Gaius Gracchus

Against Roman Expansion

Gaius' Life

Gaius Gracchus was born in 153 B.C.E. into a well-to-do plebeian family. Gaius received traditional Greek education in philosophy, mathematics, and the Greek language. After his brother was murdered in 133 B.C.E., he took up his brothers cause of helping the poor. Gaius had proved to be even stronger than his brother Tiberius Gracchus.

About Gaius

Gaius was elected a leader of the people's Assembly (tribune),in 124 B.C.E., and was reelected the following year. He supported a measure that divided state lands from conquests into smaller holdings and redistributed them to the lower classes. Another law he passed created corn allowances (subsidies) for the poor living in the city. The government provided produce and money for food by law, so that the people would not starve. He developed programs that built better roads and harbors, helping the business community. He then, reformed the system for taxing the provinces and administering the law. These actions weakened the power of the Senate. He was popular with most citizens however, most senators hated and feared him. Gaius ran for a third term, but lost the election against the senate's candidate. Gaius then had a mob of soldiers and citizens attacking him and his supporters, therefore, leading Gaius to order his personal slave to kill him.

Roman Expansion

Rome's military expansion caused the forced movement (displacement) of many small farmers. The only people who could afford to operate farms in the Roman Republic were wealthy land owners. Small farmers who lost their property left the land and drifted to the cities (Rome). Due to this Rome was overpopulated therefor a shortage of buildings and badly constructed apartments buildings. Poorly supported buildings often collapsed killing many inhabitants. Citizens who arrived in Rome needed jobs. Rome did not have many factories slaves held the few available jobs. Unemployed citizens had to sell their votes in the assembly to rich politicians just to get money to support themselves. Poor Romans were dependent on the government, so the government had to spend more money providing for them. Food was the biggest problem. The government sold corn at one half the average cost, only to city residents. More poor people would move to the already overpopulated city and this caused more unemployment. Violent crime increased. No police force,only people who could afford bodyguards went out at night. To prevent poor people from completely rebelling, the government also spent more money for entertainment. Officials paid for grand festivals with gladiators, games, and food. Events further strained the Roman treasury.