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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


IV. The Revolution

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter II - The Reform Movement and Tiberius Gracchus


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Page 54

The Domain Question before the Burgesses

But, if the aim of Tiberius Gracchus probably appeared to the great majority of the discerning friends of their country good and salutary, the method which he adopted, on the other hand, did not and could not meet with the approval of a single man of note and of patriotism. Rome about this period was governed by the senate. Any one who carried a measure of administration against the majority of the senate made a revolution. It was revolution against the spirit of the constitution, when Gracchus submitted the domain question to the people; and revolution also against the letter, when he destroyed not only for the moment but for all time coming the tribunician veto-- the corrective of the state machine, through which the senate constitutionally got rid of interferences with its government--by the deposition of his colleague, which he justified with unworthy sophistry.

But it was not in this step that the moral and political mistake of the action of Gracchus lay. There are no set forms of high treason in history; whoever provokes one power in the state to conflict with another is certainly a revolutionist, but he may be at the same time a discerning and praiseworthy statesman. The essential defect of the Gracchan revolution lay in a fact only too frequently overlooked--in the nature of the then existing burgess-assemblies. The agrarian law of Spurius Cassius(35) and that of Tiberius Gracchus had in the main the same tenor and the same object; but the enterprises of the two men were as different, as the former Roman burgess-body which shared the Volscian spoil with the Latins and Hernici was different from the present which erected the provinces of Asia and Africa.

35. Cf. II. II. Agrarian Law of Spurius Cassius

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