The overthrow of the Tarquins in 509 BC placed Romans into conflict of poor vs. rich. Gracchus wanted poor to get land from rich.
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (535 – 495 BC) was the legendary seventh and final King of Rome, reigning from 535 BC until the popular uprising in 509 BC that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. He is commonly known as Tarquin the Proud, from his cognomen Superbus, a Latin word meaning "proud, arrogant, lofty." The Tarquins were of Etruscan origin. According to Roman tradition, Tarquinius Superbus gained the kingship by ordering the assassination of his much-admired predecessor, Servius Tullius.
Tarquin's father, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, was the fifth King of Rome, reigning 616-579 BC. His grandfather was said to be Demaratus of Corinth, an immigrant from the Greek city of Corinth. Priscus himself originated in the Etruscan city of Tarquinia. Disgruntled with his opportunities there, Priscus migrated to Rome with his wife Tanaquil, at her suggestion. On their arrival, Tanaquil interpreted an omen as predicting Priscus' future as King of Rome. Superbus was not the immediate successor of his father Priscus, since Servius Tullius took the throne on Priscus' death.
Ancient accounts of the Regal period mingle history and legend. The reign of Tarquin is typically described as a tyranny that justified the abolition of the monarchy. His kingship ended in 509 BC, after his son Sextus Tarquinius raped Lucretia, a married noblewoman known as an exemplar of virtue. This outrage inspired an uprising led by the aristocrat Lucius Junius Brutus, which resulted in the expulsion of Tarquin and his family from Rome.
Tarquin was the son or grandson of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome, and Tanaquil. Tanaquil had engineered her husband's succession to the Roman kingdom on the death of Ancus Marcius, and when the sons of Marcius arranged Tarquin's assassination in 579 BC, Tanaquil placed Servius Tullius on the throne, in preference to her own sons. According to an Etruscan tradition, the hero Macstarna, usually equated with Servius Tullius, defeated and killed a Roman named Gnaeus Tarquinius, and rescued the brothers Caelius and Aulus Vibenna. This may recollect an otherwise forgotten attempt by the sons of Tarquin the elder to reclaim the throne. To forestall further dynastic strife, Tullius married his daughters, known to history as Tullia Major and Tullia Minor, to Lucius and Arruns Tarquinius. A sister, Tarquinia, married Marcus Junius Brutus, and was the mother of Lucius Junius Brutus.
The elder Tullia was of mild disposition, yet married the ambitious Lucius Tarquinius. Her younger sister was of fiercer temperament, but her husband Arruns was not, and she came to despise him, and conspired with his brother to bring about the deaths of the elder sister and younger brother. After the murder of their siblings, Lucius and Tullia were married. Together, they had three sons: Titus, Arruns, and Sextus.
Tullia continued to encourage Tarquin to increase his own position. In time, she convinced him to attempt to usurp the throne. Tarquin began to solicit the support of the patrician senators, especially those families who had been given senatorial rank by his father. He bestowed presents upon them, and to them he criticised the king Servius Tullius.
In time, Tarquin felt ready to seize the throne. He went to the Senate-house with a group of armed men, sat himself on the throne, and summoned the senators to attend upon King Tarquin. He then spoke to the senators, criticising Servius: for being a slave born of a slave; for failing to be elected by the Senate and the people during an interregnum, as had been the tradition for the election of kings of Rome; for being gifted the throne by a woman; for favouring the lower classes of Rome over the wealthy and for taking the land of the upper classes for distribution to the poor; and for instituting the census so that the wealth of the upper classes might be exposed in order to excite popular envy.
Immediately afterward, Servius Tullius was murdered in the streets of Rome by a group of men sent by Tarquin, possibly on the advice of Tullia. Tullia then drove in her chariot to the senate house, where she hailed her husband as king. He ordered her to return home, away from the tumult. She drove along the Cyprian street, where the king had been murdered, and turned towards the Orbian Hill, in the direction of the Esquiline Hill. There she encountered her father's body and, on a street later to become known as wicked street because of her actions, she drove her chariot over her father's body. Livy also says that she took a part of her father's body, and his blood, and returned with it to her own and her husband's household gods, and that by the end of her journey she was, herself, covered in the blood.
Tarquin commenced his reign by refusing burial to his predecessor Servius, thereby earning for himself the name "Superbus" ('proud'), and then putting to death a number of the leading senators, whom he suspected of remaining loyal to Servius. By not replacing the slain senators, and not consulting the Senate on all matters of government, he diminished both the size and also the authority of the Senate. In another break with tradition, he also judged capital criminal cases without the advice of counsellors, thereby creating fear amongst those who might think to oppose him.
Early in his reign Tarquin called a meeting of the Latin leaders to discuss the bonds between Rome and the Latin towns. The meeting was held at a grove sacred to the goddess Ferentina. At the meeting Turnus inveighed against the arrogance of Tarquinius, and warned his countrymen against putting trust in him. Tarquinius then secretly bribed Turnus' servant to store a large number of swords in Turnus' lodging. Tarquin called together the Latin leaders, and accused Turnus of plotting a coup. The Latin leaders accompanied Tarquin to Turnus' lodging and, the swords then being discovered, Turnus' guilt was then speedily inferred, and he was condemned and was thrown into a pool of water in the grove, and a wooden frame ("cratis") placed over his head, into which stones were thrown, thereby drowning him. The meeting of the Latin chiefs then continued, and Tarquin persuaded them to renew their treaty with Rome and become her allies rather than her enemies, and it was agreed that the troops of the Latins would attend at the grove on an appointed day to form a united military force with the troops of Rome. This was done, and Tarquin formed combined units of Roman and Latin troops.
Tarquin next began a war against the Volsci. He took the wealthy town of Suessa Pometia, with the spoils of which he commenced the erection of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus which his father had vowed. He also celebrated a triumph for his victory. He was next engaged in a war with Gabii, one of the Latin cities, which had rejected the Latin treaty with Rome. Unable to take the city by force of arms, Tarquin had recourse to a clever stratagem. His son, Sextus, pretending to be ill-treated by his father, and covered with the bloody marks of stripes, fled to Gabii. The infatuated inhabitants entrusted him with the command of their troops, and when he had obtained the unlimited confidence of the citizens, he sent a messenger to his father to inquire how he should deliver the city into his hands. The king, who was walking in his garden when the messenger arrived, made no reply, but kept striking off the heads of the tallest poppies with his stick. Sextus took the hint. He put to death or banished, on false charges, all the leading men of the place, and then had no difficulty in compelling it to submit to his father.
Tarquin married his daughter to Octavius Mamilius, one of the leading men of Tusculum, and argued by some to be the most eminent of the Latin chiefs. This alliance secured Tarquin powerful assistance in the field.
Tarquin also agreed a peace with the Aequi, and renewed the treaty of peace between Rome and the Etruscans. According to the Fasti Triumphales, Tarquin also won a victory over the Sabines.
Tarquin completed the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill which had been vowed and possibly begun by his father. This involved the leveling of the top of the Tarpeian Rock that overlooked the Forum and the removal of a number of its ancient Sabine shrines. He also ordered underground works carried out on the cloaca maxima, and the erection of benches at the circus maximus.
He established Roman colonies at the towns of Signia and Circeii.
According to one story, when Tarquin was approached by the Cumaean Sibyl, she offered him nine books of prophecy at an exorbitant price. Tarquin refused abruptly, and the Sibyl proceeded to burn three of the nine. She then offered him the remaining books, but at the same price. Tarquin hesitated, but refused again. The Sibyl then burned three more books and again offered Tarquin the three remaining Sibylline Books at the original price. At last Tarquin accepted. As the Sibylline Books were housed in the fortress temple of Jupiter, their legend has been associated with him.
Tarquinius next went to war with the Rutuli. According to Livy, the Rutuli were, at that time, a very wealthy nation and Tarquinius was keen to obtain the spoils which would come with victory over the Rutuli in order, in part, to assuage the anger of his subjects.
Tarquin unsuccessfully sought to take the Rutulian capital Ardea by storm, and subsequently began an extensive siege of the city.
Meanwhile, the king's son, Sextus Tarquinius sneaked away from the camp to Collatia, and raped Lucretia, a beautiful noblewoman, who consequently committed suicide. Lucretia's kinsman Lucius Junius Brutus (himself a member of the Tarquin dynasty) and Lucretia's widowed husband, Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus (grand-nephew of Tarquinus Priscus and thus also a member of the dynasty) led the revolt, along with Publius Valerius Poplicola, and Lucretia's aging father, Spurius Lucretius Tricipitinus. That uprising resulted in the exile or Regifugium, after a reign of twenty-five years, of Tarquin and his family, and the establishment of the Roman Republic, with Brutus and Collatinus as the first consuls.
It is unclear what was the outcome of the siege of Ardea, or indeed the war against the Rutuli.
Tarquin and his two eldest sons, Titus and Arruns, went into exile at Caere.
After his exile, Tarquin made a number of attempts to regain the throne. At first he sent ambassadors to the Senate to request the return of his family's personal effects which had been seized in the coup. In secret, while the Senate debated his request, the ambassadors met with and subverted a number of the leading men of Rome to the royal cause, in the Tarquinian conspiracy. The conspirators included two of Brutus' brothers-in-law, and his two sons Titus and Tiberius. The conspiracy was discovered, and the conspirators executed.
Although the Senate had initially agreed to Tarquin's request for a return of his family's effects, the decision was reconsidered and revoked after the discovery of the conspiracy, and the royal property was given over to be plundered by the Roman populace.
Tarquin next attempted to regain Rome by force of arms. He first gained the support of the cities of Veii and Tarquinii, recalling to the former their regular losses of war and land to the Roman state, and to the latter his family ties. The armies of the two cities were led by Tarquin against Rome in the Battle of Silva Arsia. The king commanded the Etruscan infantry. Although the result initially appeared uncertain, the Romans were victorious. Both Brutus (the consul) and Arruns (the king's son) were killed in battle.
Another attempt by Tarquin relied on military support from Lars Porsenna, king of Clusium. The war led to the siege of Rome, and finally a peace treaty. However, Tarquin failed to achieve his aim of regaining the throne.
Tarquinius and his family left Clusium, and instead sought refuge in Tusculum with his son-in-law Octavius Mamilius. In about 496 BC Tarquin and his son Titus fought with Mamilius and the Latin League against Rome, but lost, at the Battle of Lake Regillus at which Mamilius perished.
Subsequently, Tarquin fled to take refuge with the tyrant of Cumae, Aristodemus and Tarquin died there in 495 BC.
According to Livy, Tarquin cut off the heads of the tallest poppies in his garden as an allegory to instruct his son Sextus to pacify a recently-conquered enemy city by executing its leading citizens. This is one of many stories which leads to the modern expression of "Tall Poppy Syndrome" to describe the phenomenon of tearing down individuals who rise too far above the majority. A quotation concerning Tarquin and the poppy allegory appears in Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling.
Patrick Henry refers to Tarquin in his famous speech ending, "Tarquin and Caesar each had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell and George the Third ... may profit by their example." To yells of "treason", Henry added, "If this be treason then make the most of it!"
William Shakespeare mentions Tarquin in his play Titus Andronicus and in his play "Julius Caesar".
Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (Latin: TI·SEMPRONIVS·TI·F·P·N·GRACCVS; b. abt 163 BC - 162 BC d.133 BC) was a Roman Populares politician of the 2nd century BC and brother of Gaius Gracchus. As a plebeian tribune, his reforms of agrarian legislation sought to transfer wealth from the wealthy, patricians and otherwise, to the poor and caused political turmoil in the Republic.
These reforms threatened the holdings of rich landowners in Italy. He was murdered, along with many of his supporters, by members of the Roman Senate and supporters of the conservative Optimate faction.
Tiberius was born between 168 and 163 BC (his birthdate cannot be confirmed); he was the son of Tiberius Gracchus the Elder and Cornelia Africana.
His family, the Gracchi branch of the gens Sempronia, was one of the most politically connected in Rome. Tiberius' maternal grandparents were Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus and Aemilia Paulla, Lucius Aemilius Paulus Macedonicus' sister, and his own sister Sempronia was the wife of Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, another important general. Tiberius was raised by his mother, with his sister and his brother Gaius Gracchus. Later he married Claudia Pulchra, daughter of Appius Claudius Pulcher.
Tiberius's military career started in the Third Punic War, as military tribune appointed to the staff of his brother in law, Scipio Aemilianus. During his tenure as military tribune under Aemilianus, Tiberius became known for his bravery and discipline, recorded as the first to scale the enemy walls. In 137 BC he was appointed quaestor to consul Gaius Hostilius Mancinus and served his term in Numantia (Hispania province). The campaign was part of the Numantine War and was unsuccessful; Mancinus's army suffered major defeats and Mancinus himself had tried to disgracefully withdraw at night and caused his rearguard to be cut to pieces and the Roman camp looted.
It was Tiberius, as quaestor, who saved the army from destruction by signing a peace treaty with the Numantines, an action generally reserved for a Legate. In the negotiations, Tiberius recalled the exploits of his father Tiberius, who had also waged war in Spain but had struck a peace agreement with the Numantines. The Numantines so respected Tiberius that when they learned he had lost his ledgers when they had despoiled the Roman camp, they invited him back to their city, offering him a banquet and allowing Tiberius to take back not only his ledgers but anything else he wanted from the spoils. Tiberius, however, refused to take anything else save some incense used for sacrificial rituals.
Tiberius' actions stirred up a frenzy in Rome; his opponents argued that Tiberius' negotiation made Rome appear weak and the losers of the war, while his proponents maintained that it was the general Mancinus who was several times defeated and had tried to ignobly retreat and it was Tiberius' actions that saved the lives of many citizen-soldiers.
The people voted to have Mancinus sent back to the Numantines in chains, a proposition Mancinus himself accepted, though later the Numantines refused to accept him as a prisoner. Scipio Aemilianus played a significant role in supporting Tiberius and his officers, but failed to prevent further punishment meted out to Mancinus nor did he support the ratification of Tiberius' treaty. Despite this, Plutarch mentions that this caused little friction between the two men, and even posits that Tiberius would have never fallen victim to assassination had Scipio not been away campaigning against the very same Numantines given the amount of political clout that Scipio wielded in Rome.
Rome's internal political situation was not peaceful. In the last hundred years, there had been several wars. Since legionaries were required to serve in a complete campaign, no matter how long it was, soldiers often left their farms in the hands of wives and children. Small farms in this situation often went bankrupt and were bought up by the wealthy upper class, forming huge private estates.
Furthermore, some lands ended up being taken by the state in war, both in Italy and elsewhere. After the war was over, much of this conquered land would then be sold to or rented to various members of the populace. Much of this land was given to only a few farmers who then had large amounts of land that were more profitable than the smaller farms. The farmers with large farms had their land worked by slaves and did not do the work themselves, unlike landowners with smaller farms.
According to Plutarch, "when Tiberius on his way to Numantia passed through Etruria and found the country almost depopulated and its husbandmen and shepherds imported barbarian slaves, he first conceived the policy which was to be the source of countless ills to himself and to his brother."
When the soldiers returned from the legions, they had nowhere to go, so they went to Rome to join the mob of thousands of unemployed who roamed the city. As only men who owned property were allowed to enroll in the army, the number of men eligible for army duty was therefore shrinking; and hence the military power of Rome. Plutarch noted, "Then the poor, who had been ejected from their land, no longer showed themselves eager for military service, and neglected the bringing up of children, so that soon all Italy was conscious of a dearth of freemen, and was filled with gangs of foreign slaves, by whose aid the rich cultivated their estates, from which they had driven away the free citizens."
In 133 BC Tiberius was elected tribune of the people. Soon he started to legislate on the matter of the homeless legionaries. Speaking before a crowd at the Rostra, Tiberius said, "The wild beasts that roam over Italy have their dens, each has a place of repose and refuge. But the men who fight and die for Italy enjoy nothing but the air and light; without house or home they wander about with their wives and children."
Seeking to improve the lot of the poor, Tiberius Gracchus proposed a law known as Lex Sempronia Agraria. The law would reorganize control of the ager publicus, or public land; meaning land conquered in previous wars that was controlled by the state. Previous agrarian law specified that no citizen would be allowed to possess more than 500 jugera (that is, approximately 125 hectares) of the ager publica and any land that they occupied above this limit would be confiscated by the state. However this law was largely ignored and rich landowners continued to acquire land through fictitious tenants initially before transferring the land directly to themselves. They then began to work it with slave labour, giving rise to latifundia, alienating and impoverishing free Roman citizens.
The 500 jugera limit was a reiteration of previous land laws, such as the Licinian Laws passed in 367 BC, which had been enacted but never enforced. As it stood in Tiberius Gracchus's time, a good deal of this land was held in farms far in excess of 500 iugera by large landholders who had settled or rented the property in much earlier time periods, even several generations back. Sometimes it had been leased, rented, or resold to other holders after the initial sale or rental.
Tiberius saw that reform was needed. He met with three prominent leaders: Crassus, the Pontifex Maximus, the consul and jurist Publius Mucius Scaevola, and Appius Claudius, his father-in-law. Together, the men formulated a law which would have fined those who held more of their allotted land and require them to forfeit illegal possessions to the ager publicus, for which they would be compensated. The people simply wanted assurances of future protection, but the senatorial elites opposed the law, claiming Tiberius was seeking a redistribution of wealth, thereby shaking the foundations of the Republic and inciting social revolution. He proposed his law in 134 BC, and to mollify these landowners, they would be allowed to own their land rent free, and would be entitled to 250 jugera per son, above the legal limit. They would also be paid for the land they had to forfeit.
Furthermore, Tiberius Gracchus called for the redistribution of the re-confiscated public land to the poor and homeless in Rome, giving them plots of 30 iugera upon which to support themselves and their families, not to mention that the redistributed wealth would make them eligible for taxation and military service. Thus the law sought to solve the twin problems of increasing the number of men eligible for military service (thereby boosting Rome's military strength) and also providing for homeless war veterans.
The Senate and its conservative elements were strongly against the Sempronian agrarian reforms, with most of their hostility due to Tiberius’ highly unorthodox method of passing the reforms. Because Tiberius clearly knew the Senate wouldn’t approve his reforms, he sidestepped the Senate altogether by going straight to the Concilium Plebis (the Popular Assembly) which supported his measures. This was neither against the law or even against tradition (Mos Maiorum), but it was certainly insulting to the Senate and it alienated Senators who otherwise might have shown support.
However, any tribune could veto a proposal, preventing it from being laid before the Assembly. In an effort to stop Tiberius, the Senate persuaded Marcus Octavius, another tribune, to use his veto to prevent the submission of the bills to the Assembly. Gracchus then moved that Octavius should be immediately deposed, arguing that Octavius as a tribune acted contrary to the wishes of his constituents. Octavius, Tiberius reasoned, violated a basic tenet of the office of the tribune, which was to ensure the protection of the people from any political or economic oppression by the Senate. Octavius remained resolute. The people began to vote to depose Octavius, but he vetoed their actions as was his legal right as tribune. Tiberius, consigning himself to the worst situation, had him forcefully removed from the meeting place of the Assembly and proceeded with the vote to depose him.
These actions violated Octavius' right of sacrosanctity and worried Tiberius' supporters, and so instead of moving to depose him, Tiberius commenced to use his veto on daily ceremonial rites in which Tribunes were asked if they would allow for key public buildings, for example the markets and the temples, to be opened. In this way he effectively shut down the entire city of Rome, including all businesses, trade and production, until the Senate and the Assembly passed the laws. The Assembly, fearing for Tiberius's safety, formed a guard around Tiberius and frequently escorted him home.
Tiberius justified the expulsion of Octavius by stating that a tribune was
sacred and inviolable, because he was consecrated to the people and was a champion of the people... If, then he should change about, wrong the people, maim its power, and rob it of the privilege of voting, he has by his own acts deprived himself of his honourable office by not fulfilling the conditions on which he received it; for otherwise there would be no interference with a tribune even though he should try to demolish the Capitol or set fire to the naval arsenal. If a tribune does these things, he is a bad tribune; but if he annuls the power of the people, he is no tribune at all... And surely, if it is right for him to be made tribune by a majority of the votes of the tribes, it must be even more right for him to be deprived of his tribuneship by a unanimous vote.
According to Appian, a slightly different version of events is presented. Tiberius Gracchus only moved to have Marcus Octavius removed from office after a vote was put to the Assembly. In Appian's version, after 17 of the 35 tribes voted in favor of Tiberius, Tiberius implored Octavius to step aside lest he be deprived of his office. When Octavius refused, the 18th tribe votes in favor of Tiberius, giving him the majority and the resolution, which included both his land law and the abrogation of Octavius' office, passed. It was only after this, according to Appian, that Octavius slinked away unnoticed and was replaced as tribune by Quintus Memmius. This version effectively mitigates the accusation that Tiberius ever laid hands on an inviolate person such as Octavius, instead showing that Tiberius won his support with full legality.
Having passed his law, Tiberius was lauded as a founding hero not just of a single city or race, but as the founding hero of all the Italians, who had come to endure immense poverty and deprivation, denied of their rightful land because of their military services and having lost work because of the influx of slaves, who were loyal to no man while citizens were loyal to the state. In Appian's account, Tiberius Gracchus is seen as a popular hero, and there is not any account given regarding Tiberius' justification for deposing Octavius.
The Senate gave trivial funds to the agrarian commission that had been appointed to execute Tiberius' laws. This commission was composed entirely of members of Tiberius' family, including Appius Claudius, his father-in-law, Tiberius and his brother Gaius. This, of course, did little to soothe the bitterness between the Gracchi and the Senate, and the Senate and conservatives took every opportunity to hamper, delay and slander Tiberius. However, late in 133 BC, king Attalus III of Pergamum died and left his entire fortune (including the whole kingdom of Pergamum) to Rome. Tiberius saw his chance and immediately used his tribunician powers to allocate the fortune to fund the new law. This was a direct attack on Senatorial power, since it was the Senate which was traditionally responsible for the management of the treasury and for decisions regarding overseas affairs. The opposition of the Senate to Tiberius Gracchus' policies increased. Quintus Pompeius addressed the Senate and said that he "was a neighbour of Tiberius, and therefore knew that Eudemus of Pergamum had presented Tiberius with a royal diadem and a purple robe, believing that he was going to be king in Rome." Pompeius's fears were reflective of a growing number of senators who were afraid that Tiberius was claiming too much power for himself. They feared that Tiberius was seeking to become King of Rome, a loathed office which had been dismantled with the ousting of the Tarquins and the establishment of the Republic. Such fears tipped the Senate from hatred and paranoia into committing the first outright bloodshed in Republican politics.
Tiberius Gracchus' overruling of the tribunician veto was considered illegal, and his opponents were determined to prosecute him at the end of his one year term, since he was regarded as having violated the constitution and having used force against a tribune. In one standoff between Tiberius and Titus Annius, a renowned orator, Annius argued that if a colleague of Tiberius stood to defend him and Tiberius disapproved, he would simply in a passion physically remove the man. Tiberius realized that his actions against Octavius had won him ill repute among the Senate and even among the People.
After the death of a friend of Tiberius, rumors circulated that the man had been poisoned. Seizing the opportunity to win sympathy with the People, Tiberius dressed in mourning clothes and paraded his children in front of the Assembly, pleading for the protection of him and his kin. He sought to repair the perception of his error against Octavius by arguing that the office of the tribune, a sacrosanct position, could be acted upon if the holder violated his oath. To support this he posited that other sacrosanct office holders were seized when they violated their duties, such as Vestal Virgins or the Roman kings, done so the state would benefit from their removal. To protect himself further, Tiberius Gracchus won re-election to the tribunate in 133 BC, promising to shorten the term of military service, abolish the exclusive right of senators to act as jurors and include other social classes, and admit allies to Roman citizenship, all moves popular with the Assembly. Tiberius continued to plead with the People, lamenting that he feared for his safety and that of his family, and moved them so much that many camped outside his house to ensure his protection.
When the People assembled on the Capitol, Tiberius set out, despite many inauspicious omens. While the tribes were being assembled, a skirmish broke out on the outskirts of the crowd as Tiberius' supporters were attempting to block a group of his opponents from entering into the area to mingle about. A sympathetic senator, Fulvius Flaccus, was able to make his way to Tiberius to warn him that the Senate was seated and plotting to kill him, having armed slaves and their men since they could not convince the consul to do the deed. Tiberius' men then armed themselves with clubs and staves, prepared to meet any violence in kind. Tiberius, trying to shout above the din, gestured to his head to signal his life was in danger, but his opponents took this as a sign requesting for a crown and ran back to the Senate to report the signal.
When the Senate heard this, outrage spread among them. Tiberius' cousin, Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica, the newly-elected Pontifex Maximus, saying that Tiberius wished to make himself king, demanded that the consul take action. When he refused, Nasica girded his toga over his head, shouting "Now that the consul has betrayed the state, let every man who wishes to uphold the laws follow me!" and led the senators up towards Tiberius. In the resulting confrontation, Tiberius was beaten to death with clubs and staves made from benches which lay strewn about. His fellow tribune, Publius Satyreius, dealt the first blow to his head. More than 300 supporters, including Tiberius, were slain by stones and staves, but none by sword, and their bodies thrown into the Tiber. Such an act denied them a proper funeral. This, according to Plutarch, was the first outbreak of civil strife in Rome.
Following the massacre, many of Tiberius' supporters were sent into exile without a trial, while others were arrested and executed, including being sewn up in a bag with poisonous vipers. The Senate attempted to mollify the People by allowing the agrarian law to go into effect and a vote to replace Tiberius' place on the commission; the job fell to Publius Crassus, father-in-law of Tiberius' brother Gaius. When threatened with impeachment, Nasica was reassigned to Asia to remove him from the city. The People made no attempt to conceal their hatred of him, accosting him publicly, cursing him and calling him a tyrant. Nasica wandered, despised and outcast, until he died shortly later near Pergamum. Even Scipio Africanus the Younger, who had formerly enjoyed the love of the People, incurred their wrath when he said he disapproved of Tiberius' politics, and was thereafter frequently interrupted when giving speeches, causing him to only lash out more at them.
Later, following the murder of his brother, statues of both were placed throughout the city in prominent locations, where they were worshiped as heroes of the People, sometimes even being sacrificed to as if they were gods.
Tiberius was essentially opposed by three men: Marcus Octavius, Scipio Nasica and Scipio Aemilianus. Octavius opposed Tiberius because Tiberius would not let him veto the Lex Sempronia Agraria. This offended Octavius, who then entered into a conspiracy with Scipio Nasica and Scipio Aemilianus to assassinate Tiberius. Nasica would benefit from this because Tiberius had bought some land from a place that Nasica wanted. Because of this, Nasica lost out on 500 sesterces. Nasica would often bring this up in the senate to mock Tiberius. Aemilianus opposed Tiberius Gracchus because he saw the greatness of Rome in conquest rather than Tiberius's view of honor and honesty.
According to the historian Plutarch (in his Livesof the Gracchi), only Scipio Nasica was directly involved in leading the senators to kill Tiberius. Furthermore, the death of Tiberius Gracchus was an open attack, much closer to a riot, and may not necessarily amount to an assassination in the modern sense.
If Octavius were to benefit, the most direct benefit would come from the lands he himself owned in excess of 500 iugera. Furthermore, Tiberius (again according to the history of Plutarch) reputedly offered to pay Octavius for his own lost lands personally, and that the two were friends until the weight of the wealthy/Senate brought him as the opposition to Tiberius' law. Appian's Civil Wars however does not confirm this.
There is too great a conflict between the contemporary sources to confirm the actual nature of Tiberius' death and the personal conflicts that lead up to it, but it is highly likely that Scipio Nasica was the man who led the senators to attack Tiberius, that Octavius did oppose his law and last that Scipio Aemilianus did not agree with Tiberius' actions, even if it was not to the point that he wished Tiberius dead.
The Senate sought to placate the plebeians by consenting to the enforcement of the Gracchan laws. An increase in the register of citizens in the next decade suggests a large number of land allotments. Nonetheless, the agrarian commission found itself faced with many difficulties and obstacles.
Tiberius' heir was his younger brother Gaius, who would share Tiberius' fate, a decade later, while trying to apply even more revolutionary legislation.
Gaius Sempronius Gracchus (154 BC – 121 BC) was a Roman Popularis politician in the 2nd century BC and brother of the ill-fated 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 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 woman once courted by Ptolemy VIII, the King of Egypt. 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.
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." Certainly aspects of his reforms, and especially his judicial reforms, seem to have been directed at the people responsible for his brother's death.
The political career of Gaius Gracchus prior to 123 BC started with a seat on his brother Tiberius's land-commission upon its formation in 133 BC. He served, in 126 BC, as a quaestor in the Roman province of Sardinia. In Sardinia he advanced quickly in notoriety based on his successful merits. During his quaestorship in Sardinia, Gaius began to hone his legendary oratory skills. One particularly harsh winter caused legate][ to requisition supplies from the local towns for the Roman garrison. When they appealed and won the Senate's approval to have their supplies, Gaius personally made a tour of the towns to appeal for their aid. Fearing Gaius was making a ploy to gain popular approval, the Senate refused envoys sent by Micipsa, king of Numidia, who had sent grain to Gaius out of his personal favor for Gaius. The Senate further decreed that the garrison would be immediately replaced but that Gaius would remain with the general to ensure he stayed out of Rome. Enraged, Gaius returned to Rome to appeal. Initially he was treated with suspicion for abandoning his post, but quickly won popular support when he argued that he had served twelve years, two beyond the requirement, and had served as quaestor for two years though legally only required to serve one. Further, he argued, he used the Roman money to aid Sardinia and never heavily extolled the province to line his own pockets.
He was then accused of aiding in an Italian revolt at Fregellae, but little evidence indicted him in the matter. His support for the reforms of Gaius Papirius Carbo and Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, his evident skills at oration 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.
Gaius used his famed 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 compared how the Senate failed to emulate their ancestors' respect for the tribune, citing the Senate's 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 exiles that followed because the accused were not permitted to stand trial.
Gaius' social reforms were far wider reaching than those 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 held that if a magistrate had been deposed by the People, he would be unable to hold office a second time and the second held that the People could prosecute any magistrate who had exiled citizens without a trial. This outright attacked the measure the senate had set up, under the consul Popillius, wherein a special tribunal with powers of capital punishment had been established to try Gracchian supporters in 132 BC. Courts with capital punishment, not set up by the people, were now declared illegal by a retrospective measure which saw Popilius driven into exile. Further reforms to the judicial system were passed to check the practice of senatorial juries in the acquitting members of their own class of extortion. Control of the court dedicated to the trials of extortion, the Lex Acilia, was given to the equites and the procedure was rewritten to favor the prosecutors. Gaius passed legislation that required juries for criminal cases to be drawn from the 300 members of the Senate as well as 300 members of the equites.
Economically, Tiberius' land reforms were continued and broadened, providing for larger allotments so free labourers could be employed. Large overseas colonies were planned to provide for thousands of settlers which may have included some Italians as well as Roman citizens. The state was also required by the law, Lex Frumentaria, to buy grain supplies imported from North Africa and Sicily and to store them in bulk to allow the distributation of a monthly ration to all Roman citizens at a low price. The construction of a widespread secondary road system was enacted to facilitate communication and trade across Italy and the contract to collect taxes in Asia was auctioned off in Rome by the censors.
Gaius also made a few reforms to the military through the passing of the Lex Militaris. This law required the government to clothe and equip Roman soldiers without deductions from their pay, shortened the term of military service, and forbade the draft of boys under the age of seventeen. The intent of these reforms was to improve army morale and to win the political support of soldiers, allies, and voters with small incomes.
Politically Gaius' most farsighted proposal was the 'franchise bill', a measure which would have seen the distribution of Roman citizenship to all Latin citizens and the extension of Latin citizenship to all Italian allies. This proposal was rejected because the Roman plebeians had no wish to share the benefits of citizenship, including cheap grain and entertainment. The rejection of this measure led, in part, to the disastrous Social War of 90 BC.
In a further slight to the power of the Senate, Gaius changed physically how speeches were delivered. 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. Gaius amassed a monumental amount of political power. In each of his reforms, he personally oversaw each new institution, selected the 300 equestrian men to serve on the juries and acted as director for each new project with such skill that even his opponents were stunned at his efficiency. Gaius did not campaign for political office the following year, but instead threw his support behind Gaius Fannius for the consulship. Gaius' favor for Fannius won Fannius the consulship and Gaius was elected to be tribune in 122 BC despite having neither been a candidate nor having campaigned for the office, winning it on the sheer will of the People.
Seeing how wildly popular Gaius was with the People, the Senate decided to fight fire with fire and endeavored to win the People's favor and thereby pull Gracchan supporters to the side of the Senate. A fellow tribune of Gaius, Livius Drusus, was backed by the Senate as an alternate voice to Gaius'. He was under strict orders to not incite violence but rather to use his position to propose legislation pleasing to the People under the auspices of the Senate. Drusus proceeded to draft legislation that was neither credible nor beneficial to the People but was intended merely to undermine Gaius. When Gaius proposed two colonies to 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. 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 to 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. 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.
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 a known agitator to the Senate and was suspected by some for stirring up the Italian allies to revolt. 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. When Scipio died suddenly and mysteriously, both Fulvius and Gaius were implicated in his death. Fulvius had just that day delivered a fiery speech against Scipio and was widely known to be Scipio's enemy,and Gaius was therefore suspected of complicity because of his relationship with Fulvius. Other members of the Gracchi family were also accused; Scipio had been in a loveless marriage to the deformed and barren Sempronia, sister of the Gracchi brothers and daughter of their mother Cornelia. Both women were suspected of murdering Scipio because of his perceived attempt to undo the reforms of Tiberius.
The combined political positions of Lucius Opimius, Livius Drusus and Marcus Minucius Rufus, another political enemy of Gaius, to tribune meant the repeal of as many of Gaius' measures as possible. 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 endure 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. 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 cash in on the 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. 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 the office of the tribune for the third time, because although he won the popular vote, the tribunes were so upset that they falsified the ballots. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
The following morning, Fulvius' men armed themselves with spoils from Fulvius' Gaulish 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.
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 pled 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. 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. 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.
Gaius fled the temple and tried to cross the Tiber on a wooden bridge while Pomponius and Licinius would stay back and 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 the Furies, 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.
Gaius' head was cut off, as Opimius had announced that whomever 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 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."
Plutarch maintains that Opimius was the first Roman to appoint himself dictator, kill 3,000 Roman citizens without trial, including the proconsul Fulvius Flaccus who celebrated a triumph 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 their democratic cause was now dead, understood how deeply they missed the Gracchus brothers. Statues were erected in Rome, where they fell was 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. 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.
At the Internet Classics Archive, MIT:
Servius Tullius was the legendary sixth king of ancient Rome, and the second of its Etruscan dynasty. He reigned 578–535 BC. Roman and Greek sources describe his servile origins and later marriage to a daughter of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, Rome's first Etruscan king, who was assassinated in 579 BC. Servius was variously said to have been the first Roman king to accede without election by the Senate, having gained the throne by popular support, at the contrivance of his mother-in-law; and the first to be elected by the Senate without reference to the people.
Several traditions describe Servius' father as divine. Livy depicts Servius' mother as a captured Latin princess enslaved by the Romans; her child is chosen as Rome's future king after a ring of fire is seen around his head. The Emperor Claudius discounted such origins and described him as an originally Etruscan mercenary, named Mastarna, who fought for Caelius Vibenna
Servius was a popular king, and one of Rome's most significant benefactors. He had military successes against Veii and the Etruscans, and expanded the city to include the Quirinal, Viminal and Esquiline hills. He is credited with the institution of the Compitalia festivals, the building of temples to Fortuna and Diana, and the invention of Rome's first true coinage. Despite the opposition of Rome's patricians, he expanded the Roman franchise and improved the lot and fortune of Rome's lowest classes of citizens and non-citizens. According to Livy, he reigned for 44 years, until murdered by his treacherous daughter Tullia and son-in-law Tarquinius Superbus. In consequence of this "tragic crime" and his hubristic arrogance as king, Tarquinius was eventually removed. This cleared the way for the abolition of Rome's monarchy and the founding of the Roman Republic, whose groundwork had already been laid by Servius' reforms.
Before its establishment as a Republic, Rome was ruled by kings (Latin reges, singular rex). In Roman tradition, Rome's founder Romulus was the first. Servius Tullius was the sixth, and his successor Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud) was the last. The nature of Roman kingship is unclear; most Roman kings were elected by the senate, as to a lifetime magistracy, but some claimed succession through dynastic or divine right. Some were native Romans, others were foreign. Later Romans had a complex ideological relationship with this distant past. In Republican mores and institutions kingship was abhorrent; and remained so, in name at least, during the Empire. On the one hand, Romulus was held to have brought Rome into being more-or-less at a stroke, so complete and purely Roman in its essentials that any acceptable change or reform thereafter must be clothed as restoration. On the other, Romans of the Republic and Empire saw each king as contributing in some distinctive and novel way to the city's fabric and territories, or its social, military, religious, legal or political institutions. Servius Tullius has been described as Rome's "second founder", "the most complex and enigmatic" of all its kings, and a kind of "proto-Republican magistrate".
The oldest surviving source for the overall political developments of the Roman kingdom and Republic is Cicero's De republica ("On the State"), written in 44 BC. The main literary sources for Servius' life and achievements are the Roman historian Livy (59 BC – AD 17), whose Ab urbe condita was generally accepted by the Romans as the standard, most authoritative account; Livy's near contemporary Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and Plutarch (c. 46 – 120 AD); their own sources included works by Quintus Fabius Pictor, Diocles of Peparethus, Quintus Ennius and Cato the Elder. Livy's sources probably included at least some official state records, he excluded what seemed implausible or contradictory traditions, and arranged his material within an overarching chronology. Dionysus and Plutarch offer various alternatives not found in Livy, Livy's own pupil, the etruscologist, historian and emperor Claudius offered yet another, based on Etruscan tradition.
Most Roman sources name Servius' mother as Ocrisia, a young noblewoman taken at the Roman siege of Corniculum and brought to Rome, either pregnant by her husband, who was killed at the siege: or as a virgin. She was given to Tanaquil, wife of king Tarquinius, and though slave, was treated with the respect due her former status. In one variant, she became wife to a noble client of Tarquinius. In others, she served the domestic rites of the royal hearth as a Vestal Virgin, and on one such occasion, having damped the hearth flames with a sacrificial offering, she was penetrated by a disembodied phallus that rose from the hearth. According to Tanaquil, this was a divine manifestation, either of the household Lar or Vulcan himself. Thus Servius was divinely fathered and already destined for greatness, despite his mother's servile status; for the time being, Tanaquil and Ocrisia kept this a secret.
Servius' birth to a slave of the royal household made him part of Tarquin's extended familia. Ancient sources infer him as protégé, rather than adopted son, as he married Tarquinius' and Tanaquil's daughter, named by some sources as Gegania. All sources agree that before his accession, either in his early childhood or later, members of the royal household witnessed a nimbus of fire about his head while he slept, a sign of divine favour, and a great portent. He proved a loyal, responsible son-in-law. When given governmental and military responsibilities, he excelled in both.
In Livy's account, Tarquinius Priscus had been elected king on the death of the previous king, Ancus Marcius, whose two sons were too young to inherit or offer themselves for election. When Servius' popularity and marriage to Tarquinius made him a likely successor to the kingship, these sons attempted to seize the throne for themselves. They hired two assassins, who attacked and severely wounded Tarquinius. Tanaquil immediately ordered the palace to be shut, and publicly announced from a palace window that Tarquinius had appointed Servius as regent; meanwhile, Tarquinius died of his wounds. When his death became public knowledge, the senate elected Servius as king, and the sons of Ancus fled to exile in Suessa Pometia. Livy describes this as the first occasion that the people of Rome were not involved in the election of the king. In Plutarch, Servius reluctantly consented to the kingship at the death-bed insistence of Tanaquil.
Early in his reign, Servius warred against Veii and the Etruscans. He is said to have shown valour in the campaign, and to have routed a great army of the enemy. His success helped him to cement his position at Rome. According to the Fasti Triumphales, Servius celebrated three triumphs over the Etruscans, including on 25 November 571 BC and 25 May 567 BC (the date of the third triumph is not legible on the Fasti).
In Livy's history, Servius Tullius had two daughters, Tullia the younger and Tullia the elder. He arranged their marriage to the two sons of his predecessor, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. The younger Tullia married Arruns Tarquinius. The elder Tullia married Lucius Tarquinius. But Tullia the younger and Lucius Tarquinius shared a fierce and ambitious temperament, and were drawn together in conspiracy. They procured the murders of their respective siblings, married, and conspired to remove Servius Tullius. Tullia encouraged Lucius Tarquinius to secretly persuade or bribe senators, and Tarquinius went to the senate-house with a group of armed men. Then he summoned the senators and gave a speech criticising Servius: for being a slave born of a slave; for failing to be elected by the Senate and the people during an interregnum, as had been the tradition for the election of kings of Rome; for being gifted the throne by a woman; for favouring the lower classes of Rome over the wealthy and for taking the land of the upper classes for distribution to the poor; and for instituting the census so that the wealth of the upper classes might be exposed to popular envy.
When Servius Tullius arrived at the senate-house to defend his position, Tarquinius threw him down the steps and Servius was murdered in the street by Tarquin's men. Soon after, Tullia drove her chariot over her father's body. For Livy, Tarquinius' impious refusal to permit his father-in-law's burial earned him the sobriquet "Superbus" (arrogant or proud), and Servius' death is a "tragic crime" (tragicum scelus), a dark episode in Rome's history and just cause for the abolition of the monarchy. Servius thus becomes the last of Rome's benevolent kings; the place of this outrage – which Livy seems to suggest as a crossroads – is known thereafter as Vicus Sceleratus (street of shame, infamy or crime). His murder is parricide, the worst of all crimes. This morally justifies Tarquin's eventual expulsion and the abolition of Rome's aberrant, "un-Roman" monarchy. Livy's Republic is partly founded on the achievements and death of Rome's last benevolent king.
Most of the reforms credited to Servius extended voting rights to certain groups — in particular to Rome's citizen-commoners (known in the Republican era as plebs), minor landholders hitherto disqualified from voting by ancestry, status or ethnicity. The same reforms simultaneously defined the fiscal and military obligations of all Roman citizens. As a whole, the so-called Servian reforms probably represent a long-drawn, complex and piecemeal process of populist policy and reform, extending from Servius' predecessors, Ancus Marcius and Tarquinius Priscus, to his successor Tarquinius Superbus, and into the Middle and Late Republic. Rome's military and territorial expansion and consequent changes in its population would have made franchise regulation and reform an ongoing necessity, and their wholesale attribution to Servius "cannot be taken at face value".
Until the Servian reforms, the passing of laws and judgment was the prerogative of the comitia curiata (curiate assembly), made up from thirty curiae; Roman sources describe ten curiae for each of three aristocratic tribes or clans, each supposedly based on one of Rome's central hills, and claiming patrician status by virtue of their descent from Rome's founding families. These tribes comprised approximately 200 gentes (clans), each of which contributed one senator ("elder") to the Senate. The senate advised the king, devised laws in his name, and was held to represent the entire (Roman people)populus Romanus; but it could only debate and discuss. Its decisions had no force unless approved by the comitia curiata. By the time of Servius, if not long before, the tribes of the comitia were a minority of the population, ruling a multitude with no effective voice in their own government. Rome's far more populous citizen-commoners could participate in this assembly in limited fashion, and perhaps offer their opinions on decisions but only the comitia curiata could vote. A minority thus exercised power and control over the majority. Roman tradition held that Servius formed a comitia centuriata of commoners to displace the comitia curiata as Rome's central legislative body. This required his development of the first Roman census, making Servius the first Roman censor. For the purposes of the census, citizens assembled by tribe in the Campus Martius to register their social rank, household, property and income. This established an individual's tax obligations, his ability to muster arms for military service when required to do so, and his assignment to a particular voting bloc.
The institution of the census and the comitia centuriata are speculated as Servius' attempt to erode the civil and military power of the Roman aristocracy, and seek the direct support of his newly enfranchised citizenry in civil matters; if necessary, under arms. The comitia curiata continued to function through the Regal and Republican eras, but the Servian reform had reduced its powers to those of a largely symbolic "upper house" whose noble members were expected to do no more than ratify decisions of the comitia centuriata.
The census grouped Rome's male citizen population in classes, according to status, wealth and age. Each class was subdivided into groups called centuriae (centuries), nominally of 100 men (Latin centum = 100) but in practice of variable number, further divided as seniores (men aged 46 – 60, of a suitable age to serve as "home guards" or city police) and iuniores (men aged 17 – 45, to serve as front-line troops when required). Adult male citizens were obliged, when called upon, to fulfill military service according to their means, which was supposedly assessed in archaic asses A citizen's wealth and class would therefore have defined their position in the civil hierarchies, and up to a point, within the military; but despite its apparent military character, and its possible origins as the mustering of the citizenry-at-arms, the system would have primarily served to determine the voting qualifications and wealth of individual citizens for taxation purposes, and the weight of their vote — wars were occasional but taxation was a constant necessity — and the comitia centuriata met whenever required to do so, in peace or war. Though each century had voting rights, the wealthiest had the most centuries, and voted first. Those beneath them were convened only in the event of deadlock or indecision; the lowest class was unlikely to vote at all.
The Roman army's centuria system and its order of battle are thought to be based on the civilian classifications established by the census. The military selection process picked men from civilian centuriae and slipped them into military ones. Their function depended on their age, experience, and the equipment they could afford. The wealthiest class of iuniores (aged 17 – 45) were armed as hoplites, heavy infantry with helmet, greaves, breastplate, shields (clipeus), and spears (hastae). Each battle line in the phalanx formation was composed of a single class. Military specialists were chosen from the 5th class. Officers were not part of the class selection process but were picked beforehand, often by vote of the civilian century.][ Cornell suggests that this centuriate system made the equites, who "consisted mainly, if not exclusively, of patricians" but voted after infantry of the first class, subordinate to the relatively low-status infantry.
The Servian reforms increased the number of tribes and expanded the city's sacred boundary (the pomerium) to include Rome's seven hills and their inhabitants. The expanded city was protected by a new rampart, moat and wall, and was divided into four administrative regiones (regions, or quarters); the Suburana, Esquilana, Collina and Palatina. Servius himself is said to have taken a new residence, on the Esquiline. The situation beyond the walls is unclear, but thereafter, membership of a Roman voting-tribe would have depended on residence rather than ancestry and inheritance. This would have brought significant numbers of urban and rural plebs into active political life; and a significant number of these would have been allocated to centuries of the first class, and therefore likely to vote. The city of Rome's division into "quarters" remained in use until 7 BC, when Augustus divided the city into regiones14 new . In modern Rome, an ancient portion of surviving wall is attributed to Servius, the remainder supposedly being rebuilt after the sack of Rome in 390/387 BC by the Gauls.][
Servius is credited with the construction of Diana's temple on the Aventine Hill, to mark the foundation of the so-called Latin League; His servile birth-mythos, his populist leanings and his reorganisation of the vici appear to justify the Roman belief that he founded or reformed the Compitalia festivals (held to celebrate the Lares that watched over each local community), or allowed for the first time their attendance and service by non-citizens and slaves. His personal reputation and achievements may have led to his historical association with temples and shrines to Fortuna; some sources suggest that the two were connected during Servius' lifetime, via some form of "sacred marriage". Plutarch explicitly identifies the Porta Fenestella ("window gate") of the Royal palace, now lost, as the window from which Tanaquil announced Servius' regency to the people; later, the goddess Fortuna was said to have later passed through the same window, to become Servius' consort.
Claims of divine ancestry and divine favour were often attached to charismatic individuals who rose "as if from nowhere" to become dynasts, tyrants and hero-founders in the ancient Mediterranean world. Yet all these legends offer the father as divine, the mother – virgin or not – as princess of a ruling house, never as slave. The disembodied phallus and its impregnation of a virgin slave of Royal birth are unique to Servius. Livy and Dionysius ignore or reject the tales of Servius' supernatural virgin birth; though his parents came from a conquered people, both are of noble stock. His ancestry is an accident of fate, and his character and virtues are entirely Roman. He acts on behalf of the Roman people, not for personal gain; these Roman virtues are likely to find favour with the gods, and win the rewards of good fortune.
The details of Servius' servile birth, miraculous conception and links with divine Fortuna were doubtless embellished after his own time, but the core may have been propagated during his reign. His unconstitutional and seemingly reluctant accession, and his direct appeal to the Roman masses over the heads of the senate may have been interpreted as signs of tyranny. Under these circumstances, an extraordinary personal charisma must have been central to his success. When Servius expanded Romes influence and boundaries, and reorganised its citizenship and armies, his "new Rome" was still centered on the Comitium, the casa Romuli of Romulus. Servius became a second Romulus, a benefactor to his people, part human, part divine; but his slave origins remain without parallel, and make him all the more remarkable: for Cornell, this is "the most important single fact about him". The story of his servile birth evidently circulated far beyond Rome; thus Mithridates sneer that Rome had made kings of servos vernasque Tuscorum (Etruscan slaves and domestic servants).
Claudius' story of Servius as an Etruscan named Macstarna was published as an incidental scholarly comment within the Oratio Claudii Caesaris of the Lugdunum Tablet. There is some support for this Etruscan version of Servius, in wall paintings at the François Tomb in Etruscan Vulci. They were commissioned some time in the second half of the 4th century BC. One panel shows heroic Etruscans putting foreign captives to the sword. The victims include an individual named Gneve Tarchunies Rumach, interpreted as a Roman named Gnaeus Tarquinius, although known Roman history records no Tarquinius of that praenomen. The victors include Aule and Caile Vipinas – known to the Romans as the Vibenna brothers – and their ally Macstrna, who seems instrumental in winning the day. Claudius was certain that Macstarna was simply another name for Servius Tullius, who started his career as an Etruscan ally of the Vibenna brothers and helped them settle Rome's Caelian Hill. Claudius' account evidently drew on sources unavailable to his fellow-historians, or rejected by them. There may have been two different, Servius-like figures, or two different traditions about the same figure. Macstarna may have been the name of a once celebrated Etruscan hero, or more speculatively, an Etruscan rendering of Roman magister (magistrate). Claudius' "Etruscan Servius" seems less a monarch than a freelance Roman magister, an "archaic condottiere" who placed himself and his own band of armed clients at Vibenna's service, and may later have seized, rather than settled Rome's Caelian Hill. If the Etruscan Macstarna was identical with the Roman Servius, the latter may have been less monarch then some kind of proto-Republican magistrate given permanent office, perhaps a magister populi, a war-leader, or in Republican parlance, a dictator.
Servius political reforms and those of his successor Tarquinius Superbus undermined the bases of aristocratic power and transferred them in part to commoners. Rome's ordinary citizens became a distinct force within Roman politics, entitled to participate in government and bear arms on its behalf, despite the opposition and resentment of Rome's patricians and senate. Tarquinius was ousted by a conspiracy of patricians, not plebeians. Once in existence, the comitia centuriata could not be unmade, or its powers reduced. The Republican senate was obliged to seek its approval. In time, the comitia centuriata acquired the capacity to elect consuls, and as Republican Rome's highest court of appeal, to overturn court decisions; eventually, it legitimized the development of a plebeian nobility and its rise to power and office, including that of consul.
Servius' connections to the Lar and his reform of the vici connect him directly to the founding of Compitalia, instituted to publicly and piously honour his divine parentage – assuming the Lar as his father – to extend his domestic rites into the broader community, to mark his maternal identification with the lower ranks of Roman society and to assert his regal sponsorship and guardianship of their rights. Some time before the Augustan Compitalia reforms of 7 BC, Dionysius of Halicarnassus reports Servius' fathering by a Lar and his founding of Compitalia as ancient Roman traditions. In Servius, Augustus found ready association with a popular benefactor and refounder of Rome, whose reluctance to adopt kingship distanced him from its taints. Augustus brought the Compitalia and its essentially plebian festivals, customs and political factions under his patronage and if need be, his censorial powers. He did not, however, trace his lineage and his re-founding to Servius – who even with part-divine ancestry still had servile connections – but with Romulus, patrician founding hero, ancestor of the divine Julius Caesar, descendant of Venus and Mars. Plutarch admires the Servian reforms for their imposition of good order in government, the military and public morality, and Servius himself as the wisest, most fortunate and best of all Rome's kings.
Roman consul accompanied by two lictors
The Roman Republic
(Latin: ) was the period of the ancient Roman civilization when the government operated as a republic.
It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 509 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and advised by a senate. A complex constitution gradually developed, centered on the principles of a separation of powers and checks and balances. Except in times of dire national emergency, public offices were limited to one year, so that, in theory at least, no single individual wielded absolute power over his fellow citizens.
Roman society was hierarchical. The evolution of the Constitution of the Roman Republic was heavily influenced by the struggle between the patricians, Rome's land-holding aristocracy, who traced their ancestry back to the early history of the Roman kingdom, and the plebeians, the far more numerous citizen-commoners. Over time, the laws that gave patricians exclusive rights to Rome's highest offices were repealed or weakened, and leading plebeian families became full members of the aristocracy. The leaders of the Republic developed a strong tradition and morality requiring public service and patronage in peace and war, making military and political success inextricably linked.
During the first two centuries of its existence the Republic expanded through a combination of conquest and alliance, from central Italy to the entire Italian peninsula. By the following century it included North Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Greece, and what is now southern France. Two centuries after that, towards the end of the 1st century BC, it included the rest of modern France, and much of the eastern Mediterranean. By this time, despite the Republic's traditional and lawful constraints against any individual's acquisition of permanent political powers, Roman politics was dominated by a small number of Roman leaders, their uneasy alliances punctuated by a series of civil wars.
The victor in one of these civil wars, Octavian, reformed the Republic as a Principate, with himself as Rome's "first citizen" (princeps). The Senate continued to sit and debate. Annual magistrates were elected as before, but final decisions on matters of policy, warfare, diplomacy and appointments were privileged to Augustus through his wielding of a number of separate powers simultaneously. One of his many titles was imperator
from which the title "emperor" is derived, and he is customarily called the first Roman Emperor.
The Republic was never restored, but neither was it ever formally abolished (the term res publica
continued to be used to refer to the state apparatus), so the exact date of the transition to the Roman Empire is a matter of interpretation. Historians have variously proposed the appointment of Julius Caesar as perpetual dictator in 44 BC, the defeat of Mark Antony at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and the Roman Senate's grant of extraordinary powers to Octavian under the first settlement and his adopting the title Augustus in 27 BC, as the defining event ending the Republic.
Many of Rome's legal and legislative structures can still be observed throughout Europe and much of the world in modern nation states and international organizations. Latin, the language of the Romans, has influenced language across parts of Europe and the world.
The Constitution of the Roman Republic was an unwritten set of guidelines and principles passed down mainly through precedent. The Roman constitution was not formal or even official. It was largely unwritten, uncodified, and constantly evolving.
The Senate's ultimate authority derived from the esteem and prestige of the Senators. This esteem and prestige was based on both precedent and custom, as well as the high calibre and prestige of the Senators. The Senate passed decrees, which were called senatus consulta
. This was officially "advice" from the Senate to a magistrate. In practice, however, these were usually obeyed by the magistrates. The focus of the Roman Senate was directed towards foreign policy. Though it technically had no official role in the management of military conflict, the Senate ultimately was the force that oversaw such affairs.
The legal status of Roman citizenship was strictly limited and was a vital prerequisite to possessing many important legal rights such as the right to trial and appeal, to marry, to vote, to hold office, to enter binding contracts, and to special tax exemptions. Not all those rights were available to every citizen - women could be citizens, but were denied the rights to vote or hold elected office.
An adult male citizen with the full complement of legal and political rights was called "optimo jure." The optimo jure elected their assemblies, whereupon the assemblies elected magistrates, enacted legislation, presided over trials in capital cases, declared war and peace, and forged or dissolved treaties. There were two types of legislative assemblies. The first was the comitia
("committees"), which were assemblies of all optimo jure. The second was the concilia
("councils"), which were assemblies of specific groups of optimo jure.
Citizens were organized on the basis of centuries and tribes. The centuries and the tribes would each gather into their own assemblies. The Comitia Centuriata ("Century Assembly") was the assembly of the centuries. The president of the Comitia Centuriata was usually a consul. The centuries would vote, one at a time, until a measure received support from a majority of the centuries. The Comitia Centuriata would elect magistrates who had imperium
powers (consuls and praetors). It also elected censors. Only the Comitia Centuriata could declare war, and ratify the results of a census. It also served as the highest court of appeal in certain judicial cases.
The assembly of the tribes, the Comitia Tributa, was presided over by a consul, and was composed of 35 tribes. The tribes were not ethnic or kinship groups, but rather geographical subdivisions. The order that the thirty-five tribes would vote in was selected randomly by lot. Once a measure received support from a majority of the tribes, the voting would end. While it did not pass many laws, the Comitia Tributa did elect quaestors, curule aediles, and military tribunes.
The Plebeian Council was an assembly of plebeians, the non-patrician citizens of Rome, who would gather into their respective tribes. They elected their own officers, plebeian tribunes and plebeian aediles. Usually a plebeian tribune would preside over the assembly. This assembly passed most laws, and could also act as a court of appeal. Since it was organised on the basis of the tribes, its rules and procedures were nearly identical to those of the Comitia Tributa.
Each magistrate was vested with a degree of maior potestas
("major power"). Each magistrate could veto any action that was taken by a magistrate of an equal or lower rank. Plebeian tribunes and plebeian aediles, on the other hand, were independent of the other magistrates.
Each republican magistrate held certain constitutional powers. Only the People of Rome (both plebeians and
patricians) had the right to confer these powers on any individual magistrate. The most powerful constitutional power was imperium
was held by both consuls and praetors. Imperium
gave a magistrate the authority to command a military force. All magistrates also had the power of coercion. This was used by magistrates to maintain public order. While in Rome, all citizens had a judgement against coercion. This protection was called provocatio
(see below). Magistrates also had both the power and the duty to look for omens. This power would often be used to obstruct political opponents.
One check on a magistrate's power was his collegiality. Each magisterial office would be held concurrently by at least two people. Another such check was provocatio
was a primordial form of due process. It was a precursor to habeas corpus
. If any magistrate tried to use the powers of the state against a citizen, that citizen could appeal the decision of the magistrate to a tribune. In addition, once a magistrate's one-year term of office expired, he would have to wait ten years before serving in that office again. This created problems for some consuls and praetors, and these magistrates would occasionally have their imperium
extended. In effect, they would retain the powers of the office (as a promagistrate), without officially holding that office.
The consuls of the Roman Republic were the highest ranking ordinary magistrates; each consul served for one year. Consuls had supreme power in both civil and military matters. While in the city of Rome, the consuls were the head of the Roman government. They would preside over the senate and the assemblies. While abroad, each consul would command an army. His authority abroad would be nearly absolute.
Praetors administered civil law and commanded provincial armies. Every five years, two censors were elected for an 18 month term. During their term in office, the two censors would conduct a census. During the census, they could enroll citizens in the senate, or purge them from the senate. Aediles were officers elected to conduct domestic affairs in Rome, such as managing public games and shows. The quaestors would usually assist the consuls in Rome, and the governors in the provinces. Their duties were often financial.
Since the tribunes were considered to be the embodiment of the plebeians, they were sacrosanct. Their sacrosanctity was enforced by a pledge, taken by the plebeians, to kill any person who harmed or interfered with a tribune during his term of office. All of the powers of the tribune derived from their sacrosanctity. One consequence was that it was considered a capital offense to harm a tribune, to disregard his veto, or to interfere with a tribune.
In times of military emergency, a dictator would be appointed for a term of six months. Constitutional government would be dissolved, and the dictator would be the absolute master of the state. When the dictator's term ended, constitutional government would be restored.
The constitutional history of the Roman Republic can be divided into five phases. The first phase began with the revolution which overthrew the monarchy in 509 BC. The final phase ended with the transition that transformed the Republic into what would effectively be the Roman Empire, in 27 BC. Throughout the history of the Republic, the constitutional evolution was driven by the conflict of the orders between the aristocracy and the ordinary citizens.
According to legend, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus was overthrown in 509 BC by a group of noblemen led by Lucius Junius Brutus. Tarquin is said to have made a number of attempts to retake the throne, including the Tarquinian conspiracy, the war with Veii and Tarquinii and finally the war between Rome and Clusium, all of which failed to achieve Tarquin's objectives.
The historical monarchy, as the legends suggest, was probably overthrown quickly, but the constitutional changes which occurred immediately after the revolution were probably not as extensive as the legends suggest. The most important constitutional change probably concerned the chief executive. Before the revolution, a king would be elected by the senators for a life term. Now, two consuls were elected by the citizens for an annual term. Each consul would check his colleague, and their limited term in office would open them up to prosecution if they abused the powers of their office. Consular political powers, when exercised conjointly with a consular colleague, were no different from those of the old king. In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, the senate and the assemblies were as powerless as they had been under the monarchy.
In 494 BC, the city was at war with two neighbouring tribes. The plebeian soldiers refused to march against the enemy, and instead seceded to the Aventine Hill. The plebeians demanded the right to elect their own officials. The patricians agreed, and the plebeians returned to the battlefield. The plebeians called these new officials "plebeian tribunes". The tribunes would have two assistants, called "plebeian aediles". From 375 BC to 371 BC, the republic experienced a constitutional crisis during which the Tribunes of the People used their vetoes to prevent the election of senior magistrates. In 367 BC a law was passed, which required the election of at least one plebeian aedile each year. In 443 BC, the censorship was created, and in 366 BC, the praetorship was created. Also in 366 BC, the curule aedileship was created. Shortly after the founding of the Republic, the Comitia Centuriata ("Assembly of the Centuries") became the principal legislative assembly. In this assembly, magistrates were elected, and laws were passed.
During the 4th century BC, a series of reforms were passed. The result of these reforms was that any law passed by the Plebeian Council would have the full force of law. This gave the tribunes (who presided over the Plebeian Council) a positive character for the first time. Before these laws were passed, the only power that the tribunes held was that of the veto.
After the plebeian aedileship had been created, the patricians created the curule aedileship. After the consulship had been opened to the plebeians, the plebeians were able to hold both the dictatorship and the censorship. Plebiscites of 342 BC placed limits on political offices; an individual could hold only one office at a time, and ten years must elapse between the end of his official term and his re-election. Further laws attempted to relieve the burden of debt from plebeians by banning interest on loans. In 337 BC, the first plebeian praetor was elected.
During these years, the tribunes and the senators grew increasingly close. The senate realised the need to use plebeian officials to accomplish desired goals. To win over the tribunes, the senators gave the tribunes a great deal of power and the tribunes began to feel obligated to the senate. As the tribunes and the senators grew closer, plebeian senators were often able to secure the tribunate for members of their own families. In time, the tribunate became a stepping stone to higher office.
Around the middle of the 4th century BC, the Concilium Plebis enacted the "Ovinian Law". During the early republic, only consuls could appoint new senators. The Ovinian law, however, gave this power to the censors. It also required the censor to appoint any newly elected magistrate to the senate. By this point, plebeians were already holding a significant number of magisterial offices. Thus, the number of plebeian senators probably increased quickly. However, it remained difficult for a plebeian to enter the senate if he was not from a well-known political family, as a new patrician-like plebeian aristocracy emerged. The old nobility existed through the force of law, because only patricians were allowed to stand for high office. The new nobility existed due to the organization of society. As such, only a revolution could overthrow this new structure.
By 287 BC, the economic condition of the average plebeian had become poor. The problem appears to have centered around widespread indebtedness. The plebeians demanded relief, but the senators refused to address their situation. The result was the final plebeian secession. The plebeians seceded to the Janiculum hill. To end the secession, a dictator was appointed. The dictator passed a law (the "Hortensian Law"), which ended the requirement that the patrician senators must agree before any bill could be considered by the Plebeian Council. This was not the first law to require that an act of the Plebeian Council have the full force of law. The Plebeian Council acquired this power during a modification to the original Valerian law in 449 BC. The significance of this law was in the fact that it robbed the patricians of their final weapon over the plebeians. The result was that control over the state fell, not onto the shoulders of voters, but to the new plebeian nobility.
The plebeians had finally achieved political equality with the patricians. However, the plight of the average plebeian had not changed. A small number of plebeian families achieved the same standing that the old aristocratic patrician families had always had, but the new plebeian aristocrats became as uninterested in the plight of the average plebeian as the old patrician aristocrats had always been.
The Hortensian Law deprived the patricians of their last weapon against the plebeians, and thus resolved the last great political question of the era. No such important political changes occurred between 287 BC and 133 BC. The important laws of this era were still enacted by the senate. In effect, the plebeians were satisfied with the possession of power, but did not care to use it. The senate was supreme during this era because the era was dominated by questions of foreign and military policy. This was the most militarily active era of the Roman Republic.
In the final decades of this era many plebeians grew poorer. The long military campaigns had forced citizens to leave their farms to fight, while their farms fell into disrepair. The landed aristocracy began buying bankrupted farms at discounted prices. As commodity prices fell, many farmers could no longer operate their farms at a profit. The result was the ultimate bankruptcy of countless farmers. Masses of unemployed plebeians soon began to flood into Rome, and thus into the ranks of the legislative assemblies. Their poverty usually led them to vote for the candidate who offered them the most. A new culture of dependency was emerging, in which citizens would look to any populist leader for relief.
The prior era saw great military successes, and great economic failures. The patriotism of the plebeians had kept them from seeking any new reforms. Now, the military situation had stabilised, and fewer soldiers were needed. This, in conjunction with the new slaves that were being imported from abroad, inflamed the unemployment situation further. The flood of unemployed citizens to Rome had made the assemblies quite populist.
Tiberius Gracchus was elected tribune in 133 BC. He attempted to enact a law which would have limited the amount of land that any individual could own. The aristocrats, who stood to lose an enormous amount of money, were bitterly opposed to this proposal. Tiberius submitted this law to the Plebeian Council, but the law was vetoed by a tribune named Marcus Octavius. Tiberius then used the Plebeian Council to impeach Octavius. The theory, that a representative of the people ceases to be one when he acts against the wishes of the people, was counter to Roman constitutional theory. If carried to its logical end, this theory would remove all constitutional restraints on the popular will, and put the state under the absolute control of a temporary popular majority. His law was enacted, but Tiberius was murdered when he stood for reelection to the tribunate.
Tiberius' brother Gaius was elected tribune in 123 BC. Gaius Gracchus' ultimate goal was to weaken the senate and to strengthen the democratic forces. In the past, for example, the senate would eliminate political rivals either by establishing special judicial commissions or by passing a senatus consultum ultimum
("ultimate decree of the senate"). Both devices would allow the Senate to bypass the ordinary due process rights that all citizens had. Gaius outlawed the judicial commissions, and declared the senatus consultum ultimum
to be unconstitutional. Gaius then proposed a law which would grant citizenship rights to Rome's Italian allies. By this point, however, a part of Rome deserted him. He stood for election to a third term in 121 BC, but was defeated and then murdered. The senate was weakened significantly.
In 118 BC, King Micipsa of Numidia (current-day Algeria and Tunisia) died. He was succeeded by two legitimate sons, Adherbal and Hiempsal, and an illegitimate son, Jugurtha. Micipsa divided his kingdom between these three sons. Jugurtha, however, turned on his brothers, killing Hiempsal and driving Adherbal out of Numidia. Adherbal fled to Rome for assistance, and initially Rome mediated a division of the country between the two brothers. Eventually, Jugurtha renewed his offensive, leading to a long and inconclusive war with Rome. He also bribed several Roman commanders, and at least two tribunes, before and during the war. His nemesis, Gaius Marius, a legate from a virtually unknown provincial family, returned from the war in Numidia and was elected consul in 107 BC over the objections of the aristocratic senators. Marius invaded Numidia and brought the war to a quick end, capturing Jugurtha in the process. The apparent incompetence of the Senate, and the brilliance of Marius, had been put on full display. The populares
party took full advantage of this opportunity by allying itself with Marius.
Several years later, in 88 BC, a Roman army was sent to put down an emerging Asian power, king Mithridates of Pontus. The army, however, was defeated. One of Marius' old quaestors, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, had been elected consul for the year, and was ordered by the senate to assume command of the war against Mithridates. Marius, a member of the "populares
" party, had a tribune revoke Sulla's command of the war against Mithridates. Sulla, a member of the aristocratic ("optimates
") party, brought his army back to Italy and marched on Rome. Sulla was so angry at Marius' tribune that he passed a law intended to permanently weaken the tribunate. He then returned to his war against Mithridates. With Sulla gone, the populares
under Marius and Lucius Cornelius Cinna soon took control of the city.
During the period in which the populares
party controlled the city, they flouted convention by re-electing Marius consul several times without observing the customary ten-year interval between offices.]
[ They also transgressed the established oligarchy by advancing unelected individuals to magisterial office, and by substituting magisterial edicts for popular legislation.
Sulla soon made peace with Mithridates. In 83 BC, he returned to Rome, overcame all resistance, and recaptured the city. Sulla and his supporters then slaughtered most of Marius' supporters. Sulla, having observed the violent results of radical popular
reforms, was naturally conservative. As such, he sought to strengthen the aristocracy, and by extension the senate. Sulla made himself dictator, passed a series of constitutional reforms, resigned the dictatorship, and served one last term as consul. He died in 78 BC.
In 77 BC, the senate sent one of Sulla's former lieutenants, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus ("Pompey the Great"), to put down an uprising in Spain. By 71 BC, Pompey returned to Rome after having completed his mission. Around the same time, another of Sulla's former lieutenants, Marcus Licinius Crassus, had just put down the Spartacus led gladiator/slave revolt in Italy. Upon their return, Pompey and Crassus found the populares
party fiercely attacking Sulla's constitution. They attempted to forge an agreement with the populares
party. If both Pompey and Crassus were elected consul in 70 BC, they would dismantle the more obnoxious components of Sulla's constitution. The two were soon elected, and quickly dismantled most of Sulla's constitution.
Around 66 BC, a movement to use constitutional, or at least peaceful, means to address the plight of various classes began. After several failures, the movement's leaders decided to use any means that were necessary to accomplish their goals. The movement coalesced under an aristocrat named Lucius Sergius Catilina. The movement was based in the town of Faesulae, which was a natural hotbed of agrarian agitation. The rural malcontents were to advance on Rome, and be aided by an uprising within the city. After assassinating the consuls and most of the senators, Catiline would be free to enact his reforms. The conspiracy was set in motion in 63 BC. The consul for the year, Marcus Tullius Cicero, intercepted messages that Catiline had sent in an attempt to recruit more members. As a result, the top conspirators in Rome (including at least one former consul) were executed by authorisation (of dubious constitutionality) of the senate, and the planned uprising was disrupted. Cicero then sent an army, which cut Catiline's forces to pieces.
The most important result of the Catilinarian conspiracy was that the populares
party became discredited. The prior 70 years had witnessed a gradual erosion in senatorial powers. The violent nature of the conspiracy, in conjunction with the senate's skill in disrupting it, did a great deal to repair the senate's image.
In 62 BC, Pompey returned victorious from Asia. The Senate, elated by its successes against Catiline, refused to ratify the arrangements that Pompey had made. Pompey, in effect, became powerless. Thus, when Julius Caesar returned from a governorship in Spain in 61 BC, he found it easy to make an arrangement with Pompey. Caesar and Pompey, along with Crassus, established a private agreement, now known as the First Triumvirate. Under the agreement, Pompey's arrangements would be ratified. Caesar would be elected consul in 59 BC, and would then serve as governor of Gaul for five years. Crassus was promised a future consulship.
Caesar became consul in 59 BC. His colleague, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, was an extreme aristocrat. Caesar submitted the laws that he had promised Pompey to the assemblies. Bibulus attempted to obstruct the enactment of these laws, and so Caesar used violent means to ensure their passage. Caesar was then made governor of three provinces. He facilitated the election of the former patrician Publius Clodius Pulcher to the tribunate for 58 BC. Clodius set about depriving Caesar's senatorial enemies of two of their more obstinate leaders in Cato and Cicero. Clodius was a bitter opponent of Cicero because Cicero had testified against him in a sacrilege case. Clodius attempted to try Cicero for executing citizens without a trial during the Catiline conspiracy, resulting in Cicero going into self-imposed exile and his house in Rome being burnt down. Clodius also passed a bill that forced Cato to lead the invasion of Cyprus which would keep him away from Rome for some years. Clodius also passed a law to expand the previous partial grain subsidy to a fully free grain dole for citizens.
Clodius formed armed gangs that terrorised the city and eventually began to attack Pompey's followers, who in response funded counter-gangs formed by Titus Annius Milo. The political alliance of the triumvirate was crumbling. Domitius Ahenobarbus ran for the consulship in 55 BC promising to take Caesar's command from him. Eventually, the triumvirate was renewed at Lucca. Pompey and Crassus were promised the consulship in 55 BC, and Caesar's term as governor was extended for five years. Crassus led an ill-fated expedition with legions led by his son, Caesar's lieutenant, against the Kingdom of Parthia. This resulted in his defeat and death at the Battle of Carrhae. Finally, Pompey's wife, Julia, who was Caesar's daughter, died in childbirth. This event severed the last remaining bond between Pompey and Caesar.
Beginning in the summer of 54 BC, a wave of political corruption and violence swept Rome. This chaos reached a climax in January of 52 BC, when Clodius was murdered in a gang war by Milo. On 1 January 49 BC, an agent of Caesar presented an ultimatum to the senate. The ultimatum was rejected, and the senate then passed a resolution which declared that if Caesar did not lay down his arms by July of that year, he would be considered an enemy of the Republic. Meanwhile the senators adopted Pompey as their new champion against Caesar. On 7 January of 49 BC, the senate passed a senatus consultum ultimum
, which vested Pompey with dictatorial powers. Pompey's army, however, was composed largely of untested conscripts. On 10 January, Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his veteran army (in violation of Roman laws) and marched towards Rome. Caesar's rapid advance forced Pompey, the consuls and the senate to abandon Rome for Greece. Caesar entered the city unopposed.
The era that began when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC and ended when Octavian returned to Rome after Actium in 29 BC saw the gradual unravelling of republican institutions of the prior century accelerate at a rapid pace. By 29 BC, Rome had completed its transition from being a city-state with a network of dependencies to being the capital of a world empire.
With Pompey defeated and order restored, Caesar wanted to ensure that his control over the government was undisputed. The powers which he would give himself would ultimately be used by his imperial successors. He would assume these powers by increasing his own authority, and by decreasing the authority of Rome's other political institutions.
Caesar would hold both the dictatorship and the tribunate, but alternated between the consulship and the proconsulship. In 48 BC, Caesar was given permanent tribunician powers. This made his person sacrosanct, gave him the power to veto the senate, and allowed him to dominate the Plebeian Council. In 46 BC, Caesar was given censorial powers, which he used to fill the senate with his own partisans. Caesar then raised the membership of the Senate to 900. This robbed the senatorial aristocracy of its prestige, and made it increasingly subservient to him. While the assemblies continued to meet, he submitted all candidates to the assemblies for election, and all bills to the assemblies for enactment. Thus, the assemblies became powerless and were unable to oppose him.
Near the end of his life, Caesar began to prepare for a war against the Parthian Empire. Since his absence from Rome would limit his ability to install his own consuls, he passed a law which allowed him to appoint all magistrates in 43 BC, and all consuls and tribunes in 42 BC. This, in effect, transformed the magistrates from being representatives of the people to being representatives of the dictator.
Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44 BC. The assassination was led by Gaius Cassius and Marcus Brutus. Most of the conspirators were senators, who had a variety of economic, political, or personal motivations for carrying out the assassination. Many were afraid that Caesar would soon resurrect the monarchy and declare himself king. Others feared loss of property or prestige as Caesar carried out his land reforms in favor of the landless classes. Virtually all the conspirators fled the city after Caesar's death in fear of retaliation. The civil war that followed destroyed what was left of the Republic.
After the assassination, Mark Antony formed an alliance with Caesar's adopted son and great-nephew, Gaius Octavian. Along with Marcus Lepidus, they formed an alliance known as the Second Triumvirate. They held powers that were nearly identical to the powers that Caesar had held under his constitution. As such, the Senate and assemblies remained powerless, even after Caesar had been assassinated. The conspirators were then defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC. Eventually, however, Antony and Octavian fought against each other in one last battle. Antony was defeated in the naval Battle of Actium in 31 BC, and he committed suicide with his love, Cleopatra. In 29 BC, Octavian returned to Rome as the unchallenged master of the Empire and later accepted the title of Augustus- "Exalted One" .
Life in the Roman Republic revolved around the city of Rome, and its famed seven hills. The city also had several theatres, gymnasiums, and many taverns, baths and brothels. Throughout the territory under Rome's control, residential architecture ranged from very modest houses to country villas, and in the capital city of Rome, to the residences on the elegant Palatine Hill, from which the word "palace" is derived. The vast majority of the population lived in the city center, packed into apartment blocks.
Most Roman towns and cities had a forum and temples, as did the city of Rome itself. Aqueducts brought water to urban centers and wine and cooking oil were imported from abroad. Landlords generally resided in cities and left their estates in the care of farm managers. To stimulate a higher labour productivity, many landlords freed large numbers of slaves.
Beginning in the middle of the 2nd century BC, Greek culture was increasingly ascendant, in spite of tirades against the "softening" effects of Hellenised culture. By the time of Augustus, cultured Greek household slaves taught the Roman young (sometimes even the girls). Greek sculptures adorned Hellenistic landscape gardening on the Palatine or in the villas, and much of Roman cuisine was essentially Greek. Roman writers disdained Latin for a cultured Greek style.
Many aspects of Roman culture were borrowed from the Greeks. In architecture and sculpture, the difference between Greek models and Roman paintings are apparent. The chief Roman contributions to architecture were the arch and the dome. Rome has also had a tremendous impact on European cultures following it. Its significance is perhaps best reflected in its endurance and influence, as is seen in the longevity and lasting importance of works of Virgil and Ovid. Latin, the Republic's primary language, remains used for liturgical purposes by the Roman Catholic Church, and up to the 19th century was used extensively in scholarly writings in, for example, science and mathematics. Roman law laid the foundations for the laws of many European countries and their colonies.
The center of the early social structure was the family, which was not only marked by blood relations but also by the legally constructed relation of patria potestas. The Pater familias was the absolute head of the family; he was the master over his wife, his children, the wives of his sons, the nephews, the slaves and the freedmen, disposing of them and of their goods at will, even putting them to death. Roman law recognised only patrician families as legal entities.
Slavery and slaves were part of the social order; there were slave markets where they could be bought and sold. Many slaves were freed by the masters for services rendered; some slaves could save money to buy their freedom. Generally, mutilation and murder of slaves was prohibited by legislation. However, Rome did not have a law enforcement arm. All actions were treated as "torts," which were brought by an accuser who was forced to prove the entire case himself. If the accused were a noble and the victim, not a noble, the likelihood of finding for the accused was small. At most, the accused might have to pay a fine for killing a slave. It is estimated that over 25% of the Roman population was enslaved.
Men typically wore a toga, and women a stola. The woman's stola
differed in looks from a toga, and was usually brightly coloured. The cloth and the dress distinguished one class of people from the other class. The tunic worn by plebeians, or common people, like shepherds and slaves, was made from coarse and dark material, whereas the tunic worn by patricians was of linen or white wool. A knight or magistrate would wear an augusticlavus
, a tunic bearing small purple studs. Senators wore tunics with broad red stripes, called tunica laticlavia
. Military tunics were shorter than the ones worn by civilians. Boys, up until the festival of Liberalia, wore the toga praetexta
, which was a toga with a crimson or purple border. The toga virilis
, (or toga pura
) was worn by men over the age of 16 to signify their citizenship in Rome. The toga picta
was worn by triumphant generals and had embroidery of their skill on the battlefield. The toga pulla
was worn when in mourning.
Even footwear indicated a person's social status. Patricians wore red and orange sandals, senators had brown footwear, consuls had white shoes, and soldiers wore heavy boots. The Romans also invented socks for those soldiers required to fight on the northern frontiers, sometimes worn in sandals.
The staple foods were generally consumed around 11 o'clock, and consisted of bread, lettuce, cheese, fruits, nuts, and cold meat left over from the dinner the night before. The Roman poet Horace mentions another Roman favorite, the olive, in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "As for me, olives, endives, and smooth mallows provide sustenance."]
[ The family ate together, sitting on stools around a table. Fingers were used to eat solid foods and spoons were used for soups.
Wine was considered the basic drink,]
[ consumed at all meals and occasions by all classes and was quite inexpensive. Cato the Elder once advised cutting his rations in half to conserve wine for the workforce.]
[ Many types of drinks involving grapes and honey were consumed as well. Drinking on an empty stomach was regarded as boorish and a sure sign for alcoholism, the debilitating physical and psychological effects of which were known to the Romans. An accurate accusation of being an alcoholic was an effective way to discredit political rivals. Prominent Roman alcoholics included Mark Antony,]
[ and Cicero's own son Marcus (Cicero Minor). Even Cato the Younger was known to be a heavy drinker.
Following various military conquests in the Greek East, Romans adapted a number of Greek educational precepts to their own fledgling system. Physical training to prepare the boys to grow as Roman citizens and for eventual recruitment into the army. Conforming to discipline was a point of great emphasis. Girls generally received instruction from their mothers in the art of spinning, weaving, and sewing. Schooling in a more formal sense was begun around 200 BC. Education began at the age of around six, and in the next six to seven years, boys and girls were expected to learn the basics of reading, writing and counting. By the age of twelve, they would be learning Latin, Greek, grammar and literature, followed by training for public speaking. Oratory was an art to be practiced and learnt, and good orators commanded respect.
The native language of the Romans was Latin. Although surviving Latin literature consists almost entirely of Classical Latin, an artificial and highly stylised and polished literary language from the 1st century BC, the actual spoken language was Vulgar Latin, which significantly differed from Classical Latin in grammar, vocabulary, and eventually pronunciation. Rome's expansion spread Latin throughout Europe, and over time Vulgar Latin evolved and dialectised in different locations, gradually shifting into a number of distinct Romance languages. Many of these languages, including French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish, flourished, the differences between them growing greater over time. Although English is Germanic rather than Roman in origin, English borrows heavily from Latin and Latin-derived words.
Roman literature was from its very inception influenced heavily by Greek authors. Some of the earliest works we possess are of historical epics telling the early military history of Rome. As the republic expanded, authors began to produce poetry, comedy, history, and tragedy. Virgil represents the pinnacle of Roman epic poetry. His Aeneid
tells the story of flight of Aeneas from Troy and his settlement of the city that would become Rome. Lucretius, in his On the Nature of Things
, attempted to explicate science in an epic poem. The genre of satire was common in Rome, and satires were written by, among others, Juvenal and Persius. The rhetorical works of Cicero are considered to be some of the best bodies of correspondence recorded in antiquity.
In the 3rd century BC, Greek art taken as booty from wars became popular, and many Roman homes were decorated with landscapes by Greek artists. Portrait sculpture during the period utilised youthful and classical proportions, evolving later into a mixture of realism and idealism. Advancements were also made in relief sculptures, often depicting Roman victories.
Music was a major part of everyday life. The word itself derives from Greek μουσική
), "(art) of the Muses". Many private and public events were accompanied by music, ranging from nightly dining to military parades and manoeuvres. In a discussion of any ancient music, however, non-specialists and even many musicians have to be reminded that much of what makes our modern music familiar to us is the result of developments only within the last 1,000 years; thus, our ideas of melody, scales, harmony, and even the instruments we use would not be familiar to Romans who made and listened to music many centuries earlier.
Over time, Roman architecture was modified as their urban requirements changed, and the civil engineering and building construction technology became developed and refined. The Roman concrete has remained a riddle, and even after more than 2,000 years some Roman structures still stand magnificently. The architectural style of the capital city was emulated by other urban centers under Roman control and influence. Roman cities were well planned, efficiently managed and neatly maintained.
The city of Rome had a place called the Campus Martius ("Field of Mars"), which was a sort of drill ground for Roman soldiers. Later, the Campus became Rome's track and field playground. In the campus, the youth assembled to play and exercise, which included jumping, wrestling, boxing and racing. Equestrian sports, throwing, and swimming were also preferred physical activities. In the countryside, pastime included fishing and hunting. Board games played in Rome included dice (Tesserae or Tali), Roman Chess (Latrunculi), Roman Checkers (Calculi), Tic-tac-toe (Terni Lapilli), and Ludus duodecim scriptorum and Tabula, predecessors of backgammon. There were several other activities to keep people engaged like chariot races, musical and theatrical performances.
Roman religious beliefs date back to the founding of Rome, around 800 BC. However, the Roman religion commonly associated with the republic and early empire did not begin until around 500 BC, when Romans came in contact with Greek culture, and adopted many of the Greek religious beliefs. Private and personal worship was an important aspect of religious practices. In a sense, each household was a temple to the gods. Each household had an altar (lararium
), at which the family members would offer prayers, perform rites, and interact with the household gods. Many of the gods that Romans worshiped came from the Proto-Indo-European pantheon, others were based on Greek gods. The two most famous deities were Jupiter (the king God) and Mars (the god of war). With its cultural influence spreading over most of the Mediterranean, Romans began accepting foreign gods into their own culture, as well as other philosophical traditions such as Cynicism and Stoicism.
The structural history of the Roman military describes the major chronological transformations in the organisation and constitution of the Roman armed forces. The Roman military was split into the Roman army and the Roman navy, although these two branches were less distinct than they tend to be in modern defence forces. Within the top-level branches of army and navy, structural changes occurred both as a result of positive military reform and through organic structural evolution.
During this period, Roman soldiers seem to have been modelled after those of the Etruscans to the north, who themselves seem to have copied their style of warfare from the Greeks. Traditionally, the introduction of the phalanx formation into the Roman army is ascribed to the city's penultimate king, Servius Tullius (ruled 578 to 534 BC). According to Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the front rank was composed of the wealthiest citizens, who were able to purchase the best equipment. Each subsequent rank consisted of those with less wealth and poorer equipment than the one before it.
One disadvantage of the phalanx was that it was only effective when fighting in large, open spaces, which left the Romans at a disadvantage when fighting in the hilly terrain of central Italian peninsula. In the 4th century BC, the Romans abandoned the phalanx in favour of the more flexible manipular formation. This change is sometimes attributed to Marcus Furius Camillus and placed shortly after the Gallic invasion of 390 BC; it is more likely, however, that they were copied from Rome's Samnite enemies to the south, possibly as a result of Samnite victories during the Second Samnite War (326 to 304 BC).
During this period, an army formation of around 5,000 men (of both heavy and light infantry) was known as a legion. The manipular army was based upon social class, age and military experience. Maniples
were units of 120 men each drawn from a single infantry class. The maniples were typically deployed into three discrete lines based on the three heavy infantry types.
Each first line maniple were leather-armoured infantry soldiers who wore a bronze breastplate and a bronze helmet adorned with 3 feathers approximately 30 cm (12 in) in height and carried an iron-clad wooden shield. They were armed with a sword and two throwing spears. The second infantry line was armed and armoured in the same manner as was the first infantry line. The second infantry line, however, wore a lighter coat of mail rather than a solid brass breastplate. The third infantry line was the last remnant of the hoplite-style (the Greek-style formation used occasionally during the early Republic) troops in the Roman army. They were armed and armoured in the same manner as were the soldiers in the second line, with the exception that they carried a lighter spear.
The three infantry classes may have retained some slight parallel to social divisions within Roman society, but at least officially the three lines were based upon age and experience rather than social class. Young, unproven men would serve in the first line, older men with some military experience would serve in the second line, and veteran troops of advanced age and experience would serve in the third line.
The heavy infantry of the maniples were supported by a number of light infantry and cavalry troops, typically 300 horsemen per manipular legion. The cavalry was drawn primarily from the richest class of equestrians. There was an additional class of troops who followed the army without specific martial roles and were deployed to the rear of the third line. Their role in accompanying the army was primarily to supply any vacancies that might occur in the maniples. The light infantry consisted of 1,200 unarmoured skirmishing troops drawn from the youngest and lower social classes. They were armed with a sword and a small shield, as well as several light javelins.
Rome's military confederation with the other peoples of the Italian peninsula meant that half of Rome's army was provided by the Socii, such as the Etruscans, Umbrians, Apulians, Campanians, Samnites, Lucani, Bruttii, and the various southern Greek cities. Polybius states that Rome could draw on 770,000 men at the beginning of the Second Punic War, of which 700,000 were infantry and 70,000 met the requirements for cavalry. Rome's Italian allies would be organized in alae
, or wings
, roughly equal in manpower to the Roman legions, though with 900 cavalry instead of 300.
A small navy had operated at a fairly low level after about 300 BC, but it was massively upgraded about forty years later, during the First Punic War. After a period of frenetic construction, the navy mushroomed to a size of more than 400 ships on the Carthaginian ("Punic") pattern. Once completed, it could accommodate up to 100,000 sailors and embarked troops for battle. The navy thereafter declined in size.
The extraordinary demands of the Punic Wars, in addition to a shortage of manpower, exposed the tactical weaknesses of the manipular legion, at least in the short term. In 217 BC, near the beginning of the Second Punic War, Rome was forced to effectively ignore its long-standing principle that its soldiers must be both citizens and property owners. During the 2nd century BC, Roman territory saw an overall decline in population, partially due to the huge losses incurred during various wars. This was accompanied by severe social stresses and the greater collapse of the middle classes. As a result, the Roman state was forced to arm its soldiers at the expense of the state, which it had not had to do in the past.
The distinction between the heavy infantry types began to blur, perhaps because the state was now assuming the responsibility of providing standard-issue equipment. In addition, the shortage of available manpower led to a greater burden being placed upon Rome's allies for the provision of allied troops. Eventually, the Romans were forced to begin hiring mercenaries to fight alongside the legions.
In a process known as the Marian reforms, Roman consul Gaius Marius carried out a programme of reform of the Roman military. In 107 BC, all citizens, regardless of their wealth or social class, were made eligible for entry into the Roman army. This move formalised and concluded a gradual process that had been growing for centuries, of removing property requirements for military service. The distinction between the three heavy infantry classes, which had already become blurred, had collapsed into a single class of heavy legionary infantry. The heavy infantry legionaries were drawn from citizen stock, while non-citizens came to dominate the ranks of the light infantry. The army's higher-level officers and commanders were still drawn exclusively from the Roman aristocracy.
Unlike earlier in the Republic, legionaries were no longer fighting on a seasonal basis to protect their land. Instead, they received standard pay, and were employed by the state on a fixed-term basis. As a consequence, military duty began to appeal most to the poorest sections of society, to whom a salaried pay was attractive. A destabilising consequence of this development was that the proletariat "acquired a stronger and more elevated position" within the state.
The legions of the late Republic were, structurally, almost entirely heavy infantry. The legion's main sub-unit was called a cohort
and consisted of approximately 480 infantrymen. The cohort was therefore a much larger unit than the earlier maniple
sub-unit, and was divided into six centuries of 80 men each. Each century was separated further into 10 "tent groups" of 8 men each. Legions additionally consisted of a small body, typically 120 men, of Roman legionary cavalry. The cavalry troops were used as scouts and dispatch riders rather than battlefield cavalry. Legions also contained a dedicated group of artillery crew of perhaps 60 men. Each legion was normally partnered with an approximately equal number of allied (non-Roman) troops.
However, the most obvious deficiency of the Roman army remained its shortage of cavalry, especially heavy cavalry. As Rome's borders expanded and its adversaries changed from largely infantry-based to largely cavalry-based troops, the infantry-based Roman army began to find itself at a tactical disadvantage, particularly in the East.
After having declined in size following the subjugation of the Mediterranean, the Roman navy underwent short-term upgrading and revitalisation in the late Republic to meet several new demands. Under Caesar, an invasion fleet was assembled in the English Channel to allow the invasion of Britannia
; under Pompey, a large fleet was raised in the Mediterranean Sea to clear the sea of Cilician pirates. During the civil war that followed, as many as a thousand ships were either constructed or pressed into service from Greek cities.
The core of the campaign history of the Roman Republican military is the account of the Roman military's land battles. Despite the encompassing of lands around the periphery of the Mediterranean sea, naval battles were typically less significant than land battles to the military history of Rome.
As with most ancient civilisations, Rome's military served the triple purposes of securing its borders, exploiting peripheral areas through measures such as imposing tribute on conquered peoples, and maintaining internal order. From the outset, Rome's military typified this pattern and the majority of Rome's campaigns were characterised by one of two types. The first is the territorial expansionist campaign, normally begun as a counter-offensive, in which each victory brought subjugation of large areas of territory. The second is the civil war, of which examples plagued the Roman Republic in its final century.
Roman armies were not invincible, despite their formidable reputation and host of victories. Over the centuries the Romans "produced their share of incompetents
" who led Roman armies into catastrophic defeats. Nevertheless, it was generally the fate of even the greatest of Rome's enemies, such as Pyrrhus and Hannibal, to win the battle but lose the war. The history of Rome's campaigning is, if nothing else, a history of obstinate persistence overcoming appalling losses.
The first Roman republican wars were wars of both expansion and defence, aimed at protecting Rome itself from neighbouring cities and nations and establishing its territory in the region. Initially, Rome's immediate neighbours were either Latin towns and villages, or else tribal Sabines from the Apennine hills beyond. One by one Rome defeated both the persistent Sabines and the local cities that were either under Etruscan control or else Latin towns that had cast off their Etruscan rulers. Rome defeated Latin cities in the Battle of Lake Regillus in 496 BC, the Battle of Mons Algidus in 458 BC, the Battle of Corbione in 446 BC, the Battle of Aricia, and an Etruscan city in the Battle of the Cremera in 477 BC,
By the end of this period, Rome had effectively completed the conquest of their immediate Etruscan and Latin neighbours, as well as secured their position against the immediate threat posed by the tribespeople of the nearby Apennine hills.
By 390 BC, several Gallic tribes had begun invading Italy from the north as their culture expanded throughout Europe. The Romans were alerted of this when a particularly warlike tribe invaded two Etruscan towns from the north. These two towns were not far from Rome's sphere of influence. These towns, overwhelmed by the size of the enemy in numbers and ferocity, called on Rome for help. The Romans met them in pitched battle at the Battle of Allia River around 390–387 BC. The Gauls, under their chieftain Brennus, defeated the Roman army of around 15,000 troops and proceeded to pursue the fleeing Romans back to Rome itself and sacked the city before being either driven off or bought off. Now that the Romans and Gauls had bloodied one another, intermittent warfare was to continue between the two in Italy for more than two centuries. The Celtic problem would not be resolved for Rome until the final subjugation of all Gaul by Julius Caesar at the Battle of Alesia in 52 BC.
After recovering surprisingly swiftly from the sack of Rome, the Romans immediately resumed their expansion within Italy. The First Samnite War of between 343 BC and 341 BC was a relatively short affair: the Romans beat the Samnites in two battles, but were forced to withdraw from the war before they could pursue the conflict further due to the revolt of several of their Latin allies in the Latin War. Rome bested the Latins in the Battle of Vesuvius and again in the Battle of Trifanum, after which the Latin cities were obliged to submit to Roman rule.
The Second Samnite War, from 327 BC to 304 BC, was a much longer and more serious affair for both the Romans and Samnites. The fortunes of the two sides fluctuated throughout its course. The Romans then proved victorious at the Battle of Bovianum and the tide turned strongly against the Samnites from 314 BC onwards, leading them to sue for peace with progressively less generous terms. By 304 BC the Romans had effectively annexed the greater degree of the Samnite territory, founding several colonies.
Seven years after their defeat, with Roman dominance of the area looking assured, the Samnites rose again and defeated a Roman army in 298 BC, to open the Third Samnite War. With this success in hand they managed to bring together a coalition of several previous enemies of Rome. In the Battle of Populonia in 282 BC Rome finished off the last vestiges of Etruscan power in the region.
By the beginning of the 3rd century, Rome had established itself as a major power on the Italian Peninsula, but had not yet come into conflict with the dominant military powers in the Mediterranean Basin at the time: Carthage and the Greek kingdoms.
When a diplomatic dispute between Rome and a Greek colony erupted into open warfare in a naval confrontation, the Greek colony appealed for military aid to Pyrrhus, ruler of the northwestern Greek kingdom of Epirus. Motivated by a personal desire for military accomplishment, Pyrrhus landed a Greek army of some 25,000 men on Italian soil in 280 BC.
Despite early victories, Pyrrhus found his position in Italy untenable. Rome steadfastly refused to negotiate with Pyrrhus as long as his army remained in Italy. Facing unacceptably heavy losses with each encounter with the Roman army, Pyrrhus withdrew from the peninsula (thus deriving the term "pyrrhic victory"). In 275 BC, Pyrrhus again met the Roman army at the Battle of Beneventum. While Beneventum was indecisive, Pyrrhus realised his army had been exhausted and reduced, by years of foreign campaigns, and seeing little hope for further gains, he withdrew completely from Italy.
The conflicts with Pyrrhus would have a great effect on Rome. Rome had shown it was capable of pitting its armies successfully against the dominant military powers of the Mediterranean, and that the Greek kingdoms were incapable of defending their colonies in Italy and abroad. Rome quickly moved into southern Italia, subjugating and dividing the Greek colonies. Now, Rome effectively dominated the Italian peninsula, and won an international military reputation.
The First Punic War began in 264 BC when settlements on Sicily began to appeal to the two powers between which they lay – Rome and Carthage – to solve internal conflicts. The war saw land battles in Sicily early on, but the theatre shifted to naval battles around Sicily and Africa. Before the First Punic War there was no Roman navy to speak of. The new war in Sicily against Carthage, a great naval power, forced Rome to quickly build a fleet and train sailors.
The first few naval battles were catastrophic disasters for Rome. However, after training more sailors and inventing a grappling engine, a Roman naval force was able to defeat a Carthaginian fleet, and further naval victories followed. The Carthaginians then hired Xanthippus of Carthage, a Spartan mercenary general, to reorganise and lead their army. He managed to cut off the Roman army from its base by re-establishing Carthaginian naval supremacy. With their newfound naval abilities, the Romans then beat the Carthaginians in naval battle again at the Battle of the Aegates Islands and leaving Carthage without a fleet or sufficient coin to raise one. For a maritime power the loss of their access to the Mediterranean stung financially and psychologically, and the Carthaginians sued for peace.
Continuing distrust led to the renewal of hostilities in the Second Punic War when Hannibal Barca attacked a Spanish town, which had diplomatic ties to Rome. Hannibal then crossed the Italian Alps to invade Italy. Hannibal's successes in Italy began immediately, and reached an early climax at the Battle of Cannae, where 70,000 Romans were killed.
In three battles, the Romans managed to hold off Hannibal but then Hannibal smashed a succession of Roman consular armies. By this time Hannibal's brother Hasdrubal Barca sought to cross the Alps into Italy and join his brother with a second army. Hasdrubal managed to break through into Italy only to be defeated decisively on the Metaurus River. Unable to defeat Hannibal himself on Italian soil, the Romans boldly sent an army to Africa under Scipio Africanus with the intention of threatening the Carthaginian capital. Hannibal was recalled to Africa, and defeated at the Battle of Zama.
Carthage never managed to recover after the Second Punic War and the Third Punic War that followed was in reality a simple punitive mission to raze the city of Carthage to the ground. Carthage was almost defenceless and when besieged offered immediate surrender, conceding to a string of outrageous Roman demands. The Romans refused the surrender, and the city was stormed after a short siege and completely destroyed. Ultimately, all of Carthage's North African and Spanish territories were acquired by Rome.
Rome's preoccupation with its war with Carthage provided an opportunity for Philip V of the kingdom of Macedonia, located in the north of the Greek peninsula, to attempt to extend his power westward. Philip sent ambassadors to Hannibal's camp in Italy, to negotiate an alliance as common enemies of Rome. However, Rome discovered the agreement when Philip's emissaries were captured by a Roman fleet. The First Macedonian War saw the Romans involved directly in only limited land operations, but they ultimately achieved their objective of pre-occupying Philip and preventing him from aiding Hannibal.
Macedonia began to encroach on territory claimed by Greek city states in 200 BC and these states pleaded for help from their newfound ally Rome. Rome gave Philip an ultimatum that he must submit several parts of Greater Macedonia to Rome and give up his designs on Greece. Philip refused, and Rome declared war starting the Second Macedonian War. Ultimately, in 197 BC, the Romans decisevely defeated Philip at the Battle of Cynoscephalae, subsequently Macedonia was reduced to a central rump state.
Rome now turned its attentions to one of the Greek kingdoms, the Seleucid Empire, in the east. A Roman force defeated the Seleucids at the Battle of Thermopylae and forced them to evacuate Greece. The Romans then pursued the Seleucids beyond Greece, beating them in the decisive engagement of the Battle of Magnesia.
In 179 BC, Philip died and his talented and ambitious son, Perseus, took his throne and showed a renewed interest in Greece. Rome declared war on Macedonia again, starting the Third Macedonian War. Perseus initially had some success against the Romans. However, Rome responded by simply sending another stronger army. The second consular army decisively defeated the Macedonians at the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC and the Macedonians duly capitulated, ending the Third Macedonian War. The Kingdom of Macedonia was then divided by the Romans into four client republics.
The Fourth Macedonian War, fought from 150 BC to 148 BC, was fought against a Macedonian pretender to the throne who was attempting to re-establish the old Kingdom. The Romans swiftly defeated the Macedonians at the Second battle of Pydna. The Achaean League chose this moment to rebel against Roman domination but was swiftly defeated. Corinth was besieged and destroyed in 146 BC, the same year as the destruction of Carthage, which led to the league's surrender.
The Jugurthine War of 111–104 BC was fought between Rome and Jugurtha of the North African kingdom of Numidia. It constituted the final Roman pacification of Northern Africa, after which Rome largely ceased expansion on the continent after reaching natural barriers of desert and mountain. Following Jugurtha's usurpation of the throne of Numidia, a loyal ally of Rome since the Punic Wars, Rome felt compelled to intervene. Jugurtha impudently bribed the Romans into accepting his usurpation. Jugurtha was finally captured not in battle but by treachery.
In 121 BC, Rome came into contact with two Celtic tribes (from a region in modern France), both of which they defeated with apparent ease. The Cimbrian War (113–101 BC) was a far more serious affair than the earlier clashes of 121 BC. The Germanic tribes of the Cimbri
and the Teutons
migrated from northern Europe into Rome's northern territories, and clashed with Rome and her allies. At the Battle of Aquae Sextiae and the Battle of Vercellae both tribes were virtually annihilated, which ended the threat.
The extensive campaigning abroad by Roman generals, and the rewarding of soldiers with plunder on these campaigns, led to a general trend of soldiers becoming increasingly loyal to their generals rather than to the state. Rome was also plagued by several slave uprisings during this period, in part because vast tracts of land had been given over to slave farming in which the slaves greatly outnumbered their Roman masters. In the last century BC at least twelve civil wars and rebellions occurred. This pattern did not break until Octavian (later Caesar Augustus
) ended it by becoming a successful challenger to the Senate's authority, and was made princeps
Between 135 BC and 71 BC there were three "Servile Wars" involving slave uprisings against the Roman state. The third and final uprising was the most serious, involving ultimately between 120,000 and 150,000 slaves under the command of the gladiator Spartacus. Additionally, in 91 BC the Social War broke out between Rome and its former allies in Italy over dissent among the allies that they shared the risk of Rome's military campaigns, but not its rewards. Although they lost militarily, the allies achieved their objectives with legal proclamations which granted citizenship to more than 500,000 Italians.
The internal unrest reached its most serious state, however, in the two civil wars that were caused by the consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla at the beginning of 82 BC. In the Battle of the Colline Gate at the very door of the city of Rome, a Roman army under Sulla bested an army of the Roman Senate and entered the city. Sulla's actions marked a watershed in the willingness of Roman troops to wage war against one another that was to pave the way for the wars which ultimately overthrew the Republic, and caused the founding of the Roman Empire.
Mithridates the Great was the ruler of Pontus, a large kingdom in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), from 120 to 63 BC. Mithridates antagonised Rome by seeking to expand his kingdom, and Rome for her part seemed equally keen for war and the spoils and prestige that it might bring. In 88 BC, Mithridates ordered the killing of a majority of the 80,000 Romans living in his kingdom. The massacre was the official reason given for the commencement of hostilities in the First Mithridatic War. The Roman general Lucius Cornelius Sulla forced Mithridates out of Greece proper, but then had to return to Italy to answer the internal threat posed by his rival, Gaius Marius. A peace was made between Rome and Pontus, but this proved only a temporary lull.
The Second Mithridatic War began when Rome tried to annex a province that Mithridates claimed as his own. In the Third Mithridatic War, first Lucius Licinius Lucullus and then Pompey the Great were sent against Mithridates. Mithridates was finally defeated by Pompey in the night-time Battle of the Lycus.
The Mediterranean had at this time fallen into the hands of pirates, largely from Cilicia. The pirates not only strangled shipping lanes but also plundered many cities on the coasts of Greece and Asia. Pompey was nominated as commander of a special naval task force to campaign against the pirates. It took Pompey just forty days to clear the western portion of the sea of pirates and restore communication between Iberia (Spain), Africa, and Italy.
During a term as praetor in the Iberian Peninsula (modern Portugal and Spain), Pompey's contemporary Julius Caesar defeated two local tribes in battle. Following his term as consul in 59 BC, he was then appointed to a five-year term as the proconsular Governor of Cisalpine Gaul (current northern Italy), Transalpine Gaul (current southern France) and Illyria (the modern Balkans). Not content with an idle governorship, Caesar strove to find reason to invade Gaul, which would give him the dramatic military success he sought. When two local tribes began to migrate on a route that would take them near (not into) the Roman province of Transalpine Gaul, Caesar had the barely sufficient excuse he needed for his Gallic Wars, fought between 58 BC and 49 BC.
Caesar defeated large armies at major battles 58 BC and 57 BC. In 55 and 54 BC he made two expeditions into Britain, becoming the first Roman to do so. Caesar then defeated a union of Gauls at the Battle of Alesia, completing the Roman conquest of Transalpine Gaul. By 50 BC, the entirety of Gaul lay in Roman hands. Gaul never regained its Celtic identity, never attempted another nationalist rebellion, and, other than the crisis of the 3rd century, remained loyal to Rome until the fall of the western empire in 476.
By 59 BC an unofficial political alliance known as the First Triumvirate was formed between Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus ("Pompey the Great") to share power and influence. In 53 BC, Crassus launched a Roman invasion of the Parthian Empire (modern Iraq and Iran). After initial successes, he marched his army deep into the desert; but here his army was cut off deep in enemy territory, surrounded and slaughtered at the Battle of Carrhae in which Crassus himself perished. The death of Crassus removed some of the balance in the Triumvirate and, consequently, Caesar and Pompey began to move apart. While Caesar was fighting in Gaul, Pompey proceeded with a legislative agenda for Rome that revealed that he was at best ambivalent towards Caesar and perhaps now covertly allied with Caesar's political enemies. In 51 BC, some Roman senators demanded that Caesar not be permitted to stand for consul unless he turned over control of his armies to the state, which would have left Caesar defenceless before his enemies. Caesar chose civil war over laying down his command and facing trial.
By the spring of 49 BC, the hardened legions of Caesar crossed the river Rubicon and swept down the Italian peninsula towards Rome, while Pompey ordered the abandonment of Rome. Afterwards Caesar turned his attention to the Pompeian stronghold of Iberia (modern Spain) but decided to tackle Pompey himself in Greece. Pompey initially defeated Caesar, but failed to follow up on the victory, and was decisively defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, despite outnumbering Caesar's forces two to one, albeit with inferior quality troops. Pompey fled again, this time to Egypt, where he was murdered.
Pompey's death did not result in an end to the civil war as Caesar's enemies were manifold and continued to fight on. In 46 BC Caesar lost perhaps as much as a third of his army, but ultimately came back to defeat the Pompeian army of Metellus Scipio in the Battle of Thapsus, after which the Pompeians retreated yet again to Iberia. Caesar then defeated the combined Pompeian forces at the Battle of Munda.
Caesar was now the primary figure of the Roman state, enforcing and entrenching his powers and his enemies feared that he had ambitions to become an autocratic ruler. Arguing that the Roman Republic was in danger a group of senators hatched a conspiracy and murdered Caesar in the Senate in March 44 BC. Mark Antony, Caesar's lieutenant, condemned Caesar's assassination, and war broke out between the two factions. Antony was denounced as a public enemy, and Caesar's adopted son and chosen heir, Gaius Octavian, was entrusted with the command of the war against him. At the Battle of Mutina Antony was defeated by the consuls Hirtius and Pansa, who were both killed.
Octavian came to terms with Caesarians Antony and Lepidus in 43 BC when the Second Triumvirate was formed. In 42 BC Triumvirs Mark Antony and Octavian fought the Battle of Philippi with Caesar's assassins Brutus and Cassius. Although Brutus defeated Octavian, Antony defeated Cassius, who committed suicide. Brutus joined him shortly afterwards.
However, civil war flared again when the Second Triumvirate of Octavian, Lepidus and Mark Antony failed. The ambitious Octavian built a power base of patronage and then launched a campaign against Mark Antony. At the naval Battle of Actium off the coast of Greece, Octavian decisively defeated Antony and Cleopatra. Octavian was granted a series of special powers including sole "imperium" within the city of Rome, permanent consular powers and credit for every Roman military victory, since all future generals were assumed to be acting under his command. In 27 BC Octavian was granted the use of the names "Augustus" and "Princeps" indicating his primary status above all other Romans, and he adopted the title "Imperator Caesar" making him the first Roman Emperor.
The Battle of Silva Arsia was a battle in 509 BC between the republican forces of ancient Rome on the one hand, and Etruscan forces of Tarquinii and Veii led by the deposed Roman king Lucius Tarquinius Superbus on the other. The battle took place nearby the Silva Arsia (the Arsian forest) in Roman territory, and resulted in victory to Rome but the death of one of her consuls, Lucius Junius Brutus.
The battle was one of a number of attempts by Tarquin to regain the throne, and can also be seen as part of ongoing conflict between the Etruscan cities and the expanding Roman state. The battle forms part of Rome's early history, which is probably in part legendary.
In 509 BC the Roman monarchy was overthrown, and the Roman Republic commenced with the election of the first consuls. The deposed king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, whose family originated from Tarquinii in Etruria, garnered the support of the Etruscan cities of Veii and Tarquinii, recalling to the former their regular losses of war and of land to the Roman state, and to the latter his family ties.
The armies of the two cities followed Tarquin to battle, and the Roman consuls led the Roman army to meet them, Publius Valerius commanding the Roman infantry and Lucius Junius Brutus the equites. Likewise the king commanded the Etruscan infantry, and his son Aruns had command of the cavalry.
The cavalry first joined battle and Aruns, having spied from afar the lictors, and thereby recognising the presence of a consul, soon saw that Brutus was in command of the cavalry. The two men, who were cousins, charged each other, and speared each other to death. The infantry also soon joined the battle, the result being in doubt for some time. The right wing of each army was victorious, the army of Tarquinii forcing back the Romans, and the Veientes being routed. However the Etruscan forces eventually fled the field, the Romans claiming the victory.
On the night after the battle, Livy reports that a voice believed to be the spirit of Silvanus was heard to come from the nearby forest, saying "more of the Etrurians by one had fallen in the battle; that the Roman was victorious in the war".
The consul Valerius collected the spoils of the routed Etruscans, and returned to Rome to celebrate a triumph on 1 March 509 BC, and the funeral of Brutus was carried out by Valerius with great magnificence.
Livy writes that later in 509 BC Valerius returned to fight the Veientes. It is unclear whether this was continuing from the Battle of Silva Arsia, or was some fresh dispute. It is also unclear what happened in this dispute.
Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus (185 – 129 BC), also known as Scipio Aemilianus or Scipio Africanus the Younger, was a leading general and politician of the ancient Roman Republic. As consul he commanded at the final siege and destruction of Carthage in 146 BC, and was a leader of the senators opposed to the Gracchi in 133 BC.
He was born the younger son of Lucius Aemilius Paulus Macedonicus, the conqueror of Macedonia, and fought when he was 17 years old by his father's side at the Battle of Pydna, which decided the fate of Macedonia and made northern Greece subject to Rome. He was adopted by Publius Cornelius Scipio, the eldest son of Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, and his name was changed to Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus. He therefore was the nephew of Publius Cornelius Scipio's wife, Aemilia Tertia - as Aemilia and Lucius were siblings and their father was Lucius Aemilius Paullus.
In 151 BC, a time of disaster for the Romans in Spain, he voluntarily offered his services in that province and developed influence over the native tribes similar to that which Scipio Africanus, his grandfather by adoption, had acquired nearly 60 years before. Though Carthage had been reduced in power following the Second Punic War, there was still lingering resentment in Rome. Cato the Elder, for example, ended every speech (no matter the subject) by saying, "Also, I think Carthage must be destroyed." In 150 BC an appeal was made to Scipio by the Carthaginians to act as mediator between them and the Numidian prince Massinissa who, supported by a party at Rome, was incessantly encroaching on Carthaginian territory. In 149 BC war was declared by Rome, and a force sent to besiege Carthage.
In the early operations of the war, which went altogether unfavourably for the Romans, Scipio Aemilianus, though a subordinate officer, distinguished himself repeatedly, and in 147 BC he was elected consul, while yet under the minimal age required by law to hold this office, and assigned the province of Africa (the theater of the siege) without drawing lots, so that he might take charge of the military operations there. After a year of desperate fighting and splendid heroism on the part of the defenders he took the city of Carthage, taking about 50,000 survivors (about one-tenth of the city's population) prisoner, and, complying with the mandate of the Senate, ordered the city razed to the ground and plowed over after being evacuated and set on fire, ending the Third Punic War. He is recounted by Polybius to have uttered, after issuing the order: "It is a grand thing; but I shudder to think that one day someone may give the same order for Rome." On his return to Rome he received a Triumph, having also established a personal claim to his adoptive agnomen of Africanus.
In 142 BC, during his censorship, he endeavoured to check the growing luxury and immorality of the period. In 139 BC he was unsuccessfully accused of high treason by Tiberius Claudius Asellus, whom he had degraded when censor. The speeches delivered by him on that occasion (now lost) were considered brilliant. In 134 BC he was again consul, with the province of Spain, where a demoralized Roman army was vainly attempting the conquest of Numantia on the Durius (Duero) and the closing of the Numantine War. After devoting several months to restoring the discipline of his troops, he reduced the city by blockade. The fall of Numantia in 133 established the Roman dominion in the province of Hither Spain. For his services Scipio Aemilianus received the additional agnomen of "Numantinus".
Scipio Aemilianus himself, though not in sympathy with the extreme conservative party, was not present in Italy at the time of Tiberius Gracchus and thus took no sides. Since he had not opposed Gaius Laelius Sapiens' land reform law, it is likely that he would have supported the concept. Nonetheless, he was decidedly opposed to the practices of the Gracchi (whose sister Sempronia was his wife). When he heard of the death of Tiberius Gracchus, he is said to have quoted the line from the Homer's Odyssey (i. 47), "So may all who engage in such lawless conspiracies perish"; after his return to Rome he was publicly asked by the tribune Gaius Papirius Carbo what he thought of the fate of Gracchus, and replied that he was justly slain. The crowd listening to this comment responded with jeers, to which Scipio quickly replied: "I have never been scared by the shouts of the enemy in arms. Shall I be frightened by your outcries, you stepsons of Italy?" (Ward). This gave dire offence to the popular party, which was now led by his bitterest foes. He soon became an advocate of the Italians who disapproved of some aspects of the Lex Sempronia Agraria, fearing that their land would be confiscated. Soon afterwards, in 129 BC, on the morning of the day on which he had intended to make a speech in support of the Italians, he was found dead in bed with marks "allegedly evident" on his body. There have been three scenarios proposed for his death; murder, suicide, or suffocation. The mystery of his death was never solved.
Scipio, when he looked upon the city as it was utterly perishing and in the last throes of its complete destruction, is said to have shed tears and wept openly for his enemies. After being wrapped in thought for long, and realizing that all cities, nations, and authorities must, like men, meet their doom; that this happened to Ilium, once a prosperous city, to the empires of Assyria, Media, and Persia, the greatest of their time, and to Macedonia itself, the brilliance of which was so recent, either deliberately or the verses escaping him, he said:
And when Polybius speaking with freedom to him, for he was his teacher, asked him what he meant by the words, they say that without any attempt at concealment he named his own country, for which he feared when he reflected on the fate of all things human. Polybius actually heard him and recalls it in his history.
Scipio Aemilianus will forever be associated with the destruction of Carthage. Although he dutifully carried out the will of the Senate, the horror he expressed at its fate speaks to his humanity. He was a man of culture and refinement; he gathered round him such men as the Greek historian Polybius, the Stoic philosopher Panaetius, and the poets Lucilius and Terence—a group that came to be known as the Scipionic circle. At the same time he had all the virtues of an old-fashioned Roman, according to Polybius and Cicero, the latter of whom gives an appreciation of him in his De re publica, in which Scipio Aemilianus is the chief speaker. As a speaker he seems to have been no less distinguished than as a soldier. He spoke remarkably good and pure Latin, and he particularly enjoyed serious and intellectual conversation. After the capture of Carthage he gave back to the Greek cities of Sicily the works of art of which Carthage had robbed them. He did not avail himself of the many opportunities he must have had of amassing a fortune. Though politically opposed to the Gracchi, he cannot be said to have been a foe to the interests of the people. He was, in fact, a moderate man, in favor of conciliation, and he was felt by the best men to be a safe political adviser, but as often happens to moderate men in radical times he ended disliked by both parties.
Despite moderation in policy, his oratory was noted for its sharp witticisms, a number of which have been quoted in various sources (Astin). Astin suggests that while his biting comments were doubtless appreciated by the crowds, they could have also had the effect of making enemies out of political opponents.
Ancient history is the aggregate of past events from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages or the Postclassical Era. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Sumerian Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC.
The term classical antiquity is often used to refer to history in the Old World from the beginning of recorded Greek history in 776 BC (First Olympiad). This roughly coincides with the traditional date of the founding of Rome in 753 BC, the beginning of the history of ancient Rome, and the beginning of the Archaic period in Ancient Greece. Although the ending date of ancient history is disputed, some Western scholars use the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, the closure of the Platonic Academy in 529 AD, the death of the emperor Justinian I, the coming of Islam or the rise of Charlemagne as the end of ancient and Classical European history.
The 1st millennium BC encompasses the Iron Age and sees the rise of many successive empires, and spanned from 1000 BC to 1 BC.
The Neo-Assyrian Empire, followed by the Achaemenids. In Greece, Classical Antiquity begins with the colonization of Magna Graecia and peaks with the rise of Hellenism. The close of the millennium sees the rise of the Roman Empire. In South Asia, the Vedic civilization blends into the Maurya Empire. The early Celts dominate Central Europe while Northern Europe is in the Pre-Roman Iron Age. The Scythians dominate Central Asia. In China, the Spring and Autumn period sees the rise of Confucianism. Towards the close of the millennium, the Han Dynasty extends Chinese power towards Central Asia, where it borders on Indo-Greek and Iranian states. Yayoi period in Japanese islands. The Maya civilization rises in Central America, while in Africa, Ancient Egypt begins its decline, rise of the Nubian Empire, and Aksum's birth. The religions of Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism (Vedic religion and Vedanta), Jainism and Buddhism develop. Graeco-Roman Europe, India and China see the rise of literature. World population greatly increases in the course of the millennium, reaching some 170 to 400 million people at its close depending on the estimates used.
Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus (Latin: TI·SEMPRONIVS·TI·F·P·N·GRACCVS; b. abt 163 BC - 162 BC d.133 BC) was a Roman Populares politician of the 2nd century BC and brother of Gaius Gracchus. As a plebeian tribune, his reforms of agrarian legislation sought to transfer wealth from the wealthy, patricians and otherwise, to the poor and caused political turmoil in the Republic.
These reforms threatened the holdings of rich landowners in Italy. He was murdered, along with many of his supporters, by members of the Roman Senate and supporters of the conservative Optimate faction.
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The Crises of the Roman Republic refers to an extended period of political instability and social unrest that culminated in the demise of the Roman Republic and the advent of the Roman Empire, from about 134 BC to 44 BC.
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Ancient Rome was a Italic civilization that began growing on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to become one of the largest empires in the ancient world with an estimated 50 to 90 million inhabitants (roughly 20% of the world's population) and covering 6.5 million square kilometers (2.5 million sq mi) during its height between the first and second centuries AD.
Roman consul accompanied by two lictors
The Gracchi brothers, Tiberius and Gaius, were Roman plebeian nobiles who both served as tribunes in the late 2nd century BC. They attempted to pass land reform legislation that would redistribute the major patrician landholdings among the plebeians, in addition to other reform measures. After achieving some early success, both were assassinated for their efforts.