Rome had lived for nine years in a feverish atmosphere of projected reform; yet not a single question raised by her bolder spirits had received its final answer. The agrarian legislation had indeed run a successful course; yet the very hindrance to its operation at a critical moment had, in the eyes of the discontented, turned success into failure and left behind a bitter feeling of resentment at the treacherous dexterity of the government. The men, in whose imagined interests the people had been defrauded of their coveted land, had by a singular irony of fortune been driven ignominiously from Rome and were now the victims of graver suspicions on the part of the government than on that of the Roman mob. The effect of the late senatorial diplomacy had been to create two hostile classes instead of one. From both these classes the aristocrats drew their soldiers for the constant campaigns that the needs of Empire involved: and both were equally resentful of the burdens and abuses of military service, for which no one was officially directed to suggest a cure. The poorest classes had been given the ballot when they wanted food and craved a less precarious sustenance than that afforded by the capricious benevolence of the rich. The friction between the senatorial government and the upper middle class was probably increasing. The equites must have been casting hungry eyes at the new province of Asia and asking themselves whether commercial interests were always to be at the mercy of the nobility as represented by the senate, the provincial administrators and the courts of justice. It was believed that governors, commissioners and senators were being bought by the gold of kings, and that mines of wealth were being lost to the honest capitalist through the utter corruption of the governing few. The final threats of Tiberius Gracchus were still in the air, and a vast unworked material lay ready to the hand of the aspiring agitator. In an ancient monarchy or aristocracy of the feudal type, where abuses have become sanctified by tradition, or in a modern nation or state with its splendid capacity for inertia due to the habitual somnolence of the majority of its electors, such questions may vaguely suggest themselves for half a century without ever receiving an answer. But Rome could only avoid a revolution by discarding her constitution. The sovereignty of the people was a thesis which the senate dared not attack; and this sovereignty had for the first time in Roman history become a stern reality. The city in its vastness now dominated the country districts: and the sovereign, now large, now small, now wild, now sober, but ever the sovereign in spite of his kaleidoscopic changes, could be summoned at any moment to the Forum. Democratic agitation was becoming habitual. It is true that it was also becoming unsafe. But a man who could hold the wolf by the ears for a year or two might work a revolution in Rome and perhaps be her virtual master.
It was no difficult task to find the man, for there was one who was marked out by birth, traditions, temperament and genius as the fittest exponent of a cause which, in spite of its intricate complications that baffled the analysis of the ordinary mind, could still in its essential features be described as the cause of the people. It is indeed singular that, in a political civilisation so unkind as the Roman to the merits of youth, hopes should be roused and fear inspired by a man so young and inexperienced as Caius Gracchus. But the popular fancy is often caught by the immaturity that is as yet unhampered by caution and undimmed by disillusion, and by the fresh young voice that has not yet been attuned to the poor half-truths which are the stock-in-trade of the worldly wise. And those who were about Gracchus must soon have seen that the traces of youth were to be found only in his passion, his frankness, his impetuous vigour; no discerning eye could fail to be aware of the cool, calculating, intellect which unconsciously used emotion as its mask, of a mind that could map and plan a political campaign in perfect self-confident security, view the country as a whole and yet master every detail, and then leave the issue of the fight to burning words and passionate appeals. This supreme combination of emotional and artistic gifts, which made Gracchus so irresistible as a leader, was strikingly manifested in his oratory. We are told of the intensity of his mien, the violence of his gestures, the restlessness that forced him to pace the Rostra and pluck the toga from his shoulder, of the language that roused his hearers to an almost intolerable tension of pity or indignation. Nature had made him the sublimest, because the most unconscious of actors; eyes, tone, gesture all answered the bidding of the magic words. Sometimes the emotion was too highly strung; the words would become coarser, the voice harsher, the faultless sentences would grow confused, until the soft tone of a flute blown by an attendant slave would recall his mind to reason and his voice to the accustomed pitch. Men contrasted him with his gentle and stately brother Tiberius, endowed with all the quiet dignity of the Roman orator, and diverging only from the pure and polished exposition of his cause to awake a feeling of commiseration for the wrongs which he unfolded. Tiberius played but on a single chord; Caius on many. Tiberius appealed to noble instincts, Caius appealed to all and his Protean manifestations were a symbol of a more complex creed, a wider knowledge of humanity, a greater recklessness as to his means, and of that burning consciousness, which Tiberius had not, that there were personal wrongs to be avenged as well as political ideas to be realised. To a narrow mind the vendetta is simply an act of justice; to an intellectual hater such as Gracchus it is also a work of reason. The folly of crime but exaggerates its grossness, and the hatred for the criminal is merged in an exalting and inspiring contempt. Yet the man thus attuned to passion was, what every great orator must be, a painful student of the most delicate of arts. The language of the successful demagogue seldom becomes the study of the schools; yet so it was with Gracchus. The orators of a later age, whose critical appreciation was purer than their practice, could find no better guide to the aspirant for forensic fame than the speeches of the turbulent tribune. Cicero dwells on the fulness and richness of his flow of words, the grandeur and dignity of the expression, the acuteness of the thought. They seemed to some to lack the finishing touch; which is equivalent to saying that with him oratory had not degenerated into rhetoric. The few fragments that survive awaken our wonder, first for their marvellous simplicity and clearness: then, for the dexterous perfection of their form. The balance of the rhythmic clauses never obscures or overloads the sense. Gracchus could tell a tale, like that of the cruel wrongs inflicted on the allies, which could arouse a thrill of horror without also awakening the reflection that the speaker was a man of great sensibility and had a wonderful command of commiserative terminology. He could ask the crowd where he should fly, whether to the Capitol dripping with a brother's blood, or to the home where the widowed mother sat in misery and tears; and no one thought that this was a mere figure of speech. It all seemed real, because Gracchus was a true artist as well as a true man, and knew by an unerring instinct when to pause. This type of objective oratory, with its simple and vivid pictures, its brilliant but never laboured wit, its capacity for producing the illusion that the man is revealed in the utterance, its suggestion of something deeper than that which the mere words convey--a suggestion which all feel but only the learned understand--is equally pleasing to the trained and the unlettered mind. The polished weapon, which dazzled the eyes of the crowd, was viewed with respect even by the cultured nobles against whom it was directed.
Caius's qualities had been tested for some years before he attained the tribunate, and the promise given by his name, his attitude and his eloquence was strengthened by the fact that he had no rival in the popular favour. Carbo was probably on his way to the Optimates, and Flaccus's failure was too recent to make him valuable in any other quality than that of an assistant. But Caius had risen through the opportunities given by the agitation which these men had sustained, although his advance to the foremost place seemed more like the work of destiny than of design. When a youth of twenty-one, he had found himself elevated to the rank of a land commissioner; but this accidental identification with Tiberius's policy was not immediately followed by any action which betrayed a craving for an active political career. He is said to have shunned the Forum, that training school and advertising arena where the aspiring youth of Rome practised their litigious eloquence, and to have lived a life of calm retirement which some attributed to fear and others to resentment. It was even believed by a few that he doubted the wisdom of his brother's career. But It was soon found that the leisure which he cultivated was not that of easy enjoyment and did not promise prolonged repose. He was grappling with the mysteries of language, and learning by patient study the art of finding the words that would give to thought both form and wings. The thought, too, must have been taking a clearer shape: for Tiberius had left a heritage of crude ideas, and men were trying to introduce some of these into the region of practical politics. The first call to arms was Carbo's proposal for legalising re-election to the tribunate. It drew from Gracchus a speech in its support, which contained a bitter indictment of those who had been the cause of the "human sacrifice" fulfilled in his brother's murder. Five years later he was amongst the foremost of the opponents of the alien-act of Pennus, and exposed the dangerous folly involved in a jealous policy of exclusion. But the courts of law are said to have given him the first great opportunity of revealing his extraordinary powers to the world. As an advocate for a friend called Vettius, he delivered a speech which seemed to lift him to a plane unapproachable by the other orators of the day. The spectacle of the crowd almost raving with joy and frantically applauding the new-found hero, showed that a man had appeared who could really touch the hearts of the people, and is said to have suggested to men of affairs that every means must be used to hinder Gracchus's accession to the tribunate. The chance of the lot sent him as quaestor with the consul Orestes to Sardinia. It was with joyful hearts that his enemies saw him depart to that unhealthy clime, and to Caius himself the change to the active life of the camp was not unpleasing. He is said still to have dreaded the plunge into the stormy sea of politics, and in Sardinia he was safe from the appeals of the people and the entreaties of his friends. Yet already he had received a warning that there was no escape. While wrestling with himself as to whether he should seek the quaestorship, his fevered mind had conjured up a vision. The phantom of his brother had appeared and addressed him in these words "Why dost thou linger, Caius? It is not given thee to draw back. One life, one death is fated for us both, as defenders of the people's rights." His belief in the reality of this warning is amply attested; but the sense that he was predestined and foredoomed, though it may have given an added seriousness to his life, left him as calm and vigorous as before. Like Tiberius he was within a sphere of his father's influence, and this memory must have stimulated his devotion to his military and provincial duties. He won distinction in the field and a repute for justice in his dealings with the subject tribes, while his simplicity of life and capacity for toil suggested the veteran campaigner, not the tyro from the most luxurious of cities. The extent of the services in Sardinia and neighbouring lands which his name and character enabled him to render to the State, has been perhaps exaggerated, or at least faultily stated, by our authority; but, in view of the unquestioned confidence shown by the Numantines in his brother when as young a man, there is no reason to doubt their reality. It is said that, when the treacherous winter of Sardinia had shaken the troops with chills, the commander sent to the cities asking for a supply of clothing. These towns, which were probably federate communities and exempt by treaty from the requisitions of Rome, appealed to the senate. They feared no doubt the easy lapse of an act of kindness into a burden fixed by precedent. The senate, as in duty bound, upheld their contention; and suffering and disease would have reigned in the Roman camp, had not Gracchus visited the cities in person and prevailed on them to send the necessary help. On another occasion envoys from Micipsa of Numidia are said to have appeared at Rome and offered a supply of corn for the Sardinian army. The request had perhaps been made by Gracchus. To the Numidian king he was simply the grandson of the elder Africanus: And the envoys in their simplicity mentioned his name as the Intermediary of the royal bounty. The senate, we are told, rejected the Proffered help. The curious parallelism between the present career of Caius and the early activities of his brother must have struck many; to the senate these proofs of energy and devotion seemed but the prelude to similar ingenious attempts to capture public favour at home: and their fears are said to have helped them to the decision to keep Orestes for a further year as proconsul in Sardinia. It is possible that the resolution was partly due to military exigencies; the fact that the troops were relieved was natural in consideration of the sufferings which they had undergone, but the retention of the general to complete a desultory campaign which chiefly demanded knowledge of the country, was a wise and not unusual proceeding. It was, however, an advantage that, as custom dictated, the quaestor must remain in the company of his commander. Gracchus's reappearance in Rome was postponed for a year. It was a slight grace, but much might happen in the time.
It was in this latter sense that the move was interpreted by the quaestor. A trivial wrong inflamed the impetuous and resentful nature which expectation and entreaty had failed to move. Stung by the belief that he was the victim of a disgraceful subterfuge, Gracchus immediately took ship to Rome. His appearance in the capital was something of a shock even to his friends. Public sentiment regarded a quaestor as holding an almost filial relation to his superior; the ties produced by their joint activity were held to be indissoluble, and the voluntary departure of the subordinate was deemed a breach of official duty. Lapses in conduct on the part of citizens engaged in the public service, which fell short of being criminal, might be visited with varying degrees of ignominy by the censorship: and it happened that this court of morals was now in existence in the persons of the censors Cn. Servilius Caepio and L. Cassius Longinus, who had entered office in the previous year. The censorian judgments, although arbitrary and as a rule spontaneous, were sometimes elicited by prosecution: and an accuser was found to bring the conduct of Gracchus formally before the notice of the magistrates. Had the review of the knights been in progress after his arrival, his case would have been heard during the performance of this ceremony; for he was as yet but a member of the equestrian order, and the slightest disability pronounced against him, had he been found guilty, would have assumed the form of the deprivation of his public horse and his exclusion from the eighteen centuries. But it is possible that, at this stage of the history of the censorship, penalties could be inflicted upon the members of all classes at any date preceding the lustral sacrifice, that the usual examination of the citizen body had been completed, and that Gracchus appeared alone before the tribunal of the censors. His defence became famous; its result is unknown. The trial probably ended in his acquittal, although condemnation would have exercised little influence on his subsequent career, for the ignominy pronounced by the censors entailed no disability for holding a magistracy. But, whatever may have been the issue, Gracchus improved the occasion by an harangue to the people, in which he defended his conduct as one of their representatives in Sardinia. The speech was important for its caustic descriptions of the habits of the nobility when freed from the moral atmosphere of Rome. With extreme ingenuity he worked into the description of the habits of his own official life a scathing indictment, expressed in the frankest terms, of the self-seeking, the luxury, the unnatural vices, the rampant robbery of the average provincial despot. His auditors learnt the details of a commander's environment--the elaborate cooking apparatus, the throng of handsome favourites, the jars of wine which, when emptied, returned to Rome as receptacles of gold and silver mysteriously acquired. Gracchus must have delighted his audience with a subject on which the masses love to dwell, the vices of their superiors. The luridness of the picture must have given it a false appearance of universal truth. It seemed to be the indictment of a class, and suggested that the speaker stood aloof from his own order and looked only to the pure judgment of the people. His enemies tried a new device. They knew that one flaw in his armour was his sympathy with the claims of the allies. Could he be compromised as an agent in that dark conspiracy which had prompted the impudent Italian claims and ended in open rebellion, his credit would be gone, even if his career were not closed by exile. He was accordingly threatened with an impeachment for complicity in the movement which had issued in the outbreak at Fregellae. It is uncertain whether he was forced to submit to the judgment of a court; but we are told that he dissipated every suspicion, and surmounted the last and most dangerous of the obstacles with which his path was blocked. Straightway he offered himself for the tribunate, and, as the day of the election approached, every effort was made by the nobility to secure his defeat. Old differences were forgotten; a common panic produced harmony amongst the cliques; it even seems as if his opponents agreed that no man of extreme views should be advanced against him, for Gracchus in his tribunate had to contend with no such hostile colleague as Octavius. The candidature of an extremist might mean votes for Gracchus: and it was preferable to concentrate support on neutral men, or even on men of liberal views who were known to be in favour with the crowd. The great clientèle of the country districts was doubtless beaten up; and we know that, on the other side, the hopes of the needy agriculturist, and the gratitude of the newly established peasant farmer, brought many a supporter to Gracchus from distant Italian homesteads. The city was so flooded by the inrush of the country folk that many an elector found himself without a roof to shelter him, and the place of voting could accommodate only a portion of the crowd. The rest climbed on roofs and tiles, and filled the air with discordant party cries until space was given for a descent to the voting enclosures. When the poll was declared, it was found that the electoral manoeuvres of the nobility had been so far successful that Gracchus occupied but the fourth place on the list. But, from the moment of his entrance on office, his predominance was assured. We hear nothing of the colleagues whom he overshadowed. Some may have been caught in the stream of Gracchus's eloquence; others have found it useless or dangerous to oppose the enthusiasm which his proposals aroused, and the formidable combination which he created by the alluring prospects that he held out to the members of the equestrian order. The collegiate character of the magistracy practically sank into abeyance, and his rule was that of a single man. First he gave vent to the passions of the mob by dwelling, as no one had yet dared to do, on the gloomy tragedy of his brother's fall and the cruel persecution which had followed the catastrophe. The blood of a murdered tribune was wholly unavenged in a state which had once waged war with Falerii to punish a mere insult to the holy office, and had condemned a citizen to death because he had not risen from his place while a tribune walked through the Forum. "Before your very eyes," he said, "they beat Tiberius to death with cudgels; they dragged his dead body from the Capitol through the midst of the city to cast it into the river; those of his friends whom they seized, they put to death untried. And yet think how your constitution guards the citizen's life! If a man is accused on a capital charge and does not immediately obey the summons, it is ordained that a trumpeter come at dawn before his door and summon him by sound of trumpet; until this is done, no vote may be pronounced against him. So carefully and watchfully did our ancestors regulate the course of justice."  A cry for vengeance is here merged in a great constitutional principle; and these utterances paved the way for the measure immediately formulated that no court should be established to try a citizen on a capital charge, unless such a court had received the sanction of the people. The power of the Comitia to delegate its jurisdiction without appeal is here affirmed; the right of the senate to institute an inquisition without appeal is here denied. The measure was a development of a suggestion which had been made by Tiberius Gracchus, who had himself probably called attention to the fact that the establishment of capital commissions by the senate was a violation of the principle of the provocatio Caius Gracchus, however, did not attempt to ordain that an appeal should be possible from the judgment of the standing commissions (quaestiones perpetuae); for, though the initiative in the creation of these courts had been taken by the senate, they had long received the sanction of law, and their self-sufficiency was perhaps covered by the principle that the people, in creating a commission, waived its own powers of final jurisdiction. But there were other technical as well as practical disadvantages in instituting an appeal from these commissions. The provocatio had always been the challenge to the decision of a magistrate; but in these standing courts the actions of the president and of the judices who sat with him were practically indistinguishable, and the sentence pronounced was in no sense a magisterial decision. The courts had also been instituted to avoid the clumsiness of popular jurisdiction; but this clumsiness would be restored, if their decision was to be shaken by a further appeal to the Comitia. Gracchus, in fact, when he proposed this law, was not thinking of the ordinary course of jurisdiction at all. He had before his mind the summary measures by which the senate took on itself to visit such epidemics of crime as were held to be beyond the strength of the regular courts, and more especially the manner in which this body had lately dealt with alleged cases of sedition or treason. The investigation directed against the supporters of his brother was the crucial instance which he brought before the people, and it is possible that, at a still later date, the inquiry which followed the fall of Fregellae had been instituted on the sole authority of the senate and had found a certain number of victims in the citizen body. Practically, therefore, Gracchus in this law wholly denied, either as the result of experience or by anticipation, the legality of the summary jurisdiction which followed a declaration of martial law.
In the creation of these extraordinary commissions the senate never took upon itself the office of judge, nor was the commission itself composed of senators appointed by the house. The jurisdiction was exercised by a magistrate at the bidding of the senate, and the court thus constituted selected its assessors, who formed a mere council for advice, at its own discretion. It was plain that, if the law was to be effective, its chief sanction must be directed, not against the corporation which appointed, but against the judge. The responsibility of the individual is the easiest to secure, and no precautions against martial law can be effective if a division of authority, or even obedience to authority, is once admitted. Gracchus, therefore, pronounced that criminal proceedings should be possible against the magistrate who had exercised the jurisdiction now pronounced illegal. The common law of Rome went even further, and pronounced every individual responsible for illegal acts done at the bidding of a magistrate. The crime which the magistrate had committed by the exercise of this forbidden jurisdiction was probably declared to be treason: and, as there was no standing court at Rome which took cognisance of this offence, the jurisdiction of the Comitia was ordained. The penalty for the crime was doubtless a capital one, and by ancient prescription such a punishment necessitated a trial before the Assembly of the Centuries. It is, however, possible that Gracchus rendered the plebeian assembly of the Tribes competent to pronounce the capital sentence against the magistrate who had violated the prescriptions of his law. But, although the magistrate was the chief, he appears not to have been the sole offender under the provisions of this bill. In spite of the fact that the senate as a whole was incapable of being punished for the advice which had prompted the magistrate to an illegal course of action, it seems that the individual senator who moved, or perhaps supported, the decree which led to the forbidden jurisdiction, was made liable to the penalties of the law. The operation of the enactment was made retrospective, or was perhaps conceived by its very nature to cover the past abuses which had called it into being; for in a sense it created no new crime, but simply restated the principle of the appeal in a form suited to the proceedings against which it wished to guard. It might have been argued that customary law protected the consul who directed the proceedings of the court which doomed the supporters of Tiberius Gracchus; but the argument, if used, was of no avail. Popillius was to be the witness to all men of the reality of this reassertion of the palladium of Roman liberty. An impeachment was framed against him, and either before or after his withdrawal from Rome, Caius Gracchus himself formulated and carried through the Plebs the bill of interdiction which doomed him to exile. It was in vain that Popillius's young sons and numerous relatives besought the people for mercy. The memory of the outrage was too recent, the joyful sense of the power of retaliation too novel and too strong. All that was possible was a counter demonstration which should emphasise the sympathy of loyalists with the illustrious victim, and Popillius was escorted to the gates by a weeping crowd. We know that condemnation also overtook his colleague Rupilius, and it is probable that he too fell a victim to the sense of vengeance or of justice aroused by the Gracchan law.
A less justifiable spirit of retaliation is exhibited by another enactment with which Gracchus inaugurated his tribunate, although in this, as in ail his other acts, the blow levelled at his enemies was not devoid of a deep political significance. He introduced a proposal that a magistrate who had been deposed by the people should not be allowed to hold any further office. Octavius was the obvious victim, and the mere personal significance of the measure does not necessarily imply that Gracchus was burning with resentment against a man, whose opposition to his brother had rapidly been forgotten in the degradation which he had experienced at that brother's hands. Hatred to the injured may be a sentiment natural to the wrongdoer, but is not likely to be imparted even to the most ardent supporter of the author of the mischief. It were better to forget Octavius, if Octavius would allow himself to be forgotten; but the sturdy champion of the senate, still in the middle of his career, may have been a future danger and a present eyesore to the people: Gracchus's invectives probably carried him and his auditors further than he intended, and the rehabilitation of his brother's tribunate in its integrity may have seemed to demand this strong assertion of the justice of his act. But the legality of deposition by the people was a still more important point. Merely to assert it would be to imply that Tiberius had been wrong. How could it be more emphatically proclaimed than by making its consequences perpetual and giving it a kind of penal character? But the personal aspect of the measure proved too invidious even for its proposer. A voice that commanded his respect was raised against it: and Gracchus in withdrawing the bill confessed that Octavius was spared through the intercession of Cornelia.
So far his legislation had but given an outlet to the justifiable resentment of the people, and a guarantee for the security of their most primitive rights. This was to be followed by an appeal to their interests and a measure for securing their permanent comfort. The wonderful solidarity of Gracchus and his supporters, the crowning triumph of the demagogue which is to make each man feel that he is an agent in his own salvation, have been traced to this constructive legislation for the benefit of classes, which ancient authors, writing under aristocratic prepossessions, have described by the ugly name of bribery. The poor of Rome, if we include in this designation those who lived on the margin as well as those who were sunk in the depths of destitution, probably included the majority of the inhabitants of the town. The city had practically no organised industries. The retail trader and the purveyor of luxuries doubtless flourished; but, in the scanty manufactures which the capital still provided, the army of free labour must have been always worsted by the cruel competition of the cheaper and more skilful slave or freedman. But the poor of Rome did not form the cowed and shivering class that are seen on the streets of a northern capital. They were the merry and vivacious lazzaroni of the pavement and the portico, composite products of many climes, with all the lively endurance of the southerner and intellects sharpened by the ingenious devices requisite for procuring the minimum sustenance of life. Could they secure this by the desultory labour which alone was provided by the economic conditions of Rome, their lot was far from unhappy. As in most ancient civilisations, the poor were better provided with the amenities than with the bare necessities of existence. Although the vast provision for the pleasures of the people, by which the Caesars maintained their popularity, was yet lacking, and even the erection of a permanent theatre was frowned on by the senate, yet the capital provided endless excitement for the leisured mind and the observant eye. It was for their benefit that the gladiatorial show was provided by the rich, and the gorgeous triumph by the State; but it was the antics of the nobility in the law courts and at the hustings that afforded the more constant and pleasing spectacle. Attendance at the Contiones and the Comitia not only delighted the eye and ear, but filled the heart with pride, and sometimes the purse with money. For here the units, inconsiderable in themselves, had become a collective power; they could shout down the most dignified of the senators, exalt the favourite of the moment, reward a service or revenge a slight in the perfect security given by the secrecy of the ballot. Large numbers of the poorer class were attached to the great houses by ancestral ties; for the descendants of freedmen, although they could make no legal claim on the house which represented the patron of their ancestors, were too valuable as voting units to be neglected by its representatives, even when the sense of the obligations of wealth, which was one of the best features of Roman civilisation, failed to provide an occasional alleviation for the misery of dependants. From a political point of view, this dependence was utterly demoralising; for it made the recipients of benefits either blind supporters of, or traitors to, the personal cause which they professed. It was on the whole preferable that, if patronage was essential, the State should take over this duty; the large body of the unattached proletariate would be placed on a level with their more fortunate brethren, and the latter would be freed from a dependence which merely served private and selfish interests. A semi-destitute proletariate can only be dealt with in three ways. They may be forced to work, encouraged to emigrate, or partially supported by the State. The first device was impossible, for it was not a submerged fraction with which Rome had to deal, but the better part of the resident sovereign body; the second, although discredited by the senate, had been tried in one form by Tiberius Gracchus and was to be attempted in another shape by Caius; but it is a remedy that can never be perfect, for it does not touch the class, more highly strung, more intelligent, and at the same time more capable of degradation, which the luxury of the capital enthrals. The last device had not yet been attempted. It remained for Gracchus to try it. We have no analysis of his motives; but many provocatives to his modest attempt at state socialism may be suggested. There was first the Hellenic ideal of the leisured and independent citizen, as exemplified by the state payments and the "distributions" which the great leaders of the old world had thought necessary for the fulfilment of democracy. There was secondly the very obvious fact that the government was reaping a golden harvest from the provinces and merely scattering a few stray grains amongst its subjects. There was thirdly the consideration that much had been done for the landed class and nothing for the city proletariate. Other considerations of a more immediate and economic character were doubtless present. The area of corn production was now small. Sicily was still perhaps beggared by its servile war, and the granary of Rome was practically to be found in Africa. The import of corn from this quarter, dependent as it was on the weather and controlled purely by considerations of the money-market, was probably fitful, and the price must have been subject to great variations. But, at this particular time, the supply must have been diminished to an alarming extent, and the price proportionately raised, by the swarm of locusts which had lately made havoc of the crops of Africa. Lastly, the purely personal advantage of securing a subsidised class for the political support of the demagogue of the moment--a consideration which is but a baser interpretation of the Hellenic ideal--must have appealed to the practical politician in Gracchus as the more impersonal view appealed to the statesman. He would secure a permanent and stable constituency, and guard against the danger, which had proved fatal to his brother, of the absence from Rome of the majority of his supporters at some critical moment.
From the imperfect records of Gracchus's proposal we gather that a certain amount of corn was to be sold monthly at a reduced price to any citizen who offered himself as a purchaser. The rate was fixed at 6-1/3 asses the modius, which is calculated to have been about half the market-price. The monthly distribution would practically have excluded all but the urban proletariate, and would thus have both limited the operation of the relief to the poor of the city and invited an increase in its numbers. But the details of the measure, which would be decisive as to its economic character, are unknown to us. We are not told what proportion the monthly quantity of grain sold at this cheap rate bore to the total amount required for the support of a family; whether the relief was granted only to the head of a house or also to his adult sons; whether any one who claimed the rights of citizenship could appear at the monthly sale, or only those who had registered their names at some given time. The fact of registration, if it existed, might have been regarded as a stigma and might thus have limited the number of recipients. Some of the economic objections to his scheme were not unknown to Gracchus; indeed they were pressed home vigorously by his opponents. It was pointed out that he was enervating the labourer and exhausting the treasury, The validity of the first objection depends to a large extent on the unknown "data" which we have just mentioned. Gracchus may have maintained that a greater standard of comfort would be secured for the same amount of work. The second objection he was so far from admitting that he asserted that his proposal would really lighten the burdens of the Aerarium. He may have taken the view that a moderate, steady and calculable loss on corn purchased in large quantities, and therefore presumably at a reduced price, would be cheaper in the end than the cost entailed by the spasmodic attempts which the State had to make in times of crisis to put grain upon the market; and there may have been some truth in the idea that, when the State became for the first time a steady purchaser, competition between the publicans of Sicily or the proprietors of Africa might greatly reduce the normal market price. He does not seem to have been disturbed by the consideration that the sale of corn below the market price at Rome was hardly the best way of helping the Italian farmer. The State would certainly buy in the cheapest market, and this was not to be found in Italy. But it is probable that under no circumstances could Rome have become the usual market for the produce of the recently established proprietors, and that, except at times of unusual scarcity in the transmarine provinces, imported corn could always have undersold that which was grown in Italy. Under the new system the Italian husbandman would find a purchaser in the State, if Sicily and Africa were visited by some injury to their crops. A vulnerable point in the Gracchan system of sale was exhibited in the fact that no inquiry was instituted as to the means of the applicants. This blemish was vigorously brought home to the legislator when the aged noble, Calpurnius Piso surnamed "the Frugal," the author of the first law that gave redress to the provincials, and a vigorous opponent of Gracchus's scheme, gravely advanced on the occasion of the first distribution and demanded his appropriate share. The object lesson would be wasted on those who hold that the honourable acceptance of relief implies the universality of the gift: that the restraining influences, if they exist, should be moral and not the result of inquisition. But neither the possibility nor the necessity of discrimination would probably have been allowed by Gracchus. It would have been resented by the people, and did not appeal to the statesmanship, widely spread in the Greek and not unknown in the Roman world, which regarded it as one of the duties of a State to provide cheap food for its citizens. The lamentations of a later day over a pauperised proletariate and an exhausted treasury cannot strictly be laid to the account of the original scheme, Except in so far as it served as a precedent; they were the consequence of the action of later demagogues who, instructed by Gracchus as to the mode in which an easy popularity might be secured, introduced laws which sanctioned an almost gratuitous distribution of grain. The Gracchan law contained a provision for the building of additional store-houses for the accumulation of the great reserve of corn, which was demanded by the new system of regular public sales, and the Sempronian granaries thus created remained as a witness of the originality and completeness of the tribune's work.
The Roman citizen was still frequently summoned from his work, or roused from his lethargy, by the call of military service; and the practice of the conscription fostered a series of grievances, one of which had already attracted the attention of Tiberius Gracchus. Caius was bound to deal with the question: and the two provisions of his enactment which are known to us, show a spirit of moderation which neither justifies the belief that the demagogue was playing to the army, nor accredits the view that his interference relaxed the bonds of discipline amongst the legions. The most scandalous anomaly in the Roman army-system was the miserable pittance earned by the conscript when the legal deductions had been made from his nominal rate of pay. His daily wage was but one-third of the denarius, or five and one-third asses a day, as it had remained unaltered from the times of the Second Punic War, in spite of the fact that the conditions of service were now wholly different and that garrison duty in the provinces for long periods of years had replaced the temporary call-to-arms which the average Italian campaign alone demanded; and from this quota was deducted the cost of the clothing which he wore and, as there is every reason to believe, of the whole of the rations which he consumed. We should have expected a radical reformer to have raised his pay or at least to have given him free food. But Gracchus contented himself with enacting that the soldier's clothing should be given him free of charge by the State. Another military abuse was due to the difficulty which commanders experienced in finding efficient recruits. The young and adventurous supplied better and more willing material than those already habituated to the careless life of the streets, or already engaged in some settled occupation: and, although it is scarcely credible that boys under the age of eighteen were forced to enlist, they were certainly permitted and perhaps encouraged to join the ranks. The law of Gracchus forbade the enlistment of a recruit at an age earlier than the completion of the seventeenth year. These military measures, slight in themselves, were of importance as marking the beginning of the movement by which the whole question of army reform, utterly neglected by the government, was taken up and carried out by independent representatives of the people. But a Roman army was to a large extent the creation of the executive power; and it required a military commander, not a tribune, to produce the radical alterations which alone could make the mighty instrument, which had won the empire, capable of defending it.
The last boon of Gracchus to the citizen body as a whole was a new agrarian law. The necessity of such a measure was chiefly due to the suspension of the work of the agrarian commission, which had proved an obstacle to the continued execution of his brother's scheme; and there is every reason for believing that the new Sempronian law restored their judicial powers to the commissioners. But experience may have shown that the substance of Tiberius's enactment required to be supplemented or modified; and Caius adopted the procedure usually followed by a Roman legislator when he renewed a measure which had already been in operation. His law was not a brief series of amendments, but a comprehensive statute, so completely covering the ground of the earlier Sempronian law that later legislation cites the law of Caius, and not that of Tiberius Gracchus, as the authority for the regulations which had revolutionised the tenure of the public land. The new provisions seem to have dealt with details rather than with principles, and there is no indication that they aimed at the acquisition of territory which had been exempted from the operation of the previous measure, or even touched the hazardous question of the rights of Rome to the land claimed by the Italian allies. We cannot attempt to define the extent to which the executive power granted by the new agrarian law was either necessary or effective. Certainly the returns of the census during the next ten years show no increase in the number of registered citizens; but this circumstance may be due to the steps which were soon to be taken by the opponents of the Gracchi to nullify the results of their legislation. It is possible, however, that the new corn law may have somewhat damped the ardour of the proletariate for a life of agriculture which would have deprived them of its benefits.
The first tribunate of Caius Gracchus doubtless witnessed the completion of these four acts of legislation, by which the debt to his supporters was lavishly paid and their aid was enlisted for causes which could only indirectly be interpreted as their own. But this year probably witnessed as well the promulgation of the enactments which were to find their fulfilment in a second tribunate. Foremost amongst these was one which dealt with the tenure of the judicial power as exercised, not by the magistrate, but by the panels of jurors who were interpreters both of law and fact on the standing commissions which had recently been created by statute. The interest of the masses in this question was remote. A permanent murder court seems indeed to have had its place amongst the commissions; but, even though the corruption of its president had on one occasion been clearly proved, it is not likely that senatorial judges would have troubled to expose themselves to undue influences when pronouncing on the caput of a citizen of the lower class. The fact that this justice was administered by the nobility may have excited a certain degree of popular interest; but the question of the transference of the courts from the hands of the senatorial judices would probably never have been heard of, had not the largest item in this judicial competence had a decisively political bearing. The Roman State had been as unsuccessful as others of the ancient world in keeping its judicial machinery free from the taint of party influences. It had been accounted one of the surest signs of popular sovereignty that the people alone could give judgment on the gravest crimes and pronounce the capital penalty, and recent political thought had perhaps wholly adapted itself to the Hellenic view that the government of a state must be swayed by the body of men that enforces criminal responsibility in political matters. This vital power was still retained by the Comitia when criminal justice was concerned with those elemental facts which are the condition of the existence of a state. The people still took cognisance of treason in all its degrees--a conception which to the Roman mind embraced almost every possible form of official maladministration--and the gloomy record of trials before the Comitia, from this time onward to the close of the Republic, shows that the weapon was exercised as the most forcible implement of political chastisement. But chance had lately presented the opportunity of making the interesting experiment of assimilating criminal jurisdiction in some of its branches to that of the civil courts. The president and jurors of one of the newly established quaestiones formed as isolated a group as the judex of civil justice with his assessors, or the greater panels of Centumvirs and Decemvirs. They possessed no authority but that of jurisdiction within their special department; there seemed no reason why they should be influenced by considerations arising from issues whether legislative or administrative. But this appearance of detachment was wholly illusory, and the well-intentioned experiment was as vain as that of Solon, when he carefully separated the administrative and judicial boards in the Athenian commonwealth and composed both bodies of practically identical individuals. The new court for the trial of extortion, constituted by the Calpurnian and renewed later by a Junian law, was controlled by a detachment of the governing body which saw in each impeachment a libel on its own system of administration, and in each condemnation a new precedent for hampering the uncontrolled power exercised in the past or coveted for the future by the individual juror. This class spirit may have been more powerful than bribery in its production of suspicious acquittals; and the fact that prosecution was frankly recognised as the commonest of party weapons, and that speeches for the prosecution and defence teemed with irrelevant political allusions, reduced the question of the guilt of the accused to subordinate proportions in the eyes of all the participants in this judicial warfare. Charges of corruption were so recklessly hurled at Rome that we can seldom estimate their validity; but the strong suspicion of bribery is almost as bad for a government as the proved offence; and it was certain that senatorial judges did not yield to the evidence which would have supplied conviction to the ordinary man. Some recent acquittals furnished an excellent text to the reformer. L. Aurelius Cotta had emerged successfully from a trial, which had been a mere duel between Scipio Aemilianus for the prosecution and Metellus Macedonicus for the defence. The judges had shown their resentment of Scipio's influence by acquitting Cotta; and few of the spectators of the struggle seem even to have pretended to believe in the innocence of the accused. The whole settlement of Asia had been so tainted with the suspicion of pecuniary influences that, when Manius Aquillius successfully ran the gauntlet of the courts, it was difficult to believe that the treasures of the East had not co-operated towards the result, especially as the senate itself by no means favoured some of the features of Aquillius's organisation of the province. The legates of
some of the plundered dependencies were still in Rome, bemoaning the
verdict and appealing for sympathy with their helpless fellow
subjects Circumstances favoured the reformer; it was possible to
bring a definite case and to produce actual sufferers before the people; while the senate, perhaps in consequence of the attitude of some honest dissentients, was unable to make any effectual resistance to the scandal and its consequences.
Had Gracchus thought of restoring this jurisdiction to the Comitia, he would have taken a step which had the theoretical justification that, of all the powers at Rome, the people was the one which had least interest in provincial misgovernment. But it would have been a retrograde movement from the point of view of procedure; it would not necessarily have abolished senatorial influence, and it would not have attained his object of holding the government permanently in check by the political recognition of a class which rivalled the senate in the definiteness of its organisation and surpassed it in the homogeneity of its interests. The body of capitalists who had assumed the titular designation of knights, had long been chafing at the complete subjection of their commercial interests to the caprice of the provincial governor and the arbitrary dispositions of the home government. Tiberius Gracchus, when he revealed the way to the promised land, had probably reflected rather than suggested the ambition of the great business men to have a more definite place in the administration assigned them. His appeal had come too late, or seemed too hopeless of success, to win their support for a reformer who had outraged their feelings as capitalists; but since his death ten years for reflection had elapsed, and they were years which witnessed a vast extension of their potential activity, and aroused an agonised feeling of helplessness at the subordinate part which they played both to senate and people when the disposal of kingdoms was in question. The suggestions for giving them a share in the control of the provincial world may have been numerous, and their variety is reflected in the different plans which Caius Gracchus himself advanced. The system at which his brother had hinted was that of a joint board composed of the existing senators with the addition of an equal number of equites; and we have already suggested the possibility that this House of Six Hundred was intended to be the senate of the future, efficient for all purposes and not exclusively devoted to the work of criminal jurisdiction. The same significance may attach to the scheme, which seems to have been propounded by Caius Gracchus during, or perhaps even before, his first tenure of the tribunate, and appears at intervals in proposals made by reformers down to the time of Sulla. Gracchus is said to have suggested the increase of the senate by the addition of three, or, as one authority states, six hundred members of the equestrian order. The proposal, if it was one for an enlarged senate, and not for a joint panel of judices, in which a changing body of equites would act as a check on the permanent senatorial jurors, must soon have been seen to be utterly unsuited to its purpose. It is a scheme characteristic of the aristocrat who is posing as a friend of the mercantile class and hopes to deceive the vigilance of that keen-sighted fraternity. To give the senate a permanent infusion of new blood would be simply to strengthen its authority, while completely cutting away the links which bound the new members to their original class. Even the swamping of the existing body by a two-thirds majority of new members would have been transitory in its effects. The new member of the Curia would soon have shed his old equestrian views and assumed the outlook of his older peers. It might indeed have been possible to devise a system by which the senate would, at the recurring intervals of the lustra, have been filled up in equal proportions from ex-magistrates and knights: and in this way a constant supply of middle-class sentiment might have been furnished to the governing body. But even this scheme would have secured to the elected a life-long tenure of power, and this was a fatal obstacle both to the intentions of the reformer and the aspirations of the equestrian order. While the former desired a balance of power, the latter wished that the interests of their class should be enforced by its genuine representatives. Both knew that a participation in the executive power was immaterial, and that all that was needed might be gained by the possession of judicial authority alone. Gracchus's final decision, therefore, was to create a wholly new panel of judices which should be made up exclusively from the members of the titular class of knights.
It was not necessary or desirable that the judiciary law should make any mention of a class, or employ the courtesy title of equites to designate the new judges. The effect might be less invidiously secured by demanding qualifications which were practically identical with the social conditions requisite for the possession of titular knighthood. One of the determining factors was a property qualification, and this was possibly placed at the modest total of four hundred thousand sesterces. This was the amount of capital which seems at this period to have given its possessor the right of serving on horseback in the army and therefore the claim to the title of eques, but it was a sum that did not convey alarming suggestions of government by millionaires, but rather pointed to the upper middle class as the fittest depositaries of judicial power. Not only were magistrates and ex-magistrates excluded from the Bench, but the disqualification extended to the fathers, brothers and sons of magistrates and of past or present senators. The ostensible purpose of these provisions was doubtless to ensure that the selected jurors should be bound by no tie of kindred to the individuals who would appear before their judgment seat; but they must have had the effect of excluding from the new panel many of the true knights belonging to the eighteen centuries; for this select corps was largely composed of members of the noble families. A similar effect would have been produced by the age qualification. The Gracchan jurors were to be over thirty and under sixty, while a large number of the military equites were under the former limit of age, in consequence of the practice of retiring from the corps after the attainment of the quaestorship or selection into the senate. The aristocratic element in the equestrian order, if this latter expression be used in its widest sense to include both the military and civilian knights, was thus rigorously excluded: and there remained but the men whose business interests were in no way complicated by respect for senatorial traditions. The official list of the new jurors (album judicum) was probably to be made out annually; and there is every reason to suppose that there was a considerable change of personnel at each revision, since one of the conditions of membership of the panel--residence within a mile of Rome--could hardly have been observed by business men with world-wide interests for any extended period. The conception which still prevailed that judicial service was a burden (munus), would alone have led the revising authority to free past jurors from the service: and the practice must have been welcome to the capitalists themselves, many of whom may well have desired the share of power and perhaps of profit which jurisdiction over their superiors conferred. We are told that the selection of the first panel was entrusted to the legislator himself; for the future the Foreign Praetor was to draw up the annual list of four hundred and fifty who were qualified to hear cases of extortion. It is not known whether this was the full number of the new jurors, or whether there were additional members selected by a different authority for the trial of other offences. It is not probable that the judiciary law of Gracchus imposed the new class of judices directly on the civil courts. The judex of private law still retained his character of an arbitrator appointed by the consent of the parties, and it would have been improper to restrict this choice to a class defined by statute. But the practical monopoly of jurisdiction in important cases, which senators seem to have acquired, was henceforth broken through, and the judex in civil suits was sometimes taken from the equestrian order.
The superficial aspect of this great change seemed full of promise for the future. The ample means of the new jurors might be taken as a guarantee of their purity; their selection from the middle class, as a security of the soundness and disinterestedness of their judgments. Perhaps Gracchus himself was the victim of this hope, and believed that the scourge of the nobility which he had placed in the hands of the knights, might at least be decorously wielded. The judgment of the after-world varied as to the mode in which they exercised their power. Cicero, in advocating the claims of the order to a renewed tenure of authority, could urge that during their possession of the courts for nearly fifty years, their judgments had never been tainted by the least suspicion of corruption. This was a safe assertion if suspicion is only justified by proof; for the Gracchan jurors seem to have been from the first exempted from all prosecution for bribery. This legal exemption is all the more remarkable as Gracchus himself was the author of a law which permitted a criminal prosecution for a corrupt judgment. It is difficult to understand the significance of this enactment, for the magistrates, against whom it was directed, were in few cases judges of fact, except in the military domain. It could not have referred to the president of a standing commission who was a mere vehicle for the judgment of the jury; but Gracchus probably contemplated the occasional revival of special commissions sanctioned by the people, and it is possible that even the two praetors who presided over the civil courts may have been subject to the operation of the law, which may not have been directed merely against corrupt sentences in criminal matters, as was subsequently the case when the law was renewed by Sulla. It is even possible that the law dates from a period anterior to the creation of the equestrian judices; but, even on this hypothesis, the exclusion of the latter from its operation was something of an anomaly; for even the civil judex of Rome, on whose analogy the jurors of the standing commissions had been created, was in early times criminally, and at a later period at least pecuniarily, liable for an unjust sentence. We shall elsewhere have occasion to dwell on the value which the equestrian order attached to this immunity, and we shall see that its relief at the freedom from vexatious prosecution is of itself no sign of corruption. One of our authorities does indeed emphatically assert the ultimate prevalence of bribery in the equestrian courts: and circumstances may be easily imagined which would have made this resort natural, if not inevitable. A band of capitalists eager to secure a criminal verdict, which had a purely commercial significance, would scarcely be slow to employ commercial methods with their less wealthy representatives on the Bench, and votes might have been purchased by transactions in which cash payments played no part. But the corruption of individuals was of far less moment than the solidarity of interest and collective cupidity of the mercantile order as a whole. The verdicts of the courts reflected the judgment of the Exchange. It was even possible to create a prosecution simply for the purpose of damning a man who, in the exercise of his authority, had betrayed tendencies which were interpreted as hostile to capitalism.
The future war between the senate and the equites would not have been waged so furiously, had not Gracchus given his favoured class the chance of asserting a positive control, in virtue of an almost official position, over the richest domains of the Roman world. The fatal bequest of Attalus was still the plaything of parties; but the prize which Tiberius had destined for the people was used by Caius to seal his compact with the knights. The concession, which could not be openly avowed, was accomplished by means so indirect that its meaning must have escaped the majority of the voters who sanctioned it, and its consequences may not have been fully grasped by the legislator himself. The masses who applauded the new law about the province of Asia, may have seen in it but a promise of the increase of their revenues; while the desire of swelling the public finances, which he had so heavily burdened, of putting an end to the anomalous condition of a district which was neither free nor governed, neither protectorate nor province, perhaps even of meeting the wishes of some of the Asiatic provincials, who preferred regular to irregular exactions, may have been combined in the mind of Gracchus with the wish to see the equites confront the senate in yet another sphere. The change which he proposed was one concerned with the taxation of the province. It cannot be determined how far he was responsible for the infliction of new burdens on Rome's Asiatic subjects. The increase of the public revenue, of which he boasted in one of his speeches to the people, the new harbour dues with which he is credited, may point to certain creations of his own; but the end at which he aimed seems to have been mainly a revival of the system of taxation which had been current in the kingdom of the Attalids, accompanied by a new and, as he possibly thought, better system of collection. It could not have been he who first burdened the taxpayer with the payment of tithes; for this method of revenue was of immense antiquity in all Hellenised lands and is not likely to have been unknown to the kings of Pergamon. It is a method that, from its elastic nature, bears less heavily on the agriculturist than that of a direct impost; for the payment is conditioned by the size of the crops and is independent of the changing value of money. The chief objection to the tax, considered in itself and apart from its accompanying circumstances, was the immensity of the revenue which it yielded; the sums exacted by an Oriental despot were unnecessary for the economical administration of Rome; and the Roman administration of half a century earlier might have reduced the tithe to a twentieth as it had actually cut down the taxes of Macedonia to one-half of their original amount. Sicily, indeed, furnished an example of the tithe system; but the expenses of a government decrease in proportion to the area of administration, and Sicily could not furnish the ample harbour dues and other payments in money, which should have made the commercial wealth of Asia lighten the burden on the holder of land. The rating of the new province was, in fact, an admission of a change in the theory of imperial taxation. Asia was not merely to be self-supporting; her revenues were to yield a surplus which should supplement the deficit of other lands, or aid in the support of the proletariate of the capital.
The realisation of this principle may not have imposed heavier burdens than Asia had known in the time of her kings. But the fiction that the new dependency was to be maintained in a state of "freedom," which even after the downfall of Aristonicus seems to have exercised some influence on Roman policy, had led to a suspension of regular taxation for the purposes of the central government, which caused the Gracchan proposals to be regarded by certain political circles at Rome in the light of a novelty, and probably of a hardship. They could hardly have borne either character to the Asiatic provincials themselves. The war indemnities and exactions which followed the great struggle, must have been a more grievous burden than the system of taxation to which they were inured: and it is incredible that during the six years which had elapsed since the suppression of the revolt, or even the three years that had passed since the completion of Aquillius's organisation, no revenues had been raised by Rome from her new subjects for administrative purposes. They probably had been raised, but in a manner exasperating because irregular. What was needed was a methodical system, which should abolish at once the fiction of "freedom" and the reality of the exactions meted out at the caprice of the governor of the moment. Such a system was supplied by Gracchus, and it was doubtless reached by the application of the characteristic Roman method of maintaining, whether for good or ill, the principles of organisation which were already in existence in the new dependency.
The novelty of the Gracchan system lay, not in the manner of taxation, but in the method adopted for securing the returns. The greatest obstacle to the tithe system is the difficulty of instituting an efficient method of collection. To gather in taxes which are paid in kind and to dispose of them to the best advantage, is a heavy burden for a municipality. The desire for a system of contract is sure to arise, and in an Empire the efficient contractor is more likely to be found in the central state than in any of its dependencies. It was of this feeling that Gracchus took advantage when he enacted that the taxes of Asia should be put up for auction at Rome, and that the whole province should be regarded as a single area of taxation at the great auction which the censor held in the capital. It was certain that no foreign competition could prevail in this sale of a kingdom's revenues. The right to gather in the tithes could be purchased only by a powerful company of Roman capitalists. The Decumani of Asia would represent the heart and brain of the mercantile body; they would form a senate and a Principate amongst the Publicani. They would flood the province with their local directors, their agents and their freedmen; and each station would become a centre for a banking business which would involve individuals and cities in a debt, of which the tithe was but a fraction. Nor need their operations be confined to the dominions of Rome; they would spread over Phrygia, rendered helpless by the gift of freedom, and creep into the realms of the neighbouring protected kings, safe in the knowledge that the magic name of "citizen of Rome" was a cover to the most doubtful transaction and a safeguard against the slightest punishment. The collectors were liable to no penalties for extortion, for that crime could be committed only by a Roman magistrate: and their possession of the courts enabled them to raise the spectre of conviction on this very charge before the eyes of any governor who might attempt to check the devastating march of the battalions of commerce.
As merchants and bankers the Knights would be sufficiently protected by the judicial powers of their class; but their operations as speculators in tithes needed another safeguard. The contracts made with the censor would extend over a period of five years, and the keenness of the competing companies would generally ensure to the State the promise of an enormous sum for the privilege of farming the taxes. But the tithe might be reduced in value by a bad harvest or the ravages of war, and the successful company might overreach itself in its eagerness to secure the contract. The power of revising such bargains had once assured to the senate the securest hold which it possessed over the mercantile class. This complete dependence was now to be removed, and Gracchus, while not taking the power of decision from the senate, formulated in his law certain principles of remission which it was expected to observe.
By these indirect and seemingly innocent changes in the relations of the mercantile order to the senate, a new balance of power had been created in the State. The Republic, according to the reflection of a later writer, had been given two heads, and this new Janus, more ominous than the old, was believed to be the harbinger of deadly conflict between the rival powers. In moments of calm Gracchus may have believed that his reforms were but a renewed illustration of that genius for compromise out of which the Roman constitution had grown, and that he had but created new and necessary defences against a recently developed absolutism; but, in the heat of the conflict into which he was soon plunged, his vindictive fancy saw but the gloomier aspect of his new creation, and he boasted that the struggle for the courts was a dagger which he had hurled into the Forum, an instrument which the possessor would use to mangle the body of his opponent.
But even these limitations of senatorial prerogative were not deemed sufficient. A proposal was made which had the ingenious scope of limiting the senate's control over the more important provinces in favour of the magistrates, the equestrian order and the people. One of the most valuable items of patronage which the senate possessed was the assignment of the consular provinces. They claimed the right of deciding which of the annual commands without the walls should be reserved for the consuls of the year, and by their disposition in this matter could reward a favourite with wealth or power, and condemn a political opponent to impotence or barren exile. This power had long been employed as a means of coercing the two chief magistrates into obedience to the senate's will, and the equestrian order must have viewed with some alarm the possibility of Asia becoming the prize of the candidates favoured by the nobility. Had Gracchus declared that the direct election to provincial commands should henceforth be in the hands of the people, the change would have been but a slight departure from an admitted constitutional precedent; for there is little more than a technical difference between electing a man for an already ascertained sphere of operations, as had been done in the cases of Terentius Varro and the two Scipios during the Punic wars, and attaching a special command to an individual already elected. But Gracchus preferred the traditional and indirect method. He did not question the right of the senate to decide what provinces should be assigned to the consuls, but he enacted that this decision should be made before these magistrates were elected to office. The people would thus, in their annual choice of the highest magistrates, be electing not only to a sphere of administration at home, but to definite foreign commands as well; the prize which the senate had hitherto bestowed would be indirectly the people's gift, and the nominees of the Comitia would find themselves in possession of departments which were presumably the most important that lay at the disposal of the senate. To secure the finality of the arrangement made by the senate, and to prevent this body subsequently reversing an awkward assignment to which it had unwittingly committed itself, Gracchus ordained that the tribunician veto should not be employed against the senate's decision as to what provinces should be reserved for the future consuls; for he knew that the tribune was often the instrument of the government, and that the suspensory veto of this magistrate could cause the question of assignment to drag on until after the consuls were elected, and thus restore to the senate its ancient right of patronage. The change, although it produced the desired results of freeing the magistrates from subservience, the mercantile order from a reasonable fear, and the people from the pain of seeing their favourite nominee rendered useless for the purposes for which he was appointed, cannot be said to have added anything to the efficiency of provincial administration. It may even be regarded as a retrograde step, as the commencement of that system of routine in provincial appointments, which regarded proved capacity for the government and defence of the subjects of Rome as the last qualification necessary for foreign command. The senate in its award may often have been swayed by unworthy motives; but it was sometimes moved by patriotic fears. Of the two consuls it might send the one of tried military ability to a province threatened by war and dismiss the mere politician to a peaceful district. But now, without any regard to present conditions or future contingencies, it was forced to assign departments to men whose very names were unknown. The people, in the exercise of their elective power, were acting almost as blindly as the senate; for the issues of a Roman election were often so ill-defined, its cross-currents, due to personal influence and the power of the canvass, so strong and perplexing, that it was rarely possible to predict the issue of the poll. On the other hand, if there was a candidate so eminent that his return could be predicted as a certainty, the senate might assign some insignificant spheres of administration as the provinces of the future consuls; and thus, in the one case where the decision might be influenced by knowledge and reason, the Gracchan law was liable to defeat its own ends. A further weakness of the enactment, from the point of view of efficiency, was that it made no attempt to alter the mode in which the designated provinces were to be occupied by their claimants. If the consuls could not come to an agreement as to which provincia each should hold, the chance of the lot still decided a question on which the future fortunes of the empire might turn.
It is a relief to turn from this work of demolition, which in spite of its many justifications is pervaded by a vindictive suspicion, to some great constructive efforts by which Gracchus proved himself an enlightened and disinterested social reformer. He did not view agrarian assignation as an alternative to colonisation, but recognised that the industrial spirit might be awakened by new settlements on sites favourable to commerce, as the agricultural interest had been aroused by the planting of settlers on the desolated lands. Gracchus was, indeed, not the first statesman to employ colonisation as a remedy for social evils; for economic distress and the hunger for land had played their part from the earliest times in the military settlements which Rome had scattered over Italy. But down to his time strategic had preponderated over industrial motives, and he was the first to suggest that colonisation might be made a means of relief for the better classes of the urban proletariate, whose activities were cramped and whose energies were stifled by the crowded life and heated atmosphere of the city. His settlers were to be carefully selected. They were actually to be men who could stand the test of an investigation into character. It seems clear that the new opportunities were offered to men of the lower middle class, to traders of cramped means or of broken fortunes. His other protégés had been cared for in other ways; the urban masses who lived on the margin of destitution had been assisted by the corn law, and the sturdy son of toil could look for help to the agrarian commission. Of the many settlements which he projected for Italy, two which were actually established during his second tribunate occupied maritime positions favourable for commerce. Scylacium, on the bay which lies southward of the Iapygian promontory, was intended to revivify a decayed Greek settlement and to reawaken the industries of the desolated Bruttian coast; while Neptunia was seemingly the name of the new entrepôt which he founded at the head of the Tarentine Gulf. It was apparently established on the land which Rome had wrested from Tarentum, and may have originally formed a town distinct from this Greek city, once the great seaport of Calabria, but retaining little of its former greatness since its partial destruction in the Punic wars. Its Hellenism was on the wane, and this decline in its native civilisation may account for the fact that the new and the old foundations seem eventually to have been merged into one, and that Tarentum could receive a purely Latin constitution after the close of the Social War. Its purple fisheries and rich wine-producing territory were worthy objects of the enterprise of Gracchus. Capua was a still greater disgrace to the Roman administration than Tarentum. Its fertile lands were indeed cultivated by lessees of Rome and yielded a large annual produce to the State. But the unredeemed site, on which had stood the pride of Southern Italy, was still a lamentable witness to the jealousy of the conqueror. Here Gracchus proposed to place a settlement which through its commercial promise might amply have compensated for a loss of a portion of the State's domain. Neither he nor his brother had ever threatened the distribution of the territory of Capua, and it is, therefore, probable that in this case he did not contemplate a large agricultural foundation, but rather one that might serve better than the existing village to focus the commerce of the Campanian plain. But the revenue from the domain, and the jealousy of Rome's old and powerful rival, which might be awakened in all classes, were strong weapons in the hands of his opponents, and the renewal of Capua was destined to be the work of a later and more fortunate leader of the party of reform. The colonising effort of Gracchus was plainly one that had the regeneration of Italy, as well as the satisfaction of distressed burgesses, as its object; none of the three sites, on which he proposed to establish his communes of citizens, possessed at the time an urban centre capable of utilising the vast possibilities of the area in which it was placed. But this twofold object was not to be limited to Italy. He dreamed of transmarine enterprise taking a more solid and more generally useful form than that furnished by the vagrant trader or the local agent of the capitalist. The idea and practice of colonisation across the sea were indeed no new ones; isolated foundations for military purposes, such as Palma and Pollentia in the Balearic Isles, were being planted by the direction of the government. But these were small settlements intended to serve a narrow purpose; they doubtless spread Roman customs and formed a basis for Roman trade; but, if these motives had entered into their foundation, the experiment would have been tried on a far larger scale. In truth the idea of permanent settlement beyond the seas did not appeal either to the Roman character or to the political theories of the governing classes. It is questionable whether an imperial people, forming but a tiny minority amongst its subjects, and easily reaping the fruits of its conquests, could ever take kindly to the adventure, the initial hardships, and the lasting exclusion from the dazzling life of the capital, which are implied in permanent residence abroad. The Roman in pursuit of gain was a restless spirit, who would voyage to any land that was, or was likely to be, under imperial control, establish his banking house and villa under any clime, and be content to spend the most active years of his life in the exploitation of the alien; but to him it was a living truth that all roads led to Rome. The city was the nucleus of enterprise, the heart of commerce; and such sentiment as the trader possessed was centred on the commercial life of the Forum and the political devices on which it fed. Such a spirit is not, favourable to true colonisation, which implies a detachment from the affairs of the mother city; and it was not by this means, but rather by the spontaneous evolution of natural centres for the teeming Italian immigrants already settled in the provinces, that the Romanisation of the world was ultimately assisted. Consequently no great pressure had ever been put on the government to induce it to relax the principles which led it to look with indifference or disfavour on the foundation of Roman settlements abroad. There was probably a fear that the establishment of communities of Roman citizens in the provinces might awaken the desire of the subject states to participate in Roman rights. It was deemed better that the highest goal of the provincial's ambition should be the freedom of his state, and that he should never dream of that absorption into the ruling body to which the Italian alone was permitted to aspire. Added to this maxim of statecraft was one of those curious superstitions which play so large a part in imperial politics and attain a show of truth from the superficial reading of history. It was pointed out by the wise that colonies had often proved more potent than their parent states, that Carthage had surpassed Tyre, Massilia Phocaea, Syracuse Corinth, and Cyzicus Miletus. In the same way a daughter of Rome might wax greater than her mother, and the city that governed Italy might be powerless to cope with a rebellious dependency in the provinces. This was not altogether an idle fear in the earlier days of conquest; for at any period before the war with Pyrrhus a transmarine city of Italian blood and customs might have proved a formidable rival. Nor at the stage which the empire had reached at the time of Gracchus was it without its justification; for Rome was by no means a convenient centre for a government that ruled in Asia as well as in Europe. It is more likely that the dread of rivalry was due to the singular defects of the aspect and environment of Rome, of which its citizens were acutely conscious, rather than to the awkwardness of its geographical position; but, had the latter deficiency been realised, it would be unfair to criticise the narrowness of view which failed to see that the change of a capital does not necessarily involve the surrender of a government. But, whether the objections implied in this superstition were shadowy or well defined, they could not have been lessened by the choice which was made by Gracchus and his friends of the site for their new transmarine settlement. It was none other than Carthage, the city which had been destroyed because the blessings of nature had made a mockery of conquest, the city that, if revived, would be the centre of the granary of Rome. A proposal for the renewal of Carthage under the name of Junonia was formulated by Rubrius, one of the colleagues of Gracchus in his first tribunate. The number of the colonists, which was less than six thousand, was specified in the enactment, and the proportion of the emigrants to the immense territory at his disposal rendered it possible for the legislator to assign unusually large allotments of land. A better and an inferior class of settlers were apparently distinguished, the former of whom were to hold no less than two hundred jugera apiece. The recipients of all allotments were to maintain them in absolute ownership, a system of tenure which had hitherto been confined to Italy being thus extended to provincial soil. Caius Gracchus and Fulvius Flaccus were named amongst the triumvirs who were to establish the new colony. It is probable that Roman citizens were alone considered eligible for the colonies both in Italy and abroad, when these foundations were first proposed, and that it was not until Gracchus had embarked on his enterprise of enfranchising the Latins, that he allowed them to participate in the benefits of his colonial schemes and thus indirectly acquire full Roman citizenship.
But the commercial life of Italy might be quickened by other means than the establishment of colonies whether at home or abroad. Gracchus saw that the question of rapid and easy communication between the existing towns was all important. The great roads of Rome betrayed their military intent in the unswerving inflexibility of their course. The positions which they skirted were of strategic, but not necessarily of industrial, importance. To bring the hamlet into connection with the township, and the township into touch with the capital, a series of good cross-roads was needed; and it was probably to this object that the law of Gracchus was directed. But ease of communication may serve a political as well as a commercial object. The representative character of the Comitia would be increased by the provision of facilities for the journey to Rome; and perhaps when Gracchus promulgated his measure, there was already before his mind the possibility of the extension of the franchise to the Latins, which would vastly increase the numbers of the rural electorate. In any case, the measure was one which tended to political centralisation, and Gracchus must have known that the attainment of this object was essential to the unity and stability of a popular government.
The great enterprise was carried through with extraordinary rapidity during his second tribunate. But the hastiness of the construction did not impair the beauty of the work. We are told that the roads ran straight and fair through the country districts, showing an even surface of quarried stone and tight-packed earth. Hollows were filled up, ravines and torrent beds were bridged, and mounting-blocks for horsemen lay at short and easy distances on both sides of the level course. Although the initial expense of this construction may have borne heavily on the finances of the State, it is probable that the future maintenance of the roads was provided for in other ways. The commerce which they fostered may have paid its dues at toll-gates erected for the purpose: and the ancient Roman device of creating a class of settlers on the line of a public road, for the purpose of keeping it in repair, was probably extended. Road-making was often the complement of agrarian assignation, and the two may have been employed concurrently by Gracchus. It was the custom to assign public land on the borders of a highway to settlers, the tenure of which was secured to them and their heirs on condition of keeping the road in due repair. Sometimes their own labour and that of their slaves were reckoned the equivalent of the usual dues; at other times the dues themselves were used by the public authorities for the purpose. Gracchus may thus have turned his agrarian law to an end which was not contemplated by that of Tiberius.
The execution of the law must have been a heavy blow to the power and prestige of the senate. Its control of the purse was infringed and it ceased to be the sole employer of public labour. For Gracchus, in defiance of the principle that the author of a measure should not be its executant, was his own road-maker, as his brother Tiberius had been his own land commissioner. He was the patron of the contractor and the benefactor of the Italian artisan. The bounties which he now gave were the reward of labour, and not subject to the criticism which had attended his earlier efforts for the relief of poverty in Rome; but some pretended to take the sinister view that the bands of workmen by which he was surrounded might be employed for a less innocent purpose than the making of roads..
The proceedings of Gracchus during his first year of office had made it inevitable that he should hold the tribunate for a second time. Enough had been performed to win him the ardent support of the masses; enough had been promised to make his return to office desirable, not only to the people, but to the expectant capitalists. The legal hindrances to re-election had been removed, or could be evaded, and the continuity of power, which was essential to the realisation of an adequate programme of reform, could now for the first time be secured. In the present state of public feeling there was little probability of the veto being employed by any one of his future colleagues, although some of these would inevitably be moderates or members of the senatorial party. But Gracchus was eager that his cause should be represented in another department of the State, which presented possibilities of assistance or of mischief, and that the spectacle of the tribunate as the sole focus of democratic sentiment, exalting itself in opposition to the higher magistracies of the people, should, if possible, be averted. In one of his addresses to the commons he said he had to ask a favour of them. Were it granted, he would value it above all things; should they think good to refuse, he would bear no grudge against them. Here he paused; the favour remained undisclosed; and he left popular imagination to revel in the possibilities of his claims. It was a happy stroke; for he had filled the minds of his auditors with a gratifying sense of their own boundless power, and with suspicions of illegal ambitions, with which it was well that they should become familiar, but which one dramatic moment would for the time dispel. His words were interpreted as a request for the consulship: and the prevalent opinion is said to have been that he desired to hold this office in combination with the tribunate. The time for the consular elections was approaching and expectation was roused to its highest pitch, when Gracchus was seen conducting Gaius Fannius into the Forum and, with the assistance of his own friends, accosting the electors in his behalf. The candidate was a man whose political temperament Caius had had full opportunities of studying. As a tribune he had been much under the influence of Scipio Aemilianus, and as he rose slowly through the grades of curule rank, he must still have retained his character as a moderate. He was therefore preferable to any candidate put forward by the optimates: and the influence of Gracchus secured Fannius the consulship almost at the moment when, without the trouble of a canvass or even of a formal candidature, he himself secured his second term of office. His position was further strengthened by the return of the ex-consul Fulvius Flaccus, as one of his colleagues in the tribunate.
It was now, when the grand programme was actually being carried through, and the execution of the most varied measures was being pressed on by a single hand, that the possibilities of personal government were first revealed in Rome. The fiery orator was less to be dreaded than the unwearied man of action, whose restless energy was controlled by a clearness of judgment and concentration of purpose, which could distinguish every item of his vast sphere of administration and treat the task of the moment as though it were the one nearest to his heart. Even those who hated and feared Gracchus were struck with amazement at the practical genius which he revealed; while the sight of the leader in the midst of his countless tasks, surrounded by the motley retinue which they involved, roused the wondering admiration of the masses. At one moment he was being interviewed by a contractor for public works, at another by an envoy from some state eager to secure his mediation; the magistrate, the artisan, the soldier and the man of letters besieged his presence chamber, and each was received with the appropriate word and the kindly dignity, which kings may acquire from training, but men of kingly nature receive from heaven as a seal of their fitness to rule. The impression of overbearing violence which had been given by his speeches, was immediately dispelled by contact with the man. The time of storm and stress had been passed for the moment, and in the fruition of his temporary power the true character of Gracchus was revealed. The pure intellectual enjoyment which springs from the sense of efficiency and the effective pursuit of a long-desired task, will not be shaken by the awkward impediments of the moment. All the human instruments, which the work demands, reflect the value of the object to which they contribute: and Gracchus was saved from the insolent pride of the patrician ruler and the helpless peevishness of the mere agitator whom circumstances have thrust into power, by the fact that his emotional nature was mastered by an intellect which had outlived prejudice and had never known the sense of incapacity. By the very character of its circumstances the regal nature was forced into a style of life which resembled and foreshadowed that of the coming monarchy. The accessibility to his friends and clients of every grade was the pride of the Roman noble, and doubtless Gracchus would willingly have modelled his receptions on the informal pattern which sufficed the proudest patrician at the head of the largest clientèle. But Gracchus's callers were not even limited to the whole of Rome; they came from Italy and the provinces: and it was found to be essential to adopt some rules of precedence, which would produce a methodical approach to his presence and secure each of his visitors an adequate hearing. He was the first Roman, we are told, to observe certain rules of audience. Some members of the crowd which thronged his ante-chamber, were received singly, others in smaller or in larger groups. It is improbable that the mode of reception varied wholly with the official or social rank of those admitted; the nature of the client's business must also have dictated the secrecy or publicity of the interview; but the system must have seemed to his baffled enemies a welcome confirmation of their real or pretended fears--a symptom of the coming, if not actual, overthrow of Republicanism, the suspicion of which might one day be driven even into the thick heads of the gaping crowds, who stood by the portals to gaze at the ever-shifting throng of callers and to marvel at the power and popularity of their leader. Had Gracchus been content to live in the present and to regard his task as completed, it is just possible that the diverse interests which he had so dexterously welded together might have enabled him to secure, not indeed a continuity of power (for that would have been as strenuously resisted by the middle as by the upper class), but immediate security from the gathering conspiracy, the preservation of his life, and the probability of a subsequent political career. It is, however, difficult, to conceive that the position which Gracchus held could be either resigned or forgiven; and, although we cannot credit him with any conscious desire for holding a position not admitted by the laws, yet his genius unconsciously led him to identify the commonwealth with himself, while his mind, as receptive as it was progressive, would not have readily acquiesced in the view that a political creation can at any moment be called complete. The disinterested statesman will cling to power as tenaciously as one devoured by the most sordid ambition: and even on the lowest ground of personal security, the possession of authority is perhaps more necessary to the one than to the other. So indissolubly blended are the power and the projects of a leader, that it is idle to raise the question whether personal motives played any part in the project with which Gracchus was now about to delight his enemies and alienate his friends. He took up anew the question of the enfranchisement of the Italians--a question which the merest political tyro could have told him was enough to doom the statesman who spoke even a word in its favour. But Caius's position was no ordinary one, and he may have regarded his present influence as sufficient to induce the people to accept the unpalatable measure, the success of which might win for himself and his successors a wider constituency and a more stable following. The error in judgment is excusable in one who had never veiled his sympathy with the Italian cause, and had hitherto found it no hindrance to his popularity; but so clear-sighted a man as Gracchus must have felt at times that he was staking, not only his own career, but the fate of the programme and the party which he had built up, on the chance of securing an end, which had ceased to be regarded as the mere removal of an obstacle and had grown to be looked on as the coping-stone of a true reformer's work.
The scope of his proposal was more moderate than that which had been put forward by Flaccus. He suggested the grant of the full rights of citizenship to the Latins, and of Latin rights to the other Italian allies. Italy was thus, from the point of view of private law, to be Romanised almost up to the Alps; while the cities already in enjoyment of some or all of the private privileges of the Roman, were to see the one anomaly removed, which created an invidious distinction between them and the burgess towns, hampered their commerce, and imperilled their landed possessions. The proposal had the further advantage that it took account of the possible unwillingness of many of the federate cities to accept the Roman franchise; such a refusal was not likely to be made to the offer of Latin rights: for the Latin community was itself a federate city with its own laws, magistrates and courts, and the sense of autonomy would be satisfied while many of the positive benefits of Roman citizenship would be gained. Grades of privilege would still exist in Italy, and a healthy discontent might in time be fostered, which would lead all Italian communities to seek absorption into the great city. Past methods of incorporation might be held to furnish a precedent; the scheme proposed by Gracchus was hardly more revolutionary than that which had, in the third and at the beginning of the second centuries, resulted in the conferment of full citizenship on the municipalities of half-burgesses. It differed from it only in extending the principle to federate towns; but the rights of the members of the Latin cities bore a close resemblance to those of the old municipes, and they might easily be regarded as already enjoying the partial citizenship of Rome. The conferment of this partial citizenship on the other Italians, while in no way destroying local institutions or impairing local privileges, would lead to the possibility of a common law for the whole of Italy, would enable every Italian to share in the benefits of Roman business life, and appear in the court of the urban praetor to defend such rights as he had acquired, by the use of the forms of Roman law. The tentativeness of the character of Gracchus's proposal, while recommending it as in harmony with the cautious spirit of Roman development which had worked the great changes of the past, may also have been dictated by the feeling that the more moderate scheme stood a better chance of acceptance by the mob of Rome. All he asked was that the grievances which had led to the revolt of Fregellae, and the dangers revealed by that revolt, should be removed. The numbers of the added citizens would not be overwhelming; for the majority of Italians all that was asked was the possession of certain private rights, which had been so ungrudgingly granted to communities in the past. Throughout the campaign he probably laid more stress on the duty of protecting the individual than on the right of the individual to power. And the fact that the protection was demanded, not against the Roman State, but against an oppressive nobility that disgraced it by a misuse of its powers, gave a democratic colouring to the demand, and suggested a community of suffering, and therefore of sympathy, between the donors and recipients of the gift. Even before his franchise law was before the world, he seems to have been engaged in educating his auditors up to this view of the case; for it was probably in the speeches with which he introduced his law for the better protection of the life of the Roman citizen, that he illustrated the cruel caprice of the nobility by grisly stories of the sufferings of the Italians. He had told of the youthful legate who had had a cow-herd of Venusia scourged to death, as an answer to the rustic's jesting query whether the bearers of the litter were carrying a corpse: and of the consul who had scourged the quaestor of Teanum Sidicinum, the man of noblest lineage in his state, because the men's baths, in which the consul's wife had elected to bathe, were not adequately prepared for her reception. Since the objections of the populace to the extension of the franchise were the result of prejudice rather than of reason, they might be weakened if the sense of jealousy and distrust could be diverted from the people's possible rivals to the common oppressors of Rome and Italy.
The appeal to sentiment might have been successful, had not the most sordid passions of the mob been immediately inflamed by the oratory of the opponents of the measure. The most formidable of these opponents was drawn from the ranks of Gracchus's own supporters; for the franchise question had again proved a rock which could make shipwreck of the unity of the democratic party. His protégé, the consul Fannius, was not ashamed to appeal to the most selfish instincts of the populace. "Do you suppose," he said, "that, when you have given citizenship to the Latins, there will be any room left for you at public gatherings, or that you will find a place at the games or festivals? Will they not swamp everything with their numbers?" 
Fannius, as a moderate, was an excellent exponent of senatorial views, and it was believed that many noble hands had collaborated in the crushing speech which inflicted one of its death-blows on the Gracchan proposal.
The opportunity for active opposition had at last arrived, and the senate was emboldened to repeat the measure which four years earlier had swept the aliens out of Rome. Perhaps in consequence of powers given by the law of Pennus, the consul Fannius was empowered to issue an edict that no Italian, who did not possess a vote in the Roman assemblies, should be permitted within five miles of Rome at the time when the proposal about the franchise was to be submitted to the Comitia. Caius answered this announcement with a fiery edict of his own, in which he inveighed against the consul and promised his tribunician help to any of the allies who chose to remain in the city. The power which he threatened to exercise was probably legal, since there is no reason to suppose that the tribunician auxilium could be interposed solely for the assistance of members of the citizen body; but he must have known that the execution of this promise was impracticable, since the injured party could be aided only by the personal interposition of the tribune, and it was clear that a single magistrate, burdened with many cares, and living a life of the most varied and strenuous activity, could not be present in every quarter of Rome and in a considerable portion of the surrounding territory. Even the cooperation of his ardent colleague Flaccus could not have availed for the protection of many of his Italian friends, and the course of events so soon taught him the futility of this means of struggling for Italian rights that when, somewhat later in the year, one of his Italian friends was seized by a creature of Fannius before his eyes, he passed by without an attempt at aid. His enemies, he knew, were at the time eager for a struggle in which, when they had isolated him from his Italian supporters, physical violence would decide the day: and he remarked that he did not wish to give them the pretext for the hand-to-hand combat which they desired. One motive, indeed, of the invidious edict issued by the consul seems to have been to leave Gracchus to face the new position which his latest proposal had created, without any external help; but as external help, if successfully asserted, could only have taken the form of physical violence, there was reasonable ground for holding that the decree excluding the Italians was the only means of preventing a serious riot or even a civil war. The senate could scarcely have feared the moral influence of the Italians on the voting populace of Rome, and they knew that, in the present state of public sentiment, the constitutional means of resistance which had failed against Tiberius Gracchus might be successfully employed against his brother. The whole history of the first tribunate of Caius Gracchus proves the frank recognition of the fact that the tribunician veto could no longer be employed against a measure which enlisted anything like the united support of the people; but, like all other devices for suspending legislation, its employment was still possible for opponents, and welcome even to lukewarm supporters, when the body politic was divided on an important measure and even the allies of its advocate felt their gratitude and their loyalty submitted to an unwelcome strain. Resistance by means of the intercession did not now require the stolid courage of an Octavius, and when Livius Drusus threatened the veto, there was no question of his deposition. Some nerve might have been required, had he made this announcement in the midst of an excited crowd of Italian postulants for the franchise; but from this experience he was saved by the precautionary measure taken by the senate. It is probable that Drusus's announcement caused an entire suspension of the legal machinery connected with the franchise bill, and that its author never ventured to bring it to the vote.
It is possible that to this stage of Gracchus's career belongs a proposal which he promulgated for a change in the order of voting at the Comitia Centuriata. The alteration in the structure of this assembly, which had taken place about the middle of the third century, had indeed done much to equalise the voting power of the upper and lower classes; but the first class and the knights of the eighteen centuries were still called on to give their suffrage first, and the other classes doubtless voted in the order determined by the property qualification at which they were rated. As the votes of each century were separately taken and proclaimed, the absolute majority required for the decisions of the assembly might be attained without the inferior orders being called on to express their judgment, and it was notorious that the opinion of later voters was profoundly influenced by the results already announced. Gracchus proposed that the votes of all the classes should be taken in an order determined solely by the lot. His interest in the Comitia Centuriata was probably due to the fact that it controlled the consular elections, and a democratic consulship, which he had vainly tried to secure by his support of Fannius, might be rendered more attainable by the adoption of the change which he advocated. The great danger of the coming year was the election of a consul strongly identified with the senatorial interest--of a man like Popillius who would be keen to seize some moment of reaction and attempt to ruin the leaders of the reform movement, even if he could not undo their work. It is practically certain that this proposal of Gracchus never passed into law, it is questionable whether it was ever brought before the Comitia. The reformer was immediately plunged into a struggle to maintain some of his existing enactments, and to keep the favour of the populace in the face of insidious attempts which were being made to undermine their confidence in himself.
The senate had struck out a new line of opposition, and they had found a willing, because a convinced, instrument for their schemes. It is inconceivable that a council, which reckoned within itself representatives of all the noblest houses at Rome, should not have possessed a considerable number of members who were influenced by the political views of a Cato or a Scipio, or by the lessons of that humanism which had carried the Gracchi beyond the bounds of Roman caution, but which might suffuse a more conservative mind with just sufficient enlightenment to see that much was wrong, and that moderate remedies were not altogether beyond the limits of practicability. But this section of senatorial opinion could find no voice and take no independent action. It was crushed by the reactionary spirit of the majority of the peers, and frightened at the results to which its theories seem to lead, when their cautious qualifications, never likely to find acceptance with the masses, were swept away by more thorough-going advocates. But the voice, which the senate kept stifled during the security of its rule, might prove valuable in a crisis. The moderate might be put forward to outbid the extremist; for his moderation would certainly lead him to respect the prejudices of the mob, while any excesses, which he was encouraged or instructed to commit, need not touch the points essential to political salvation, and might be corrected, or left to a natural dissolution, when the crisis had been passed and the demagogue overthrown. The instrument chosen by the senate was Marcus Livius Drusus, the tribune who had threatened to interpose his veto on the franchise bill. There is no reason why the historian should not treat the political attitude of this rival of Gracchus as seriously as it seems to have been treated by Drusus's illustrious son, who reproduced, and perhaps borrowed from his father's career, the combination of a democratic propaganda, which threw specious unessentials to the people, with the design of maintaining and strengthening the rule of the nobility. The younger Drusus was, it is true, a convert to the Italian claims which his father had resisted; but even this advocacy shows development rather than change, for the party represented by the elder Drusus was by no means blind to the necessity for a better security of Italian rights. The difference between the father and the son was that the one was an instrument and the other an agent. But a man who is being consciously employed as an instrument, may not only be thoroughly honest, but may reap a harvest of moral and mental satisfaction at the opportunities of self-fulfilment which chance has thrown in his way. The position may argue a certain lack of the sense of humour, but is not necessarily accompanied by any conscious sacrifice of dignity. Certainly the public of Rome was not in the secret of the comedy that was being played. It saw only a man of high birth and aristocratic culture, gifted with all the authority which great wealth and a command of dignified oratory can give, approaching them with bounties greater in appearance than those which Gracchus had recently been willing to impart, attaching no conditions to the gift and, though speaking in the name of the senate, conveying no hint of the deprivation of any of the privileges that had so recently been won. And the new largess was for the Roman people alone; it was not depreciated by the knowledge that the blessings, which it conferred or to which it was added, would be shared by rivals from every part of Italy.
An aspirant for favour, who wished to enter on a race with the recent type of popular leader, must inevitably think of provision for the poor; but a mere copy or extension of the Gracchan proposals was impossible. No measure that had been fiercely opposed by the senate could be defended with decency by the representative, and, as Drusus came in after time to be styled, the "advocate" of that body. Such a scheme as an extension of the system of corn distribution would besides have shocked the political sense both of the patron and his clients, and would not have served the political purposes of the latter, since such a concession could not easily have been rescinded. The system of agrarian assignation, in the form in which it had been carried through by the hands of the Gracchi, had at the moment a complete machinery for its execution, and there was no plausible ground for extending this measure of benevolence. The older system of colonisation was the device which naturally occurred to Drusus and his advisers, and the choice was the more attractive in that it might be employed in a manner which would accentuate certain elements in the Gracchan scheme of settlement that had not commended themselves to public favour. The masses of Rome desired the monopoly of every prize which the favourite of the moment had to bestow; but Gracchus's colonies were meant for the middle class, not for the very poor, and the preliminary to membership of the settlements was an uncomfortable scrutiny into means, habits and character. The masses desired comfort. Capua may have pleased them, but they had little liking for a journey across the sea to the site of desolated Carthage. The very modesty of Gracchus's scheme, as shown in the number of the settlements projected and of the colonists who were to find a home in each, proved that it was not intended as a benefit to the proletariate as a whole. Drusus came forward with a proposal for twelve colonies, all of which were probably to be settled on Italian and Sicilian soil; each of these foundations was to provide for three thousand settlers, and emigrants were not excluded on the ground of poverty. An oblique reflection on the disinterestedness of Gracchus's efforts was further given in the clause which created the commissioners for the foundation of these new colonies, Drusus's name did not appear in the list. He asked nothing for himself, nor would he touch the large sums of money which must flow through the hands of the commissioners for the execution of so vast a scheme. The suspicion of self-seeking or corruption was easily aroused at Rome, as it must have been in any state where such large powers were possessed by the executive, and where no control of the details of execution or expenditure had ever been exercised by the people; and Gracchus's all-embracing energy had betrayed him into a position, which had been accepted in a moment of enthusiasm, but which, disallowed as it was by current sentiment and perhaps by the law, might easily be shaken by the first suggestion of mistrust. The scheme of Drusus, although it proved a phantom and perhaps already possessed this elusive character when the senate pledged its credit to the propounder of the measure, was of value as initiating a new departure in the history of Roman colonisation. Even Gracchus had not proposed to provide in this manner for the dregs of the city, and the first suggestion for forming new foundations simply for the object of depleting the plethora of Rome--the purpose real or professed of many later advocates of colonisation--was due to the senate as an accident in a political game, to Drusus perhaps as the result of mature reflection. Since his proposal, which was really one for agrarian assignation on an enormous scale, was meant to compete with Gracchus's plan for the founding of colonies, it was felt to be impossible to burden the new settlers with the payment of dues for the enjoyment of their land. Gracchus's colonists were to have full ownership of the soil allotted to them, and Drusus's could not be placed in an inferior position. But the existence of thirty-six thousand settlers with free allotments would immediately suggest a grievance to those citizens who, under the Gracchan scheme of land-assignment, had received their lots subject to the condition of the payment of annual dues to the State. If the new allotments were to be declared free, the burden must be removed from those which had already been distributed. Drusus and the senate thus had a logical ground for the step which seems to have been taken, of relieving all the land which had been distributed since the tribunate of the elder Gracchus from the payment of vectigal. It was a popular move, but it is strange that the senate, which was for the most part playing with promises, should have made up its mind to a definite step, the taking of which must have seriously injured the revenues of the State. But perhaps they regarded even this concession as not beyond recall, and they may have been already revolving in their minds those tortuous schemes of land-legislation, which in the near future were to go far to undo the work of the reformers.
The senate also permitted Drusus to propose a law for the protection of the Latins, which should prove that the worst abuses on which Gracchus dwelt might be removed without the gift of the franchise. The enactment provided that no Latin should be scourged by a Roman magistrate, even on military service. Such summary punishment must always have been illegal when inflicted on a Latin who was not serving as a soldier under Roman command and was within the bounds of the jurisdiction of his own state; the only conceivable case in which he could have been legally exposed to punishment at the hands of Roman officials in times of peace, was that of his committing a crime when resident or domiciled in Rome. In such circumstances the penalty may have been summarily inflicted, for the Latins as a whole did not possess the right of appeal to the Roman Comitia. The extension of the magisterial right of coercion over the inhabitants of Latin towns, and its application in a form from which the Roman citizen could appeal, were mere abuses of custom, which violated the treaties of the Latin states and were not first forbidden by the Livian law. But the declaration that the Latin might not be scourged by a Roman commander even on military service, was a novelty, and must have seemed a somewhat startling concession at a time when the Roman citizen was himself subject to the fullest rigour of martial law. It was, however, one that would appeal readily to the legal mind of Rome, for it was a different matter for a Roman to be subject to the martial law of his own state, and for the member of a federate community to be subjected to the code of this foreign power. It was intended that henceforth the Latin should suffer at least the degrading punishment of scourging only after the jurisdiction and on the bidding of his own native commander; but it cannot be determined whether he was completely exempted from the military jurisdiction of the Roman commander-in-chief --an exemption which might under many circumstances have proved fatal to military discipline and efficiency. There is every reason to suppose that this law of Drusus was passed, and some reason to believe that it continued valid until the close of the Social War destroyed the distinctions between the rights of the Latin and the Roman. Its enactment was one of the cleverest strokes of policy effected by Drusus and the senate; for it must have satisfied many of the Latins, who were eager for protection but not for incorporation, while it illustrated the weakness, and as it may have seemed to many, the dishonesty, of Gracchus's seeming contention that abuses could only be remedied by the conferment of full political rights. The whole enterprise of Drusus fully attained the immediate effect desired by the senate. The people were too habituated to the rule of the nobility to remember grievances when approached as friends; the advances of the senate were received in good faith, and Drusus might congratulate himself that a representative of the Moderates had fulfilled the appropriate task of a mediator between opposing factions.
We might have expected that Gracchus, in the face of such formidable competition, would have stood his ground in Rome and would have exhausted every effort of his resistless oratory in exhibiting the dishonesty of his opponents and in seeking to reclaim the allegiance of the people. But perhaps he held that the effective accomplishment of another great design would be a better object-lesson of his power as a benefactor and a surer proof of the reality of his intentions, as contrasted with the shadowy promises of Drusus. He availed himself of his position of triumvir for the foundation of the colony of Junonia--an office which the senate gladly allowed him to accept--and set sail for Africa to superintend in person the initial steps in the creation of his great transmarine settlement. His original plan was soon modified by the opposition which it encountered; the promised number of allotments was raised to six thousand, and Italians were now invited to share in the foundation. Both of these steps were doubtless the result of the senate's dalliance with colonial schemes and with the Latins, but the latter may also be interpreted as a desperate effort to get the colony under weigh at any cost. Fulvius Flaccus, who was also one of the colonial commissioners, either stayed at Rome during the entire period of his colleague's absence or paid but the briefest visit to Africa; for he is mentioned as the representative of the party's interests in Rome during Gracchus's residence in the province. The choice of the delegate was a bad one. Not only was Flaccus hated by the senate, but he was suspected by the people. These in electing him to the tribunate had forgiven his Italian leanings when the Italian cause was held to be extinct; but now the odium of the franchise movement clung to him afresh, and suspicion was rife that the secret dealings with the allies, which were believed to have led to the outbreak of Fregellae, had never been interrupted or had lately been renewed. The difficulties of his position were aggravated by faults of manner. He possessed immense courage and was an excellent fighter; but, like many men of combative disposition, he was tactless and turbulent. His reckless utterances increased the distrust with which he was regarded, and Gracchus's popularity necessarily waned with that of his lieutenant.
Meanwhile the effort was being made to reawaken Carthage and to defy the curse in which Scipio had declared that the soil of the fallen city should be trodden only by the feet of beasts. No scruple could be aroused by the division of the surrounding lands; the site where Carthage had stood was alone under the ban, and had Gracchus been content with mere agrarian assignment or had he established Junonia at some neighbouring spot, his opponents would have been disarmed of the potent weapon which superstition invariably supplied at Rome. As it was, alarming rumours soon began to spread of dreadful signs which had accompanied the inauguration of the colony. When the colonists according to ancient custom were marching to their destined home in military order with standards flying, the ensign which headed the column was caught by a furious wind, torn from the grip of its resisting bearer, and shattered on the ground. When the altars had been raised and the victims laid upon them, a sudden storm-blast caught the offerings and hurled them beyond the boundaries of the projected city which had recently been cut by the share. The boundary-stones themselves were visited by wolves, who seized them in their teeth and carried them off in headlong flight. The reality of the last alarming phenomenon, perhaps of all these omens, was vehemently denied by Gracchus and by Flaccus; but, even if the reports now flying abroad in Rome had any basis in fact, the circumstances of the foundation did not deter the leader nor frighten away his colonists. Gracchus proceeded with his work in an orderly and methodical manner, and when he deemed his personal supervision no longer essential, returned to Rome after an absence of seventy days. He was recalled by the news of the unequal contest that was being waged between the passionate Fulvius and the adroit Drusus. Clearly the circumstances required a cooler head than that possessed by Flaccus; and there was the threat of a still further danger which rendered Gracchus's presence a necessity. The consulship for the following year was likely to be gained by one of the most stalwart champions of ultra-aristocratic views. Lucius Opimius had been defeated when seeking that office in the preceding year, chiefly through the support which Gracchus's advocacy had secured to Fannius. Now there was every chance of his success; for Opimius's chief claim to distinction was the prompt action which he had shown in the conquest of Fregellae, and the large numbers of the populace who detested the Italian cause were likely to aid his senatorial partisans in elevating him to the consulship. The consular elections might exercise a reactionary influence on the tribunician; and, if Gracchus's candidature was a failure, he might be at the mercy of a resolute opponent, who would regard his destruction as the justifiable act of a saviour of society.
When Caius returned, the people as a whole seemed more apathetic than hostile. They listened with a cold ear both to appeals and promises, and this coldness was due to satiety rather than suspicion. They had been promised so much within the last few months that demagogism seemed to be a normal feature of existence, and no keen emotion was stirred by any new appeal to their vanity or to their interests. Such apathy, although it may favour the military pretender, is more to be dreaded than actual discontent by the man who rules merely by the force of character and eloquence. Criticism may be met and faced, and, the keener it is, the more it shows the interest of the critics in their leader. Pericles was hated one moment, deified the next; but no man could profess to be indifferent to his personality and designs. Gracchus took the lesson to heart, and concentrated his attention on the one class of his former supporters, whose daily life recalled a signal benefit which he had conferred, a class which might be moved by gratitude for the past and hope for the future. One of his first acts after his return was to change his residence from the Palatine to a site lying below the Forum. Here he had the very poor as his neighbours, the true urban proletariate which never dreamed of availing itself of agrarian assignments or colonial schemes, but set a very real value on the corn-distributions, and may have believed that their continuance would be threatened by Gracchus's fall from power. It is probable, however, that, even without this motive, the characteristic hatred which is felt by the partially destitute for the middle class, may have deepened the affection with which Gracchus was regarded by the poorer of his followers, when they saw him abandoned by the more outwardly respectable of his supporters. The present position of Gracchus showed clearly that the powerful coalition on which he had built up his influence had crumbled away. From a leader of the State he had become but the leader of a faction, and of one which had hitherto proved itself powerless to resist unaided a sudden attack by the government.
From this democratic stronghold he promulgated other laws, the tenor of which is unknown, while he showed his sympathy with the lower orders in a practical way which roused the resentment of his fellow-magistrates.  A gladiatorial show was to be given in the Forum on a certain day, and most of the magistrates had erected stands, probably in the form of a rude wooden amphitheatre, which they intended to let on hire. Gracchus chose to consider this proceeding as an infringement of the people's rights. It was perhaps not only the admission by payment, but the opinion that the enclosure unduly narrowed the area of observation and cut off all view of the performance from the surrounding crowd, that aroused Gracchus's protest, and he bade the magistrates pull down the erection that the poorer classes might have a free view of the spectacle. His request was disregarded, and Gracchus prepared a surprise for the obstinate organisers. On the very night before the show he sallied out with the workmen that his official duties still placed at his disposal; the tiers of seats were utterly demolished, and when day dawned the people beheld a vacant site on which they might pack themselves as they pleased. To the lower orders it seemed the act of a courageous champion, to the officials the wild proceeding of a headstrong demagogue. It could not have improved Gracchus's chances with the moneyed classes of any grade; he had merged their chances of enjoyment with that of the crowd and violated their sense of the prerogatives of wealth.
But, although Gracchus may have been acting violently, he was not acting blindly. He must have known that his cause was almost lost, but he must also have been aware that the one chance of success lay in creating a solidarity of feeling in the poorer classes, which could only be attained by action of a pronounced and vigorous type. To what extent he was successful in reviving a following which furnished numerical support superior, or even equivalent to, the classes alienated by his conduct or won over by the intrigues of his opponents, is a fact on which we have no certain information. Only one mention has been preserved of his candidature for a third tribunate: and this narrative, while asserting the near approach which Gracchus made to victory, confesses the uncertainty of the accounts which had been handed down of the election. The story ran that he really gained a majority of the votes, but that the tribune who presided, with the connivance of some of his colleagues, basely falsified the returns. It is a story that cannot be tested on account of our ignorance of the precautions taken, and therefore of the possibilities of fraud which might be exhibited, in the elections of this period. At a later period actual records of the voting were kept, in case a decision should be doubted; and had an appeal to a scrutiny been possible at this time, Gracchus was not the man to let the dubious result remain unchallenged. But the story, even if we regard it as expressing a mere suspicion, suggests the profound disappointment of a considerable class, which had given its favourite its united support and received the news of his defeat with surprise and resentment. It breathes the poor man's suspicion of the chicanery of the rich, and may be an index that Gracchus retained the confidence of his humbler supporters until the end.
The defeat, although a terrible blow, did not crush the spirit of Gracchus; it only rendered it more bitter and defiant. It was now that he exulted openly in the destructive character of his work, and he is said to have answered the taunts of his enemies by telling them that their laughter had a painful ring, and that they did not yet know the great cloud of darkness which his political activity had wrapped around their lives. The dreaded danger of Opimius's election was soon realised, and members of the newly appointed tribunician college were willing to put themselves at the orders of the senate. The surest proof that Gracchus had fallen would be the immediate repeal of one of his laws, and the enactment which was most assailable was that which, though passed under another's name, embodied his project for the refoundation of Carthage. This Rubrian law might be attacked on the ground that it contravened the rules of religious right, the violation of which might render any public act invalid; and the stories which had been circulated of the evil omens that had attended the establishment of Junonia, were likely to cause the scruples of the senate to be supported by the superstition of the people. Gracchus still held an official position as a commissioner for colonies, if not for land-distribution and the making of roads, but none of these positions gave him the authority to approach the people or the power to offer effective legal resistance to the threatened measure; any further opposition might easily take the form of a breach of the peace by a private individual and give his enemies the opportunity for which they were watching; and it was therefore with good reason that Gracchus at first determined to adopt a passive attitude in the face of the proposal of the tribune Minucius Rufus for the repeal of the Rubrian law. Even Cornelia seems to have counselled prudence, and it was perhaps this crisis in her son's career which drew from her the passionate letter, in which the mother triumphs over the patriot and she sees the ruin of the Republic and the madness of her house in the loss which would darken her declining years. This protest is more than consistent with the story that she sent country folk to swell the following and protect the person of her son, when she saw that he would not yield without another effort to maintain his cause. The change of attitude is said to have been forced on Gracchus by the exhortations of his friends and especially of the impetuous Fulvius. The organisation of a band such as Gracchus now gathered round him, although not in itself illegal, was a provocation to riot; and a disastrous incident soon occurred which gave his opponents the handle for which they had long been groping. At the dawn of the day, on which the meeting was to be held for the discussion, and perhaps for the voting, on the repeal of the threatened law, Gracchus and his followers ascended to the Capitol, where the opposite party was also gathering in strength. It seems that the consul Opimius himself, although he could not preside at the final meeting of the assembly, which was purely plebeian, was about to hold a Contio or to speak at one summoned by the tribunes. Gracchus himself did not immediately enter the area in which the meeting was to be held, but paced the portico of the temple buried in his thoughts. What immediately followed is differently told; but the leading facts are the same in every version. A certain Antullus or Antullius, spoken of by some as a mere unit amongst the people, described by others as an attendant or herald of Opimius, spoke some words--the Gracchans said, of insolence: their opponents declared, of patriotic protest--to Gracchus or to Fulvius, at the same time stretching out his arm to the speaker whom he addressed. The gesture was misinterpreted, and the unhappy man fell pierced with iron pens, the only weapons possessed by the unarmed crowd. There could be no question that the first act of violence had come from Gracchus's supporters, and the end for which Opimius had waited had been gained. Even the eagerness with which the leader had disclaimed the hasty action of his followers might be interpreted as a renewed infringement of law. He had hurried from the Capitol to the Forum to explain to all who would listen the unpremeditated nature of the deed and his own innocence of the murder; but this very action was a grave breach of public law, implying as it did an insult to the majesty of the tribune in summoning away a section of the people whom he was prepared to address.
The meeting on the Capitol was soon dissolved by a shower of rain, and the tribunes adjourned the business to another day; while Gracchus and Fulvius Flaccus, whose half-formed plans had now been shattered, hastened to their respective homes. The weakness of their position had been that they refused to regard themselves in their true light as the leaders of a revolution against the government. Whatever their own intentions may have been, it is improbable that their supporters followed them to the Capitol simply with the design of giving peaceful votes against the measure proposed: and, had Antullius not fallen, the meeting on the Capitol might have been broken up by a rush of Gracchans, as that which Tiberius once harangued had been invaded by a band of senators. Success and even salvation could now be attained solely by the use of force; and the question of personal safety must have appealed to the rank and file as well as to the leaders, for who could forget the judicial massacre which had succeeded the downfall of Tiberius? But the security of their own lives was probably not the only motive which led numbers of their adherents to follow the two leaders to their homes. Loyalty, and the keen activity of party spirit, which stimulates faction into war, must also have led them to make a last attempt to defend their patrons and their cause. The whole city was in a state of restless anticipation of the coming day; few could sleep, and from midnight the Forum began to be filled with a crowd excited but depressed by the sense of some great impending evil.
At daybreak the consul Opimius sent a small force of armed men to the Capitol, evidently for the purpose of preventing the point of vantage being seized by the hostile democrats, and then he issued notices for a meeting of the senate. For the present he remained in the temple of Castor and Pollux to watch events. When the fathers had obeyed his summons, he crossed the Forum and met them in the Curia. Shortly after their deliberations had begun, a scene, believed to have been carefully prepared, began to be enacted in the Forum. A band of mourners was seen slowly making its way through the crowded market-place; conspicuous on its bier was the body of Antullius, stripped so that the wound which was the price of his loyalty might be seen by all. The bearers took the route that led them past the senate-house, sobbing as they went and wailing out the mourning cry. The consul was duly startled, and curious senators hastened to the door. The bier was then laid on the ground, and the horrified aristocrats expressed their detestation of the dreadful crime of which it was a witness. Their indignation may have imposed on some members of the crowd; others were inclined to mock this outburst of oligarchic pathos, and to wonder that the men who had slain Tiberius Gracchus and hurled his body into the Tiber, could find their hearts thus suddenly dissolved at the death of an unfortunate but undistinguished servant. The motive of the threnody was somewhat too obvious, and many minds passed from the memory of Tiberius's death to the thought of the doom which this little drama was meant to presage for his brother.
The senators returned to the Curia, and the final resolution was taken. Opimius was willing to venture on the step which Scaevola had declined, and a new principle of constitutional law was tentatively admitted. A state of siege was declared in the terms that "the consul should see that the State took no harm,"  and active measures were taken to prepare the force which this decree foreshadowed. Opimius bade the senators see to their arms, and enjoined each of the members of the equestrian centuries to bring with him two slaves in full equipment at the dawn of the next day. But an attempt was made to avert the immediate use of force by issuing a summons to Gracchus and Flaccus to attend at the senate and defend their conduct there. The summons was perfectly legal, since the consul had the right to demand the presence of any citizen or even any inferior magistrate; but the two leaders may well be excused for their act of contumacy in disobeying the command. They knew that they would merely be putting themselves as prisoners into the hands of a hostile force; nor, in the light of past events, was it probable that their surrender and punishment would save their followers from destruction. Preparations for defence, or a counter-demonstration which would prove the size and determination of their following, might lead the senate to think of negotiation. Its members had an inducement to take this view. Their legal position, with respect to the step which they were now contemplating, was unsound; and although they might claim that they had the government in the shape of its chief executive officer on their side, and that their late policy had attracted the support of the majority of the citizens, yet there was no uncontested precedent for the legitimacy of waging war against a faction at Rome; they had no mandate to perform this mission, and its execution, which had lately been rendered illegal by statute law, might subsequently be repudiated even by many of those whom they now regarded as their supporters. Yet we cannot wonder at the uncompromising attitude of the senate. They held themselves to be the legitimate government of the State; they had learnt the lesson that a government must rest either on its merits or on force; they were unwilling to repeat the scandalous scene which, on the occasion of Tiberius Gracchus's death, had proved their weakness, and were perhaps unable to resort to such unpremeditated measures in the face of the larger following of Caius; they could enlist on their side some members of the upper middle class who would share in the guilt, if guilt there was: and lastly they had at their mercy two men, of whom one had twice shaken the commonwealth and the other had gloried in the prospect of its self-mutilation in the future.
The wisdom and justice of resistance appealed immediately to the mind of Flaccus, whose combative instincts found their natural satisfaction in the prospect of an interchange of blows. The finer and more complex spirit of Gracchus issued in a more uncertain mood. The bane of the thinker and the patriot was upon him. Was a man who had led the State to fight against it, and the rule of reason to be exchanged for the base arbitrament of the sword? None knew the emotions with which he turned from the Forum to gaze long and steadfastly at the statue of his father and to move away with a groan; but the sight of his sorrow roused a sympathy which the call to arms might not have stirred. Many of the bystanders were stung from their attitude of indifference to curse themselves for their base abandonment of the man who had sacrificed so much, to follow him to his house, and to keep a vigil before his doors. The night was passed in gloomy wakefulness, the spirits of the watchers were filled with apprehension of the common sacrifice which the coming day might demand, and the silence was only broken when the voluntary guard was at intervals relieved by those who had already slumbered. Meanwhile the neighbours of Flaccus were being startled by the sounds of boisterous revelry that issued from his halls. The host was displaying an almost boyish exuberance of spirits, while his congenial comrades yelled and clapped as the wine and the jest went round. At daybreak Fulvius was dragged from his heavy slumbers, and he and his companions armed themselves with the spoils of his consulship, the Gallic weapons that hung as trophies upon his walls. They then set out with clamorous threats to take possession of the Aventine. The home that Icilius had won for the Plebs was to be the scene of another struggle for freedom. It was in later times pretended that Fulvius had taken the step, from which even Catilina shrank, of calling the slaves to arms on a promise of freedom. We have no means of disproving the allegation, which seems to have occurred with suspicious frequency in the records left by aristocratic writers of the popular movements which they had assisted to crush. But it is easy to see that the devotion of slaves to their own masters during such struggles, and the finding of their bodies amidst the slain, would be proof enough to a government, anxious to emphasise its merits as a saviour of society, that general appeals had been made to the servile class. Such a deduction might certainly have been drawn from a view of the forces mustered under Opimius; for in these the slaves may have exceeded the citizens in number.
Gracchus's mind was still divided between resistance and resignation. He consented to accompany his reckless friend to the Aventine, as the only place of refuge; but he declined to don his armour, merely fastening under his toga a tiny dagger, as a means of defence in the last resort, or perhaps of salvation, did all other measures fail. The presage of his coming doom was shared by his wife Licinia who clung to him at the door, and when he gently disengaged himself from her arms, made one more effort to grasp his robe and sank senseless on the threshold. When Gracchus reached the Aventine with his friends, he found that Flaccus and his party had seized the temple of Diana and had made hasty preparations for fortifying it against attack. But Gracchus, impressed with the helplessness or the horror of the situation, persuaded him to make an effort at accommodation, and the younger son of Flaccus, a boy of singular beauty, was despatched to the Curia on the mission of peace. With modest mien and tears streaming from his eyes he gave his message to the consul. Many--perhaps most--of those who listened were not averse to accept a compromise which would relieve the intolerable strain and avert a civil strife. But Opimius was inflexible; the senate, he said, could not be approached by deputy; the principals must descend from the Aventine, lay down their arms, deliver themselves up to justice as citizens subject to the laws, and then they might appeal to the senate's grace; he ended by forbidding the youth to return, if he could not bring with him an acceptance of these final terms. The more pacific members of the senate could offer no effective objection, for it was clear that the consul was acting within his legal rights. The coercion of a disobedient citizen was a matter for the executive power and, though Opimius had spoken in the name of the senate, the authority and the responsibility were his. Retirement would have been their only mode of protest; but this would have been a violation of the discipline which bound the Council to its head, and would have betrayed a suspicious indifference to the cause which was regarded as that of the constitution. It is said that, on the return of the messenger, Gracchus expressed willingness to accept the consul's terms and was prepared to enter the senate and there plead his own cause and that of his followers. But none of his comrades would agree, and Flaccus again despatched his son with proposals similar to those which had been rejected. Opimius carried out his injunction by detaining the boy and, thirsting for battle to effect the end which delay would have assured, advanced his armed forces against the position held by Flaccus. He was not wholly dependent on the improvised levies of the previous day. There were in Rome at that moment some bands of Cretan archers, which had either just returned from service with the legions or were destined to take part in some immediate campaign. It was to their efforts that the success of the attack was mainly due. The barricade at the temple might have resisted the onslaught of the heavily-armed soldier; but its defenders were pierced by the arrows, the precinct was strewn with wounded men, and the ranks were in utter disorder when the final assault was made. There were names of distinction which lent a dignity to the massacre that followed. Men like Publius Lentulus, the venerable chief of the senate, gave a perpetual colour of respectability to the action of Opimius by appearing in their panoplies amongst the forces that he led.
When the rout was complete and the whole crowd in full flight, Flaccus sought escape in a workshop owned by a man of his acquaintance; but the course of his flight had been observed, the narrow court which led to the house was soon crowded by pursuers, who, maddened by their ignorance of the actual tenement that concealed the person of Flaccus, vowed that they would burn the whole alley to the ground if his hiding-place were not revealed. The trembling artisan who had befriended him did not dare to betray his suppliant, but relieved his scruples by whispering the secret to another. The hiding place was immediately revealed, and the great ex-consul who had laid the foundations of Rome's dominion in farther Gaul, a man strenuous and enlightened, ardent and faithful but perhaps not overwise, was hacked to pieces by his own citizens in an obscure corner of the slums of Rome. His elder son fell fighting by his side. To the younger, the fair ambassador of that day, now a prisoner of the consul, the favour was granted of choosing his own mode of death. Early Rome had repudiated the principle of visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children; but the cold-blooded horrors of the Oriental and Hellenic world were now becoming accepted maxims of state to a government trembling for its safety and implacable in its revenge.
Meanwhile Gracchus had been saved from both the stain of civil war and the humiliation of capture by his foes. No man had seen him strike a blow throughout the contest. In sheer disgust at the appalling scene he had withdrawn to the shrine of Diana, and was there prepared to compass his own death. His hand was stayed by two faithful friends, Pomponius and Laetorius, who urged him to escape. Gracchus obeyed, but it was believed by some that, before he left the temple, he stretched forth his hand to the goddess and prayed that the Roman people might never be quit of slavery as a reward for their ingratitude and treachery. This outburst of anger, a very natural consequence of his own humiliating plight, is said to have been kindled by the knowledge that the larger portion of the mob had already listened to a promise of amnesty and had joined the forces of Opimius. Unlike most imprecations, that of Gracchus was destined to be fulfilled.
The flight of Gracchus led him down the slope of the Aventine to the gate called Trigemina which stood near the Tiber's bank. In hastening down the hill he had sprained his ankle, and time for his escape was only gained by the devotion of Pomponius, who turned, and single-handed kept the pursuing enemy at bay until trampling on his prostrate body they rushed in the direction of the wooden bridge which spanned the river. Here Laetorius imitated the heroism of his comrade. Standing with drawn sword at the head of the bridge, he thrust back all who tried to pass until Gracchus had gained the other bank. Then he too fell, pierced with wounds. The fugitive had now but a single slave to bear him company in his flight; it led them through frequented streets, where the passers-by stopped on their way, cheered them on as though they were witnessing a contest of speed, but gave no sign of help and turned deaf ears to Gracchus's pleading for a horse; for the pursuers were close behind, and the dulled and panic-stricken mob had no thought but for themselves. The grove of Furrina received them just before they were overtaken by the pursuing band; and in the sacred precinct the last act was accomplished. It was known only that master and slave had been found lying side by side. Some believed that the faithful servant had slain Gracchus and then pierced his own breast; others held that they were both living when the enemy came upon them, but that the slave clung with such frantic devotion to his master that Gracchus's body could not be reached until the living shield had been pierced and torn away. The activity of the pursuers had been stimulated by greed, for Opimius had put a price upon the heads of both the leaders of the faction on the Aventine. The bearers of these trophies of victory were to receive their weight in gold. The humble citizens who produced the head of Flaccus are said to have been defrauded of their reward; but the action of the man who wrested the head of Gracchus from the first possessor of the prize and bore it on a javelin's point to Opimius, long furnished a text to the moralist who discoursed on the madness of greed and the thirst of gold. Its unnatural weight is said to have revealed the fact that the brain had been extracted and the cavity filled with molten lead. The bodies of the slain were for the most part thrown into the Tiber, but one account records that that of Gracchus was handed over to his mother for burial. The number of the victims of the siege, the pursuit and the subsequent judicial investigation is said to have been three thousand. The resistance to authority, which was all that could be alleged against the followers of Gracchus, was treated, not as a riot, but as a rebellion. The Tullianum saw its daily dole of victims, who were strangled by the executioner; the goods of the condemned were confiscated by the State and sold at public auction. All public signs of mourning were forbidden to their wives; and the opinion of Scaevola, the greatest legal expert of the day, was that some property of his niece Licinia, which had been wrecked in the general tumult, could be recovered only from the goods of her husband, to whom the sedition was due. The attitude of the government was, in fact, based on the view that the members of the defeated party, whether slain or executed, had been declared enemies of the State. Their action had put them outside the pale of law, and the decree of the senate, which had assisted Opimius in the extreme course that he had taken, was an index that the danger, which it vaguely specified, aimed at the actual existence of the commonwealth and undermined the very foundations of society. Such was the theory of martial law which Opimius's bold action gave to his successors. Its weakness lay in the circumstance that it was unknown to the statutes and to the courts; its plausibility was due partly to the fact that, since the desuetude of the dictatorship, no power actually existed in Rome which could legally employ force to crush even the most dangerous popular rising, and partly to the peculiarities of the movement which witnessed the first exercise of this authority. The killing of Caius Gracchus and his followers, however useless and mischievous the act may have been, had about it an air of spurious legality, with which no ingenuity could invest the murder of Tiberius and his adherents. The fallen chiefs were in enjoyment of no magisterial authority that could justify either their initial action or their subsequent disobedience; they had fortified a position in the town, and had certainly taken up arms, presumably for the purpose of inflicting grievous harm on loyal fellow-citizens. As their opponents were certainly the government, what could they be but declared foes who had been caught red-handed in an act of treason so open and so violent that the old identity of "traitors" and "enemies" was alone applicable to their case? Thus legal theory itself proclaimed the existence of civil war, and handed on to future generations of party leaders an instrument of massacre and extirpation which reached its culminating point in the proscription list of Sulla.
Opimius, after he had ceased to preside at his death-dealing commission, expressed the view that he had removed the rabies of discord from the State by the foundation of a temple to Harmony. The bitter line which some unseen hand scribbled on the door, expressed the doubt, which must soon have crept over many minds, whether the doctor had not been madder than the patient, and the view, which was soon destined to be widely held, that the authors of the discord which had been professedly healed, the teachers who were educating Rome up to a higher ideal of civil strife, were the very men who were now in power. We shall see in the sequel with what speed Time wrought his political revenge. In the hearts of men the Gracchi were even more speedily avenged. The Roman people often alternated between bursts of passionate sentiment and abject states of cowardly contentment; but through all these phases of feeling the memory of the two reformers grew and flourished. To accept the Gracchi was an article of faith impressed on the proudest noble and the most bigoted optimate by the clamorous crowd which he addressed. The man who aped them might be pronounced an impostor or a traitor; the men he aped belonged almost to the distant world of the half-divine. Their statues were raised in public places, the sites on which they had met their death were accounted holy ground and were strewn with humble offerings of the season's fruits. Many even offered to their images a daily sacrifice and sank on their knees before them as before those of the gods. The quiet respect or ecstatic reverence with which the names and memories of the Gracchi were treated, was partly due to a vague sense in the mind of the common man that they were the authors of the happier aspects of the system under which he lived, of the brighter gleams which occasionally pierced the clouds of oppression and discomfort; it was also due to the conviction in the mind of the statesman, often resisted but always recurring, that their work was unalterable. To undo it was to plunge into the dark ages, to attempt to modify it was immediately to see the necessity of its renewal. At every turn in the paths of political life the statesman was confronted by two figures, whom fear or admiration raised to gigantic proportions. The orthodox historian would angrily declare that they were but the figures of two young men, whose intemperate action had thrown Rome into convulsion and who had met their fate, not undeserved however lamentable, the one in a street riot, the other while heading an armed sedition. But the criticism contained the elements of its own refutation. The youth, the brotherhood, the martyrdom of the men were the very elements that gave a softening radiance to the hard contour of their lives. The Gracchi were a stern and ever-present reality; they were also a bright and gracious memory. In either character they must have lived; but the combination of both presentments has secured them an immortality which age, wisdom, experience and success have often struggled vainly to secure. That strange feeling which a great and beautiful life has often inspired, that it belongs to eternity rather than to the immediate past, and that it has few points of contact with the prosaic round of present existence, had almost banished from Cornelia's mind the selfish instincts of her loss, and had perhaps even dulled the tender memories which cluster round the frailer rather than the stronger elements in the characters of those we love. Those who visited her in her villa at Misenum, where she kept her intellectual court, surrounded by all that was best in letters, and exchanging greetings or gifts with the potentates of the earth, were amazed at the composure with which she spoke of the lives and actions of her sons. The memory drew no tear, her voice conveyed no intonation of sorrow or regret. She spoke of them as though they were historical figures of the past, men too distant and too great to arouse the weak emotion which darkens contemplation. Some thought that her mind had been shaken by age, or that her sensibility had been dulled by misfortune. "In this they proved their own utter lack of sensibility" says the loving biographer of the Gracchi: They did not know, he adds, the signs of that nobility of soul, which is sometimes given by birth and is always perfected by culture, or the reasonable spirit of endurance which mental and moral excellence supply. The calmness of Cornelia proved, as well, that she was at one with her children after their death, and their identity with a mind so pure is as great a tribute to their motives as the admiration or fear of the Romans is to their intellect and their deeds, Cornelia deserved a memorial in Rome for her own intrinsic worth; but the demeanour of her latter days justifies the legend engraved on the statue which was to be seen in the portico of Metellus: "To Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi".
We are now in a position to form some estimate of the political changes which had swept over Rome during the past twelve years. The revolutionary legislation of this period was, strictly speaking, not itself the change, but merely the formula which marked an established growth; nor can any profit be derived from drawing a marked contrast between the aims and methods of the two men who were responsible for the most decisive of these reforms. A superficial view of the facts might lead us to suppose that Tiberius Gracchus had bent his energies solely to social amelioration, and that it was reserved for his brother Caius to effect vast changes in the working, though not in the structure, of the constitution. But even a chronological survey of the actions of these two statesmen reveals the vast union of interests that suddenly thrust themselves forward, with a vehemence which demanded either such a resistance as no political society is homogeneous enough to maintain, or such concessions as may be graciously made by a government which after the grant may still retain most of the forms and much of the substance of its former power. So closely interwoven were social and political questions, so necessary was it for the attempted satisfaction of one class immediately to create the demand for the recognition or compensation of another, that Tiberius Gracchus had no sooner formulated his agrarian proposals than he was beset with thoughts of legislating for the army, transferring some of the judicial power to the equestrian order, and granting the franchise to the allies. Even the belief that these projects were merely a device for securing his own ascendency, does not prove that their announcement was due to a brilliant discovery of their originator, or that he created wants which he thereupon proposed to satisfy. The desperate statesman seizes on the grievance which is nearest to hand; it is true that he may increase a want by giving the first loud and clear expression to the low and confused murmurings of discontent; but a grievance that lives and gives violent tokens of its presence, as did that of the Italian allies in the Fregellan revolt, must be real, not fictitious: and when it finds a remedy, as the needs of the poor and the political claims of the knights did under the régime of Caius Gracchus, the presumption is that the disease has been of long standing, and that what it has for a long time lacked was not recognition, but the opportunity and the intelligence necessary to secure redress. Caius Gracchus was as little of a political explorer as his brother; it did not require the intuition of genius to see facts which formed the normal environment of every prominent politician of the age. His claim to greatness rests, partly on the mental and moral strength which he shared with Tiberius and which gave him the power to counteract the force of inertia and transmute vague thought, first into glowing words and then into vigorous action; partly on the extraordinary ingenuity with which he balanced the interests and claims of classes so as to form a coalition which was for the time resistless: and partly on the finality with which he removed the jealousies of the hour from the idle arena of daily political strife, and gave them their place in the permanent machinery of the constitution, there to remain as the necessary condition of the precarious peace or the internecine war which the jarring elements of a balance of power bring in turn to its possessors.
Since the reality of the problems with which the Gracchi dealt is undeniable, and since few would be inclined to admit that the most effective treatment of a problem, whether social or political, is to refuse it a solution, any reasonable criticism of their reforms must be based solely on a consideration of their aims and methods. The land question, which was taken up by both these legislators, attracts our first attention. The aim of the resumption and redistribution of the public domain had been the revival of the class of peasant holders, whom legend declared, perhaps with a certain element of truth, to have formed the flower of the civic population during the years when Rome was struggling for a place amongst the surrounding peoples and in the subsequent period of her expansion over Italy. Such an aim may be looked at from two points of view. It may be regarded as an end in itself, without any reference to its political results, or it may be looked on as an effort to increase the power and security of the State without any peculiar consideration of the comfort and well-being of its individual members. The Gracchan scheme, regarded from the first point of view, can, with respect to its end as distinguished from its methods, be criticised unfavourably only by those who hold that an urban life does under all circumstances convey moral, mental and physical benefits which are denied by the conditions of residence in country districts. It is true that the objector may in turn point out that the question of the standard of comfort to be attained in either sphere is here of supreme importance; but such an issue brings us at once within the region of means and not of ends, and an ideal of human life cannot be judged solely with reference to the practicability of its realisation. It is the second point of view from which the aim of this land legislation may be contemplated, which first gives the critic the opportunity of denying the validity of the end as well as the efficiency of the means. If the new agriculturist was meant to be an element of strength to the Roman State, to save it from the selfishness of a narrow oligarchy, the instability of a city mob and the corruption of both, to defend the conquests which the city had won or to push her empire further, it was necessary to prove that he could be of utility both as a voting unit and as a soldier in the legions. His capacity for performing the first function efficiently was, at the very least, extremely questionable. The reality of the farmer's vote obviously depended on the closeness of his residence to the capital, since there is not the least trace, at this or at any future time during the history of the Republic, of the formation of any design for modifying the rigidly primary character of the popular assemblies of Rome. The rights of the voter at a distance had always been considered so purely potential, that the inland and northern settlements which Rome established in Italy had generally been endowed with Latin rights, while the colonies of Roman citizens clustered more closely round their mother; and men had always been found ready to sacrifice the active rights of Roman citizenship, on account of the worthlessness of their possession in a remote colony. It was even difficult to reconcile the passive rights of Roman citizenship with residence at a distance from the capital; for all the higher jurisdiction was centred in Rome and could not easily be sought by the inhabitants of distant settlements. But, even if we exclude the question of relative distance from the centre of affairs, it was still not probable that the dweller in the country would be a good citizen according to the Hellenic comprehension of that phrase. When Aristotle approves of a country democracy, simply because it is not strictly a democracy at all, he is thinking, not merely of the farmer's lack of interest in city politics, but of the incompatibility of the perpetual demands which rural pursuits make on time and energy with attendance on public business at the centre of affairs. The son of the soil soon learns that he owes undivided allegiance to his mother: and he will seldom be stirred by a political emotion strong enough to overcome the practical appeals which are made by seed-time and harvest. But the opportunities for discarding civic obligations were far greater in Rome than in the Greek communities. The Roman assemblies had no stated days of meeting, laws might be promulgated and passed at any period of the year, their tenor was explained at public gatherings which were often announced on the very morning of the day for which they were summoned, and could be attended only by those whom chance or leisure or the habitual pursuit of political excitement had brought to the Capitol or the Forum. There was not at this period a fixed date even for the elections of the higher magistrates. An attempt was perhaps made to arrange them for the summer, when the roads were passable, the labours of spring were over, and the toils of harvest time had not yet commenced. But the creation of the magistrates with Imperium depended to a large extent on the convenience of the consuls, one of whom had sometimes to be summoned back from a campaign to preside at the Comitia which were to elect his successors; while even the date of the tribunician elections might have been conditioned by political considerations. The closing events of the life of Tiberius Gracchus prove how difficult it was to secure the attendance of the country voter even when an election of known political import was in prospect; while Caius realised that the best security for the popular leader, whether as a legislator or a candidate, was to attach the urban resident to himself by the ties of gratitude and interest. We can scarcely admit, in the face of facts like these, that the agriculturist created by the Gracchan reforms was likely to render any signal political assistance to his city. It is true that the existence of a practically disfranchised proletariate may have a modifying influence on politics. It could not in Rome serve the purpose, which it sometimes fulfils in the modern world, of moulding the opinion of the voter; but even in Rome it suggested a reserve that might be brought up on emergencies. A state, however, does not live on emergencies but on the constant and watchful activity of its members. Such activity could be displayed at Rome only by the leisured senator or the leaders of the city mob. The forces that had worked for oligarchy in the past might under changed conditions produce a narrow type of urban democracy; but they presented no hope of the realisation of a true popular government.
It might be hoped, however, that the newly created farmer might add to the military, if not the political, strength of the State. The hope, so far as it rested on the agriculturist himself, was rendered something of an anachronism by the present conditions of service. Even in the old days a campaign prolonged beyond the ordinary duration of six months had often effected the ruin of the peasant proprietor; and now that the cautious policy of the protectorate had been so largely abandoned and Rome's military efforts, no longer limited to wars of defence or aggression, were directed to securing her ascendency in distant dependencies by means of permanent garrisons, service in the legions was a still more fatal impediment to industrial development. Rome had not yet learnt the lesson that an empire cannot be garrisoned by an army of conscripts; but she was becoming conscious of the inadequacy of her own military system, and this consciousness led her to take the easy but fatal step of throwing far the larger burden of foreign service on the Latins and Italian allies. Any increase in the number and efficiency of her own military forces would thus remove a dangerous grievance, while it added to the strength which, in the last resort, could alone secure the permanence of her supremacy even in Italy. Such an increase was finally effected in the only possible manner--by the adoption of a system of voluntary enlistment and by carrying still further the increasing disregard for those antiquated conditions of wealth and status, which were a part of the theory that service was a burden and wholly inconsistent with the new requirement that it should become a profession. Although it must be confessed that little assistance in this direction was directly tendered by the Gracchan legislation, yet it should be remembered that, even if we exclude from consideration the small efforts made by Caius to render military service a more attractive calling, the increase of the farmer class might of itself have done much to solve the problem. Although the single occupant of a farm was clearly incapable of taking his part in expeditions beyond the seas without serious injury to his own interests, yet the sons of such a man might have performed a considerable term of military service without disastrous consequences to the estate, and where the inheritance had remained undivided and several brothers held the land in common, the duties of the soldier and the farmer might have been alternated without leaving the homestead divested of its head. The recognition of the military life as a profession must have profited still more by the policy which encouraged the growth of the country population; for the energy of the surplus members of the household, whose services were not needed or could not be adequately rewarded on the farm, would find a more salutary outlet in the stirring life of the camp than in the enervating influences of the city. The country-side might still continue to supply a better physique and a finer morale than were likely to be discovered in the poorer quarters of Rome.
The objects aimed at in the Gracchan scheme of land-reform, although in some respects difficult of realisation, have aroused less hostile criticism than the methods which were adopted for their fulfilment. It may be held that the scheme of practical confiscation, which, advocated by Tiberius Gracchus, plunged him at once into a fierce political struggle and encountered resistance which could only be overcome by unconstitutional means, might have been avoided had the reformer seen that an economic remedy must be ultimate to be successful, and that an economic tendency can only be resisted by destroying the conditions which give it the false appearance of a law. The two conditions which were at the time fatal to the efforts of the moderate holder of land, are generally held to have been the cheapness and, under the inhumane circumstances of its employment, even efficiency of slave labour, and the competition of cheap corn from the provinces. The remedial measures which might immediately present themselves to the mind of a modern economist, who was unfettered by a belief in free trade or in the legitimacy of securing the cheapest labour available, are the prohibition of, or restrictions on, the importation of slaves, and the imposition of a duty on foreign corn. The first device might in its extreme form have been impracticable, for it would have been difficult to ensure such a supervision of the slave market as to discriminate between the sale of slaves for agricultural or pastoral work and their acquirement for domestic purposes. A tax on servile labour employed on land, or the moderate regulation which Caesar subsequently enforced that a certain proportion of the herdsmen employed on the pasture lands should be of free birth, would have been more practicable measures, and perhaps, if presented as an alternative to confiscation, might not have encountered an unconquerable resistance from the capitalists, although their very moderation might have won them but a lukewarm support from the people, and ensured the failure that attends on half-measures which do not carry their meaning on their face and lack the boldness which excites enthusiasm. But the real objection which the Gracchi and their circle would have had to legislation of this type, whether it had been suggested to them in its extreme shape or in some modified form, would have been that it could not have secured the object at which they aimed. Such measures would merely have revived the free labourer, while their dream was to re-establish the peasant proprietor, or at least the occupant who held his land on a perfectly secure tenure from the State. And even the revival of the free labourer would only have been exhibited on the most modest scale; for such legislation would have done nothing to reclaim arable land which had degenerated into pasturage, and to reawaken life in the great deserted tracts, whose solitude was only broken by the rare presence of the herdsman's cabin. To raise a cry for the restoration of free labour on this exiguous scale might have exposed a legislator to the disappointment, if not derision, of his friends and invited the criticism, effective because popular, of all his secret foes. The masters of the world were not likely to give enthusiastic support to a leader who exhibited as their goal the lonely, barren and often dangerous life of sheep-driver to some greedy capitalist, and who offered them the companionship, and not the service, of the slaves that their victorious arms had won.
The alternative of protective legislation for the defence of Italian grain may be even more summarily dismissed. It was, in the first place, impossible from the point of view of political expediency. The Gracchi, or any other reforming legislators, had to depend for their main support on the voting population of the city of Rome: and such a constituency would never have dreamed for a moment of sanctioning a measure which would have made the price of corn dearer in the Roman market, even if the objections of the capitalists who placed the foreign grain on that market could have been successfully overcome. So far from dreaming of the practicability of such a scheme, Caius Gracchus had been forced to allow the sale of corn at Rome at a cost below the current market-price. But, even had protection been possible, it must have come as the last, not as the first, of the constructive measures necessary for the settlement of the agrarian question. It might have done something to keep the small farms standing, but these farms had to be created before their maintenance was secured; and if adopted, apart from some scheme aiming at a redivision of the land, such a protective measure would merely have benefited such existing owners of the large estates as still continued to devote a portion of their domains to agriculture. The fact, however, which may be regarded as certain, that foreign corn could undersell that of Italy in the Roman market, and probably in that of all the great towns within easy access of the sea, may seem a fatal flaw in the agrarian projects of the Gracchi. What reason was there for supposing that the tendencies which in the past had favoured the growth of large holdings and replaced agriculture by pasturage, should remain inoperative in the future? Tiberius Gracchus's own regulation about the inalienability of the lands which he assigned, seemed to reveal the suspicion that the tendencies towards accumulation had not yet been exhausted, and that the occupants of the newly created farms might not find the pursuit of agriculture so profitable as to cling to them in scorn of the enticements of the encroaching capitalist. Doubtless the prohibition to sell revealed a weakness in the agricultural system of the times; but the regulation was probably framed, not in despair of the small holder securing a maintenance, but as a protection against the money-lender, that curse of the peasant-proprietor, who might now be less willing to approach the peasant, when the security which he obtained could under no circumstances lead to his acquiring eventual ownership. With respect to the future, there was reasonable hope that the farmer, if kept in tolerable security from the strategic advances of his wealthier neighbours, would be able to hold his own. In a modern state, possessing a teeming population and a complex industrial organisation, where the profits of a widely spread commercial life have raised the standard of comfort and created a host of varied needs, the view may reasonably be taken that, before agriculture can declare itself successful, it must be able to point to some central market where it will receive an adequate reward for the labour it entails. But this view was by no means so prevalent in the simpler societies of antiquity. The difficulties of communication, which, with reference to transport, must have made Rome seem nearer to Africa than to Umbria, and must have produced a similar tendency to reliance on foreign imports in many of the great coast towns, would alone have been sufficient to weaken the reliance of the farmer on the consumption of his products by the larger cities. The belief that the homestead might be almost self-sufficient probably lingered on in remote country districts even in the days of the Gracchi; or, if absolute self-existence was unattainable, the necessities of life, which the home could not produce, might be procured without effort by periodical visits to the market or fair, which formed the industrial centre of a group of hamlets. The seemingly ample size of the Gracchan allotments, some of which were three times as great as the larger of the colonial assignments of earlier days, pointed to the possibility of the support of a large family, if the simpler needs of life were alone considered. The farmer's soul need not be vexed by competition if he was content to live and not to trade, and it might have been hoped that the devotion to the soil, which ownership inspires, might have worked its magic even on the lands left barren through neglect. There might even be a hope for the cultivator who aimed at the markets of the larger towns; for, if corn returned no profit, yet oil and wine were not yet undersold, and were both of them commodities which would bring better returns than grain to the minute and scrupulous care in which the smaller cultivator excels the owner of a great domain. The failure of corn-growing as a productive industry, perhaps the legislation of the Gracchi itself, must have given a great impetus to the cultivation of the vine and the olive, the value attached to which during the closing years of the Republic is, as we have seen, attested by the fact that the extension of these products was prohibited in the Transalpine regions in order to protect the interests of the Roman producer.
An agricultural revival was, therefore, possible; but its success demanded a spirit that would enter readily into the work, and submit without a murmur to the conditions of life which the stern task enjoined. It was here that the agrarian legislation of the Gracchi found its obstacle. So far as it did fail--so far, that is, as it was not sufficient to prevent the renewed accumulation of the people in the towns and the continued depopulation of the country districts--it failed because it offended against social ideals rather than against economic tendencies. Many of the settlers whom it planted on the allotments, must already have been demoralised by the feverish atmosphere of Rome; while others of a saner and more vigorous type may have soon looked back on the capital, not as the lounging-place of the idler, but as the exchange of the world, or have turned their thoughts to the provinces as the sphere where energy was best rewarded and capital gave its speediest returns. Of the other social measures of this period, colonisation, in so far as it had a purely agricultural object, is subject to the criteria that have been applied to the agrarian movements of the time; although it is possible that the formation of new or the remodelling of old political societies, which must have followed the scheme of Drusus, had this been ever realised, would have infused a more vigorous life in agricultural settlements of this type than was likely to be awakened in those which formed a mere outlying part of Rome or some existing municipality. We have seen how the colonial plan of Drusus differed in its intention from that of Caius Gracchus; but the latter statesman had, in the settlement which he projected at Junonia, planned a foundation which would proximately have lived on the wealth of its territory rather than on its trade, and must always have been, like Carthage of old, as much an agricultural as a commercial state. To an agrarian project such as this no economic objection could have been offered and, had the scheme of transmarine colonisation been fully carried out, the provinces themselves might have been made to benefit the farming class of Italy, whose economic foes they had become. The distance also of such settlements from Rome would have blunted the craving for the life of the capital, which beset the minds and paralysed the energies of the occupants of Italian land.
But, on the whole, the Gracchan scheme of colonisation was, as we have seen, commercial rather than agricultural, and was probably intended to benefit a class that was not adapted to rural occupations, either by association or training. By this enterprise Caius Gracchus showed that he saw with perfect clearness the true reason, and the final evidence, of the stagnation of the middle class. A nation which has abandoned agriculture and allows itself to be fed by foreign hands, even by those of its own subjects, is exposed to military dangers which are obvious, and to political perils somewhat more obscure but bearing their evil fruit from time to time; but such treason to the soil is no sign of national decay, if the legions of workers have merely transferred their allegiance from the country to the town, from agriculture to manufacture and commerce. In Italy this comforting explanation was impossible. Except perhaps in Latium and Campania, there were few industrial centres; many of those that existed were in the hands of Greeks, many more had sunk under the stress of war and had never been revived. The great syndicates in which Roman capital was invested, employed slaves and freedmen as their agents; the operations of these great houses were directed mainly to the provinces, and the Italian seaports were employed merely as channels for a business which was speculative and financial and, so far as Italy was concerned, only to a very slight, if to any, degree productive. To re-establish the producer or the trader of moderate means, was to revive a stable element in the population, whose existence might soften the rugged asperity with which capital confronted power on the one hand and poverty on the other. But to revive it at Rome would have demanded artificial measures, which, attacking as they must have done the monopolies possessed by the Equites, would have defeated the legislator's immediate object and probably proved impracticable, while such a revival would also have accentuated the centralisation, which might be useful to the politician but was deplored by the social reformer. The debilitated class might, however, recover its elasticity if placed in congenial surroundings and invited to the sites which had once attracted the enterprise of the Greek trader; and Caius Gracchus's settlements in the south of Italy were means to this end. We have no warrant for pronouncing the experiment an utter failure. Some of these colonies lived on, although in what guise is unknown. But even a moderate amount of success would have demanded a continuity in the scheme, which was rudely interrupted by the fall of its promoter, and it is not to be imagined that the larger capitalists, whose power the reformer had himself increased, looked with a friendly eye upon these smaller rivals. The scheme of social reform projected by Gracchus found its completion in his law for the sale of corn. When he had made provision for the born agriculturist and the born tradesman, there still remained a residuum of poorer citizens whose inclination and habits prompted them to neither calling. It was for these men that the monthly grant of cheapened grain was intended. Their bread was won by labour, but by a labour so fitful and precarious that it was known to be often insufficient to secure the minimum means of subsistence, unless some help was furnished by the State. The healthier form of state-aid--the employment of labour--was certainly practised by Caius Gracchus, and perhaps the extensive public works which he initiated and supervised, were intended to benefit the artisan who laboured in their construction as well as the trader who would profit by their completion.
Whatever may be our judgment on the merits and results of this social programme, the importance of the political character which it was to assume, from the close of the career of Caius Gracchus to the downfall of the Republic, can hardly be exaggerated. The items of reform as embodied in his legislation became the constant factors in every democratic programme which was to be issued in the future. In these we see the demand for land, for colonial assignations, for transmarine settlements, for a renewal or extension of the corn law, perpetually recurring. It is true that this recurrence may be in part due to the very potency of the personality of the first reformer and to the magic of the memory which he left behind him. Party-cries tend to become shibboleths and it is difficult to unravel the web that has been spun by the hand of a master. Even the hated cry for the Italian franchise, which had proved the undoing of Caius Gracchus, became acceptable to party leaders and to an ever-growing section of their followers, largely because it had become entwined with his programme of reform. But the vigorous life of his great manifesto cannot be explained wholly on this ground. It is a greater exaltation of its author to believe that its life was due to its intrinsic utility, and that Gracchus indicated real needs which, because they remained unsatisfied until the birth of the Principate, were ever the occasion for the renewal of proposals so closely modelled on his own.
When we turn from the social to the political changes of this period, we are on far less debatable ground. Although there may be some doubt as to the intention with which each reform was brought into existence by Caius Gracchus, its character as illustrated by its place in the economy of the commonwealth is so clearly stamped upon it and so potently manifested in the immediately following years, that a comprehensive discussion of the nature of his single measures would be merely an unprofitable effort to recall the past or anticipate the future. But the collective effect of his separate efforts has been subjected to very different interpretations, and the question has been further complicated by hazardous, and sometimes overconfident, attempts to determine how far the legislator's intentions were fulfilled in the actual result of his reforms. Because it can be shown that the changes introduced by Gracchus, or, to be more strictly accurate, the symptoms which elicited these changes, ultimately led to monarchical rule, Gracchus has been at times regarded as the conscious author and possessor of a personal supremacy which he deliberately intended should replace the intricate and somewhat cumbrous mechanism which controlled the constitutional government of Rome; because he sowed the seeds of a discord so terrible as to be unendurable even in a state which had never known the absence of faction and conflict, and had preserved its liberties through carefully regulated strife, his work has been held to be that of some avenging angel who came, not to renew, but to destroy. There is truth in both these pictures; but the Gracchus whom they portray as the force that annihilated centuries of crafty workmanship, as the first precursor of the coming monarchy, is the Gracchus who rightly lives in the historic imagination which, unfettered by conditions of space or time, prefers the contemplation of the eternity of the work to that of the environment of the worker; it is a presentment which would be applicable to any man as able and as resolute as Gracchus, who attempted to meet the evils created by a weak and irresponsible administration, partly by the restoration of old forms, partly by the recognition of new and pressing claims. There is a point at which reform, except it go so far as to blot out a constitution and substitute another in its place, must act as a weakening and dissolving force. That point is reached when an existing government is effectually hampered from exercising the prerogatives of sovereignty and no other power is sufficiently strengthened to act as its unquestioned substitute. The dissolution will be easier if reform bears the not uncommon aspect of conservatism, and a nominal sovereign, whose strength, never very great, has been sapped by disuse and the habit of mechanical obedience, is placed in competition with a somewhat effete usurper. It is not, however, fair to regard Gracchus as a radical reactionary who was the first to drag a prisoned and incapable sovereign into the light of day. Had he done this, he would have been the author of a revolution and the creator of a new constitution. But this he never attempted to be, and such a view of his work rests on the mistaken impression that, at the time of his reforms, the senate was recognised as the true government of Rome. Such a pretension had never been published nor accepted. We are not concerned with its reality as a fact; but no sound analysis, whether undertaken by lawyer or historian, would have admitted its theoretical truth. The literary atmosphere teemed with theories of popular sovereignty of a limited kind, and Gracchus, while recognising this sovereignty, did little to remove its limitations. It is true that, like his brother, he legislated without seeking the customary sanction of the senate; but initial reforms could never have been carried through, had the legislator waited for this sanction; and the future freedom of the Comitia from senatorial control was at best guaranteed by the force of the example of the Gracchi, not by any new legal ordinances which they ordained. Earlier precedents of the same type had not been lacking, and it was only the comprehensiveness of the Gracchan legislation which seemed to give a new impetus to the view that in all fundamental matters, which called for regulation by Act of Parliament, the people was the single and uncontrolled sovereign. Thus was developed the idea of the possibility of a new period of growth, which should refashion the details of the structure of the State into greater correspondence with the changed conditions of the times. As the earlier process of change had raised the senate to power, the latter might be interpreted as containing a promise that a new master was to be given to the Roman world. But it is highly improbable that to Gracchus or to any of his contemporaries was the true nature of the prophecy revealed. For the moment a balance of power was established, and the moneyed class stood midway between the opposing factions of senate and people. Its new powers were intended to constrain the senate into efficiency rather than to reduce it to impotence, and to create these powers Gracchus had endowed the equestrian order with that right of audit which, in the earlier theory of the constitution, had been held to be one of the securest guarantees of the power of the people. Gracchus predicted the strife that was likely to follow this friction between the government and the courts; but this prediction, while it perhaps reveals the hope that in the issues of the future the mercantile class would generally be found on the side of the people, betrays still more clearly the belief that the people, and their patron of the moment, were utterly incapable of standing alone, and that no true democratic government was possible for Rome. In spite of his Hellenism Gracchus betrayed two characteristics of the true Roman. He believed in the advisability of creating a political impasse, from which some mode of escape would ultimately be devised by the wearied and lacerated combatants; and he held firmly to the view that the people, considered strictly in itself, had no organic existence; that it never was, and never could be, a power in its own right. He made no effort to give the Roman Comitia an organisation which would have placed it on something like the independent level of a Greek Ecclesia. Such an omission was perhaps the result of neglect rather than of deliberation; but this very neglect proves that Gracchus had in no way emancipated himself from the typical Roman idea that the people could find expression only through the voice of a magistrate. This idea unquestionably made the leader of the moment the practical head of the State during any crisis that called for constant intervention on the part of the Comitia; but there is no reason to suppose a belief on the part of Gracchus that such intervention would be unremittingly demanded, would become as integral a part of the every-day mechanism of government as the senate's direction of the provinces or the knight's control of the courts. But even had he held this view, the situation which it conjured up need not have borne a close resemblance to monarchy. The natural vehicle for the expression of the popular will would have been the tribunate--an office which by its very nature presented such obvious hindrances to personal rule as the existence of colleagues armed with the power of veto, the short tenure of office, and the enjoyment of powers that were mainly negative. It is true that the Gracchi themselves had shown how some of these difficulties might be overcome. The attempt at re-election, the accumulation of offices, the disregard of the veto, were innovations forced on them by the knowledge, gained from bitter experience, that reform could proceed only from a power that was to some extent outside the constitution, and that the efficient execution of the contemplated measures demanded the concentration of varied types of authority in a single hand. Perhaps Caius faced the situation more frankly than his brother; but his consciousness of the necessity of such an occasional power in the State was accompanied by the belief that it would prove the ruin of the man who grasped it, that the work might be done but that the worker would be doomed. These gloomy anticipations were not the result of disordered nerves, but the natural fruit of the coldly calculating intellect which saw that supremacy either of or through the people was an illusion, that the power of the nobility must be resisted by keener and more durable weapons than the Comitia and its temporary leaders, that the authority of the senate might yield to a slow process of attrition, but would never be engulfed by any cataclysmic outburst of popular hostility. It was no part of the statesman's task to pry into the future and vex himself with the query whether a new and permanent headship of the State might not be created, to play the all-pervading part which destiny had assigned to the senate. The senate's power had not vanished, it was not even vanishing. It was a solid fact, fully accepted by the very masses who were howling against it. Its decadence would be the work of time, and all the great Roman reformers of the past had left much to time and to fortune. The materials with which the Gracchi worked were far too composite to enable them to forecast the shape of the structure of which they were laying the foundations. The essential fact of the future monarchy, the growth of the military power, must have been almost completely hidden from their eyes. It is true that, in relation to the fall of the Republic and the growth of the monarchical idea, the Gracchi were more than mere preparatory or destructive forces. They furnished faint types, which were gladly welcomed by subsequent pretenders, of what a constitutional monarch should be. But it is ever hazardous to identify the destroyer with the creator or the type with the prophet.