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Classics in the Modern WorldA Democratic Turn?$
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Lorna Hardwick and Stephen Harrison

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199673926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199673926.001.0001

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Heroes or Villains

Heroes or Villains

The Gracchi, Reform, and the Nineteenth-Century Press

(p.300) (p.301) 22 Heroes or Villains
Classics in the Modern World

Sarah Butler

Oxford University Press

By the early nineteenth century, the Enclosure Acts had deprived rural workers of the use of common land. This, together with the industrialization of the nation, resulted in workers migrating to already overcrowded and unhealthy cities. The situation of the urban masses bore some superficial similarity to the situation of the free peasantry of Rome (at least in Plutarch’s popular version of the agrarian crisis) pushed off their small plots of land and into the city. With signs of a new militancy and the rise of reform movements in response to industrialization and urbanization, some commentators drew parallels with Roman Republican history. This chapter charts the way the struggle for social, economic, and political reform was partly conducted via engagement with the ancient world. It focuses particularly on the alignments that appeared in the press between the Republican reformers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, and modern reformers as the Gracchi became emblematic of working-class struggles.

Keywords:   urban masses, gracchi, industrialization, reform, newspapers

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