Зображення сторінки

of an age of usefulness or fame. The people, who looked up to her as to a queen, caught something of her enthusiastic confidence in her children ; while those who were admitted to her house, or were trusted to complete the education she began, appear to have been persuaded, as of themselves, that the mother of the Gracchi was, as she deserved to be, the mother of sons who would grow to be heroes as naturally as they grew to be men.

Tiberius Sempronius, the elder of the two, was, while yet a youth, elected by the Augurs to a place in their college, and was soon after taken by Scipio Africanus on the expedition which terminated with the fall of Carthage. The gallantry he showed in the army, of which he was the first to mount the walls of the fated city, was, in his day, a necessary element of the virtue he practised in retirement and cultivation at home. Some years glided away in peaceful studies and amongst earnest friends, of whom his mother, his brother, and his early instructors seem to have been the nearest, when Tiberius, still under the age prescribed by law, received the appointment of Quæstor to the consular forces employed at the siege of Numantia, in Spain."


3« Gracchorum eloquentiæ mul- 4 If he was born, as Plutarch imtum contulisse accepimus Corneliam plies (C. Gracch., 1), in A. C. 163, matrem," etc. Quint., Inst. Orat., and was elected Augur before going I. 1. “ Filios non tam in gremio to Carthage, A. C. 147. Plut., educatos quam in sermone matris.” Tib. Gr., 4. Cic., Brut., 53. Every one remem- 5 A. C. 137. Plut., Tib. Gr., 5. bers the story of Cornelia and her jewels. Val. Max., IV. 4, init.

The people of Numantia, heroic as well as barbarous, were almost alone in holding out against the Roman forces after the defeat of Viriathus and the Lusitanians. Already for several years assailed or besieged when the army which Tiberius Gracchus accompanied was sent against them, they were nevertheless still fresh enough to oblige Hostilius Manci. nus, the Consul in command, to attempt a retreat, and, failing in that, to propose a peace. The name of Gracchus was renowned amongst most of the Spanish tribes, in consequence of the treatment they had received from the father of Tiberius in his proconsulship, some forty years before; and when Mancinus, despairing of safety, asked a truce, the Numantines, answered that he must send his Quæstor to treat with them. Tiberius went; and through his influence, derived not only from his father's name, but from his own demeanour, he obtained more favorable terms than would otherwise have been granted to his comrades. It was not, as we have often seen, the wont of the dignitaries who sat at ease in their curule chairs, or of the populace who thronged the Forum in tumultuous assemblies, at Rome, to show much respect for a treaty they thought degrading, however necessary they might acknowledge it to have been; and when Mancinus returned from the scene of his defeat, it was soon decided to surrender him to the enemy, in order that the concessions he had made to save his army might, as far as was still possible, be obviated. At the same time, the actual author of the treaty, Tiberius Gracchus, in

stead of being surrendered likewise, was praised for having saved his fellow-soldiers, and blamed only because he zealously opposed the sentence as universally as it was unjustly pronounced upon the Consul. Whatever honor Tiberius might acquire was in small proportion to the detestation aroused in a nature so sensitive as his, against the wrongs done both to Mancinus and to the Numantines. Nor was his experience in the evils of warfare and conquest so brief as to fail of pointing out the offensive causes from which they sprang.

He had seen more of these than has yet been told, on his journey to Numantia and on his return, in the desolate country through which he passed, even within the bounds of Italy. Fields tilled by barbarians or slaves, and houses occupied by stewards, or by families of which the most enterprising members had long since gone to Rome or across the seas, looked sadly to Tiberius travelling by, as if they claimed the living beings whom they had once known, but whom they knew no more. Again the sensitive spirit was touched; and Tiberius conceived' a higher duty than could be performed in any war, which he might one day fulfil in peace amongst his countrymen.

Three years afterwards, at the age of twenty-eight or nine, Tiberius Gracchus was elected Tribune. If the preparation of his previous life had not been lost,

6 - All Italy,” says Plutarch, 8 A. C. 134. Chosen in the “was thinned of freemen.” Tib. summer, and entering upon office Gr., 8.

in the winter. 7 According to the testimony of his own brother. Plut., loc. cit. VOL. II.


it was with full persuasion of the evils abroad and at home which needed to be repaired, that he entered upon an office best suited by its popular character to the achievements of a reformer and a faithful man.

As in every mass of evils one will grow up more rankly than the rest, sometimes seeming to be the only one that grows at all, so in Rome, the decline, partly of the middle, but more especially of the lower citizens, appeared almost alone to claim compassion and redress. It was once attempted to be stayed by a man as learned as any in the philosophy and the religion of his times, Caius Lælius, the friend of the younger Africanus, and the patron of the poet Terence; but his apprehensions of difficulty overcame his desires of beneficence, and Lælius went thenceforth by the name of Sapiens, the Wise, because he knew that the work needed, not to be done, indeed, but to be left undone. The wisdom of Tiberius Gracchus was of an exactly opposite description, too ardent rather than too cold, too daring rather than too cowering, before the objects to which it was turned by his affection or by his ambition. His mother besought him that she should be called no more the mother-in-law of her daughter's husband, Scipio Africanus, but be distinguished by the name of her own son. His former teachers, now his friends, urged him to do what they had long, perhaps, discussed together and prepared ; and the appeal of the people, by petitions and writings on the walls,1° entreating



9 Plut., Tib. Gr., 8.

10 Ibid,

anxiously that the project already noised abroad as in his mind might be begun, was sustained by the approval of many of the highest citizens in Rome,' whom Gracchus privately consulted. Thus sustained and thus encouraged on all sides, save that from which he could expect nothing less than opposition and even outrage, the Tribune laid an Agrarian law before the Tribes. 12

Its terms were very simple, renewing the law, now over two centuries old, of Licinius Stolo, that no one should occupy more than five hundred jugers of the public lands, but with this proviso, that any father rich enough to do so might hold two hundred and fifty jugers besides, in the name of his son, or even retain five hundred in addition to his own, if he had two sons to serve as the nominal occupants.13 To these as the principal, other clauses were subjoined, ordering the division of the domain surrendered to the Commonwealth among the poorer citizens,14 on the condition that their portions should be inalienable,15 and appointing, on the other hand, the payment of some equivalent to the rich for the improvements and the buildings upon the estates they lost.16 Some words

11 Licinius Crassus Mucianus, 14 App., loc. cit. afterwards Chief Pontiff'; his broth- 15 App., Bell. Civ., I. 10, 11. er, Mucius Scævola, orator, jurist, 16 Plutarch (Tib. Gr., 9) says and in that year Consul; and Ap- that the whole value of the lands pius Claudius, the father-in-law of was to be paid to the occupants ; the Tribune. Plut., Tib. Gr., 4, 9. but it is totally incredible, as well as Cic., Acad. Pr., II. 15.

contradictory to the tenor of Ap12 Now in A. C. 133.

pian's account. 13 Appian., Bell. Civ., 1. 9. Liv., Epit. LVIII.

« НазадПродовжити »