The Tribune Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus

Introduction

Tiberius Gracchus is one of the renowned leaders in Rome as he was deemed to be advocating for the interests of the poor members of the society. Although he was born in a noble family, during his political reign, he adopted policies that were aimed at improving the welfare of the members of the low social class. For instance, he proposed a land reforms law, which dictated that no one should possess more than 500 jugera of land. As a result, the Senators claimed that he was inciting the people to pass illegal resolutions. Unfortunately, he was killed after violence broke out in a meeting where he was addressing the people. One of the political impacts of his death is that it would lead to a case whereby the lawmakers enacted policies that would safeguard the interests of the rich people while exploiting the poor ones.

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Economic Background

Gracchus hailed from a wealthy family since his father was one of the renowned officials in the Rome government. Besides, he served in various leadership positions, which depicts that the societal members had a lot of confidence in his leadership. For instance, he held the office of the censor and was also given the position of being a consul twice (Plutarch 145). However, his personal character is the major factor that made him become a prominent person in the society. Such a claim denotes that he exercised not only due diligence while executing his duties but also made sure that justice was upheld at all times as a measure of upholding the welfare of the community members. As a result, he would not be involved in corrupt dealings that would have made the government to lose a lot of resources, which would have been used to cater for the interests of the community members. Besides, corrupt officials make the people to lose trust and confidence in their leaders, thus, leading to far-reaching effects like the emergence of a civilian revolution. Plutarch also denotes that Gracchus was born in a royal family by citing that Claudius, the leader of the Senate, gave him his daughter – Claudia – to be married to him, Gracchus. However, according to Plutarch, Gracchus “owed this distinction to his personal merits than his noble birth” (Plutarch 153).

Political Background

As aforementioned, Gracchus held various positions in the government, which enhanced him to influence a lot of the society members with ease. Nevertheless, as aforementioned, good character traits is the main factor that endeared him to most society members. For example, he spoke to the people using a decorous and conciliatory tone, which enhanced him to appeal to “men’s sense of pity” with ease (Plutarch 149). Besides, he exercised extreme care while selecting the words he used while communicating with people, which implies that there was a low probability that he would end up hurting them. After he was elected as a tribune, Gracchus initiated various reforms that were aimed at benefitting the society members, more so the ones in the lower social class. For instance, he came up with a law that made it illegal for one to possess more than 500 jugera of land (Plutarch 161). The main objective of this regulation was to protect the poor members of the society from being exploited by the rich ones. Initially, whenever the Romans extended their territory by defeating their neighbors in wars, a proportion of the new land would be sold through action while a section of it would be offered to the poor members of the society. However, the rich people in the society started to discriminate the poor ones by lending their land to the people who would pay the highest bid, thus, prompting Gracchus to formulate a law that regulated the amount of land one could possess. Additionally, he led Rome in signing peaceful negotiations with its neighbors, which played a key role in minimizing the amount of conflicts among them. For example, when Mancinus proposed a truce between Rome and the Numanites, he sent envoys who were to negotiate the terms of a peaceful agreement. However, the Numanaites claimed that they would only trust Gracchus (Plutarch 155). According to Plutarch, the Numanites’ preference for Gracchus was not only based on is leadership qualities but also on the fact that his father had signed peaceful pacts with them in the past and had made sure that Rome did not violate the agreed terms of the contract.

Political Impact

The various measures proposed by Gracchus were deemed to be adversely affecting the rich members of the society, thus, they plotted for his downfall. First, it was alleged that he had committed “an act of contempt against the person of his fellow-tribune, which by law was sacred and inviolable” after he deposed Octavius, who was advocating for the interests of the wealthy people by opposing the proposed land reforms (Plutarch 185). Besides, he was deemed to be a tyrant as he influenced the people to pass illegal resolutions that led to divisions among the people. Therefore, the Senate designed a scheme to kill him as a strategy of protecting the state. Ultimately, Gracchus was killed after violence broke out as he was addressing the people. As he raised his hand to his head as a way of making the people aware that he was facing an imminent danger, his enemies reported to the Senate that he was asking for the crown, which led to the outbreak of violence. Gracchus death would lead to various repercussions on the political platform; one of them being loss of confidence among Rome’s neighbors on the nation’s willingness to uphold its promises. As aforementioned, the Numanites had claimed that Gracchus is the only individual they could trust in Rome. The other effect of his death is that it would lead to a scenario whereby the lawmakers would design regulations that were aimed at safeguarding their interests instead of guaranteeing the welfare of all people. The Senators had noted that Gracchus was inciting the society members to adopt illegal policies, which implies that they deemed the proposed rules to be unfavorable. One of the reasons behind this argument is the fact that the laws were geared towards bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, thus, enhancing equality among the society members. Unfortunately, the regulations did not favor the rich people as it put limits on the overall amount of land an individual was to possess.

Conclusion

Gracchus is one of the leaders who initiated notable reforms in Rome. As illustrated above, he hailed from a noble family since his father was a renowned government official. During his political reign, he proposed various measures, which were aimed at safeguarding the interests of the poor members of the community. For instance, he came up with laws that limited the amount of land one could own. One of the key effects of his death is that the lawmakers, such as Senators, would be in a position to make laws that favored the members of the upper class of the society while exploiting the poor ones.

 

Work Cited

Plutarch, Scott-Kilvert, & Ian. Makers Of Rome, Nine Lives Coriolanus, Fabius Maximus, Macellus, Cato the Elder, Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Sertorius, Brutus, Mark Antony. Penguin Classics, 1965.

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