By Tiberius Gracchus’ proposal of the law stated i
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By Tiberius Gracchus’ proposal of the law stated in the lex agaria, I speculate that he is trying to help the poor citizens of Rome, and at the same time, benefit the overall condition of the city. The law stated that those holding more than the legal limit of public land must give that land up, and that this land would be redistributed to “Roman citizens in small allotments...” That Gracchus is trying to help the poorer citizens is shown through the small size of the plot of land given, the provision that a small rent must be paid, and that the land could not be sold. Handing out this land also would benefit the state because, by giving some of these plots to those who had no land, these people could now join the army. As well, this would de-crowd the actual city of Rome. Finally, he could not make this law by himself; it had to be approved by the aristocrats, so he had to benefit them too or they would not comply.
The plots of land that were to be split up and redistributed were said to each have a maximum size of 30 iugera. This allotment is not a large amount of land in comparison to the 500 or more iugera that other citizens are said to hold. The difference between the sizes of land seems to imply that those receiving these small plots would be of a lesser income, because there would not be much of a point in giving land plots of 30 iugera away to those who would consider it insignificant. Those Roman citizens that did not have a large quantity of money or land, however, would find 30 iugera to be a large allotment of land and would be able to find good use for it.
The law makes the statement that the new holders of the land must pay a small rent. This could be just instated so that the land is not just a hand-out. If land was handed out for free, that would most likely anger the rich that the land was taken from. As well, this alludes to simple principles. It would most likely not be acceptable in these days to hand out land for free, however, if a fee was added to it, no matter how nominal, it would give the idea that it was in fact fair for this to be done. Another possible reason for the rent being required could also be so that if the people given the land had to pay for it, they would put it to good use. If the land was given out for free, it might be taken advantage of and not treated properly. The fact that it was paid for makes it all the more valuable. Additionally, the fact that the rent is stated to be a small also insinuates that
this land will be given to the poor, and probably the poor that had not owned land before. If this land was to be given to the middle class or rich, almost certainly a larger rent would be asked for, since these people could afford it.
It is stated that “the new holders were not allowed to alienate [the small allotments]…” This says that once they were given the land, the citizens could not sell it back for money. This implies two things. One, that the people the land was “taken away” from could not get this land back by bribe or anything of that sort. And two, that this prevents serfdom in a way also because the original owners cannot try to get the land back and assert control over the new holders. Because the new holders have paid a small rent and could not sell their land, instead of working other citizens’ land at the mercy of those they worked for, they were working their own land and were subject only to the government, whom they paid the rent to.
There are also possible additional benefits to giving these plots of 30 iugera to the poorer citizens. In the time when this law was made, any citizen who owned land had to be in the army. If some of these citizens who had just
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Tiberius Gracchus, Allotment, Gracchi, Dawes Act, Economic rent, Ager publicus
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