EPOCHS OF ANCIENT HISTORY
* * * * *
THE GRACCHI MARIUS AND SULLA
It would be scarcely possible for anyone writing on the period embraced in this volume, to perform his task adequately without making himself familiar with Mr. Long's 'History of the Decline of the Roman Republic' and Mommsen's 'History of Rome.' To do over again (as though the work had never been attempted) what has been done once for all accurately and well, would be mere prudery of punctiliousness. But while I acknowledge my debt of gratitude to both these eminent historians, I must add that for the whole period I have carefully examined the original authorities, often coming to conclusions widely differing from those of Mr. Long. And I venture to hope that from the advantage I have had in being able to compare the works of two writers, one of whom has well-nigh exhausted the theories as the other has the facts of the subject, I have succeeded in giving a more consistent and faithful account of the leaders and legislation of the revolutionary era than has hitherto been written. Certainly there could be no more instructive commentary on either history than the study of the other, for each supplements the other and emphasizes its defects. If Mommsen at times pushes conjecture to the verge of invention, as in his account of the junction of the Helvetii and Cimbri, Mr. Long, in his dogged determination never to swerve from facts to inference, falls into the opposite extreme, resorting to somewhat Cyclopean architecture in his detestation of stucco. But my admiration for his history is but slightly qualified by such considerations, and to any student who may be stimulated by the volumes of this series to acquire what would virtually amount to an acquaintance first-hand with the narratives of ancient writers, I would say 'Read Mr. Long's history.' To do so is to learn not only knowledge but a lesson in historical study generally. For the writings of a man with whom style is not the first object are as refreshing as his scorn for romancing history is wholesome, and the grave irony with which he records its slips amusing.
ANTECEDENTS OF THE REVOLUTION.
Previous history of the Roman orders—The Ager Publicus—Previous attempts at agrarian legislation—Roman slavery—The first Slave War—The Nobiles, Optimates, Populares, Equites—Classification of the component parts of the Roman State—State of the transmarine provinces
Scipio Aemilianus—Tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus—His agrarian proposals—Wisdom of them—Grievances of the possessors—Octavius thwarts Gracchus—Conduct of Gracchus defended—His other intended reforms—He stands again for the tribunate—His motives—His murder
Blossius spared—The law of T. Gracchus carried out—Explanation of Italian opposition to it—Attitude of Scipio Aemilianus—His murder—Quaestorship of Caius Gracchus—The Alien Act of Pennus—Flaccus proposes to give the Socii the franchise—Revolt and extirpation of Fregellae—Tribunate of Caius Gracchus—Compared to Tiberius—His aims—His Corn Law defended—His Lex Judiciaria—His law concerning the taxation of Asia—His conciliation of the equites—His colonies—He proposes to give the franchise to the Italians—Other projects—Machinations of the nobles against him—M. Livius Drusus outbids him—Stands again for the tribunate, but is rejected—His murder—Some of his laws remain in force—The Maria Lex—Reactionary legislation of the Senate—The Lex Thoria—All offices confined to a close circle
THE JUGURTHINE WAR.
Legacy of Attalus—Aristonicus usurps his kingdom—Settlement of Asia—Jugurtha murders Hiempsal and attacks Adherbal—His intrigues at Rome and the infamy of M. Aemilius Scaurus and the other Roman nobles—Three commissions bribed by Jugurtha—Adherbal murdered—Rome declares war and Jugurtha bribes the Roman generals, Bestia and Scaurus—Memmius denounces them at Rome—Jugurtha summoned to Rome, where he murders Massiva—He defeats Aulus Albinos—Metellus sent against him Jugurtha defeated on the Muthul—Keeps up a guerilla warfare—Marius stands for the consulship, and succeeds Metellus—Bocchus betrays Jugurtha to Sulla—Settlement of Numidia
THE CIMBRI AND TEUTONES.
Recommencement of the Social struggle at Rome—Marius the popular hero—Incessant frontier-warfare of the Romans—The Cimbri defeat Carbo and Silanus—Caepio and 'The Gold of Tolosa'—The Cimbri defeat Scaurus and Caepio—Marius elected consul—The Cimbri march towards Spain—Their nationality—Their plan of operations—Plan of Marius—Battle of Aquae Sextiae—Battle of Vercellae
THE ROMAN ARMY.
Second Slave War—Aquillius ends it—Changes in the Roman army—Uniform equipment of the legionary—Mariani muli—The cohort the tactical unit—The officers—Numbers of the legion—The pay—The praetorian cohort—Dislike to service—The army becomes professional
SATURNINUS AND DRUSUS.
Saturninus takes up the Gracchan policy, in league with Glaucia and Marius—The Lex Servilia meant to relieve the provincials, conciliate the equites, and throw open the judicia to all citizens—Agrarian law of Saturninus—His laws about grain and treason—Murder of Memmius, Glaucia's rival—Saturninus is attacked and deserted by Marius—The Lex Licinia Minucia heralds the Social War—Drusus attempts reform—Obliged to tread in the steps of the Gracchi—His proposals with regard to the Italians, the coinage, corn, colonies and the equites—Opposed by Philippus and murdered
THE SOCIAL WAR.
Interests of Italian capitalists and small farmers opposed—The Social War breaks out at Asculum—The insurgents choose Corfinium as their capital—In the first year they gain everywhere—Then the Lex Julia is passed and in the second year they lose everywhere—The star of Sulla rises, that of Marius declines—The Lex Plautia Papiria—First year of the war—The confederates defeat Perperna, Crassus, Caesar, Lupus, Caepio, and take town after town—The Umbrians and Etruscans Revolt—Second year—Pompeius triumphs in the north, Cosconius in the south-east, Sulla in the south-west—Revolution at Rome—The confederates courted by both parties—The rebellion smoulders on till finally quenched by Sulla after the Mithridatic War
Financial crisis at Rome—Sulpicius Rufus attempts to reform the government, and complete the enfranchisement of the Italians—His laws forcibly carried by the aid of Marius—Sulla driven from Rome flies to the army at Nola, and marches at their head against Marius—Sulpicius slain—Marius outlawed—Sulla leaves Italy after reorganizing the Senate and the comitia
MARIUS AND CINNA.
Flight of Marius—His romantic adventures at Circeii, Minturnae, Carthage—Cinna takes up the Italian cause—Driven from Rome by Octavius, he flies to the army in Campania and marches on Rome—Marius lands in Etruria—Octavius summons Pompeius from Etruria and their armies surround the city—Marius and Cinna enter Rome—The proscriptions—Seventh consulship and death of Marius—Cinna supreme
THE FIRST MITHRIDATIC WAR.
Sertorius in Spain—Cyrene bequeathed to Rome—Previous history of Mithridates—His submission to Aquillius—Aquillius forces on a war—He is defeated and killed by Mithridates—Massacre of Romans in Asia—Mithridates repulsed at Rhodes
SULLA IN GREECE AND ASIA.
Aristion induces Athens to revolt—Sulla lands in Epirus, and besieges Athens and the Piraeus—His difficulties—He takes Athens and the Piraeus, and defeats Archelaus at Chaeroneia and Orchomenus—Terms offered to Mithridates—Tyranny of the latter—Flaccus comes to Asia and is murdered by Fimbria, who is soon afterwards put to death by Sulla
SULLA IN ITALY.
Sulla lands at Brundisium and is joined by numerous adherents—Battle of Mount Tifata—Sertorius goes to Spain—Sulla in 83 is master of Picenum, Apulia, and Campania—Battle of Sacriportus—Sulla blockades young Marius in Praeneste—Indecisive war in Picenum between Carbo and Metellus—Repeated attempts to relieve Praeneste—Carbo flies to Africa—His lieutenants threaten Rome—Sulla comes to the rescue —Desperate attempt to take the city by Pontius—Battle of the Colline Gate—Sulla's danger—Death of Carbo, of Domitius Ahenobarbus—Exploits of Pompeius in Sicily and Africa—His vanity—Murena provokes the second Mithridatic War—Sertorius in Spain—His successes and ascendency over the natives
PERSONAL RULE AND DEATH OF SULLA.
The Sullan proscriptions—Sulla and Caesar—The Cornelii—Sulla's horrible character—His death and splendid obsequies
SULLA'S REACTIONARY MEASURES.
The Leges Corneliae—Sulla remodels the Senate, the quaestorship, the censorship, the tribunate, the comitia, the consulship, the praetorship, the augurate and pontificate, the judicia—Minor laws attributed to him—Effects of his legislation the best justification of the Gracchi
LIST OF PHRASES
MARCH OF SULLA AND ARCHELAUS BEFORE CHAERONEIA
BATTLE OF CHAERONEIA
GRACCHI, MARIUS AND SULLA.
* * * * *
ANTECEDENTS OF THE REVOLUTION.
During the last half of the second century before Christ Rome was undisputed mistress of the civilised world. A brilliant period of foreign conquest had succeeded the 300 years in which she had overcome her neighbours and made herself supreme in Italy. In 146 B.C. she had given the death-blow to her greatest rival, Carthage, and had annexed Greece. In 140 treachery had rid her of Viriathus, the stubborn guerilla who defied her generals and defeated her armies in Spain. In 133 the terrible fate of Numantia, and in 132 the merciless suppression of the Sicilian slave-revolt, warned all foes of the Republic that the sword, which the incompetence of many generals had made seem duller than of old, was still keen to smite; and except where some slave-bands were in desperate rebellion, and in Pergamus, where a pretender disputed with Rome the legacy of Attalus, every land along the shores of the Mediterranean was subject to or at the mercy of a town not half as large as the London of to-day. Almost exactly a century afterwards the Government under which this gigantic empire had been consolidated was no more.
Foreign wars will have but secondary importance in the following pages. [Sidenote: The history will not be one of military events.] The interest of the narrative centres mainly in home politics; and though the world did not cease to echo to the tramp of conquering legions, and the victorious soldier became a more and more important factor in the State, still military matters no longer, as in the Samnite and Punic wars, absorb the attention, dwarfed as they are by the great social struggle of which the metropolis was the arena. In treating of the first half of those hundred years of revolution, which began with the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus and ended with the battle of Actium, it is mainly the fall of the Republican and the foreshadowing of the Imperial system of government which have to be described. [Sidenote: In order to understand the times of the Gracchi it is necessary to understand the history of the orders at Rome.] But, in order to understand rightly the events of those fifty years, some survey, however brief, of the previous history of the Roman orders is indispensable.
[Sidenote: The patres.] When the mists of legend clear away we see a community which, if we do not take slaves into account, consisted of two parts—the governing body, or patres, to whom alone the term Populus Romanus strictly applied, and who constituted the Roman State, and the governed class, or clientes, who were outside its pale. The word patrician, more familiar to our ear than the substantive from which it is formed, came to imply much more than its original meaning. [Sidenote: The clients.] In its simplest and earliest sense it was applied to a man who was sprung from a Roman marriage, who stood towards his client on much the same footing which, in the mildest form of slavery, a master occupies towards his slave. As the patronus was to the libertus, when it became customary to liberate slaves, so in some measure were the Fathers to their retainers, the Clients. That the community was originally divided into these two sections is known. What is not known is how, besides this primary division of patres and clientes, there arose a second political class in the State, namely the plebs. The client as client had no political existence. [Sidenote: The plebeians.] But as a plebeian he had. Whether the plebs was formed of clients who had been released from their clientship, just as slaves might be manumitted; or of foreigners, as soldiers, traders, or artisans were admitted into the community; or partly of foreigners and partly of clients, the latter being equalised by the patres with the former in self-defence; and whether as a name it dated from or was antecedent to the so-called Tullian organization is uncertain. But we know that in one way or other a second political division in the State arose and that the constitution, of which Servius Tullius was the reputed author, made every freeman in Rome a citizen by giving him a vote in the Comitia Centuriata. Yet though the plebeian was a citizen, and as such acquired 'commercium,' or the right to hold and devise property, it was only after a prolonged struggle that he achieved political equality with the patres. [Sidenote: Gradual acquisition by the plebs of political equality with the patres.] Step by step he wrung from them the rights of intermarriage and of filling offices of state; and the great engine by which this was brought about was the tribunate, the historical importance of which dates from, even though as a plebeian magistracy it may have existed before, the first secession of the plebs in 494 B.C. [Sidenote: Character of the tribunate.] The tribunate stood towards the freedom of the Roman people in something of the same relation which the press of our time occupies towards modern liberty: for its existence implied free criticism of the executive, and out of free speech grew free action. [Sidenote: The Roman government transformed from oligarchy into a plutocracy.]
Side by side with those external events which made Rome mistress first of her neighbours, then, of Italy, and lastly of the world, there went on a succession of internal changes, which first transformed a pure oligarchy into a plutocracy, and secondly overthrew this modified form of oligarchy, and substituted Caesarism. With the earlier of these changes we are concerned here but little. The political revolution was over when the social revolution which we have to record began. But the roots of the social revolution were of deep growth, and were in fact sometimes identical with those of the political revolution. [Sidenote: Parallel between Roman and English history.] Englishmen can understand such an intermixture the more readily from the analogies, more or less close, which their own history supplies. They have had a monarchy. They have been ruled by an oligarchy, which has first confronted and then coalesced with the moneyed class, and the united orders have been forced to yield theoretical equality to almost the entire nation, while still retaining real authority in their own hands. They have seen a middle class coquetting with a lower class in order to force an upper class to share with it its privileges, and an upper class resorting in its turn to the same alliance; and they may have noted something more than a superficial resemblance between the tactics of the patres and nobiles of Rome and our own magnates of birth and commerce. Even now they are witnessing the displacement of political by social questions, and, it is to be hoped, the successful solution of problems which in the earlier stages of society have defied the efforts of every statesman. Yet they know that, underlying all the political struggles of their history, questions connected with the rights and interests of rich and poor, capitalist and toiler, land-owner and land-cultivator, have always been silently and sometimes violently agitated. Political emancipation has enabled social discontent to organize itself and find permanent utterance, and we are to-day facing some of the demands to satisfy which the Gracchi sacrificed their lives more than 2,000 years ago. [Sidenote: The struggle between the orders chiefly agrarian.] With us indeed the wages question is of more prominence than the land question, because we are a manufacturing nation; but the principles at stake are much the same. At Rome social agitation was generally agrarian, and the first thing necessary towards understanding the Gracchan revolution is to gain a clear conception of the history of the public land.
[Sidenote: Origin of the Ager Publicus.] The ground round a town like Rome was originally cultivated by the inhabitants, some of whom, as more food and clothing were required, would settle on the soil. From them the ranks of the army were recruited; and, thus doubly oppressed by military service and by the land tax, which had to be paid in coin, the small husbandman was forced to borrow from some richer man in the town. Hence arose usury, and a class of debtors; and the sum of debt must have been increased as well as the number of the debtors by the very means adopted to relieve it. [Sidenote: Fourfold way of dealing with conquered territory.] When Rome conquered a town she confiscated a portion of its territory, and disposed of it in one of four ways. [Sidenote: Colonies.] 1. After expelling the owners, she sent some of her own citizens to settle upon it. They did not cease to be Romans, and, being in historical times taken almost exclusively from the plebs, must often have been but poorly furnished with the capital necessary for cultivating the ground. [Sidenote: Sale.] 2. She sold it; and, as with us, when a field is sold, a plan is made of its dimensions and boundaries, so plans of the land thus sold were made on tablets of bronze, and kept by the State. [Sidenote: Occupation.] 3. She allowed private persons to 'occupy' it on payment of 'vectigal,' or a portion of the produce; and, though not surrendering the title to the land, permitted the possessors to use it as their private property for purchase, sale, and succession. [Sidenote: Commons.] 4. A portion was kept as common pasture land for those to whom the land had been given or sold, or by whom it was occupied and those who used it paid 'scriptura,' or a tax of so much per head on the beasts, for whose grazing they sent in a return. This irregular system was fruitful in evil. It suited the patres with whom it originated, for they were for a time the sole gainers by it. Without money it must have been hopeless to occupy tracts distant from Rome. The poor man who did so would either involve himself in debt, or be at the mercy of his richer neighbours, whose flocks would overrun his fields, or who might oust him altogether from them by force, and even seize him himself and enroll him as a slave. The rich man, on the other hand, could use such land for pasture, and leave the care of his flocks and herds to clients and slaves. [Sidenote: This irregular system the germ of latifundia.] So originated those 'latifundia,' or large farms, which greatly contributed to the ruin of Rome and Italy. The tilled land grew less and with it dwindled the free population and the recruiting field for the army. Gangs of slaves became more numerous, and were treated with increased brutality; and as men who do not work for their own money are more profuse in spending it than those who do, the extravagance of the Roman possessors helped to swell the tide of luxury, which rose steadily with foreign conquest, and to create in the capital a class free in name indeed, but more degraded, if less miserable, than the very slaves, who were treated like beasts through Italy. It is not certain whether anyone except a patrician could claim 'occupation' as a right; but, as the possessors could in any case sell the land to plebeians, it fell into the hands of rich men, to whichever class they belonged, both at Rome, and in the Roman colonies, and the Municipia; and as it was never really their property—'dominium'—but the property of the State, it was a constant source of envy and discontent among the poor.
[Sidenote: Why complaints about the Public Land became louder at the close of the second century B.C.] As long as fresh assignations of land and the plantations of colonies went on, this discontent could be kept within bounds. But for a quarter of a century preceding our period scarcely any fresh acquisitions of land had been made in Italy, and, with no hope of new allotments from the territory of their neighbours, the people began to clamour for the restitution of their own. [Sidenote: Previous agrarian legislation. Spurius Cassius.] The first attempt to wrest public land from possessors had been made long before this by Spurius Cassius; and he had paid for his daring with his life. [Sidenote: The Licinian Law.] More than a century later the Licinian law forbade anyone to hold above 500 'jugera' of public land, for which, moreover, a tenth of the arable and a fifth of the grazing produce was to be paid to the State. The framers of the law are said to have hoped that possessors of more than this amount would shrink from making on oath a false return of the land which they occupied, and that, as they would be liable to penalties for exceeding the prescribed maximum, all land beyond the maximum would be sold at a nominal price (if this interpretation of the [Greek: kat' oligon] of Appian may be hazarded) to the poor. It is probable that they did not quite know what they were aiming at, and certain that they did not foresee the effects of their measure. In a confused way the law may have been meant to comprise sumptuary, political, and agrarian objects. It forbade anyone to keep more than a hundred large or five hundred small beasts on the common pasture-land, and stipulated for the employment of a certain proportion of free labour. The free labourers were to give information of the crops produced, so that the fifths and tenths might be duly paid; and it may have been the breakdown of such an impossible institution which led to the establishment of the 'publicani.' [Sidenote: Composite nature of the Licinian law.] Nothing, indeed, is more likely than that Licinius and Sextius should have attempted to remedy by one measure the specific grievance of the poor plebeians, the political disabilities of the rich plebeians and the general deterioration of public morals; but, though their motives may have been patriotic, such a measure could no more cure the body politic than a man who has a broken limb, is blind, and in a consumption can be made sound at every point by the heal-all of a quack. Accordingly the Licinian law was soon, except in its political provisions, a dead letter. Licinius was the first man prosecuted for its violation, and the economical desire of the nation became intensified. [Sidenote: The Flaminian law.] In 232 B.C. Flaminius carried a law for the distribution of land taken from the Senones among the plebs. Though the law turned out no possessors, it was opposed by the Senate and nobles. Nor is this surprising, for any law distributing land was both actually and as a precedent a blow to the interests of the class which practised occupation. What is at first sight surprising is that small parcels of land, such as must have been assigned in these distributions, should have been so coveted. [Sidenote: Why small portions of land were so coveted.] The explanation is probably fourfold. Those who clamoured for them were wretched enough to clutch at any change; or did not realise to themselves the dangers and drawbacks of what they desired; or intended at once to sell their land to some richer neighbour; or, lastly, longed to keep a slave or two, just as the primary object of the 'mean white' in America used to be to keep his negro. [Sidenote: Failure of previous legislation.] On the whole, it is clear that legislation previous to this period had not diminished agrarian grievances, and it is clear also why these grievances were so sorely felt. The general tendency at Rome and throughout Italy was towards a division of society into two classes—the very rich and the very poor, a tendency which increased so fast that not many years later it was said that out of some 400,000 men at Rome only 2,000 could, in spite of the city being notoriously the centre to which the world's wealth gravitated, be called really rich men. To any patriot the progressive extinction of small land-owners must have seemed piteous in itself and menacing to the life of the State. On the other hand, the poor had always one glaring act of robbery to cast in the teeth of the rich. A sanguine tribune might hope permanently to check a growing evil by fresh supplies of free labour. His poor partisan again had a direct pecuniary interest in getting the land. Selfish and philanthropic motives therefore went hand in hand, and in advocating the distribution of land a statesman would be sure of enlisting the sympathies of needy Italians, even more than those of the better-provided-for poor of Rome.
[Sidenote: Roman slavery.] Incidental mention has been made of the condition of the slaves in Italy. It was the sight of the slave-gangs which partly at least roused Tiberius Gracchus to action, and some remarks on Roman slavery follow naturally an enquiry into the nature of the public land. The most terrible characteristic of slavery is that it blights not only the unhappy slaves themselves, but their owners and the land where they live. It is an absolutely unmitigated evil. As Roman conquests multiplied and luxury increased, enormous fortunes became more common, and the demand for slaves increased also. Ten thousand are said to have been landed and sold at Delos in one day. What proportion the slave population of Italy bore to the free at the time of the Gracchi we cannot say. It has been placed as low as 4 per cent., but the probability is that it was far greater. [Sidenote: Slave labour universally employed.] In trades, mining, grazing, levying of revenue, and every field of speculation, slave-labour was universally employed. If it is certain that even unenfranchised Italians, however poor, could be made to serve in the Roman army, it was a proprietor's direct interest from that point of view to employ slaves, of whose services he could not be deprived.
[Sidenote: Whence the slaves came. Their treatment.] A vast impetus had been given to the slave-trade at the time of the conquest of Macedonia, about thirty-five years before our period. The great slave-producing countries were those bordering on the Mediterranean—Africa, Asia, Spain, &c. An organized system of man-hunting supplied the Roman markets, and slave-dealers were part of the ordinary retinue of a Roman army. When a batch of slaves reached its destination they were kept in a pen till bought. Those bought for domestic service would no doubt be best off, and the cunning, mischievous rogue, the ally of the young against the old master of whom we read in Roman comedy, if he does not come up to our ideal of what a man should be, does not seem to have been physically very wretched. Even here, however, we see how degraded a thing a slave was, and the frequent threats of torture prove how utterly he was at the mercy of a cruel master's caprice. We know, too, that when a master was arraigned on a criminal charge, the first thing done to prove his guilt was to torture his slaves. But just as in America the popular figure of the oily, lazy, jocular negro, brimming over with grotesque good-humour and screening himself in the weakness of an indulgent master, merely served to brighten a picture of which the horrible plantation system was the dark background; so at Rome no instances of individual indulgence were a set-off against the monstrous barbarities which in the end brought about their own punishment, and the ruin of the Republic. [Sidenote: Dread inspired by the prospect of Roman slavery.] Frequent stories attest the horrors of Roman slavery felt by conquered nations. We read often of individuals, and sometimes of whole towns, committing suicide sooner than fall into the conquerors' hands. Sometimes slaves slew their dealers, sometimes one another. A boy in Spain killed his three sisters and starved himself to avoid slavery. Women killed their children with the same object. If, as it is asserted, the plantation-system was not yet introduced into Italy, such stories, and the desperate out-breaks, and almost incredibly merciless suppression of slave revolts, prove that the condition of the Roman slave was sufficiently miserable. [Sidenote: The horrors of slavery culminated in Sicily.] But doubtless misery reached its climax in Sicily, where that system was in full swing. Slaves not sold for domestic service were there branded and often made to work in chains, the strongest serving as shepherds. Badly fed and clothed, these shepherds plundered whenever they found the chance. Such brigandage was winked at, and sometimes positively encouraged, by the owners, while the governors shrank from punishing the brigands for fear of offending their masters. As the demand for slaves grew, slave-breeding as well as slave-importation was practised. No doubt there were as various theories as to the most profitable management of slaves then as in America lately. Damophilus had the instincts of a Legree: a Haley and a Cato would have held much the same sentiments as to the rearing of infants. Some masters would breed and rear, and try to get more work from the slave by kindness than harshness. Others would work them off and buy afresh; and as this would be probably the cheapest policy, no doubt it was the prevalent one. And what an appalling vista of dumb suffering do such considerations open to us! Cold, hunger, nakedness, torture, infamy, a foreign country, a strange climate, a life so hard that it made the early death which was almost inevitable a comparative blessing—such was the terrible lot of the Roman slave. At last, almost simultaneously at various places in the Roman dominions, he turned like a beast upon a brutal drover. [Sidenote: Outbreaks in various quarters.] At Rome, at Minturnae, at Sinuessa, at Delos, in Macedonia, and in Sicily insurrections or attempts at insurrections broke out. They were everywhere mercilessly suppressed, and by wholesale torture and crucifixion the conquerors tried to clothe death, their last ally, with terror which even a slave dared not encounter. In the year when Tiberius Gracchus was tribune (and the coincidence is significant), it was found necessary to send a consul to put down the first slave revolt in Sicily. It is not known when it broke out. [Sidenote: Story of Damophilus.] Its proximate cause was the brutality of Damophilus, of Enna, and his wife Megallis. His slaves consulted a man named Eunous, a Syrian-Greek, who had long foretold that he would be a king, and whom his master's guests had been in the habit of jestingly asking to remember them when he came to the throne. [Sidenote: The first Sicilian slave war.] Eunous led a band of 400 against Enna. He could spout fire from his mouth, and his juggling and prophesying inspired confidence in his followers. All the men of Enna were slain except the armourers, who were fettered and compelled to forge arms. Damophilus and Megallis were brought with every insult into the theatre. He began to beg for his life with some effect, but Hermeias and another cut him down; and his wife, after being tortured by the women, was cast over a precipice. But their daughter had been gentle to the slaves, and they not only did not harm her, but sent her under an escort, of which this Hermeias was one, to Catana. Eunous was now made king, and called himself Antiochus. He made Achaeus his general, was joined by Cleon with 5,000 slaves, and soon mustered 10,000 men. Four praetors (according to Florus) were defeated; the number of the rebels rapidly increased to 200,000; and the whole island except a few towns was at their mercy. In 134 the consul Flaccus went to Sicily; but with what result is not known. In 133 the consul L. Calpurnius Piso captured Messana, killed 8,000 slaves, and crucified all his prisoners. In 132 P. Rupilius captured the two strongholds of the slaves, Tauromenium and Enna (Taormina and Castragiovanni). Both towns stood on the top ledges of precipices, and were hardly accessible. Each was blockaded and each was eventually surrendered by a traitor. But at Tauromenium the defenders held out, it is said, till all food was gone, and they had eaten the children, and the women, and some of the men. Cleon's brother Comanus was taken here; all the prisoners were first tortured, and then thrown down the rocks. At Enna Cleon made a gallant sally, and died of his wounds. Eunous fled and was pulled out of a pit with his cook, his baker, his bathman, and his fool. He is said to have died in prison of the same disease as Sulla and Herod. Rupilius crucified over 20,000 slaves, and so quenched with blood the last fires of rebellion.
Besides the dangers threatening society from the discontent of the poor, the aggressions of the rich, the multiplication and ferocious treatment of slaves, and the social rivalries of the capital, the condition of Italy and the general deterioration of public morality imperatively demanded reform. It has been already said that we do not know for certain how the plebs arose. But we know how it wrested political equality from the patres, and, speaking roughly, we may date the fusion of the two orders under he common title 'nobiles,' from the Licinian laws. [Sidenote: The 'nobiles' at Rome.] It had been a gradual change, peaceably brought about, and the larger number having absorbed the smaller, the term 'nobiles,' which specifically meant those who had themselves filled a curule office, or whose fathers had done so, comprehended in common usage the old nobility and the new. The new nobles rapidly drew aloof from the residuum of the plebs, and, in the true parvenu spirit, aped and outdid the arrogance of the old patricians. Down to the time of the Gracchi, or thereabouts, the two great State parties consisted of the plebs on the one hand, and these nobiles on the other. [Sidenote: The 'optimates' and 'populares.'] After that date new names come into use, though we can no more fix the exact time when the terms optimates and populares superseded previous party watchwords than we can when Tory gave place to Conservative, and Whig to Liberal. Thus patricians and plebeians were obsolete terms, and nobles and plebeians no longer had any political meaning, for each was equal in the sight of the law; each had a vote; each was eligible to every office. But when the fall of Carthage freed Rome from all rivals, and conquest after conquest filled the treasury, increased luxury made the means of ostentation more greedily sought. Office meant plunder; and to gain office men bribed, and bribed every day on a vaster scale. If we said that 'optimates' signified the men who bribed and abused office under the banner of the Senate and its connections, and that 'populares' meant men who bribed and abused office with the interests of the people outside the senatorial pale upon their lips, we might do injustice to many good men on both sides, but should hardly be slandering the parties. Parties in fact they were not. They were factions, and the fact that it is by no means easy always to decide how far individuals were swayed by good or bad motives, where good motives were so often paraded to mask base actions, does not disguise their despicable character. Honest optimates would wish to maintain the Senate's preponderance from affection to it, and from belief in its being the mainstay of the State. Honest populares, like the Gracchi, who saw the evils of senatorial rule, tried to win the popular vote to compass its overthrow. Dishonest politicians of either side advocated conservatism or change simply from the most selfish personal ambition; and in time of general moral laxity it is the dishonest politicians who give the tone to a party. The most unscrupulous members of the ruling ring, the most shameless panderers to mob prejudice, carry all before them. Both seek one thing only—personal ascendency, and the State becomes the bone over which the vilest curs wrangle.
[Sidenote: Who the equites were.] In writing of the Gracchi reference will be made to the Equites. The name had broadened from its original meaning, and now merely denoted all non-senatorial rich men. An individual eques would lean to the senatorial faction or the faction of men too poor to keep a horse for cavalry service, just as his connexions were chiefly with the one or the other. How, as a body, the equites veered round alternately to each side, we shall see hereafter. Instead of forming a sound middle class to check the excesses of both parties, they were swayed chiefly by sordid motives, and backed up the men who for the time seemed most willing or able to gratify their greed. What went on at Rome must have been repeated over again with more or less exactitude throughout Italy, and there, in addition to this process of national disintegration, the clouds of a political storm were gathering. The following table will show at a glance the classification of the Roman State as constituted at the outbreak of the Social War.
Cives Romani: 1. Rome 2. Roman Colonies 3. Municipia
Roman Colonies and Municipia are Praefectura.
Peregrini: 1. Latini or Nomen Latinum a. Old Latin towns except such as had been made Municipia b. Colonies of old Latin towns c. Joint colonies (if any) of Rome and old Latin towns d. Colonies of Italians from all parts of Italy founded by Rome under the name of Latin Colonies 2. Socii, i.e. Free inhabitants of Italy 3. Provincials, i.e. Free subjects of Rome out of Italy
[Sidenote: Rights of Cives Romani.] The Cives Romani in and out of Rome had the Jus Suffragii and the Jus Honorum, i.e. the right to vote and the right to hold office. [Sidenote: The Roman Colony.] A Roman Colony was in its organization Rome in miniature, and the people among whom it had been planted as a garrison may either have retained their own political constitution, or have been governed by a magistrate sent from Rome. They were not Roman citizens except as being residents of a Roman city, but by irregular marriages with Romans the line of demarcation between the two peoples may have grown less clearly defined. [Sidenote: The Praefectura.] Praefectura was the generic name for Roman colonies and for all Municipia to which prefects were sent annually to administer justice. [Sidenote: Municipia] Municipia are supposed to have been originally those conquered Italian towns to which Connubium and Commercium, i.e. rights of intermarriage and of trade, were given, but from whom Jus Suffragii and Jus Honorum were withheld. These privileges, however, were conferred on them before the Social War. Some were governed by Roman magistrates and some were self-governed. They voted in the Roman tribes, though probably only at important crises, such as the agitation for an agrarian law. They were under the jurisdiction of the Praetor Urbanus, but vicarious justice was administered among them by an official called Praefectus juri dicundo, sent yearly from Rome.
[Sidenote: The Latini.] The Latini had no vote at Rome, no right of holding offices, and were practically Roman subjects. A Roman who joined a Latin colony ceased to be a Roman citizen. Whether there was any difference between the internal administration of a Latin colony and an old Latin town is uncertain. The Latini may have had Commercium and Connubium, or only the former. They certainly had not Jus Suffragii or Jus Honorum, and they were in subjection to Rome. A Latin could obtain the Roman franchise, but the mode of doing so at this time is a disputed point. Livy mentions a law which enabled a Latin to obtain the franchise by migrating to Rome and being enrolled in the census, provided he left children behind him to fill his place. There is no doubt that either legally or irregularly Latini did migrate to Rome and did so obtain the citizenship, but we know no more. Others say that the later right by which a Latin obtained the citizenship in virtue of filling a magistracy in his native town existed already.
[Sidenote: The Socii.] Of the Socii, all or many of them had treaties defining their relations to Rome, and were therefore known as Foederatae Civitates. They had internal self-government, but were bound to supply Rome with soldiers, ships, and sailors.
[Sidenote: Grievances of the Latins and allies.] At the time of the Gracchi discontent was seething among the Latins and allies. There were two classes among them—the rich landlords and capitalists, who prospered as the rich at Rome prospered, and the poor who were weighed down by debt or were pushed out of their farms by slave-labour, or were hangers-on of the rich in the towns and eager for distributions of land. The poor were oppressed no doubt by the rich men both of their own cities and of Rome. The rich chafed at the intolerable insolence of Roman officials. It was not that Rome interfered with the local self-government she had granted by treaty, but the Italians laboured under grievous disabilities and oppression. So late as the Jugurthine war, Latin officers were executed by martial law, whereas any Roman soldier could appeal to a civil tribunal. Again, while the armies had formerly been recruited from the Romans and the allies equally, now the severest service and the main weight of wars fell on the latter, who furnished, moreover, two soldiers to every Roman. Again, without a certain amount of property, a man at Rome could not be enrolled in the army; but the rule seems not to have applied to Italians. Nor was the civil less harsh than the military administration. A consul's wife wished to use the men's bath at Teanum; and because the bathers were not cleared out quickly enough, and the baths were not clean enough, M. Marius, the chief magistrate of the town, was stripped and scourged in the market-place. A free herdsman asked in joke if it was a corpse that was in a litter passing through Venusia, and which contained a young Roman. Though not even an official, its occupant showed that, if lazy, he was at least alive, by having the peasant whipped to death with the litter straps. In short, the rich Italians would feel the need of the franchise as strongly as the old plebeians had felt it, and all the more strongly because the Romans had not only ceased to enfranchise whole communities, but were chary of giving the citizenship even to individuals. The poor also had the ordinary grievances against their own rich, and were so far likely to favour the schemes of any man who assailed the capitalist class, Roman or Italian, as a whole; but they none the less disliked Roman supremacy, and would be easily persuaded to attribute to that supremacy some of the hardships which it did not cause.
[Sidenote: State of the transmarine provinces.] While such fires were slowly coming to the surface in Italy, and were soon to flame out in the Social War, the state of the provinces out of the peninsula was not more reassuring. The struggle with Viriathus and the Numantine war had revealed the fact that the last place to look for high martial honour or heroic virtue was the Roman army. If a Scipio sustained the traditions of Roman generalship, and a Gracchus those of republican rectitude, other commanders would have stained the military annals of any nation. [Sidenote: Deterioration of Roman generalship.] Roman generals had come to wage war for themselves and not for the State. They even waged it in defiance of the State's express orders. If they found peace in the provinces, they found means to break it, hoping to glut their avarice by pillage or by the receipt of bribes, which it was now quite the exception not to accept, or to win sham laurels and cheap triumphs from some miserable raid on half-armed barbarians. Often these carpet-knights were disgracefully beaten, though infamy in the provinces sometimes became fame at Rome, and then they resorted to shameful trickery repeated again and again. [Sidenote: and of the Army.] The State and the army were worthy of the commanders. The former engaged in perhaps the worst wars that can be waged. Hounded on by its mercantile class, it fought not for a dream of dominion, or to beat back encroaching barbarism, but to exterminate a commercial rival. The latter, which it was hard to recruit on account of the growing effeminacy of the city, it was harder still to keep under discipline. It was followed by trains of cooks, and actors, and the viler appendages of oriental luxury, and was learning to be satisfied with such victories as were won by the assassination of hostile generals, or ratified by the massacre of men who had been guaranteed their lives. The Roman fleet was even more inefficient than the army; and pirates roved at will over the Mediterranean, pillaging this island, waging open war with that, and carrying off the population as slaves. A new empire was rising in the East, as Rome permitted the Parthians to wrest Persia, Babylonia, and Media from the Syrian kings. The selfish maxim, Divide et impera, assumed its meanest form as it was now pursued. It is a poor and cowardly policy for a great nation to pit against each other its semi-civilised dependencies, and to fan their jealousies in order to prevent any common action on their part, or to avoid drawing the sword for their suppression. Slave revolts, constant petty wars, and piracy were preying on the unhappy provincials, and in the Roman protectorate they found no aid. All their harsh mistress did was to turn loose upon them hordes of money-lenders and tax-farmers ('negotiatores,' and 'publicani'), who cleared off what was left by those stronger creatures of prey, the proconsuls. Thus the misery caused by a meddlesome and nerveless national policy was enhanced by a domestic administration based on turpitude and extortion.
[Sidenote: Universal degeneracy of the Government, and decay of the nation.] Everywhere Rome was failing in her duties as mistress of the civilised world. Her own internal degeneracy was faithfully reflected in the abnegation of her imperial duties. When in any country the small-farmer class is being squeezed off the land; when its labourers are slaves or serfs; when huge tracts are kept waste to minister to pleasure; when the shibboleth of art is on every man's lips, but ideas of true beauty in very few men's souls; when the business-sharper is the greatest man in the city, and lords it even in the law courts; when class-magistrates, bidding for high office, deal out justice according to the rank of the criminal; when exchanges are turned into great gambling-houses, and senators and men of title are the chief gamblers; when, in short, 'corruption is universal, when there is increasing audacity, increasing greed, increasing fraud, increasing impurity, and these are fed by increasing indulgence and ostentation; when a considerable number of trials in the courts of law bring out the fact that the country in general is now regarded as a prey, upon which any number of vultures, scenting it from afar, may safely light and securely gorge themselves; when the foul tribe is amply replenished by its congeners at home, and foreign invaders find any number of men, bearing good names, ready to assist them in robberies far more cruel and sweeping than those of the footpad or burglar'—when such is the tone of society, and such the idols before which it bends, a nation must be fast going down hill.
A more repulsive picture can hardly be imagined. A mob, a moneyed class, and an aristocracy almost equally worthless, hating each other, and hated by the rest of the world; Italians bitterly jealous of Romans, and only in better plight than the provinces beyond the sea; more miserable than either, swarms of slaves beginning to brood over revenge as a solace to their sufferings; the land going out of cultivation; native industry swamped by slave-grown imports; the population decreasing; the army degenerating; wars waged as a speculation, but only against the weak; provinces subjected to organized pillage; in the metropolis childish superstition, whole sale luxury, and monstrous vice. The hour for reform was surely come. Who was to be the man?
* * * * *
[Sidenote: Scipio Aemilianius.] General expectation would have pointed to Scipio Aemilianus, the conqueror of Numantia and Carthage, and the foremost man at Rome. He was well-meaning and more than ordinarily able, strict and austere as a general, and as a citizen uniting Greek culture with the old Roman simplicity of life. He was full of scorn of the rabble, and did not scruple to express it. 'Silence,' he cried, when he was hissed for what he said about his brother-in-law's death, 'you step-children of Italy!' and when this enraged them still more, he went on: 'Do you think I shall fear you whom I brought to Italy in fetters now that you are loose?' He showed equal scorn for such pursuits as at Rome at least were associated with effeminacy and vice, and expressed in lively language his dislike of singing and dancing. 'Our children are taught disgraceful tricks. They go to actors' schools with sambucas and psalteries. They learn to sing—a thing which our ancestors considered to be a disgrace to freeborn children. When I was told this I could not believe that men of noble rank allowed their children to be taught such things. But being taken to a dancing school I saw—I did upon my honour—more than fifty boys and girls in the school; and among them one boy, quite a child, about twelve years of age, the son of a man who was at that time a candidate for office. And what I saw made me pity the Commonwealth. I saw the child dancing to the castanets, and it was a dance which one of our wretched, shameless slaves would not have danced.' On another occasion he showed a power of quick retort. As censor he had degraded a man named Asellus, whom Mummius afterwards restored to the equites. Asellus impeached Scipio, and taunted him with the unluckiness of his censorship—its mortality, &c. 'No wonder,' said Scipio, 'for the man who inaugurated it rehabilitated you.'
Such anecdotes show that he was a vigorous speaker. He was of a healthy constitution, temperate, brave, and honest in money matters; for he led a simple life, and with all his opportunities for extortion did not die rich. Polybius, the historian, Panaetius, the philosopher, Terence and Lucilius, the poets, and the orator and politician Laelius were his friends. From his position, his talents, and his associations, he seemed marked out as the one man who could and would desire to step forth as the saviour of his country. But such self-sacrifice is not exhibited by men of Scipio's type. Too able to be blind to the signs of the times, they are swayed by instincts too strong for their convictions. An aristocrat of aristocrats, Scipio was a reformer only so far as he thought reform might prolong the reign of his order. From any more radical measures he shrank with dislike, if not with fear. The weak spot often to be found in those cultured aristocrats who coquet with liberalism was fatal to his chance of being a hero. He was a trimmer to the core, who, without intentional dishonesty, stood facing both ways till the hour came when he was forced to range himself on one side or the other, and then he took the side which he must have known to be the wrong one. Palliation of the errors of a man placed in so terribly difficult a position is only just; but laudation of his statesmanship seems absurd. As a statesman he carried not one great measure, and if one was conceived in his circle, he cordially approved of its abandonment. To those who claim for him that he saw the impossibility of those changes which his brother-in-law advocated, it is sufficient to reply that Rome did not rest till those changes had been adopted, and that the hearty co-operation of himself and his friends would have gone far to turn failure into success. But his mind was too narrow to break through the associations which had environed him from his childhood. When Tiberius Gracchus, a nobler man than himself, had suffered martyrdom for the cause with which he had only dallied, he was base enough to quote from Homer [Greek: os apoloito kai allos hotis toiaita ge hoezoi]—'So perish all who do the like again.'
[Sidenote: Tiberius Gracchus.] But the splendid peril which Scipio shrank from encountering, his brother-in-law courted with the fire and passion of youth. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was, according to Plutarch, not quite thirty when he was murdered. Plutarch may have been mistaken, and possibly he was thirty-five. His father, whose name he bore, had been a magnificent aristocrat, and his mother was Cornelia, daughter of Hannibal's conqueror, the first Scipio Africanus, and one of the comparatively few women whose names are famous in history. He had much in common with Scipio Aemilianus, whom he resembled in rank and refinement, in valour, in his familiarity with Hellenic culture, and in the style of his speeches. Diophanes, of Mitylene, taught him oratory. The philosopher, Blossius, of Cumae, was his friend. He belonged to the most distinguished circle at Rome. He had married the daughter of Appius, and his brother had married the daughter of Mucianus. He had served under Scipio, and displayed striking bravery at Carthage; and, as quaestor of the incompetent Mancinus, had by his character for probity saved a Roman army from destruction; for the Numantines would not treat with the consul, but only with Gracchus. No man had a more brilliant career open to him at Rome, had he been content only to shut his eyes to the fate that threatened his country. But he had not only insight but a conscience, and cheerfully risked his life to avert the ruin which he foresaw. His character has been as much debated as his measures, and the most opposite conclusions have been formed about both, so that his name is a synonym for patriot with some, for demagogue with others. Even historians of our own day are still at variance as to the nature of his legislation. But from a comparison of their researches, and an independent examination of the authorities on which they are based, something like a clear conception of the plans of Gracchus seems possible. What has never, perhaps, as yet been made sufficiently plain is, who it was that Gracchus especially meant to benefit. Much of the public land previously described lay in the north and south of Italy from the frontier rivers Rubicon and Macra to Apulia. It formed, as Appian says, the largest portion of the land taken from conquered towns by Rome. [Sidenote: Agrarian proposals of Gracchus.] What Gracchus proposed was to take from the rich and give to the poor some of this land. It was, in fact, merely the Licinian law over again with certain modifications, and the existence of that law would make the necessity for a repetition of it inexplicable had it not been a curious principle with the Romans that a law which had fallen into desuetude ceased to be binding. But it actually fell short of the law of Licinius, for it provided that he who surrendered what he held over and above 500 jugera should be guaranteed in the permanent possession of that quantity, and moreover might retain 250 jugera in addition for each of his sons. Some writers conjecture that altogether an occupier might not hold more than 1,000 jugera.
Now the first thing to remark about the law is that it was by no means a demagogue's sop tossed to the city mob which he was courting. Gracchus saw slave labour ruining free labour, and the manhood and soil of Italy and the Roman army proportionately depreciated. [Sidenote: Nothing demagogic about the proposal.] To fill the vacuum he proposed to distribute to the poor not only of Rome but of the Municipia, of the Roman colonies, and, it is to be presumed, of the Socii also, land taken from the rich members of those four component parts of the Roman State. This consideration alone destroys at once the absurd imputation of his being actuated merely by demagogic motives; but in no history is it adequately enforced. No demagogue at that epoch would have spread his nets so wide. At the same time it gives the key to the subsequent manoeuvres by which his enemies strove to divide his partisans. Broadly, then, we may say that Gracchus struck boldly at the very root of the decadence of the whole peninsula, and that if his remedy could not cure it nothing else could. [Sidenote: The Socii—land-owners.] How the Socii became possessors of the public land we do not know. Probably they bought it from Cives Romani, its authorised occupiers, with the connivance of the State. We now see from whom the land was to be taken, namely, the rich all over Italy, and to whom it was to be given, the poor all over Italy; and also the object with which it was to be given, namely, to re-create a peasantry and stop the increase of the slave-plague. [Sidenote: Provision against evasions of the law.] In order to prevent the law becoming a dead letter like that of Licinius, owing to poor men selling their land as soon as they got it, he proposed that the new land-owners should not have the right to dispose of their land to others, and for this, though it would have been hard to carry out, we cannot see what other proviso could have been substituted. Lastly, as death and other causes would constantly render changes in the holdings inevitable, he proposed that a permanent board should have the superintendence of them, and this too was a wise and necessary measure.
[Sidenote: Provision for the administration of the law.] We can understand so much of the law of Gracchus, but it is hard thoroughly to understand more. It has been urged as a difficulty not easily explained that few people, after retaining 500 jugera for themselves and 250 for each of their sons, would have had much left to surrender. But this difficulty is imaginary rather than real; for Appian says that the public land was 'the greater part' of the land taken by Rome from conquered states, and the great families may have had vast tracts of it as pasture land. [Sidenote: Things about the law hard to understand.] There are, however, other things which with our meagre knowledge of the law we cannot explain. For instance, was a hard and fast line drawn at 500 jugera as compensation whether a man surrendered 2 jugera or 2,000 beyond that amount? Again, considering the outcry made, it is hard to imagine that only those possessing above 500 jugera were interfered with. But this perhaps may be accounted for by recollecting that in such matters men fight bravely against what they feel to be the thin end of the wedge, even if they are themselves concerned only sympathetically. What Gracchus meant to do with the slaves displaced by free labour, or how he meant to decide what was public and what was private land after inextricable confusion between the two in many parts for so many years, we cannot even conjecture. The statesmanlike comprehensiveness, however, of his main propositions justifies us in believing that he had not overlooked such obvious stumbling-blocks in his way. [Sidenote: Appian's criticism of the law.] When Appian says he was eager to accomplish what he thought to be a good thing, we concur in the testimony Appian thus gives to Gracchus having been a good man. But when he goes on to say he was so eager that he never even thought of the difficulty, we prefer to judge Gracchus by his own acts rather than by Appian's criticism or the similar criticisms of modern writers. [Sidenote: Speeches of Gracchus explaining his motives.] The speeches ascribed to him, which are apparently genuine, seem to show that he knew well enough what he was about. 'The wild beasts of Italy,' he said, 'have their dens to retire to, but the brave men who spill their blood in her cause have nothing left but air and light. Without homes, without settled habitations, they wander from place to place with their wives and children; and their generals do but mock them when at the head of their armies they exhort their men to fight for their sepulchres and the gods of their hearths, for among such numbers perhaps there is not one Roman who has an altar that has belonged to his ancestors or a sepulchre in which their ashes rest. The private soldiers fight and die to advance the wealth and luxury of the great, and they are called masters of the world without having a sod to call their own.' Again, he asked, 'Is it not just that what belongs to the people should be shared by the people? Is a man with no capacity for fighting more useful to his country than a soldier? Is a citizen inferior to a slave? Is an alien or one who owns some of his country's soil the best patriot? You have won by war most of your possessions, and hope to acquire the rest of the habitable globe. But now it is but a hazard whether you gain the rest by bravery or whether by your weakness and discords you are robbed of what you have by your foes. Wherefore, in prospect of such acquisitions, you should if need be spontaneously and of your own free will yield up these lands to those who will rear children for the service of the State. Do not sacrifice a great thing while striving for a small, especially as you are to receive no contemptible compensation for your expenditure on the land, in free ownership of 500 jugera secure for ever, and in case you have sons, of 250 more for each of them.
The striking point in the last extract is his remark about a 'small thing.' It is likely, enough that the losses of the proprietors as a body would not be overwhelming, and that the opposition was rendered furious almost as much by the principle of restitution, and interference with long-recognised ownership, as by the value of what they were called on to disgorge. Five hundred jugera of slave-tended pasture-land could not have been of very great importance to a rich Roman, who, however, might well have been alarmed by the warning of Gracchus with regard to the army, for in foreign service, and not in grazing or ploughing, the fine gentleman of the day found a royal road to wealth. [Sidenote: Grievances of the possessors.] On the other hand it is quite comprehensible both that the possessors imagined that they had a great grievance, and that they had some ground for their belief. A possessor, for instance, who had purchased from another in the full faith that his title would never be disturbed, had more right to be indignant than a proprietor of Indian stock would have, if in case of the bankruptcy of the Indian Government the British Government should refuse to refund his money. There must have been numbers of such cases with every possible complexity of title; and even if the class that would be actually affected was not large, it was powerful, and every landowner with a defective title would, however small his holding (provided it was over 30 jugera, the proposed allotment), take the alarm and help to swell the cry against the Tribune as a demagogue and a robber. This is what we can state about the agrarian law of Tiberius Gracchus. It remains to be told how it was carried.
[Sidenote: How the law was carried.] Gracchus had a colleague named Octavius, who is said to have been his personal friend. Octavius had land himself to lose if the law were carried, and he opposed it. Gracchus offered to pay him the value of the land out of his own purse; but Octavius was not to be so won over, and as Tribune interposed his veto to prevent the bill being read to the people that they might vote on it. Tiberius retorted by using his power to suspend public business and public payments. One day, when the people were going to vote, the other side seized the voting urns, and then Tiberius and the rest of the Tribunes agreed to take the opinion of the Senate. The result was that he came away more hopeless of success by constitutional means, and doubtless irritated by insult. He then proposed to Octavius that the people should vote whether he or Octavius should lose office—a weak proposal perhaps, but the proposal of an honest, generous man, whose aim was not self-aggrandisement but the public weal. Octavius naturally refused. Tiberius called together the thirty-five tribes, to vote whether or no Octavius should be deprived of his office. [Sidenote: Octavius deprived of the Tribunate.] The first tribe voted in the affirmative, and Gracchus implored Octavius even now to give way, but in vain. The next sixteen tribes recorded the same vote, and once more Gracchus interceded with his old friend. But he spoke to deaf ears. The voting went on, and when Octavius, on his Tribunate being taken from him, would not go away, Plutarch says that Tiberius ordered one of his freedmen to drag him from the Rostra.
These acts of Tiberius Gracchus are commonly said to have been the beginning of revolution at Rome; and the guilt of it is accordingly laid at his door. And there can be no doubt that he was guilty in the sense that a man is guilty who introduces a light into some chamber filled with explosive vapour, which the stupidity or malice of others has suffered to accumulate. But, after all, too much is made of this violation of constitutional forms and the sanctity of the Tribunate. [Sidenote: Defence of the conduct of Gracchus.] The first were effete, and all regular means of renovating the Republic seemed to be closed to the despairing patriot, by stolid obstinacy sheltering itself under the garb of law and order. The second was no longer what it had been—the recognised refuge and defence of the poor. The rich, as Tiberius in effect argued, had found out how to use it also. If all men who set the example of forcible infringement of law are criminals, Gracchus was a criminal. But in the world's annals he sins in good company; and when men condemn him, they should condemn Washington also. Perhaps his failure has had most to do with his condemnation. Success justifies, failure condemns, most revolutions in most men's eyes. But if ever a revolution was excusable this was; for it was carried not by a small party for small aims, but by national acclamation, by the voices of Italians who flocked to Rome either to vote, or, if they had not votes themselves, to overawe those who had. How far Gracchus saw the inevitable effect of his acts is open to dispute. [Sidenote: Gracchus not a weak sentimentalist.] But probably he saw it as clearly as any man can see the future. Because he was generous and enthusiastic, it is assumed that he was sentimental and weak, and that his policy was guided by impulse rather than reason. There seems little to sustain such a judgment other than the desire of writers to emphasise a comparison between him and his brother. If his character had been what some say that it was, his speeches would hardly have been described by Cicero as acute and sensible, but not rhetorical enough. All his conduct was consistent. He strove hard and to the last to procure his end by peaceable means. Driven into a corner by the tactics of his opponents, he broke through the constitution, and once having done so, went the way on which his acts led him, without turning to the right hand or the left. There seems to be not a sign of his having drifted into revolution. Because a portrait is drawn in neutral tints, it does not follow that it is therefore faithful, and those writers who seem to think they must reconcile the fact of Tiberius having been so good a man with his having been, as they assert, so bad a citizen, have blurred the likeness in their anxiety about the chiaroscuro. No one would affirm that Tiberius committed no errors; but that he was a wise as well as a good man is far more in accordance with the facts than a more qualified verdict would be.
[Sidenote: Mean behaviour of the Senate.] The Senate showed its spite against the successful Tribune by petty annoyances, such as allowing him only about a shilling a day for his official expenditure, and, as rumour said, by the assassination of one of his friends. But, while men like P. Scipio Nasica busied themselves with such miserable tactics, Tiberius brought forward another great proposal supplementary to his agrarian law. [Sidenote: Proposal of Gracchus to distribute the legacy of Attalus.] Attalus, the last king of Pergamus, had just died and left his kingdom to Rome. Gracchus wished to divide his treasures among the new settlers, and expressed some other intention of transferring the settlement of the country from the Senate to the people. As to the second of these propositions it would be unsafe as well as unfair to Gracchus to pronounce judgment on it without a knowledge of its details. The first was both just and wise and necessary, for previous experience had shown that the first temptation of a pauper land-owner was to sell his land to the rich, and, as the law of Gracchus forbade this, he was bound to give the settler a fair start on his farm. [Sidenote: Retort of the Senate.] The Senate took fresh alarm, and it found vent again in characteristically mean devices. One senator said that a diadem and a purple robe had been brought to Gracchus from Pergamus. Another assailed him because men with torches escorted him home at night. Another twitted him with the deposition of Octavius. To this last attack, less contemptible than the others, he replied in a bold and able speech, which practically asserted that the spirit of the constitution was binding on a citizen, but that its letter under some circumstances was not.
[Sidenote: Other intended reforms of Gracchus.] He was also engaged in meditating other important reforms, all directed against the Senate's power. Plutarch says that they comprised abridgment of the soldier's term of service, an appeal to the people from the judices, and the equal partition between the Senate and equites of the privilege of serving as judices, which hitherto belonged only to the former. According to Velleius, Tiberius also promised the franchise to all Italians south of the Rubicon and the Macra, which, if true, is another proof of his far-seeing statesmanship. To carry out such extensive changes it was necessary to procure prolongation of office for himself, and he became a candidate for the next year's tribunate. [Sidenote: Gracchus stands again for the Tribunate. His motives.] To say that considerations of personal safety dictated his candidature is a very easy and specious insinuation, but is nothing more. It is indeed a good deal less, for it is utterly inconsistent with the other acts of an unselfish, dauntless career. At election-time the first two tribes voted for Tiberius. Then the aristocracy declared his candidature to be illegal because he could not hold office two years running. It may have been so, or the law may have been so violated as to be no more valid than the Licinian law, which, though never abrogated, had never much force. [Sidenote: Tactics of the Senate.] To fasten on some technical flaw in his procedure was precisely in keeping with the rest of the acts of the opposition. But those writers who accuse Tiberius of being guilty of another illegal act in standing fail to observe the force of the fact, that it was not till the first two tribes had voted that the aristocracy interfered. This shows that their objection was a last resort to an invalid statute, and a deed of which they were themselves ashamed. However, the president of the tribunes, Rubrius, hesitated to let the other tribes vote; and when Mummius, Octavius's substitute, asked Rubrius to yield to him the presidency, others objected that the post must be filled by lot, and so the election was adjourned till the next day.
It was clear enough to what end things were tending, and Tiberius, putting on mourning committed his young son to the protection of the people. It need hardly be said that the father's affection and the statesman's bitter dismay at finding the dearest object of his life about to be snatched from him by violence need not have been tinged with one particle of personal fear. A man of tried bravery like Gracchus might guard his own life indeed, but only as be regarded it as indispensable to a great cause. That evening he told his partisans he would give them a sign next day if he should think it necessary to use force at his election. It has been assumed that this proves he was meditating treason. But it proves no more than that he meant to repel force forcibly if, as was only too certain, force should be used, and this is not treason. No other course was open to him. The one weak spot in his policy was that he had no material strength at his back. Even Sulla would have been a lost man at a later time, if he had not had an army at hand to which he could flee for refuge, just as without the army Cromwell would have been powerless. But it was harvest-time now, and the rural allies of Gracchus were away from home in the fields. [Sidenote: Murder of Gracchus.] The next day dawned, and with it occurred omens full of meaning to the superstitious Romans. The sacred fowls would not feed. Tiberius stumbled at the doorway of his house and broke the nail of his great toe. Some crows fought on the roof of a house on the left hand, and one dislodged a tile, which fell at his feet. But Blossius was at his side encouraging him, and Gracchus went on to the Capitol and was greeted with a great cheer by his partisans. [Sidenote: Different accounts given by Appian and Plutarch.] Appian says that when the rich would not allow the election to proceed, Tiberius gave the signal. Plutarch tells us that Fulvius Flaccus came and told him that his foes had resolved to slay him, and, having failed to induce the consul Scaevola to act, were arming their friends and slaves, and that Gracchus gave the signal then. As Appian agrees with Plutarch in his account of Nasica's conduct in the Senate, the last is the more probable version of what occurred. Nasica called on Scaevola to put down the tyrant. Scaevola replied that he would not be the first to use force. Then Nasica, calling on the senators to follow him, mounted the Capitol to a position above that of Gracchus. Arming themselves with clubs and legs of benches, his followers charged down and dispersed the crowd. Gracchus stumbled over some prostrate bodies, and was slain either by a blow from P. Satyreius, a fellow-tribune, or from L. Rufus, for both claimed the distinction. So died a genuine patriot and martyr; and so foul a murder fitly heralded the long years of bloodshed and violence which were in store for the country which he died to save.
* * * * *
[Sidenote: Revenge of the aristocracy.] Over three hundred of the people were killed and thrown into the Tiber, and the aristocracy followed up their triumph as harshly as they dared. They banished some, and slew others of the tribune's partisans. Plutarch says that they fastened up one in a chest with vipers. When Blossius was brought before his judges he avowed that he would have burned the Capitol if Gracchus had told him to do it, so confident was he in his leader's patriotism—an answer testifying not only to the nobleness of the two friends, but to the strong character of one of them. Philosophers are not so impressed by weak, impulsive men. Blossius was spared, probably because he had connexions with some of the nobles rather than because his reply inspired respect. But while the aristocracy was making war on individuals, the work of the dead man went on, as if even from the grave he was destined to bring into sharper relief the pettiness of their projects by the grandeur of his own.
[Sidenote: The law of Gracchus remains in force.] The allotment of land was vigorously carried out; and when Appius Claudius and Mucianus died, the commissioners were partisans of Tiberius—his brother Caius, M. Fulvius Flaccus, and C. Papirius Carbo. [Sidenote: Its beneficial effects.] In the year 125, instead of another decrease in the able-bodied population, we find an increase of nearly 80,000. It seems probable that this increase was solely in consequence of what the allotment commissioners did for the Roman burgesses. Nor, if the Proletarii and Capite Censi were not included in the register of those classed for military service, is the increase remarkable, for it would be to members of those classes that the allotments would be chiefly assigned. Moreover, the poor whom the rich expelled from their lands did not give in their names to the censors, and did not attend to the education of their children. These men would, on receiving allotments, enrol themselves. The consul of the year 132 inscribed on a public monument that he was the first who had turned the shepherds out of the domains, and installed farmers in their stead; and these farmers became, as Gracchus intended, a strong reinforcement to the Roman soldier-class, as well as a check to slave labour. What was done at Rome was done also, it is said, throughout Italy, and if on the same scale, it must have been a really enormous measure of relief to the poor, and a vast stride towards a return to a healthier tenure of the land. [Sidenote: Difficulties and hardships in enforcing it.] But it is not hard to imagine what heart-burnings the commissioners must have aroused. Some men were thrust out of tilled land on to waste land. Some who thought that their property was private property found to their cost that it was the State's. Some had encroached, and their encroachments were now exposed. Some of the Socii had bought parcels of the land, and found out now that they had no title. Lastly, some land had been by special decrees assigned to individual states, and the commissioners at length proceeded to stretch out their hands towards it.
Historians, while recording such things, have failed to explain why the chief opposition to the commissioners arose from the country which had furnished the chief supporters of Tiberius, and what was the exact attitude assumed by Scipio Aemilianus. It is lost sight of that as at Rome there were two classes, so there were two classes in Italy. It is absurd constantly to put prominently forward the sharp division of interests in the capital, and then speak of the country classes as if they were all one body, and their interests the same. [Sidenote: Divisions in Italy similar to those in Rome.] The natural and apparently the only way of explaining what at first sight seems the inconsistency of the country class is to conclude, that the men who supported Tiberius were the poor of the Italian towns and the small farmers of the country, while the men who called on Scipio to save them from the commissioners were the capitalists of the towns and the richer farmers—some of them voters, some of them non-voters—with their forces swollen, it may be, by not a few who, having clamoured for more land, found now that the title to what they already had was called in question. Though this cannot be stated as a certainty, it at least accounts for what historians, after many pages on the subject, have left absolutely unexplained, and it presents the conduct of Scipio Aemilianus in quite a different light from the one in which it has commonly been regarded. He is usually extolled as a patriot who would not stir to humour a Roman rabble, but who, when downtrodden honest farmers, his comrades in the wars, appealed to him, at once stepped into the arena as their champion. [Sidenote: Attitude of Scipio Aemilianus.] In reality he was a reactionist who, when the inevitable results of those liberal ideas which had been broached in his own circle stared him in the face, seized the first available means of stifling them. The world had moved too fast for him. As censor, instead of beseeching the gods to increase the glory of the State, he begged them to preserve it. And no doubt he would have greatly preferred that the gods should act without his intervention. Brave as a man, he was a pusillanimous statesman; and when confronted by the revolutionary spirit which he and his friends had helped to evoke, he determined at all costs to prop up the senatorial power. [Sidenote: His unpopularity with the Senate.] But the Senate hated him, partly as a trimmer, and partly because by his personal character he rebuked their baseness. He had just impeached Aurelius Cotta, a senator, and the judices, from spite against him, had refused to convict. So he turned to the Italian land-owners, and became the mouthpiece of their selfishness, for a selfish or at best a narrow-minded end. The nobles must have, at heart, disliked his allies; but they cheered him in the Senate, and he succeeded in practically strangling the commission by procuring the transfer of its jurisdiction to the consuls. The consul for the time being immediately found a pretext for leaving Rome, and a short time afterwards Scipio was found one morning dead in his bed. [Sidenote: His death.] He had gone to his chamber the night before to think over what he should say next day to the people about the position of the country class, and, if he was murdered, it is almost as probable that he was murdered by some rancorous foe in the Senate as by Carbo or any other Gracchan. It was well for his reputation that he died just then. Without Sulla's personal vices he might have played Sulla's part as a politician, and his atrocities in Spain as well as his remark on the death of Tiberius Gracchus—words breathing the very essence of a narrow swordsman's nature—showed that from bloodshed at all events he would not have shrunk. It is hard to respect such a man in spite of all his good qualities. Fortune gave him the opportunity of playing a great part, and he shrank from it. When the crop sprang up which he had himself helped to sow, he blighted it. But because he was personally respectable, and because he held a middle course between contemporary parties, he has found favour with historians, who are too apt to forget that there is in politics, as in other things, a right course and a wrong, and that to attempt to walk along both at once proves a man to be a weak statesman, and does not prove him to be a great or good man.
[Sidenote: The early career of Caius Gracchus.] In B.C. 126 Caius Gracchus, seven years after he had been made one of the commissioners for the allotment of public land, was elected quaestor. Sardinia was at that time in rebellion, and it fell by lot to Caius to go there as quaestor to the consul Orestes. It is said that he kept quiet when Tiberius was killed, and intended to steer clear of politics. But one of those splendid bursts of oratory, with which he had already electrified the people, remains to show over what he was for ever brooding. 'They slew him,' he cried, 'these scoundrels slew Tiberius, my noble brother! Ah, they are all of one pattern.' He said this in advocating the Lex Papiria, which proposed to make the re-election of a tribune legal. But Scipio opposed the law, and it was defeated then, to be carried, however, a few years later. Again, in the year of his quaestorship, he spoke against the law of M. Junius Pennus, which aimed at expelling all Peregrini from Rome. They were the very men by whose help Tiberius had carried his agrarian law, and when Caius spoke for them he was clearly treading in his brother's steps. At a later time he declared that he dreamt Tiberius came to him and said, 'Why do you hesitate? You cannot escape your doom and mine—to live for the people and die for them.' Such a story would be effective in a speech, and particularly effective when told to a superstitious audience; but his day-dreams we may be sure were the cause and not the consequence of his visions of the night. For there can be no doubt that the younger brother had already one purpose and one only—to avenge the death of Tiberius and carry out his designs.
Such omens as Roman credulity fastened on when the political air was heavy with coming storm abounded now. With grave irony the historian records: 'Besides showers of oil and milk in the neighbourhood of Veii, a fact of which some people may doubt, an owl, it is said, was seen on the Capitol, which may have been true.' Fulvius Flaccus, the friend of Gracchus, made the first move. [Sidenote: Proposition of Fulvius Flaccus. Its significance.] In order to buy off the opposition of the Socii to the agrarian law, he proposed to give them the franchise, just as Licinius, when he had offered the poor plebeians a material boon, offered the rich ones a political one, so as to secure the united support of the whole body. The proposal was significant, and it was made at a critical time. The poor Italians were chafing, no doubt, at the suspension of the agrarian law. The rich were indignant at the carrying of the law of Pennus. Other and deeper causes of irritation have been mentioned above. In the year of the proposal of Flaccus, and very likely in consequence of its rejection, Fregellae—a Latin colony—revolted. [Sidenote: Revolt and punishment of Fregellae.] The revolt was punished with the ferocity of panic. The town was destroyed; a Roman colony, Fabrateria, was planted near its site; and for the moment Italian discontent was awed into sullen silence. No wonder the Senate was panic-stricken. Here was a real omen, not conjured up by superstition, that one of those towns, which through Rome's darkest fortunes in the second Punic War had remained faithful to her, should single-handed and in time of peace raise the standard of rebellion. Was Fregellae indeed single-handed? The Senate suspected not, and turned furiously on the Gracchan party, and, it is alleged, accused Caius of complicity with the revolt. [Sidenote: Caius Gracchus accused of treason. He stands for the tribunate.] It was rash provocation to give to such a man at such a time. If he was accused, he was acquitted, and he at once stood for the tribunate. Thus the party which had slain his brother found itself again at death-grips with an even abler and more implacable foe.
[Sidenote: Prominence of Gracchus at home and abroad.] There is no doubt that for some time past Caius Gracchus, young as he was, and having as yet filled none of the regular high offices, had had the first place in all men's thoughts. His first speech had been received by the people with wild delight. He was already the greatest orator in Rome. His importance is shown by the Senate's actually prolonging the consul's command, in order to keep his quaestor longer abroad. But his friends were consoled for his absence by the stories they heard of the respect shown to him by foreign nations. The Sardinians would not grant supplies to Orestes, and the Senate approved their refusal. But Gracchus interposed, and they voluntarily gave what they had before appealed against. Micipsa, son of Masinissa, also sent corn to Orestes, but averred that it was out of respect to Gracchus. The Senate's fears and the esteem of foreigners were equally just. What the life of Gracchus was in Sardinia he has himself told us; and from the implied contrast we may judge what was the life of the nobles of the time. [Sidenote: His description of the life of a noble.] 'My life,' he said to the people, 'in the province was not planned to suit my ambition, but your interests. There was no gormandising with me, no handsome slaves in waiting, and at my table your sons saw more seemliness than at head-quarters. No man can say without lying that I ever took a farthing as a present or put anyone to expense. I was there two years; and if a single courtesan ever crossed my doors, or if proposals from me were ever made to anyone's slave-pet, set me down for the vilest and most infamous of men. And if I was so scrupulous towards slaves, you may judge what my life must have been with your sons. And, citizens, here is the fruit of such a life. I left Rome with a full purse and have brought it back empty. Others took out their wine jars full of wine, and brought them back full of money.'