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Transcript
EVENTS BETWEEN THE LATE 130s BC AND 124 BC
1. We saw how Tiberius Gracchus had brought to the fore
(unintentionally, one might argue) a number of
‘constitutional’ issues, such as:
a) whether ‘the People’ were sovereign;
b) whether they could remove “tribunes of the Plebs” who
prevented the electorate voting on bills put to them;
c) whether they could re-elect “tribunes of the Plebs”;
d) whether, being sovereign, they needed the approval of
the Senate before bills could go to “the Plebeian
Assembly”.
2. Information for the decade that followed his murder is, as
we saw, limited.
3. Among the ‘events’ we glanced at were:
a) Papirius Carbo’s unsuccessful attempt in 131 BC to
&
establish that a ‘tribune of the Plebs’ could be re-elected;
b) how the judicial authority of the “Commission of Three”
was passed to the consuls in 129 BC, resulting in very
little state-owned land not already reclaimed by the state
from private hands becoming available for redistribution.
There were other developments too:
1. In 126 BC a tribune, Marcus Iunius PENNUS, passed a
law
a) prohibiting freeborn citizens of other states in Italy
from moving to Rome; and
b) expelling from Rome citizens of other states already
living in Rome.
2. In 125 BC one of the consuls, Marcus Fulvius
FLACCUS, introduced a proposal, which failed, to
extend Roman citizenship to some of Rome’s allies in
Italy - which was becoming a demand.
And so in 126 and 125 BC we appear to have two
diametrically conflicting ideas in Rome:
i) Expel non-Romans from the state and prevent nonRomans settling there.
ii) Extend Roman citizenship to at least some of the other
states in Italy.
a) In 125 BC, also, the “Latin Colony” of FREGELLAE
(the second foundation established after the end, in 338 BC, of the ‘War with
the Latins’) rebelled
against its relationship with Rome.
b) Why Fregellae (whose population enjoyed ‘Latin Rights’)
rebelled is not at all clear but it may have been connected
with the law to expel non-citizens from Rome in 126 and
the failure of the proposal of M. Fulvius Flaccus in 125 to
extend Roman citizenship to others, including themselves.
c) The rebellion was ruthlessly put down by 124 BC by the
praetor of that year Lucius Opimius.
All of this forms the background to the election in 124 BC of
GAIUS SEMPRONIUS GRACCHUS (the younger brother
of Tiberius) who took office, along with the other nine
‘tribunes of the plebs’, on 10th December 124 BC.
Later
depiction
of the two
GRACCHI
Brothers
1.
2.
3.
4.
GAIUS SEMPRONIUS GRACCHUS
Our information is a little muddled for the period when
Gaius Gracchus was a tribune.
He held office in two consecutive years and it is not
always clear which proposals belong to 123 BC and
which belong to 122 BC.
Furthermore, PLUTARCH and APPIAN provide
accounts that differ somewhat from each other.
But an approximate reconstruction of what he
attempted seems possible (all much more
comprehensive than the programme of his brother).
HIS PROGRAMME OF REFORMS
GAIUS SEMPRONIUS GRACCHUS proposed:
A. A modified version of his brother’s agrarian law –
mainly removing the restrictions which had been placed
on it.
B. A “grain law” which had the state buy grain (with
granaries to store it) and then sell it to citizens at the
same price they would have had to pay in the grainproducing area.
C. A “military law” which prohibited the conscription of
those under 17 and had the state guarantee the provision
to the common soldier of his basic equipment.
D. A measure which outlawed any court or body with the
power of capital punishment if it had not been established
by “the People”.
E. A proposal which would give Roman citizenship to
Rome’s Italian allies (subsequently withdrawn).
F. A reform which would see jurors in the ‘jury-courts’ when
senators were charged with corruption drawn from the
‘equestrian order’ rather than from the ‘senatorial order’.
G. A measure in two parts
i) to organize (at last) the kingdom of Pergamum in Asia
Minor as a ‘province’ to be known as “ASIA”; and
H.
I.
J.
K.
ii) to ‘farm out’ the collection of taxes there to consortia
(‘companies’) of contractors from the ‘equestrian
order’.
A complicated requirement by which the two provinces
to which the two consuls would go as ‘governors’ when
their year was finished would have to be named by the
Senate before it was known who those consuls would be.
A badly understood proposal to make the bribing of jurors
illegal.
A measure to build roads in Italy.
A measure to found three new “colonies” (new settlements)
– two in Italy and one in North Africa on the site where
Carthage had stood until 22 or 23 years earlier.
GAIUS GRACCHUS, overall, proposed something for
everyone – except senators:
a) cheap grain and the prospect of land for urban citizens;
b) land and better conditions of military service for rural
citizens;
c) membership on juries and a tax-collecting contract for
‘equestrians’ [the new social stratum which had emerged];
d) Roman citizenship (perhaps) for non-citizens.
It has been suggested that GAIUS GRACCHUS
a) expecting opposition from a large section of the
senatorial order, and
b) realizing the need to build as wide a coalition of
supporters as possible, …………
…….. aimed from the very beginning to move in a manner
openly populist and, perhaps, “anti-senatorial”.
THE OPPOSITION TO GAIUS GRACCHUS
It was during GAIUS GRACCHUS’ second year as a
tribune (122 BC) that he ran into really serious trouble:
a) One of the other nine ‘tribunes of the plebs’ of that year,
MARCUS LIVIUS DRUSUS, in a competition for
popularity and, suspiciously, with the overall backing of
the Senate, proposed a programme far more “radical”:
i) He announced a measure which would see the
foundation of twelve new “colonies” in Italy (and,
perhaps, Sicily too).
ii) He also proposed to remove totally the small rent that
those who received allotments of state-owned land had
been expected to pay.
b) The attraction of Marcus Livius Drusus’ legislation was
such that much of Gaius Gracchus’ support moved away
from him and, in the elections held in 122 BC for 121 BC,
Gaius Gracchus failed to be elected to a third consecutive
term as a tribune.
c) His campaign for re-election was not aided by his long
absence in “AFRICA” personally overseeing the foundation
of his “colony” at Carthage.
121 BC
1. a) Once GAIUS GRACCHUS was a private citizen
again, the Senate’s enthusiasm for the programme
passed by Marcus Livius Drusus faded away!
b) There is no evidence that Drusus’ reforms were ever
implemented.
2. Fearful that Gaius Gracchus would regain much of his
popular support once it was clear that Drusus’ twelve
“colonies” were not likely to materialize, the Senate
looked for ways to undermine the legislation he had been
able to introduce.
3. a) It proposed to repeal the legal approval granted for the
foundation of the “colony” at Carthage.
b) The legislation, while very much Gaius Gracchus’
measure, had been guided into law by one of his fellowtribunes, a RUBRIUS, and was known as the LEX
RUBRIA (the ‘Rubrian Law’).
4. And there were reasons to repeal the ‘Rubrian Law’.
5. In 121 BC reports began to arrive from North Africa that
marker-stones set up by the surveyors to indicate the
boundaries of the new “colony” kept being overturned by
wolves.
6. Since the site of Carthage had, at the time of its
destruction in 146 BC, been cursed, it was obvious that
the gods were now showing that they did not wish the
colonial foundation to come to fruition.
When GAIUS GRACCHUS learnt that his legislation
was in danger of being undone, he went along to the
meeting of the Assembly which, as a privatus (a private
citizen), he had every right to do.
8. He took with him a large crowd of supporters, some of
whom were armed.
9. Violence erupted and the meeting of the Assembly had
to be adjourned.
10. The Senate met and received a report about the
situation in the Plebeian Assembly from one of the
consuls, LUCIUS OPIMIUS, an enemy of Gaius
Gracchus [who, when praetor in 125 BC, had ruthlessly put down the
7.
rebellion of ‘the Latin colony’ of FREGELLAE].
11. a) The Senate then passed a motion (which was to have a
long history) soon to be known as the SENATUS
CONSULTUM ULTIMUM (“the FINAL DECREE of
the SENATE”).
b) It recommended (and it was no more than a
recommendation) that the consuls (the formal holders
of the necessary authority) take whatever action was
needed to deal with the matter.
12. LUCIUS OPIMIUS, in the knowledge that he had the
Senate’s moral backing, opted to use force.
13. a) In the ensuing confusion, Gaius Gracchus’ supporters
seized the Aventine Hill where they were surrounded
and many of them killed.
b) We are told that, in an effort to prevent even further
bloodshed, GAIUS GRACCHUS committed suicide.
14. With his death, the Roman state witnessed a decade of
senatorial reaction.
a) Social and economic problems were not helped by this
period of conservatism.
b) Any hopes, too, that Rome’s allies in Italy may have
had for an extension of Roman citizenship or even of
“Latin Rights” to them were shattered.
“The Death of Gaius Gracchus” Jean Baptiste Topino-Lebrun (1764 – 1801)
THE PERIOD FOLLOWING THE DEATHS OF
THE GRACCHI BROTHERS
1. a) The period of conservatism that followed Gaius
Gracchus’ death did not ease the economic and
social problems of the poor.
b) All hope, too, that Roman citizenship might be
extended to Rome’s allies in Italy had faded.
c) Gaius’ agrarian legislation was gradually undone,
although his measure providing subsidized
grain to the urban poor was not repealed.
2.
In 118 BC the LEX THORIA (Thorian Law) brought the
work of the ‘Agrarian Commission’ to an end: no more
state-owned land was re-distributed after that date.
3. a) The historian APPIAN tells us that “not long after”
the token rent which those who had been allotted
state-owned land had to pay was abolished.
b) He seems to be referring to 111 BC when by a law
(which we have in the form of a long, almost
complete document but which doesn’t have a name)
abolished that token rent.
c) With the removal of the token rent, the land which
had been distributed became private property –
which could be bought and sold.
4.
a) The situation with respect to land had almost gone
back to what it had been before TIBERIUS
GRACCHUS had set up his “Land Commission” in
133 BC.
b) As Appian puts it:
“The ordinary citizens lost everything and there
resulted a still further decline in the number of
both citizens and soldiers, and in the revenue from
the land, and the distribution of land and in the
allotments themselves.”
New Terms
More and more we now find two new political terms applied
to elements within the nobility and the wider senatorial order:
a) OPTIMATES (“optimates”) – those who, collectively,
believed that the role of the SENATE in the state should
be the dominant one and that more conservative policies
should command support; and
b) POPULARES (“populists”) – usually applied to
individual leaders from within ‘the nobility’ who
advocated reform, who tried to win the support of citizens
not already linked to nobles and other senators as
‘clients’, and who either held the office of ‘tribune’
themselves or (more often) found one or more tribunes of
the plebs to take their proposals to ‘the People’.
[CICERO, at a later date, defined the “optimates” as those who
developed policies which were attractive to all “the best people”,
attractive to all those who were “honest” and “respectable”, who
wanted to “preserve the state”, uphold “tradition”, and who
respected “the law”.
“Populists” were, by implication, those who did not stand for these
things and whose motives were always suspect.]
We also find, in the post-Gracchan period, the members of
The EQUESTRIAN ORDER (and their clients) often
holding the ‘balance of power’ in the Popular Assemblies,
sometimes supporting ‘the optimates’, sometimes
supporting ‘populist’ leaders – depending on which offered
them the better “deal”.
THE WAR AGAINST JUGURTHA: 112 – 105 BC
1. In the post-Gracchan period, the Roman state became
embroiled in a long, tedious war in north Africa against
JUGURTHA, king of NUMIDIA.
2. a) Even in antiquity itself it was agreed that the details
of the war were of little real importance.
b) What was of significance was the way the war
heightened the tensions within the nobility even
further, caused division, and brought an important
“new man” (novus homo) to the fore and to the
consulship (although of non-noble and nonsenatorial family): GAIUS MARIUS.
GAIUS MARIUS
(157 – 86 BC)
JUGURTHA
(head on a coin)
3.
At the end of the war JUGURTHA was betrayed,
captured, transported to Rome, thrown into a pit under
the Tullianum (Rome’s prison) and left to die.
JUGURTHA IN
CHAINS IN FRONT
OF SULLA, GAIUS
MARIUS’
SUBORDINATE
OFFICER
4. The seven-year war had brought the Roman state little
advantage.
5. Only BOCCHUS of Mauretania and GAUDA, a member of
the Numidian royal house, gained: they each took a slice of
the kingdom of NUMIDIA.
6. But the war had won great acclaim for GAIUS MARIUS,
who, having few links with “the nobility”, was seen as
above the corrupt practices which had been only too evident
during the war.
7. MARIUS was of “equestrian” background but had held
senatorial positions (without any particular distinction): a
quaestorship in 122 BC, a ‘tribuneship of the plebs’ in 120
BC, a praetorship in 116 BC (coming sixth [last] amongst the
successful candidates) and the governorship of Lusitania in
114 BC.
NUMIDIA was divided, part going to BOCCHUS of
MAURETANIA and part going to GAUDA, a member
of the Numidian royal house.
7. It had been MARIUS’ military ability, his popularity with
the common soldier and the support he enjoyed from an
influential section of the Equestrian Order that had pushed
him to the fore and given him the overall command in the
war.
8. a) MARIUS had not only gained the consulship as a novus
homo (“a new man”), the first in his family to break into
the ranks of “the nobility”, but also, with huge popular
support, gone on to hold an unprecedented string of
CONSULSHIPS [after that of 107 BC] (contrary to the law).
b) He had been elected time and time again to one of the
two consulships - in 104, in 103, in 102, in 101, and
again in 100 BC.
It had been largely the threat to Italy from Germanic
tribes which had made a man of his military ability
desirable in one of the top positions in the years after the
war against Jugurtha ended (in 107 BC).
10. But MARIUS ALSO introduced a series of military
reforms, one of which in particular had a lasting impact
on the political life of the Roman state for the next 60
years.
9.
GAIUS MARIUS’ REFORM OF THE ARMY, HIS STRUGGLE
AGAINST GERMANIC TRIBES AND HIS ROLE IN POLITICS
1. Various organizational reforms were gradually
introduced to Rome’s armed forces by Marius when he
was fighting in north Africa but even more so in the years
leading to 100 BC when he was fighting the Germanic
tribes who threatened Italy.
2. Foremost were:
a) The regularization of the three fighting lines of the
legion:
i) Previously they had comprised men of mixed ages
and mixed equipment.
ii) Now men of about the same age and with the
same equipment were grouped together.
b) The cohort of 600 men (10 to a legion) became the
principal fighting unit.
c) The 60 centurions in each legion became the ones who
provided leadership in practice (rather than the six
military tribunes and the senatorial commanding officer).
d) A sense of pride and belonging was instilled in each
legion through the granting of a silver eagle as the
legion’s standard.
e) Troops on the march achieved greater mobility by
carrying their own baggage rather than depending on
mule-trains for their supplies.
f) The commander himself rewarded those who had fought
under him not only with a share in any booty taken but
with an allotment of land after service.
3. a) It was this last innovation (combined with another vital
element of Marius’ reforms) which would bring the
armed forces into politics.
b) The military commander now had
i) EITHER to enter the political arena himself and pass a
law making land available for distribution to his
veteran troops;
ii) OR to form an alliance with one (or more) “populist”
leader (usually a ‘tribune of the plebs’) who was
willing to introduce legislation to make land available.
4. i) The other MOMENTOUS change Marius made when
recruiting troops (to guarantee sufficient numbers) was to
ignore totally the traditional requirement that those who
fought in Rome’s armed forces must be land owners,
however modest their holdings.
ii) Marius began to draw his fighting men from citizens who
did not meet the basic census requirements and they
tended not to be demobilized any longer at the end of the
campaigning season either but remained enrolled and in
many cases made a career of fighting.
Before we turn to how Marius’ main change began to influence Roman politics we
need to note Marius’ military activities (after the war against Jugurtha) in defending
Italy from the Germanic threat.
THE GERMANIC THREAT FROM THE NORTH
1. The Roman state had become aware of the movement of
Germanic tribes, particularly the CIMBRI and the
TEUTONES, in the Danube area as early as 113 BC.
2. By 109 BC their arrival in Gaul was beginning to threaten
Roman interests in the newly established “province” of
GALLIA NARBONENSIS (modern Provence).
3. a) Roman forces suffered serious defeats at the hands of
these tribes in both 109 and 107 BC.
b) In 105 BC one of the consuls of 106 who had had his
imperium extended and one of the consuls of 105
suffered even worse defeats, the like of which had not
been seen for a century.
c) The huge loss of troops in 105 BC opened ITALY to
invasion.
4. This was exactly the moment when GAIUS MARIUS
was achieving his success against Jugurtha in North
Africa.
5. The Popular Assembly intervened, elected MARIUS to
the consulship in absentia, deprived the proconsul,
Quintus Servilius Caepio, of his command in the north
and transferred it to MARIUS.
6. It was the opportunity MARIUS needed to put his
military reforms to the test and hone them as necessary.
Migration
of the Cimbri
and Teutones
GREEN crosses
= Germanic
victories against
Roman forces.
RED crosses
= Roman
victories
7.
Overall Marius, working with other commanders over
four years, was able to remove totally the “Germanic”
threat to the Italian Peninsula.
8. His final reward for his prolonged efforts was the
consulship for 100 BC – a entirely unprecedented sixth
term.
BUT 100 BC was to prove a very difficult year for
him politically.
“The Defeat of the Cimbri” Alexandre-Gabriel Décamps
(1803-1860)