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THE COLONY OF JUNONIA
industry, and the facility with which he despatched the most diverse kinds of business.” He lived in the centre of a sort of court, frequented equally by foreign ambassadors, architects, engineers, military men, and philosophers. He had business with all these classes, received them all with urbanity, and surprised them all by his interest in and mastery of their various provinces of knowledge. It was easy for his enemies to say that there was a royal court already established in Rome, with nothing wanting save the diadem.
During his second tribunate Caius was engaged both in completing his legislation in behalf of the Equites and in developing his great colonial schemes, especially that for the establishing of the new city that was to be called Junonia, on the site of Carthage. But he was also launching out on to the development of another item of the Democratic programme: he wished to carry out that liberal extension of the citizenship to the Italian allies which had been growing more and more of a necessity during the last fifty years. Tiberius Gracchus, if we may trust Velleius, had broached the idea in B.C. 133: Fulvius Flaccus had certainly brought it to the front in B.C. 125, with no result save the unfortunate revolt of Fregellæ. But Caius had much more favourable opportunities than either his brother or Flaccus, for he had secured a much more complete hold over the Comitia than either of them had ever possessed.
The project was one which was eminently deserving of support. In former days the Roman people had been fairly generous with the franchise; not only had all the Latin and Etruscan districts around the city been granted the full citizenship one after another, but there were ways provided in which individual members of allied states further afield might become incorporated in the body of Roman burgesses. But this wise liberality had gradually gone out of fashion. Just as Roman citizenship grew more and more valuable, owing to the ever-increasing profits of empire, it became more and more difficult to obtain. No new territory in Latium or Etruria had been taken into the state boundary since B.C. 188, and it was growing much harder for the individual citizen of an allied community to slip into the burgess body. The fact was that the Romans in ancient days, when fighting for existence, had been eager to strengthen themselves by multiplying their numbers: now that they had acquired an empire, they were less eager to share their advantages with others. The knowledge that discontent at their niggardliness was over growing more lively among the Italian states, had not yet begun to alarm the ordinary Roman, whether Optimate or Democrat. The city rabble were just as unconcerned about it as the most purblind reactionary in the Senate.
Caius Gracchus, therefore, had to convert his own party to the policy of liberal treatment for the allies. It was true that his brother may have advocated their cause, and that others among the leaders of the party, notably the energetic but unstable Fulvius Flaccus, were convinced of its righteousness. But the weapon with which Caius had to win his victories was the urban multitude, the one constant element in the composition of the Comitia. He thought that he could carry it with him, even when he was advocating measures which were not directly and obviously profitable to itself. Indeed, he imagined that he had bought it for ever, belly and soul, by the gift of the corn-dole. He was so far right that a great portion of the populace was ready to stick to him through thick and thin, and to vote for whatever bill he might chose to bring forward. Unfortunately for himself and for Rome, he was to discover that the whole body was not so loyal, and that men who could be bribed once to vote for the PROPOSAL TO ENFRANCHISE THE ALLIES 71
Democratic side, might be influenced on another occasion by equally corrupt inducements held out by the enemy. Caius was always styling the urban multitude “the people.” He was destined to find that it might be truer to call it “ the rabble.”
The very moderate and statesmanlike form in which Caius proposed to deal with the franchise question was to bestow the full citizenship on the Latins, and the rights hitherto held by the Latins on the remainder of the Italian allies. The “Latins" now represented not the old thirty cities of the Latin League, which had long been taken into the Roman state, but the numerous colonies with “ Latin rights," i.e. the jus connubii and jus commercii, which were scattered all over Italy. They only wanted the power to vote in the Comitia to make them full citizens; the practical as opposed to the political advantages of the status were already in their possession. On the other hand, the main body of the Italian allies were to receive the commercial and civil privileges hitherto confined to the Latins, but were not to be introduced into the tribes, or permitted to swamp the public assembly by their enormous numbers. No doubt Caius contemplated the arrival of the day when they too might become Romans. But he had no wish to hurry matters, and intended to bring about the complete Romanisation of Italy by gradual emancipation; only after a longer or shorter training as Latins would the multitudes of Central and Southern Italy be permitted to obtain the full franchise.
All this was prudent, moderate, and far-sighted; but unfortunately there was little in the scheme to rouse enthusiasm among the more sordid members of the Democratic party—the mass of demoralised urban voters who formed the habitual majority in ordinary meetings of the Comitia. In their ignorant selfishness, they looked upon the matter from a very narrow point of view. The individual Roman citizen, they thought, would suffer if the number of his equals were increased. There would be more hands among which the bribes of the would-be consul and praetor, and the public distribution of money and food made by the state, would have to be divided. The Consul Fannius, though he had been elected by the assistance of Gracchus himself, led the opposition. He put the question in a nutshell when he asked the multitudo whether they had reflected that by passing such a bill they would soon have the Latins elbowing them out of their places in the Comitia, crowding them out of the circus and theatre, and eating up their corn. This sordid and cynical appeal went to the heart of the plebeians, and the majority of them soon showed that they were ready to refuse support in this matter to the leader who vainly believed that he had purchased their perpetual allegiance.
While the franchise question was still in an early stage, a now figure appeared upon the scene, to the great perplexity of Gracchus. This was a certain Marcus Livius Drusus, a tribune of whom little had hitherto been known. He did not attempt to resist Caius by the method of mere stolid opposition, which Octavius had used ten years before against the reformer's elder brother. His plan was one which had often been tried in Greek politics. The counterdemagogue had been a well-known figure at Athens, though he was as yet unfamiliar at Rome. Drusus professed to be even more devoted to the people than his colleague, and to be ready to go yet farther in the paths of innovation. Only on two questions that of the founding of colonies beyond the sea, and that of granting the franchise to the Italians—did he profess to differ from him. Of both these measures he disapproved, but he had his own substitutes ready, both for propitiating the allies and for providing land for the would-be colonists.
DRUSUS OUTBIDS GRACCHUS
With the object, then, of showing that he was a truer and more liberal friend of the people than Caius himself, Livius Drusus announced his intention of bringing forward a whole series of popular measures. Perhaps the most prominent of these was a huge scheme for colonisation inside Italy. Instead of choosing only two places with particularly favourable sites, as Gracchus had done, he announced that he would establish no less than twelve colonies in the peninsula, each of them to hold no less than three thousand citizens. The scheme was wholly impracticable, for these were to be agricultural and not trading centres, and agriculture, as we have already seen, was ruined beyond redemption. But the populace had not yet grasped the fact, and the plan seemed to them far more attractive than anything that Caius had proposed. Equally popular and equally futile was another bill, which was to turn all the farms which had already been distributed by the Land Commission into the private property of their occupiers. Tiberius Gracchus had made a great point of imposing a rent upon them, in order to remind the farmers that they were the tenants of the state and not full freeholders. He had also prohibited them from selling their land, for he had feared that they would be prone to dispose of their holdings at the first bad season, if they were given the chance, so that the latifundia would in a short time be reconstituted. It is probable that ten years of unprofitable farming had already disgusted great numbers of the settlers of B.C. 133–132, and that they were now wishing to throw up the holdings for which they had once clamoured so loudly. At any rate, there is no doubt that Drusus's proposal to make the land alienable, and to abolish the modest rent imposed by Tiberius, acquired a certain cheap popularity. There were other bills brought forward at the same time of which we have no accurate details;