[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.'

[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. [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. [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. [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.

[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. [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. [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. [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. [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.

[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. [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. [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.

[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. [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. [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.

[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. [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. [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. [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.

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