Cicero of Arpinum: A Political and Literary Biography Being a Contribution to the History of Ancient Civilization and a Guide to the Study of Cicero's Writings

By E. G. Sihler | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWELVE
CICERO'S CONSULAR YEAR AND CATILINE

63 B. C.

WHETHER Cicero, out of his own political conviction (for he had very positive convictions in this field), if he had been consul in 70 B. C., seven years before, would have consented to the restoration of the full power of the Tribunate, is a question and may well be doubted. He certainly would not have taken the initiative. Now the betterment of social conditions at the capital, particularly some lasting amelioration of the proletariat, some diminution of the venal and resourceless mass of the "plebecula" (Att. 1, 16, 11), ever hungry, ever surging in vast multitudes at the assemblies in the Forum, ever the chronic leech of the treasury, such betterment I say was a postulate and necessary complement, still held in abeyance, of Pompey's consular year. For what after all was the power of the Tribunes, if they did nothing for the plebs, whose particular representative they were. This agrarian bill then was a comprehensive one, and of large provisions. It aimed at nothing less than finding a real domicile and living for the poorer citizens. In a certain way all the domain of state land in the provinces was in some manner traversed in the bill. In Sicily particularly the public land was gone over with all the precision1 of the Census-tables themselves. Such public domain of course was to be found in all the provinces. It was not cited in the bill elsewhere with vague generalization, but set down, community after community, in Cilicia, Pamphylia, Macedon, the ancient sites of Corinth and Carthage, tracts in Spain. Nay in the very East, on the heels of Pompey's victorious eagles, where he even at that moment was extending the limits of the empire, in Pamphylia, Cappadocia and Pontus, the Ten Commissioners, with their five years' term of power, were to have the privilege of selling tracts and allotments of land. They were to hold their auctions anywhere in the empire, there

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Cic. Leg. Agrar. 1, 4

-131-

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