Graccha'nus, M. Ju'nius
assumed his cognomen on account of his friendship with C. Gracchus. (Plin. Nat. 33.2
He wrote a work, De Potestatibus,
which gave an account of the Roman constitution and magistracies from the time of the kings.
It stated upon what occasions new offices were introduced, and what changes were made in the duties of the old ones.
At least, from the fragments that remain, it may be inferred with probability that such were its contents.
It was addressed to T. Pomponius Atticus, the father of Cicero's friend. Atticus. the father, was the sodalis
of M. Gracchanus. (Cic. de Leg.
It is likely that they were associates in some official college.
Junius Gracchanus is cited by Censorinus (De Die Nat.
100.20), Macrobius (Macr. 1.13
), Pliny (Plin. Nat. 33.2
), and Varro (De L. L.
4.7, 4.8, 5.4, 5.9). Bertrandus (De Jurisp.
2.1) thinks that the plebiscitum in Festus (s. v. Publica Pondera
is taken from Gracchanus, since the name Junius is mentioned in the imperfect passage preceding the plebiscitum.
The seventh book of the treatise De Potestatibus
is cited by Ulpian (Dig. 1
. tit. 13, pr.), and the same passage is also cited by Joannes Lydus (De Mag.
1.24), but Lydus does not cite Gracchanus from the original work, which, as he says in his Prooemium, was no longer extant when he wrote. Nay, he appears to cite Gracchanus rather from the fragment of Ulpian in the Digest than from the original work of Ulpian, and he seems to attribute to Gracchanus part of that which is the later addition of Ulpian.
Pomlponius, in the title of the Digest, De Origine Juris
. tit. 2. s. 2), treats of magistrates, and what he says of the office of quaestor seems to be partly borrowed from Gracchanus. Hence, it may be not unnaturally presumed that he has borrowed other materials from the same source.
It is remarkable, that two passages which appear in the Digest in an extract from the Enchiridion
of Pomponius, are cited by Lydus (1.26, 1.34) from the work of Gaius, Ad Legem XII. Tabularum.
Joannes Lydus is an inaccurate writer, of small ability, and it is not unlikely that, in translating fragments from the Digest (which had been compiled several years before he wrote), his eye rested on the heading of the extract from Gaius, which immediately precedes the extract from Pomponius, and is conspicuous from being at the beginning of the second title of the first book of the Digest.
Niebuhr builds largely (in the opinion of Dirksen and other eminent modern critics, too largely) on the fact that Lydus cites from Gaius that which the Digest gives to Pomponius.
It is Niebuhr's theory, that the commencement of the treatise of Gaius in the Twelve Tables gave an account of the early constitution and the vicissitudes of the Roman magistrates; that Gaius, in this part of his work, took Gracchanus for his principal authority; and that Gaius is trustworthy when he chooses Gracchanus as a guide, but is not a safe and critical antiquary when he depends on his own researches.
According to Niehuhr, Pomponius unfairly appropriates the work of Gaius, which he epitomises in his Enchiridion,
while Lydus, by honestly copying Gains, preserves copious remains of Gracchanus. Pomponius, in the fragment De Origine Juris,
sometimes counts dates by the number of years from the expulsion of the kings, or from the first consulship. (Dig. 1
. tit. 2. s. 2.20.) Lydus (1.38) adopts the same mode of reckoning. Niebuhr assumes that all such statements connected with the history of the magistrates, and adapted to the years of the consular era, are derived from Gracchanus. Gracchanus, he maintains, was an invaluable historian of the constitution, possessed the soundest notions, and derived his information from the most authentic sources, such as the writings of the pontiffs and the early law-books.
Though the remains, which can with certainty be attributed to Gracchanus, are very scanty, and scarcely warrant such unqualified panegyric, they undoubtedly make us acquainted with some interesting and valuable facts in the early history of Rome.
(Niebuhr, Hist. of Rome,
vol. ii. pp. 10-12, pp. 118, n. 251, vol. iv. p. 40; Heffter, in Rhein. Museum für Jurisp.
vol. ii. pp. 117-124; Dirksen, Vermischte Schriften,
8vo. Berlin, 1841, pp. 51-68 ; Dirksen, Bruchstücke,
&c., pp. 56-60 ; Krause, Vit. et Frag. Hist. Rom.
pp. 221-2, where the praenomen of Gracchanus is erroneously stated to be C. instead of M.)