THE FIRST POLITICAL MURDER IN ROME

There were two main problems to be faced ; the first JL was to get the city populace back to the land, the other to pacify the Italian allies who had fought Rome's battles for her without sharing the proceeds of victory, for the old policy of bestowing citizenship liberally upon conquered tribes had been long ago abandoned, and there were large areas of Italy still unenfranchised. But nothing was done by the Senate, which had degenerated into an assembly of selfish plutocrats. The initiative was taken by the tribune Tiberius Gracchus who, in 133 B.C., brought forward a law for resuming the state lands which had been appropriated by private individuals. This proposal, which interfered with vested interests, was passed only after a bitter struggle, and when Gracchus sought re-election he was murdered by a band of Senators. The introduction of an economic dispute into the struggle of parties had caused the first political murder in Rome. Gaius Gracchus, the brother of Tiberius, renewed the struggle on a greater scale. He tried to organise an opposition class of capitalists who were outside the Senate. This class of rich men called equites (knights) received a virtual monopoly for collecting the taxes bf the province of Asia, and from them was formed a court to try Senatorial Governors accused of extortion in the provinces. Gracchus also proposed to found colonies and to create employment by building roads. But he went too far, even for the mob, when he suggested the enfranchisement of the Italian allies. Senate and people were alike unwilling to share the profits of empire with any one else. In 121 B.C. Gaius, too, was murdered.