Born: 165 BC
Died At Age: 32
Also Known As: Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus
Born Country: Roman Empire
Born in: Rome, Italy
Famous as: Military Leader
Ancient Roman Men
father: Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus
mother: Cornelia Africana
siblings: Gaius Gracchus
children: Gracchus, Sempronia, Tiberius Gracchus
Died on: 133 BC
Cause of Death: Killed In Action
Who was Tiberius Gracchus?
Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was a tribune of the plebs in the Roman Republic. He lived between 200 and 100 BC. He is remembered for sponsoring agrarian legislation reforms that helped in transferring land from the hands of rich landowners to poor citizens. He is regarded as one of the most popular lawmakers in the history of Rome, someone who was much loved by the public. Gracchus was born to an aristocratic family; his father was a consul and his mother was the daughter of Scipio Africanus, a well-known general. Gracchus initially served in the military for some time. He took part in the Third Punic War and the Numantine War. Later, when he entered politics, he came to understand the plight of the poor and sought ways to improve their condition. He proposed the Lex Sempronia Agraria Law, and after it was passed, it gained him immense popularity among the common public. However, this also caused substantial political turmoil, and along with several supporters, Gracchus was lynched in a riot, which led to his death.
Childhood & Early Life
Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was born around 165 BCE, a time when Rome was constantly in a state of war. He was born to the Gracchi branch of the gens Sempronia, which was one of the most politically connected families in Rome. Tiberius was raised by his mother. He had two siblings.
He married Claudia Pulchra, a daughter of Appius Claudius Pulcher, the man who would later aid him in the making and passing of the Lex Sempronia Agraria Law.
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Tiberius Gracchus began his career in the military during the time of the Third Punic War. He became known for showing great bravery as well as discipline, and he was the first to scale the enemy walls of Carthage during the Roman siege that took place in 146 BC.
He was soon appointed quaestor to consul Gaius Hostilius Mancinus, after which he took part in the Numantine War. However, their campaigns didn’t prove to be successful, due to which Tiberius, as quaestor, signed a peace treaty with the Numantines, in order to save his army men. However, he was criticized by many who felt that this made Rome appear weak.
On his way back home, Tiberius Gracchus had to pass through much of Italy. During this time, he saw numerous slaves but very few people who were free. He decided to look into the problems of the people, and saw that the poor people of the land were in extremely bad conditions. Many families had to forfeit their lands while the men were away fighting. The rich landowners bought much of their lands.
Tiberius found it quite unfair that a man should risk his life fighting for Rome, only to return to realize that his farms were gone. He was elected as a tribune of the people in 133 BC. He began to legislate on the matter of the homeless servicemen who unfairly lost their lands.
He eventually proposed a law which came to be known as Lex Sempronia Agraria. This law helped in limiting the extent of land that a person was allowed to own. Though such laws had been passed before in Rome, they were never enforced.
Tiberius soon met three important leaders, Crassus, the Pontifex Maximus; his father-in-law, Appius Claudius; and the consul and jurist Publius Mucius Scaevola.
The men together worked on the formulation of a law which would fine those who held more land than what was allowed, and the excess land would be redistributed among the poor. However, the landowners would be paid for the land that they would have to forfeit.
Tiberius knew that getting the law passed in the senate would be a big problem, as it consisted of the very people who the law would take land from. Therefore, he put his law directly to the “Concilium Plebis,” also known as the popular assembly. Though this would annoy any of the supporters he had in the senate, he knew that this was the only way he had to get the bill passed.
After he got this law passed, he became known as a hero not just of a city or race, but as the founding hero of all Italians, as many across the region were being denied of their rightful land by greedy landowners.
The senate gave some funds to the agrarian commission which was set up to execute the law. This commission was composed of his family members, including his father-in-law and Gaius, his brother.
In 133 BC, when King Attalus III passed away, his entire fortune was left to Rome. Tiberius used this opportunity, and utilized his powers as a tribune to allocate the wealth in order to fund the new law. This was seen as a direct attack on the powers of the senate, and the members started opposing his policies. They also feared that he was seeking to be the king of Rome.
Soon, a mob was created in order to assassinate him. They marched towards him, and despite the efforts of his supporters to defend Tiberius, he was brutally lynched and killed. Many of his supporters were sent to exile without a trial, and many others were arrested, while a few faced execution.