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Download Roman Research Paper-Gaius and Tiberius - 2010
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Ponce 1 Maritza Ponce Bergen, Downer, Ibrahim English 10-4, Latin 2-7, History M/W/F 10 November 2010 Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, the Gracchi brothers, are most commonly known as Roman political reformers. The Gracchi brothers tried to reform Rome’s political structure to help lower classes in the second century B.C. They had reforms that challenged the senate and consul. They took risks that they knew would upset the senate and consul and influenced the poor to stand up for themselves. Though Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus were killed for their desire for change; they understood the importance of the alliance with the poor, whether it be for the benefit of themselves or for the people, which lead to the fall of the Roman Republic. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus lived from somewhere about 163 B.C. to 133 B.C. Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, also known as Caius, lived from somewhere about 154 B.C. to 121 B.C. Their father was Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, who served twice consul and censor. Their mother was Cornelia, daughter of Scipio Africanus the conqueror of Hannibal. Tiberius, the eldest of the brothers, was born in what was still recognizably the old Rome. The nobility was in command then and the old image of the Roman Republic barely flawed. Yet when Tiberius died at the age of twenty-nine, he had shattered that image forever. There were many problems rising in Rome. Many Romans saw that an era was over. Scipio said that Rome was following the luxurious and corrupt manners of the Greeks. Scipio is quoted in Richards book Daggers in the Forum, “you can tell that the senate is going to the dogs Ponce 2 when pretty boys are sold for more than farms and jars of caviar for more than ploughmen” (31). In the summer of 138 B.C. the Roman people elected Tiberius to the office of quaestor. While serving as quaestor, Tiberius saved a Roman army of 20,000 men from the destruction at the hands of the Celtiberi. When he returned to Rome he was expecting praise, but the reaction was far from it. Tiberius had been greatly humiliated when his treaty with Numantine was vetoed harshly and when he received no praise or reward for saving Roman men over seas. Many question whether Tiberius ran for tribune to redeem his self or if he truly saw the existing abuses happening in Rome and wanted to make a change. In the late summer of the year 134 B.C., Tiberius Gracchus was elected tribune of the people for 133 B.C. and it was obvious the revolution was about to begin. Tiberius was determined to make himself a leader and change the existing abuses in Rome, not only to redeem himself from the humiliation that he encountered but also to prove himself among his family. Tiberius’ first land reform gave land held by the senate to the rural and urban poor. In those times a man had to own land in order to join the military. The Roman military was in great need of men, if Tiberius’ land reform was passed then more men could join the army. Tiberius also proposed that the bill offered a cure for unemployment and poverty. It would also restore the countryside of Italy and rebuild the peasant population of which Rome’s military greatness had been founded. Tiberius had many supporters, most of which were powerful members of the Roman aristocracy, that also helped Tiberius draw up his bill. These supporters showed that Tiberius was not the only one in the senate, who had a large influence in the government, who wanted change in Rome. The bill was vetoed by the tribal assembly and then rejected by the senate. They were afraid that the men receiving this land would not be loyal Ponce 3 to Rome, but to Tiberius, and in turn would result in an up heal of the people and of the Roman government. Tiberius then proposed a harsher second bill, which proposed to use the pergamene revenue to finance the commission of the land. Tiberius angered traditionalists by taking his bill directly to the people without consulting the senate and assembly. Tiberius knew the consequences of what he did and decided it was either him or the Roman constitution, “And it produced a brilliant leader in Tiberius Gracchus…that took the whole political movement a long way farther than anyone can have originally expected. Such is the genesis of revolution” (Richards 40). Tiberius risked everything he had, even the value and hard work of his family, to have his bills passed to help the poor, “yet when he became tribune he broke away from the good men, passed his land laws, offered the citizenship to the whole of Italy, stirred up greed everywhere, confounded the highest and lowest elements in the state, and brought the whole country into extreme and terrifying danger” (Plutarch 97).The risks he took went further than ever expected and thus started a revolution, the fall of the Roman Republic. Tiberius’ supporters were those who felt that they should have the right to elect the representatives that represented them and they should also reap the benefits of the state. The senate was afraid that with Tiberius’ growing support, there would be another king. When he ran for a second term as tribune, his opponents took direct action against him. Led by his cousin Scipio Nasica, Tiberius and some of his 300 followers were clubbed to death in the bloody riots over the election. The senate felt that this was necessary to stop the people from being influenced by Tiberius and revolting against the Republic. This was the first time in Roman politics that the senate took direct action like this and it did halt the coming revolt but it also showed the people Ponce 4 the effect they could have on the government. The direct action showed that Rome was going through a down fall. Gaius Gracchus, the younger of the brothers, kept quiet in the background during his brother’s political heir and surprised many when he came into politics, “His brother drifted from excellence to ambition, and only then to wickedness, but Gaius was naturally turbulent and a willing rogue” (Plutarch 113). Plutarch, a priest of the Delphic Oracle, said, “While Tiberius had a midland temperate personality, Gaius was impulsive and volatile” (4). Gaius was also a great speech maker and a more clever and perceptive politician than his brother, “He was luckier in his style of speaking than his theme, for he used his blazing genius to subvert the state, when he could have been its staunchest supporter” (Plutarch 113). Instead of using his gift of speech to gain more support of the senate, Gaius persuaded the people to question and stand up to the state. When Gaius spoke and proposed his reforms he was able to persuade the people, even better than Tiberius. Gaius first revived agrarian commission, proposed to establish new colonies, created laws stabilizing price of grain, and helped the equestrians get better rights that were recognized throughout the state. In 124 B.C. he ran for the tribunate of 123 B.C. As Tribune he introduced some 15 reform measures. Gaius benefited the people and tied them to him politically. Being so much for the people, Gaius gained their trust and was able to persuaded them and become an effective leader. While Tribune he did thing for the people that directly benefited them like passing a stronger land bill, regulating the grain supply to the city of Rome, undertaking ambitious road-building and other public-works projects, and establishing colonies in Italy and abroad. By being so much for the people, he stood at the head of the polls when he ran for a second tribunate for 122 B.C. Ponce 5 When Gaius went to Africa at the beginning of 122 B.C. to organize his new colony on the site of Carthage, the opposition rallied against him because of fear Gaius had too much power. Returning from Africa, Gaius rashly insisted on introducing his citizenship bill because he knew that he was losing support. But the Senate had his Italian supporters expelled from the city, and the mounting opposition of the plebeians led to its defeat. The senate drove a wedge between Gaius and his supporters. In consequence Gaius also failed in his bid for a third tribunate. Opposition continued even after Gaius left public office. In the armed action which followed, Gaius committed suicide rather than fight. Gaius Gracchus showed how a tribune with the backing of the city poor and the equestrians could maneuver successfully against the senatorial leadership. But, in defending its position, the Senate taught popular leaders a lesson in violence which eventually undid the republic. Even though the up rising of the people did not get that far and the senate was able to stop it with violence, really the first time the senate had reacted like this and had taken direct action, it was example for the next and this was the start of the fall of the Roman Republic. During their reign in politics, Gaius and Tiberius upset the senate when they strove for change in Rome with their liberal idea and actions, “So his schemes were even more pernicious and his behavior always bolder and more outrageous” (Plutarch 113). The Gracchi brothers were born patricians and they broke constitutional law when they were elected as Tribune of Plebs more than once. Tiberius greatly offends the senate when he takes his land reform bills directly to the people without consulting the senate. Tiberius also violates constitutional practice by impeaching Marcus Octavious. The Gracchi brothers also wanted to give citizenship to Rome’s allies but the Senate knew this would further empower the brothers. Never before was a tribune taken direct action against in Roman politics. This was significant during this time because it Ponce 6 showed that the senate in Rome knew that the Tiberius was not only trying to reform the land but the people and the state itself and it scared them, “is an attempt to reconstruct, in a necessarily limited way, the picture which Tiberius Gracchus evoked in the minds of his opponents, what so frightened that they were willing to kill to stop it” ( Discipline 358). The senate was also scared that Tiberius was gaining support among the plebeians and that there would be an up rise in Rome and even though the senate thought they had stopped it, the people knew what they were capable of and it just led to a bigger uprising in the end, the fall of the Roman Republic. Even though the Gracchi brothers upset the senate with their ideas and actions that eventually led them to their death, they took risk for what they believed in and greatly influenced the people of Rome. The Gracchi brothers, from a young age, knew that they wanted to become and do something that would be remembered forever and live up to their well know family. The Gracchus brothers knew the importance of the alliance with the poor, “A man totally free of any fault, brilliant in intellect, honorable in purpose, adored with every noble quality that an ideal character and an ideal training can instill into the human frame” (Plutarch 97). Their land reform bills benefited the poor, Tiberius’ use of the tribunate challenged senatorial rule and it encouraged imitation despite of his failure, “Tiberius turned the state upside down, although his birth was high, his talents worthy of his grandfather Africanus,, his education superb and his spirit noble” (Plutarch 97), from then on Romans could pursue a political career that was not based solely on influence within the aristocracy. The death of Tiberius caused a lot of controversy and pressure from the people was an effective substitute in Rome. Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus influenced the poor, the common people, the equestrians to stand up for their rights and to question the senate when they think Ponce 7 they are being abused, taken advantage of, or not reaping the benefits of their state. They also showed them that they and should be more active in the decisions that affect them, “He shattered the stability of the republic; but what a man he was! What a speaker! What a leader! In no way did he fall short of his father’s and his grandfather’s outstanding virtues, except that he broke with the senate” (Plutarch 97). And even though the senate stopped the brothers before they could carry out their ideas of revolution, the people saw the affect they had with the backing of each other and this was the beginning of the fall of the Roman Republic. Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus took major risks while in politics, that eventually led them to their death. These risks that eventually ended in failure encouraged the imitation of them that created up rise in the Roman Republic. Tiberius and Gaius influenced many people of Rome to stand up for themselves and try to correct the existing abuses in Rome. This was the beginning of the fall of the Roman Republic.