« НазадПродовжити »
rius";90 and it was in duty, as he thought, to his brother, that he pursued them, rather than for his own revenge.91 Nay, in the various and ardent excitements through which we are following him, though he stand before us, as he is described, with vehement gestures 92 and loud-toned voice,93 there are other motives and other words that are to be remembered as peculiar to the younger Gracchus, whenever he could escape the memories that seemed to drive him whither, of his own accord, he would never have gone.
“If ye wish,” he said, “fellow-citizens, to make use of the wisdom and the valor that there are amongst you, and if ye inquire after them, ye will find that none of us come up to this place to address you without reward. All of us who speak here seek something for ourselves; nor does a single man present himself on the rostra for any other reason than that he may take something away with him when he has done. I myself, now speaking to you, do not appear without a design; yet it is not money, but good-report and honor, that I seek at your hands."94 For once, there was a Roman who did not claim the full extent of the estimation he deserved; since Caius Gracchus, if there be any trustworthiness in the his
90 Plut., C. Gr., 3.
91 “E tre gran furie ho meco : Ira di patria oppressa, amor de' miei, E vendetta, la terza; si, vendetta Della fraterna strage."
Vinc. Monti, Cajo Gracco, Att. I. sc. I. 92 As the fragment of Dion Casbius (XC.) too sneeringly describes.
93 Plut., C. Gr., 4. So “ marvellous loud,” indeed, that he was obliged to modulate its tones by the pipe of a slave. Cic., De Orat., III. 60.
94 Aul. Gell., XI. 10.
tory that preserves his name and deeds, was not content with seeking laurels, of which the last, as he foresaw, would be blighted and blood-stained leaves, but rather labored to do his countrymen the service he was capable of rendering, if it were one that they on their part could receive.
The labors of the Tribune are run together on the ancient canvas in masses so confused as to represent a different work to almost every eye. It is more, perhaps, than we can rightly attempt, to restore them to their original relations, and describe the conformity between the foreground and the perspective of the scene, whose interest would be a thousand-fold enhanced by the natural harmony that might then be disclosed between its parts. As it is, Caius Gracchus is but a name appended to a coarse enumeration of reforms, in which he is represented as having engaged at once, without either the consideration or the excitement that marks the proper history of a reformer, as he hurries from step to step, yet pauses at each to catch the sound of his feet or to hear the tread of his pursuers and of those whom he himself pursues.
Our narrative, therefore, must be accepted as one of ill-defined and scanty outlines. The first public measure to absorb the cares of Gracchus was the Agrarian law, which it was his bounden duty, under the circumstances, to revive from its stupor of many years' duration. As he, with Fulvius Flaccus and Papirius Carbo, was still upon the commission, there could be no difficulty in declaring the law to be in force; but though its action was modified and backed by various expedients, it does not appear to have been resuscitated to any real advantage. Nor is it now for the first time that we have to remark the inefficacy of all endeavours to ameliorate the social and personal condition of the same people who were allowed, nominally at least, to obtain the highest political prosperity. It was in vain that Caius urged the distribution of lands, or directed public works of construction or repairs to be begun, in order to furnish occupation to the poor.96 The streets were still thronged with indolent or wretched citizens; and even amongst the few who were slowly changing from citizens to farmers, the care of procuring common food was the cloud of the morning and of the evening, that neither breeze nor sunshine could dispel. From the days of Coriolanus down, it had been necessary to distribute grain amongst the people in times of scarcity;97 but the difficulty was now uninterrupted by any plenty, and insurmountable by any toils that were fit, in public opinion, for the freeborn to endure. Whether Caius Gracchus deplored the means he was obliged to adopt in order to relieve the necessities of his fellow-citizens, or whether, heedless of its nature, he embraced it with that ardor which lights up every charitable effort, is past our finding out; but a law was urged by him and readily accepted by the people, to the effect that a monthly sale of grain, at a fixed and moderate price, should be made under public superintendence.98 The faction of the rich complained, partly because the revenues of the Commonwealth, as they rightfully declared, would be drained by such a demand,99 but chiefly, we may surmise, because the returns from their own estates would be seriously impaired by the projected fall in the price of grain. If we are not at fault, it was the purpose of the Tribune neither, as his enemies alleged, to harm their private or the public fortunes, nor, as would now appear, to keep the poor in the condition of common paupers; but rather to change these into independent citizens by relieving their wants, which, however imperative or degrading, they could not themselves relieve.
95 Such as a system of general 96 Plut., C. Gr., 6, 7. colonization, on the one hand, and, 97 Liv., II. 34, III. 31, IV. 12, on the other, the assessment of an etc. Later instances are in XXX. annual tax upon the new proprie- 26, XXXI. 4, 50, XXXIII. 42, tors. Plut., C. Gr., 5, 9.
The assistance which the Tribune would have given to the citizens was next extended to the soldiers of the Commonwealth. It can be estimated, however, only by two laws, that are recorded, the one to have reduced the expenses, 100 and the other to have defined the period of enlistment, the beginning of which was fixed at the age of seventeen.101 Some
98 Liv., Epit. LX. App., Bell. 101 Ibid. This has been generally Civ., I. 21.
explained as directed against the 99 Cic., Tusc. Quæst., III. 20. nobility, who enlisted their children The story here of Piso's application in infancy in order to shorten their proves, perhaps, that the law was term of actual service. So Sir Anfor all the citizens, but not that it thony Absolute put his son “at was anticipated it would be made twelve years old into a marching use of by any but the poor. regiment."
100 By providing clothing and arms at the public cost. Plut., C. Gr., 5.
part, therefore, of the sacrifices to military service was henceforward to be spared.
Provide though he might for the necessities of the soldier or the citizen as individuals, there was the stronger impulse to Caius Gracchus to supply the greater needs for want of which the freedom and the hopefulness of his countrymen had most deeply suffered. In the face of their own rising contentions and of the remonstrances which were now continually pouring in from the plundered and tormented provinces, there was one point in the Roman institutions that required to be fortified and extended. This was the administration of justice, hitherto committed to the care of the tribunals, whose members were publicly appointed from the Senate, or else to that of the great assemblies of the Centuries or Tribes.102 But in both and all there had been grievous abuses; and while the Senators selected to uphold the right had allowed the wrong, in the persons of their fellowmagistrates abroad and at home, to triumph alike over citizens and subjects, the popular assemblies had of necessity yielded to the clamor and corruption which beset their trials and determined the sentences within their power to pass. It was this system, pregnant on both sides with fatal errors, that Caius Gracchus attempted to replace by another, under which the judges should be chosen from the order of the Knights, 103 to whom the management of civil and
102 See Vol. I. pp. 444 – 446. (according to Liv., Epit. LX.), or
103 This account is based upon three hundred (Plut., C. Gr., 5), very varying authorities, and must be were to be added, some say, to the so regarded. Six hundred Knights Senators, and then from all together