Catallus (c. 84-54 B) was a Roman poet and contemporary of Cicero. Some of his poetry dealt with love, eroticism and themes from romantic legend, but he also wrote scathing epigrams that viciously attacked real people at the time – traitorous friends, love rivals, other poets, and political figures (including Julius Caesar). These were sharp, cruel, and often blatantly obscene.
Tiberius Gracchus was a tribune of the plebs in 133 BC. He introduced an agrarian reform designed to give land back to the poor. This threatened the holdings of the wealthy elite, who fought Gracchus’ land bill every step of the way. They persuaded another tribune, Octavius, to veto the suggested reform when it was put to the popular assembly. In a move that was unprecedented but not illegal, Gracchus had Octavius removed from office by a vote of the people, claiming that he was failing in his sacred duty to represent the people’s wishes. Eventually, Gracchus managed to pass his land bill. Fearing the retribution of the senators once his term as tribune ended, he began to canvass for re-election. This was the last straw for some of the senators, who, led by Scipio Nasica, murdered the young Gracchus and his supporters. The love of the people, and the law of inviolability protecting the office of tribune were not enough to save him.
This video from the BBC series Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire, illustrates how Tiberius Gracchus passed his agrarian reform, and how his rabble-rousing tactics terrified the senators. This clip also provides a great feel of ancient Rome - its buildings, people, fashions, interior decorations, and even a sacrifice.
King Attalus III, who ruled Pergamon from 138-133 BC, was the last Attalid king. The Attalids were a Hellenistic dynasty descended from one of Lysimachus’ officers, who ruled the city after his death. Lysimachus was one of the generals of Alexander the Great who took a share of his newly captured empire after the conqueror died. Attalus III had no heirs and bequeathed his kingdom to the Romans. Tiberius Gracchus requested that his vast treasury be made available to help the Roman people, but the senate refused.