The Gracchi were a powerful political family

The Gracchi were a powerful political family during the Roman republic.  Tiberius Gracchus was a Roman censor and twice consul. He made many political achievements but was most proud of his virtue. He had a younger brother named Gaius, and two sons, Agis and Cleomenes Gracchus. Along with their father, the two sons were disliked by many of the Romans but respected for their virtue and rigorous training. The Gracchi exemplified what an ideal leader was during the time of Rome by their political fortitude, the scorn of violence and selflessness to help the poor against the oppression of the rich.

Tiberius Gracchus born between 169-164 BC was the son of Tiberius Gracchus and Cornelia Africanus. Educated in the new Greek enlightenment, he was joined the group of liberal Roman families, leading him to be an agreeable man whose speeches were more respectful than persuasive.(Britannica) He was a plain and simple man.

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Many thought that he would make a worthy priest. He served in the army in the Third Punic War against Numantia under the Caius Marcius.(Tiberius Gracchus 168-133 BC) He was sent to hold a conference with the enemy and signed a truce due to his integrity and family reputation saving many Roman citizens lives.(Britannica) In 133 Gracchus was elected tribune.

His goals were economic and wanted to change laws to favor the poor over the rich. He proposed the creation of allotments for citizens after the war in his Agrarian reforms.(Tiberius Gracchus 168-133 BC)  He allied with the Claudian faction, but many powerful leaders especially Octavian  hated him and vetoed his proposed laws.(Britannica) He used is cleverness to devise a plan to remove Octavian from office and pass the agrarian bill.

(Britannica)  He showed the virtue of fortitude to look after the poor despite pressure from powerful figures telling him to do the opposite. He was murdered as a response to his reforms by a riot orchestrated by his opponents.(Britannica) He is remembered for his virtue of selflessness through an alternate story of his death where he was faced with the choice of killing either a male snake or a female snake. He could chose the male snake which would kill him but in return save his wife Cornelia or save himself by killing the female snake. He of course chose to sacrifice himself for his wife. After his death, his virtues was passed on to his brother two sons who would continue his political legacy. (Tiberius Gracchus 168-133 BC) From this historical figure, it is shown that people in ancient Rome wanted their leaders to be strong against political pressure, but also tend to the needs of the oppressed.

Similarly to his brother, Gaius Gracchi born 160-153 BC was educated in the new Greek Enlightenment. He acted as a land commissioner for Tiberius’s agrarian law.(Britannica) he to was elected tribune. Like his brother he possessed the virtue of cleverness and after entering office bent the rules however way he could.

He used the Assembly to pass reforms and counter the Senate. In particular Gaius passed a law concerning allocation of land to consuls which removed the power of the Senate to punish consuls they disapproved of andreward those they approved of .(Britannica) He passed another law regulating who qualified as a juror for a case and how voting tablets were distributed and collected. This was in response to corruption in the courts.(Britannica) Gaius showed that the Romans valued honoringfamily as he did for Tiberius, and exploiting rules for good intentions as he did as a consul to fight corruption. Agis and Cleomenes scorned wealth and felt that they were superior to others by not gaining wealth unrighteously. (Thayer) Just like their father, the Gracchi brothers were disliked by many Romans, but their goal was to create fair laws based on simplicity of life and equality of property.

(Thayer) They had good intentions to the point of trying to fix all government corruption at once saying small remedies were “nothing more than cutting off a Hydra’s heads”. Similar to Tiberius, The two brothers died selfless deaths. Rather than defend himself, Agis let a citizen kill him after they had a disagreement with each other. Cleomenes committed suicide before going out to defend his name against insults. The brothers greatly value pacifism at all costs, even their own lives. They refused to initiate civil slaughter. (Thayer).

The Roman Gracchi are examples of what values were respected in ancient Rome. Selflessness, pacifism within the state, and courage were the Gracchi’s most evident attributes, Tiberius looked after the lower class in society, and Agis and Cleomenes despite being courageous and skilled warriors, died on their own accord and scorned civil violence.


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