Marcus Licinius Crassus (115-53 BCE) was possibly the richest man in Roman history and in his eventful life he proficient both good successes and severe disappointments. His vast wealth and sharp political skills brought him two consulships and also the kind of influence took pleasure in only through a true heavyweight of roman inn politics. A mentor come Julius Caesar in his at an early stage career, Crassus would increase to the very top the state affairs however his lengthy search because that a armed forces triumph to match his good rival Pompey would, ultimately, bring around his downfall.

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Early Success

Crassus was the child of Publius Licinius Crassus, that was consul in 97 BCE and also a commander in Iberia, even gaining a triumph because that his win in Lusitania in 93 BCE. In 87 BCE, top top the losing side versus the pressures of Gaius Marius and Cornelius Cinna, he cursed suicide and the young Crassus fled to Spain. Adhering to Cinna"s death, Crassus sided v Sulla against Marius, and, as among his many able commanders, assisted him gain manage of Italy. Complying with victory, Crassus now also seized the possibility to vastly rise his personal wealth indigenous the confiscation that the heritage of claimed enemies the the state (proscription) which contained property, riches and also a huge number of slaves.

In private life Crassus was married come Tertulla and he had actually two sons, one of whom shared his name and also the other - Publius Licinius Crassus - fought with the in Parthia. Marcus Licinius Crassus the younger took pleasure in some armed forces success, notably achieving the highest Roman military honour of death an foe king.

Crassus an elderly was embroiled in a scandal as soon as he was accused of gaining too acquainted with a Vestal virgin, one Licinia. Crassus to be acquitted, though, ~ above the grounds that really he had actually only been interested in gaining a lower property price for among his advancement schemes and, as Plutarch placed it, his call for respectability was conserved by his call for avarice. He was not well-known as a mean man, rather, that was well-known as generosity to his friends and his popularity through the human being not just came native his supplies of totally free parties and also grain but additionally his polite manner and also lack the snobbery. Crassus was additionally a an excellent orator, no doubt a skill he honed via his numerous court cases and also helped by his love of philosophy. Plutarch mentions that also Cicero would certainly think twice prior to engaging in legal dispute with Crassus.

The Spartacus Rebellion


The servant rebellion that the beforehand 70s BCE led by Spartacus, the Thracian gladiator, would current Crassus, do praetor in 73 BCE, with an opportunity to flex his military muscle and gain further prestige v the roman people. The servant army, numbering between 70,000 and 120,000, to be a severe threat and had currently defeated two separate Roman armies and also two consuls. Currently they were ravaging the southerly Italian countryside and it to be Crassus who was entrusted with lastly removing this thorn from Rome"s heel. In 71 BCE that unsuccessfully test to corner Spartacus in Bruttium wherein his sublieutenant Mummius rashly disregarded Crassus" orders and openly assaulted the slave military with two legions, to be routed and also even required to abandon arms. In an answer to this setback Crassus work the ancient punishment the decimation on a 500-man ar of Mummius" force, whereby one in ten legionaries were killed by your fellows in complete view the the entirety army.

With eight legions at his disposal Crassus cornered Spartacus in ~ Lucania, finally defeated the servant army, and also crucified 6,000 the the survivors along the Appian Way. However, several of the prestige because that suppressing the servant rebellion was likewise claimed by Crassus" great rival Pompey who, return from Spain, mopped increase those servants who had actually escaped the battle. Further, back in Rome, it to be Pompey who was offered the honour of a triumph (in recognition of his other armed forces successes) whilst Crassus was provided the lesser ovation. Splashing his cash, though, Crassus winner favour by hosting a long round the lavish celebratory feasts because that the human being of Rome and in an answer to Pompey"s well-known title that "Great", Crassus would certainly ask dismissively "Why, how huge is he?"

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Political Manoeuvres - The Triumvirate

Settling their distinctions following the Spartacus episode, Pompey and also Crassus pressurised the Senate and also were made consuls in 70 BCE, an chance Crassus made full use that to further increase his wealth and also influence. The pair overhauled Rome"s political structure, overturning Sulla"s constitution and also expelling 64 senators. Politically, though, Crassus again lost ground come Pompey following the latter"s string of army victories, significantly his spectacular eradication the the Mediterranean pirates in simply three months and the swift loss Mithridates by means of in the East.

Made censor in 65 BCE, Crassus" two most significant policies of providing citizenship to the Transpadanes (in the part of Cisalpine Gaul phibìc of the flow Po) and annexing Egypt both failed and he was forced to resign native the position. Also, his backing that Catiline failed come secure this dangerous and also unscrupulous schemer the consulship the 65 or 64 BCE and the Senate, instead, went for the much more conservative Cicero. Follow to Suetonius in his biography of Caesar and also a shed work by Cicero (quoted in an additional sources), Crassus had actually actually to plan in 65 BCE, in collusion through Caesar, Publius Sulla and Lucius Autronius, to do himself dictator through purging the Senate that opposition but the conspirators inexplicably shed their nerve at the critical moment. The story is rejected together a fiction by most modern scholars.

Crassus ongoing to pull strings behind the political scenes, greatly functioning as a patron the younger men such together Julius Caesar, who debts Crassus guarantee in 62 BCE. Caesar additionally persuaded Crassus to clear up his distinctions with Pompey so the both would assistance Caesar"s bid to end up being consul, which he completed in 59 BCE. In return, Caesar pass a regulation which cancelled one third of the money fan by public building contractors (publicani) in Asia, a move which more increased Crassus" now legendary personal fortune. According to Plutarch, Crassus had gathered the vast sum of 7,100 talents, had comprehensive real legacy interests, owned silver- mines, possessed a huge number of slaves, and, of course, he was able to fund his very own army.

The three men now created an open up alliance known as the very first Triumvirate however it to be at times an uneasy one. When Caesar left for Gaul, Crassus uncovered a new protege in P. Clodius Pulcher yet he turned out to it is in a dangerous and unreliable ally. In 56 BCE Crassus did warning Caesar the Cicero planned to politically isolate him native Crassus and Pompey. To reinforce their alliance, Crassus met Caesar in ~ Ravenna and also then all 3 met with each other at Luca. The arrangement was for Crassus and also Pompey to it is in made consuls once an ext with the former given a 5-year command in Syria and the latter given the same position in Spain. In turn, they would certainly both call for a rebirth of Caesar"s command permitting him an additional 5-year ax as governor in Gaul and the consequent chance to increase his army. All going according to plan, Crassus left because that Syria in 55 BCE whereby he was collection on a rewarding invasion of Parthia.

Disaster in Parthia

Crassus" initial stay in Syria confirmed successful together he extorted massive riches from the local population and winner several army victories in 54 BCE. Cross the Euphrates in 53 BCE, and also accompanied through his child P. Licinius Crassus as a mounties commander, the elder Crassus was confident of an ext success. However, already deserted through the Armenian king Artavasdes II and having lost his son in an overly-aggressive previously attack, Crassus himself was defeated near Carrhae. Without sufficient cavalry and logistical support, hampered through the campaign"s absence of planning in the harsh desert terrain, and also suffering a little local treachery, the legions were unable come adequately challenge the 10,000 skilled placed archers that Orodes II, the Parthian king. Consequently, the Romans to be encircled, trapped and forced to surrender arms and their Eagle criter (a allude which would rankle through Rome till their retrieval by Augustus). According to legend, Crassus was recorded alive and killed by having molten gold poured down his throat, symbolic of his unquenchable thirst for wealth.

With the remove of Crassus native the political video game to manage Rome, Pompey and also Caesar to be left come fight the end a bloody civil battle which would certainly lay the structures for a finish overhaul that Roman national politics and, ultimately, open the doors come dictatorship and the imperial age.

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Conclusion

Crassus was one of the old school political leaders of Republican Rome. Hugely effective in his early on years and also acquiring huge wealth, the was, perhaps, left behind the times when Rome edged in the direction of the new era of imperial politics and also a time when armed forces prowess and also might concerned count far more than mastery the politics. Unable to enhance the win of Pompey and Julius Caesar, Crassus died in his effort to overcome Parthia, in what was his last and fateful litter of the politics dice.