The Revolution of Gaius Gracchus

Date
2014-09-26
Authors
Fukumoto, Clarence
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract
The purpose of this thesis is to discuss how Gaius Gracchus attempted to solve the economic and social problems, generated in part by the Roman conquests, which were confronting the Roman Republic. In order to clarify this subject I have begun with a short description of Rome's expansion from its inception as a Republic c. 509 B.C. to the destruction of Corinth in 146 B.C. Following this survey of conquests is an analysis of the changes that occurred in Rome and the problems which these changes created. Following this analysis is a discussion of the tribuneship of Gaius ' older brother, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. This discussion is devoted primarily to Tiberius' agrarian law. These four areas--conquests, changes, problems and Tiberius Gracchus---introduce the reader to the conditions which led up to the reforms of Gaius Gracchus. The discussion of Gaius' reforms is divided into three general areas: 1) Creation of a political coalition, 2) attack on senatorial powers, and 3) amelioration of social and economic problems. In this way the individual aspects of Gaius ' reforms can be treated more easily. This presupposes that he was not oriented in only one direction when formulating his reforms. Many authors have neglected one or two aspects of his reforms. They do not always acknowledge the magnitude of Gaius' political skills. They fail to realize that a piece of legislation may include more than one facet. For example, by the Lex Frumentaria he not only courted the city voters, but also attempted to help the poor by stabilizing the economic situation. Through this paper it will be my aim to show that Gaius attempted to solve the economic and social problems primarily by overthrowing the senatorial oligarchy which controlled the government. His attempts to directly solve the Republic's problems played a secondary role. Hence he will be shown as an instigator of nothing short of a revolution in the government of Rome.
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