1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Drusus, Marcus Livius

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
8173491911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8 — Drusus, Marcus Livius

DRUSUS, MARCUS LIVIUS, Roman statesman, was colleague of Gaius Gracchus in the tribuneship, 122 B.C. The proposal of Gracchus (q.v.) to confer the full franchise on the Latins had been opposed not only by the senate, but also by the mob, who imagined that their own privileges would thereby be diminished. Drusus threatened to veto the proposal. Encouraged by this, the senatorial party put up Drusus to outbid Gracchus. Gracchus had proposed to found colonies outside Italy; Drusus provided twelve in Italy, to each of which 3000 citizens were to be sent. Gracchus had proposed to distribute allotments to the poorer citizens subject to a state rent-charge; Drusus promised them free of all charge, and further that they should be inalienable. In addition to the franchise, immunity from corporal punishment (even in the field) was promised the Latins. The absence of Gracchus, and the inefficiency of his representative at Rome, led to the acceptance of these proposals, which were never intended to be carried. Drusus himself declined all responsibility in connexion with carrying them out. He was rewarded for his services by the consulship (112), and the title of patronus senatus. He received Macedonia for his province, where he distinguished himself in a campaign against the Scordisci, whom he drove across the Danube, being the first Roman general who reached that river. It is possible that he is the Drusus mentioned by Plutarch as having died in 109, the year of his censorship.

Appian, Bell. Civ. i. 23; Plutarch, Gaius Gracchus, 8-11; Florus iii. 4; A. H. J. Greenidge, Hist. of Rome, vol. i. (1904).

His son, Marcus Livius Drusus, became tribune of the people in 91 B.C. He was a thoroughgoing conservative, wealthy and generous, and a man of high integrity. With some of the more intelligent members of his party (such as Marcus Scaurus and L. Licinius Crassus the orator) he recognized the need of reform. At that time an agitation was going on for the transfer of the judicial functions from the equites to the senate; Drusus proposed as a compromise a measure which restored to the senate the office of judices, while its numbers were doubled by the admission of 300 equites. Further, a special commission was to be appointed to try and sentence all judices guilty of taking bribes. But the senate was lukewarm, and the equites, whose occupation was threatened, offered the most violent opposition. In order, therefore, to catch the popular votes, Drusus proposed the establishment of colonies in Italy and Sicily, and an increased distribution of corn at a reduced rate. By help of these riders the bill was carried. Drusus now sought a closer alliance with the Italians, promising them the long-coveted boon of the Roman franchise. The senate broke out into open opposition. His laws were abrogated as informal, and each party armed its adherents for the civil struggle which was now inevitable. Drusus was stabbed one evening as he was returning home. His assassin was never discovered.

See Rome: History, ii. “The Republic” (Period C); also Appian, Bell. Civ. i. 35; Florus iii. 17; Diod. Sic. xxxvii. 10; Livy, Epit. 70; Vell. Pat. ii. 13.