None of the aristocracy were absent; even the aged and venerable Quintus Metellus, well disposed to reform, had appeared with shield and sword. An officer of ability and experience acquired in the Spanish wars, Decimus Brutus, was entrusted with the command of the armed force; the senate assembled in the senate-house. The bier with the corpse of Antullius was deposited in front of it; the senate, as if surprised, appeared en masse at the door in order to view the dead body, and then retired to determine what should be done. The leaders of the democracy had gone from the Capitol to their houses; Marcus Flaccus had spent the night in preparing for the war in the streets, while Gracchus apparently disdained to strive with destiny. Next morning, when they learned the preparations made by their opponents at the Capitol and the Forum, both proceeded to the Aventine, the old stronghold of the popular party in the struggles between the patricians and the plebeians. Gracchus went thither silent and unarmed; Flaccus called the slaves to arms and entrenched himself in the temple of Diana, while he at the same time sent his younger son Quintus to the enemy's camp in order if possible to arrange a compromise. The latter returned with the announcement that the aristocracy demanded unconditional surrender; at the same time he brought a summons from the senate to Gracchus and Flaccus to appear before it and to answer for their violation of the majesty of the tribunes. Gracchus wished to comply with the summons, but Flaccus prevented him from doing so, and repeated the equally weak and mistaken attempt to move such antagonists to a compromise. When instead of the two cited leaders the young Quintus Flaccus once more presented himself alone, the consul treated their refusal to appear as the beginning of open insurrection against the government; he ordered the messenger to be arrested and gave the signal for attack on the Aventine, while at the same time he caused proclamation to be made in the streets that the government would give to whosoever should bring the head of Gracchus or of Flaccus its literal weight in gold, and that they would guarantee complete indemnity to every one who should leave the Aventine before the beginning of the conflict. The ranks on the Aventine speedily thinned; the valiant nobility in union with the Cretans and the slaves stormed the almost undefended mount, and killed all whom they found, about 250 persons, mostly of humble rank. Marcus Flaccus fled with his eldest son to a place of concealment, where they were soon afterwards hunted out and put to death. Gracchus had at the beginning of the conflict retired into the temple of Minerva, and was there about to pierce himself with his sword, when his friend Publius Laetorius seized his arm and besought him to preserve himself if possible for better times. Gracchus was induced to make an attempt to escape to the other bank of the Tiber; but when hastening down the hill he fell and sprained his foot. To gain time for him to escape, his two attendants turned to face his pursuers and allowed themselves to be cut down, Marcus Pomponius at the Porta Trigemina under the Aventine, Publius Laetorius at the bridge over the Tiber where Horatius Cocles was said to have once singly withstood the Etruscan army; so Gracchus, attended only by his slave Euporus, reached the suburb on the right bank of the Tiber. There, in the grove of Furrina, were afterwards found the two dead bodies; it seemed as if the slave had put to death first his master and then himself. The heads of the two fallen leaders were handed over to the government as required; the stipulated price and more was paid to Lucius Septumuleius, a man of quality, the bearer of the head of Gracchus, while the murderers of Flaccus, persons of humble rank, were sent away with empty hands. The bodies of the dead were thrown into the river; the houses of the leaders were abandoned to the pillage of the multitude. The warfare of prosecution against the partisans of Gracchus began on the grandest scale; as many as 3000 of them are said to have been strangled in prison, amongst whom was Quintus Flaccus, eighteen years of age, who had taken no part in the conflict and was universally lamented on account of his youth and his amiable disposition. On the open space beneath the Capitol where the altar consecrated by Camillus after the restoration of internal peace(29) and other shrines erected on similar occasions to Concord were situated, these small chapels were pulled down; and out of the property of the killed or condemned traitors, which was confiscated even to the portions of their wives, a new and splendid temple of Concord with the basilica belonging to it was erected in accordance with a decree of the senate by the consul Lucius Opimius. Certainly it was an act in accordance with the spirit of the age to remove the memorials of the old, and to inaugurate a new, concord over the remains of the three grandsons of the conqueror of Zama, all of whom--first Tiberius Gracchus, then Scipio Aemilianus, and lastly the youngest and the mightiest, Gaius Gracchus--had now been engulfed by the revolution. The memory of the Gracchi remained officially proscribed; Cornelia was not allowed even to put on mourning for the death of her last son; but the passionate attachment, which very many had felt towards the two noble brothers and especially towards Gaius during their life, was touchingly displayed also after their death in the almost religious veneration which the multitude, in spite of all precautions of police, continued to pay to their memory and to the spots where they had fallen.


The Rule Of The Restoration

Vacancy In The Government

The new structure, which Gaius Gracchus had reared, became on his death a ruin. His death indeed, like that of his brother, was primarily a mere act of vengeance; but it was at the same time a very material step towards the restoration of the old constitution, when the person of the monarch was taken away from the monarchy, just as it was on the point of being established.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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