Talk:Gaius Gracchus

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Hi there, I've been listening to the teaching company course History of the Roman Empire, and the professor in lecture 20 talks about Gaius Gracchus. What the professor states as the cause of his death was decapitation during a large-scale riot in Rome. This would seem to contradict strongly with the information presented in this article. Maybe this should be looked at?


Your professor is probably confusing Gaius with his brother Tiberius Gracchus who was killed in a riot. muriel@pt 09:32, 13 Dec 2004 (UTC)

there are conflicting sources as to the exact method of gaius' death. some say that he took his own life, but another account says that a servant did the killing on request of gaius. Alex

Gaius was probably killed by his slave, certainly not in a riot. ~Tweedy

It depends which ancient source you believe. Basically, he was chased, ran into a sacred grove while his friends held off his enemies, and either fell on his own sword, or got his slave to kill him Pengopia 18:55, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

There was significant civil unrest at the time of Gaius' death, probably enough to qualify as a riot, though Gaius was not killed in the fighting, but attempted to flee and was then killed. Many other people, including Gaius' main partner in his programme, Flaccus, were killed in the fighting in the city. Ashavah 14:30, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Plutarch gives two possible versions of the death of Gaius Gracchus: "In that place (grove), his servant Philocrates having first slain him, presently killed himself also... Though some affirm it for a truth, that they were both taken alive by their enemies, and that Philocrates embraced his master so close, that they could not wound Gaius until his servant was slain." 7minus1 (talk) 01:07, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

"noble descent"[edit]

Saying that the Gracchi "were of noble descent" is somewhat misleading. While Tiberius the elder married into the Scipii, the Gracchi were plebians. What do y'all think -- change it or not? Ejectgoose 17:22, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

"Noble" in the Roman Republic means that an ancestor was consul. It is not synonymous with being "Patrician." Neither is wealth synonymous with Patrician status. A family cannot become Patrician, but it can become noble and wealthy.

I think a families were elevated to patrician status during the reign of Augustus. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:50, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

I think 'of noble descent' is actually quite a good description of them; they were related to the Cornelii, and Tiberius and Gaius both married into influential families, plus their father had been consul twice and censor. Ashavah 14:30, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

I think 'noble descent' is misleading. Just either use the term Nobiles and then define it, that is what the Sempronii Gracchi were. This would clear up any confusion as to whether they were patrician (which of course they weren't). 3 March 2008 Imperator101

Different People[edit]

Hello, Gaius Gracchus and his brother Tiberius are different people apart from Tiberius the dictator. People, back me up on this.

Confusing Scipio[edit]

With regards to the third paragraph:

"Gaius’ military career started in Numantia, as a military tribune appointed to the staff of his brother in law, Scipio Aemilianus. As a young man, he watched the political turmoil caused by his older brother Tiberius Gracchus, as he tried to pass laws for agrarian reforms. Tiberius was killed in 132 BC near the Capitol, during an armed confrontation with political enemies, led by Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica, their cousin. With this death, Gaius inherited the estate of the Gracchii family. History would prove that he inherited his brother's ideals too."

The Gracchi's brother-in-law "Scipio Aemilianus" and their cousin "Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica" are infact one-in-the-same person = Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Numantinus.

Actually, that's not true. Scipio Aemilianus was still in Hispania at the time of Tiberius death. Although he didn't sympathize with Tiberius movement, it wasn't Scipio Aemilianus but the Pontifex Maximus, Scipio Nasica Serapio, who was one of the real leaders in Rome itself against Tiberius. And who organized the murder. fdewaele, 11 February 2007, 12:55.


Regarding the paraphrase of Plutarch's account:

"According to Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans Gaius Gracchus was executed by assassins out to receive a bounty on the weight of his head in gold. One of the co-conspirators in his murder, Septimuleius, then decapitated Gaius, scooped the brains out of his severed head, and filled the cavity of his skull with molten lead. Once the lead hardened, the head was taken to the Roman Senate and weighed in on the scale at over seventeen pounds. Septimuleius was paid in full.[1]"

Plutarch says that Septimuleius took the severed head from someone else, thus was not the one who decapitated him, and it is Diodorus Siculus, not Plutarch, who mentions the head being filled with lead.

Niether Diodorus Siculus, Plutarch, or Appian infer that the Senate faction ordered Gracchus's slave Philocrates to kill him. If any explanation can be gleaned from their accounts (which were taken from Roman sources), it is that Gracchus, seeing he would be captured, ordered Philocrates to kill him. There are plenty of other examples of Romans doing this, so it makes more sense than the Senate giving an order to one of Gracchus's slaves.

Actually, Plutarch does mention the story of the lead in Gaius' head. That's not to say that Diodorus Siculus doesn't mention it too; I'm unfamiliar with his account. And you're quite right, Gaius was not killed by someone hoping to claim the bounty on his head, though Cicero often says that Opimius killed him (for example, in De Oratore 2.132), though it was actually Opimius who ordered the bounty on his head rather than who killed him. Ashavah 14:30, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't know why the lead thing has been taken out but it still says the head weighs 17 pounds (without the lead reference that sounds ridiculous) so I put it back in.-- 10:52, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Unconstitutional (?) Second Elected Term as Tribune of the Plebs[edit]

Under the section titled "Second tribunate and death" is: "In 122 BC, Gaius ran, unconstitutionally for another term as tribune of the plebs..." However Garett G. Fagan states in his Teaching Company (audio) course "The History of Ancient Rome" (Lesson 20, 'the Gracchi Brothers), "(Gaius) became Tribune of the people in 123 B.C. and again in 122; it must be stated that in the interim a law had been passed allowing people to stand for successive tribunates within reason. It's not that they could keep doing it for a decade or more but they could hold it for two or three if they wished." If this was indeed the case then Gaius' second election to the post would in fact be "constitutional." (talk) 15:53, 27 April 2008 (UTC)

Well, the constitution was not well defined. Often, the senators justified their rampant tyranny, oligarchy, and murder of political opponents by appealing to vague traditions. Little of it had actually been coded down. (talk) 05:11, 27 February 2012 (UTC)


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