Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
 THE two Gracchi, brothers in blood, were both inspired with the
sense of the evils produced by the decrease in the number of
freemen and the increase in the number of slaves in the Roman
state, and by the tendency of wealth to pass more and more
into the hands of the few at the expense of the many.
Both Tiberius and Caius set themselves to remedy these
evils, and, just as they were alike in the objects to which they
devoted their lives, so they were also alike in suffering cruel
and unjust deaths at the hands of their opponents.
Both brothers were inspired by noble and worthy motives,
but of the two Tiberius, the elder, was the nobler and purer
character. It must, however, be allowed that even Tiberius,
in the heat of party strife, broke the laws in order to attain his
ends. The handle which he gave to his enemies by so doing
furnishes, however, little or no excuse for his brutal murder.
Caius, moved by a more fiery and vehement temper, and
also perhaps by resentment at his brother's fate, was more
violent and headstrong in his measures, and less free from
personal ambition than Tiberius. Indeed, it is generally
admitted that, though most of his measures effected useful
reforms, yet some were injurious to the state in the long-run.
Nothing, however, can excuse the means by which the senate
succeeded in compassing his death.
The murders of the Gracchi and of their adherents mark
the beginning of the series of bloody reigns of terror by which
triumphant political parties avenged themselves upon their
opponents during the latter years of the Roman Republic. The
death of the two brothers left the nobles triumphant, until
there arose to power the terrible, low-born Caius Marius, who
took savage vengeance upon their party. Indeed, this violent
and bloodthirsty party spirit in Rome furnishes the key to much
 that you will read in those lives which follow in this book; the
lives of the Gracchi, of Caius Marius, of Julius Caesar, and of
Tiberius Gracchus perished in 133 B.c., Caius twelve years