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Caius Gracchus had taken very little part in public affairs since his brother's death. He had spoken only twice in public: once in favor of the law of Carbo for the re-election of Tribunes, and a second time in opposition to the Alien Act of Junius Pennus, as already mentioned. But the eyes of the people were naturally turned toward him. His abilities were known, and the Senate dreaded his return to Rome. He had been already two years in Sardinia, and they now attempted to retain him there another year by sending fresh troops to the province, and by commanding the Proconsul to remain in the island. But Caius suddenly appeared at Rome, to the surprise of all parties (B.C. 124). His enemies brought him before the Censors to account for his conduct, but he defended himself so ably that not only was no stigma put upon him, but he was considered to have been very badly used. He showed that he had served in the army twelve years, though required to serve only ten; that he had acted as Quaestor two years, though the law demanded only one year's service; and he added that he was the only soldier who took out with him a full purse and brought it back empty.

Some of the most eminent men of Rome had long been convinced of the necessity of this reform. It had been meditated by the younger Scipio Africanus, and proposed by C. Gracchus. The Roman people, however, always offered it the most violent opposition. But Drusus still had many partisans. The Italian allies looked up to him as their leader, and loudly demanded the rights which had been promised them. It was too late to retreat; and, in order to oppose the formidable coalition against him, Drusus had recourse to sedition and conspiracy. A secret society was formed, in which the members bound themselves by a solemn oath to have the same friends and foes with Drusus, and to obey all his commands. The ferment soon became so great that the public peace was more than once threatened. The Allies were ready to take up arms at the first movement. The Consuls, looking upon Drusus as a conspirator, resolved to meet his plots by counterplots. But he knew his danger, and whenever he went into the city kept a strong body-guard of attendants close to his person.

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