Assess The Impact Of The Gracchi On The Roman Republic.

1596 words - 6 pages

Few figures in Roman history had the unforeseen historical impact of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. Their careers prefigured so much of what led to the fall of the Roman Republic, which Scullard conveys when he says that they "...precipitated the revolution that overthrew the Republic" . The Gracchi brought about huge political, economic and social changes, all of which impacted both immediately and created repercussions for the future. Their reforms had a powerful impact on the tribunate and the people's assemblies, divided the ruling class into two political groups, resulted in introducing the senatus consultum ultimum into roman politic, sanctioned the use political murder and violence and initiated civil war and riot. Paterculus says, when speaking of Gaius (but also for Tiberius):"He left nothing undisturbed, nothing untouched, nothing unmolested, nothing, in short, as it had been" . In this way it is evident that the Gracchi had a powerful impact on the roman republic.The Gracchi showed the way for future tribunates how the tribunate could be used as an instrument of change. They had used it to undermine the traditional powers of the senate and revealed the potential for ambitious men to promote their own political careers. According to Crawford 'the awfulness of the way in which the tribunate had been politicized the normally passive majority of the senate and produced a climate of opinion hostile to gradual reform' . On Tiberius' behalf this was achieved by bypassing the senate with the Lex Agraria. The immediate outcome of this was that "...the resettlement of citizens on land would at a stroke enhance the body of manpower available for legionary recruitment" Appian asserts that the Lex Agraria impacted by benefiting the Italians whereas according to Cicero: "...the Latins have been roused to anger, treaties have been broken, the commissioners are disturbing everything and devising something new every day, all worthy citizens are in a state of anguish". Tiberius also did this by deposing Octavius, receiving funding for the land commission and standing for re-election. All of these actions challenged convention and led to some senators, for example, Scipio Nasica, to believe that the republic was under threat. However, realistically there was no physical threat to the Republic, rather it was their traditional authority, that is, the personal status and power of the senate that was threatened. According to R.E Smith: "The Gracchi undid the revolution of centuries" by this manipulation of the role of the tribunate.In the same way, Gaius Gracchus also had a powerful impact on the roman republic. His reforms included "...giving the citizenship to all Italians, extending it almost to the Alps, distributing the public domain, limiting the holdings of each citizen to five hundred acres, as had once been provided by the Licinian law, establishing new customs duties, filling the provinces with new colonies, transferring the judicial powers from the...

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