The Worlds Famous Orations. Rome (218 B.C.84 A.D.). 1906.
II. Fragments by Caius Gracchus
The Gracchi (d.121 B.C.)
(About 122 B.C.)
Born about 161 B.C.; served in Spain with Scipio Africanus Minor; Questor in Sardinia in 126123; elected Tribune of the people in 123, when he secured a renewal of the Agrarian Law passed in the time of his brother, built and improved roads, and sought to establish democratic government in Rome; reelected Tribune in 122; failed of reelection in 121; killed in a disturbance in Rome in 121.
MY1 life in the province was not planned to suit my ambition, but your interests. There was no gormandizing with me, no handsome slaves in waiting, and at my table your sons saw more seemliness than at headquarters. No man can say without lying that I ever took a farthing as a present or put anyone to expense. I was there two years; and if a single courtezan ever crossed my doors, or if proposals from me were ever made to anyones slave-pet, set me down for the vilest and most infamous of men. And if I was so scrupulous toward slaves, you may judge what my life must have been with your sons. And, citizens, here is the fruit of such a life. I left Rome with a full purse and have brought it back empty. Others took out their wine jars full of wine, and brought them back full of money.
Your forefathers declared war against Felisci, in order to revenge the cause of Genucius, one of their tribunes, to whom that people had given scurrilous language; and they thought capital punishment little enough for Caius Veturius, because he alone did not break way for a tribune, who was passing through the forum. But you suffered Tiberius to be despatched with bludgeons before your eyes, and his dead body to be dragged from the Capitol through the middle of the city in order to be thrown into the river. Such of his friends, too, as fell into their hands, were put to death without form of trial. Yet, by the custom of our country, if any person under a prosecution for a capital crime did not appear, an officer was sent to his door in the morning, to summon him by sound of trumpet, and the judges would never pass sentence before so public a citation. So tender were our ancestors in any matter where the life of a citizen was concerned.2
Note 1. Caius Gracchus was the greatest orator of his time in Rome. Dion Cassius, the historian, who lived 300 years later than Caius, has preserved for us the tradition that was still extant in his time. He says Caius far surpassed Tiberius in his gift of language and was the first to walk up and down in the assemblies which he haranged, and the first to bear his arms; hence neither of these practises has been thought improper since he employed them. Plutarch confirms this testimony: When he entered upon his office he soon became the leading tribune, partly by means of his eloquence, in which he was greatly superior to the rest, and partly on account of the misfortunes of his family, which gave him opportunity to bewail the cruel fate of his brothers. Cicero born sixteen years after the death of Caius, said he was the first man who, in an old literature, appeared with a new language. [back]