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Greek
Parallels:
Agis and Cleomenes

This webpage reproduces one of
The Parallel Lives

by
Plutarch

published in Vol. X
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,
1921

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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(Vol. X) Plutarch, The Parallel Lives

p197 The Life of Caius Gracchus

1 1 Caius Gracchus, at first, either because he feared his enemies, or because he wished to bring odium upon them, withdrew from the forum and lived quietly by himself, like one who was humbled for the present and for the future intended to live the same inactive life, so that some were actually led to denounce him for disliking and repudiating his brother's political measures. 2 And he was also p199quite a stripling, for he was nine years younger than his brother, and Tiberius was not yet thirty when he died. But as time went on he gradually showed a disposition that was averse to idleness, effeminacy, wine-bibbing, and money-making; and by preparing his oratory to waft him as on swift pinions to public life, he made it clear that he was not going to remain quiet; 3 and in defending Vettius, a friend of his who was under prosecution, he had the people about him inspired and frantic with sympathetic delight, and made the other orators appear to be no better than children. Once more, therefore, the nobles began to be alarmed, and there was much talk among them about not permitting Caius to be made tribune.

4 By accident, however, it happened that the lot fell on him to go to Sardinia as quaestor for Orestes the consul.1 This gave pleasure to his enemies, and did not annoy Caius. For he was fond of war, and quite as well trained for military service as for pleading in the courts. Moreover, he still shrank from public life and the rostra, but was unable to resist the calls to this career which came from the people and his friends. He was therefore altogether satisfied with this opportunity of leaving the city. 5 And yet a strong opinion prevails that he was a demagogue pure and simple, and far more eager than Tiberius to win the favour of the multitude. But this is not the truth; nay, it would appear that he was led by a certain necessity rather than by his own choice to engage in public matters. 6 And Cicero the orator also relates2 that Caius declined all office and had chosen to live a quiet life, but that his brother appeared to him in a dream and addressed him, saying: "Why, pray, dost p201thou hesitate, Caius? There is no escape; one life is fated for us both, and one death as champions of the people."

2 1 After reaching Sardinia, then, Caius gave proof of every excellence, and far surpassed all the other young men in conflicts with the enemy, in just dealing with the subject peoples, and in the good will and respect which he showed towards his commander, while in self-restraint, frugality, and industry, he excelled even his elders. 2 The winter in Sardinia proved to be rigorous and unhealthy, and the Roman commander made a requisition upon the cities of clothing for his soldiers, whereupon the cities sent to Rome and begged to be relieved from the exaction. 3 The senate granted their petition and ordered the commander to get clothing for his soldiers in some other way. The commander was at a loss what to do, and the soldiers were suffering; so Caius made a circuit of the cities and induced them of their own free will to send clothing and other assistance owing to the Romans. This was reported to Rome, where it was thought to be a prelude to a struggle for popular favour, and gave fresh concern to the senate. So, to begin with, when ambassadors of King Micipsa came from Africa, and announced that out of regard for Caius Gracchus the king had sent grain to the Roman commander in Sardinia, the senators were displeased and turned them away. In the second place, they passed a decree that fresh troops should be sent to relieve the soldiers in Sardinia, but that Orestes should remain, with the idea that Caius also would remain with him by virtue of his office. 4 But Caius, when this came to his ears, straightaway sailed off in a passion, and his unexpected appearance in Rome p203not only was censured by his enemies, but also made the people think it strange that he, quaestor as he was, had left his post before his commander. However, when he was denounced before the censors, he begged leave to speak, and wrought such a change in the opinions of his hearers that he left the court with the reputation of having been most grossly wronged. 5 For he said that he had served in the army twelve years, although other men were required to serve there only ten, and that he had continued to serve as quaestor under his commander for more than two years, although the law permitted him to come back after a year. He was the only man in the army, he said, who had entered the campaign with a full purse and left it with an empty one; the rest had drunk up the wine which they took into Sardinia, and had come back to Rome with their wine-jars full of gold and silver.

3 1 After this, other fresh charges and indictments were brought against him, on the ground that he had caused the allies to revolt and had been privy to the conspiracy at Fregellae,3 information of which was brought to Rome. But he cleared himself of all suspicion, and having established his entire innocence, immediately began a canvass for the tribuneship. All the men of note, without exception, were opposed to him, but so great a throng poured into the city from the country and took part in the elections that many could not be housed, and since the Campus Martius could not accommodate the multitude, they gave in their voices from the house-tops and tilings. 2 So far, however, did the nobility prevail against the people and disappoint the hopes of Caius that he was not p205returned first, as he expected, but fourth. But after entering upon his office4 he was at once first of all the tribunes, since he had an incomparable power in oratory, and his affliction gave him great boldness of speech in bewailing the fate of his brother. 3 For to this subject he would bring the people round on every pretext, reminding them of what had happened in the case of Tiberius, and contrasting the conduct of their ancestors, who went to war with the people of Falerii on behalf of Genucius, a tribune whom they had insulted, and condemned Caius Veturius to death because he was the only man who would not make way for a tribune passing through the forum. "But before your eyes," he said, "these men beat Tiberius to death with clubs, and his dead body was dragged from the Capitol through the midst of the city to be thrown into the Tiber; 4 moreover, those of his friends who were caught were put to death without trial. And yet it is ancient usage among us that if anyone who is arraigned on a capital charge does not answer to his summons, a trumpeter shall go to the door of this man's house in the morning and summon him forth by sound of trumpet, and until this has been done the judges shall not vote on his case. So careful and guarded were the men of old in capital cases."

4 1 Having first stirred up the people with such words as these (and he had a very loud voice, and was most vigorous in his speaking), he introduced two laws, one providing that if the people had deprived any magistrate of his office, such magistrate should not be allowed to hold office a second time; p207and another providing that if any magistrate had banished a citizen without trial, such magistrate should be liable to public prosecution. 2 Of these laws, one had the direct effect of branding with infamy Marcus Octavius, who had been deposed from the tribunate by Tiberius; and by the other Popillius was affected, for as praetor he had banished the friends of Tiberius. Popillius, indeed, without standing his trial, fled out of Italy; but the other law was withdrawn by Caius himself, who said that he spared Octavius at the request of his mother Cornelia. 3 The people were pleased at this and gave their consent, honouring Cornelia no less on account of her sons than because of her father; indeed, in after times they erected a bronze statue of her, bearing the inscription: "Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi." There are on record also many things which Caius said about her in the coarse style of forensic speech, when he was attacking one of his enemies: "What," said he, "dost thou abuse Cornelia, who gave birth to Tiberius?" 4 And since the one who had uttered the abuse was charged with effeminate practices, "With what effrontery," said Caius, "canst thou compare thyself with Cornelia? Hast thou borne such children as she did? And verily all Rome knows that she refrained from commerce with men longer than thou hast, though thou art a man." Such was the bitterness of his language, and many similar examples can be taken from his writings.

5 1 Of the laws which he proposed by way of gratifying the people and overthrowing the senate, one was agrarian, and divided the public land among the poor citizens; another was military, and ordained that clothing should be furnished to the soldiers at p209the public cost, that nothing should be deducted from their pay to meet this charge, and that no one under seventeen should be enrolled as a soldier; another concerned the allies, and gave the Italians equal suffrage rights with Roman citizens; 2 another related to the supplies of grain, and lowered the market price to the poor; and another dealt with the appointment of judges. This last law most of all curtailed the power of the senators; for they alone could serve as judges in criminal cases, and this privilege made them formidable both to the common people and to the equestrian order. The law of Gracchus, however, added to the membership of the senate, which was three hundred, three hundred men from the equestrian order, and made service as judges a prerogative of the whole six hundred. 3 In his efforts to carry this law Caius is said to have shown remarkable earnestness in many ways, and especially in this, that whereas all popular orators before him had turned their faces towards the senate and that part of the forum called the "comitium," he now set a new example by turning towards the other part of the forum as he harangued the people, and continued to do this from that time on, thus by a slight deviation and change of attitude stirring up a great question, and to a certain extent changing the constitution from an aristocratic to a democratic form; for his implication was that speakers ought to address themselves to the people, and not to the senate.

A photograph is additionally enlightening. Here we see the Roman Forum, in its present state of course, with the ruins of buildings and monuments up to the 6c A.D. — but in the time of the Gracchi, most of the space you see was open terrain, as is made clear in this same biography (12.3). Now the senate house, or Curia, is the large pedimented brick building in the center of this photo, and the comitium is the small paved area in front of it, to the left from where we stand, immediately next to the bushes at the door of the Curia: a speaker who faces the senate from the comitium thus faces into a sort of corner and turns his back on the people. (The Curia you now see only dates to the 3c A.D., but merely replaced the republican building in the exact same place, without affecting the topography at all.)


[image ALT: A view of the Roman Forum, described in the accompanying caption.]

6 1 The people not only adopted this law, but also entrusted to its author the selection of the judges who were to come from the equestrian order, so that he found himself invested with something like monarchical power, and even the senate p211consented to follow his counsel. But when he counselled them, it was always in support of measures befitting their body; 2 as, for instance, the very equitable and honourable decree concerning the grain which Fabius the pro-praetor sent to the city from Spain. Caius induced the Senate to sell the grain and send the money back to the cities of Spain, and further, to censure Fabius for making his government of the province intolerably burdensome to its inhabitants. This decree brought Caius great reputation as well as popularity in the provinces.

3 He also introduced bills for sending out colonies, for constructing roads, and for establishing public granaries, making himself director and manager of all these undertakings, and showing no weariness in the execution of all these different and great enterprises; nay, he actually carried out each one of them with an astonishing speed and power of application, as if it were his sole business, so that even those who greatly hated and feared him were struck with amazement at the powers of achievement and accomplishment which marked all that he did. 4 And as for the multitude, they were astonished at the very sight, when they beheld him closely attended by a throng of contractors, artificers, ambassadors, magistrates, soldiers, and literary men, with all of whom he was on easy terms, preserving his dignity while showing kindliness, and rendering properly to every man the courtesy which was due from him, whereby he set in the light of malignant slanderers those who stigmatised him as threatening or utterly arrogant or violent. Thus he was a more skilful popular leader in his private intercourse with men p213and in his business transactions than in his speeches from the rostra.

7 1 But he busied himself most earnestly with the construction of roads, laying stress upon utility, as well as upon that which conduced to grace and beauty. For his roads were carried straight through the country without deviation, and had pavements of quarried stone, and substructures of tight-rammed masses of sand. Depressions were filled up, all intersecting torrents or ravines were bridged over, and both sides of the roads were of equal and corresponding height, so that the work had everywhere an even and beautiful appearance. 2 In addition to all this, he measured off every road by miles (the Roman mile falls a little short of eight furlongs) and planted stone pillars in the ground to mark the distances. Other stones, too, he placed at smaller intervals from one another on both sides of the road, in order that equestrians might be able to mount their horses from them and have no need of assistance.

8 1 Since the people extolled him for all these services and were ready to show him any token whatsoever of their good will, he said to them once in a public harangue that he was going to ask a favour of them, which, if granted, he should value supremely, but if it were refused, he should find no fault with them. This utterance was thought to be a request for a consulship, and led everybody to expect that he would sue for a consulship and a tribuneship at the same time. 2 But when the consular elections were at hand and everybody was on the tip-toe of expectation, he was seen leading Caius Fannius down into the Campus Martius and joining in the canvass for p215him along with his friends. This turned the tide strongly in favour of Fannius. So Fannius was elected consul, and Caius tribune for the second time, though he was not a candidate and did not canvass for the office; but the people were eager to have it so.

3 However, he soon saw that the senate was hostile to him out and out, and that the good will of Fannius towards him had lost his edge, and therefore again began to attach the multitude to himself by other laws, proposing to send colonies to Tarentum and Capua, and inviting the Latins to a participation in the Roman franchise. But the senate, fearing that Gracchus would become altogether invincible, made a new and unusual attempt to divert the people from him; they vied with him, that is, in courting the favour of the people, and granted their wishes contrary to the best wishes of the state. 4 For one of the colleagues of Caius was Livius Drusus, a man who was not inferior to any Roman either in birth or rearing, while in character, eloquence, and wealth he could vie with those who were most honoured and influential in consequence of these advantages. To this man, accordingly, the nobles had recourse, and invited him to attack Caius and league himself with them against him, not resorting to violence or coming into collision with the people, but administering his office to please them and making them concessions where it would have been honourable to incur their hatred.

9 1 Livius, accordingly, put his influence as tribune at the service of the senate to this end, and drew up laws which aimed at what was neither honourable p217nor advantageous; nay, he had the emulous eagerness of the rival demagogues of comedy to achieve one thing, namely, to surpass Caius in pleasing and gratifying the people.5 In this way the senate showed most plainly that it was not displeased with the public measures of Caius, but rather was desirous by all means to humble or destroy the man himself. 2 For when Caius proposed to found two colonies, and these composed of the most respectable citizens, they accused him of truckling to the people; but when Livius proposed to found twelve, and to send out to each of them three thousand of the needy citizens, they supported him. With Caius, because he distributed public land among the poor for which every man of them was required to pay a rental into the public treasury, they were angry, alleging that he was seeking thereby to win favour with the multitude; but Livius met with their approval when he proposed to relieve the tenants even from this rental. 3 And further, when Caius proposed to bestow upon the Latins equal rights of suffrage, he gave offence; but when Livius brought in a bill forbidding that any Latin should be chastised with rods even during military service, he had the senate's support. And indeed Livius himself, in his public harangues, always said that he introduced these measures on the authority of the senate, which desired to help the common people; 4 and this in fact was the only advantage which resulted from his political measures. For the people became more amicably disposed towards the senate; and whereas before this they had suspected and hated the nobles, Livius softened and p219dissipated their remembrance of past grievances and their bitter feelings by alleging that it was the sanction of the nobles which had induced him to enter upon his course of conciliating the people and gratifying the wishes of the many.

10 1 But the strongest proof that Livius was well disposed towards the people and honest, lay in the fact that he never appeared to propose anything for himself or in his own interests. For he moved to send out other men as managers of his colonies, and would have no hand in the expenditure of moneys, whereas Caius had assigned to himself most of such functions and the most important of them. 2 And now Rubrius, one of his colleagues in the tribuneship, brought in a bill for the founding of a colony on the site of Carthage, which had been destroyed by Scipio, and Caius, upon whom the lot fell, sailed off to Africa as superintendent of the foundation. In his absence, therefore, Livius made all the more headway against him, stealing into the good graces of the people and attaching them to himself, particularly by his calumniations of Fulvius. 3 This Fulvius was a friend of Caius, and had been chosen a commissioner with him for the distribution of the public land; but he was a turbulent fellow, and was hated outright by the senators. Other men also suspected him of stirring up trouble with the allies and of secretly inciting the Italians to revolt. These things were said against him without proof or investigation, but Fulvius himself brought them into greater credence by a policy which was unsound and revolutionary. 4 This more than anything else was the undoing of Caius, who came in for a share of the hatred against Fulvius. And when Scipio Africanus p221died without apparent cause, and certain marks of violence and blows were to be in evidence all over his dead body, as I have written in his Life,6 most of the consequent calumny fell upon Fulvius, who was Scipio's enemy, and had abused him that day from the rostra, but suspicion also attached itself to Caius. 5 And a deed so monstrous, and perpetrated upon a man who was the foremost and greatest Roman, went unpunished, nay, was not even so much as probed; for the multitude were opposed to any judicial enquiry and thwarted it, because they feared that Caius might be implicated in the charge if the murder were investigated. However, this had happened at an earlier time.7

11 1 In Africa, moreover, in connection with the planting of a colony on the site of Carthage, to which colony Caius gave the name Junonia (that is to say, in Greek, Heraea), there are said to have been many prohibitory signs from the gods. For the leading standard was caught by a gust of wind, and though the bearer clung to it with all his might, it was broken into pieces; the sacrificial victims lying on the altars were scattered by a hurricane and dispersed beyond the boundary-marks in the plan of the city, and the boundary-marks themselves were set upon by wolves, who tore them up and carried them a long way off. 2 Notwithstanding this, Caius settled and arranged everything in seventy days all told, and then returned to Rome, because he learned that Fulvius was being hard pressed by Drusus, and because matters there required his presence. For p223Lucius Opimius, a man of oligarchical principles and influential in the senate, who had previously failed in a candidacy for the consulship (when Caius had brought forward Fannius and supported his canvass for the office),8 3 now had the aid and assistance of many, and it was expected that he would be consul, and that as consul he would try to pursue down Caius, whose influence was already somewhat on the wane, and with whose peculiar measures the people had become sated, because the leaders who courted their favour were many and the senate readily yielded to them.

12 1 On returning to Rome, in the first place Caius changed his residence from the Palatine hill to the region adjoining the forum, which he thought more democratic, since most of the poor and lowly had come to live there; in the next place, he promulgated the rest of his laws, intending to get the people's vote upon them. But when a throng came together from all parts of Italy for his support, the senate prevailed upon the consul Fannius to drive out of the city all who were not Romans. 2 Accordingly, a strange and unusual proclamation was made, to the effect that none of the allies and friends of Rome should appear in the city during those day; whereupon Caius published a counter edict in which he denounced the consul, and promised the allies his support, in case they should remain there. He did not, however, give them his support, but when he saw one of his comrades and guest-friends dragged off by the lictors of Fannius, he passed by without giving him any help, either because he feared to give a proof that his power was already on the decline, or because p225he was unwilling, as he said, by his own acts to afford his enemies the occasions which they sought for a conflict at close quarters.

3 Moreover, it chanced that he had incurred the anger of his colleagues in office, and for the following reason. The people were going to enjoy an exhibition of gladiators in the forum, and most of the magistrates had constructed seats for the show round about, and were offering them for hire. Caius ordered them to take down these seats, in order that the poor might be able to enjoy the spectacle from those places without paying hire. 4 But since no one paid any attention to his command, he waited till the night before the spectacle, and then, taking all the workmen whom he had under his orders in public contracts, he pulled down the seats, and when day came he had the place all clear for the people. For this proceeding the populace thought him a man, but his colleagues were annoyed and thought him reckless and violent. It was believed also that this conduct cost him his election to the tribunate for the third time, since, although he got a majority of the votes, his colleagues were unjust and fraudulent in their proclamation and returns. This, however, was disputed. 5 But he took his failure overmuch to heart, and what is more, it is said, with more boldness than was fitting, that they were laughing with sardonic laughter, and were not aware of the great darkness that enveloped them in consequence of his public measures.9

p227 13 1 The enemies of Caius also effected the election of Opimius as consul, and then proceeded to revoke many of the laws which Caius had secured and to meddle with the organization of the colony at Carthage. This was by way of irritating Caius, that he might furnish ground for resentment, and so be got rid of. At first he endured all this patiently, but at last, under the instigations of his friends, and especially of Fulvius, he set out to gather a fresh body of partisans for opposition to the consul. 2 Here, we are told, his mother also took active part in his seditious measures, by secretly hiring from foreign parts and sending to Rome men who were ostensibly reapers; for to this matter there are said to have been obscure allusions in her letters10 to her son. Others, however, say that Cornelia was very much displeased with these activities of her son.

3 Be that as it may, on the day when Opimius and his supporters were going to annul the laws, the Capitol had been occupied by both factions since earliest morning, and after the consul had offered sacrifice, one of his servants, Quintus Antyllius, as he was carrying from one place to another the entrails of the victims, said to the partisans of Fulvius: "Make way for honest citizens, ye rascals!" Some say, too, that along with this speech Antyllius bared his arm and waved it with an insulting gesture. 4 At any rate he was killed at once and on the spot, stabbed with large writing styles said to have been made for just such a purpose. The multitude were completely confused by the murder, but it produced an opposite state of mind in the leaders of the two factions. Caius was distressed, and upbraided his followers for p229having given their enemies ground for accusing them which had long been desired; but Opimius, as though he had got something for which he was waiting, was elated, and urged the people on to vengeance.

14 1 A shower of rain fell just then, and the assembly was dissolved; but early next morning the consul called the senate together indoors and proceeded to transact business, while others placed the body of Antyllius without covering upon a bier, and carried it, as they had agreed to do, through the forum and past the senate-house, with wailings and lamentations. Opimius knew what was going on, but pretended to be surprised, so that even the senators went out into the forum. 2 After the bier had been set down in the midst of the throng, the senators began to inveigh against what they called a heinous and monstrous crime, but the people were moved to hatred and abuse of the oligarchs, who, they said, after murdering Tiberius Gracchus on the Capitol with their own hands, tribune that he was, had actually flung away his dead body besides; whereas Antyllius, a mere servant, 3 who perhaps had suffered more than he deserved, but was himself chiefly to blame for it, had been laid out in the forum, and was surrounded by the Roman senate, which shed tears and shared in the obsequies of a hireling fellow, to the end that sole remaining champion of the people might be done away with. Then the senators went back into the senate-house, where they formally enjoined upon the consul Opimius to save the city as best he could,11 and to put down the tyrants.

4 The consul therefore ordered the senators to take p231up arms, and every member of the equestrian order was notified to bring next morning two servants fully armed; Fulvius, on the other hand, made counter preparations and got together a rabble, but Caius, as he left the forum, stopped in front of his father's statue, gazed at it for a long time without uttering a word, then burst into tears, and with a groan departed. 5 Many of those who saw this were moved to pity Caius; they reproached themselves for abandoning and betraying him, and went to his house, and spent the night at his door, though not in the same manner as those who were guarding Fulvius. For these passed the whole time in noise and shouting, drinking, and boasting of what they would do, Fulvius himself being the first to get drunk, and saying and doing much that was unseemly for a man of his years; 6 but the followers of Caius, feeling that they faced a public calamity, kept quiet and were full of concern for the future, and passed the night sleeping and keeping watch by turns.

15 1 When day came, Fulvius was with difficulty roused from his drunken sleep by his partisans, who armed themselves with the spoils of war about his house, which he had taken after a victory over the Gauls during his consulship, and with much threatening and shouting went to seize the Aventine hill. Caius, on the other hand, was unwilling to arm himself, but went forth in his toga, as though on his way to the forum, with only a short dagger on his person. 2 As he was going out at the door, his wife threw herself in his way, and with one arm round her husband and the other round their little son, said: "Not to the rostra, O Caius, do I now send thee forth, as formerly, to served as tribune and law-giver, nor yet to p233a glorious war, where, shouldst thou die (and all men must die), thou wouldst at all events leave me an honoured sorrow; but thou art exposing thyself to the murderers of Tiberius, and thou doest well to go unarmed, that thou mayest suffer rather than inflict wrong; but thy death will do the state no good. The worst has at last prevailed; 3 by violence and the sword men's controversies are now decided. If thy brother had only fallen at Numantia, his dead body would have been given back to us by terms of truce; but as it is, perhaps I too shall have to supplicate some river or sea to reveal to me at last thy body in its keeping. Why, pray, should men longer put faith in laws or gods, after the murder of Tiberius?" 4 While Licinia was thus lamenting, Caius gently freed himself from her embrace and went away without a word, accompanied by his friends. Licinia eagerly sought to clutch his robe, but sank to the ground and lay there a long time speechless, until her servants lifted her up unconscious and carried her away to the house of her brother Crassus.

16 1 When all were assembled together, Fulvius, yielding to the advice of Caius, sent the younger of his sons with a herald's wand into the forum. The young man was very fair to look upon; and now, in a decorous attitude, modestly, and with tears in his eyes, he addressed conciliatory words to the consul and the senate. 2 Most of his audience, then, were not disinclined to accept his terms of peace; but Opimius declared that the petitioners ought not to try to persuade the senate by word of messenger; they should rather come down and surrender themselves for trial, like citizens amenable to the laws, and then beg for mercy; he also told the young man plainly to come p235back again on these terms or not come back at all. 3 Caius, accordingly, as we are told, was willing to come and try to persuade the senate; but no one else agreed with him, and so Fulvius sent his son again to plead in their behalf a before. But Opimius, who was eager to join battle, at once seized the youth and put him under guard, and then advanced on the party of Fulvius with numerous men-at‑arms and Cretan archers. 4 And it was the archers who, by discharging their arrows and wounding their opponents, were most instrumental in throwing them into confusion. After the route had taken place, Fulvius fled refuge into an unused bath, where he was shortly discovered and slain, together with his elder son. Caius, however, was not seen to take any part in the battle, but in great displeasure at what was happening he withdrew into the temple of Diana. There he was minded to make away with himself, but was prevented by his most trusty companions, Pomponius and Licinius; for they were at hand, and took away his sword, and urged him to flight again. 5 Then, indeed, as we are told, he sank upon his knees, and with hands outstretched towards the goddess prayed that the Roman people, in requital for their great ingratitude and treachery, might never cease to be in servitude; for most of them were manifestly changing sides, now that proclamation of immunity had been made.

17 1 So then, as Caius fled, his foes pressed hard upon him and were overtaking him at the wooden bridge over the Tiber, but his two friends bade him go on, while they themselves withstood his pursuers, and, fighting there at the head of the bridge, would suffer no man to pass, until they were killed. 2 Caius had with him in his flight a single servant, by name p237Philocrates; and though all the spectators, as at a race, urged Caius on to greater speed, not a man came to his aid, or even consented to furnish him with a horse when he asked for one, for his pursuers were pressing close upon him. He barely succeeded in escaping into a sacred grove of the Furies, and there fell by the hand of Philocrates, who then slew himself upon his master. 3 According to some writers, however, both were taken alive by the enemy, and because the servant had thrown his arms about his master, no one was able to strike the master until the slave had first been dispatched by the blows of many. Someone cut off the head of Caius, we are told, and was carrying it along, but was robbed of it by a certain friend of Opimius, Septimuleius; for proclamation had been made at the beginning of the battle that an equal weight of gold would be paid the men who brought the head of Caius or Fulvius. 4 So Septimuleius stuck the head of Caius on a spear and brought it to Opimius, and when it was placed in a balance it weighed seventeen pounds and two thirds, since Septimuleius, besides showing himself to be a scoundrel, had also perpetrated a fraud; for he had taken out the brain and poured melted lead in its place. But those who brought the head of Fulvius were of the obscurer sort, and therefore got nothing. 5 The bodies of Caius and Fulvius and of the other slain were thrown into the Tiber, and they numbered three thousand; their property was sold and the proceeds paid into the public treasury. Moreover, their wives were forbidden to go into mourning, and Licinia, the wife of Caius, was also deprived of her marriage portion.a Most cruel of all, however, was the treatment of the younger son of Fulvius, who had neither lifted a hand p239against the nobles nor been present at the fighting, but had come to effect a truce before the battle and had been arrested; after the battle he was slain. 6 However, what vexed the people more than this or anything else was the erection of a temple of Concord by Opimius;12 for it was felt that he was priding himself and exulting and in a manner celebrating a triumph in view of all this slaughter of citizens. Therefore at night, beneath the inscription on the temple, somebody carved this verse:— "A work of mad discord produces a temple of Concord."

18 1 And yet this Opimius, who was the first consul to exercise the power of a dictator, and put to death without trial, besides three thousand other citizens, Caius Gracchus and Fulvius Flaccus, of whom one had been consul and had celebrated a triumph, while the other was the foremost man of his generation in virtue and reputation — this Opimius could not keep his hands from fraud, but when he was sent as ambassador to Jugurtha the Numidian was bribed by him, and after being convicted most shamefully of corruption, he spent his old age in infamy, hated and abused by the people, 2 a people which was humble and cowed at the time when the Gracchi fell, but soon afterwards showed how much it missed them and longed for them. For it had statues of the brothers made and set up in a conspicuous place, consecrated the places where they were slain, and brought thither offerings of all the first-fruits of the season, nay, more, many sacrificed and fell down before their statues every day, as though they were visiting the shrines of gods.

19 1 And further, Cornelia is reported to have p241borne all her misfortunes in a noble and magnanimous spirit, and to have said of the sacred places where her sons had been slain that they were tombs worthy of the dead which occupied them. She resided on the promontory called Misenum, and made no change in her customary way of living. 2 She had many friends, and kept a good table that she might show hospitality, for she always had Greeks and other literary men about her, and all the reigning kings interchanged gifts with her. She was indeed very agreeable to her visitors and associates when she discoursed to them about the life and habits of her father Africanus, but most admirable when she spoke of her sons without grief or tears, and narrated their achievements and their fate to all enquirers as if she were speaking of men of the early days of Rome. 3 Some were therefore led to think that old age or the greatness of her sorrows had impaired her mind and made her insensible to her misfortunes, whereas, really, such persons themselves were insensible how much help in the banishment of grief mankind derives from a noble nature and from honourable birth and rearing, as well as of the fact that while fortune often prevails over virtue when it endeavours to ward off evils, she cannot rob virtue of the power to endure those evils with calm assurance.


The Editor's Notes:

1 In 126 B.C.

2 De div. I.26.56.

3 Fregellae revolted, and was destroyed in 125 B.C.

4 For the year 123 B.C., ten years after Tiberius had entered upon the same office.

5 An allusion to the rival demagogues in the Knights of Aristophanes.

6 See the Tiberius Gracchus, ad fin., and cf. the Romulus, xxvii.4 f.

7 In 129 B.C., six years before Caius became tribune.

8 See chapter viii.2.

9 Blass compares the laughter of the doomed suitors in Odyssey, XX.346 ff. — the fatuous smile of men whose fate is sealed, though they are unaware of it.

10 Cf.  Cicero, Brutus, 58.211.

11 The formal decree of martial law: consul videret ne quid respublica detrimenti caperet (Cicero, In Cat. I.2.4).

12 Opimius restored the temple of Concord which had been built by Camillus (see the Camillus, xlii.4).


Thayer's Note:

a Her dowry was eventually restored to her by court order: see The Wife of Gaius Gracchus and Her Dowry, CP 8:354‑256.


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