Ti. et C. Sempronius Gracchus
Tiberius and Caius Sempronius Gracchus

Caius Sempronius Gracchus

Caius Sempronius Gracchus (153121 B.C.E), younger brother of Tiberius, was a man of greater abilities, bolder and more passionate, although possessed of considerable powers of self-control, and a vigorous and impressive orator. He became the inheritor of his brother's reform work, paying the same ultimate price for his populist efforts.

He was appointed one of the commissioners to carry out the distribution of land under the provisions of his brothers agrarian law when he was only 20 years old. At the time of Tiberius death, Caius was serving under his brother-in-law Scipio in Spain, but probably returned to Rome in 132 BCE. In the year 131 BCEhe supported the bill of C. Papirius Carbo, which made it legal for a tribune to offer himself as candidate for the office in two consecutive years.

After serving as quaestor in Sardinia in 126 BCE, he returned to Rome and was elected tribune in 123 BCE. Determined to complete his brother's work, he immediately initiated a series of remarkable social reforms aimed at uniting the plebs and the equites, thus undermining the authority of the Senate.

The Lex Frumentaria benefited the small landholders by re-appropriating the proceeds of the tax on allotted lands. The senate, which had formerly used this money for the aggrandizement of the aristocracy, was now required to use it for the good of the poor. In the Lex Judiciaria, Caius won over the equites by granting them control over the judgeships that had heretofore belonged to the senate. Caius was reelected tribune in 122 BCE, but the counter-proposals of Marcus Livius Drusus began to gain popularity, and the following year Caius was defeated for reelection.

Fresco depicting Caius Sempronius Gracchus' death

Repeal of his measures was proposed, and in the ensuing riots Caius was killed. Within 10 years the reaction had annulled every reform the brothers had instituted. The social and political war began again, this ultimately bringing down the Republic.