Зображення сторінки

with duties to the Commonwealth, which Caius had proposed, Drusus began to talk of twelve that should be made up of the lowest classes and relieved from tax or charge of every kind; and so, whatever had been attempted in sincerity by the one was imitated, as if in mockery, by the other Tribune, until Drusus and the Senate were believed to be the benefactors, while Caius Gracchus was regarded as the disguised opponent of the people. 115

These things are supposed to have occurred while Gracchus was absent, unable to defend himself against the insidious means by which his authority was undermined. As soon as he returned, — which he appears to have done with haste, in consequence of the intelligence he must have received from Rome, – the first point with him being the recovery of his faded popularity, he removed his residence from the Palatine to an humbler quarter near the Forum, and then made one more effort to bring such of his measures as were yet undecided before the Tribes. But his influence was too far upon the wane to shine again as that of the truest man who had yet appeared among the conquerors of the earth; and they who had basked the most in its rays were now the busiest in proclaiming or precipitating its extinction. Even the Consul who had owed his election to the Tribune now led the hue and cry against him, by ordering all Italians and strangers of every name to leave the city; and when Gracchus retorted with

[ocr errors]

promises of protection to such as would remain,116 the Consul harangued the people with so much effect,117 that they united in his support, or rather in that of the Senate, to whom he was but a mouth-piece. The career of Caius Gracchus was virtually ended.

The treachery of those who should have been faithful, and the listlessness of those who should have been earnest towards their leader and their benefactor, are but small items in the account of the wrongs prevailing against the reformer of that society of citizens and rulers which had grown up to its present estate through centuries of strife, and latterly, of dominion. The Roman populace is not alone to blame for its wavering, nor the Roman Senate for its crafty hostility; but the arrogance of the Knights, the dependence of the Italians, and the utter helplessness of all other partisans of the falling Tribune are also to be reckoned; while to the whole list there must be appended the sum of the universal corruption, which the virtues of a single man,'born under the same skies, to many of the same errors, 118 could never have counterbalanced, though each hour of his life had been lengthened to a year.

116 Plut., C. Gr., 12. A most all in the second century before improbable story is told of his hav- Christianity. No stories are more ing failed to give protection to one to his discredit than that I have rewho claimed it at his hands. It lated concerning his pursuit of his might have been so, but not under brother's enemies, and another of the circumstances which Plutarch apparently similar passion, very unnarrates.

connectedly preserved in a fragment 117 Cic., Brut., 26.

of Diod. Sic., Reliq., XXXIV. 118 Which have no need of ex- XXXV. 27. “In virtue and reputenuation. Caius Gracchus was a tation,” rejoins Plutarch, “ he was good man, in every sense of the the first amongst his contemporaword, so far as it is to be used at ries.” C. Gr., 18.

Abandoned, or else unavailingly supported, Caius Gracchus was passed over by the Tribes in the ensuing election of Tribunes, 119 amongst whom, even though he had been chosen, there was now no place for him to occupy. The Centuries soon after elected to the consulship one of his bitterest enemies, Lucius Opimius,120 whose avowed intention to bring Gracchus to account for his deeds was immediately proved by an attack under cover of a bill to recall the colony from Carthage, where, in fact, it had met with many sinister omens and real misfortunes. The decision of the people upon this bill was to be, as they well knew, their decision upon every reform that Gracchus had labored to secure; yet when the assembly was convened upon the Capitol, it was Fulvius Flaccus who opposed the relinquishment of the colony, while Caius strode up and down in the portico beside the open square, as if he had been a simple spectator, or rather one whose thoughts were wandering from the proceedings before him to the hour in which his brother had come to the Capitol to be slain, or to that silent night in which the same fate had been foretold to him. Some one was so foolish or so dastardly as to insult him, as he walked beneath the

119 It was rumored, says Plutarch, that Caius would have been returned, but for the false play of his colleagues. C. Gr., 12.

120 This Lucius Opimius was an adversary of Gracchus as long be

fore as the destruction of Fregellæ ; and at the consular election of the year preceding the present, his candidature had been defeated by Caius's exertions.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


« НазадПродовжити »