THE LATE REPUBLIC (146-44 B.C.)
THE GRACCHI. (133-123 B.C.)
Two brothers, relatives of the Scipio family, one a brother-in-law of the Scipio who destroyed
Carthage in 146. They wanted to sponsor a conservative reform plan which would reestablish
the strength of the peasant citizen-soldier-farmer in Italy; but this was to be done by the
reclaiming of state land which was on long term lease to the rich (both Senators and
Equestrians). The rich considered this an economic threat of course, and also knew that the
beneficiaries of the Gracchan Plan would become loyal supporters of the Gracchi in politics.
The elder brother, TIBERIUS GRACCHUS, was assassinated by a group of senators
(led by his cousin, who was Pontifex Maximus) when he tried to implement his plan as Tribune
of the People (133 B.C.)
The younger brother, GAIUS GRACCHUS, tried again (123, 122), by offering
various `benefits' to pressure groups in exchange for their support:
- -to the EQUESTRIANS: control of the JURIES in extortion court
- -to the URBAN PLEBS: grain at subsidized prices
- -to TAX CONTRACTORS: chance to bid on taxes for new province in Asia
Minor under good conditions
- -to ALL CITIZENS: guarantee of real right of APPEAL to the popular assembly
- -to NON-PROPERTIED: COLONIES (e.g. at Carthage) and land allotments
This threatened traditional SENATORIAL CONTROL over politics, and the younger
Gracchus too was assassinated before he could complete his work Such senatorial tactics
were justified by the new concept of martial law, the SENATUS CONSULTUM
ULTIMUM, in which the Senate voted to advise the magistrates to "see to it that the
state should come to no harm".
WAR IN AFRICA: JUGURTHINE WAR (112-107)
The war brought to prominence the non-aristocratic GAIUS
MARIUS, whose friends used the plebeian assembly to attack the
senate and magistrates and overturn their decisions.
[A monograph about this war survives, written by the Historian Sallust, ca. 42
CONSUL in 107, 104, 103, 102, 101, 100, and 86 (unprecedented!!)
Due to the
military emergency he authorized, for the first time, the recruiting of new citizen-soldiers who
did NOT have property (This was the beginning of the professional soldier, which became a
pressure group of its own, demanding from its generals pay, bonuses, and discharge
arrangements; since (ex-)soldiers voted, they were very influential). When Marius died (and his
son committed suicide in a civil war against Sulla in 81) the influence of Marius and his friends
passed to his wife's nephew, JULIUS CAESAR (100-44 B.C.); Caesar therefore inherited a big
block of voters and an anti-senatorial viewpoint (even though he was one of the most aristocratic
of all the aristocrats).
WARS AGAINST MITHRIDATES OF PONTUS
- I (88-85) SULLA
- II (74-68) LUCULLUS
- III (66-63) The THIRD WAR brought to power the successful ex-protege of Sulla,
POMPEY THE GREAT. In this war he conquered some 12.2 million
new subjects of Rome, and ended the Greek Seleucid Empire of Syria.
On his return to Rome, he and Julius Caesar were on a collision
- CAESAR (who was ambitious to have a consulship; his finances were in terrible shape),
- POMPEY (who needed the ratification of his political arrangements in the East
and some sort of discharge settlement for his soldiers), and
- CRASSUS (who had financial interests, political proteges to support, and an
ambition to outstrip Pompey by holding a great military command)
combined to form the
FIRST TRIUMVIRATE (2nd half of 60 B.C., to 53)
Using money and soldiers to vote, and
mobilizing the urban plebs, the three managed to get Caesar elected; Caesar
passed laws (over vigorous objections and violence to settle the Triumvirs'
claims for the next five years. This electoral conspiracy was highly illegal)
When Crassus died on campaign in Mesopotamia (Battle of Carrhae, 53,against
the Parthians) the Senate helped to steer Pompey onto a collisioncourse with
Caesar. The death of Pompey's wife, Caesar's daughter JULIA,ended their
The clash came when CAESAR crossed the RUBICON on the night of 7 January 49 B.C., leading to a civil
war. Pompey died at Pharsalus (48), Cato the Younger at Utica (46) and one of
Pompey's sons at MUNDA (45). Caesar was assassinated for what he was
(DICTATOR FOR LIFE, CONSUL every year) and what he might become when he
returned from aplanned War against Parthia (KING) on March 15, 44 B.C. (the
Ides of March)
This led to another round of wars, as Marcus ANTONIUS, OCTAVIAN (Young Caesar, the adopted
grand-nephew of the dead Dictator) and LEPIDUS worked together (as the
SECOND TRIUMVIRATE, 43-33 B.C.) and then against one another, to
claim the Caesarian inheritance.
At the Battle of Actium, on 2 September 31 B.C., ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA were defeated by
Octavian; when they committed suicide in Alexandria in the first week of
August, 30 B.C. Young CAESAR was left as sole possessor of the entire
Roman world. He finally returned to Rome and held three triumphs in August
On JANUARY 13, 27 B.C. Young Caesar announced in the Senate that he was renouncing all his
extraordinary powers and `RESTORING THE REPUBLIC'. In gratitude (the fix
was in) he was given the unique name Augustus, and a memorial gold shield
was hung in the Senate House commemorating his VALOR, CLEMENCY,
JUSTICE, AND PIETY. THE ROMAN REPUBLIC was, of course, dead.
INTEREST GROUPS OF THE II AND I CENT. B.C.
I. The ARMIES: serving overseas in provinces for long periods and demanding pay,
discharge bonuses, and land; they could be voters; they could vote for good
men as generals and upset senatorial arrangements. Sometimes they practiced
extortion on the State.
II. The GENERALS (Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Crassus, Caesar, Antony) needed political
settlements for friends and armies, and new wars to fight to continue their
reputations. Foreign affairs became a narrow field where self-interest
III. The Urban PLEBS: masses of citizens left homeless by Hannibal, by having been
forced to neglect their farms for service in the army overseas, and by land
buying by wealthy senators and equestrians who were building large
IV. The ITALIANS: partial citizens of Rome, who bore the same military risks as full
citizens, but under harsher discipline, smaller rewards, and neglect afterwards.
They wanted the vote.
V. FREEDMEN: more than 1.5 million foreigners brought to Italy between 200 and 150
B.C., and many thereafter; they needed legal protection when freed (as the
majority were) and a place in society. (cf. slaves & freedmen in Catiline's
- VI. ALLIES & SUBJECTS: educated and sophisticated, but exploited.
- Alan Astin, Scipio Aemilianus (Oxford 1971).
- Adrian Goldsworthy, The Roman Army at War., 100 BC–AD 200 (Oxford: Clarendon 1996).
- H. H. Scullard, From the Gracchi to Nero
- H. H. Scullard, Roman Politics 220-150 B.C. 2nd ed. (Oxford 1973).
- Erich Gruen, The Last Generation of the Roman Republic (Berkeley-Los Angeles: U Cal 1994 paper)
- David Stockton, The Gracchi (Oxford: Clarendon 1979).
- T.A. Carney, Gaius Marius
- Arthur Keaveny, Sulla: The Last Republican (London 1982).
- P. Greenhalgh, Pompey, The Roman Alexander (1981).
- P. Greenhalgh, Pompey, The Republican Prince (1982).
- John Leach, Pompey the Great (1978).
- Elizabeth Rawson, Cicero (London 1975).
- Manfred Fuhrmann, Cicero and the Roman Republic (Oxford: Blackwell 1992).
- Lily Ross Taylor, Party Politics in the Age of Caesar (Berkeley 1949).
- Matthias Gelzer, Caesar, Politician and Statesman (Harvard 1968).
- Christian Meier, Caesar. A Biography (NY: Basic Books 1982).
- Ernst Badian, Foreign Clientelae (Oxford 1958).
- A. W. Lintott, Violence in Republican Rome (Oxford 1968).
- Peter Brunt, Italian Manpower, 225 B.C.-A.D. 14 (Oxford 1971).
- Robin Seager (ed.) The Crisis of the Roman Republic (Cambridge 1969). [collection of articles]