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one was intended to propitiate the allies for being refused the franchise; it provided that Latin soldiers should no longer be liable to the punishment of scourging by Roman officers—and probably their status in other ways was to be brought nearer to that of their comrades who possessed the full citizenship.
In proposing each of his laws, Drusus took great care to point out to the people that he was acting with the full consent and approbation of the Senate. He wished to produce the impression that popular legislation could be procured from other sources than the Democratic party, and succeeded in his aim. The majority of the urban multitude were too stupid to see that when the competition was ended by the removal or death of Gracchus, their noble friends would relapse into their former state of apathy as to the needs of the people.
the people. It has
It has been suggested by some historians that Drusus was not a deliberate charlatan playing a part, but a real, though misguided, enthusiast, who was unconsciously made the tool of the Senate. It has been pointed out that several of the laws which he proposed in B.C. 122 were reintroduced a generation later by his son, who was a genuine Democrat of the most enthusiastic sort; and it is suggested that the elder Drusus believed in his own panacea, and passed it on as a sacred secret to his son and heir. But on the whole it is safer to believe the Roman historians when they tell us that the colleague of Gracchus was well aware of what he was doing, and had no more worthy aim than to undermine his rival's position by out-bidding him in the market of popular favour.
The waning power of Caius over the multitude was shown most clearly by the fate of his bill for the enfranchisement of the Latins. When it was brought forward, Drusus announced that he should veto it. There DRUSUS STOPS THE FRANCHISE BILL
was no explosion of popular wrath, for the fact was that the majority of the multitude was apathetic on the point, or even held that the good things of empire had better be distributed among a few than among many Roman citizens. Caius saw no opportunity of assailing his colleague; he made no attempt to demolish him, as his brother of old had demolished Octavius; public feeling would have been against him if he had tried. Instead of starting a furious agitation on behalf of the Italians, as his friend and colleague Fulvius Flaccus proposed, he went off to Africa to superintend the foundation of his new colony of Junonia. Thus the Democratic party in the city was left in the temporary charge of Flaccus ; this was unfortunate, for the ex-consul was a man equally devoid of tact and of prudence, and prone to plunge into profitless violence when freed from the restraints imposed by his more statesman-like friend.
Caius probably supposed that nothing would commend him more surely to the people than the sight of the new Carthaginian colony inaugurated with all possible pomp and splendour, and flourishing from the first, as it was bound to do, if only it obtained a fair start. He marked out the site on an even larger scale than the Rubrian law had named, and made a great parade of assembling colonists from all over Italy, apparently permitting Latins as well as Romans to send in their names. ceremonies were carried out: the flag was planted, the furrow driven round an enormous space of ground, and the boundary stones set up.
When, however, Gracchus returned from Africa to Rome, he found that his demonstration had completely missed fire. The most absurd rumours had been put about by his opponents : a legend had cropped up that Scipio had solemnly cursed the site of Carthage when he captured it in B.C. 146, and that nothing could
All the proper
prosper on such unlucky ground. It was said that a gale had torn down the standard which Gracchus had erected -a fact quite possible in itself, but rendered less likely by the additional garnishment of the story, which said that the boundary stones of the new colony had been dug up at night by wolves. If wolves there were, they must clearly have been two-legged Roman wolves of the Optimate breed. Nevertheless these silly tales seem to have had their effect, and to have loosened the hold of Caius on the Comitia. When the tribunicial elections came on, and he stood for the third time, he failed to be chosen. It is said that he had really a majority of votes, but that Drusus or some other tribune who presided at the poll made a fraudulent and unjust return. That such a thing should have been possible shows that at least the suffrages of the people must have been much divided, for if Caius had possessed his former ascendency, no one would have dared to juggle with the votes.
Gracchus was appalled with this misadventure. bore the disappointment with great impatience, and when he saw his adversaries laughing, told them with an air of insolence that they should soon be laughing on the wrong side of their mouths.” Meanwhile he had only a short time left in which the invaluable tribunicial position was still his own : on the roth of December B.C. 122, he would become a private person again, and would not only lose his power of legislation, but become liable to prosecution for any illegal acts which his enemies might choose to allege against him. The last months of his office seem to have been spent in a bitter personal struggle with Drusus. Each produced strings of popular laws to tempt the appetite of the people, and Caius had the disappointment of seeing himself outbid by a rival whose main advantage was that he was prepared to bring forward projects, possible or impossible, with no thought of the consequences.
6. He CAIUS LOSES THE TRIBUNATE
As a good Greek scholar, Gracchus must have recognised that he had fallen into the unenviable position of Cleon in the Knights of Aristophanes. His stewardship was about to be taken from him, and he would soon be obliged to give an account of all his doings.
At last the fatal day came round, and Caius ceased to be the sacrosanct representative of the Roman people, and became once more a private citizen. It is probable that, even if he had kept quiet, his adversaries would now have found some excuse for falling upon him : like his brother Tiberius twelve years before, he had made too many enemies. But he did not give them the opportunity of leaving him alone ; within a few days of the coming of the new year, B.C. 121, he was engaged in bitter civil strife with them. For he had still plenty of partisans at his back: the better men of the Democratic party still believed in him, and among the multitude there were many whose profound hatred for the Senate and all its works had led them to distrust the gifts of Drusus. Most important of all, there was a lively agitation outside Rome : the Latins were bitterly vexed that the citizenship, which had been dangled before them for the second time, had now been again withdrawn from their reach. Their old friend, Fulvius Flaccus, got into communication with them, and assured them that he had not forgotten them, and still hoped to defend their cause. But organisation was needed to bring their forces to bear, and of organising power there seems to have been little or none on the Democratic side.
The moment that the new magistrates of B.C. 121 were installed in office, an effort was made by the Optimates to rescind as much as they dared of the Gracchan legislation. The Equites were too strong to be lightly meddled with, and the laws passed in their favour were left alone. It was still necessary to keep the urban multitude divided, so no attempt was made to touch the corn-dole. Any hint of such a design would have thrown the whole mass back into the arms of Gracchus. It was accordingly against the colonial scheme that the Optimates opened their batteries. Formal representations were made to the augurs that the omens at the foundation of Junonia had been unfavourable, and all the stories about the gale, the broken flag-staff, and the uprooted boundary stones, were brought forward. The augurs made the reply that was required: “The auspices of Junonia had been most unfavourable, and clearly showed the anger of the gods at the unhallowed attempt to build upon the cursed soil.” Accordingly the Consul Opimius, who assumed the lead in all the proceedings against Gracchus, took the opinion of the Senate on the question whether it would not be right to annul the Rubrian law and disestablish the new colony. The Fathers fell in with his design, and granted him an auctoritas for the introduction of an act of repeal. It was accordingly brought before the people by the tribune, M. Minucius.
This brought Caius to the front. The scheme for transmarine colonisation was very dear to him. In it, as he believed, lay the true remedy for the economic distress of the Roman people. “When Gracchus and Fulvius Flaccus," says Appian, " discerned that their great project was to be thwarted, they became like madmen, and ran about declaring that all the stories about the evil omens were lies invented by the Senate." They announced their intention of opposing the Act of Repeal by every means in their power, and began, when it was too late, to organise their partisans for the fray. This was precisely what their enemies had hoped. If they could be goaded into any act of violence, they could be accused of treason, and doomed to suffer the same lot that had fallen on Tiberius Gracchus and his followers