Political history of the Republic

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Political history of the Republic

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Nov 12, 2002 1:48 am

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I mentioned in the thread on Marius vs Sulla that I had previously written some posts to friends on aspects of Roman political history. Those concerned the inter-connection of the reformists of the Scipio Circle and the Gracchi. They are musings rather than clearly laid out arguments, and the series of posts was never completed, but they will provide a background to go on to the subject of Marius and Sulla, and even continue further down Julius Caesar and the end of the Republic. In between the Gracchi and Sulla was the affair with Saturninus, that I previously covered. those posts can be found at the collegium's website. I will try to give a chronology of the period as a reference while we move along through each period.

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Chronology

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Nov 12, 2002 1:59 am

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This chronology begins with the first consulship of Tiberius Sempronius, father of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, down to Marius' first consulship.

177 Consul Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, father of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, opposes reforms proposed by Scipio Africanus the Elder.

169 Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus is censor when Lex Vocania establishes that women can inherit land and sets limits on how much land they may inherit.

168 L Aemilius Paullus, consul for the second time, defeats Perseus at Pydna in the Third Macedonian War. This results in a huge influx of wealth and slaves into Rome.

167 Tributum, direct tax of Roman citizens, is ended.

164 L Aemilius Paullus is censor. Upon his death, P. Cornelius Scipio, son of Scipio Africanus the Elder, adopts Paullus? son as P. Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, later known in history as Scipio Africanus the Younger.

163 Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus is consul for the second time when his son, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, later Tribunus Plebis, is born. The senior Tiberius is married to Cornelia, daughter of his political rival Scipio Africanus the Elder.

161 Passage of the Lex Fannia sumptuary law.

149 Lex Calpurnia sets up a permanent court to hear suits of the provinces against their governors.

146 Consul Scipio Africanus the Younger destroys Carthage to end the Third Punic War, the final assault led by Tiberius Gracchus. Consul. Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeats Philip Andriscus in the Fourth Macedonian War. Consul Scipio Africanus, with support of his colleague Metellus, first proposes the distribution of the ager publici, but withdraws the proposal when it meets resistance in the Senate. Withdrawal of the proposal is itself opposed by Appius Claudius, P. Licinus Crassus Mucianus and his brother Publius Minucius Sceavola the Jurist, all of whom urge Scipio to push through the measure.

143 Appius Claudius is consul. Proposal by Consul G. Crassus to have pontifices elected in comitia is opposed by Praetor Gaius Laelius (the measure later passed in 104). Passage of sumptuary law Lex Didia .

142 Scipio Africanus the Younger is Censor when Lex Licinia, another sumptuary law, is passed.

140 Consul Gaius Laelius again proposes distribution of ager publici, but withdraws the proposal when it again meets resistance in the Senate, earning Laeius the name Sapiens. Monetary reform replaces the as with the sestertius as the official unit of accounting

139 Appius Claudius is Censor. Lex Gabinia, establishing use of secret balloting in election of magistrates in the comitia, is passed through support of the Scipio Circle ? Scipio Africanus the Younger, Gaeius Laeius, Appius Claudius (father-in-law of Tiberius Gracchus), Publius Mucius Scaevola the Jurist (father of Q. Mucius Scaevola the Priest) and his brother Publius Licinius Crassus Mucianus (later Pontifex Maximus and father-in-law of Gaius Gracchus). Included in the Scipio Circle are Terence, Lucilius, Polybius, and the Stoic philosopher Panaetius of Rhodes.

137 Consul Mancinus at war in Spain, where Gaius Gracchus negotiates a peace treaty with Numatia. The treaty is rejected by the Senate, Mancius handed over to the Numatians and the war continues. Lex Cassia, establishing use of secret balloting in courts of law, is narrowly passed only through the support of Scipio Africanus the Younger.

136 Consul Lucius Furius Philus defeated by the Numatians. Appius Claudius Pulcher wins election as censor over Scipio Africanus the Younger.

135-132 First Slave Revolt in Sicily.

134 Scipio Africanus the Younger elected consul for the second time for
133. Tribunus Plebis Tiberius Gracchus takes office 10 Dec. and, with Scipio?s support, attempts to pass law distributing lands of the ager publici to veterans. He is opposed in this by the veto of Tribunus Plebis Marcus Octavius.

133 Scipio Africanus the Younger defeats the Numatians while in Rome Tiberius Gracchus has Marcus Octavius dismissed as a tribunus plebis and initiates the land reforms. A Land Commission composed of Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Grachus, and Appius Claudius (Tiberius? father-in-law) is established to distribute the ager publici. Tiberius is warned by Senator Fulvius Flaccus of a plot against his life, which Tiberius ignores. Pontifex Maximus Nasica and a party of senatores appeal to Consul Mucius Scaevola to arrest Tiberius Gracchus, which the consul refuses to do. Nasica and his party then assassinate Tiberius Gracchus. Upon the death of Tiberius, he is replaced on the Land Commission by Crassus Mucianus (Gaius? father-in-law). In the Scipio Circle, Scipio Aficanus and G. Laelius break with Appius Claudius, P. Crassus Mucianus, Publius Mucius, and Caecilius Metellus over further distributions of lands held by Italian allies. In spite of the fact that Nasica is Pontifex Maximus, he is ?advised? by Consul Scaevola and the Senate to leave Rome, effectively exiling him, shortly afterwards dying in Pergamus. Begun by Tiberius Gracchus, the Via Latina is paved as far as Bovilla, later (127?) extended to Casilinum.

132 Consul P. Popilius Laenus prosecutes followers of Tiberius Gracchus.

131 Lex Papiria established secret balloting on legislation in the comitia. Caecilius Metellus is censor.

130 Appius Claudius dies and is replaced by Marcus Fulvius Flaccus on the Land Commission.

129 Passage of a plebiscitum equorum reddendorum orders all senatores to give up their public horses, effectively increasing the number of Equites Equo Publico as Cato had proposed in 184. Death of Scipio Africanus.

125 Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, maternal grandfather of Gaius Julius Caesar, is elected consul.

123-122 Gaius Sempronius Gracchus attempts to pass agrarian reforms. P. Popilius Laenus, prosecuted by Gaius Gracchus, is forced into exile. Lex Sempronia forbids the execution of Roman citizens without a trial.

122 Gaius Fannius, another son-in-law of Gaius Laelius, is consul when Gaius Gracchus and Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, along with 3,000 of their followers withdrew to Aventine in a peaceful protest against an action of the Senate to thwart their plebiscitum. Quintus Fulvius, the 18 year old son of Flaccus, is sent to the Senate to open negotiations. Instead Quintus is imprisoned and later executed. Opimius then led a faction of the Senate in slaughtering Gracchus, Fulvius, and their followers on the Aventine. Afterwards, the first Senatus Consultum Ultimum is passed by the Senate, in order to justify the actions of Opimius. The Senatus Consultum Ultimum was an invention of a faction within the Senate to circumvent the Lex Sempronia prohibiting the execution of Roman citizens without trial. The Lex Repetundarum, passed by Gaius Gracchus, allowed Equites Equo Publico to sit as jurors in trials of senators.

120 A modest land distribution proposal is put forward by Tribunus Plebis Marcus Octavius was later superceded.

117 Quintus Mucius Scaevola the Augur, cousin of Mucius Scaevola the Jurist, and another son-in-law of Gaius Laelius, is consul.

109 Lex Mamilia sets land reform and mandates survey of boundaries.
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The Roman Revolution

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Nov 12, 2002 2:01 am

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I have been going back over some Roman history, trying to make sense of what groups supported the so-called Roman Revolution that changed the constitution, or how the political process worked in the latter part of the Republic. The matter revolves around the Scipio circle and the Gracchi. Most of what I am going to be posting will be perspectives of different authors, and then some musings of my own as I try to figure this out. Mommsen held that the Gracchi reforms "neither infringed the existing constitution nor violated any right," but that they were not "politically warranted." My concern is with this latter part, why was it poltically unwarranted? What Momsen refers to, and what Cicero records, is that the Gracchi acted, in a strict legal sense, within the constitution, but contrary to the tradition that had emerged by their time. The Gracchi were not the only ones who acted against traditional forms in these affairs. While all that is part of the story, it does not tell us what divisions there were in the Roman polity who were in conflict, and for which the traditional modes of conduct were no longer able to resolve differences.

Reading Cicero's references to the Gracchi, and Plutarch's account, reference is made only to the ambiguous "people of Rome" and to individuals opposing the Gracchi as either Senators or their supporters among the Tribuni plebis. So those sources have given the picture of a political conflict between the Senate and the "people". With Appian the conflict is made between the wealthy and the poor. Modern historians have tried to name these divisions as one of the patricians versus the plebeians, or of the Senatorial class against an urban proletariat. Mommsen has the division in the Senate between the "genteel" aristocracy of landowners versus the capital invested aristocracy, and in the Comitia "the party of the aristocracy" versus the commoners, again as a kind of division between the Senatorial class against all others. A more recent history of the affairs, David Silverman, "The Gracchi," 1996, makes the division be between the Optimes and Populares. A completely unsatisfactory interpretation as those parties resulted from, and did not cause, the conflict that revolved around the Gracchi reforms.

The conflict first developed in the Senate between the Scipio circle and, apparently, a majority in the Senate of which we know little about. The Senate was composed of a stratified range of classes within the equites. When the proposal is carried to the Comitia, the conflict is between tribuni plebis, initially between Tiberius Gracchus and Marcus Octavius, who are both equites. That is, they were of the same social class that modern historians try to define in the Roman social structure. We tend to simplify the Roman social structure into an oligarchical aristocracy of a Senatorial class, a middle class of equites, and then lump together a number of groups into the lower classes. Roman social structure was more complicated than that. To begin with, the stratification of the lower classes was defined by the census into five propertied classes, and then the capiti censi, then the freedmen, and lower still were those who were not citizens, and further down were the slaves. There is less information to clearly define the various levels of stratification within the equites, although clearly such distinctions existed. The problem there is that the distinctions were not solely based on economic levels.

Looking at the proposals made by the Gracchi, they have in the past been interpreted as benefiting the lower classes, with a few provisions made to the equites in order to gain their support in the Comitia. However, the real beneficiaries of the Gracchi reforms turn out to be the equites. Although the Gracchi are murdered, and their "followers" purged, it is the very people who supported the Gracchi and their reforms that retain control of the Senate, while those who conducted the purge are exiled. Since all involved were among the nobiles, and were of the equites social class, an alternative interpretation has been that the clash was between rival families, much as in Renaissance Florence. That interpretation though has been argued against by pointing out that members of the same families stood on both sides of the issue, and in all other periods as well, family loyalty does not seem to be a factor in Roman politics. Politics involves resolving differences between special interests, often economic interests, the same economic interests that can define social classes. The Roman census certainly defined their social classes according to economic levels, and it has been recognized that the conflict involved different economic interests. However, whose interests were at stake, I feel, has been misplaced. It seems more likely that those portions of the Gracchan program that benefited the urban poor and lower propertied classes were meant to gain their support in a political battle among the equites, and not the other way around. The conflict is between the very highest and lowest levels within the equites, against the middle equites, and both sides attempted to appeal to the lower classes for support. The Gracchans have been wrongfully identified with the interests of the lower classes, when in fact they represented the economic and social interests of the very highest classes in traditional Roman society. Rather than being revolutionary upstarts as the Gracchi are often depicted, their efforts were to support the traditional elite against those who threatened to replace it.

It will take me a little to develop this further. So I will try to break it down for separate posts. The matters are involved, and as I am confused by some of it, the posts will tend to ramble a bit. So be it.

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The Scipio Circle

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Nov 12, 2002 4:46 am

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The Reform Movement associated with the Gracchi really began with the previous generation. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (163-133 BCE) and Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (154-122 BCE) were the sons of the senior Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus who had been consul in 177 and 163 BCE. In the years in between he had also served as censor in 169. The senior Tiberius was an elderly man when he married the young Cornelia, the daughter of P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus the elder. Scipio Africanus was already pushing for reforms, and his main opponent was the elder Tiberius Sempronius. Nonetheless the marriage of Cornelia was arranged between them. At the death of the elder Tiberius, Cornelia took charge of the education of her three remaining children, Tiberius, Gaius and their sister Sempronia. Part of their education was in the circle of Publius Cornelius Aemilianus Scipio Africanus the younger (184-129 BCE). Scipio Africanus the Younger was the son of L.Aemilius Paullus (consul 182, 168 BCE; censor of 164 BCE), who was the victor over Perseus at Pydna in the Third Macedonian War. Scipio Africanus the Elder was married to Aemilia, sister of Paullus. His son, also P. Cornelius Scipio, adopted Paullus' son, who thereafter became P. Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, known in history as Scipio Africanus the Younger. Scipio Africanus was thus the adopted nephew of Cornelia, and later married her daughter Sempronia. When Aemilianus Scipio Africanus served as consul in 146 and besieged Carthage in the final Punic War, a junior officer under his command was his 18 year old nephew, the younger Tiberius Gracchus. It was in fact the younger Tiberius who first scaled the walls of Carthage in the final assault. Aemilianus Scipio Africanus first looked after his nephew Tiberius Gracchus as a surrogate father, then as his commanding officer, later became Tiberius' brother-in-law and his political mentor. In 134 Scipio Africanus was again elected consul. Tiberius, as a family member and protege, was a member of the consul's consilium. He ran for tribunus plebis, taking office 10 Dec 134, with the approval and support of Scipio Africanus and others in the Scipio circle; they also lending support for the proposed land reform. At that time a peace treaty made in 137 by Mancinus and the city of Numatia in Spain, a treaty primarily negotiated by Gaius Gracchus, had been rejected by the Senate, and Scipio Africanus was being sent to continue the Numatian war. He defeated Numatia in 133, but did not return to Rome until after the murder of Tiberius Gracchus.

Aemilianus Scipio Africanus served as consul in 146, censor in 142, and again as consul in 134. As consul in 146 he proposed a distribution of the ager publici. His colleague, Quintus Caecilius Metellus, who defeated Philip Andriscus in the Fourth Macedonian War (149-6 BCE), held similar views. Scipio Africanus however withdrew his proposal when it met resistance in the Senate. Most outspoken for the land reform in Scipio's circle of friends was Appius Claudius (consul of 143, later censor in 139 BCE), who was also very much opposed to its withdrawal. Appius Claudius was Tiberius Gracchus' father-in-law and would later serve on the commission that oversaw the Gracchan land distribution. Others in Scipio's circle were Publius Mucius Scaevola (consul 133), known as "the Jurist" (father of Q. Mucius Scaevola the Priest) and his brother Publius Licinius Crassus Mucianus (consul 131), later to become Pontifex Maximus. Mucianus was Gaius Gracchus' father-in-law. Both Mucius Scaevola and Mucianus pressed Scipio Africanus to push forward the land reform. Scipio Africanus' political mentor was Gaius Laelius, who as praetor in 143 opposed the bill put forward by G. Crassus for the election of pontiffs. (That reform did not come in until the Lex Domitia of 104.) Laelius became consul in 140 and again proposed the distribution of the ager publici. Again the proposal met resistance in the Senate and was withdrawn, earning Laelius the honorific of Sapiens. While unsuccessful in the land reform, the support of these men gained approval of the Lex Gabinia in 139, that provided for the election of magistrates by secret ballot. And it was only through the support of Scipio Africanus in 137 that gained passage of the Lex Cassia that provided for the use of secret ballots in public tribunals.

Besides their close political association as the reform wing of the Senate, Scipio's circle of friends had other personal connections. Counted among Scipio Africanus' personal friends were Terence, Lucilius, Polybius, and the Stoic philosopher Panaetius of Rhodes. Gaius Laelius Sapiens had studied under Panaetius and Diogenes of Babylon. He was a distinguished orator, known for his pure Latin, and believed by some to have been the true author of Terence's comedies. Laelius is the subject of Cicero's On Friendship. Other pupils of Panaetius would be Scipio's nephew Quintus Aelius Tubero (consul 118), Lucius Furius Philus (consul in 138 who succeeded Mancinus and was defeated in Spain), Gaius Fannius (consul in 122 when Gaius Gracchus was murdered, and son-in-law of G. Laelius), and Publius Rutilius Rufus (consul 105 BCE). All of these pupils of Panaetius appear alongside Scipio Africanus as characters in Cicero's De Re Publica. Another character in Cicero's dialogue is his teacher Quintus Mucius Scaevola the Augur (consul 117), first cousin to Mucius Scavola the Jurist and another son-in-law of Gaius Laelius. Cicero himself was familiar with the work of Panaetius and followed him closely in On Duties.

Well, this post is long enough already. I'll get back to Cicero and to Scipio's circle.

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Cicero's references to the Gracchi

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Nov 12, 2002 4:47 am

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The sources we have on the Gracchi are a section in Plutarch's "Lives", Appian's "Civil Wars" 1.9.37 and 1.11.46, Vellius Paterculus 2.2.2-3; and several references by Cicero. Here is what Cicero wrote, in the chronological order of when he wrote them.

66 BCE Pro Cluentio 34, 94. A passing reference to Gaius Gracchus, "men as eminent as Publius Popilius Laenas and Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus found it beyond their powers to stand up to the opposition of a tribune." Laenas, who prosecuted the followers of Tiberius, was exiled by Gaius Gracchus in 123. Metellus Numidicus by Saturninus in 100.

Pro Cluentio 54, 150: "It was proposed by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus to deal with false witness to compass a man's death, and his motive was to help the people, not to oppose them."

63 BCE Pro Rabirio 4, 12-13: "Gaius Sempronius Gracchus passed a law exempting citizens from prosecutions on capital charges unless and until by the consent of your Comitia it were first ordained... Now, if this procedure you (Labienus) are supporting were so democratic, if it could be described as containing the smallest element of justice or fairness, surely it would inevitably have been adopted by Gaius Sempronius Gracchus....Do not waste time pretending that your uncle, that other Labienus, whoever he may have been, was more deeply mourned by the people of Rome than Tiberius Gracchus ever was."

63 BCE Against Catalina IV: "Tiberius Gracchus facing the ordeal of your (the Senate's) stern verdict because he aimed to become tribune a second time, nor of Gaius Gracchus because he had incited the land reformers to revolt."

Against Catilina IV: v, 10 "A Sempronia law which safeguards the lives of a Roman citizen in cases where the Comitia has voted no measure against them.

Against Catalina IV: vi, 12 "a mere boy who was acting as the emissary of his own father, had also been thrown into prison and put to death." Referring to Quintus Fulvius, 18 years old, and to his father Marcus Fulvius Flaccus. Fulvius Flaccus was a member of the Gracchan land commission after 130, became consul in 125. A strong supporter of Gaius Gracchus, he was executed by Opimius, along with 3,000 of Gaius' followers in 122. He is brought up in Cicero's speech, as a way to accuse Julius Caesar of being part of the Cataline conspiracy, as Fulvius was Julius Caesar's maternal grandfather.

55 BCE On the Orator 1,9, 37: Q. Scaevola speaking, "I believe the best speakers I have ever heard were the tribunes Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus...fine speakers equipped with every oratorical qualification that nature or training could provide. Because of their father's wisdom and their grandfather's military victories, Rome, as they found it, was prospering exceedingly. yet they managed to bring our flourishing nation to ruin, and this they did by their eloquence." [An odd statement to place in Scaevola's mouth, as he was a strong and most consistent supporter of the Gracchi.]

On the Orator 1, 33, 153: L. Licinius Crassus (Gaius Gracchus' father-in-law) is speaking (really describing Cicero's own methods), "Ennius, if his poetry was chosen for my exercise, or Gaius Gracchus, if I set myself on one of his speeches, I had already appropriated the best, finest, and fittest words on whatever the subject might be."

52 BCE Pro Milo, "When the seditious tribunus plebis, Gaius Papirius Carbo asked Publius Africanus (Aemilianus) at an open meeting what he thought about the death of Tiberius Gracchus, you will not, I am sure, accuse the great man of mental aberration for his reply that, in his opinion, the killing was deserved." The story recorded elsewhere is that Scipio Aemilianus replied, "So far as Tiberius had aspired to the crown, he had been justly put to death." A statement that could be taken to have just the opposite meaning as what Cicero says. Plutarch stated that Scipio replied only with an ambiguous quote from Homer, "Even so perish all who do the same." On its face the words seem to have Scipio agree to Tiberius's murder, but in the context of Homer from which it is drawn, it too has the opposite meaning.

Pro Milo V, 13 "Those occasions on which Tiberius Gracchus and Gaius Gracchus were killed...their repression could not fail to convulse the Republic, though it was to safeguard the Republic that it had to be carried out."

52; 46-44 BCE On the Laws III.20: Quintus asks, "What rights did the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus leave to the best citizens? ...Furthermore, was it not the overthrow of Gaius Gracchus and the casting of daggers in the forum, that citizens might use them to stab one another, this is Gracchus' own description of what he did, that brought about through the tribunate a complete revolution in the state?" Here Quintus puts forward one of those political rumors that were later used to justify Tiberius murder, playing with the "casting of daggers in the forum" in a literal sense rather than the allegorical sense in which it was originally spoken. Against the Cataline conspirators played to his own supporters fears by trumping up charges against Lentullus and the others that they were stockpiling daggers.

On the Laws III.24 Cicero, however, replies to Quintus that while the tribunes have too much power, the people are more cruel and violent. The Tribune's power, in practice, acts therefore as a check on mob rule. A tribune may excite the people, "and they often calm them too." It is enough, Cicero says, that only one of the ten tribunes need veto a measure to act as a check on the others. "Why it was the fact that Tiberius Gracchus not only disregarded another tribune's veto, but even deprived him of his powers, that caused his own downfall." Speaking further on the institution of the tribunes (III. 25) "When the Senate had granted this power to the plebeians, conflict ceased, rebellion was at an end, a measure of compromise was discovered which made the humble believe that they were accorded equality with the nobility, and such a compromise was the only salvation of the state. 'But," you say, 'we have had two Gracchi.' yes, and you could mention may more besides...but in the meantime the Senatorial order (summus ordo) is not subject to envy, and the common people (plebi) make no desperate struggles for their rights....real liberty, not a pretense of it, had to be given to the common people, but this liberty has been granted in such a manner that the people were induced by many excellent provisions to yield to the authority of the nobles (principum)."

44 BCE On the Republic II. 49 "It has been said that Spurius Cassius, Marcus Manlius, and Spurius Maelius attempted to win the kingship, and recently..." The text breaks there with a missing section. Since the dialogue here is set in Jan/Feb 129, it is assumed that Tiberius Gracchus was inferred.

On the Republic III. 41 "Tiberius Gracchus...kept faith with his fellow citizens, but violated the treaty rights of our allies and the Latins."

44 BCE On Duties II. 21,72 "Gaius Gracchus...benefited numerous individuals by massive distribution of free grain, yet in doing so he exhausted the national treasury. The modest distribution of Marcus Octavius (in 120 BCE) on the other hand, not only provided the needs of the poorer sections of the population, but were useful to the state as well." Even this 'moderate' measure of Octavius was then superceded by more stringent measures.

On Duties II, 23, 80 "strife over the redistribution of land was what caused their (the Gracchi) downfall, too."

In defending Rabirius, attacking Catalina, and in the speech for Milo, Cicero also repeated a line of political identification. Ahala, Nasica, Opimius, Marius, Cicero, and Milo. What he was doing is comparable to a Kennedy today addressing the Democratic party by conjuring up the memory of JFK, FDR, and Jefferson, only Cicero was reciting Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, and John Wilkes Booth. It played to a certain political faction, reminding them of their political heritage with which they identified themselves. Nasica, responsible for the purge of Tiberius Gracchus' followers was sent away by the Senate, in spite of the fact that he was the ponifex maximus whose duties required him to remain in Rome. Not an official exile, but a de facto exile. Opimius, Cicero, and Milo were all exiled, if not by the Senate as a body, by the Senate's tacit approval with strong support by some senators.

Cicero also tried to place himself within the political tradition of the Scipio circle, having been a student of Scaevola the Augur. Not the same person as Scaevola the Jurist who was in the Scipio circle, a strong supporter of Tiberius Gracchus, and also one of those who was on the commission investigating Tiberius followers, and who "advised" Cornelius Nasica to accept duties in the East. Cicero has Laelius and Scipio Aemilianus as characters in some of his dialogues, such as De Re Publica. He tries to place some of his own views into their mouths, views that concern politics of his own day rather than in the Gracchan period.

I question how some of Cicero's terms are often interpreted. He does speak of the Optimes in his own time; never really referring to Scipio or his circle as such. The Optimes seem to be a faction within those equites raised to the Senate by Sulla, and by no means all of them. He also uses the term summus ordo which is translated to mean the Senate as a social class. That I think is a misinterpretation. It might be interpreted to mean the equites as a whole if one was speaking of the censorial classes, but how he used it in Leges seems more likely to mean a certain stratum within the Senate. In the later political divisions, pro and anti Saturninus, Marians and Sullans, Optimes and Populares, all claimed the political heritage of the Scipio circle but presented different perspectives on the relationship between that circle of politicians and the Gracchi. Looking at Cicero's comments referring to the Gracchi, in the chronological manner as above, there is a subtle change in the perception he offers. In 63 the Gracchi were revolutionaries to be stamped out. By 44 they were benefactors of the Romans, even defenders of the Roman state, but misguided with regard to Rome's relations with allies and Latins. Even in 63 it is apparent in his statements that the Gracchi were very popular among the people in general and that Cicero had to be careful on how he spoke of them even with certain senatores. The change in perspective Cicero makes between 63 and 44 is a reflection of political realities and Cicero's own precarious state. In that it is also reflective of the diverse strata within the Senate, as the Populares become the summus ordo replacing the Optimes. The political divisions were among the equites, with different economic interests. The question remains whether these divisions can also be described in terms of different strata of social class within the equites, each vying to be included in the summus ordo that the Scipio circle surely was?

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Harmony of the Orders

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Nov 12, 2002 4:48 am

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A couple more quotes and thoughts.

Polybius was a friend of Aemilianus Scipio Africanus. His history is thought to be based in part on older texts, but also to have expressed the views of members within the Scipio circle. Associating with them he would have known their views directly, unlike Cicero who at best got it second hand and years later.

Speaking about C. Flaminius in 232, Polybius speaks of the hostility of the Senate towards this tribune for pushing through, against the Senate's opposition, a law distributing the ager Picenus and ager Gallicus. The reason offered for the hostility, "C. Flaminius, the originator of this demagogic policy, which one may describe, as it were, as the first step at Rome taken by the people away from the straight and narrow (of subservience to the oligarchy) and which one may regard as the cause of war which followed against the Gauls; for many of the Gauls, and particularly the Boii, took action because their territory now bordered on that of Rome, thinking that the Romans no longer made war on them over supremacy and control, but in order to destroy and eliminate them completely (II, 27, 8-9)."

Obviously this is an opinion made with hindsight from later events. It may relate indirectly to the disagreement between Scipio and other members of his circle, over the effect the Gracchan distribution would have on the Italian allies and Latins. If so, that dispute happened after Tiberius' death, in 129, the year in which Cicero places his dialogue between Scipio and Laelius. The addition, within parentheses, is by Michael Crawford, of which I am not certain that 'subservience' is a correct term for explaining the relationship. I'll get back to that.

Cicero De Re Publica I.xviii,31: Laelius speaking: "For as you observe, the death of Tiberius Gracchus, and, even before his death, the whole character of his tribunate, divided one people into two factions, and in fact Scipio's slanderers and enemies, at first led by Publius Crassus and Appius Claudius, even now that those men are dead keep a part of the senate in opposition to you under the leadership of Metellus and Publius Mucius; and these men will not allow our friend here, who is the only man able to do so, to help us in our present dangerous emergency, though our allies and the Latins are roused against us, treaties have been broken, seditious triumvirs are plotting some new villainy daily, and our good citizens (bonis viris) are in despair."

Regarding Tiberius Gracchus' proposed law, even before he sought office as tribune, Plutarch states, "he did not draw up his law without the advice and assistance of those citizens that were then most eminent for their virtue and authority; amongst whom were Crassus, the high priest, Mucius Scaevola, the jurist, who at that time was consul, and Claudius Appius, his father-in-law." Appius Claudius was one of the triumvirs, together with the Gracchi, who composed the commission on distributing the land, and Crassus (Gaius' father-in-law) was the one who replaced Tiberius when he was murdered. Before Tiberius ran for tribune there was already some disagreement between Appius Claudius and Scipio, that Mommsen held to be over their rivalry for the censorship that Appius Claudius won in 136, and even before that there was disagreement between Scipio and Laelius on one side, and Scaevola and Claudius on the other, over whether to withdraw the original land distributions proposed to the Senate by the Scipio circle. Plutarch's not mentioning Scipio and Laelius also advising Tiberius is probably due to hindsight. It hardly seems probable that Tiberius would not have first sought advise from his uncle, military and political mentor, before deciding to run for Tribune, and without Scipio's support for his program as well.

The tension within the Scipio circle is not over whether there should be a land distribution. Years after the events, hindsight may have proposed a different issue involved in the Senate, and within the Scipio circle itself. Returning to C. Flaminius in 232, Livy says that a law proposed by the Tribunus Plebis Q. Claudius, limiting the size of ships any senator or their sons could own, was passed "against the senate and indeed with support of only one senator, C. Flaminius." Continuing he says that passage of the law "roused storms of controversy and generated hostility to C. Flaminius among the nobility because of his support for the law, but brought him popular backing and thence a second consulate (XXI, 63, 3-4)." Storms of controversy? The whole Senate against one member is a storm of controversy? Or is it that one member did not agree to a consensus made within the Senate?

During the years of the Punic Wars it was necessary to maintain a united front against the enemy. Things were not always peaceful, as Livy mentions that at times the tribuni held up recruitment of an army in order to gain some political concessions. But at the same time the tribuni plebis and the comitia were never totally at odds with the Senate. The tribuni in fact worked with the Senate, much in the way that Cicero mentions at Leges III.24. The Senate had no legal authority to legislate, yet did hold a great degree of power. That power stemmed from its actual function of being where differences were resolved and a consensus reached. The process of reaching a consensus involved violent arguments, compromises, counter proposals, but once a consensus was reached all within the Senate supported it, or were suppose to. That comes out in Livy's statement about Flaminius, possibly a view of how the government was suppose to work held within the Scipio circle, reflected in some of Cicero's comments in Leges and also behind his "Harmony of the Orders". In his Pro Sestio he calls the Senate "the savior, defender and protector of the state" with the consuls as "servants" of this "imposing council." While that ideal was still attractive in Cicero's generation, what he faults the Gracchi for in the statement above is that a consensus on compromise could no longer be arrived at in the Senate. Scipio's and Laelius' withdrawal of their proposals clearly was done because they could not get a compromise on the issue, and Scaevola and Crassus faulted them for it. Clearly Tiberius Gracchus attempted to work within the ideal by first consulting with the highest members of the Senate, and we must think with Scipio as well as the others. Part of the Senate moved for the Senate to stop Tiberius. The consules refused, one would have to assume with the tacit agreement of a majority in the Senate. It was only then that a part of the Senate then decided to attack and kill Tiberius, and we must assume they were in a minority. Tiberius is warned by a senator, Flavius Flaccus, who later became one of the triumvirs of the commission, was elected consul, then tribune, and was killed along with Gaius Gracchus Nasica, the instigator, was sent away afterward, and the Gracchan distribution is carried out by members of the Senate. It seems that Nasica and his supporters were held in greater disrespect after those events, as Plutarch mentions "the people did not conceal their indignation even in the open streets, but railed him, whenever they met him abroad calling him a murderer and a tyrant, one who had polluted the most holy and religious spot in Rome with the blood of a sacred and inviolable magistrate." And we might take it that they were a minority within the Senate, for in the events immediately following Tiberius' murder, Nasica and his followers murdered some of Tiberius' followers, but Blossius was brought to the consules to be "examined touching what had happened." Nasica is present and intent on justifying his own actions by accusing Tiberius, mentions "if Tiberius had bidden you to burn the Capitol" (a charge we hear later made against Catalina and Lentulus), yet Blossius was "pardoned" and afterwards freely left. Was that really an investigation into Tiberius' actions, or a hearing within the Senate on Nasica? The hearing that led to Nasica to "wandering wretchedly and ignominiously from one place to another" and shortly afterwards dying in Pergamus. An interesting place where Nasica ended up, as it was Attalus willing Pergamus to the Romans that financed the land distribution.

Plutarch concludes that "this, we are told, was the first sedition amongst the Romans, since the abrogation of kingly government, that ended in the effusion of blood." And Appian has that the Romans "bewailed the existing state of affairs, believing that the republic no longer existed, but had been usurped by coercion and violence." In spite of what Cicero might have wanted his readers to believe in later years, it is apparent that at the time the one who is held responsible for sedition was Nasica, not Tiberius. It is Nasica who breaks with the consensus of the Senate and takes matters into his own hands after the consules, and the majority of the Senate we may assume, had refused to prevent Gracchus. We may also agree with Plutarch, and might assume his view of Gracchus echoes a contemporary source, that "it is probable indeed that Tiberius himself might then have been easily induced, by mere persuasion, to give way, and certainly, if attacked at all, must have yielded without any recourse to violence and bloodshed." Earlier Plutarch comments that "the great men of the city...took all opportunities of affronting (Tiberius) publicly in the senate-house." Nasica is there singled out as one making such public attacks, but obviously Tiberius was not hearing a majority of the Senate oppose him or he might have proceeded differently. "All former quarrels which were neither small nor about trivial matters, were always amicably composed, by mutual concessions on either side, the senate yielding for fear of the commons, and the commons out of respect to the senate." Where such compromises were worked out was in the Senate, and everything about Tiberius shows he was working together with some of the most important members of the Senate, especially with consul Scaevola.

What had linked the tribunes and the senate together previously, and had allowed for compromises to be reached, was the fact that there was not a class distinction between them. The comitia was not "subservient" to the Senate in the sense of one social class being subservient to a higher social class. It was not only the tribuni who belonged to the same social class as the senatores, but the vici as well, who controlled the tribes and centuriata. Differences arose among the equites, but their interests were not so distinctly different as to characterize their disputes as class conflict or subservience of one to another. That changed, prior to the Gracchi, and accelerated class distinctions among the equites and within the Senate itself. The critical year for understanding what happened came in 168/167. So I will turn to that next.

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The Equites

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Nov 12, 2002 4:49 am

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Processes of slow change are sometimes defined by a moment, rarely can they be attributed to a moment. But in the year 168-167 there was some events that brought an acceleration to changes in Roman society with which the reform movements were an attempt to address. In 168 Aemilianus Paullus, father of Aemilius Scipio Africanus, defeated Perseus at the Battle of Pydna. So much war booty was gained that in the following year the tributum, the direct tax on Roman citizens, was forever discontinued. The Aechean cities sent 1,000 of their leading citizens to Rome as hostages, where they remained for 16 years, bringing a good deal more wealth along with them, and much else that was to become an influence on Rome. Additionally Rome was suddenly flooded with 50,000 slaves, a dramatic influx compared to what had happened in previous wars. Along with all this, the individual victors became patrons of Greeks states, both those defeated and allies, making them extremely rich and powerful. In contrast Cicero held M. Curius Denatus as an example "Cato...often visited the hearth of this man sitting in whose house he had declined the gifts of the Samnites, once his enemies, but now under his protection (Rep III.xxviii,40)." Also with Rome as the arbitrator in eastern affairs, there came several embassies, with large entourages, spending a good deal and providing large bribes to individuals. There was nothing new in any of this, only in its scale.

Even before 167 attempts were being made to control the effects of so much wealth arriving in Rome. There was a law passed against bribery in 181, passed by the consules ex auctoritate senatus. Sumptuary laws were passed in this era, to no effect: Lex Orchia 181, Lex Fannia and a senate decree in 161, Lex Didia 143, Lex Licinia 142. Attempts were made to control triumphes, which were no longer held by consules alone, and ovationes were reintroduced. Legal age limits for magistrates came in 180 as a way to limit some of the competition for offices and control the amount of bribery money being spent. There are comments on the effects that the influx of wealth was having. Polybius, "lifestyles become more extravagant and men become unduly keen for offices and other objects of ambition." While Cato the Elder, claiming what he did not do, indicates how others were, so to speak, sharing the wealth, "placed garrison commanders in the towns of your allies to seize their goods and their families, ...divided booty...nor spoils among a few of my friends,...granted permits to requisition at will, so that my friends might enrich themselves by exploiting such authorization. I have never distributed the money for the soldiers' wine among my attendants and friends nor made them rich at public expense."

Who the equites were needs to be defined better. Technically the equites equo publico were those who received a horse and its upkeep at state expense. Originally this was to provide for a Roman cavalry, but by the Gracchan period it was more an insignia of rank to have a state horse. The practice continued until 129 when a plebiscitum equorum reddendorum was passed that ordered all who were or became senatores to surrender their horses. This freed 300 public horses for others to be given. There was a limit of 1,800 public horses, thus only 1,800 official equites. Cato's proposal to increase the number to 2,200, did not pass but the plebiscitum amounted to the same effect. Until 129 almost all Senators were one of these equites equo publico, exceptions were like Lucius Scipio who in 184 was compelled by Cato to give up his horse due to his age. Other measures, made earlier, tried to severe the senatores from certain activities. I already mentioned the Lex Claudia of 218 limiting the size of ships owned by senatores. Nor could senatores be publicani collecting taxes, or contractors for state funded building projects. Contractors and publicani still had to be wealthy land owners as that was required as a surety. When Gaius Gracchus passed the law making juries composed of equites excluding senatores he was referring only to those 1,800 equites equo publico.

At some time prior to the Gracchi a new qualification was introduced in the prima classis of the census. The minimum required to be in the prima classis was to demonstrate ownership of property amounting to at least 100,000 sestertii (=100,000,000 sesterces), the new qualification was for those above 400,000 sestertii. Popularly those of this new class became known as equites, but not officially, and there were more than 1,800 of them by then. Because of the influx of wealth, although not equally distributed, a lot of Romans were becoming quite wealthy, able to compete for public contracts. Not only Romans either. Jugurtha's massacre at Cirta, Mithradates' massacre in Asia, are of Italians serving in the provinces in some cases as Roman publicani.

As more individuals came to meet the requirements, there was greater competition for few political offices. Attention is often drawn to this fact by historians. But it was not only the magisterial offices. The vici formed the basic political units. The officials who organized them in votes taken in the different comitia were also called vici, they also held some religious functions and had a degree of status above other citizens. The comitia curiata still met to confer imperium on magistrates and to witness wills and adoptions, and for religious ceremonies. Each curia was headed by a curio and a curio maximus headed the curiae. (By the late Republic the curiae were each represented by a lictor.) The vici and curiones were not clientelia of powerful senatores as is sometimes thought, but rather independent, bargaining their support to politicians who relied upon them to deliver the votes of their own clientelia. Vici most likely also came exclusively from the equites, if not the equites equo publico. There was also increasing competition for public contracts, and since land was still needed as a surety for any contract, there was increased competition for land in Italy. The wars in Spain, Africa, and the East had devastated and depopulated large tracts of land that could be exploited, but we do not know if they were used as a surety, and no attempt was made to extend Roman colonies outside Italy until Gaius Gracchus.

So within the equites we can distinguish three separate groups, distinguished not by wealth but by status. 300 Senatores, 1,800 Equites equo publico, and then everyone else in the prima classis above a certain level of wealth who could be called equites. What had changed in this period leading up to the Gracchi was that now status did not always match wealth as it had before. And the disparity of wealth, within the equites, let alone between them and the lower classes, had grown to extreme levels. The minimum level was 400,000 sestertii. When Paulus died in 167, considered one of the poor among the aristocracy, his total worth was 3,600,000 sestertii or nine times that of the minimum qualification for the equites. Scipio Africanus the Elder received 1,800,000 sestertii from Antiochus in 190 alone, the Aqua Marcia contracted in the 140's cost 4,500,000 sestertii. For comparison, a legionary may have received as much as 1,080 sestertii per year at that time.

It is in this period that the first temples built of marble appear at Rome, at a cost far above that of an aqueduct. Complaints begin to be raised that marble statues, taken as war booty, were being brought in to private houses while temples still had terracotta. There is complaint on all types of luxurious display. One thing about those complaints though is not that wealth was be consolidated into fewer hands. Just the opposite was happening apparently. A lot of people were becoming rich, and their expenses were making other Romans wealthier than before, to the point where the old censorial classes did not really apply. Another problem is, because wealth was not being distributed evenly or proportionately, the old elite's claim to power by status no longer applied when men of lesser status could become far more wealthier. Battles over status distinction between plebeians and patricians had ended some hundred and fifty years earlier. By the time of the Gracchi there were about 130 patrician families remaining, declining to about 30 in Cicero's time two generations later. No one really knows what that distinction was originally - not ethnic, not wealth, and not really political at the beginning of the Republic. Vestiges of that distinction remained but by around 211 BCE, when the as was devalued and the denarius introduced, the censorial classes were definitely placed on the basis of wealth, if not earlier. In the fifty years leading up to the Gracchan reforms, the upper portion of the Roman social pyramid was bulging as more citizens began to meet the minimum of the prima classis and equites, and the lower end was shrinking. We turn to that next.

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The assidui

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Nov 12, 2002 4:50 am

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Since the stated purpose of the land distribution was to provide Rome with more people who met the qualifications needed to be in the army, we should take a moment to look at the assidui. The census figures between 233 and 164 show a increasing population, as would be expected, but with some exceptions. In 169 there were 312,805 Romans qualified to serve in the army, five years later, 337,452. But then the number began to decline steadily until 131 when there were only 318,823. In 125 the number then grew to 394,736, supposedly as a result of Tiberius' land distribution. Comparing the figures year by year there are some peculiarities that historians try to explain, but these make little difference because the figures, as they were reported, was what the Senate had to work with.

There was a growing shortage of assidui who could serve in the legions. The induction of Italian allies was increased so that unlike in earlier wars where the number of allied troops equaled those of the Romans, the Italians now made up two-thirds of any Roman force. There became some resistance by the allies as they too were finding it difficult to fill the ranks. At the lowest level of the propertied classes the qualification had been a wealth of 11,000 asses. By the mid second century that figure was reduced to 4,000 asses, and by 141 it had been reduced to 1,500 asses (the year that asses ceased to be used as an official unit of accounting.) Qualifications were lowered at the other end as well, the requirement for being in the prima classis dropped from 120,000 asses to 100,000 asses. Service in the army was extended, and resistance to recruitment grew because of this. Beginning in 151 and times later, tribuni plebis tried to prevent levies from being conducted, even imprisoning consules to stop it. The measures taken with the census were certainly meant to increase the available manpower for the army, but the problem was not there alone. By Polybius' day the Romans could no longer provide fleets of the same size they had in the First Punic war. Instead the Romans came to rely on foreign navies that they hired from friendly powers because there just were not enough poor Roman citizens. Roman fleets were manned by proletarii who did not meet the minimum qualification to be among the assidui. The fact that Rome couldn't find enough proletarri runs counter to the idea that the number of assidui was decreasing due to their losing their land.

The elite of Roman society, the equites, was expanding, while at the other end of the social spectrum, the number of poor Roman citizens was shrinking. How would that have affected Roman politics? The comitia curiata was used for formalities only. The comitia tributa no longer much mattered, as so few patricians remained that it had become redundant, which was why in 287 the plebisctia of the comitia plebis took on the force of law. The only two comitia that mattered by the mid second century was the comitia centuriata and the comitia plebis. Much is made of the distribution of centuries between the various censorial classes, allotting a disproportionate amount to the prima classis so that the elite could dominate that assembly. That is not quite an accurate picture though. Voting took place first by the 80 centuries of the prima classis, not all of who could be equites, then 18 of the Equites equo publico, then two for the engineers, 100 out of 193 centuries. The equites could dominate the assembly, assuming they were united. The assidui below equites status made up a total of 60 centuries, and then 30 for the lowest class, followed by two for musicians and one for the proletarii. If the equites were divided on an issue, they would need the support of a majority of the assidui. The comitia plebis was organized differently, based on place of residence. The poor were supposedly placed at a disadvantage by being placed in only four urban tribes, while the 31 tribes of the outlying area were dominated by the rich, as only they could afford to journey into Rome in order to vote. So historians have interpreted Roman voting assemblies. If that is the fact, then the equites held greater dominance in the comitia plebis than in the comitia centuriata. The equites held even more dominance in the tribal assemblies than is generally depicted, for if we take it down further, voting within an urban tribe was conducted by the vici who most often equites themselves. Potentially the equites could control the vote of all 35 tribes. But this control of the vote was not made possible by numbers. Rather it depended on influence. If there was a clear division between the classes, the equites of a tribe would be outnumbered by the assidui. But such interests never really divided the classes, and what held them together were their more immediate, common interests. A politician running for office could bribe the vici, but they in turn had to get the rest of their tribe to vote their way. How that was done, the bribe, so to speak, to the voting bloc was often public projects. A new fountain for an urban vicus, road repairs for a country tribal region, just as today in politics, the ability to meet a local interest was what determined voting. Part of the Gracchan measures was the paving of a road as far as Bovilla, shortly later (127?) extended to Casilinum to become the Via Latina. The equites having the money, connections, and status, could influence the vote in the vici and tribes, even when they were not in the majority of those who came to vote.

A question arises then. Since the equites were divided over the issue of land distribution, if the reform measures were solely to benefit the assidui and urban poor, would it not have been easier to pass the legislation through the comitia centuriata? All that might have prevented it were the consules, but those in office at the time, Scipio and then Scaevola, favored the land distribution. Why would a measure to benefit the lower classes, and as it is posed, the very lowest class of proletarii, be brought before the comitia plebis where the equites had more control over the voting than elsewhere? Historians have posed that certain measures were offered to gain the support of the equites for the lower classes against the Senate. But really, the way voting was conducted was the other way around. There are two different parts to the reform measures. The land distribution was only part of it. Looking at the reforms and who they actually benefited should then give us some idea of what actually occurred.

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Land distribution

Postby Horatius Piscinus on Tue Nov 12, 2002 4:52 am

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Posed as the main issue of the Gracchan reforms is that of the distribution of the ager publica. At one point (On Duties II.23, 80) Cicero remarks, "strife over the redistribution of land was what caused their (the Gracchi) downfall, too." It is this characterization of the lex Sempronia as a "redistribution of land" that has led historians to depict the Gracchi as revolutionaries promoting a redistribution of wealth from the rich to the landless urban poor. This view is further supported by a comment made at Leges III.ix.20 that the Gracchi "brought about through the tribunate a complete revolution in the state." Cicero attributes the comment to his brother Quintus, speaking in a list of events regarding the development of the tribunician powers, that can be seen as the perspective of the Optimes.

A contrasting view is offered by Plutarch. "Never did any law appear more moderate and gentle, especially being enacted against such oppression and avarice. For they who ought to have been severely punished for transgressing the former laws, and should have at least lost all their titles to such lands which they had unjustly usurped, were nothwithstanding to receive a price for quitting their unlawful claims, and giving up their lands to those fit owners who stood in need of help."

What Tiberius Gracchus proposed was not a revolutionary redistribution of land. Rather he proposed only that the existing lex Licinia Sextia of 367 BCE be enforced. At the time the law was passed, Rome dominated but did not yet control Latium, the last Latin War occurring in 340-338. In the north Rome had established the colonies of Sutrum and Nepet, and a string of colonies through the center of Latium as far south as Setia and Circeii. The ager publica at the time was those lands not assigned to the colonies. According to legend, at the founding of Rome Romulus had given each of his followers 2 iugera of land [1 iugerum = 0.25 hectares = 0.625 acres]. This was a standard, repeated at the founding of some Roman and Latin colonies. Modern investigation has shown that even in the time of the Gracchi, many Roman farms remained under 7 iugera. Farms of these sizes are believed incapable of supporting a family using Roman farming methods. However Roman families did survive by using the ager publica at a small rent. Plutarch said that the lex Licinia setting limits on how much of the ager publica each citizen was entitled to use had come about "when the wealthy men began to offer larger rents, and driven the poorer people out." What the lex Licinia Sextia provided for was that any Roman citizen could plow up to no more than 500 iugera of the ager publica and additionally graze up to 100 head of cattle or 500 smaller animals (sheep, goats, and pigs). Rents for this use of the land were charged, and ownership of the land was retained by the state. Even then, some families exceeded the Lician limits, building up estates of several thousands of iugera and they held these lands illegally for over two hundred years. Roughly sixty years before Tiberius' proposal, Cato the Elder, speaking against the repeal of the lex Oppia in 195 BCE said, "But what provoked the lex Licinia about 500 iugera except the uncontrolled desire of joining field to field?" (Livy XXXIV.4.9). From Cato we can thus gather that the Licinian limits were still held to be a legal limit on the use of the ager publica. But he does speak of the abuse of those limits in a past sense. The fact was that land had been seized illegally, but the families had held the lands for so long that they considered their families to own the land.

One thing Tiberius' proposal offered to change was that the land held within the legal limit would pass into ownership of those who held it Those holding large tracts of these public lands were allowed to retain 500 iugera for themselves, and additionally 250 iugera for each of their sons, up to a total of 1,000 iugera. The land held above the legal limit was to be reclaimed by the state. That does appear to be a generous offer, Plutarch's "moderate and gentle" solution to the problem, considering that the old penalty for exceeding the limit was forfeiture not only of the illegally used lands of the ager publica but also seizure of half of a person's legally owned land, less 1,000 asses. The land owners did not see it that way however.

The land reclaimed by the state was then to be parcelled out in tracts of 30 iugera, which were not to be owned by any individuals; the state would retain ownership and charge a small rent. The idea of parcelling out ager publica was not new either. In the past colonies were formed out of such lands by just such a parcelling of lots, and additional territory around the colony was held in common as that colony's own ager publica. Already during the Punic Wars small farmers serving in the army, having the duration of their service repeatedly extended, had lost their land to wealthy land owners either buying the land from distressed wives or otherwise simply pushing the families of soldiers off their land. In 201 BCE lands seized from those Italic tribes in Apulia and Samnium that had sided with Hannibal, lands thus added to the Roman ager publica, were parcelled to veterans who had served under Scipio Africanus the Elder. It was decided that a commission of ten was to be appointed by the praetor Marcus Junius that would then make the allotments.

Among those on this board were Q. Caecilius Metellus, M. Fulvius Flaccus, and T. Quinctius Flamininus, all of whose family members, along with the Scipios, were to play key roles in the reform moment that followed. This has led to one interpretation of the reform movement, and opposition to it, as a matter of contention between powerful families. That is part of the story as family interests were involved, but it is too simple an explanation as there are exceptions, with family members appearing on opposite sides of the issues. The land distribution by itself is more involved than I have presented here; I will return to it again later after looking at some other issues.

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answer

Postby Q. C. Locatus Barbatus on Thu Nov 14, 2002 7:58 pm

Salve Marce,


Spoken of a complete answer :D . That's how I know you allright :wink: . Were did you get all that information?


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