| Plutarch's Lives for Boys and Girls|
|by W. H. Weston|
|Selected lives from Plutarch admirably retold by W. H. Weston, including six Greeks (Aristides, Themistocles, Pelopidas, Timoleon, Alexander, Philopoemen) and six Romans (Coriolanus, Tiberius Gracchus, Caius Gracchus, Caius Marius, Julius Caesar, and Brutus). Introductory material by the reteller sets each life in its historical context. Ages 10-14 |
WHETHER it was that Caius Gracchus felt some fear
of the enemies of his house, or whether he wanted to
make them more hateful to the people, certain it is
that at first, after the murder of his brother, he absented
himself from the Forum, and kept himself close within
his own dwelling. But he was, indeed, a very young
man at the time, for Tiberius, who was nine years she
 elder, was not quite thirty years of age at the time of
his death. However, it soon appeared that Caius was
preparing to take part in public affairs.
He showed such powers of eloquence in the defence
of one of his friends, that all the other orators seemed
but children in comparison, and the people were transported
with enthusiasm. The nobles, however, regarded
the powers thus revealed with fear and apprehension,
and at once began to take measures to prevent his
advancement to the office of tribune.
His enemies were pleased to get rid of him when
it fell to his lot to attend the consul as quaestor in an
expedition to Sardinia. Caius, however, felt no
uneasiness as to the result, for he had as good a talent for
military matters as for oratory. Indeed, he thought
himself fortunate in being sent abroad, for he had
some natural apprehension, after his brother's fate, of
taking any share in the politics of Rome.
It is a common opinion that Caius, of his own
accord, became a violent political leader. This,
however, is not true, and it seems to have been rather
necessity than choice that brought him into politics.
Cicero, the orator, tells us that Caius avoided all office,
and had resolved to live in a private station, but that
the shade of his brother Tiberius appeared to him.
'Why dost thou delay, Caius?' said the spirit. 'For
us the Fates have decreed the same path and the same
death for the people. There is no other way.'
Caius distinguished himself in Sardinia above all
the other young Romans, not only in combat with the
enemy, but also in justice to those who submitted,
and in respect and assistance to his general. He
excelled even the veterans in temperance, in simplicity
of food, and in devotion to labour.
 A severe and unhealthy winter came on While the
army was in Sardinia, and the general demanded
clothing for his men from the cities of the island. The
towns, however, appealed to Rome against this burden,
and the general was ordered to find some other means
of supplying the needs of the army. Caius thereupon
applied to the towns in person, and such was his
influence that they voluntarily supplied the clothing.
The senate was alarmed at this instance of the
popularity that attended Caius, and determined to
keep him away from Rome. They therefore made a
decree, that when the ordinary soldiers on service in
Sardinia were relieved by others, the consul should
remain, in order that Caius as quwstor should also be
detained with him.
When this order came to Caius, his anger overcame
him. In defiance of it he embarked and arrived in
Rome when nobody was expecting him. Not only did
his enemies now blame him, but the general body of
the people thought it strange that the qusestor should
return without his general. A charge was laid against
him, but he defended himself so well that opinion was
entirely charged, and it was seen that he had indeed
been ill-used. 'I have served twelve campaigns,
whereas I was obliged to serve but ten. I have attended
my general as quaestor three years instead of the legal
term of one year.' lie added, moreover, 'I alone went
out with a full purse and return with it empty, While
others, having drunk the wine they carried out, return
with the vessels filled with gold and silver.'
After this other charges were brought against
him, but he cleared himself of all suspicion. Then,
his innocence being fully established, he offered himself
as a candidate for the office of tribune. The patricians
 exerted every effort in opposition to him, but such a
great number came into the city from all parts to
support him, that the meeting-place would not hold
the multitude, and some of the people gave their voices
from the housetops.
However, the patricians were so far successful that
they prevented Caius from obtaining the first place in
the election, and he was returned fourth on the list.
But when he had entered upon the duties of the office,
he soon obtained a leading place among the tribunes.
This he owed partly to his gifts of eloquence, in which
he greatly excelled the others, and partly to the memory
of his brother's services and unhappy fate. Caius
indeed constantly returned to this subject, and
reproached the people for allowing the murder. 'Your
ancestors,' he said, 'made war to avenge an insult
offered to one of their tribunes. Indeed, they thought
death itself not too heavy a punishment for a man who
refused to make way for the tribune when he was crossing
the Forum. But you suffered Tiberius to be bludgeoned
to death before your eyes, and his body to be dragged
shamefully through the city, and cast into the river.'
Such speeches were heard by great numbers, for
his voice was so powerful that he could be heard by a
multitude. Having thus prepared the way, he pro
posed two laws. The purport of the first was that any
magistrate who had been deposed by the people should
thenceforth be incapable of holding any office. This
law was aimed at Octavius, the man who had been
deprived of his tribuneship by the agency of Tiberius.
The second proposed that any magistrate who banished
a citizen without trial should answer to the people for
his conduct. In this Caius struck at Popilius, who
had banished the friends of Tiberius. Popilius, being
 afraid to stand the issue of a trial, fled from Italy.
The other proposal Caius dropped because his mother
Cornelia interceded for Octavius.
The people were quite content to have it so, for they
honoured Cornelia greatly, not only on account of her
sons, but also on account of her father. They
afterwards erected a statue in her honour which bore this inscription
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