Adrian Banegas

Mentor: Dr. Biagio Santorelli
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"Growing up as a military dependent in southern Europe, I was fascinated with all things ancient. Now, as a history major with aspirations to attend graduate school, research is such a vital element to my academic aspirations. With encouragement from professors, I jumped at the opportunity to do academic research on what fascinates me most: all things ancient."





Research Interests

  • Office of the Plebeian Tribune
  • Religious Law in Roman Republican Politics
  • Monasticism

Academic Awards

  • President's Honor Roll (2014)
  • Dean's List (2015)
  • History Honors Program (2015)
  • University Scholars Program (2015)


  • Alpha Phi Omega
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Knights of Columbus


  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial
  • UN International Youth Peace Forum
  • Humane Society

Hobbies and Interests

  • Reading
  • International traveling
  • Long-distance hiking
  • Olympic fanatic

Research Description

Failed Sacrosanctity and the Vilification of the Gracchi
The office of the Plebeian tribune was the most important check on the power of the Patricians who dominated Roman Republican politics. They presided over the Plebeian Assembly, could propose legislation, and convene the Senate; but their most powerful and instrumental tool in their defense of Plebeian interests was their ability to veto the actions of consuls and other government officials. As extra-legal magistrates, their political power was vested not in imperium but in sacrosanctity, making them inviolable from physical harm by oath of the Plebeians to kill any offender of their sacred status, while at the same time making the Plebeians immune from judicial prosecution as their retribution was protected under religious law. However, sacrosanctity did not prevent the assassination of two influential tribunes of the Late Republic: the brothers Gracchi. Both Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus attempted to pass popular redistributive land reforms that would have benefited military veterans and the urban poor. Yet, a patrician mob clubbed Tiberius and his supporters to death in 133 BCE. Gaius continued his brother’s land reform agenda, but he lost popular support after proposing legislation to expand Roman citizenship, and committed suicide after being assaulted by a mob raised by the reigning consuls in 121 BCE. Even though vilified by later statesmen, the populist movement championed by the Gracchi, and its polarizing dichotomy with conservatives, would dominate Roman politics for the next century, leading to the collapse of the Republic and the establishment of the Empire. This project analyzes the office of the Plebeian Tribune, with a focus to be on the Gracchi brothers, their populist reform movement, subsequent vilification, and questions the validity of their infamy.