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I: Part 13

This webpage reproduces part of
The Epitome of Roman History


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

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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II: Part 2

Lucius Annaeus Florus

The two books of the Epitome,
extracted from Titus Livius,
of all the wars of seven hundred years

Book II (beginning)

I. On the Gracchan Laws.
II. The Revolution of Tiberius Gracchus.
III. The Revolution of Gaius Gracchus.
IIII. The Revolution of Apuleius.
V. The Revolution of Drusus.

 p221  [Legamen ad paginam Latinam] I. On the Gracchan Laws

III, 13 The original cause of all the revolutions was the tribunicial power, which, under the pretence of protecting the common people, for whose aid it was originally established, but in reality aiming at domination for itself, courted popular support and favour by legislation for the distribution of lands and cornº and the disposal of judicial power. All these measures had some appearance of justice. 2 For what could be fairer than that the commons should receive from the senate what was really their own, so that a people, who had been victorious over the nations and possessed the whole world, might not live banished from their own altars and hearths? 3 What could be juster than that a people in want should be maintained from its own treasury? 4 What could better conduce to secure equal liberty for all than that, while the senate controlled the provinces, the authority of the equestrian order should rest at least on the possession of judicial power? 5 Yet these very measures resulted in the ruin of Rome, and the wretched State became, to its own destruction, an object of bargaining. 6 For the transference of the judicial power from the senate to the equestrian order reduced the revenues, the ancestral wealth of the  p223 empire, 7 while the purchase of corn was a drain on the treasury, the very life-blood of the State; and how could the common people be restored to the land without dispossessing those who were in occupation of it, and who were themselves a part of the people and held estates bequeathed to them by their forefathers under the quasi-legal title of prescriptive right?

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] II. The Revolution of Tiberius Gracchus

III, 14 The first flame of contention was kindled by Tiberius Gracchus, whose descent, personal attractions and eloquence made him undoubtedly the leading man of his time. 2 Either because he was afraid of being involved in Mancinus' surrender​1 (for he had been a surety for the performance of the treaty) and therefore joined the popular party, 3 or because he acted from motives of justice and right, pitying the commons who were deprived of their own lands [so that a people who had been victorious over the nations and possessed the whole world might not be exiled from their own hearths and homes],​2 whatever his motives, he ventured to take a very serious step. 4 When the day for bringing forward the bill was at hand, he ascended the rostra surrounded by a large following; and the nobility were all there to resist him with their supporters, and the tribunes​3 were on their side. 5 But when Gracchus saw that Gaius​4 Octavius was going to veto his proposals, he laid hands upon him, contrary to the rights of the tribunicial college and the privilege of  p225 the office, and expelled him from the rostra, and so frightened him with the instant threat of death that he was forced to retire from his office. 6 Having thus obtained his election as one of the three commissioners for distributing land, when, at the meeting of the comitia he demanded the prolongation of his term of office in order to carry out the work which he had begun, the nobility opposed him with the help of those whom he had expelled from their lands. 7 The slaughter began in the forum; then when he had taken refuge in the Capitol and was urging the commons to come to the defence of his person, with the gesture of touching his head with his hand, he gave rise to the idea that he was demanding the kingship and a royal diadem. The people, under the leader­ship of Scipio Nasica, having been roused to take up arms, he was put to death with some show of legality.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] III. The Revolution of Gaius Gracchus

III, 15 Immediately after this Gaius Gracchus was fired with an equal zeal to avenge his brother's murder and to champion his proposals. 2 By similar methods of disturbance and terrorism he incited the commons to seize the lands of their forefathers, and promised that the inheritance recently received from Attalus should be used to feed the people, 3 and becoming headstrong and tyrannical on the strength of his second election to the tribunate, he was pursuing a successful course with the support of the common people. 4 When, however, the tribune Minucius ventured to obstruct the passage of his proposals, relying on the help of his supporters he  p227 seized the Capitol which had already proved so fatal to his family. 5 Being driven thence, after the loss of his adherents, he betook himself to the Aventine, where, being assailed by a body of senators, he was put to death by the consul Opimius.​5 6 Insults were also offered to his remains after his death, and a price was paid to his assassins for the sacred head of a tribune of the people.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] IIII. The Revolution of Apuleius

III, 16 Apuleius Saturninus continued nevertheless to promote the Gracchan proposals; so great was the encouragement given him by Marius, always a bitter opponent of the nobility and relying, moreover, on his position as consul. Aulus Ninnius,​6 his rival for the tribunate, having been openly murdered at the elections, Apuleius attempted to introduce in his place Gaius Gracchus, a man without a tribe, without anyone to vouch for him and without a name, who by a forged title tried to foist himself upon the Gracchan family. 2 Revelling unchecked in all these outrageous acts of violence, Apuleius devoted himself so zealously to passing the proposals of the Gracchi that he even compelled the senate to take an oath in their support by threatening that he would obtain a sentence of banishment against those who refused. There was one, however, who preferred exile, namely, Metellus. 3 After his departure, when all the nobility were thoroughly cowed, Apuleius, now in the third year of his tyranny, became so utterly reckless that he even disturbed the consular elections​7 by a fresh murder. 4 For in order to obtain the election as consul of Glaucia, a supporter of his  p229 insane policy, he ordered the murder of his opponent Gaius Memmius, and in the confusion which followed, heard himself with pleasure hailed as king by his followers. 5 Then at last the senators leagued themselves against him, and Marius himself, now consul, finding that he could no longer protect him, turned against him, and the two parties faced one another under arms in the forum. Driven from the forum Apuleius seized the Capitol. 6 When he was besieged there and the water-supply had been cut off, he made the senate believe, through his representatives, that he repented of what he had done, and coming down from the citadel with the chief men of his party was received in the senate house. Here the people, bursting their way in, overwhelmed him with sticks and stones and tore him to pieces at the very moment of his death.

[Legamen ad paginam Latinam] V. The Revolution of Drusus

III, 17 Lastly, Livius Drusus, relying not only upon the powers of the tribunate but also upon the authority of the senate itself and the general agreement of all Italy, tried to carry out the same proposals, 2 and by courting one party after another, kindled so violent a combustion that he could not withstand even its first outbreak, and carried off by sudden death, left the struggle as an inheritance to his successors. 3 The Gracchi by their judiciary law had created a cleavage in the Roman people and had destroyed the unity of the State by giving it two heads. The Roman knights, relying on the extraordinary powers,​8 which placed the fate and fortunes of the leading citizens  p231 in their hands, were plundering the State at their pleasure by embezzling the revenues; the senate, crippled by the exile of Metellus and the condemnation of Rutilius,​9 had lost every appearance of dignity. 4 In this state of affairs Servilius Caepio and Livius Drusus, men of equal wealth, spirit and dignity — and it was this which inspired the emulation of Livius Drusus — supported, the former the knights, the latter the senate. 5 Standards, eagles and banners were, it is true, lacking; but the citizens of one and the same city were as sharply divided as if they formed two camps. First of all Caepio, attacking the senate, singled out Scaurus and Philippus, the chief men of the nobility, and prosecuted them for bribery. 6 In order to counteract this move, Drusus rallied the commons to his support by the bait of the Gracchan laws, and used the same means to rally the allies to the support of the commons by the hope of receiving the citizen­ship. A saying of his has survived, that "he had left nothing for anyone else to distribute, unless he wished to share out the mire or the air."​10 7 The day for the promulgation of the bills was at hand, when on a sudden so vast a multitude appeared on all sides that the city seemed to be beset by a hostile force. 8 Philippus the consul,​11 nevertheless, ventured to oppose the bills; but the tribune's attendant seized him by the throat and did not let go until blood poured into his mouth and eyes. 9 Thus the bills were brought forward and passed by violence. Thereupon the allies immediately demanded the price of their support; but death carried off Drusus, who was unequal to the occasion and weary of the disturbance which he  p233 had rashly aroused — a death opportune at such a crisis. But for all that the allies did not cease to demand from the Roman people by force of arms the privileges promised by Drusus.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 See p153.

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2 These words occur in the previous chapter and should probably be omitted here.

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3 i.e. the other tribunes of the people.

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4 He is called Marcus Octavius by Livy, Appian and Plutarch.

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5 Consul in 121 B.C.

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6 The name is uncertain: Appian (Bell. Civ. 28) calls him Nonius, Valerius Maximus (IX.7.3) Nunnius.

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7 Of 100 B.C.

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8 i.e. the control of the law-courts.

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9 P. Rutilius Rufus, the honest legatus of A. Scaevola in Asia, was unjustly condemned and exiled in 92 B.C.

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10 It is impossible to keep up in English the play upon the words caenum and caelum.

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11 Consul in 91 B.C.

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Page updated: 29 Oct 08