Destruction Of Fregallae

Fregellae, situated on the borders of Latium and Campania at the principal passage of the Liris in the midst of a large and fertile territory, at that time perhaps the second city of Italy and in the discussions with Rome the usual mouthpiece of all the Latin colonies, began war against Rome in consequence of the rejection of the proposal brought in by Flaccus--the first instance which had occurred for a hundred and fifty years of a serious insurrection, not brought about by foreign powers, in Italy against the Roman hegemony. But on this occasion the fire was successfully extinguished before it had caught hold of other allied communities. Not through the superiority of the Roman arms, but through the treachery of a Fregellan Quintus Numitorius Pullus, the praetor Lucius Opimius quickly became master of the revolted city, which lost its civic privileges and its walls and was converted like Capua into a village. The colony of Fabrateria was founded on a part of its territory in 630; the remainder and the former city itself were distributed among the surrounding communities. This rapid and fearful punishment alarmed the allies, and endless impeachments for high treason pursued not only the Fregellans, but also the leaders of the popular party in Rome, who naturally were regarded by the aristocracy as accomplices in this insurrection. Meanwhile Gaius Gracchus reappeared in Rome. The aristocracy had first sought to detain the object of their dread in Sardinia by omitting to provide the usual relief, and then, when without caring for that point he returned, had brought him to trial as one of the authors of the Fregellan revolt (629-30). But the burgesses acquitted him; and now he too threw down the gauntlet, became a candidate for the tribuneship of the people, and was nominated to that office for the year 631 in an elective assembly attended by unusual numbers. War was thus declared. The democratic party, always poor in leaders of ability, had from sheer necessity remained virtually at rest for nine years; now the truce was at an end, and this time it was headed by a man who, with more honesty than Carbo and with more talent than Flaccus, was in every respect called to take the lead.

Gaius Gracchus

Gaius Gracchus (601-633) was very different from his brother, who was about nine years older. Like the latter, he had no relish for vulgar pleasures and vulgar pursuits; he was a man of thorough culture and a brave soldier; he had served with distinction before Numantia under his brother-in-law, and afterwards in Sardinia. But in talent, in character, and above all in passion he was decidedly superior to Tiberius. The clearness and self-possession, which the young man afterwards displayed amidst the pressure of all the varied labours requisite for the practical carrying out of his numerous laws, betokened his genuine statesmanly talent; as the passionate devotedness faithful even to death, with which his intimate friends clung to him, evinced the loveable nature of that noble mind. The discipline of suffering which he had undergone, and his compulsory reserve during the last nine years, augmented his energy of purpose and action; the indignation repressed within the depths of his breast only glowed there with an intensified fervour against the party which had disorganized his country and murdered his brother. By virtue of this fearful vehemence of temperament he became the foremost orator that Rome ever had; without it, we should probably have been able to reckon him among the first statesmen of all times. Among the few remains of his recorded orations several are, even in their present condition, of heart-stirring power;(7) and we can well understand how those who heard or even merely read them were carried away by the impetuous torrent of his words. Yet, great master as he was of speech, he was himself not unfrequently mastered by anger, so that the utterance of the brilliant speaker became confused or faltering. It was the true image of his political acting and suffering. In the nature of Gaius there was no vein, such as his brother had, of that somewhat sentimental but very short-sighted and confused good-nature, which would have desired to change the mind of a political opponent by entreaties and tears; with full assurance he entered on the career of revolution and strove to reach the goal of vengeance. "To me too," his mother wrote to him, "nothing seems finer and more glorious than to retaliate on an enemy, so far as it can be done without the country's ruin. But if this is not possible, then may our enemies continue and remain what they are, a thousand times rather than that our country should perish." Cornelia knew her son; his creed was just the reverse. Vengeance he would wreak on the wretched government, vengeance at any price, though he himself and even the commonwealth were to be ruined by it--the presentiment, that fate would overtake him as certainly as his brother, drove him only to make haste like a man mortally wounded who throws himself on the foe. The mother thought more nobly; but the son-- with his deeply provoked, passionately excited, thoroughly Italian nature--has been more lamented than blamed by posterity, and posterity has been right in its judgment.

Alterations On The Constituion By Gaius Gracchus Distribution Of Grain Change In The Order Of Voting

Tiberius Gracchus had come before the burgesses with a single administrative reform. What Gaius introduced in a series of separate proposals was nothing else than an entirely new constitution; the foundation-stone of which was furnished by the innovation previously carried through, that a tribune of the people should be at liberty to solicit re-election for the following year.(8) While this step enabled the popular chief to acquire a permanent position and one which protected its holder, the next object was to secure for him material power or, in other words, to attach the multitude of the capital--for that no reliance was to be placed on the country people coming only from time to time to the city, had been sufficiently apparent--with its interests steadfastly to its leader.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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