Western Civilization lesson 45

Why did Tiberius Gracchus attract so much suspicion from the Roman Senate?

Tiberius Gracchus attracted suspicion from the Roman Senate like a magnet. He threatened Roman tradition and thus the power of the Senate, which eventually cost him his life.

His story began directly after the second Punic war when all of the soldiers came home to find their dwellings destroyed by the conflict. However they still owned land of some value so they sold to the war profiteers and migrated to the city in search of employment. But when they arrived they were promptly turned away. All of the jobs in the city were already occupied by slaves and so the men had only one hope left; returning to the army. Even that hope was denied by the law that stated only land-holders were allowed to fight.

This is where Tiberius entered with a flourish. Being an army veteran himself, he felt sorry for his fellow servicemen. In the senate, he schemed, connived, and got his hands dirty! His bill—which declared post-military men REAL men by giving them soil to squeeze in their fists—passed. These landowners lubricated their larynxes with lager in large lusty leagues. However Tiberius had committed a grave wrong. Any project in the city was to be taken up before the Senate and Tiberius had neglected to do so, knowing that it would be rejected due to his lack of sympathizers within the council. How then did he pass it, you may ask? He took his proposition to the lower council of the everyday folk. They adored his idea to help their people and helpfully allowed the bill to be passed. The Senate narrowed its stink eye in his direction and refused to fund his project. Tiberius kept his cool because he had another option. A neighboring king had died, leaving his land to Rome, and Tiberius publicly declared that the people’s taxes were to be spent as his funding.

Over time Tiberius pissed off the Senate more and more until a fateful political rally where he finally met his maker. Things were getting heated in the plaza and so Tiberius made a pre-arranged signal to his bodyguards that he was feeling unsafe in the crowd. A few attending Senate members witnessed this gesture of his hand to his head and mistook it as his wish for a crown so he could become king. In the midst of the frenzied fighting that ensued, Tiberius and many of his allies were bludgeoned to death.

In the end, Tiberius’s ambition and bold actions were his downfall. He never should have bucked the Senate’s source of power: tradition.

This paper is titled: Tiberius Passes, and Things get Messy. The reason it’s not at the top of the page is because it is purely an inside joke with my mom and it might not make sense to everyone.

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