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An introduction to the western senatorial class success from disturbances in 3rd century

The Late Republic 133—31 bc The aftermath of the victories The fall of Carthage and Corinth did not even mark a temporary end to warfare. War and military glory were an essential part of the Roman aristocratic ethos and, hence, of Roman political life. Apart from major wars still to come, small wars on the frontiers of Roman power—never precisely fixed—continued to provide an essential motive in Roman history: Thus the limits of Roman power were gradually extended and the territories within them pacified, while men of noble stock rivaled the virtus of their ancestors and new men staked their own competing claims, winning glory essential to political advancement and sharing the booty with their officers and soldiers.

Nonetheless, the coincidence of the capture of Corinth and Carthage was even in antiquity regarded as a turning point in Roman history: Changes in provincial administration The first immediate effect was on the administration of the empire. The military basis of provincial administration remained: He was always prepared—and in some provinces expected—to fight and win.

But it had been found that those unlimited powers were often abused and that Senate control could not easily be asserted at increasing distances from Rome. For political and perhaps for moral reasons, excessive abuse without hope of a remedy could not be permitted. Hence, when the decision to annex Carthage and Macedonia had been made in principle 149 bca permanent court the quaestio repetundarum was established at Rome to hear complaints against former commanders and, where necessary, to assure repayment of illegal exactions.

Another result of the new conquests was a major administrative departure. When Africa and Macedonia became provinciae to be regularly assigned to commanders, it was decided to break with precedent by not increasing the number of senior magistrates praetors.

This was the beginning of the dissociation between urban magistracy and foreign command that was to become a cardinal principle of the system of Sulla and of the developed Roman Empire. Social and economic ills It is not clear to what extent the temporary end of the age of major wars helped to produce the crisis of the Roman Republic.

The general view of thinking Romans was that the relaxation of external pressures led to internal disintegration. This has happened in other states, and the view is not to be lightly dismissed.

Moreover, the end of large-scale booty led to economic recession in Rome, thus intensifying poverty and discontent. But the underlying crisis had been building up over a long period. The minimum property qualification for service was lowered and the minimum age 17 ignored; resistance became frequent, especially to the distant and unending guerrilla war in Spain.

When the Senate—on the motion of his cousin Scipio Aemilianuswho later finished the war—renounced the peace, Tiberius felt aggrieved; he joined a group of senior senators hostile to Aemilianus and with ideas on reform.

Tiberius had no intention of touching private property; his idea was to enforce the legal but widely ignored limit of 500 iugera 309 acres on occupation of public land and to use the land thus retrieved for settling landless citizens, who an introduction to the western senatorial class success from disturbances in 3rd century both regain a secure living and be liable for service.

The slave war in Sicilywhich had lasted several years and had threatened to spread to Italy, had underlined both the danger of using large numbers of slaves on the land and the need for a major increase in military citizen manpower.

On the advice of his eminent backers, he took his bill—which made various concessions to those asked to obey the law and hand back excess public land—straight to the Assembly of the Plebswhere it found wide support.

This procedure was not revolutionary; bills directly concerning the people appear to have been frequently passed in this way. But his opponents persuaded another aristocratic tribune, Marcus Octaviusto veto the bill. Tiberius tried the constitutional riposte: But the Senate was unwilling to help, and Octavius was unwilling to negotiate over his veto—an action apparently unprecedented, though not strictly speaking unconstitutional.

Tiberius had to improvise a way out of the impasse. He then passed his bill in a less conciliatory form and had himself, his father-in-law, and his brother appointed commissioners with powers to determine boundaries of public land, confiscate excess acreage, and divide it in inalienable allotments among landless citizens.

As it happened, envoys from Pergamum had arrived to inform the Senate that Attalus III had died and made the Roman people his heirs provided the cities of his kingdom were left free. Tiberius, at whose house the envoys were lodging, anticipated Senate debate and had the inheritance accepted by the people and the money used to finance his agrarian schemes.

Fearing prosecution once his term in office was over, he now began to canvass for a second tribunate—another unprecedented act, bound to reinforce fears of tyranny. The elections took place in an atmosphere of violence, with nearly all his tribunician colleagues now opposed to him. When the consul Publius Scaevolaon strict legal grounds, refused to act against him, Publius Scipio Nasicathe chief pontiff, led a number of senators and their clients to the Assembly, and Tiberius was killed in a resulting scuffle.

Widespread and bloody repression followed in 132.

Thus political murder and political martyrdom were introduced into Roman politics. The land commission, however, was allowed to continue because it could not easily be stopped. Some evidence of its activities survives. By 129, perhaps running out of available land held by citizens, it began to apply the Gracchan law to public land held by Italian individuals or communities.

  1. As for the overriding problem of poverty, his contribution to solving it was to settle tens of thousands of his veterans on land confiscated from enemies in Italy; having become landowners, the veterans would be ready to defend the social order, in which they now had a stake, against the dispossessed. Finding the oligarchy firmly opposed, he gained the support of Marius who still commanded much loyalty for his plans by having the Eastern command transferred to him.
  2. The demagogue—tribune or consul—could use the legal machinery of the popular assembly hence such men are called populares , while the commander could rely on his army in the pursuit of private ambition.
  3. The jury reform of Gaius Gracchus, seen by some leading senators as the prime cause of political disintegration, could now be undone, and the criminal courts could once more become a monopoly of senators. Some members of each class affected were more conscious of the loss than of the gain; and an active consul, Lucius Philippus, provided leadership for their disparate opposition.
  4. There was panic in Rome, allayed only by the firm action of the other consul, Publius Rutilius Rufus. But he was not yet ready.

This had probably not been envisaged by Tiberius, just as he did not include noncitizens among the beneficiaries of distributions. Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, chairman of the commission and consul in 125, tried to solve the problem by offering the Italians the citizenship or alternatively the right to appeal against Roman executive acts to the Roman people in return for bringing their holdings of public land under the Gracchan law.

This aroused fears of uncontrollable political repercussions. Flaccus was ordered by the Senate to fight a war in southern France where he gained a triumph and had to abandon his proposal. There is no sign of widespread Italian interest in it at this time, though the revolt of the Latin colony Fregellae destroyed 125 may be connected with its failure.

Among many reforms—including provision for a stable and cheap wheat price and for the foundation of colonies one on the site of Carthageto which Italians were admitted—two major ideas stand out: This was expected both to reduce senatorial corruption and to improve efficiency. Gaius also put eminent nonsenators probably defined by wealth, but perhaps limited to the equites, or equestrian class in charge of the quaestio repetundarum, whose senatorial members had shown too much leniency to their colleagues, and he imposed severe penalties on senators convicted by that court.

Finally, in a second tribunate, he hoped to give citizenship to Latins and Latin rights to other Italians, with the help of Flaccus who, though a distinguished former consul, took the unique step of becoming tribune. But a consul and a tribune of 122 together persuaded the citizen voters that it was against their interests to share the privileges of citizenship: In 121, preparing as private citizens to use force to oppose the cancellation of some of their laws, Gaius and Flaccus were killed in a riot, and many of their followers were executed.

During the next decade the measures benefiting the people were largely abolished, though the Gracchan land distributions, converted into private property, did temporarily strengthen the Roman citizen peasantry. The court seems to have worked better than before, and, during the next generation, several other standing criminal courts were instituted, as were occasional ad hoc tribunals, always with the same class of jurors.

In 106 a law adding senators to the juries was passed, but it remained in force for only a short time. It would be mere paradox to deny the importance in republican Rome, as in better known aristocratic republics, of family feuds, alliances, and policies, and parts of the picture are known—e.

In foreign affairs the client kingdom of Numidia —loyal ever since its institution by Scipio Africanus—assumed quite unwarranted importance when a succession crisis developed there soon after 120. However, two of them soon died, and power fell to the eldest, Micipsa, who himself had two sons.

  • Social and economic ills It is not clear to what extent the temporary end of the age of major wars helped to produce the crisis of the Roman Republic;
  • Among many reforms—including provision for a stable and cheap wheat price and for the foundation of colonies one on the site of Carthage , to which Italians were admitted—two major ideas stand out:

Micipsa also adopted Jugurthathe natural son of his brother Mastanabal. The war was waged reluctantly and ineffectively, with the result that charges of bribery were freely bandied about by demagogic tribunes taking advantage of suspicion of aristocratic political behaviour that had smoldered ever since the Gracchan crisis. Significantly, some eminent men, hated from those days, were now convicted of corruption.

The Metelli, however, emerged unscathed, and Quintus Metellus, consul in 109, was entrusted with the war in Africa. He waged it with obvious competence but failed to finish it and thus gave Gaius Mariusa senior officer, his chance.

The career of Gaius Marius Marius, born of an equestrian family at Arpinum, had attracted the attention of Scipio Aemilianus as a young soldier and, by shrewd political opportunism, had risen to the praetorship and married into the patrician family of the Julii Caesares.

Though Marius had deeply offended the Metelli, once his patrons, his considerable military talents had induced Quintus Metellus to take him to Africa as a legatus. Marius intrigued against his commander in order to gain a consulship; he was elected chiefly with the help of the equites and antiaristocratic tribunes for 107 and was given charge of the war by special vote of the people.

He did little better than Metellus had, but in 105 his quaestor Lucius Sulla, in delicate and dangerous negotiations, brought about the capture of Jugurtha, opportunely winning the war for Marius and Rome. During the preceding decade a serious threat to Italy had developed in the north.

Starting in 125, several Roman commanders Marcus Flaccus has been noted had fought against Ligurian and Gallic tribes in southern France and had finally established a Roman sphere of influence there: But, unwilling to extend administrative responsibilities, the Senate had refused to establish a regular provincia.

Then some migrating German tribes, chief of them the Cimbriafter defeating a Roman consul, invaded southern France, attracting native sympathy and finding little effective Roman opposition. Two more consular armies suffered defeat, and in October 105 a consul and proconsul with their forces were destroyed at Orange.

There was panic in Rome, allayed only by the firm action of the other consul, Publius Rutilius Rufus. After a brilliant triumph that restored Roman morale, he took over the army prepared and trained by Rutilius.

He was reelected consul year after year, while the German tribes delayed attacking Italy. Another triumph and a sixth consulship in 101 were his reward. In his first consulship, Marius had taken a step of great and probably unrecognized importance: This radical solution was thenceforth generally imitated, and conscription became confined to emergencies such as the Social and Civil wars.

At the same time, Rutilius introduced arms drill and reformed the selection of senior officers. Various tactical reforms in due course led to the increasing prominence of the cohort one-tenth of a legion as a tactical unit and the total reliance on non-Roman auxiliaries for light-armed and cavalry service.

The precise development of these reforms cannot be traced, but they culminated in the much more effective armies of Pompey and Caesar. But neither he nor the Senate seemed aware of any responsibilities to the veterans. Marius agreed, and the large lots distributed to his veterans both Roman and Italian turned out to be the beginning of the Romanization of Africa.

But this time Saturninus exacted a high price.

An introduction to the western senatorial class success from disturbances in 3rd century

He planned to seek reelection for 99, with Glaucia illegally gaining the consulship. Violence and even murder were freely used to accomplish these aims. Marius now had to make a choice.

Saturninus and Glaucia might secure him the continuing favour of the plebs and perhaps the equites, though they might also steal it for themselves. But as the saviour of his country and six times consul, he now hoped to become an elder statesman princepsaccepted and honoured by those who had once looked down on him as an upstart. To this end he had long laboured, dealing out favours to aristocrats who might make useful allies. This was the reward Marius desired for his achievement; he never thought of revolution or tyranny.

Hence, when called on to save the state from his revolutionary allies, he could not refuse.

Changes in provincial administration

He imprisoned them and their armed adherents and did not prevent their being lynched. Yet, having saved the oligarchy from revolution, he received little reward; he lost the favour of the plebs, while the oligarchsin view of both his birth and his earlier unscrupulous ambition, refused to accept him as their equal.

Before long a face-saving compromise was found, and Marius returned; but in the 90s he played no major part. The oligarchy could not forgive Marius. Wars and dictatorship c. Mithradates VIking of Pontushad built a large empire around the Black Sea and was probing and intriguing in the Roman sphere of influence. Marius had met him and had given him a firm warning, temporarily effective: Mithradates had proper respect for Roman power.