CHAPTER III. CAIUS GRACCHUS.
[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.
[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. [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. [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.