Rome from 200 to 100




The century 200 to 100 is marked by Roman military action and civil administration outside of Italy, and by increasing social unrest in Rome and among the Italian allies. By 100, Rome was on the verge of a series of civil wars. As early as 133, when Tiberius Gracchus attempted social reform, there had been political violence and murder within the city. Rome’s success in unifying Italia under her banner and defending the peninsula against the Carthaginians had been the direct result of the stability of Rome and her close alliance with other Italian cities and tribes. Therefore, the question that confronts the student historian is this: why was the victory over Carthage, a victory which required unity of patrons and clients, people and senate, and Rome and her allies, followed so soon by disruption of the bonds between these various groups, a breakdown of Republican government, and, ultimately, outbreak of civil war.

Composition of the Government



The student should understand the basic make up of the Republican Roman government. A small group of aristocratic and influential families competed for election to the annual magistracies. Families who had a consular ancestor, i.e. an ancestor who had achieved the consulship were considered nobiles. They represent the very highest element of Roman society. These noble families jealously fought to limit the consulship to members of their group. Political power resident in the hands of a few is termed oligarchy. When power resides in the hands of the wealthy, that power is called a plutocracy. Oligos= few Plutos= wealth. Both describe the Roman Republic.

The oldest families, or gentes, formed the upper strata of Roman society. These were the patricians, who traced their ancestry back to the regal period. So for example, the Marcii claimed descent from the fourth king, Ancus Marcius. The Julii claimed descent from Ascanius, whose name was also given as Julus. Julius Caesar, whose mother was of the Marcii family, claimed descent from the kings on the maternal side, and from the gods on the other. Recall that Ascanius was the son of Aeneas, who was himself the son of Venus. Other families whose lineage extended into the Monarchy were, for example, the Cornelii, the Metelli, the Fabii, the Claudii, and the Scipiones.

The other families of Rome were descended from people who were freed slaves or bondsmen. Additional plebeian families were either immigrants to Rome or members of small towns that were incorporated into Roman territory during the early Republic. All these families were termed Plebeian. The student should understand that the term plebeian does not necessarily mean “poor.” It is a class distinction but not one based on wealth. Oneof the keys to Roman success was the extension of political rights to the lower class. After approximately 400, the patricians allowed the plebeians to compete in the cursus honorum. The creation of the office of Tribune, protector of the Plebeians and the Comitia Tributa is also dated to this time. Although several plebeian families acquired a status that rivaled the patrician families, down to the end of the Republic the patrician families attempted to prevent plebeian families from winning the consulship. In the one hundred years before the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus half the consulships went to only ten Patrician gentes. Scholars refer to the sequence of events that led to the extension of rights as “the struggle of the orders”. This struggle lasted from 450 to 250.



The magistracies were Quaestor, finance and supply, Aedile, public works, e.g. the aqueducts, Praetor, administration of law, and Consul, chief executive and military commander.[3] Election to the quaestorship gained permanent admission to the senate. There were minimum ages for each office, and offices had to be held in sequence. A politician had to achieve the office of quaestor before running for aedile, and so on. These are the Cursus Honorum, or path of offices. Honores shows that civil service was considered a special privilege conferred on a distinguished individual. Indeed, political service was a kind of competition among the aristocracy. Election brought honor to the individual and, more importantly, to the family. In return, the politician undertook to give honest service to the state and people.

Offices were held for one year. Consuls and praetors held imperium, i.e. absolute power of life and death over all citizens. This was the power once held by the king. During the Republic, however, imperium was shared and so limited between the two annual consuls and the eight to ten Praetors. Imperium included the right to wage war and command Roman armies. Both consuls and praetors could propose legislation. Quaestors and aediles held potestas, the right to act within their specific area of authority.

There existed a third office, called the tribuneship. This office was open only to members of the plebeian class and was designed to protect the civil rights of that class. The tribune also possessed potestas, which allowed him to veto any public business and intercede within the city on behalf of any citizens, even against a consul. His person was sacrosanct, so that he could not be harmed or even touched while in the exercise of his duties.


Above all other things, Roman politics of the period 509-30 is the story of competition among the aristocratic families. One of the dominant themes of the period 200-100 is the shift from healthy to unhealthy political competition. During the period of expansion from local power in Latium to defender of Italy (300-200) against the Carthaginians, competition among the aristocracy helped the Romans to achieve great things. Each aristocrat was fueled by a desire to outdo his ancestors and his peers. But once the Romans left Italy that competition proved destructive to the Republic.

Allied Italian Tribes and Provinces

After 200, management of the provinces Spain and Sicily and foreign relations with the Eastern Mediterranean world dominated Roman internal politics. Recall that the first military action outside of Italy occurred in Sicily (1st Punic War) and Spain (2nd Punic War), both of which became provinces. Up until this time, the Romans had not been an especially wealthy people. There were no grand buildings of marble. There were no lavish games like the ones Marcus and Sextus are so eager to see. The city of Rome itself was still quite small, and the majority of Romans dwelt on farms in the surrounding area. If anything, the Romans admired simplicity, honesty, and austerity.



A province is a territory governed by a Roman administrator sent on a yearly basis. This person most usually had served the previous year in Rome as one of the top administrators, either consul or praetor. As administrator of the province, they were titled either proconsul or propraetor. Now consider how the Romans governed the Italian allies. They treated them fairly and allowed them to self govern. Taxation was fair and subject to negotiation. This was not the case with the provinces. The Roman officials were too often unscrupulous. They used their official positions to enrich themselves. Management of the province was entirely at the discretion of the proconsul. He could take as much money and material wealth as he wished. A fair and honest man would only take what was required to govern the province for that year. A greedy man could take much more.


During the second Punic war, 218-201, a major theater of the war was Spain. The Carthaginians had colonized the southern third of the peninsula and had used Spain as the launching ground for Hannibal’s invasion of Italia. Initially, the only reason for fighting here was the strategic goal of defeating Carthage, not because the Romans wished to govern more territory abroad. After the defeat of Carthage, approximately one third of the peninsula of Spain was in Roman hands, and the Romans began to govern it as a province. The interior of Spain was dominated by the Iberian or Spanish tribes. The same fear of strong neighbors that directed Roman policy in Italia now directed their thinking in Spain. They viewed the tribes as a threat to be subdued.

While the Iberian tribes were a very real threat to Roman control of Spain, a second factor began to assert itself. Increasingly the Roman elite saw war outside of Italy as a means to gain glory or to put it more bluntly, name recognition, for the purpose of political competition at home. This had always, to a certain degree, motivated Roman wars. Now, however, the aristocracy was not restricted by the system of alliances. Increasingly, the Roman aristocrat used his command to personally enrich himself. The aristocrat planned to convert that wealth into political power at home through the purchase of more clients. The aristocrat returned from military service with the resources to acquire more clients who would do his bidding in the annual elections. What had once been a system of patron and clients degenerated into mere bribery. It was in Spain that the Roman aristocracy was first corrupted by wealth.
[4]

The Romans spent the next two hundred years subduing the Spanish tribes. Not until the time of Augustus, emperor from 30 BCE to 14 AD, was the Iberian Peninsula fully subjugated.
[5] These wars were often brutal, and many atrocities are recorded on both sides. The notion that the Romans were fighting for self-defense is difficult to support. However, under the pretext of self-defense, the Roman aristocracy fought to gain personal glory and wealth to be used at home to climb the Cursus Honorum. As long as the playing field of Roman politics had been fairly level, competition among the aristocracy had been honorable. The sudden influx of wealth quickly corrupted the political system. The aristocrats no longer were motivated solely by ideas of personal honor and service to the state. As the rewards for military and political victory increased, politicians became more likely to violate the customary rules that governed political competition.

The Hellenistic East

To the east of Italy lay the already ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, Lydia, and Persia. In these places, centralized state bureaucracies, governed by wealthy elites or aristocracies had existed for three thousand years. Cities and urban life were the focus of these cultures. They had all made important advances in Math, Engineering, Science, Music, Philosophy, and Literature.

In approximately 350, the Macedonian Greek king, Alexander, conquered the entire eastern Mediterranean and led his armies as far east as India.
[6] Although Alexander died shortly after this conquest was completed, three of his generals, likewise Macedonian Greeks, established dynasties or ruling houses throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The general Ptolemy established the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. One of his direct heirs was Cleopatra (50-27 BCE). The general Seleucus took control of Asia Minor, Syria, Iran, and even portions of southern Russia and western India. This became the Seleucid Empire. Antiochus IV, a descendant of Seleucus, was one of the last rulers of this dynasty (175-163 BCE). He is remembered for his attempt to Hellenize Judea. The people of Judea were energized by Judas Maccabeus to resist the Syrian Greeks’ cultural take over. A third general, Antigonus, took control of Macedonia and parts of Greece. This was the Antigonid dynasty. These dynasties spread Greek culture around the eastern Mediterranean, across Asia Minor, Syria, and Iran. Thus we speak of 350-to 200 as the Hellenistic period, after the Greek’s own name for themselves, Hellenes.

In the year 200 an uneasy balance of power existed among these various kingdoms. No one Hellenistic dynasty was able to defeat the other. They had been watching the conflict between the Romans and Carthaginians carefully. Each dynasty hoped to enlist the help of the victor to gain dominance in the east. They viewed both the Romans and the Carthaginians as barbarians whom they could easily deceive into doing their bidding. They could not have been more wrong.

Immediately after the Second Punic War, ambassadors began arriving from the east seeking Roman aid and intervention. From the foregoing discussion it should be easy to see why Rome readily involved herself overseas. The nobility sought wealth to achieve political victory and honor at home. The political situation in the east was, however, exceedingly complex. In addition to the three major dynasties founded by Alexander’s generals, there existed many smaller kingdoms and island powers. For example, the island kingdom of Rhodes possessed the strongest navy in the Mediterranean and kept the sea free of pirates. Within the peninsula of Greece, several cities were loosely united to promote Greek independence. One of these was called the Achaean League, the other the Aetolian. On the coast of Asia Minor was the kingdom of Pergamum. Rome quickly found herself caught up in the intrigue and deception of all these competing factions. Over the course of fifty years (200-150) Rome attempted to bring political order to the east. Eventually, the Romans lost patience and reduced the east into a series of provinces.
[7]


Roman Involvement in the Hellenistic East
200-31BCE


The Romans first involved themselves in Macedonia during the second Punic war 218-202BCE. Philip the V, seeking to expand Antigonid power, had entered into an alliance with Carthage. He sought to draw off Roman resources by harassing the eastern coast of Italia. The Romans entered into an alliance with the Aetolian League, a confederation of independent Greek city-states, who were defending themselves against Philip. The conflict, the so called First Macedonian War, was inconclusive. No major battles were fought. However, this was the first Roman incursion into the east. Furthermore, the Romans were infuriated that Philip had sided with Hannibal. At the conclusion of the Second Punic War, many senators wanted revenge against Philip.


Rome had enjoyed alliances with the island kingdom of Rhodes, the kingdom of Pergamum on the coast of Asia Minor, and the Ptolemaic empire of Egypt, prior to the Second Punic War. At the conclusion of the war, ambassadors began arriving from these three states. They feared the aggressions of Philip V of Macedonia and Antiochus III of Syria. In international politics, at all times, a necessary ingredient for peace is a balance of power. In the Hellenistic East the balance of power between the three dynasties preserved peace. If any one became too powerful, the other two, together with the other free states acted to check that dynasty. However, in 200, Philip the Antigonid and Antiochus the Seleucid each sought to dominate the east, Philip by attacking the Aetolian League and Antiochus by infringing on the territory of Pergamum.

The ambassadors played upon the Roman fear of strong neighbors. They warned against the possible aggression of Philip and reminded them of his treachery during the war with Hannibal. Could they afford to have a resurgent and dominant Macedonia across the Adriatic? The ambassadors insinuated that Antiochus and Philip had made a pact to destroy Rome. Again, despite the fact that a long and destructive war had just concluded, the Roman senate and people voted for war. The same motives that propelled them into conflict with Carthage were at hand. The fear of a strong neighbor. The common man’s desire for ready cash. The sense of obligation to their allies Rhodes, Pergamum, Egypt, and the Aetolian League. However, increasingly at this point, we sense that the primary motivation is the aristocrats’ pursuit of their own glory, that they are acting to enhance their reputations and enlarge their bank accounts as a means to political success.

The Second Macedonian War lasted from 200-196. At its conclusion, Philip was completely humbled and forced to pay a large war indemnity. However, Philip was allowed to remain in power, and Macedonia retained her independence. The Roman commander, Flamininus, proclaimed the freedom of all Greek mainland cities at the Isthmian Games in Corinth.
[8] In the pandemonium of joy that followed, Flamininus was called by some Greeks another Alexander the Great, and by others, hailed as a god. Other Roman aristocrats did not fail to notice the prestige and influence that Flamininus gained through his successful prosecution of the war in Macedonia.

Unlike Greece, Macedonia was not a collection of city-states constantly fighting among themselves. Rather, Macedonia possessed a strong national unity and was ruled by a central monarchy. Therefore, the Macedonians continued to assert their sovereignty. In 146, after the Fourth Macedonian War, Rome reduced Macedonia and Greece to the status of province.

During the Second Macedonian War, Flamininus had warned Antiochus to leave Pergamum and the free Greek cities of Asia Minor alone. At the end of that war, Hannibal, who had been driven into exile by the Carthaginians, advised Antiochus that the only way to defeat the Romans was for the free cities, Leagues, and Dynasties to unite and oppose Rome. Antiochus foolishly neglected this advice and instead allied himself with only the Aetolian League, which had been dissatisfied with the relatively light punishment of Macedonia at the conclusion of the Second Macedonian War and the Roman insistence that all Greek cities cease from military operations against each other.
[9] In 192, with aid from the Aetolian League, Antiochus invaded the free cities of Asia Minor, crossed the Aegean onto mainland Greece, and began to prosecute a war against the free Greek cities.

By his actions, Antiochus provoked all the, by now, usual Roman responses, fear, vengefulness, greed, and desire for glory.
The Romans forgave Philip his war debt and, thus, brought him onto their side. A perfect example of divide et impera. With Macedonia, the Achaean League, Rhodes, and Pergamum, the Romans crushed Antiochus utterly in the year 189. He was forced to abandon Asia Minor north and west of the Taurus mountains.


The Seleucid empire went into a long period of decline. To the east and south of Syria, the Seleucid gave way to a resurgent Persian empire.[10] The Parthians and Romans remained enemies to the end of the Roman Empire, neither side ever able to defeat the other. To the north and the west, in the lands around the Black Sea, including Armenia, Cappodocia, and Asia Minor, an extraordinary individual, Mithridates of Pontus, established a kingdom approximately 100BCE and sought to permanently expel the Romans from the east. In this he was very nearly successful. Over a period of thirty years the Romans fought three major wars against Mithridates of Pontus before finally eliminating him as threat in the year 65 BCE. In that same year the Romans annexed the last remnant of the Seleucid Empire, Syria, as a province.

In 44BCE, when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon into Italia from Gallia Cisalpina in order to prevent the political disgrace the Optimate faction of the senate was preparing for him, the final civil war, lasting fifteen years, was begun. The battles were fought in Spain, North Africa, and Greece. Caesar had barely concluded the war when he was assassinated, and the fighting between Optimate and Popularis erupted again. The victors were Ocatavianus, the heir of Caesar and Marcus Antonius, Caesar’s principal lieutenant. The defeated, Brutus, Cassius, and the arch conservative Cato.

Ocatavianus took Italia and the western provinces, Antonius the eastern provinces, making his base of operations Egypt. Egypt, had long been a friend and protectorate of Rome, while ostensibly maintaining a certain freedom.
[11] The queen, Cleopatra, continued the royal line of the Ptolemies. Together Antonius and Cleopatra ruled the eastern Mediterranean. This arrangement could not last. As we have consistently noted, competition was a fundamental aspect of the Roman aristocracy. Neither Octavianus nor Antonius could allow himself to seem to back down to the other. No other justification exists for the final war of the Roman Republic. In 31BCE, the naval forces of Octavianus, led by his admiral, Agrippa, defeated the navy of Antonius and Cleopatra at Actium off the Adriatic coast of Greece. The lovers committed suicide rather than face capture. One of Octavianus’ first act was the annexation of Egypt as a Roman province. So ended the last of the Hellenistic dynasties.






The Effects of War and Wealth

“The Roman soldier is the master of the world but in the meantime has not one foot of ground which he calls his own.”
Tiberius Gracchus 133

The Roman aristocracy was successful in its wars of conquest because of the strength of its soldiers. Traditionally, soldiers had been drafted from the population of free small farmers who worked the land in the vicinity of Rome. Continuous warfare, however, had taken a heavy toll, and by 140 there were insufficient free farmers to supply the armies. The Romans began to suffer a series of military setbacks at this time, most notably in Spain, where an entire Roman army was captured in 137 at Numantia. The Romans also experienced trouble with indigenous revolts in North Africa and faced invasion from Germanic tribes who were migrating from the area of modern Sweden and Denmark. Finally, a slave uprising in Sicily in 134 took over almost the entire island, establishing an independent “kingdom.” It took the Romans more than two years to defeat the revolt. Both the capture of the army in Spain and the length of time needed to quell the insurrection in Sicily show that Roman military standards and efficacy had deteriorated.

Warfare was not the only cause of the disappearance of the small farmer. The wealth that had flowed into Italia was most typically used to purchase land. The aristocrats began to buy up all the available land and converted it into large plantations called “latifundia.” These plantations grew the two main ancient cash crops, olives and grapes. The latifundia also made use of the other source of wealth that war had brought, slaves.

As small farms began to disappear, the dispossessed farmers drifted to Rome. This was the beginning of the urban mob, unemployed, semi-homeless, and with no resources except the annual vote that citizenship conferred on them. They were a volatile political force and were soon to play a role in the downfall of the Republic.

The first aristocrat to publicly take notice of the urban poor was Tiberius Gracchus. The Gracchi were a noble plebeian family. Tiberius’ maternal grandfather was the savior of Italy, the man who had defeated Hannibal, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. Thus on his mother’s side, he had patrician blood. At the age of ten, Tiberius was elected into the college of augurs, one of several Roman priesthoods. He married the daughter, Claudia, of the highest -ranking senator, the patrician Appius Claudius Pulcher. He served with distinction in the final assault on Carthage. Unfortunately his first step on the Cursus Honorum was disasterous. As an officer with the rank of quaestor he was assigned to the army in Spain. Before he even reached Spain, an army of fifty thousand men was surrounded and threatened with annihilation. Tiberius arrived and successfully negotiated the withdraw of the army. The senate foolishly attempted to make scapegoats out of the commander and all the officers. Only through the intervention of the Comitia Tributa was Tiberius acquitted. Clearly the people appreciated that Tiberius had saved so many common citizens. Many believe that the senate’s attempt to disgrace Tiberius impelled him to adopt new and revolutionary tactics.



Tiberius’ next move was slightly unusual. Now a senator himself with the status of an ex quaestor, he could be expected to run for the aedileship when he reached the minimum age. Instead, he chose to run for the office of tribune. Elected on a platform of agrarian reform, he promised to break up many of the latifundia and distribute land to the urban poor. Included in his proposal were provisions to compensate wealthy landowners for the loss of land. It is important to understand here that much of the land that now formed the latifundia was public land, ager publicus, which wealthy landowners had illegally taken possession of in the first place. Technically, they were owed no compensation for this at all. Furthermore, there existed a law from the period of the struggle of the orders that restricted land ownership to 500 iugera per person.[12] This law specifically had been designed to protect the small farmers from the aristocrats. There now existed latifundia of tens of thousands of iugera.

Tiberius’ proposal was met with violent opposition in the Senate. What happened next was the first step towards civil war. Tiberius, as was his right as tribune, took his land bill directly to the assembly of the people, the Comitia Tributa. What was extraordinary about this was the lack of prior senatorial approval. The senate did not ratify bills. Rather, in accordance with custom not law, the senate voted its approval of a new bill. The magistrate, consul or tribune only then sought the approval of the people in assembly. Tiberius broke with precedent not with law. This action had long term implications. Direct appeal to the people in the Comitia Tributa became a weapon in the arsenal of those who would seek political power.

When it became apparent that the bill would pass, the senate sought to bribe another tribune to veto the bill. A certain tribune named Octavius was persuaded to veto the bill in assembly. Now Tiberius took a revolutionary step. First, in order to sweeten his offer to the people, he put forward a new measure to distribute more land than before and reduce the compensation to the wealthy landowners. Next he put forward a motion to depose or remove Octavius from the tribunate. The motion was passed, and Octavius had to be forcibly removed from the speaker’s platform.

Over the course of that year the plans went forward to redistribute land. Fearful of senatorial revenge once out of office and anxious to prevent any changes in the work taking place to redistribute land, Tiberius took another unprecedented step. He sought re-election. The most conservative element of the senate hired gangs of thugs to intimidate the supporters of Tiberius on election day. The situation rapidly got out of hand. Tiberius and three hundred of his supporters were murdered.

Ironically the land reform went forward after the death of Tiberius and achieved the desired goal of strengthening the army.
[13] Approximately seventy five thousand men were removed from the city to the country. The senate feared the popular power that had quickly come to the hands of Tiberius and knew full well that the citizens placed on the redistributed land would form a vast clientage for Tiberius. Such an unprecedented number of clients accruing to one man was unacceptable to the senate. However, the need for land reform and the effect that it would have upon the government’s ability to recruit soldiers was recognized as valid. Also, the conservative members of the senate were only too happy to take the credit and the clients that the redistribution of land brought.


Two political factions rose out of the dispute over the reforms of Tiberius Gracchus, the Populares and the Optimates. These two factions fought the civil wars that raged in Italy during the next century. The Optimates represented the conservative hard-line of the senate. The Populares sought political power through appeals for reform, designed to win the votes of the urban mob.

One negative side effect of the land reform involved the Italian Allies. The redistribution deprived them of public land but offered no compensation at all because they were not citizens. Both the wealthy and the small farmers among the allies were harmed. Soon a call was heard to grant Roman citizenship to the allies so that they would be benefited and protected by the provisions of the Lex Sempronia. This call was not heeded, and here began the discontent with Rome that the Italian Allies were to feel more and more acutely as the second century BCE came to a close.
[14]

Ten years after the murder of Tiberius, his brother Gaius was elected tribune. He likewise had served with distinction in the military and had entered the Cursus Honorum by gaining the quaestorship. His conduct as tribune was as revolutionary as his brother’s. Most of the ager publicus had been dispersed, but there still remained thousands of landless and unemployed citizens. In the years between 350 and 200, the Romans had consolidated their hold on Italy by establishing colonies that acted as military garrisons. Gaius revived the idea of establishing colonies. These colonies, however, were based on commerce and agriculture rather than military interests. Landless citizens and citizens who owned property were eligible to join. Land was distributed in lots of thirty iugera.

The Lex Frumentaria followed. This law insured that grain was available at a fixed cost below the market value. Rome’s poorest citizens would no longer be affected by price fluctuations. The government purchased and maintained its own granaries and, when prices rose too high, made grain available to less fortunate citizens at affordable prices. Gaius also passed legislation to begin building secondary roads within Italy to provide meaningful and useful employment to those without work. He argued that new roads would further stimulate trade and production. Clearly his reforms were aimed at improving the conditions of the least advantaged citizens of Rome. However, all of the preceding ideas equally benefited the commonwealth or res publica as a whole.

Gaius also intended to take on the issue of granting citizenship to the Italian allies. Since the end of the 2nd Punic war the call for citizenship had been growing louder. Various measures had been proposed and defeated. The people were opposed because an increase in citizenship would dilute their power at the voting booth. The noble plebeians and patricians snobbishly were unable to conceive of sharing government with non-Romans. In order to achieve his goal, Gaius believed he could enlist the aid of the business class in Rome, the so-called equites, or knights.

Originally the equites were that class of citizens who formed the eighteen centuries of cavalry within the Comitia Centuriata. In the latter period of the Republic, equites referred to citizens of a certain property qualification but who did not engage in the politics of the Cursus Honorum and the senate. By law, senators were debarred from business practices. The class of equites grew to fulfill this function. It was to this group that Gaius now appealed.

Gaius passed two important measures that directly benefited the equites. The administration of the provinces was enormously lucrative for Rome. Each year taxes were collected under the direction of the proconsul of the province. Some of this money went back to Rome, some went to the armies, and some found its way into the pockets of the proconsul and his staff. Soon the provincial citizens were complaining of this in Rome. Law courts were established to recover money that had been wrongly taken. These courts were called quaestiones de pecuniis repetundiis, and the senate acted as judge and jury. Gaius passed legislation that transferred full control of these courts to the equites, thereby granting them an important power over the senators.

Next Gaius proposed and passed a bill that granted the equites the right to collect the taxes in Asia.
[15] Civilization had already been flourishing here for over two thousand years. The land was fertile, the populace productive, and trade was extensive. The equites, who were already responsible for tax collection in the other provinces, had been eagerly seeking the right to collect the taxes of wealthy Asia. Until now the proconsul had directly supervised this activity. With these two pieces of legislation, Gaius had firmly allied himself with the equites. He next turned his attention to granting citizenship to all the Italian allies.

The Italian allies had remained loyal to Rome in the darkest days of the 2nd Punic War. However, in the years after 200BCE the Romans failed to adequately defend the interests of the allies. Division of the spoils of war prior to 200 had always been equal, not so after 200, at the very time that Roman armies, filled with thousands of allied soldiers, were conquering the wealthy eastern Mediterranean. At home, the Italian peasants were suffering the same disruptions among the small farmers because of the creation of latifundia. However, the land reform laws only addressed the needs of Roman peasants, often taking land away from the allies. There were notable incidents of arrogance on the part of individual magistrates in the Italian towns and cities. Finally, the allies were aware that the central power of Rome was increasing and their internal autonomy was waning. By the time of the Gracchi, the allies were gravely disaffected from Rome. Some wished for the rights and privileges of Roman citizens, others, however, contemplated freeing themselves entirely from Roman domination. Without doubt, the Romans were guilty of mistreating the allies, who had been vitally important to Roman survival and success during the 2nd Punic War. Now, as the Romans reaped the benefits of the foreign conquest, again aided by the Italian allies, they failed to equally reward them.


In 122, during his second tribunate, Gracchus proposed legislation that would have granted full Roman citizenship to those peoples who had been Roman allies for the longest period of time and limited citizenship to all the rest of Italy. Unfortunately, the bias of Roman snobbery carried the day, the consul preyed upon the common man’s fear of losing his rights to outsiders, and the rogatio, or bill was defeated. Gaius, as many politicians before and since have learned, discovered that voters are fickle. Now out favor for supporting the allies of Rome, Gaius failed in his third bid for election to the tribunate. In 121, the consul Opimius threatened to repeal the legislation that covered the establishment of the new colonies. Gaius unwisely formed a bodyguard of three hundred men and proceeded to the voting. In a minor disturbance, one of the servants of the consul was killed. Without a doubt this was murder. The senate, however, overreacted and passed a decree that authorized the consul to take whatever steps he deemed necessary to preserve the state. Street fighting broke out between the supporters of Gracchus and the senatorial factions. In all, Gaius and over three thousand of his supporters were killed. For the time being, the triumph of the senate and its narrow and selfish concern was complete.


Breakdown of the System

The Rise and Fall of Marius

We have noted that the acquisition of an extended overseas empire had negative consequences for the Italian homeland. Military service lasting years at a time kept the peasant farmers away from their land. Farms, the result of generations of care, began to fall into disrepair. This land often was bought up by the senatorial and equestrian aristocracy, who then made use of that other regrettable outcome of war, cheap and readily available slaves. Hence the rise of Latifundia, huge plantations worked by gangs of slaves, and the subsequent decline in numbers of the backbone of Roman military power, the peasant farmer.
In order to remedy this problem and restore the peasants to the land, the Gracchi brothers, Tiberius and then Gaius, attempted agrarian reform. Significant changes were made: the Lex Sempronia of Tiberius resulted in the formation of an agrarian commission which distributed land to thousands of impoverished citizens. Ten years later, Gaius revived the practice of establishing colonies. In the century previous to the first Punic War, i.e. c. 375-264, the Romans had planted colonies as a way to control and defend her interests throughout the peninsula. These new colonies became important population centers, supplying new recruits for the armies and increasing the economic health of Italy. Additionally his Lex Frumentaria insured that the cost of grain was not subject to inflation and so always affordable to those least able to weather price fluctuations.
Although it is more than likely that the Gracchi were driven by a selfless and civic spirit to do good for those less fortunate members of the state, and although the Gracchi clearly saw that the health of the state depended on a vibrant free worker class, nonetheless, the Gracchi were above all Roman politicians whose primary goal remained victory over their social peers in the arena of annual voting, i.e. the cursus honorum. Unfortunately, the competitive nature of Roman politics was such that other senators could not bear that the credit, and attendant clientele, for such great public good be given to just one man. The Gracchi perished for their efforts.
The murder of Gaius and his supporters is a watershed in Roman politics. The senate, to destroy Gaius Gracchus, passed a revolutionary decree, the senatus consultum ultimum, i.e. the senate’s last command. This decree demanded and allowed that the consul take whatever steps he deemed necessary to preserve the State. He was not subject to the right of appeal, ius provocationis, a right enjoyed by Romans for more than four hundred years.
[16] Now it was possible for the Senate to suspend the constitution by making the claim, whether real or imagined, that the safety of the very state was at risk. The senatus consultum ultimum, because it allowed the Senate to unleash violence against the State itself, was one of the first steps to the military dictatorships and civil wars of the dying days of the Republic.


The period from the death of Gracchus to 100 was marked by social anxiety as new threats grew to the north and the south. There are notable instances of mass hysteria among the populace. For example, several Vestal Virgins, keepers of the Eternal Flame, who dwelt in a special home in the center of the Forum, were accused of breaking their vows. These poor women suffered the ancient punishment, to be buried alive. Popular anxiety demanded further human sacrifice, and a Gallic man and woman were buried alive. Only sixteen years later the Senate formally outlawed such practice. The historian Livy, writing less than a hundred years later, deemed the entire episode “un-Roman.”
On the northern borders, the Cimbri and the Teutones, Germanic tribes were on the move and looking for a new place to call home. Across the sea, in Numidia, modern Tunisia and Algeria, the Romans would soon allow themselves to be pulled into a dynastic struggle between rival princes which mushroomed into a full scale war. The Roman response to both of these events had negative consequences for the long term survival of the Republic. We shall examine the events in Numidia first.

Jugurtha

At the end of the third and final Punic war, 146, the former territory of Carthage was converted into the province of Africa. Inland and to the west existed the client kingdom of Numidia, ruled by king Micipsa. Today this area is know as Algeria. Upon his death the kingdom of Numidia was divided between his three sons, Hiempsal, Adherbal, and the wily Jugurtha. This man had trained in tactics as an officer with the Roman military in Spain. It was not uncommon for the sons of foreign aristocracy to ally themselves with the sons of senators, who began their political careers as junior officers in the military, prior to entering the cursus honorum. Jugurtha had many friends at Rome now. Jugurtha’s first act was to murder Hiempsal. Adherbal, fearing for his life, fled first to the Roman province of Africa
[17] and then to Rome.
Some senators favored supporting Adherbal by force of arms. The majority, however, decided to send a commission to mediate a settlement. In 116 Adherbal was granted the eastern and wealthier portion, Jugurtha the western. Jugurtha was unwilling to accept these arrangements and in 112 he attacked Adherbal. Besieged in the capital city, Adherbal again appealed to Rome for help. Another senatorial commission failed to mediate a solution. Finally, at the urging of Italian merchants in the city, Adherbal was persuaded to surrender with the promise that he be spared. Instead Jugurtha’s troops killed Adherbal by torture and murdered many of the Italian merchants living in the city. Whether the troops were under orders to do this or not is unclear. The result was the same. The Equestrian business class felt personally injured by the murder of their friends. The People were encouraged by politicians who favored a war to view this as an affront to the dignity of Rome. War was declared.


In 111 the consul Bestia led an army into Numidia. He immediately persuaded Jugurtha to surrender in return for a promise that he would remain king of Numidia. From the very beginning of the troubles with Jugurtha there had been allegations of bribery. Iugurtha’s “surrender” provoked the People. Led by the tribune Memmius, they demanded a formal inquiry. Jugurtha was brought to Rome and commanded to reveal the names of those senators who had taken bribes. Instead, Jugurtha bribed another tribune to exercise his veto and forbid him from speaking before the Senate. He followed this act with the murder of a cousin who was under senatorial consideration to be his replacement. Then he managed to have the murderer smuggled out of Italy to prevent him from testifying. Perhaps foolishly, the Senate honored its agreement to return Jugurtha safely to Numidia. On his departure, Jugurtha uttered this famous remark, “Rome is a city for sale, if she can find a buyer.”
The war now continued, disastrously so for the Romans. An entire army was captured and forced to walk under a yoke of spears as a sign of submission. They were then compelled to evacuate Numidia. In 109 a second commission was decreed by the People to get to the bottom of the scandals. Several powerful senators were found guilty and exiled, among them Bestia. At this point a more able and upright commander was appointed, Quintus Caecilius Metellus.
The Post Gracchan period is the time when the Caecilii Metelli came to dominate Roman politics. This family could boast a consul in every generation back to the time of the first and second Punic wars, in which they led armies with great distinction. But in the years after the third Punic war, the Metelli were preeminent. Members of the Metelli held the consulship in 143, 142, 123, 119, 115, 113, 109, 98, 69, 60, and 57.
[18] Quintus Caecilius Metellus was sent to Africa to restore discipline to the army and put a quick end to the quagmire the war with Jugurtha had become.
Metellus took a man named Gaius Marius with him to Africa as his second in command or chief of staff. Marius was born in the small town of Arpinum in 157, sixty miles from Rome. The status of his family is obscure, but it is likely that they were successful landowners. No one in his family had ever held one of the offices of the cursus honorum. In fact, technically speaking Marius was not Roman but rather Latin. Marius, however, had aspirations to break into the ranks of the Roman aristocracy. He had served with distinction in the military during the 130s in Spain. In 119, at the age of 38, with the help of the Metelli family, he was elected one of the ten tribunes for the year. His actions during this year are difficult to interpret. On the one hand he set in motion a bill designed to make the voting process less susceptible to intimidation. When this was challenged by the senate, he is said to have threatened to arrest the consuls. However, when a law was proposed to extended grain distribution to the lower classes, he opposed it.
Angered by his defiance, the aristocracy saw to his defeat at the next elections, when he ran for the office of aedile. However, in 115, he successfully ran for the office of praetor, though among the praetors elected that year he garnered the fewest votes. He was immediately accused of electoral bribery, and, in the subsequent trial, was barely acquitted. It is more than likely that he was in fact guilty. After his year as praetor, he was sent to command an army in upper Spain with the rank of propraetor. This was his first military command.


Now a senator with praetorian rank and grown wealthy from shrewd business investments, Marius married into a ancient patrician family, the Iulii Caesares. His wife was the aunt of the future Julius Caesar. For a man of municipal status, i.e. non Roman, to have come this far was unusual. However, despite his wealth and marriage, it would be unlikely that Marius could extend his success to the office of consul. Only the most extraordinary circumstances would allow this, circumstances which Marius would have to create himself.
Forgiven by the Metelli for the events of 119, Marius accompanied Metellus to Africa. Even under the able and determined command of Metellus, the war dragged on. Marius began openly to question his leadership; additionally he let it be known that he wished to return to Rome and stand for the consulship of 107. Marius wrote to friends within the equestrian class back in Rome that Metellus was mismanaging the war and dragging it on to his own advantage. The equestrians, whose business interests in Africa suffered, began to clamor for Metellus’ replacement. In exasperation, Metellus permitted Marius to return to Rome.
Marius ran a campaign which directly challenged the unquestioned authority of the senate and their stranglehold on the consulship. He demanded that citizens be judged by their individual worth, not the circumstances of their birth. He charged that incompetent leadership of the war in Africa was wasting the lives of Roman soldiers. Despite the best efforts of the nobility to defeat Marius, the People chose one of their own. Marius was elected consul for 107, a homo novus, ennobling all his descendants.
There remained the question of who would lead the armies in Africa. Metellus still enjoyed command; Marius wanted that command transferred immediately to himself. He went before the people and asked that they vote him command in Africa. The ancient historian Sallust, writing a generation later, preserved the content of that speech:

Compare me now, fellow citizens, a “new man,” with those haughty nobles. What they know from hearsay and reading, I either have seen with my own eyes or done with my own hands. What they have learned from books I have learned by service in the field; think now for yourselves whether words or deeds are worth more. They scorn my humble birth, I their worthlessness; I am taunted with my lot in life, they with their infamies¼But if they rightly look down on me, let them also look down on their own forefathers, whose nobility began, as did my own, in manly deeds¼The more glorious was the life of their ancestors, the more shameful is their own baseness¼I cannot, to justify your confidence, display family portraits or the triumphs and consulships of my forefathers; but if occasion requires, I can show spears, a banner, trappings and other military prizes, as well as scars on my breast. These are my portraits, these my patent of nobility, not left me by inheritance as theirs were, but won by my own innumerable efforts and perils.

By plebiscite Marius was given command of the army in Africa. To solve a shortage of manpower, and very much in keeping with his views that citizens should be judged by merit not birth, Marius allowed the poorest members of to enlist in the army. Up until this point there had been minimum property qualifications for enlistment in the army, based on the theory that men would only fight to protect what they might lose. As we have noted, one of the most serious problems which faced the late Republic was a shortage of manpower for the military. While this was a logical step to take, it had profound and unforeseen consequences for the Republic. It took Marius an additional two years to capture and destroy Jugurtha in 105.


The enlistment of men who had no property was the beginning of the professional army. Their allegiance was not to the state but rather to the general who had granted them the opportunity. Over the course of the next fifty years, soldiers increasingly saw their general as their patron, and the generals saw soldiers and discharged veterans as their clients. Within twenty years of Marius’s reforms, Roman generals, in total violation of Republican government, readily persuaded their soldiers to march on Rome, to fight against other Romans, and to wage civil war.
Marius revived the tactic of the direct appeal to the citizenry; he was the first popularis since the Gracchi. Around Marius there now began to form a faction which perceived the ancient patrician class within the senate as unable to govern effectively. They charged that the families who jealously guarded the consulship, i.e. the nobility, had been corrupted by wealth and, with the best interests of the common good no longer at heart, had not the moral authority to rule.

The Cimbri and the Teutones

To the north a much more serious threat remained. Two Germanic tribes, the Cimbri and the Teutones, displaced by over population, had left their homeland near the North Sea and had been moving in an erratic fashion through central Europe. Although we perhaps imagine the fall of the Roman Empire as the sudden invasion of the barbarian hordes, in fact, the Romans were always threatened by invasion from the north. It had happened in 390, when the Gauls had sacked Rome. Indeed, the subsequent Roman conquest of Gaul and parts of Germania was driven by a desire to establish a buffer between Italy and the northern tribes.
Tall and grey eyed, the northerners inspired fear in the average Roman. In 109 they had requested to be allowed to settle in the Po Valley and had offered to serve in the Roman Army. This was a request that later Roman emperors would have only been to happy to accept. The senate refused and sent an army into southern Gaul to destroy them. Instead the Romans were soundly defeated. However, rather than entering Italy, they migrated further into eastern Gaul. Now in 105, the Romans faced this threat again. Again the tribes requested land in exchange for service in the military. Again they were coldly refused.
Again battles were fought. This time, however, the carnage was greater. Over 80,000 Roman soldiers are said to have been killed. The northerners now threatened to invade Italy and destroy Rome. The people were easily convinced that aristocratic and inept generals were to blame for these disasters. They believed that Marius, fresh from his victory in Africa, and a common man, was the only one who could save them. Marius was elected consul in 105. He immediately began to enlist and train a new army. He also made important changes in the organization and tactics of the Roman army, making it more compact and cohesive. He also created the famous silver eagle standard to which troops pledged their loyalty and carried into battle. It took Marius four years to finally annihilate the Cimbri and the Teutones. He was elected consul in 104, 103, 102, 101, and 100. Nothing like this had ever happened before. So great was the People’s fear of the Germans and lack of confidence in the Senate.


In 100, Marius began his sixth consulship with the defeat of the northern tribes and the prospect of peace, a thing for which Marius was not suited. With the threat from the north gone, the Senate felt itself able to oppose Marius and the populares. Keep in mind what happened to the Gracchi and why. It was not necessarily their legislation that the Senate opposed, but rather the power and support that it had brought the Gracchi. So now with Marius, but they could not simply murder the “savior of Italy,” as he was called by the People. However, as Marius began to seek legislation to settle his veteran soldiers on public land and to reward his supporters among the wealthy equestrian class, the Senate began to maneuver against him. To block the Senate, Marius had allied himself with two Tribunes who, in the end, were willing to go to greater political extremes then Marius would have liked, Lucius Appuleius Saturninus and Gaius Servilius Glauca.
Saturninus, a man of noble birth, had been quaestor in 104 and in charge of the grain administration. Rivals in the Senate used a grain shortage that had nothing to do with Saturninus to remove him from his post. This action drove Saturninus into the camp of the populares. In 103, as a tribune, Saturninus sponsored a bill granting each of Marius’ veterans 66 acres of land in Africa. When factional opponents attempted to block the legislation they were met with a hail of stones from his supporters.
Both Saturninus and Glauca continued to serve the interests of Marius and oppose the Senate through 100. However, while the urban plebs was only too happy to support legislation granting free grain, when laws were introduced that sought to give benefits to the Italian allies, among whom Marius counted many supporters, they tended to side with the senatorial aristocracy. The tactics of Saturninus and Glauca became increasingly violent, ending with the murder in the assembly of one of their rivals and the use of Marius’s veterans to intimidate voters. However, Marius could no longer condone their actions; the Senate passed the senatus consultum ultimum and Marius was forced to act against his allies. When he locked Servilius, Glauca, and a hundred or so of their supporters up in the senate house, hoping by this action to both obey the Senate and, at the same time, protect the prisoners from vengeance, a crowd of senatorial supporters climbed the roof, broke through it, and then pelted the prisoners to death with the tiles.
Marius was disgraced by the events of his sixth consulship. Perceived now as politically weak and inept by both sides he went into a self imposed exile, although it only lasted a few years. Ten years later he would make another bid for power, with dreadful results. His career had profound implications for the future of the Republic. As a popularis leader, he had questioned the authority and wisdom of the Senate. He had shown that the Senate could successfully be challenged. His reformation of the army had made it an altogether more formidable machine, and, ultimately, his move to enlist the destitute members of society, both in Rome and among the Italian allies, had made it possible for Roman generals to wage war on each other, for now it was to the generals not the Republic that soldiers swore their allegiance.


The Social War- 91-88

Since the time of the Gracchi there had been growing calls for an extension of full citizenship to the Italian allies. The justice of such a change would seem obvious. The Italian allies had held strong and proven faithful in the darkest days of Hannibal’s invasion of Italy during the Second Punic War. They had supplied at least half of the manpower which enabled the Roman expansion into the eastern Mediterranean. Yet they did not fully enjoy the fruit of these victories. They had suffered in the agrarian reforms instituted by the Gracchi; rather than show the allies any sort of gratitude at all, the Senate began to treat them more as subjects to rule. Reform minded Romans, on the other hand, believed that full Roman citizenship should be granted to all free persons from the Po river valley south to the toe and the heel. This would make all these people eligible to vote in the annual elections. The Senate refused to countenance the idea of competing politically, let alone sharing power, with the Italian aristocracy. The People were easily convinced that their power would be diluted by a larger electorate.
Snobbery and groundless fear, as so often, carried the day. In fact, the vast majority of the allies would have been satisfied with the ius provocationis, i.e., the right of appeal, to protect them from arbitrary action on the part of Roman magistrates. It would have been impossible for rural voters to journey to Rome for the sake of elections. Nor did the Italian aristocracy have intentions of joining the political fray in Rome. The only allies who could potentially take part in the vote, and whose aristocracies were already making efforts to break into Roman politics were the Latin allies.
In 91, a tribune, Livius Drusus, proposed legislation to extend citizenship to all the Italian allies. When Drusus was murdered by an unknown assailant, and his legislation nullified, the allies finally lost patience. What followed was a brutal civil war which dangerously weakened both Rome and Italy. The Senate immediately committed several tactical blunders, chief of which was placing Marius, the best general of the time, second in command. Despite his strenuous advice to continue negotiations with the allies and to train the new recruits prior to any military engagement, the consuls immediately went to war. In two separate engagements, both consuls were killed, and massive Roman casualties suffered. Although the Romans began to reassert themselves, in the end they wisely reversed their policy and granted full citizenship to the allies. The cost of the war was enormous in terms of property destruction and lives lost. Perhaps worst of all, a generation of men was trained in waging civil war. It would be that much easier the next time around.



Mithradates

The Hellenistic East watched this war unfold with great interest. They hated the Romans, especially the provincial governors and their henchmen, the tax collectors. Each year they squeezed as much as they could from the east. On the southern coast of the Black sea there existed the kingdom of Pontus, ruled by Mithradates









Study Questions: Answer questions with complete sentences.

What was Rome’s position with respect to the rest of the Mediterranean world c. 100?
Describe the situation within Rome and Italy at this time.
Define Patrician
Define Plebeian
Define Nobilis
What do historians call the sequence of events that led to an extension of rights for the Plebeians?
What was the arena for aristocratic competition?
When did this competition prove destructive to the Republic?
The victory over Carthage is difficult to reconcile with what?
What is power in the hands of a few is called?
What is power in the hands of the wealthy is called ?
What did election bring to a Roman aristocrat?
From whom did the Julii claim descent?
What office existed higher than consul?
What was the function of the tribune?
How did provincial administration differ from administration of Italy itself?
Why did the Romans first enter Spain?
When did Rome begin to govern Spain as a province?
How did the Roman occupation of Spain alter domestic politics?
How did wealth alter aristocratic competition?
Characterize the culture to the east of Rome.
Why is the historical period 350-200 termed Hellenistic?
If the period 350-200 is termed Hellenistic, what is the term for the subsequent period?
What was the source of the major dynasties of the Hellenistic period?
How did the Hellenistic dynasties view the Romans and Carthaginians prior to the conclusion of the second Punic War?
Why did the Romans get involved in the Hellenistic East?
Reread the section in the first handout, page 4, that pertains to Roman intervention in the east. Read as well the section on the Hellenistic East in the second handout. Now briefly describe the Roman experience in the east from 200-146.
Name two reasons for the disappearance of the small farmer from the Roman countryside.
Why perhaps did Tiberius Gracchus choose to run for the office of tribune?
What did he hope to achieve with the Lex Sempronia?
Describe the legislation of Gaius Gracchus.
Who were the equites?
Why did the attempt to grant citizenship to the allies fail?
Describe the circumstances of Gaius’ murder.
Name the two political factions that developed during the years of the Gracchi.

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[3] A still higher office than consul existed, the Censor. As with the consul, two were elected, every five years. Their term lasted eighteen months. The function of the Censors was to take a census of the people and assess their tax status according to income. This information was also used to assign citizens to a voting tribe. In this way the oligarchy was able to control the political power of the citizens. The Censors audited the financial records of the public works. Finally, the Censors examined the list of senators and eliminated those whose morals were though to be unacceptable.
[4] Recall that Julius Caesar served as propraetor in Spain in 60BCE and returned to Rome to stand for the consulship. The resources he gained in Spain helped pay for his candidacy.
[5] Octavius was the last man standing at the end of the civil wars. He replaced the Republican Government with the Imperial system. As the first emperor, he took the title Augustus, reverend one.
[6] Perhaps it is more accurate to say simply that Alexander conquered the Persian Empire and to it joined, briefly, Macedonia and Greece.
[7] The reduction of the east into provinces was a process that lasted over a hundred years. Thus, for example, Macedonia and Greece were made one province in the year 146, Asia Minor, the second eastern province shortly after that. Other states continued as clients for some time. For example, Judea was a client kingdom of Rome until 50 CE when it was converted to a province.
[8] Similar to the Olympic Games. Celebrated every four years in the city of Corinth.
[9] As we have remarked throughout, one key to Roman success was internal stability and cohesion. The Greek cities, forever quarreling and committing petty raids of theft against each other, were never able to unite. Thus their fate was sealed. After 146BCE, Greece would not be a free state again until the nineteenth century CE.
[10] The modern Persians or Iranians. The ancient Persian empire 600-350BCE was larger than the Roman empire, stretching from India to Egypt, but not as unified. Though destroyed by Alexander in 350, the Persian nobility was not. By 200 a new incarnation, the Parthian, was taking form.
[11] Egypt supplied a quarter of the grain necessary to feed Italy.
[12] A iugera was equal to approximately two-thirds of an English acre.
[13] Once a bill had the force of law, it was called a Lex; often the name of the chief sponsor was added to it. Thus the land bill of Tiberius was called the Lex Sempronia, after Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus.
[14] Centuries are counted thus: 99-1 is the first century BCE, 199-100 is the second century BCE, and so on.
[15] Asia in the time of the Romans roughly approximates to the peninsular part of modern Turkey, sometimes called Asia Minor.
[16] For example, when Horatius’s execution is summarily ordered by the consul, Horatius says, “Provoco.” “I appeal.” In other words, the Romans understood the meaning and value of due process.
[17] The former territory of Carthage.
[18] Each generation of the Republic tended to be dominated by a certain family or group of families. For example, in the earliest years of the Republic the Fabii are the ascendant group. During the years of the first and second Punic wars the Cornelii Scipiones are the dominant family.