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The revision of the register of the equites was strict and drastic.  Many were degraded from the order, and this action was resented by the whole body of the equites. The ill-will thus evoked was further aggravated by an edict which the censors published forbidding anyone who had leased the public taxes or private contracts from the censors C. Claudius and Tiberius Sempronius from attending the present sale or becoming partner or associate in any transaction there.  In spite of their frequent protests, the former tax-farmers had been unable to induce the senate to place any restrictions on the censorial powers. At last they got a tribune of the plebs, P. Rutilius, who was hostile to the censors on personal grounds, to champion their cause.  The censors had ordered a client of his, a freedman, to pull down a wall which faced a public building in the Via Sacra, because it had been built on ground belonging to the State. The owner appealed to the tribunes.  As no one but Rutilius interposed his veto the censors sent men to distrain his goods and imposed a fine.  A sharp dispute arose, and when the former tax-farmers had recourse to the tribune, a measure was suddenly brought forward by this one tribune providing that the public and private contracts which had been leased out by C. Claudius and Tiberius Sempronius should be cancelled and all the business done over again, so that everybody might have an equal chance to tender for and work the lease.  The tribune fixed a day for the discussion of this proposal in the Assembly. When he appeared, the censors stood forward to oppose the measure.  There was silence while Gracchus was speaking, but Claudius met with interruptions and disturbance, and he ordered the usher to call for silence that he might be heard. The tribune declared that by doing this he had withdrawn the Assembly from his control and impugned his authority, and at once left the Capitol where the Assembly had met.  The next day he created a serious disturbance.  First of all, he pronounced the property of Tiberius Gracchus to be forfeited to the gods because in fining and distraining upon a man who had appealed to a tribune, he had not yielded to his veto and had impugned his authority.  He formally impeached C. Claudius because he had withdrawn the Assembly from his control, and he declared that he should bring both censors to trial for high treason, and requested C. Sulpicius to convene the citizens in their centuries to hear and adjudicate on the case.  The censors offered no opposition to the people passing judgment on them as soon as possible, and September 24 and 25 were fixed upon as the days for the trial. On this they went up to the Hall of Liberty, sealed up the civic registers, closed the office, dismissed their staff and gave out that they would not deal with any public business whatever until the people had given their verdict.  The case of Claudius was taken first. Eight out of the twelve centuries of equites and several other centuries of the first class sentenced him to a fine.  No sooner was this known than the leading patricians put off their gold rings in the sight of the people and laid aside their robes, so that they might make a suppliant appeal to the plebs. It is said, however, that the change of mind was mainly due to Tiberius Gracchus.  When shouts arose from the plebs on all sides that "Gracchus was in no danger," he took a solemn oath and declared that if his colleague were condemned he would not wait for his own trial, but would be his companion in exile. So little hope, however, had Claudius of acquittal that only eight centuries were wanted to secure his condemnation.  Claudius was acquitted, and then the tribune said that he would not keep Gracchus waiting any longer.
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