Gaius Gracchus

Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (154–121 BC) was a Roman Popularis politician in the 2nd century BC and brother of the reformer Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. His election to the office of tribune in the years 123 BC and 122 BC and reformative policies while in office prompted a constitutional crisis and his death at the hands of the Roman Senate in 121 BC.

Gaius Gracchus Tribune of the People
Gaius addressing the Concilium Plebis.


Gaius Gracchus was born into a family who had a strong tradition in the politics of ancient Rome. His father, Tiberius Gracchus the Elder, was a powerful man in Roman politics throughout the 2nd century BC and had built up a large and powerful clientele largely based in Spain. His mother was Cornelia Africana, daughter of Scipio Africanus, a noble woman who was a major influence on the Gracchi; as a widow, she refused the marriage proposal of Ptolemy VIII, the King of Egypt, preferring to devote her life to the upbringing of her sons.[1]

The family was attached to the Claudii faction in Roman politics despite his mother's background. It can be supposed, however, that both the Gracchi brothers would have come into contact with powerful members of both the Claudii and Cornelii Scipiones factions.[1]

Gaius Gracchus was the younger brother of Tiberius Gracchus by about nine years. He was heavily influenced both by the reformative policy of his older brother, and by his death at the hands of a senatorial mob. Plutarch suggests that it was "the grief he had suffered [that] encouraged him to speak out fearlessly, whenever he lamented the fate of his brother."[2] Certainly aspects of his reforms, and especially his judicial reforms, seem to have been directed at the people responsible for his brother's death.

Early political career

The pursuit of Caius Gracchus
The pursuit of Gaius Gracchus

Gaius's political career began in 133 BC, when he served with Tiberius's land-commission. In 126 BC, he became a quaestor in the Roman province of Sardinia, where his merits advanced his good reputation. During his quaestorship, he honed his skills in oratory.[3]

In one particularly harsh Sardinian winter, the Legate of the local garrison requisitioned supplies from the nearby towns, despite their objections. When they appealed and won the Senate's approval to keep their supplies, Gaius made them a personal appeal for aid. Fearing this as a ploy for popular approval, the Senate rebuffed envoys sent by Micipsa, king of Numidia, who had sent grain to Gaius based on their mutual regard. The Senate ordered the garrison's replacement, but also ordered that Gaius remain in his post, in Sardinia.[3]

Gaius returned to Rome, to appeal the decision. He was accused of unlawfully abandoning his post, but won popular support when he pointed out that he had served twelve years - two more than the basic requirement - and had been quaestor for two years though legally only required to serve one. Furthermore, he had used the Roman money that he had brought with him to this quaestorship to aid Sardinia, and had never used his position to line his own pockets.[3]

He was then accused of aiding in an Italian revolt at Fregellae, but little evidence supported this. His support for the reforms of Gaius Papirius Carbo and Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, his evident skills at oratory and his association with the reforms of his brother led the senatorial nobles to try him on charges plainly false or heavily exaggerated. He cleared himself with ease and in 122 was elected to serve as a tribune for the following year.[4]

Gaius used his celebrated oratory, considered to be the best in Rome, to attack his opponents at every chance and frequently lamented the fate of his brother Tiberius. He criticised the Senate's failure to emulate their ancestors' respect for the tribune, citing its decision to wage war on the Falerii for insulting the tribune Genucius, or how Gaius Veturius had been condemned to death for failing to make way for the tribune. He chastised the people for standing by while Tiberius and his supporters were beaten and cited the unlawful sentences of exile that followed, because the accused were not permitted to stand trial.[5]

Tribuneship of 123–122 BC

Reforms in 123/2 BC

Gaius' social reforms were far wider reaching than the reforms of his brother Tiberius. Perhaps motivated by the fate of his brother, some of his earliest reforms dealt with the judiciary system. He set up two initial measures, the first of which prohibited a magistrate who had been deposed by the people from holding office a second time. Gaius's second bill established the right of the people to prosecute any magistrate who had exiled citizens without a trial.[6] These decisions were a direct response to the Senate's actions in the aftermath of his brother Tiberius's murder.[1]

Courts with capital punishment, not set up by the people, were now declared illegal by a retrospective measure which saw the former consul Popilius Laenas driven into exile. Further reforms to the judicial system were passed to check the acquittals by senatorial juries of senators charged with extortion; the Lex Acilia placed extortion trials under the control of the equites class, and trial procedures were redesigned in favour of the prosecution.[1] Aside from benefiting the provincials by dispensing of the conflict of interests involved in Senators trying their fellow-Senators on crimes of which they were often guilty themselves, it was also a significant step in wrenching apart the longstanding alliance of the rich, Senators and Equites, in oppressing the poor proletariat, and bringing the Equites to his own side against the Senate.[7][8] A second measure which Gracchus passed to please the Equites was in changing the arrangements of the Senate for collecting the taxes from the recently acquired (133) province of Asia. Whereas the Senate had arranged for a fixed sum to be paid directly to the state, excluding the capitalist Equites, Gracchus passed a measure changing the tax to a 10% tax on the lands of the province, the right of collecting which was auctioned off at Rome, thus naturally placing it in the hands of the Equites, since the Senators were banned from commerce, and the provincials were too distant.[9] Although it has been stated that Gracchus' rearrangement was mere base pandering to the avarice of the Equites, who used the opportunity to extort fearful sums from the Asian provincials, it is also true that, on the other hand in a year of drought for instance, the 10% tax of Gracchus would be actually far more favorable to the province than a fixed amount.[10]

Though Tiberius' land measures had already accomplished their object by 129, when the Senate effectively froze it (by transferring jurisdiction regarding the right to proclaim land “Public” or “Private” from the land commission to the consuls), Gracchus symbolically returned jurisdiction over the land to the commission, gratifying popular sentiment.[11] As a substitute to the allotments, large overseas colonies were planned to provide for thousands of settlers which may have included some Italians as well as Roman citizens.[12] The Lex Frumentaria required that the state buy bulk grain from North Africa and Sicily and distribute it to citizens at a low price, as a monthly ration. Secondary roads were extended throughout Italy, to facilitate trade and communication. Rome's censors auctioned off contracts for tax collection in Asia.

Gaius's Lex Militaris provided for the free issue of clothes and equipment to soldiers, shortened the term of military service and forbade the draft of boys under the age of seventeen. These reforms were intended to raise army morale and to win the political support of soldiers, allies, and voters with small incomes.[13]

Gaius submitted a franchise bill that sought the extension of Roman citizenship to all Latin citizens, and of Latin citizenship to all Italian allies. The bill was rejected because the Roman Patricians had no wish to share the benefits of citizenship, including subsidised grain and entertainment. The rejection of this measure led, in part, to the disastrous Social War of 91-88 BC.[4]

In a further slight to the power of the Senate, Gaius changed physically how speeches were delivered from the Rostra. Formerly, when a speaker delivered a speech in the Forum, he turned his face to the right in the direction of the curia, the Senate house, and the Comitium. Instead, Gaius would turn his face to the left, toward the direction of the Forum proper, effectively turning his back on the Senate.[14][15]

Gaius showed great efficiency in his administration. He oversaw the implementation of each new institution, and personally selected 300 equestrian jurists.[16] He helped Gaius Fannius win the consulship for 122, and was elected as tribune the same year by popular vote.[17]

Senatorial Response

The senate interpreted Gaius' popularity and legislation as threats to its privilege and position. It backed another tribune, Livius Drusus. He was placed under strict orders not to incite violence; instead, he should propose legislation that would please the common people, and make it known that he had the Senate's backing. In the event, his proposed legislation was neither credible nor beneficial to the commons, and was intended merely to undermine Gaius.[18]

When Gaius proposed that two colonies be founded with reliable citizens, the Senate accused him of trying to win favor with the people before Drusus proposed twelve with three thousand citizens. When Gaius granted the most needy small plots of redistributed land on the condition they pay a small rent to the public coffers, the Senate accused him of trying to win favor with the people before Drusus proposed to do the same rent-free.[18]

When Gaius proposed that all Latins should have equal voting rights, the Senate protested, but approved of Drusus' measure that no Latin would ever be beaten with rods. Drusus went to great pains to ensure he was never seen as the benefactor, politically or economically, of his legislation but rather that he proposed his measures, backed by the Senate, to further benefit the people. Drusus' constant referencing of the Senate worked and at least some of the people began to feel less hostility toward the Senate, marking the Senatorial plan a resounding success.[18] When a measure was passed to found a colony at Carthage, which had been destroyed in 146 BC by Scipio Africanus the Younger, Gaius was appointed to oversee the construction and left for Africa. Drusus immediately took advantage of Gaius' absence by attacking Gaius' ally, Fulvius Flaccus, who was known by the Senate to be an agitator and was suspected by some of stirring up the Italian allies to revolt.

A new candidate emerged for the consulship, one Lucius Opimius, who had opposed Fannius for the consulship in 122 BC and been stymied by Gaius' machinations. Opimius, a staunch conservative and oligarchical man who wanted to restore power to the Senate, had garnered a significant following and stood poised to challenge Gaius directly. Opimius had made it his sole mission to unseat Gaius.

Death of Scipio Africanus the Younger

When Scipio the Younger agreed to represent the Italian allies, who were protesting the injustices done to them which Tiberius Gracchus' land reform was supposed to remedy, he won the hostility of the people, who accused him of standing against Tiberius Gracchus and wishing to abolish the law and incite bloodshed.[19]

When Scipio died suddenly and mysteriously one day, Gaius was one of many political enemies implicated in his death. Carbo had just that day delivered a fiery speech against Scipio and he—like other Gracchan political allies such as Fulvius Flaccus—was widely known to be an outspoken enemy of Scipio's during this time as his Gracchan-backed proposal to formally allow tribunes multiple terms in office was ultimately defeated in large part due to Scipio's influence.[20] In fact, between the years of his return from Spain in 132 and his death in 129, Scipio "inexorably began to unite the ruling oligarchy against" Gaius.[21] Other members of the Gracchi family were also accused; Scipio had been in a loveless marriage to Sempronia, sister of the Gracchi brothers and daughter of their mother Cornelia - Scipio referred to his wife as 'deformed' and 'barren'.[22] Both women were suspected of murdering Scipio because of his perceived attempt to undo the reforms of Tiberius.

Return to Rome and outbreak of violence

The combined political positions of his fellow tribunes Lucius Opimius, Livius Drusus and Marcus Minucius Rufus, another political enemy of Gaius, meant the repeal of as many of Gaius' measures as possible.[4] Gaius now stood on increasingly shaky ground with the Senate, though his popularity with the people remained undeniable. Gaius' return to Rome from Carthage set in motion a series of events that would eventually cause him to suffer the same fate as his brother. Gaius' first action was to move from his home on the Palatine, where the wealthiest of Romans and the political elite lived, to a neighborhood near the Forum, believing that in so doing he was keeping to his democratic principles and reaffirming his loyalty to the people rather than to the privileged elite.[23]

Gaius then called together all of his supporters from Italy to put into motion his legislation. The Senate convinced Fannius, whose friendship with Gaius had run its course, to expel all those who were not Roman citizens by birth from the city. Gaius condemned the proposal, promising support for the Italians, but his image took a hit when he failed to uphold his promises and did not stop Fannius' lictors from dragging away a friend. Whether he did this because he was afraid to test his power or because he refused to do anything which would have given the Senate pretext to initiate violence remains unknown.[23]

Gaius further distanced himself from his fellow tribunes when he insisted that the seats for a gladiatorial show be removed to allow the poor to watch. When they refused, he removed them secretly at night. Plutarch claims this cost him a third term as tribune, because, although he won the popular vote, the tribunes were so upset that they falsified the ballots.[23] Opimius and his supporters began to overturn Gaius' legislation with the hope of provoking him into violence, but Gaius remained resolute. Rumors suggested that his mother Cornelia hired foreign men disguised as harvesters to protect him.[24]

Death of Quintus Antyllius

On the day that Opimius planned to repeal Gaius' laws, an attendant of Opimius, Quintus Antyllius, carrying the entrails of a sacrifice, forced his way through a crowd. A resulting scuffle between the supporters of the two opposing groups on the Capitoline Hill led to his death. Plutarch maintains that Antyllius had rudely pushed his way through the crowd and gave an indecent gesture and was immediately beset upon by Gracchan supporters much to the disapproval of Gaius.[24]

Appian states that Gaius had arrived with an escort of body guards in a distressed state. When Antyllius saw Gaius, he laid a hand on him, begging him not to destroy the state. When Gaius cast his scorn on Antyllius, his supporters took it as a sign to act on his behalf and struck Antyllius down. Gaius and Fulvius failed to exonerate themselves of the deed and returned home under the protection of their supporters to await the day's outcomes.[25]

The death of Antyllius allowed a triumphant Opimius a pretext for action. On the following morning, with much showboating, the body of Antyllius was presented to the Senate as indicative of the measures Gaius would take. The senate passed a senatus consultum ultimum, granting Opimius the right to defend the state and rid it of tyrants. The Senate armed itself and commanded all the equestrians to arm themselves and two of their servants and assemble the next morning.[26]

Fulvius gathered his supporters and they passed the evening in a drunken and raucous manner. Gaius, much more somber, paused in front of the statue of his father on his way out of the Forum, and, weeping, went homeward. His plight and obvious distress caused such sympathy among the people, who blamed themselves for betraying their champion, that a large party gathered outside his home to ensure his protection. Unlike Fulvius, Gaius' men were quiet and reflective of future events.[26]

Death of Gaius Gracchus and Fulvius Flaccus

The following morning, Fulvius' men armed themselves with spoils from Fulvius' Gallic campaign and marched loudly to the Aventine. Gaius refused to gird himself with anything save a small dagger and his toga. As he left his home, his wife Licinia, daughter of Crassus, begged him not to go meet the same men who had murdered and dishonored Tiberius Gracchus, knowing well enough that Gaius was to die that day. Gaius, without saying a word, gently pried himself from her arms and left her there, weeping, until her servants eventually came to pick her up and carried her to her brother Crassus.[27]

At Gaius' suggestion, Fulvius sent his youngest son Quintus to the Forum to speak to the Senate as a herald carrying a staff, which was only used when heralds approached enemies in times of war. Tearful, he pleaded for terms which many there were willing to hear, but Opimius insisted on speaking directly to Fulvius and Gaius, demanding they surrender themselves for trial. These terms were not negotiable. When Quintus returned to Gaius and Fulvius, Gaius was willing to acquiesce but Fulvius was not and sent the boy back.[28]

When the boy came back to the Senate and relayed what his father Fulvius stated, Opimius placed him under arrest and under guard and advanced on Fulvius' position with a contingent of archers from Crete. When they fired on Fulvius' men, wounding many, the crowd was thrown into chaos and fled. Fulvius hid in an abandoned bath or workshop with his eldest son and when discovered both were executed. Appian adds that when they initially hid, citizens were hesitant to give them away, but when the whole row was threatened to be burned down they were handed over to the mob.[28]

Gaius, taking no part in the fighting and despairing at the bloodshed, fled to the Temple of Diana on the Aventine where he intended to commit suicide but was stopped by his friends Pomponius and Licinius. Gaius knelt and prayed to the goddess, asking that the people of Rome be forever enslaved by their masters since many had openly and quickly switched sides when an amnesty was declared by the Senate.[29]

Gaius fled the temple and tried to cross the Tiber on a wooden bridge while Pomponius and Licinius stayed back to cover his retreat, killing as many as they could until they were themselves felled. Accompanied by only his slave Philocrates, Gaius fled, urged by onlookers though no man offered assistance despite Gaius' repeated requests for aid. Arriving at a grove sacred to Furrina, Philocrates first assisted Gaius in his suicide before taking his own life, though some rumors held that Philocrates was only killed after he refused to let go of his master's body.


Death of Gaius Gracchus
The Death of Gaius Gracchus, by François Topino-Lebrun, 1792.

Gaius' head was cut off, as Opimius had announced that whoever brought back the head would be paid its weight in gold. When the head measured an astonishing seventeen and two-thirds pounds, it was discovered that Septimuleius, who brought the head, committed fraud by removing the brain and pouring in molten lead and therefore received no reward at all. The bodies of Gaius, Fulvius and the three thousand supporters who also died were thrown into the Tiber, their property confiscated and sold to the public treasury. Appian adds that their homes were looted by their opponents.[28]

Their wives were forbidden to mourn the death of their husbands and Licinia, wife of Gaius, was stripped of her dowry. Fulvius' youngest son, who took no part in the fighting and merely acted as herald, was executed, though Appian holds that Opimius allowed him to choose his own manner of death. Most outrageous to the people was when Opimius celebrated his victory by building a temple to Concord in the Forum with the Senate's approval. The people felt that a victory bought with the massacre of so many citizens was exceptionally distasteful. According to Plutarch, one night an inscription was carved that read "This temple of Concord is the work of mad Discord."[30]

Plutarch maintains that Opimius was the first Roman to appoint himself dictator, kill 3,000 Roman citizens without trial, including the proconsul Fulvius Flaccus and the tribune Gaius Gracchus, a man renowned for his reputation and virtue. Ironically, this same Opimius then later committed fraud and accepted bribes from the Numidian king Jugurtha and, after being convicted, spent his days in disgrace. The people, realizing that their democratic cause was now dead, understood how deeply they missed the Gracchus brothers.[31]

Statues were erected in Rome, the locations where they fell were consecrated as holy ground and the season's first fruits were offered as sacrifice. Many worshiped them daily as if the Gracchi had been elevated to divine status. Cornelia honored the memory of her sons' murders by constructing elaborate tombs at the spot of their deaths.[31] Appian adds that within 15 years, all of the progress done under the Gracchi had been overturned and the poor were in a much worse position than ever before, many reduced to unemployment.[32]

While many of Gaius' laws were repealed by his political opponents, the Lex Frumentaria remained. It set a precedent for the "Roman Bread Dole" which existed in one form or another until the fall of the Western Empire.[33]

Gracchus Babeuf

The French revolutionary François-Noël Babeuf took up the name "Gracchus Babeuf" in conscious emulation of the Roman brothers, and published a newspaper Le tribun du peuple ("the tribune of the people"). Ultimately he, like them, met a violent end.

See also

  • SPQRomani.svg Ancient Rome portal


  1. ^ a b c d Bradley P., Ancient Rome: Using Evidence, Cambridge University Press, 2007
  2. ^ Plutarch, Makers of Rome, Penguin Books, 1965
  3. ^ a b c Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 2
  4. ^ a b c Cary M. and Scullard H., A History of Rome, PANGRAVE, 1989
  5. ^ Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 3
  6. ^ Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 4
  7. ^ T. Mommsen, The History of Rome, (Meridian Books, 1958), ch. II., pp. 68, 69
  8. ^ A. H. Beesely, The Gracchi, Marius and Sulla Epochs of Ancient History, (Kindle edition), ch. II., p. 34
  9. ^ Mommsen, pp. 67, 68
  10. ^ Beesely, Ibid.
  11. ^ Mommsen, p. 62
  12. ^ Mommsen, p. 62
  13. ^ Ward Allen, Heichelheim Fritz, and Yeo Cedric, A History of the Roman People, Prentice Hall, 1999
  14. ^ Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 5
  15. ^ David Fredrick (3 October 2002). The Roman Gaze: Vision, Power, and the Body. JHU Press. pp. 198–199. ISBN 978-0-8018-6961-7.
  16. ^ Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 6
  17. ^ Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 8
  18. ^ a b c Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 8-9
  19. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 1.19
  20. ^ Stockton 91-2
  21. ^ Stockton 85-6
  22. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 1.20
  23. ^ a b c Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 12
  24. ^ a b Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 13
  25. ^ Appian, Civil Wars 1.25
  26. ^ a b Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 14
  27. ^ Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 15
  28. ^ a b c Appian, Civil Wars 1.26
  29. ^ Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 16
  30. ^ Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 17
  31. ^ a b Plutarch, Gaius Gracch. 18
  32. ^ Appian, Civil Wars, 1.27
  33. ^*/Frumentariae_Leges.html

External links

At the Internet Classics Archive, MIT:

120s BC

This article concerns the period 129 BC – 120 BC.

== Events ==

=== 129 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== The Empire of Rome ======

The Kingdom of Pergamon becomes the Roman Province of Asia upon the defeat of Aristonicus, pretender to the Attalid throne, by M. Perperna.

C. Sempronius Tuditanus celebrates his triumph over the Iapydes of Illyria.

Scipio Aemilianus, victor of Carthage is possibly assassinated by his enemies in Rome.

====== Syria ======

Battle of Ecbatana: The Seleucid King Antiochus VII Sidetes is defeated and killed by the Parthians under Phraates II, ending Seleucid control over Media or Mesopotamia.

Having been freed by the Parthians, Demetrius II of Syria recovers the throne of the Seleucid Empire.

====== Asia ======

Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty launches his first offensive into the northern steppe.

==== By topic ====

====== Philosophy ======

Crates of Tarsus succeeds Carneades as head of the Academy in Athens.

====== Astronomy ======

Hipparchus publishes his catalog of stars.

Total solar eclipse, used by Hipparchus to estimate distance to the moon.

=== 128 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Republic ======

Cn. Octavius and T. Annius Rufus are this year's consuls

====== Bactria ======

The Greco-Bactrian kingdom is overrun by the Tokhari.

====== Parthia ======

Artabanus II becomes king of Parthia (approximate date)

==== By topic ====

====== Arts and sciences ======

Limenius composes the Second Delphic Hymn.

=== 127 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Parthia ======

The Scythians defeat the Parthians in a battle around Media.

=== 126 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Syria ======

Tyre successfully revolts from the Seleucid Empire.

Seleucus V Philometor succeeds his father Demetrius II as king of the Seleucid Empire. Due to his youth, his stepmother Cleopatra Thea acts as regent.

=== 125 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Syria ======

Cleopatra Thea succeeds to the rule of the Seleucid Empire on the death of Seleucus V. She appoints Antiochus VIII Grypus as co-ruler.

====== Roman Republic ======

In Rome, Marcus Fulvius Flaccus proposes the extension of Roman citizenship to the northern Italians, but the Senate reacts by sending him off to deal with disturbances around Massilia. And in so doing commenced the conquest of Transalpine Gaul.

=== 124 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Republic ======

Fregellae's revolt against Rome begins in Latium. Later the city is captured and destroyed by the Romans.

====== Parthia ======

Mithridates II succeeds Artabanus II as King of Parthia.

====== Egypt ======

Cleopatra II of Egypt and her brother Ptolemy VIII of Egypt reconcile.

=== 123 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Republic ======

Gaius Gracchus elected Roman tribune for the first time. He waited until after his re-election the following year before pushing forward the various civil and agrarian reforms that his brother championed in 133 BC.

Aix-en-Provence founded under the name of Aquae Sextiae by the Roman consul Sextius Calvinus.

=== 122 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Republic ======

Marcus Fulvius Flaccus and Gaius Gracchus become tribunes and propose a number of radical reforms in Rome.

Gracchus passes a law requiring the state to provide weapons and equipment for the soldiers in the Roman army.

=== 121 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Roman Republic ======

The Roman Senate passes the motion senatus consultum ultimum, which the consul Lucius Opimius interprets as giving him unlimited power to preserve the Republic. He gathers an armed force of Senators and their supporters to confront Gaius Gracchus. A pitched battle is fought inside Rome, resulting in the death of Gracchus and many of his followers.

A tribunal is established in Rome that executes 3,000 followers of Gracchus.

Consul Quintus Fabius Maximus, allied with the Aedui, defeated the Arverni and Allobroges in Transalpine Gaul, thus establishing the province for Rome.

The finest vintage of Falernian wine, known as the Opimian vintage, was bottled from vines grown on Mt Falernus between Latium and Campania.

====== Asia ======

Led by General Huo Qubing, the Chinese defeat the Xiongnu,killing more than 40000 Xiongnu soldiers,including seven xiongnu princes.

=== 120 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Europe ======

The Teutons and the Cimbri migrate south and west to the Danube valley where they encounter the expanding Roman Republic (approximate date).


Auctorati were free-men of Ancient Rome who hired themselves out as gladiators. Auctorati were referred to by their proper names, which differentiated them from slaves, who were referred to by single word stage names.According to one source, the earliest evidence of the use of auctorati dates from 122 BC (law of Gaius Gracchus).

Champion of the Common Man

The epithet Champion of the Common Man has been applied to several people, including some women:



Carl I. Hagen


Gaius Gracchus

Tiberius Gracchus

Robin Hood

John Wilkes

Thomas Jefferson

Andrew Jackson


Abraham Lincoln

William Jennings Bryan

Pierre Poujade

Eugene Debs

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Adolf Hitler

Huey Long

Clement Attlee

Dai Chung

Eric Alterman

Gary Cole

Marin Lewis

Colonia Junonia

Colonia Junonia (sometimes Iunonia) refers to an Ancient Roman colony established in 122 BC under the direction of Gaius Gracchus.

Cornelia Africana

Cornelia Africana (c. 195 – c. 115 BC) was the second daughter of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, the hero of the Second Punic War, and Aemilia Paulla. She is remembered as a prototypical example of a virtuous Roman woman.

Gaius Fannius

Gaius Fannius Strabo (fl. 2nd century BC) was a Roman republican politician who was elected consul in 122 BC, and was one of the principal opponents of Gaius Gracchus. He was a member of the Scipionic Circle.

Gaius Papirius Carbo (consul 120 BC)

Gaius Papirius Carbo was an Ancient Roman statesman and orator.


The Gracchi brothers, Tiberius and Gaius, were Romans who both served as tribunes in the late 2nd century BC. They attempted to pass land reform legislation that would redistribute the major aristocratic landholdings among the urban poor and veterans, in addition to other reform measures. After achieving some early success, both were assassinated by enemies of these reforms.

Haec ornamenta mea

Haec ornamenta mea is a Latin phrase meaning "These are my jewels" or "These are my ornaments". The expression is attributed to Cornelia Africana (c. 190 – c. 100 BC) by Valerius Maximus in his Factorum ac dictorum memorabilium libri IX, IV, 4, incipit, where he related an anecdote demonstrating Cornelia's devotion to and admiration for two of her sons, the Gracchi brothers (Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus). When women friends questioned Cornelia about her mode of dress and personal adornment, which was far more simple and understated than was usual for a wealthy Roman woman of her rank and station, Cornelia indicated her two sons and said this famous locution.The original text differs slightly, since in reality Valerius Maximus wrote: haec ... ornamenta sunt mea.The phrase is used by some writer to dedicate a book to his dearest relatives.

Iulla Antonia

Iulla Antonia or Julia Antonia, is thought to be a daughter of Roman consul of 10 BCE Iullus Antonius and Claudia Marcella Major. Her brother was Lucius Antonius. Possible maternal half-siblings include Vipsania Marcella, Appuleia Varilla, and Lucius Antonius. The only evidence of her existence is a funerary urn.Iulla’s maternal grandparents were Octavia Minor (second elder sister,and full sister to Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus) and her first husband, the Roman consul Gaius Claudius Marcellus Minor. Her paternal grandparents were Fulvia and the Roman Triumvir Mark Antony. Through her paternal grandmother, she was a descendant of the Roman politician Gaius Gracchus and the Roman General Scipio Africanus Major who defeated Hannibal.

Iulla was born in Rome, after 19 BC and was raised there. In 2 BC, her father was executed by her great-uncle, because he had an affair with Augustus’ daughter Julia the Elder.

Lex Acilia repetundarum

The Lex Acilia Repetundarum was a law established in ancient Rome in 123 B.C.It provides for members of the equestrian order (Latin equites) as jurors in courts overseeing the senatorial class to prevent corruption abroad. Equites who gained tax contracts or presided over courts could not, unlike senators, be prosecuted for extortion. The law was extremely unpopular in the Senate since it subjected the senatorial class to the inferior equestrian. It was believed to be part of Gaius Gracchus' measures, even though it did not carry his name, suggesting that Gaius carried his chief judicial act in another tribune's name. Cicero implies in his first Verrine Oration that the measure was the work of the father of Manius Acilius Glabrio, the praetor in charge of the extortion courts in 70 B.C.

Lucius Opimius

Lucius Opimius was Roman consul in 121 BC, known for ordering the execution of 3,000 supporters of popular leader Gaius Gracchus without trial, using as pretext the state of emergency declared after Gracchus's recent and turbulent death.

He is first mentioned for crushing the revolt of the town of Fregellae in 125 BC. He was elected consul in 121 BC with Quintus Fabius Maximus Allobrogicus, and while Fabius was campaigning in Gaul, he took part in perhaps the most decisive event of Roman history to that point.

When Gaius Gracchus and M. Fulvius Flaccus were defeated for re-election by Opimius and Fabius, Gracchus organized a mass protest on the Aventine Hill. Alarmed by this action, the Senate passed the motion senatus consultum ultimum, which Opimius understood as an order to suppress their activities by any means necessary—including force. He gathered an armed force of Senators and their supporters, and confronted Gracchus and his followers, an act which quickly became a pitched battle inside the city of Rome. Gracchus, Flaccus, and many of their followers were slain in this conflict, and after clearing the streets of his opponents, Opimius established a quaestio or tribunal that condemned to death 3000 people accused of being supporters of Gracchus.

Opimius was prosecuted for these violent actions in 120 BC, but Carbo won his acquittal. Opimius' victory established the senatus consultum ultimum in Roman constitutional practice, providing a limitless tool that the various Roman factions used against each other in the following years as the Republic slipped increasingly into violence and civil war.

In 116 BC, Opimius headed a commission that divided Numidia between Jugurtha and his brother Adherbal. Suspecting that the commission had been influenced by bribes from Jugurtha, its members were later investigated by a tribunal that censured their conduct. Humiliated, Opimius went into exile in Dyrrhachium, where he later died.

Marcus Fulvius Flaccus (consul 125 BC)

Marcus Fulvius Flaccus was a Roman senator and an ally of the Gracchi. He became an administrator of the agrarian reform in 130 BC, and as a solution to the problem of land division among the allied cities, proposed Roman citizenship for the allies' citizens, thus introducing a question that vexed Roman politics for many years. Elected consul in 125 BC, he was ordered by the Roman Senate to assist Massilia (modern Marseille) against depredations of the Salluvii. He became the first to overcome the transalpine Ligurians in war and returned in 123 BC with a triumph.

Flaccus was appointed to the Agrarian Commission in 129 BC. In 122 BC he became a tribune to assist Gaius Gracchus in implementing an amended version of his policy of citizenship for Italians, making him the only ex-consul to hold the position of tribune.He founded a Roman colony, Colonia Junonia, on the ruins of Carthage. When he and Gracchus failed to win re-election in 121 BC, Flaccus led a mass protest on the Aventine Hill, but the consul Lucius Opimius suppressed it brutally, killing Flaccus, among many others, and resulting in the suicide of Gracchus.

Plutarch describes him as a born agitator. Cicero describes Flaccus as an orator of moderate gifts and comments that his writings reveal him as a student of letters rather than an orator.Flaccus had at least two sons: the elder son, possibly named Marcus Fulvius Flaccus after him due to Roman naming conventions, was executed along with the senior Flaccus after being discovered hiding in an abandoned bath or workshop; the younger son Quintus Fulvius Flaccus, who served only as a herald for his father and Gracchus, was also executed, with Lucius Opimius allowing the young boy to choose his own manner of death.

Pons Sublicius

The Pons Sublicius is the earliest known bridge of ancient Rome, spanning the Tiber River near the Forum Boarium ("cattle forum") downstream from the Tiber Island, near the foot of the Aventine Hill. According to tradition, its construction was ordered by Ancus Marcius around 642 BC, but this date is approximate because there is no ancient record of its construction. Marcius wished to connect the newly fortified Janiculum Hill on the Etruscan side to the rest of Rome, augmenting the ferry that was there. The bridge was part of public works projects that included building a port at Ostia, at the time the location of worked salt deposits.

Publius Popillius Laenas

See also Popilius (disambiguation)Publius Popillius Laenas was consul in 132 BC, and builder of the Via Popilia.

When consul he incurred the hatred of the populares by his harsh measures as head of a special commission appointed to take measures against the accomplices of Tiberius Gracchus. In 123 BC Gaius Gracchus brought in a bill prohibiting all such commissions, and declared that, in accordance with the old laws of appeal, a magistrate who pronounced sentence of death against a Roman citizen, without the people's assent, should be guilty of high treason. It is not known whether the bill contained a retrospective clause against Laenas, but he left Rome and sentence of banishment from Italy was pronounced against him. After the restoration of the aristocracy the enactments against him were cancelled, and he was recalled.The name of the town of Forlimpopoli is probably related to Publius Popillius Laenas who might have founded it during his time as consul.


A quaestor (UK: , US: , Latin for investigator) was a public official in Ancient Rome. The position served different functions depending on the period. In the Roman Kingdom, quaestores parricidii (quaestors with judicial powers) were appointed by the king to investigate and handle murders. In the Roman Republic, quaestors (Lat. quaestores) were elected officials who supervised the state treasury and conducted audits. It was the lowest ranking position in the cursus honorum (course of offices). However, this means that in the political environment of Rome, it was quite common for many aspiring politicians to take the position of quaestor as an early rung on the political ladder. In the Roman Empire, the position, which was initially replaced by the praefectus (prefect), reemerged during the late empire as quaestor intra Palatium, a position appointed by the emperor to lead the imperial council and respond to petitioners.

Senatus consultum ultimum

Senatus consultum ultimum ("final decree of the Senate" or Final Act, often abbreviated SCU), more properly senatus consultum de re publica defendenda ("decree of the Senate about defending the Republic") is the modern term (based on Caesar's wording at Bell. Civ. 1.5) given to a decree of the Roman Senate during the late Roman Republic passed in times of emergency. The form was usually consules darent operam ne quid detrimenti res publica caperet or videant consules ne quid res publica detrimenti capiat ("let the consuls see to it that the state suffer no harm"). It was first officially decreed prior to the fall of Gaius Gracchus in 121 BC, and subsequently at several other points, including during Lepidus' march on Rome in 77 BC, the Conspiracy of Catiline in 63 BC, and before Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC. The senatus consultum ultimum effectively replaced the disused dictatorship, by removing limitations on the magistrates' powers to preserve the state. After the rise of the Principate, there was little need for the Senate to issue the decree again.

The Watchman (periodical)

The Watchman was a short-lived periodical established and edited by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1796. The first number was promised for 5 February 1796 but actually appeared on 1 March. Published by Coleridge himself, it was printed at Bristol by Nathaniel Biggs, and appeared every eight days to avoid tax. Publication ceased with the tenth number (published 13 May 1796). The publication contained essays, poems, news stories, reports on Parliamentary debates, and book reviews.The volumes all contain explicitly political material such as the ‘Introductory Essay’, (a history of ‘the diffusion of truth’); the ‘Essay on Fasts’, (attacking the alliance of church and state power); two anti-Godwinian items, ‘Modern Patriotism’ and ‘To Gaius Gracchus’; ‘To the Editor of the Watchman’ (reporting the trials of friends of freedom John Gale Jones and John Binns); and an extract from Coleridge’s lecture ‘On the Slave Trade’.

Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (consul 238 BC)

Tiberius Sempronius Ti.f. Gracchus (fl. 237 BC; d. by 215 BC), a Roman Republican consul in the year 238 BC, was the first man from his branch (stirps) of the family (the gens Sempronia) to become consul; several other plebeian Sempronii had already reached the consulship and even the censorship. He is best known as the father of the similarly named consul of 215 and 213 BC, and the grandfather of Tiberius Gracchus Major, and the great-grandfather of the Brothers Gracchi (Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus).

Tiberius Gracchus had a relatively undistinguished consulship, with an indecisive campaign in Sardinia (Livy), after which he apparently vowed to dedicate a temple, not completed in his lifetime. That temple was completed and dedicated by his elder son, Tiberius, the consul of 215 BC and 213 BC.

His co-consul, the patrician consul, was Publius Valerius Q. f. Falto.

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