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[41] Tiberius Gracchus tried to obtain regal power—or rather, he actually did reign for a few months. Had the Roman people ever heard of or experienced such a thing before? What his friends and relatives, who followed him even after his death, did in the case of Publius Scipio1 I cannot describe without tears. As for Carbo, because of the short time since the punishment of Tiberius Gracchus,2 we have borne with him as best we could. Now what is to be expected when Gaius Gracchus3 becomes tribune, I am not inclined to prophecy; however, revolution creeps on imperceptibly at first but once it has acquired momentum, rushes headlong to ruin.4 You see how much mischief has been caused already in the matter of the ballot, first by the Gabinian law,5 and two years later by the Cassian law.6 I seem now to see the people estranged from the Senate and the weightiest affairs of state determined by the caprice of the mob. For more people will learn how to start a revolution than how to withstand it.

1 Seyffert and Lahmeyer say that this Scipio is probably not Africanus the Younger, the friend of Laelius, as contended by Nauck and others, but P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapis, consul 138 B.C., pontifex maximus, who led the Senators in an attack on Tiberius Gracchus when the latter was killed in 133. Scipio Serapis fled from Rome and died soon after in Pergamum.

2 i.e. on account of the recent killing of Tiberius Gracchus and the consequent excitement of the people.

3 Gaius Gracchus, though in 129 (the time of the dialogue) the leader of the popular party, did not become tribune until 123.

4 Reid translates, “Affairs soon (deinde) move on, for they glide readily down the path of ruin when once they have taken a start.”

5 Introduced voting by ballot and so called from its author, A. Gabinius, plebeian tribune, 139 B.C.

6 The Cassian law extended the ballot to juries in criminal cases; it was passed in 137 and named from its author, L. Cassius Ravilla.

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load focus Introduction (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
load focus Latin (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges, PRONOUNS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), LEX
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