Marcus Octavius

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Marcus Octavius (Latin: M·OCTAVIVS·CN·F·CN·N, lived 2nd century BC) was a Roman tribune in 133 BC and a major rival of Tiberius Gracchus. He was a son of Gnaeus Octavius, the consul in 165 BC, and a brother to another Gnaeus Octavius, the consul in 128 BC. Through his brother, he was the paternal uncle of Gnaeus Octavius, the consul in 87 BC.

A serious and discreet person, he earned himself a reputation as an influential orator. Though they had originally been close friends, Octavius became alarmed by Gracchus's populist agenda and, at the behest of the Roman senate, repeatedly vetoed Gracchus' programmes of land reform. Gracchus responded by ultimately having the Plebeian Assembly deprive him of his office and eject him from the Assembly's meeting place in 133 BC.[1] This action led to a serious escalation in the confrontation between the traditionalists and the reformers. The action was unprecedented and contravened the mos maiorum (Latin term for "the traditional way of doing things") The Assembly's decision to depose Marcus Octavius, in order to ensure the passing of Tiberius Gracchus' land Bill, revealed the true power that the tribunate and the assembly had, which it did not have prior to 133BC. The power of the Assembly and the Tribune was one of the factors that led to the decreasing influence of the Senate in Roman politics[citation needed], one of the factors that led to the Roman civil wars and ultimately the fall of the Roman Republic.[citation needed]

Our primary source for him is Plutarch's life of Tiberius. According to Plutarch, Gaius Octavius was one of his descendants, thus making him an ancestor of Roman Emperor Augustus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Plutarch, The Life of Tiberius Gracchus . Loeb Classical Library edition, 1921