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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


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Page 43

Overthrow of Gracchus

It was, apparently, this success which emboldened the senate to attempt the overthrow of the victorious demagogue. The weapons of attack were substantially the same with which Gracchus himself had formerly operated. The power of Gracchus rested on the mercantile class and the proletariate; primarily on the latter, which in this conflict, wherein neither side had any military reserve, acted as it were the part of an army. It was clear that the senate was not powerful enough to wrest either from the merchants or from the proletariate their new privileges; any attempt to assail the corn- laws or the new jury-arrangement would have led, under a somewhat grosser or somewhat more civilized form, to a street-riot in presence of which the senate was utterly defenceless.

But it was no less clear, that Gracchus himself and these merchants and proletarians were only kept together by mutual advantage, and that the men of material interests were ready to accept their posts, and the populace strictly so called its bread, quite as well from any other as from Gaius Gracchus. The institutions of Gracchus stood, for the moment at least, immoveably firm with the exception of a single one--his own supremacy. The weakness of the latter lay in the fact, that in the constitution of Gracchus there was no relation of allegiance subsisting at all between the chief and the army; and, while the new constitution possessed all other elements of vitality, it lacked one--the moral tie between ruler and ruled, without which every state rests on a pedestal of clay.

In the rejection of the proposal to admit the Latins to the franchise it had been demonstrated with decisive clearness that the multitude in fact never voted for Gracchus, but always simply for itself. The aristocracy conceived the plan of offering battle to the author of the corn-largesses and land-assignations on his own ground.

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