II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > E. Rome > 2. The Republic, 264–70 B.C.E. > e. Domestic Strife
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
e. Domestic Strife
Foreign conquests engendered domestic changes and problems. Among them were: (1) the growth of large estates and slave labor in Italian agriculture; (2) the flight of citizen farmers from the land; (3) consequent shortages of military manpower, since military service was based on a property qualification that could no longer be met; (4) the danger of slave revolt; (5) increased aristocratic competition for high office, and the growing rift between the interests of senators and equites; (6) a swelling poor urban population; (7) and, behind it all, the desire of the Italian allied states to have Roman citizenship. During the 2nd century, these problems were manifested in various ways; they came to a head with the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus in 133.  1
Ti. Sempronius Gracchus as plebeian tribune proposed an agrarian law that limited holding of public land to 500 iugera (312 acres) per person, with an additional 250 iugera for each son, thereby threatening the wealthy and certain Italian cities. The measure was vetoed by another tribune, but Tiberius had him deposed, and the bill passed. A commission of three began to confiscate land held in violation of the law and to distribute lots of 30 iugera to landless Romans. To finance his program, Tiberius proposed that Attalus's bequest of Pergamum be used, intruding on a senatorial prerogative in foreign affairs. Violating custom, Tiberius stood for a second tribunate. During the voting, Tiberius and 300 followers were murdered by conservative senators.  2
The kingdom of Pergamum was organized into the province of Asia.  3
The Tribunates of C. Sempronius Gracchus. Gaius Gracchus proposed a more extensive program aimed to win wider support against conservative opposition. He reaffirmed his brother's agrarian law and legislated for founding colonies at Tarentum, Capua, and Carthage. For the urban poor he passed a grain bill that subsidized prices. He transferred membership on extortion juries from senators to equestrians, giving the latter power over senatorial governors. He also won equestrian support by giving the right of collecting the taxes of the province of Asia to Roman publicani. He proposed that Roman citizenship be given to Latin communities and that Latin rights be given to the Italian allies. Conservative senators divided Gaius's support by playing to the plebeian unwillingness to share the citizenship. Gaius was defeated in his bid for a third tribunate.  4
When conservatives attempted to annul Gaius's colony bill, riots ensued. The senate passed the senatus consultum ultimumSCU—which permitted the consuls to execute without trial any citizen deemed to be a danger to the Republic. Gaius and 3,000 of his supporters were then attacked and killed in the city. The Gracchan crisis caused a divide in subsequent Roman politics between optimates, conservatives who opposed the Gracchan approach, and populares who supported it.  5
Roman armies campaigned in Transalpine Gaul in 125–124. The province of Gallia Narbonensis was created in 121(?), and the colony of Narbo founded in 118.  6
The Jugurthine War resulted when the kingdom of Numidia was usurped by Jugurtha, who eventually had to fight Q. Caecilius Metellus (Numidicus). The latter won victories but failed to end the war.  7
Gaius Marius, a new man, while Metellus's legate and against senatorial opposition, won the consulship and the Jugurthine command. Refused funds for an army, Marius enlisted volunteers without the requisite property qualification. The Roman legion was reformed, the cohort replacing the maniple as the tactical unit.  8
Marius ended the Jugurthine War and triumphed in Rome.  9
German tribes—Cimbri and Teutones—had been defeating Roman armies in the north since 113. In 105 they wiped out two consular armies at Arausio (Orange).  10
Marius was elected consul for five consecutive years to combat the German threat.  11
Marius followed the Teutoni to Aquae Sextiae (Aix en Provence) and annihilated them.  12
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.