Mother of the Gracchi
168 B.C.

This famous Roman lady lived in the days of the Roman Republic – a hollow mockery for a state – that existed for five hundred years, and was in reality a government by aristocracy, at first one of birth; later of wealth, selfishness, and lust. Slavery was the foundation and oligarchy the structure, and within it was full of unspeakable cruelties and crimes.

By birth Cornelia was of the very highest patrician class, her father being the P. Scipio Africanus who had destroyed Carthage, and her mother, Amelia, the daughter of the L. Æmilius Paulus, who perished at the battle of Cannæ.

She was married to T. Sempronius Gracchus, of a plebian [sic] family of wealth, renowned for their acts and sympathies with the great multitudes of the city’s suffering poor. Twelve children were born to her, three only reaching adult age.

She was highly educated in the Latin and Greek literature, was pre-eminent [sic] for virtue and gravity of character, and a central figure in Roman society during her husband’s lifetime and after. Her house was the resort of the high minded, noble, and learned of Rome.

Her daughter Sempronia married the younger of the africanus, her two sons being those famous Gracchi, Tiberinus and Caius, both eminent soldiers and tribunes. The former sought when tribune to aid the poor by amendment of land laws and urged that the immense wealth Attilus, king of Pergamos, had left to Rome be distributed among them. At election for tribune, Tiberius and hundreds of his followers were killed in riots instigated by the patricians. Ten years later, Caius, for seeking to reform the government in the interests of the poor, employing them in building roads and other public works, was set upon in a similar riot and perished at the hand of his slave. The Romans afterward repenting, put upon the mother’s tomb, “Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi.”


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Designed and Arranged by William C. King. Published in 1900 by The King-Richardson Co. Copyright 1903 The King-Richardson Co.