2. C. Papiilt's
Carbo, born about B. C. 164, a son of No. 1, and a contemporary and friend of the Graechi; but though he apparently followed in the footsteps of Tib. Gracchus, yet his motives widely differed from those of his noble friend, and towards the end of his life he showed how little he had acted upon conviction or principle, by deserting his former friends and joining the ranks of their enemies.
After the death of Tiberius Gracchus he was appointed his successor as triumvir agrorum diridendorum,
and shortly after, in B. C. 131, he was elected tribune of the people. During the year of his tribuneship he brought forward two new laws: 1.
That a person should be allowed to be re-elected to the tribuneship as often as might be thought advisable: this law, which was strenuously opposed by P. Cornelius Scipio Africanus the younger, was supported by C. Graechus; and 2. A lex tabellaria,
which ordained that the people should in future vote by ballot in the enactment and repeal of laws.
In his tribuneship he continued to hold the office of triumvir agrorum dividendorum.
The difficulties connected with carrying out the division of land according to the Sempronian agrarian law created many disturbances at Rome, and Scipio Africanus, the champion of the aristocratical party, was found one morning dead in his bed. Among the various suspicions then afloat as to the cause of his death, one was that Carbo had murdered him, or at least had had a hand in the deed; and this report may not have been wholly without foundation, if we consider the character of Carbo.
After his tribuneship, Carbo continued to act as the friend and supporter of the Graechi. Upon the death of C. Gracchus, L. Opimius, his Imurderer, who was consul in B. C. 121, put to death a great number of the friends of the Grecchi: but at the expiration of his consulship he was accused of high treason by the tribune Q. Decius, and Carbo, who was now raised to the consulship himself (B. C. 120), suddenly turned round, and not only undertook the defence of Opimius, but did not scruple to say, that the murder of C. Gracchus had been an act of perfect justice.
This inconsistency drew upon him the contempt of both parties, so that, as Cicero says, even his return to the aristocratical party could not secure him their protection.
The aristocracy could not forget that he was suspected of having murdered Seipio, and seem to have been waiting for an opportunity to crush him. In B. C. 119 the young orator L. Licinius Crassus brought a charge against him, the exact nature of which is not known, but as Carbo foresaw his condemnation, he put an end to his life by taking cantlarides. Valerius Maximus (3.7.6) states, that he was sent into exile. Carbo was a man of great talents, and his oratorical powers are mentioned by Cicero with great praise, although he otherwise abominates the man.
There can be no doubt that Carbo was a person of no principle, and that he attached himself to the party from which he hoped to derive most advantages. (Liv. Epit. 59
; Appian, App. BC 1.18
; Vell. 2.4
; Cic. De Amicit.
25, De Leg.
3.16, Ad Fam.
9.21, De Orat.
2.2, 25, 39, 40, 1.10, 3.7, 20, Brut.
27, 43, 62, Tuscul.
1.3; Tacit. Orat.