In 133 BC the tribune Tiberius Gracchus issued his lex agraria to redistribute land amongst veteran soldiers and the poor. In his interesting and perceptive study Nathan Rosenstein re-examines the reasons for this agrarian crisis that Gracchus, so unpopularly, responded to. Past studies have argued that an increase in large plantations manned by a rapidly growing population of slave labourers had damaged Rome's farmers and small holders. However, Rosenstein argues that there is little archaeological or documentary evidence for this and looks instead to the consequences of warfare, particularly the war against Hannibal. Rosenstein discusses in detail the nature of the Roman family, the amount of labour required to make a success of a farm and, set against this, the consequences of losing that labour (and the potential of fathering the next generation of farmers). Sections also examine methods for quantifying the numbers of men killed in battle or through disease following injury. The numbers are enormous and one can immediately see the difficulty facing the Roman senate of how to replenish the ranks.
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