Gaius now came forward with another measure which marked
him as an able and prudent statesman. He proposed to bestow the right of voting
in the Roman assemblies upon the inhabitants of the Latin colonies. He
thought, also, that the Italian allies should be allowed to intermarry with
Romans and hold property under the protection of the Roman law. No doubt Gaius
believed that the time might come when all the Italian peoples would be
citizens of Rome. This time did come, thirty years later, but only after a
terrible war that nearly ruined Rome.
FAILURE AND DEATH OF GAIUS, 121 B.C.
The effort by Gaius to extend Roman citizenship cost the
reformer all his hard-won popularity. It aroused the jealousy of the selfish
city mob, which believed that the entrance of so many new citizens would mean
the loss of its privileges. There would not be so many free shows and so much
cheap grain. So the people rejected the measure and, turning from their former
favorite, failed to reëlect him to the tribunate. When Gaius was no longer
protected by the sanctity of the tribune's office, he fell an easy victim
to senatorial hatred. Another bloody tumult broke out, in which Gaius and three
thousand of his followers perished. The consul who quelled the disturbance
erected at the head of the Forum a temple to Harmony (_Concordia_).
THE GRACCHI BEGIN THE REVOLUTION
The pathetic career of the Gracchi had much significance
in Roman history. They were the unconscious sponsors of a revolutionary
movement which did not end until the republic had come under the rule of one
man. They failed because they put their trust in the support of the Roman mob.
Future agitators were to appear with the legionaries at their heels.