However, the Sempronian law had been made, and the people wanted, of course, to have it carried out, while the nobles wanted it to be a dead letter. Scipio AEmilianus, the brother-in-law of the Gracchi, had been in Spain all this time, but he had so much disapproved of Tiberius’ doings that he was said to have exclaimed, on hearing of his death, “So perish all who do the like.” But when he came home, he did so much to calm and quiet matters, that there was a cry to make him Dictator, and let him settle the whole matter. Young Caius Gracchus, who thought the cause would thus be lost, tried to prevent the choice by fixing on him the name of tyrant. To which Scipio calmly replied, “Rome’s enemies may well wish me dead, for they know that while I live Rome cannot perish.”
When he went home, he shut himself into his room to prepare his discourse for the next day, but in the morning he was found dead, without a wound, though his slaves declared he had been murdered. Some suspected his wife Sempronia, others even her mother Cornelia, but the Senate would not have the matter enquired into. He left no child, and the Africanus line of Cornelius ended with him.
Caius Gracchus was nine years younger than his brother, and was elected tribune as soon as he was old enough. He was full of still greater schemes than his brother. His mother besought him to be warned by his brother’s fate, but he was bent on his objects, and carried some of them out. He had the Sempronian law reaffirmed, though he could not act on it; but in the meantime he began a regular custom of having corn served out to the poorer citizens, and found work for them upon roads and bridges; also he caused the state to clothe the soldiers, instead of their doing it at their own expense. Another scheme which he first proposed was to make the Italians of the countries now one with Roman territory into citizens, with votes like the Romans themselves; but this again angered the patricians, who saw they should be swamped by numbers and lose their power.
He also wanted to found a colony of plebeians on the ruins of Carthage, and when his tribuneship was over he went to Africa to see about it; but when he came home the patricians had arranged an attack on him, and he was insulted by the lictor of the consul Opimius. The patricians collected on one side, the poorer sort around Caius on the Aventine Hill; but the nobles were the strongest, the plebeians fled, and Caius withdrew with one slave into a sacred grove, whence he hoped to reach the Tiber; but the wood was surrounded, his retreat was cut off, and he commanded the slave to kill him that he might not fall alive into the hands of his enemies, after which the poor faithful fellow killed himself, unable to bear the loss of his master. The weight of Caius’ head in gold had been promised by the Senate, and the man who found the body was said to have taken out the brains and filled it up with lead that his reward might be larger. Three thousand men were killed in this riot, ten times as many as at Tiberius’ death.