|The Story of Rome|
|by Mary Macgregor|
|A vivid account of the story of Rome from the earliest times to the death of Augustus, retold for children, chronicling the birth of a city and its growth through storm and struggle to become a great world empire. Gives short accounts of battles and campaigns, and of the men who expanded the borders of the Roman empire to include all lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Ages 10-14 |
THE DEATH OF TIBERIUS GRACCHUS
 TIBERIUS did all that was possible to influence the people in
the short time that was his before the votes were to be
taken. He appeared before them clad in mourning, and
bade them guard his young son should he not escape from
the coming contest with his life.
The citizens were easily moved, and his eloquent words
and sombre garb appealed to their imagination. They
flocked to his side, escorted him to his home, and
promised to give him their support on the morrow.
That night Tiberius arranged to give his friends a
sign—to raise his hand to his head—should he think it
necessary to use force.
Early the next morning the people assembled on the
Capitol, and Gracchus left his house to join them,
although he was warned that danger would overtake him.
Omens of ill were rife. As he left his house, Tiberius
stumbled and wounded his great toe so severely that the
blood dripped from his shoe. In spite of this accident
he went on, and before long he noticed two ravens
fighting on the top of a house. Gracchus was at the
moment surrounded by people, yet a stone struck from
the building by one of the ravens fell at his feet.
Even the boldest of his friends was daunted by such
occurrences. It was plain that it would be wise for
him to return to his home after such distinct warnings
But Gracchus went on toward the Capitol, where he was
joyfully greeted by his friends.
The voting began almost immediately, but again and
 again it was interrupted by the enemies of Gracchus,
until at length he determined to settle the matter by
He gave the signal he had arranged with his followers,
and they flew to his aid. Before long a riot had
begun, and the opponents of Gracchus were driven away
by a fierce attack of stones and cudgels.
The Optimates were enraged by this rebuff. They
declared in their anger that Gracchus wished to
overthrow the nobles that he might become king.
They had seen him raise his hand to his head. It was
the signal he had arranged to give his friends, but
they said that it was a sign to the people that he
hoped to wear a crown. Some even asserted that he had
already been presented with a royal diadem and a purple
The Consul, they agreed, ought to employ force to
scatter the followers of Gracchus.
But Mucius Scævola was a wise Consul, and refused to
kill a single citizen without a trial.
"Since the Consul betrays the republic," cried Scipio
Nasica, "I call upon those men to follow me who desire
to preserve the laws of our country." Then, drawing
his toga over his head, Nasica marched against the
followers of Gracchus at the head of a band of senators
The people saw the officers of state marching towards
them, and stricken with fear they fled, leaving
Gracchus, whom they had promised to defend, alone and
Tiberius hastened toward the temple of Jupiter,
thinking that he would find shelter there, but the
priest had closed the door.
As he turned away he stumbled for the second time that
day. But he quickly raised himself, only, however, to
be struck brutally on the head by one of his enemies.
Before he could recover from the blow, a second stroke
ended the life of the unfortunate man. Three hundred
of his followers were slain before the tumult ended,
and the bodies of the victims were thrown into the
 Gaius begged that he might be allowed to bury his
brother, but his request was refused, and the body of
Tiberius was also dragged to the river and flung into
Tiberius had paid with his life for his reforms, but he
had been successful in wresting the land laws from the
patricians, and in shaking the power of the Senate by
his appeal to the people. Nor was the law repealed
after his death.
The place left empty on the committee by the murder of
Tiberius was filled by Publius Crassus, the
father-in-law of Gaius, and the division of land for
the good of the people was slowly carried on.
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