The Motives of the Roman Gracchi

The Gracchi's aims in carrying out their various reforms within Rome are impossible for modern day scholars to pinpoint. While primary sources such as Cicero and Appian feel they've come to a definite conclusion, their views are filled with bias and make uncovering the truth for secondary scholars, more difficult. H.H Scullard believes that the   Gracchi's motives should be "sharply distinguished from their methods." (37) On close inspection, the enormous sacrifices of both   brothers appear to outweigh the potentially self-interested motives, indicating that the Gracchi were indeed reformers, with the intention solving the issues of poverty and inequality within Rome.

The eldest of the two Gracchi: Tiberius, was born into a family of high class Patricians and as such, began climbing the Cursus of Honorum. He reached the position of Quaestor and then in 133 he became Tribune, possibly in an attempt to escape the petty rivalries between the families within the senate. It was then that he proposed the Lex Agraria, a reform to the current Roman land laws regarding the distribution of the latifundia and ager publicas. The lex required that the ager publicas, which was being used illegitimately by the Patricians, be divided into small properties for the Plebians to rent and support themselves. These holdings were inalienable and reduced the number of people starving within the city. Furthermore, in an attempt to win over the oligarchy, Tiberius proposed that 500 iugera be made private for each patrician, as well as 250 extra for each of 2 sons or daughters.

Tiberius' methods for passing his lex aroused a stir amongst the senate. Tiberius' friends and legal advisors predicted that the senate would oppose the reform, as they had with their previous attempt at land reform. Hence, Tiberius took the lex directly to the assembly, alienating the senate. Tiberius had many supporters in the senate due to his father's previous triumphs, however he must not have felt that this...