Extra Primary Sources on Tiberius Gracchus

These are translations of sources as collected in Greenidge & Clay, Sources for Roman History 133-70 BC (Oxford, 1985) 1-10.

Sallust Jug 41. The nobility was stronger with its faction; the power of the plebs, spread out and scattered among the crowd, was less strong. Domestic and military decisions depended on the judgement of a few men. Also in their power were the treasury, provinces, magistracies, triumphs and other public honors. Military service and poverty kept the people down. The generals shared the profits of war with a few friends. Meanwhile the parents or small children of soldiers (out on campaign) tended to be driven out of their homes, when one of the powerful was their neighbor... But when for the first time some nobles appeared who preferred true glory to unjust power, the upheaval of the state began, and civil strife arose like an earthquake.

Liv. 34.4.9 What else prompted the Licinian law about the 500 iugera, if not tremendous greed for expanding one's property?

Sen. Ep. 14.2 (90), 39. Anyone can add land to his lands, just by driving his neighbor off with a bribe or by force.

Frontinus p.48. Usually these pastures were given to certain people, to be grazed upon forthwith, although the lands were already allotted. Many men invaded and farmed these patures, because of the powerlessness (of those on them).

Idem p.53. For a long time the neighboring landowners, attracted, so to speak, by the chance to get some idle ground, took over the empty fields; and for a long time they simply annexed these lands with impunity.

Plin. Nat. Hist. 18.6.35. For those who admit the truth, it was the plantations which destroyed Italy.

Vell. 2.2 Indeed Ti. Gracchus, son of the very famous and eminent Ti. Gracchus, and a grandson of P. Scipio Africanus through his daughter (Cornelia), brought the state into a precipitous and dangerous position.

Cic. Brut. 27.104. Gracchus was educated from boyhood by the diligence of his mother Cornelia, and versed in Greek literature. For he always had carefully chosen tutors from Greece, among whom (while Gracchus was still a lad) was Diophanes of Mytilene, the most eloquent man in Greece at that time.

Ibid. 58.211. I have read the letters of Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi; it seems that her sons were raised less in her lap than in her lecture hall.

Ibid. 27.103. (Ti. Gracchus) because of his exceedingly controversial term as tribune, an office which he undertook while angry at the aristocrats, because of their scorn for his Numantine treaty, was executed by the state itself.

Id. de Har. Resp. 20.43. The scorn for the Numantine treaty, at the striking of which he was present as quaestor for the consul C. Mancinus, concerned Ti. Gracchus; and the severity of the senate in its disapproval of the pact was a source of fear and anguish to him. In fact that very thing compelled him, a brave and famous man, to deviate from the seriousness of purpose of the senators.

Cic. Acad. Prior. 2.5.13. They say that two very wise and famous brothers, P. Crassus and P. Scaevola, were the authors of the laws for Ti. Gracchus. The former, as we can tell, acted openly; the latter, as we may suspect, acted more covertly.

Liv. 35.10.11 (193 BC). In that year the aedileship of M. Aemilius Lepidus and L. Aemilius Paullus was worthy of note. They condemned many cattle-breeders.

Cato fr. 167 ORF "But is there any law so strict as to say that anyone who violates it shall be fined a thousand sesterces, as long as that is less than half his familial property? That this shall be the penalty for anyone who tries to possess more than 500 iugera? That this shall be the fine for anyone who tries to have more than this number of livestock? But in truth we try to get more of everything, and there is no penalty."

Varro R.R. 1.2.9. That is the law of Stolo, which prohibits a Roman citizen from having more than 500 iugera.

Vir. Ill. 20. (Licinius Stolo) passed a law, providing that no one of the people could possess more than 100 iugera of land.

Cic. de Leg. Agr. 3.3.11. Has a tribune of the people dared to propose this, that whatever anyone has possessed since the consulships of Marius and Carbo, he shall keep it by that right, the best right of private ownership? Even if he has ejected (the previous owner) by force? Even if he came into possession clandestinely or by entreaty? Thus the civil law, claims of ownership, and the praetors' injunctions will all be negated.

Agennius Urbicus p.42 Thul. Except that the lawyers interpret it differently, and insist that that land, which started out as the land of the Roman people, can not in any way be acquired by any living person through usage.

Liv. Ep. 58. [The law said] that no one could possess more than 1000 iugera of public land.

Cic. Ad Att. 1.19.4. (60 BC) An agrarian law was vehemently attacked (or 'discussed') by Flavius, the Tribune of the

people. But I removed all parts of that law which dealt with the loss of private property, and I freed all land which had been public property in the consulships of P. Mucius and L. Calpurnius (133).

Idem de Leg. Agr. It occured to me that two great favorites of the Roman people, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, had settled the people on public lands, lands which had previously been occupied by private citizens.

Lex Agraria CIL I 2.2.n.585 [The land in Italy which was public property of the Roman people in the consulships of P. Mucius and L. Calpurnius, except that land which] by law or decree, which C. Sempronius brother of Tiberius proposed, is excluded and prohibited from being distributed ...

Cic. de Leg. Agr. 2.29.81 Neither the two Gracchi, whose greatest concern was for the benefit of the Roman people, nor L. Sulla ... dared to lay hands on the land of Campania.

Lex Agraria CIL I 200 line 14. No one] ... shall occupy or possess more than 30 iugera of land.

Cic. de Leg. Agr. 2.12.31. (Rullus) bids the decemvirs to take the auspices "with the same legal right as the tresviri enjoyed according to the Sempronian law." Do you dare to bring up the Sempronian law, Rullus, and does not the law itself remind you that those same tresviri were elected by the vote of the 35 tribes?

Liv. Ep. 58. And he passed another land law, so as to have more land available to him, providing that these same tresviri should adjudicate as to what land was private and what public.

Diod. 34.6. And the crowds streamed into Rome from the countryside, like rivers into the all-consuming sea.

Oros. 5.8.3. He deprived Octavius the tribune, who was standing in the way of the people, of the power of his office, and named Minucius his successor.

Cic. pro Mil. 27.72 He abrogated the magistracy of his colleague because of seditious behaviour.

Idem Brut. 25.95 M. Octavius, a constant supporter of the aristocratic cause, was wronged by Ti. Gracchus. But M. Octavius persisted until he broke him (Ti.).

Idem. de Leg. 3.10.24 The one who opposed him, who was not only slighted but actually removed from office by him, really toppled Ti. Gracchus. For what was it that destroyed him, except that when his colleague intervened he had him thrown out of office?

Livy Ep. 58. Then, when there was less land than could be divided without incurring popular disfavor, because Ti. had stirred up in them a greedy hope for a great portion, he revealed that he was going to propose a law providing that the money which had previously belonged to the king Attalus be divided among those who were due to receive land under the Sempronian Law.

Vir. Ill. 64 He passed a law that the property from Attalus' legacy should be handled by and divided among the people.

Dio Cass. fr 88. He took the law courts away from the senate and put them in the hands of the knights.

Velleius 2.2. (Tiberius Gracchus) promised citizenship to all of Italy.

Cic. de Rep. 3.29.41 Ti. Gracchus stood by the citizens, but he neglected the rights and treaties of our allies and of the Latin people.

Asellio (=Gell. 2.13.5) He began to beg for this at least, that they would protect him and his children. Then he had his only son brought forward, and almost in tears entrusted the young man's life to the people.

Liv. Ep. 58. When (because?) Gracchus wanted to be elected tribune for a second term, he was slain by the nobles on the Capitol at the instigation of P. Cornelius Nasica. He was first struck with pieces of benches, then thrown unburied into the Tiber along with others who had been killed in the same civil disturbance.

Dio Cassius fr. 88. He tried to be tribune along with his brother for the coming year too, and to get his father-in-law elected consul.

Cic. in Cat. 4.4.2. I am no Ti. Gracchus, brought up to face danger and the severity of your judgement for wanting to be elected to a second term as tribune of the people.

Val. Max. 3.2.17 The senators, assembled in the temple of Public Faith by the consul Mucius Scaevola, were deliberating over what to do in the face of this storm, and although they all agreed that the consul should protect the state by force of arms, Scaevola said that he would not do anything by force. Then Scipio Nasica declared, "Since the consul, as long as he follows the letter of the law, is ensuring that the Roman nation will collapse along with all its laws, as a private citizen I offer myself as your general.... Let those who want the state to be safe follow me."

Velleius 2.3.2 Then the aristocrats, the better and greater part of the senatorial and equestrian class,and those of the common people who were still unaffected by pernicious advice, charged at Gracchus, who was standing out in the open with his thugs and inciting nearly the whole population of Italy.

Cic. Ad Herenn. 4.55.68 See the Loeb if translation is needed.

Vir. Ill. 64. The body of Gracchus was cast into the Tiber by the aedile Lucretius; hence he was called Vespillo (the pauper's gravedigger).

Velleius 2.3.3. This was the start in Rome of civil strife and unpunished bloodshed. From then on right was overcome by might, and the more powerful man stood first. The quarrels of the citizens used to be settled by compromise, but now were decided by the sword.

Cic. de Rep. 1.19.31. The death of Ti. Gracchus (and the whole course of his tribunate had begun the process) divided a single people into two camps.

Sall. Iug. 31.7 When Ti. Gracchus, who was allegedly aiming at being a king, had been killed, judicial inquiries were carried out against the Roman people.

Velleius 2.7.3. Soon harsh inquiries were carried out against the friends and clients of the Gracchi.

Val. Max. 4.7.1. In the consulship of Laenas and Rupilius, since the senate had ordered that old-fashioned severity be shown to the former supporters of Gracchus...

Cic. de Amic. 11.37. C. Blossius of Cumae, when he had come to entreat me, because I (Laelius) was acting in an advisory capacity towards the consuls Laenas and Rupilius, wanted me to forgive him because, he said, he thought so highly of Ti. Gracchus that he felt whatever Gracchus wanted should be done. So I said, "Even if he wanted you to set fire to the Capitol?" "He would never have wanted that" Blossius replied,"but if he had I would have obeyed." You can see what a wicked thing to say that was... and so Blossius, because of this madness, and since he was terrified of the new judicial commission, fled to Asia. Yes, he went over to the enemy, and paid a heavy but just penalty to the state.

Val. Max. 7.2.6. The wisdom of the senate was comparable. It punished Ti. Gracchus, the tribune of the people, with death because he dared to put forward an agrarian law. This same Gracchus especially felt that the land should be divided among the people individually by the triumvirs, in accordance with his law.

© 1996 David L. Silverman. All rights reserved.

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