This purpose was served, first of all, by introducing distributions of corn in the capital. The grain accruing to the state from the provincial tenths had already been frequently given away at nominal prices to the burgesses.(9) Gracchus enacted that every burgess who should personally present himself in the capital should thenceforth be allowed monthly a definite quantity-- apparently 5 -modii- (1 1/4 bushel)--from the public stores, at 6 1/3 -asses- (3d.) for the -modius-, or not quite the half of a low average price;(10) for which purpose the public corn-stores were enlarged by the construction of the new Sempronian granaries. This distribution--which consequently excluded the burgesses living out of the capital, and could not but attract to Rome the whole mass of the burgess- proletariate--was designed to bring the burgess-proletariate of the capital, which hitherto had mainly depended on the aristocracy, into dependence on the leaders of the movement-party, and thus to supply the new master of the state at once with a body-guard and with a firm majority in the comitia. For greater security as regards the latter, moreover, the order of voting still subsisting in the -comitia centuriata-, according to which the five property-classes in each tribe gave their votes one after another,(11) was done away; instead of this, all the centuries were in future to vote promiscuously in an order of succession to be fixed on each occasion by lot. While these enactments were mainly designed to procure for the new chief of the state by means of the city-proletariate the complete command of the capital and thereby of the state, the amplest control over the comitial machinery, and the possibility in case of need of striking terror into the senate and magistrates, the legislator certainly at the same time set himself with earnestness and energy to redress the existing social evils.

Agrarian Laws Colony Of Capua Transmarine Colonialization

It is true that the Italian domain question was in a certain sense settled. The agrarian law of Tiberius and even theallotment-commission still continued legally in force; the agrarian law carried by Gracchus can have enacted nothing new save the restoration to the commissioners of the jurisdiction which they had lost. That the object of this step was only to save the principle, and that the distribution of lands, if resumed at all, was resumed only to a very limited extent, is shown by the burgess-roll, which gives exactly the same number of persons for the years 629 and 639. Gaius beyond doubt did not proceed further in this matter, because the domain-land taken into possession by Roman burgesses was already in substance distributed, and the question as to the domains enjoyed by the Latins could only be taken up anew in connection with the very difficult question as to the extension of Roman citizenship. On the other hand he took an important step beyond the agrarian law of Tiberius, when he proposed the establishment of colonies in Italy--at Tarentum, and more especially at Capua--and by that course rendered the domain-land, which had been let on lease by the state and was hitherto excluded from distribution, liable to be also parcelled out, not, however, according to the previous method, which excluded the founding of new communities,(12) but according to the colonial system. Beyond doubt these colonies were also designed to aid in permanently defending the revolution to which they owed their existence. Still more significant and momentous was the measure, by which Gaius Gracchus first proceeded to provide for the Italian proletariate in the transmarine territories of the state. He despatched to the site on which Carthage had stood 6000 colonists selected perhaps not merely from Roman burgesses but also from the Italian allies, and conferred on the new town Junonia the rights of a Roman burgess-colony. The foundation was important, but still more important was the principle of transmarine emigration thereby laid down. It opened up for the Italian proletariate a permanent outlet, and a relief in fact more than provisional; but it certainly abandoned the principle of state-law hitherto in force, by which Italy was regarded as exclusively the governing, and the provincial territory as exclusively the governed, land.

Modifications Of The Penal Law

To these measures having immediate reference to the great question of the proletariate there was added a series of enactments, which arose out of the general tendency to introduce principles milder and more accordant with the spirit of the age than the antiquated severity of the existing constitution. To this head belong the modifications in the military system. As to the length of the period of service there existed under the ancient law no other limit, except that no citizen was liable to ordinary service in the field before completing his seventeenth or after completing his forty-sixth year. When, in consequence of the occupation of Spain, the service began to become permanent,(13) it seems to have been first legally enacted that any one who had been in the field for six successive years acquired thereby a right to discharge, although this discharge did not protect him from being called out again afterwards. At a later period, perhaps about the beginning of this century, the rule arose, that a service of twenty years in the infantry or ten years in the cavalry gave exemption from further military service.(14) Gracchus renewed the rule--which presumably was often violently infringed--that no burgess should be enlisted in the army before the commencement of his eighteenth year; and also, apparently, restricted the number of campaigns requisite for full exemption from military duty. Besides, the clothing of the soldiers, the value of which had hitherto been deducted from their pay, was henceforward furnished gratuitously by the state.

To this head belongs, moreover, the tendency which is on various occasions apparent in the Gracchan legislation, if not to abolish capital punishment, at any rate to restrict it still further than had been done before--a tendency, which to some extent made itself felt even in military jurisdiction.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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