he had made.[471] These promises may have been held to be certain
suggestions for the amelioration of the condition of the Latin and
Italian allies.

But it required no conjecture and no suspicion to emphasise the tragic
nature of Scipio's death. He was but fifty-six; he was by far the
greatest general that Rome could command, a champion who could spring
into the breach when all seemed lost, make an army out of a rabble and
win victory from defeat; he was a great moral force, the scourge of the
new vices, the enemy of the provincial oppressor; he was the greatest
intellectual influence in aristocratic Rome, embellishing the staid
rigour of the ancient Roman with something of the humanism of the Greek;
Xenophon was the author who appealed most strongly to his simple and
manly tastes; and his purity of soul and clearness of intellect were
fitly expressed in the chasteness and elegance of his Latin style. The
modern historian has not to tax his fancy in discovering great qualities
in Scipio; the mind of every unprejudiced contemporary must have echoed
the thought of Laelius, when he wrote in his funeral speech "We cannot
thank the gods enough that they gave to Rome in preference to other
states a man with a heart and intellect like this".[472] But the
dominant feeling amongst thinking men, who had any respect for the
empire and the constitution, was that of panic at the loss. Quintus
Metellus Macedonicus had been his political foe; but when the tidings of
death were brought him, he was like one distraught. "Citizens," he
wailed, "the walls of our city are in ruins." [473] And that a great
breach had been made in the political and military defences of Rome is
again the burden of Laelius's complaint, "He has perished at a time when
a mighty man is needed by you and by all who wish the safety of this
commonwealth." These utterances were not merely a lament for a great
soldier, but the mourning for a man who might have held the balance
between classes and saved a situation that was becoming intolerable. We
cannot say whether any definite means of escape from the brewing storm
was present to Scipio's mind, or, if he had evolved a plan, whether he
was master of the means to render it even a temporary success. Perhaps
he had meddled too little with politics to have acquired the dexterity
requisite for a reconciler. Possibly his pride and his belief in the
aristocracy as an aggregate would have stood in his way. But he was a
man of moderate views who led a middle party, and he attracted the
anxious attention of men who believed that salvation would not come from
either of the extremes. He had once been the favourite of the crowd, and
might be again, he commanded the distant respect of the nobility, and he
had all Italy at his side. Was there likely to be a man whose position
was better suited to a reconciliation of the war of jarring interests?
Perhaps not; but at the time of his death the first steps which he had
taken had only widened the horizon of war. He found a struggle between
the commons and the nobles; he emphasised, although he had not created,
the new struggle between the commons and Italy. His next step would have
been decisive, but this he was not fated to take.

When we turn from the history of the agrarian movement and its
unexpected consequences to other items in the internal fortunes of Rome
during this period, we find that Tiberius Gracchus had left another
legacy to the State. This was the idea of a magistracy which, freed from
the restraint of consulting the senate, should busy itself with
political reform, remove on its own initiative the obstacles which the
constitution threw in the path of its progress, and effect the
regeneration of Rome and even of Italy by means of ordinances elicited
from the people. The social question was here as elsewhere the efficient
cause; but it left results which seemed strangely disproportionate to
their source. The career of Gracchus had shown that the leadership of
the people was encumbered by two weaknesses. These were the packing of
assemblies by dependants of the rich, whose votes were known and whose
voices were therefore under control, and the impossibility of
re-election to office, which rendered a continuity of policy on the part
of the demagogue impossible. It was the business of the tribunate of
Carbo to remove both these hindrances to popular power. His first
proposal was to introduce voting by ballot in the legislative
assemblies;[474] it was one that could not easily be resisted, since the
principle of the ballot had already been recognised in elections, and in
all judicial processes with the exception of trials for treason. These
measures seem to have had the support of the party of moderate reform:
and Scipio and his friends probably offered no resistance to the new
application of the principle. Without their support, and unprovided with
arguments which might excite the fears or jealousy of the people, the
nobility was powerless: and the bill, therefore, easily became law. The
change thus introduced was unquestionably a great one. Hitherto the
country voters had been the most independent; now the members of the
urban proletariate were equally free, and from this time forth the voice
of the city could find an expression uninfluenced by the smiles or
frowns of wealthy patrons. The ballot produced its intended effect more
fully in legislation than in election; its introduction into the latter
sphere caused the nobility to become purchasers instead of directors;
but it was seldom that a law affected individual interests so directly
as to make a bargain for votes desirable. The chief bribery found in the
legislative assemblies was contained in the proposal submitted by the

Carbo's second proposal, that immediate and indefinite re-election to
the tribunate should be permitted, was not recommended on the same
grounds of precedent or reason. The analogies of the Roman constitution
were opposed to it, and the rules against the perpetuity of office which
limited the patrician magistracies, and made even a single re-election
to the consulship illegal,[475] while framed in support of aristocratic
government, had had as their pretext the security of the Republic, and
therefore ostensibly of popular freedom and control. Again, the people
might be reminded that the tribunate was not always a power friendly to
their interests, and that the veto which blocked the expression of their
will might be continued to a second year by the obstinate persistence of
a minority of voters. Excellent arguments of a popular kind could be,
and probably were, employed against the proposal. Certainly the
sentiment which really animated the opposition could have found little
favour with the masses, who ultimately voted for the rejection of the
bill. All adherents of senatorial government must have seen in the
success of the measure the threat of a permanent opposition, the
possibility of the rise of official demagogues of the Greek type,
monarchs in reality though, not in name, the proximity of a Gracchan
movement unhampered by the weakness which had led to Gracchus's fall. It
is easier for an electorate to maintain a principle by the maintenance
of a personality than to show its fervour for a creed by submitting new
and untried exponents to a rigid confession of faith. The senate knew
that causes wax and wane with the men who have formulated them, and it
had always been more afraid of individuals than of masses. Scipio's view
of the Gracchan movement and his acceptance of the cardinal maxims of
existing statecraft, prepare us for the attitude which he assumed on
this occasion. His speech against the measure was believed to have been
decisive in turning the scale. He was supported by his henchmen, and the
faithful Laelius also gave utterance to the protests of the moderates
against the unwelcome innovation. This victory, if decisive, would have
made the career of Caius Gracchus impossible--a career which, while it
fully justified the attitude of the opposition, more than fulfilled the
designs of the advocates of the change. But the triumph was evanescent.
Within the next eight years re-election to the tribunate was rendered
possible under certain circumstances. The successful proposal is said to
have taken the form of permitting any one to be chosen, if the number of
candidates fell short of the ten places which were to be filled.[476]
This arrangement was probably represented as a corollary of the ancient
religious injunction which forbade the outgoing tribunes to leave the
Plebs unprovided with guardians; and this presentment of the case
probably weakened the arguments of the opposition. The aristocratic
party could hardly have misconceived the import of the change. It was
intended that a party which desired the re-election of a tribune should,
by withdrawing some of its candidates at the last moment,[477] qualify
him for reinvestiture with the magistracy.

The party of reform were rightly advised in attempting to secure an
adequate mechanism for the fulfilment of a democratic programme before
they put their wishes into shape. That they were less fortunate in the
proposals that they formulated, was due to the fact that these proposals
were at least as much the result of necessity as of deliberate choice.
The agrarian question was still working its wicked will. It hung like an
incubus round the necks of democrats and forced them into most
undemocratic paths. The legacy left by Scipio had become the burdensome
inheritance of his foes. Italian claims were now the impasse which
stopped the present distribution and the future acquisition of land. The
minds of many were led to inquire whether it might not be possible to
strike a bargain with the allies, and thus began that mischievous
co-operation between a party in Rome and the protected towns in Italy,
which suggested hopes that could not be satisfied, led to open revolt as
the result of the disappointment engendered by failure, and might easily
be interpreted as veiling treasonable designs against the Roman State,
The franchise was to be offered to the Italian towns on condition that
they waived their rights in the public land.[478] The details of the
bargain were probably unknown, even to contemporaries, for the
negotiations demanded secrecy; but it is clear that the arrangements
must have been at once general and complex; for no organisation is
likely to have existed that could bind each Italian township to the
agreement, nor could any town have undertaken to prejudice all the
varying rights of its individual citizens. When the Italians eagerly
accepted the offer, a pledge must have been got from their leading men
that the local governments would not press their claims to the disputed
land as an international question; for it was under this aspect that the
dispute presented the gravest difficulties. The commons of these states
might be comforted by the assurance that, when they had become Roman
citizens, they would themselves be entitled to share in the
assignations. These negotiations, which may have extended over two or
three years, ended by bringing crowds of Italians to Rome. They had no
votes; but the moral influence of their presence was very great. They
could applaud or hiss the speakers in the informal gatherings of the
Contio; it was not impossible that in the last resort they might lend
physical aid to that section of the democrats which had advocated their
cause. It might even have been possible to manufacture votes for some of
these immigrants. A Latin domiciled in Rome always enjoyed a limited
suffrage in the Comitia, and a pretended domicile might easily be
invented for a temporary resident. Nor was it even certain that the
wholly unqualified foreigner might not give a surreptitious vote; for
the president of the assembly was the man interested in the passing of
the bill, and his subordinates might be instructed not to submit the
qualifications of the voters to too strict a scrutiny. It was under
these circumstances that the senate resorted to the device, rare but not
unprecedented, of an alien act. Following its instructions, the tribune
Marcus Junius Pennus introduced a proposal that foreigners should be
excluded from the city.[479] We know nothing of the wording of the act.
It may have made no specific mention of Italians, and its operation was
presumably limited to strangers not domiciled before a certain date.
But, like all similar provisions, it must have contained further
limitations, for it is inconceivable that the foreign trader, engaged in
legitimate business, was hustled summarily from the city. But, however
limited its scope, its end was clear: and the fact that it passed the
Comitia shows that the franchise movement was by no means wholly
popular. A crowd is not so easy of conversion as an individual. Recent
events must have caused large numbers of the urban proletariate to hate
the very name of the Italians, and the idea of sharing the privileges of
empire with the foreigner must already have been distasteful to the
average Roman mind. It was in vain that Caius Gracchus, to whom the
suggestion of his brother was already becoming a precept, tried to
emphasise the political ruin which the spirit of exclusiveness had
brought to cities of the past.[480] The appeal to history and to nobler
motives must have fallen on deaf ears. It is possible, however, that the
personality of the speaker might have been of some avail, had he been
ably supported, and had the people seen all their leaders united on the
question of the day. But there is reason for supposing that serious
differences of opinion existed amongst these leaders as to the wisdom of
the move. Some may have held that the party of reform had merely drifted
in this direction, that the proposal for enfranchisement had never been
considered on its own merits, and that they had no mandate from the
people for purchasing land at this costly price. It may have been at
this time that Carbo first showed his dissatisfaction with the party, of
which he had almost been the accepted leader. If he declined to
accompany his colleagues on this new and untried path, the first step in
his conversion to the party of the optimates betrays no inconsistency
with his former attitude; for he could maintain with justice that the
proposal for enfranchising Italy was not a popular measure either in
spirit or in fact.

It was, therefore, with more than doubtful chances of success that
Fulvius Flaccus, who was consul in the following year, attempted to
bring the question to an issue by an actual proposal of citizenship for
the allies. The details of his scheme of enfranchisement have been very
imperfectly preserved.[481] We are unaware whether, like Caius Gracchus
some three years later, he proposed to endow the Latins with higher
privileges than the other allies: and, although he contemplated the
non-acceptance of Roman citizenship by some of the allied communities,
since he offered these cities the right of appeal to the people as a
substitute for the status which they declined, we do not know whether
his bill granted citizenship at once to all accepting states, or merely
opened a way for a request for this right to come from individual cities
to the Roman people. But it is probable that the bill in some way
asserted the willingness of the people to confer the franchise, and
that, if any other steps were involved in the method of conferment, they
were little more than formal. The fact that the _provocatio_ was
contemplated as a substitute for citizenship is at once a proof that the
old spirit of state life, which viewed absorption as extermination, was
known still to be strong in some of the Italian communes, and that many
of the individual Italians were believed to value the citizenship mainly
as a means of protecting their persons against Roman officialdom. That
the democratic party was strong at the moment when this proposal was
given to the world is shown by the fact that Flaccus filled the
consulship; that it had little sympathy with his scheme is proved by the
isolation of the proposer and by the manner in which the senate was
allowed to intervene. The conferment of the franchise had been proved to
be essentially a popular prerogative;[482] the consultation of the
senate on such a point might be advisable, but was by no means
necessary; for, in spite of the ruling theory that the authority of the
senate should be respected in all matters of legislation, the complex
Roman constitution recognised shades of difference, determined by the
quality of the particular proposal, with respect to the observance of
this rule. The position of Flaccus was legally stronger than that of
Tiberius Gracchus had been. Had he been well supported by men of
influence or by the masses, the senate's judgment might have been set at
naught. But the people were cold, Carbo had probably turned away, and
Caius Gracchus had gone as quaestor to Sardinia. The senate was
emboldened to adopt a firm attitude. They invited the consul to take
them into his confidence. After much delay he entered the senate house;
but a stubborn silence was his only answer to the admonitions and
entreaties of the fathers that he would desist from his purpose.[483]
Flaccus knew the futility of arguing with people who had adopted a
foregone conclusion; he would not even deign to accept a graceful
retreat from an impossible position. The matter must be dropped; but to
withdraw it at the exhortation of the senate, although complimentary to
his peers and perhaps not unpleasing even to the people in their present
humour, would prejudice the chances of the future. In view of better
days it was wiser to shelve than to discard the measure. His attitude
may also have been influenced by pledges made to the allies; to these,
helpless as he was, he would yet be personally faithful. His fidelity
would have been put to a severe test had he remained in Italy; but the
supreme magistrate at Rome had always a refuge from a perplexing
situation. The voice of duty called him abroad,[484] and Flaccus set
forth to shelter Massilia from the Salluvii and to build up the Roman
power in Transalpine Gaul.[485] Perhaps only a few of the leading
democrats had knowledge enough to suspect the terrible consequences that
might be involved in the failure of the proposal for conferring the
franchise. To the senate and the Roman world they must have caused as
much astonishment as alarm. It could never have been dreamed that the
well-knit confederacy, which had known no spontaneous revolt since the
rising of Falerii in the middle of the third century, could again be
disturbed by internal war. Now the very centre of this confederacy, that
loyal nucleus which had been unshaken by the victories of Hannibal, was
to be the scene of an insurrection, the product of hope long deferred,
of expectations recently kindled by injudicious promises, of resentment
at Pennus's success and Flaccus's failure. Fregellae, the town which
assumed the lead in the movement and either through overhaste or faulty
information alone took the fatal step,[486] was a Latin colony which had
been planted by Rome in the territory of the Volsci in the year 328
B.C.[487] The position of the town had ensured its prosperity even
before it fell into the hands of Rome. It lay on the Liris in a rich
vine-growing country, and within that circle of Latin and Campanian
states, which had now become the industrial centre of Italy. It was
itself the centre of the group of Latin colonies that lay as bulwarks of
Rome between the Appian and Latin roads, and had in the Hannibalic war
been chosen as the mouthpiece of the eighteen faithful cities, when
twelve of the Latin states grew weary of their burdens and wavered in
their allegiance.[488] The importance of the city was manifest and of
long-standing, its self-esteem was doubtless great, and it perhaps
considered that its signal services had been inadequately recompensed by
Rome. But its peculiar grievances are unknown, or the particular reasons
which gave Roman citizenship such an excessive value in its eyes. It is
possible that its thriving farmer class had been angered by the agrarian
commission and by undue demands for military service, and, in spite of
the commercial equality with the Romans which they enjoyed in virtue of
their Latin rights, they may have compared their position unfavourably
with that of communities in the neighbourhood which had received the
Roman franchise in full. Towns like Arpinum, Fundi and Formiae had been
admitted to the citizen body without forfeiting their self-government.
Absorption need not now entail the almost penal consequences of the
dissolution of the constitution; while the possession of citizenship
ensured the right of appeal and a full participation in the religious
festivals and the amenities of the capital. It is also possible that, in
the case of a prosperous industrial and agricultural community situated
actually within Latium, the desire for actively participating in the
decisions of the sovereign people may have played its part. But
sentiment probably had in its councils as large a share as reason: and
the fact that this sentiment led to premature action, and that the fall
of the state was due to treason, may lead as to suppose that the Romans
had to deal with a divided people and that one section of the community,
perhaps represented by the upper or official class, although it may have
sympathised with the general desire for the attainment of the franchise,
was by no means prepared to stake the ample fortunes of the town on the
doubtful chance of successful rebellion. A prolonged resistance of the
citizens within their walls might have given the impulse to a general
rising of the Latins. Had Fregellae played the part of a second
Numantia, the Social War might have been anticipated by thirty-five
years. But the advantage to be gained from time was foiled by treason. A
certain Numitorius Pullus betrayed the state to the praetor Lucius
Opimius, who had been sent with an army from Rome. Had Fregellae stood
alone, it might have been spared; but it was felt that some extreme
measure either of concession or of terrorism was necessary to keep
discontent from assuming the same fiery form in other communities. In
the later war with the allies a greater danger was bought off by
concession. But there the disease had run its course; here it was met in
its earliest stage, and the familiar devise of excision was felt to be
the true remedy. The principle of the "awful warning," which Alexander
had applied to Thebes and Rome to Corinth, doomed the greatest of the
Latin cities to destruction. Regardless of the past services of
Fregellae and of the fact that the passion for the franchise was the
most indubitable sign of the loyalty of the town, the government ordered
that the walls of the surrendered city should be razed and that the town
should become a mere open village undistinguished by any civic
privilege.[489] A portion of its territory was during the next year
employed for the foundation of the citizen colony of Fabrateria.[490]
The new settlement was the typical Roman garrison in a disaffected
country. But it proved the weakness of the present régime that such a
crude and antiquated method should have to be employed in the heart of
Latium. Security, however, was perhaps not the sole object of the
foundation. The confiscated land of Fregellae was a boon to a government
sadly in need of popularity at home.

An excellent opportunity was now offered for impressing the people with
the enormity of the offence that had been committed by some of their
leaders, and prosecutions were directed against the men who had been
foremost in support of the movement for extending the franchise. It was
pretended that they had suggested designs as well as kindled hopes. The
fate of the lesser advocates of the Italian cause is unknown; but Caius
Gracchus, against whom an indictment was directed, cleared his name of
all complicity in the movement.[491] The effect of these measures of
suppression was not to improve matters for the future. The allies were
burdened with a new and bitter memory; their friends at Rome were
furnished with a new cause for resentment. If the Roman people continued
selfish and apathetic, a leader might arise who would find the Italians
a better support for his position than the Roman mob. If he did not
arise or if he failed, the sole but certain arbitrament was that of
the sword.

The foreign activity of Rome during this period did not reflect the
troubled spirit of the capital. It was of little moment that petty wars
were being waged in East and West, and that bulletins sometimes brought
news of a general's defeat. Rome was accustomed to these things; and her
efforts were still marked by their usual characteristics of steady
expansion and decorous success. To predicate failure of her foreign
activity for this period is to predicate it for all her history, for
never was an empire more slowly won or more painfully preserved. It is
true that at the commencement of this epoch an imperialist might have
been justified in taking a gloomy view of the situation. In Spain
Numantia was inflicting more injury on Roman prestige than on Roman
power, while the long and harassing slave-war was devastating Sicily.
But these perils were ultimately overcome, and meanwhile circumstances
had led to the first extension of provincial rule over the wealthy East.

The kingdom of Pergamon had long been the mainstay of Rome's influence
in the Orient. Her contact with the other protected princedoms was
distant and fitful; but as long as her mandates could be issued through
this faithful vassal, and he could rely on her whole-hearted support in
making or meeting aggressions, the balance of power in the East was
tolerably secure. It had been necessary to make Eumenes the Second see
that he was wholly in the power of Rome, her vassal and not her ally. He
had been rewarded and strengthened, not for his own deserts, but that he
might be fitted to become the policeman of Western Asia, and it had been
successfully shown that the hand which gave could also take away. The
lesson was learnt by the Pergamene power, and fortunately the dynasty
was too short-lived for a king to arise who should forget the crushing
display of Roman power which had followed the Third Macedonian War, or
for the realisation of that greater danger of a protectorate--a struggle
for the throne which should lead one of the pretenders to appeal to a
national sentiment and embark on a national war. Eumenes at his death
had left a direct successor in the person of his son Attalus, who had
been born to him by his wife Stratonice, the daughter of Ariarathes King
of Cappadocia.[492] But Attalus was a mere boy at the time of his
father's death, and the choice of a guardian was of vital importance for
the fortunes of the monarchy. Every consideration pointed to the uncle
of the heir, and in the strong hands of Attalus the Second the regency
became practically a monarchy.[493] The new ruler was a man of more than
middle age, of sober judgment, and deeply versed in all the mysteries of
kingcraft; for a mutual trust, rare amongst royal brethren in the East,
had led Eumenes to treat him more as a colleague than as a lieutenant.
He had none of the insane ambition which sees in the diadem the good to
which all other blessings may be fitly sacrificed, and had resisted the
invitation of a Roman coterie that he should thrust his suspected
brother from the throne and reign himself as the acknowledged favourite
of Rome. In the case of Attalus familiarity with the suzerain power had
not bred contempt. He had served with Manlius in Galatia[494] and with
Paulus in Macedonia,[495] and had been sent at least five times as envoy
to the capital itself.[496] The change from a private station to a
throne did not alter his conviction that the best interests of his
country would be served by a steady adherence to the power, whose
marvellous development to be the mainspring of Eastern politics was a
miracle which he had witnessed with his own eyes. He had grasped the
essentials of the Roman character sufficiently to see that this was not
one of the temporary waves of conquest that had so often swept over the
unchangeable East and spent their strength in the very violence of their
flow, nor did he commit the error of mistaking self-restraint for
weakness. Monarchs like himself were the necessary substitute for the
dominion which the conquering State had been strong enough to spurn; and
he threw himself zealously into the task of forwarding the designs of
Rome in the dynastic struggles of the neighbouring nations. He helped to
restore Ariarathes the Fifth to his kingdom of Cappadocia,[497] and
appealed to Rome against the aggressions of Prusias the Second of
Bithynia. He was saved by the decisive intervention of the senate, but

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