Ancient History

Who were the Gracchus brothers?
Answered by Science Channel
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  1. The Gracchus brothers both served as tribunes in ancient Rome and championed the needs of the poor while in office. Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus was the older brother, born in 163 B.C. His younger brother, Gaius Sempronius Gracchus, was born 10 years later in 153 B.C. Their father was Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus; he served as a chief magistrate. Cornelia, daughter of Scipio Africanus the Elder, was their mother.

    Tiberius Gracchus was elected as a tribune in 133 B.C. and soon brought forth notions of land reform that did not sit well with the wealthy and powerful of his day who feared the reform might cost them some of their land. His reform was overruled in the senate two separate times Tiberius brought it up for a vote. He had made some enemies, and during a political rally Tiberius was clubbed to death [source: Roman-empire.net].

    Gaius Gracchus was first elected tribune of the Roman Republic in 123 B.C., and he continued the land reform programs begun by his brother. Gaius instituted other programs to assist the poor as well, such as providing low-cost grain. He also improved the public infrastructure by building roads and other public works projects. These policies made him a popular tribune with the common people, as his brother had been, and he was re-elected in 122 B.C. However, he began to advocate extending Roman citizenship to residents in all of the Latin communities in Italy. This was an unpopular position, and he lost his third bid to be tribune in 121 B.C. During a mass demonstration held by Gaius and his supporters, Roman police massacred participants, and Gaius, seeing his days were numbered less than one, told his personal slave to stab him to death. Both Gracchus brothers, then, were felled by the skullduggery of Roman politics, and together they were thought to have shone a light on the growing number of poor people in Roman society [source: Roman-empire.net].

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