Those who were in possession of the lands even after these events postponed
the division on various pretexts for a very long time. Some thought that the
Italian allies, who made the greatest resistance to it, ought to be admitted
to Roman citizenship so that, out of gratitude for the greater favor, they
should no longer quarrel about the
land. The Italians were glad to accept
this, because they
preferred Roman citizenship to
possession of the fields. Fulvius Flaccus, who was then both consul and
triumvir, exerted himself to the utmost to bring it about, but the Senate
was angry at the proposal to make their subjects
equal citizens with themselves.
For this reason the attempt
was abandoned, and the people,
who had been so long in the hope of acquiring land, became disheartened.
While they were in this mood Gaius Gracchus, who had made himself agreeable
to them as a triumvir, offered himself for the tribuneship. He was the
younger brother of Tiberius Gracchus, the promoter of the law, and had been
silent for some time on the subject of the fate of his brother, but since
many of the senators treated him scornfully he announced
himself as a
candidate for the office of tribune.
As soon as he was
elected to this distinguished position he began to lay plots against the
Senate, and proposed that a monthly distribution of corn should be made to
each citizen at the public expense, which had not been customary before.
Thus he got the leadership of the people quickly by one measure of policy,
in which he had the coöperation of Fulvius Flaccus. Directly after
that he was chosen tribune for the following year, for in cases where there
was not a sufficient number of candidates the law authorized the people to
choose from the whole number then in office.