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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
VIII. THE GREAT AGE OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC, 264-31 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 19
AN EFFORT TO EXTEND ROMAN CITIZENSHIP
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.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy