History of Rome
Plutarch Life of Gaius Gracchus
Was Gaius Gracchus a martyr who died of a noble cause for his people, or just a man out for personal revenge who got in over his head? Based on the reading Plutarch Life of Gaius Gracchus he resembles the former much more than the latter. Gracchus genuinely wanted social and land reform for the poor and to change Rome for the better in his view. Initially, the death of his brother Tiberius in all likelihood drove him to make a change and shaped his view of the senate but once in power, Gracchus created laws helping the common people and limiting senate power to run a better democracy. Everyone has personal motives and people that say Gracchus didn’t are either lying or misinformed. Gracchus had personal and, to a greater extent, political motives but that in no way condemns him to the title of rabble-rouser. Gaius Gracchus was a social reformer before his time and he took on a senate not ready to give up their extreme power at the cost of his life.
While elected quaestor as a young man in Sardenia, Gaius Gracchus showed “justice to his inferiors and…all obedience and respect to his superior officer.” When his army needed clothes and was out of ideas to get them, Gracchus went to each surrounding city asking for clothes and received enough for the entire army. Before he came to power, Gracchus exemplified a person of high moral character with selfless intentions and a genuine care for the underprivileged. Those traits came to define him all throughout his power in Rome as well.
Gaius Gracchus’ first two proposed laws are the ones most likely to be targeted as strictly for personal gain. He created laws limiting the senate terms in office and abolishing repeat politicians as well as stating all exiles had to go through the Council of the Plebs. In actuality, his personal motives of taking down his brother’s killers cross paths with his political motives of limiting the...