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During the last century of the Roman Republic there were major reforms at issue. Name the reforms and whether they were favorable or not.

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1. During the last century of the Roman Republic there were major reforms at issue. Name the reforms and whether they were favorable or not.

Tiberius Gracchus's (B.C. 133) Reforms:

1. Agrarian Laws. Tiberius Gracchus was elected tribune and began his work of reform (B.C. 133). He believed that the wretched condition of the Roman people was due chiefly to the unequal division of the public land, and especially to the failure to enforce the Licinian laws. He therefore proposed to revive these laws; to limit the holding of public land to five hundred iugera (about three hundred acres) for each person; to pay the present holders for any improvements they had made; and then to rent the land thus taken up to the poorer class of citizens. This seemed fair enough; for the state was the real owner of the public land, and could do what it wished with its own. But the rich landlords; who had held possession of this land for so many years, looked upon the measure as the same thing as taking away their own property. When it was now proposed to redistribute this land, there immediately arose a fierce conflict between the old senatorial party and the followers of Tiberius. http://www.forumromanum.org/history/morey19.html

Did it work? No, because he passed the law without the consent of the Senate. Tiberius was determined to pass his law in spite of the senate. The senate, on the other hand, was equally determined that the law should not be passed. Accordingly, the senators induced one of the tribunes, whose name was M. Octavius, to put his "veto" upon the passage of the law. This act of Octavius was entirely legal, for he did what the law gave him the right to do. Tiberius, on the other hand, in order to outdo his opponent, had recourse to a highhanded measure. Instead of waiting a year for the election of new tribunes who might be devoted to the people's cause, he called upon the people to deprive Octavius of his office. This was an illegal act, because there was no law, which authorized such a proceeding. But the people did as Tiberius desired, and Octavius was deposed. The law of Tiberius was then passed in the assembly of the tribes, and three commissioners were chosen to carry it into effect. This of course roused the indignation of the senators, who determined to prosecute Tiberius when his term of office had expired. Tiberius knew that as long as he held the office of tribune his person would be sacred, and he could not be tried for his action; hence he announced himself as a candidate for re-election. This, too, was illegal, for the law forbade a reelection until after an interval of ten years. http://www.forumromanum.org/history/morey19.html

The law of Tiberius and the method, which he had used to pass it, increased the bitterness between the aristocratic party and the popular party who came to be known, respectively, as the optimates and the populares. The senators denounced Tiberius as a traitor; the people extolled him as a patriot. The day appointed for the election came. Two tribes had already voted for the re-election of Tiberius, when a band of senators appeared in the Forum, headed by Scipio Nasica, armed with sticks and clubs; and in the riot which ensued Tiberius Gracchus and three hundred of his followers were slain. This was the first blood shed in the civil wars of Rome. The killing of a tribune by the senators was as much an illegal act as was the deposition of Octavius. Both parties had disregarded the law, and the revolution was begun. http://www.forumromanum.org/history/morey19.html

Gaius Gracchus's Reforms:

After the death of Tiberius his law was for a time carried into execution. The commissioners proceeded with their work of re-dividing the land. But the people were for a time without a real leader. The cause of reform was then taken up by Gaius Gracchus, the brother of Tiberius, and the conflict was renewed. Gaius was in many respects an abler man than Tiberius. No more sincere and patriotic, he was yet a broader statesman and took a wider view of the situation. He did not confine his attention simply to relieving the poor citizens. He believed that to rescue Rome from her troubles, it was necessary to weaken the power of the senate, whose selfish and avaricious policy had brought on these troubles. He also believed that the Latins and the Italians should be protected, as well as the poor Roman citizens.

2. His Efforts to Benefit the People. When Gaius Gracchus obtained the position of tribune (B.C. 123) his influence for a time was all-powerful. He was eloquent and persuasive, and practically had the control of the government. From his various laws we may select those, which were the most important, and which, best show his general policy. First of all, he tried to help the people by a law, which was really the most mischievous of all his measures. This was his famous "corn law." It was intended to benefit the poor population in the city, which was at that time troublesome and not easy to control. The law provided that any Roman citizen could receive grain from the public storehouses for a certain price less than its cost. But the number of the poor in the city was not decreased; the paupers now flocked to Rome from all parts of Italy to be fed at the public crib. This Corn Law became a permanent institution of Rome. We may judge of its evil effect when it is said that not many years afterward there were three hundred and twenty thousand citizens who were dependent upon the government for their food. Gaius may not have known what evil effect this law was destined to produce. At any rate, it insured his popularity with the lower classes. He then renewed the agrarian laws of his brother; and also provided for sending out colonies of poor citizens into different parts of Italy, and even into the provinces.

3. His Efforts to Weaken the Senate. But Gaius believed that such measures as these ...

Solution Summary

During the last century of the Roman Republic there were major reforms at issue. This solution names reforms and whether they were favorable or not. References are provided.