6. TIB. SEMPRONIUS TIB., P. F. N. GRACCHUS, the father of the two illustrious tribunes, Tib. and C. Gracchus, was born about B. C. 210. In B. C. 190 he accompanied the consul, L. Cornelius Scipio, into Greece, and was at that time by far the most distinguished among the young Romans in the camp for his boldness and bravery. Scipio sent him from Amphissa to Pella to sound Philip's disposition towards the Romans, who had to pass through his dominions on their expedition against Antiochus; and young Gracchus was received by the king with great courtesy. In B. C. 187 he was tribune of the people; and although he was personally hostile to P. Scipio Africanus, yet he defended him against the attacks of the other tribunes, and restored peace at Rome, for which he received the thanks of the aristocratic party.
It appears that soon after this occurrence Gracchus was rewarded with the hand of Cornelia, the youngest daughter of P. Scipio Africanus, though, as Plutarch states, he may not have married her till after her father's death.
An anecdote about her engagement to him clearly shows the high esteem which he enjoyed at Rome among persons of all parties. One day, it is said, when the senators were feasting in the Capitol, some of Scipio's friends requested him to give his daughter Cornelia in marriage to Gracchus, which he readily promised to do. On his returning home, and telling his wife Aemilia that he had given his daughter to wife, Aemilia censured him for his rashness, saying that if he had chosen Gracchus she would not have objected; and on hearing that Gracchus was the man whom Scipio had selected, she rejoiced with her husband at the happy choice. Some writers relate the same anecdote of his son Tiberius and Claudia, the daughter of Appius Claudius and Antistia. Shortly after Gracchus also defended L. Scipio in the disputes respecting the accounts of the money he had received from Antiochus. Towards the end of the year M. Fulvius Nobilior, who claimed a triumph, was nobly supported by Gracchus against the other tribunes. In B. C. 183 he was one of the triumvirs to conduct a Roman colony to Saturnia; and shortly after this he must have been aedile, in which character he spent large sums upon the public games. In 181 he was made praetor, and received Hispania Citerior as his province, in which he succeeded Q. Fulvius Flaccus. [FLACCUS, FULVIUS, No. 5.] When his army was ready he marched to Spain ; and having made an unexpected attack upon Munda, he reduced the town to submission.
After receiving hostages, and establishing a garrison there, he took several strongholds of the Celtiberians, ravaged the country, and in this manner approached the town of Certima, which was strongly fortified; but as its inhabitants despaired of being able to resist him, they surrendered. They had to pay a large sum of money, and give forty of their nobles as hostages. Gracchus thence proceeded to Alce, where the Celtiberians were encamped. Here several skirmishes took place, until at last, by a feigned flight of his own men, he succeeded in drawing the Celtiberians away from their camp, of which he immediately took possession. On this occasion 9000 enemies are said to have been slain. Gracchus now proceeded to ravage the country, which, together with his victory, had such an effect upon the people, that in a short time 103 Celtiberian towns submitted to him. Laden with immense booty, Gracchus then returned to Alce, which he besieged.
The place at first made a gallant resistance, but was compelled to surrender.
He again gained great booty, but treated the conquered people with kindness; and one Celtiberian chief, Thurrus, even entered the Roman army, and assisted Gracchus as a faithful ally.
The large and powerful city of Ergavica opened its gates to the Romans. Some historians, says Livy, stated that these conquests were not so easily made, but that the Celtiberians invariably revolted after their submission, as soon as the enemy was out of sight, until at last a fearful battle was fought, the irreparable loss of which induced the Celtiberians to conclude a permanent peace.
This may indeed have been so, for the Spaniards had been treated by nearly all the previous Roman generals with cruelty and treachery; and they could not know that they had now to do with a bold, gallant, and formidable, but at the same time a kind and honest enemy.
In the year following Gracchus remained in Spain ; and by his usual prudence and valour he again achieved the most brilliant exploits; he relieved the town of Carabis, which was besieged by a large army of Celtiberians, and he afterwards defeated, by a stratagem, another army near Complega, which had endeavoured to ensnare him.
In this manner he gradually subdued all the Celtiberians, and he afterwards showed that he was as great in the peaceful administration of his province, as he had before been at the head of his armies.
He adopted various excellent measures, which tended not only to secure his conquests, but to win the affections of the Spaniards to such a degree, that nearly fifty years afterwards they evinced their gratitude towards his son Tiberius.
He assigned lands and habitations to the poorer people, and established a series of laws to regulate their relations to Rome.
In commemoration of his achievements in Spain, he changed the name of the town of Illurcis into Gracchuris.
In B. C. 178 Gracchus returned to Rome, where he celebrated a splendid triumph over the Celtiberians and their allies, and was elected consul for the year following, with C. Claudius Pulcher.
He obtained Sardinia for his province, where he had to carry on a war against the revolted inhabitants.
He gained a brilliant victory over the enemy, and then led his army into winter quarters.
In the spring of the year following he continued his successful operations against the Sardinians, and reduced them to submission. When this was achieved, and hostages were received, he sent envoys to Rome to solicit permission to return with his army and celebrate a triumph.
But public thanksgivings only were decreed, and Gracchus was ordered to remain in his province as proconsul.
At the close of B. C. 175. however, he returned to Rome, and was honoured with a triumph over the Sardinians. He is said to have brought with him so large a number of captives, that they were sold for a mere trifle, which gave rise to the proverb Sardi venales.
A tablet was dedicated by him in the temple of the Mater Matuta, on which the reduction of Sardinia was recorded, and on which were represented the island itself and the battles Gracchus had fought there.
In B. C. 169 Gracchus was appointed censor with C. Claudius Pulcher. His censorship was characterised by a strictness bordering on severity: several persons were ejected from the senate, and many equites lost their horses.
In consequence of this, the tribunes brought an accusation against the censors before the people, but both were acquitted. On that occasion Gracchus acted with great magnanimity towards his colleague, who was unpopular, while he himself enjoyed the highest esteem and popularity, for he declared, that if his colleague should be condemned, he would accompany him into exile.
With the money assigned to him for the public works he purchased the site of the house of P. Scipio Africanus, and of some adjoining buildings, and there erected a basilica, which was afterwards called the Basilica Sempronia.
A more important act of his censorship was his throwing all the libertini together in the four tribus urbanae, whereas before they had gradually spread over all the tribes.
This measure is called by Cicero one of the most salutary regulations, and one which for a time checked the ruin of the republic. In B. C. 164 Gracchus was sent by the senate as ambassador into Asia, to inspect the affairs of the Roman allies; and it appears that on that occasion he addressed the Rhodians in a Greek speech, which was still extant in the time of Cicero. In B. C. 163 he was raised to the consulship a second time. Polybius mentions several other embassies on which he was employed by the senate, and in which he acted as a kind mediator between foreign princes and Rome, and afforded protection where it was needed.
The time of his death is unknown: Orelli (Onom. Tull.
ii. p. 531) commits the blunder of saying that he fell in battle in Lucania, thus confounding him with No. 2.
Tib. Sempronius Gracchus had twelve children by Cornelia, nine of whom appear to have died at an early age.
The remaining three were Tiberius and Caius, and a daughter, Cornelia, who was married to the younger Scipio Africanus.
In his private and family life Gracchus was as amiable a man as he was great in his public career: he was the worthy husband of Cornelia, and the worthy father of the Gracchi, and, like his two sons, he combined with the virtues of a Roman those of a man. Cicero mentions him in several passages in terms of high praise, and also acknowledges that he had some merits as an orator. (Liv. 37.7
; Plb. 23.6
; Appian, Hispan.
43; Plut. TG 1
, &c., Marcell.
5; Cic. Brut. 20
, de Re Publ.
6.2, de Invent.
1.30, 49, de Nat. Deor.
2.4, ad Q. Frat.
2.2, de Divinat.
1.17, 18, 2.35, de Amic.
27, de Orat.
1.9, 48, de Fin.
4.24, de Off.
2.12, de Prov. Cons.
8; comp. Meyer, Fragm. Orat. Rom.
p. 151, &c, 2nd edit.; Niebuhr, Lectures on Roman Hist.
vol. i. p. 269.)