Front Matter The First Settlers Escape from the Burning City The Clever Trick The Boards Are Eaten The Wolf and the Twins Romulus Builds Rome The Maidens Carried Off Union of Sabines and Romans Death of Romulus Strange Signs of the Romans The Quarrel with Alba The Horatii and Curiatii Tarquin and the Eagle The Roman Youths The King Outwitted The Murder of Tarquin The Ungrateful Children The Mysterious Books Tarquin's Poppies The Oracle of Delphi The Death of Lucretia The Stern Father A Roman Triumph A Roman Triumph (Cont.) Defense of the Bridge The Burnt Hand The Twin Gods The Wrongs of the Poor Fable of the Stomach The Story of Coriolanus The Farmer Hero The New Laws Death of Virginia Plans of a Traitor A School-Teacher Punished Invasion of the Gauls The Sacred Geese Two Heroes of Rome Disaster at Caudine Forks Pyrrhus and His Elephants The Elephants Routed Ancient Ships Regulus and the Snake Hannibal Crosses the Alps The Romans Defeated The Inventor Archimedes The Roman Conquests Destruction of Carthage Roman Amusements The Jewels of Cornelia Death of Tiberius Gracchus Caius Gracchus Jugurtha, King of Numidia The Barbarians The Social War The Flight of Marius The Proscription Lists Sertorius and His Doe Revolt of the Slaves Pompey's Conquests Conspiracy of Catiline Caesar's Conquests Crossing of the Rubicon Battle of Pharsalia The Death of Caesar The Second Triumvirate The Vision of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra The Poisonous Snake The Augustan Age Death of Augustus Varus Avenged Death of Germanicus Tiberius Smothered The Wild Caligula Wicked Wives of Claudius Nero's First Crimes Christians Persecuted Nero's Cruelty Two Short Reigns The Siege of Jerusalem The Buried Cities The Terrible Banquet The Emperor's Tablets The Good Trajan Trajan's Column The Great Wall Hadrian's Death Antoninus Pius The Model Pagan Another Cruel Emperor An Unnatural Son The Senate of Women The Gigantic Emperor Invasion of the Goths Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra A Prophecy Fulfulled First Christian Emperor Roman Empire Divided An Emperor's Penance Sieges of Rome End of the Western Empire

Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber

Caius Gracchus

The Plebeians, in search of a new leader, soon chose Caius Gracchus, the brother of the murdered Tiberius, and twice elected him to the office of tribune. He, too, was clever and brave, and he, too, boldly took up the cause of the poor and oppressed against the rich.

Thanks to the efforts of Caius, the price of grain was soon reduced so that the hungry people could secure bread at reasonable rates. But every day the senators grew more and more angry at the new champion and more anxious to get him out of their way.

As the life of a tribune was sacred, they had to wait until his term of office was ended before they dared attack him; for no one was bold enough to imitate Scipio Nasica. But, at the end of the second year, Caius was deserted by many of the people, and was not again elected. Shortly after this, the consuls publicly declared that any one who brought them his head should receive its weight in gold.

In fear for his life, Caius Gracchus retreated to the Aventine hill, where many of his followers had gathered. There they were attacked and soon scattered by the consul and his troops, and three thousand of them were afterwards thrown into prison and slain. Caius saw that he would fall into the hands of his cruel foes if he did not flee; so he made a desperate effort to escape, with two of his friends and a faithful slave.

They were soon overtaken, however, and fought like tigers; but their foes were so numerous that the two friends fell. Caius then rushed away into a grove, on the other side of the Tiber. Here he made his slave put him to death, so that he should not fall alive into the enemy's hands.

The faithful slave, who had followed his master's fortunes to the last, killed himself just as the soldiers burst into the grove. The fallen leader's head was cut off by the first man who found the body, and carried away on the point of a spear.

This man, however, did not immediately exchange the ghastly trophy for the promised reward. On the contrary, he first carried it home, took out the brains, replaced them with molten lead, and then brought it to the consul, who gave him seventeen pounds of gold!

The headless body was flung into the Tiber, but pulled out again by compassionate people and carried to Cornelia. This devoted mother had now lost both her sons, and her life was very sad indeed. She mourned these brave youths as long as she lived; and when she died, her dearest wish was fulfilled, for the people set up a statue of her, and on the pedestal was the inscription: "Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi."

The murder of Caius decided the question between the rich and the poor. The people had twice lost their champions, and more than three thousand brave men had died in the vain hope of securing their rights. The government was now entirely in the hands of the senators, who, instead of making a generous use of their power, thought only of themselves. The Romans now thought more of themselves than of their country, and the history of this period is made up of a long list of crimes and violent deeds of every kind.