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844

UNIVERSAL .HISTORY- THE ANCIENT WORLD.

as a breaker of the law. His popularity was somewhat shaken, and two

Senators-Scipio Nascia and Quintus Pompeius-gave public notice of their

intention to impeach the tribune as soon as the expiration of his official

term should expose him to such a proceeding.

In this emergency Tiberius determined to offer himself for reelection; for

by that means the tribunal office would secure him against arrest or

molestation. In order to strengthen his cause with the people, he announced

several measures of great importance as a part of his policy for the

future. Among these were statutes limiting the term Of military service,

conferring upon the knights the right of sitting upon juries, extending the

appeal to civil as well as criminal causes, and admitting the Italian

allies to full citizenship. These were the issues involved in the election.

The day for voting was set in the busy season of summer, in order to

prevent a concourse of the people. But the public excitement ran high, and

another expedient had to be adopted. On the day of election the nobles

interdicted the voting with the legal objection that it was unlawful to

elect a tribune as his own successor.

The partisans hereupon engaged in a violent dispute, and the assembly was

adjourned to meet on the following day. Promptly on the next morning the

people gathered in a great throng on the Capitoline Hill. The friends and

the enemies of Tiberius again confronted each other, and a violent riot was

threatened. It was whispered through the ranks of the popular party that

the Optimates had made a plan to destroy the life of Tiberius; while the

adherents of the aristocracy were told that the tribune, by raising his

hand to his head, had signified his ambition to be crowned.

While this tumult was surging angrily in the open space before the temple

of Jupiter Capitolinus, the Senate was holding a session near by in the

temple of Fides. In that body Scipio Nascia addressed the consul, and

demanded that the ambitious Tiberius be at once put down by force. Scaevola

replied that he would not undertake the death of any citizen who had not

been condemned according to law, but that if the tribune should obtain the

passage of measures by the assembly contrary to the constitution, he would

refuse to sanction the act. On this conservative declaration, Scipio arose,

denounced the consul as a traitor to the cause of the Senate, and demanded

that all who would aid in saving the Republic should follow. A large

company of senators thereupon rushed forth from the hall, armed themselves

as they might, and fell upon the popular assembly. The latter gave way at

their approach, and Tiberius, being left undefended, was beaten to death

with staves. About three hundred others were likewise killed, and their

bodies cast into the Tiber.

Thus by violence was destroyed the leader of the people. So great, however,

was his influence that the senatorial body was obliged to stand back from

the results of the bloody deed. The aristocracy did not dare to attempt the

legal abrogation of the Agrarian law which had been revived by Tiberius.

The Senate itself divided on the question at issue, and the party favorable

to the recent legislation gained a majority even in that venerable conclave

of the privileged order. Scipio Nascia, in order to save his life, was

obliged to be sent on a mission to Asia, and never saw his country more.

In the mean time Scipio AEmilianus returned from Spain, and became involved

in the political troubles of the state. At length he ventured, in the

popular assembly, to justify the assassination of Tiberius, and thenceforth

became an object of distrust and aversion of the people. Being a soldier,

he braved the tumult, and, addressing the assembly, said: "Ye stepsons of

Italy, cease your clamor! Do ye think by your noise to frighten me,

accustomed to the terrors of battle?''

Those who had been deprived of their lands now found in Scipio a champion

of their cause. A resolution was adopted by the Senate transferring the

authority of the land commissioners to the consuls of the Republic; but the

latter, fearing to assume such a trust, found opportunity to escape

therefrom by going into foreign parts. The law was thus, for the time, left

unexecuted, and no further distributions of land were made. The wrath of

the Populares was now directed in full force against Sdpio. The meetings

in the Forum and