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843

ROME-THE IMPERIAL REPUBLIC.

preserved a probably authentic story to the effect that when that ill-fated

city was taken Tiberius was the first man to scale the rampart. While

holding the office of augur he became intimate with Appius Claudius

Pulcher, who, though a senator, was deeply anxious on account of the evils

prevalent in the state. At a later date Tiberius served as quaestor in

Spain, in which office he achieved distinction by saving the army of

Mancinus from destruction. He aided in the conclusion of that treaty which

was rejected by the Senate -an act which caused him to go over to the

political party called the Populares-as opposed to the Optimates or the

senatorial party.

In B. C. 134, Tiberius, after his return from Spain, was elected tribune of

the people. Now it was that he began to agitate his measures for a general

reform in the state. His aims were to relieve the poor and to restore the

farming interest in Italy. He first secured the cooperation of his father-

in-law, Appius Claudius, Publius Crassus, who was at that time pontifex

maximus, and Publius Mucius Scaevola, one of the best lawyers of Rome.

With the counsel and assistance of these three influential citizens

Tiberius matured his measures, which were really as conservative as any

patriotic land-owner could have desired. The plans proposed contemplated,

first of all, a reenactment of the Licinian Law, which, never having been

repealed, was still nominally in force. To this statute certain clauses

were appended with a view of adapting it more perfectly to the altered

condition of society. Such was the sum and substance of the measure to the

passage of which Tiberius now devoted his whole energies.

The arguments which were advanced in favor of the proposed measures of

reform were unanswerable except in one particular. This point was that

since the Licinian Law had become a dead letter a new state of

circumstances had supervened, the undoing of which by the revival of the

old statute would work great hardship to the present possessors of the

lands. To this it could only be answered that the present possessors of

land, that is, those who held more than five hundred jugera of the aged

publicus did so contrary to law and with a knowledge of the fact. "We have

inherited the lands from our fathers and grandfathers," said the

monopolists. "Your fathers and grandfathers did not own them," said the

tribune.

When it became evident that the Optimates were going to be beaten in the

struggle they became desperate. They first suborned Octavius, one of the

tribunes of the people, to interpose his veto against the measures proposed

by his colleague. This temporary check, however, was quickly removed, for

the people, now thoroughly aroused and acting on the suggestion of

Tiberius, deposed Octavius from office, and the new statute was adopted. A

board of commissioners was thereupon appointed to carry into effect the

legislation which, though conservative in its own nature, was radical in

its application.

Great were the real difficulties which now appeared in the way of the

reform. The existing abuses had continued so long that it seemed impossible

to determine what was at present or had been originally a part of the aged

publicus, and what was truly private property. The condition of Rome, as it

respected her real estate, had been for centuries chaotic. A cosmos had now

to be established, and this, too, while the dispossessed spirits of the old

chaos still hovered over the flood and refused to be quieted. Believing

that if the decision of the question as to which was and which was not aged

publicus, should be left to the consuls and senate-with whom such matters

were lodged according to existing legislation-the whole scheme of reform

would be defeated, Tiberius adopted the extra-legal expedient of a

supplemental act empowering the commissioners to decide all questions of

dispute arising under the recent statute. The effect of this measure was

still further to embitter the aristocracy, who now denounced Tiberius