Marcus Licinius Crassus, Louvre

Marcus Licinius Crassus, Louvre


Marcus Licinius Crassus

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Marcus Licinius Crassus, (born c. 115 bc —died 53), politician who in the last years of the Roman Republic formed the so-called First Triumvirate with Julius Caesar and Pompey to challenge effectively the power of the Senate. His death led to the outbreak of the Civil War between Caesar and Pompey (49–45).

Crassus fled from Rome when Gaius Marius captured the city in 87. As a young officer, he supported Lucius Cornelius Sulla during the civil war (83–82) between Sulla and the followers of Marius, returning to Rome to help Sulla seize power in 82. The hostility between Pompey and Crassus probably originated in Sulla’s clear preference for Pompey. Crassus held the praetorship c. 73, and in 72–71 he put down the slave uprising led by Spartacus, although Pompey managed to take the credit. Crassus and Pompey cooperated to pressure the Senate to elect them to the consulship for 70 once in office they overthrew parts of the Sullan constitution.

During the 60s, while Pompey was scoring military victories abroad, Crassus was building a political following at Rome. He used his great wealth—derived largely from the sale of property confiscated by Sulla—to extend credit to indebted senators. The young Julius Caesar was helped in this fashion in 62. In 65 Crassus served as censor.

In 60 Crassus joined with Pompey and Caesar to form the so-called First Triumvirate. Crassus entered this informal coalition partly to effect passage of laws helpful to his business ventures in Asia. From 58 to 56 he supported efforts to neutralize Pompey’s power. He and Pompey were reconciled at a meeting of the three leaders at Luca, Etruria, in 56, and in the following year they were both again made consuls. As governor of Syria in 54, Crassus attempted to gain military glory by embarking on an unwarranted invasion of Parthia, to the east. He was defeated and killed at the Battle of Carrhae (see Carrhae, Battle of) in southern Anatolia.


Building the Road to Power

Making Money with Insulae

To understand real estate in Rome, it's essential to understand insulae, a type of residential building which was prominent in late Republican and Imperial Rome. Insulae were introduced in Rome after the Social Wars as a cheap solution to the influx of migrants entering the city (Craver 2010: 136) These buildings were typically made out of stone and were designed to accommodate multiple inhabitants. They were similar to modern day apartment buildings, though they were typically only one or two stories high due to their weak foundations and cheap building materials (Yavetz 1958: 509).

Cheap construction made insulae prone to collapse (Figure 2) and the frequent addition of a second storey made from wood caused them to be susceptible to fires, which often plagued Rome in the times before Nero's building reforms. Due to these fires - especially the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD - no insulae from the Republican period have survived and ancient records regarding them are scarce and lack detail. However, many insulae from the Imperial period have survived, although the building style is different. Two marked changes from the Republic to Imperial period include Nero's building reforms, which implemented regulations to help minimize fires, as well as the invention of clay bricks. These imperial insulae can at least provide a good idea of what insulae might have looked like during the time of Crassus (Figure 1).

The construction of these buildings allowed rich landowners to make a large profit off the desperate need for cheap accommodation. One of these landowners is Cicero, a contemporary of Crassus who owned both high and low quality insulae. The evidence surrounding Cicero's insulae provides an insight into how Crassus would have managed his own property, though on a smaller scale. Estimates of the number of insulae in Rome are inaccurate due to a lack of evidence, however, reasonable calculations based on the demand for housing suggests that up to 46,500 of these buildings may have existed in the city during the late Republican period (Morley 2013: 33).

Cicero's Insulae

Evidence from Cicero's letters may help us understand how Crassus was able to acquire so much wealth from real estate. Cicero owned both high and low-quality properties and managed to turn a significant profit from both. In a letter to his friend Atticus, Cicero speaks of two properties collapsing, and several others with cracking walls that are at risk of collapsing. He also mentions a partnership between himself, an architect, and a banker, with the aim of turning dilapidated insulae into profitable housing (Cicero 14.9.1).

In another letter, Cicero speaks about his properties along the Argiletum and Aventine (Cicero 12.32.2). The Argiletum was a main road which lead to the Roman forum. Cicero is confident the rent collected from these two properties alone will be able to fund his son's education, which involved covering the expenses of multiple private tutors. From his confident attitude, it is clear that these properties do not require Cicero's direct attention, as the low-quality ones did, indicating they were likely of better quality.

Insulae: You Get what you Pay For

These contrasting examples provide a significant insight into insulae in Republican Rome. The written evidence shows they varied in quality and were almost always profitable. Landlords and owners paid little attention to building regulations and often prioritized profits over the safety of their tenants (Yavetz 1958: 509) . The tenants had very little power to take legal action, due to the way the Roman legal system favoured the upper class (du Plessis 2006: 48.2). This combination made urban land ownership a hugely profitable affair. In fact, the poor were so badly done by through this system that most high-profile politicians actively avoided the practice, giving Crassus fewer competitors (Craver 2010: 136). Even the crumbling properties inherited by Cicero were turned profitable. Insulae catered for the ever-growing need for accommodation in Rome, including high quality housing for the upper class, and - more commonly - low quality living spaces that rarely met legal standards.


Contents

Marcus Licinius Crassus was a member of the gens Licinia, an old and highly respected plebeian family in Rome. He was the second of three sons born to the eminent senator and vir triumphalis Publius Licinius Crassus (consul 97, censor 89 BC). This line was not descended from the wealthy Crassi Divites, although often assumed to be. The eldest brother, Publius (born c. 116 BC), died shortly before the Italic War, and Crassus' father and younger brother were either slain or took their own lives in Rome, in winter 87–86 BC, when being hunted down by the supporters of Gaius Marius, following their victory in the bellum Octavianum. [6] [7] Crassus had the unusual distinction of marrying his wife Tertulla after she had been widowed by his brother.

There were three main branches of the house of the Licinii Crassi in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, [8] and many mistakes in identifications and lines have arisen owing to the uniformity of Roman nomenclature, erroneous modern suppositions, and the unevenness of information across the generations. In addition, the Dives cognomen of the Crassi Divites means rich or wealthy, and since Marcus Crassus, the subject here, was renowned for his enormous wealth, this has contributed to hasty assumptions that his family belonged to the Divites. But no ancient source accords him or his father the Dives cognomen in fact, we are explicitly informed that his great wealth was acquired rather than inherited, and that he was raised in modest circumstances. [9]

Crassus' grandfather of the same name, Marcus Licinius Crassus [10] (praetor c. 126 BC), was facetiously given the Greek nickname Agelastus (the unlaughing or grim) by his contemporary Gaius Lucilius, the inventor of Roman satire, who asserted that he smiled once in his whole life. This grandfather was son of Publius Licinius Crassus (consul 171 BC). The latter's brother, Gaius Licinius Crassus (consul 168 BC), produced the third line of Licinii Crassi of the period, the most famous of whom was Lucius Licinius Crassus, the greatest Roman orator before Cicero and the latter's childhood hero and model. Marcus Crassus was also a talented orator and one of the most energetic and active advocates of his time.

After the Marian purges and the subsequent sudden death of Gaius Marius, the surviving consul Lucius Cornelius Cinna (father-in-law of Julius Caesar) imposed proscriptions on those surviving Roman senators and equestrians who had supported Lucius Cornelius Sulla in his 88 BC march on Rome and overthrow of the traditional Roman political arrangements.

Cinna's proscription forced Crassus to flee to Hispania. [11] He stayed in Spain from 87–84 BC. Here, he recruited 2,500 men (an understrength legion) from his father's clients settled in the area. Crassus used his army to extort money from the local cities to pay for his campaigns, even being accused of sacking Malaca. [12] After Cinna's death in 84 BC, Crassus went to the Roman province of Africa and joined Metellus Pius, one of Sulla's closest allies, but did not stay there for long because of disagreements with Metellus. He sailed his army to Greece and joined Sulla, "with whom he stood in a position of special honor." [13] During Sulla's second civil war, Crassus and Pompey fought a battle in the plain of Spoletium (Spoleto), killed about 3,000 of the men of Gnaeus Papirius Carbo, the leader of the Marian forces, and besieged Carinas, a Marian commander. [14]

During the decisive battle outside the Colline Gate, Crassus commanded the right flank of Sulla's army. After almost a day of fighting, the battle was going poorly for Sulla his own center was being pushed back and was on the verge of collapse when he got word from Crassus that he had comprehensively crushed the enemy before him. Crassus wanted to know whether Sulla needed assistance, or whether his men could retire. Sulla told him to advance on the enemy's center, and used the news of Crassus' success to stiffen the resolve of his own troops. By the following morning, the battle was over, and the Sullan army emerged victorious, making Sulla the master of Rome. Sulla's victory, and Crassus' contribution to it, put Crassus in a key position. Sulla was as loyal to his allies as he was cruel towards his enemies, and Crassus had been a very loyal ally.

Marcus Licinius Crassus' next concern was to rebuild the fortunes of his family, which had been confiscated during the Marian-Cinnan proscriptions. Sulla's proscriptions, in which the property of his victims was cheaply auctioned off, found one of the greatest acquirers of this type of property in Crassus: indeed, Sulla was especially supportive of this, because he wished to spread around the blame as much as possible among those unscrupulous enough to do so. Sulla's proscriptions ensured that his survivors would recoup their lost fortunes from the fortunes of wealthy adherents to Gaius Marius or Lucius Cornelius Cinna. Proscriptions meant that their political enemies lost their fortunes and their lives that their female relatives (notably, widows and widowed daughters) were forbidden to remarry and that, in some cases, their families' hopes of rebuilding their fortunes and political significance were destroyed. Crassus is said to have made part of his money from proscriptions, notably the proscription of one man whose name was not initially on the list of those proscribed but was added by Crassus, who coveted the man's fortune. [15] Crassus's wealth is estimated by Pliny at approximately 200 million sesterces. Plutarch, in his Life of Crassus, says the wealth of Crassus increased from less than 300 talents at first, to 7,100 talents. [16] This represented 229 tonnes of gold, or about 7.4 million troy ounces, worth about US$11 billion today, accounted right before his Parthian expedition, most of which Plutarch declares Crassus got "by fire and war, making the public calamities his greatest source of revenue." [17]

Some of Crassus' wealth was acquired conventionally, through slave trafficking, production from silver mines, and speculative real estate purchases. Crassus bought property that was confiscated in proscriptions, notoriously purchasing burnt and collapsed buildings. Plutarch wrote that, observing how frequent such occurrences were, he bought slaves "who were architects and builders." When he had over 500 slaves, he bought houses that had burnt and the adjacent ones "because their owners would let go at a trifling price." He bought "the largest part of Rome" in this way, [5] buying them on the cheap and rebuilding them with slave labor.

The first ever Roman fire brigade was created by Crassus. Fires were almost a daily occurrence in Rome, and Crassus took advantage of the fact that Rome had no fire department, by creating his own brigade—500 men strong—which rushed to burning buildings at the first cry of alarm. Upon arriving at the scene, however, the firefighters did nothing while Crassus offered to buy the burning building from the distressed property owner, at a miserable price. If the owner agreed to sell the property, his men would put out the fire if the owner refused, then they would simply let the structure burn to the ground. After buying many properties this way, he rebuilt them, and often leased the properties to their original owners or new tenants. [18] [5] [19] [2]

Crassus befriended Licinia, a vestal virgin, whose valuable property he coveted. Plutarch says "And yet, when he was further on in years, he was accused of criminal intimacy with Licinia, one of the vestal virgins, and Licinia was formally prosecuted by a certain Plotius. Now, Licinia was the owner of a pleasant villa in the suburbs, which Crassus wished to get at a low price, and it was for this reason that he was forever hovering about the woman and paying his court to her, until he fell under the abominable suspicion. And, in a way, it was his avarice that absolved him from the charge of corrupting the vestal, and he was acquitted by the judges. But he did not let Licinia go until he had acquired her property." [20]

After rebuilding his fortune, Crassus' next concern was his political career. As a wealthy man in Rome, an adherent of Sulla, and a man who hailed from a line of consuls and praetors, Crassus' political future was apparently assured. His problem was that, despite his military successes, he was eclipsed by his contemporary Pompey the Great. Crassus' rivalry with Pompey and his envy of Pompey's triumph would influence his subsequent career. [17]

Crassus was elected praetor in 73 BC and pursued the cursus honorum.

During the Third Servile War, or Spartacus' revolt (73-71 BC), Crassus offered to equip, train, and lead new troops at his own expense, after several legions had been defeated and their commanders killed in battle. Crassus was sent into battle against Spartacus by the Senate. At first, he had trouble both in anticipating Spartacus' moves and in inspiring his army to strengthen their morale. When a segment of his army fled from battle, abandoning their weapons, Crassus revived the ancient practice of decimation – i.e. executing one out of every ten men, with the victims selected by drawing lots. Plutarch reports that "many things horrible and dreadful to see" occurred during the infliction of punishment, which was witnessed by the rest of Crassus' army. [21] Nevertheless, according to Appian, the troops' fighting spirit improved dramatically thereafter, since Crassus had demonstrated that "he was more dangerous to them than the enemy." [22]

Afterwards, when Spartacus retreated to the Bruttium peninsula in the southwest of Italy, [23] Crassus tried to pen up the slave armies by building a ditch and a rampart across the peninsula of Rhegium in Bruttium, "from sea to sea." Despite this remarkable feat, Spartacus and part of his army still managed to break out. On the night of a heavy snowstorm, they sneaked through Crassus' lines and made a bridge of dirt and tree branches over the ditch, thus escaping. [24]

Some time later, when the Roman armies led by Pompey and Varro Lucullus were recalled to Italy in support of Crassus, Spartacus decided to fight rather than find himself and his followers trapped between three armies, two of them returning from overseas action. In this last battle, the battle of the Silarius river, Crassus gained a decisive victory, and captured six thousand slaves alive. During the fighting, Spartacus attempted to personally kill Crassus, slaughtering his way toward the general's position, but he succeeded only in killing two of the centurions guarding Crassus. [25] Spartacus himself is believed to have been killed in the battle, although his body was never recovered. The six thousand captured slaves were crucified along the Via Appia by Crassus' orders. At his command, their bodies were not taken down afterwards, but remained rotting along Rome's principal route to the south. This was intended as an abject lesson to anyone who might think of rebelling against Rome in the future, particularly of slave insurrections against their owners and masters, the Roman citizens.

Crassus effectively ended the Third Servile War in 71 BC. In Plutarch's account, Crassus "had written to the Senate that they must summon Lucullus from Thrace and Pompey from Spain, but he was sorry now that he had done so, and was eager to bring the war to an end before those generals came. He knew that the success would be ascribed to the one who came up with assistance, and not to himself." [26] He decided to attack a splinter group of rebels, and after this, Spartacus withdrew to the mountains. Pompey had arrived from Hispania with his veterans and was sent to provide reinforcements. Crassus hurried to seek the final battle, which he won. Pompey arrived in time to deal with the disorganized and defeated fugitives, writing to the Senate that "indeed, Crassus had conquered the slaves, but that he himself had extirpated the war." [27] "Crassus, for all his self-approval, did not venture to ask for the major triumph, and it was thought ignoble and mean in him to celebrate even the minor triumph on foot, called the ovation," [28] nor did he wish to be honored for subduing slaves.

In Plutarch's account, Pompey was asked to stand for the consulship. Crassus wanted to become his colleague and asked Pompey for his assistance. As said in the Life of Crassus, "Pompey received his request gladly (for he was desirous of having Crassus, in some way or other, always in debt to him for some favor), eagerly promoted his candidature, and finally said in a speech to the assembly that he should be no less grateful to them for the colleague than for the office which he desired." [29] However, in office, they did not remain friendly. They "differed on almost every measure, and by their contentiousness, rendered their consulship barren politically and without achievement." [30] Crassus displayed his wealth by realizing public sacrifices to Hercules, entertaining the populace at 10,000 tables and distributing sufficient grain to last each family three months, an act that had the additional ends of performing a previously made religious vow of a tithe to the demigod Hercules and also to gain support among the members of the popular party.

In Appian's account, when Crassus ended the rebellion, there was a contention over honors between him and Pompey. Neither men dismissed their armies, with both being candidates for the consulship. Crassus had been praetor as the law of Sulla required. Pompey had been neither praetor nor quaestor, and was only 34 years old, but he had promised the plebeian tribunes to restore much of their power, that had been taken away by Sulla's constitutional reforms. Even when they were both chosen consuls, they did not dismiss their armies stationed near the city. Pompey said that he was awaiting the return of Metellus for his Spanish triumph Crassus said that Pompey ought to dismiss his army first. In the end, Crassus yielded first, offering Pompey his hand. [31]

In 65 BC, Crassus was elected censor with another conservative, Quintus Lutatius Catulus Capitolinus, himself son of a consul. During that decade, Crassus was Julius Caesar's patron in all but name, financing Caesar's successful election to become pontifex maximus. Caesar had formerly been the priest of Jupiter, or flamen dialis, but had been deprived of office by Sulla. Crassus also supported Caesar's efforts to win command of military campaigns. Caesar's mediation between Crassus and Pompey led to the creation of the First Triumvirate in 60 BC, consisting of Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar (who became consul in 59 BC). This coalition would last until Crassus' death.

In 55 BC, after the Triumvirate met at the Lucca Conference in 56 BC, Crassus was again consul with Pompey, and a law was passed assigning the provinces of the two Hispanias and Syria to Pompey and Crassus, respectively, for five years.

Crassus received Syria as his province, which promised to be an inexhaustible source of wealth. It might have been, had he not also sought military glory and crossed the Euphrates in an attempt to conquer Parthia. Crassus attacked Parthia not only because of its great source of riches, but because of a desire to match the military victories of his two major rivals, Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar. The king of Armenia, Artavazdes II, offered Crassus the aid of nearly 40,000 troops (10,000 cataphracts and 30,000 infantrymen) on the condition that Crassus invade through Armenia so that the king could not only maintain the upkeep of his own troops but also provide a safer route for his men and Crassus. [32] Crassus refused, and chose the more direct route by crossing the Euphrates, as he had done in his successful campaign in the previous year. Crassus received directions from the Osroene chieftain Ariamnes, who had previously assisted Pompey in his eastern campaigns. [33] Ariamnes was in the pay of the Parthians and urged Crassus to attack at once, falsely stating that the Parthians were weak and disorganized. He then led Crassus' army into desolate desert, far from any water. In 53 BC, at the battle of Carrhae (modern Harran, in Turkey), Crassus' legions were defeated by a numerically inferior Parthian force. Crassus' legions were primarily heavy infantry, but were not prepared for the type of swift, cavalry-and-arrow attack in which Parthian troops were particularly adept. The Parthian horse archers devastated the unprepared Romans with hit-and-run techniques and feigned retreats with the ability to shoot as well backwards as they could forwards. [34] Crassus refused his quaestor Gaius Cassius Longinus' plans to reconstitute the Roman battle line, and remained in the testudo formation to protect his flanks until the Parthians eventually ran out of arrows. However, the Parthians had stationed camels carrying arrows to allow their archers to continually reload and relentlessly barrage the Romans until dusk. Despite taking severe casualties, the Romans successfully retreated to Carrhae, forced to leave many wounded behind to be later slaughtered by the Parthians.

Subsequently, Crassus' men, being near mutiny, demanded he parley with the Parthians, who had offered to meet with him. Crassus, despondent at the death of his son Publius in the battle, finally agreed to meet the Parthian general Surena however, when Crassus mounted a horse to ride to the Parthian camp for a peace negotiation, his junior officer Octavius suspected a Parthian trap and grabbed Crassus' horse by the bridle, instigating a sudden fight with the Parthians that left the Roman party dead, including Crassus. [35] A story later emerged to the effect that, after Crassus' death, the Parthians poured molten gold into his mouth in symbolic mockery of his thirst for wealth. [36]

The account given in Plutarch's biography of Crassus also mentions that, during the feasting and revelry in the wedding ceremony of Artavazdes' sister to the Parthian king Orodes II's son and heir Pacorus in the Armenian capital of Artashat, Crassus' head was brought to Orodes II. [37] Both kings were enjoying a performance of Euripides' Greek tragedy The Bacchae when a certain actor of the royal court, named Jason of Tralles, took the head and sang the following verses (also from the Bacchae):

We bring from the mountain
A tendril fresh-cut to the palace
A wonderful prey. [38]

Crassus' head was thus used in place of a prop head representing Pentheus and carried by the character of Agave. [39]

Also according to Plutarch, a final mockery was made ridiculing the memory of Crassus, by dressing up a Roman prisoner, Caius Paccianus, who resembled him in appearance, in women's clothing, calling him "Crassus" and "imperator," and leading him in a spectacular show of a final, mock "triumphal procession," putting to ridiculous use the traditional symbols of Roman triumph and authority. [40]


20 Of The Wealthiest Individuals Throughout History

As The Beatles famously pointed out: &ldquomoney can&rsquot buy me love&rdquo. Despite this, a brief overview of human history depicts a species desperately attempting to climb over one another in the pursuit of greatest riches. Whilst many failed, a small minority succeeded and amassed ludicrously large fortunes, often at the expense of others. For the purposes of this list, absolute rulers or conquerors, such as Henry V of England or Genghis Khan, are ignored. Despite theoretical ownership of all the lands under their dominion, and thus possessing incalculable wealth &ndash with Augustus Caesar&rsquos estimated to exceed $4.6 trillion as he technically personally owned Egypt &ndash ownership over these feudal properties was more abstract in practice and this list elects to focus on more immediate possessions and personal accumulations. Likewise, all valuations in terms of dollars have been adjusted for inflation and are as close to approximations as can be calculated in today&rsquos terms.

Scrooge McDuck. Walt Disney/Wikimedia Commons.

Here are 20 of the wealthiest individuals to have ever lived:

Bust of Marcus Licinius Crassus on display in the Louvre, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.

20. Marcus Licinius Crassus &ndash nicknamed &ldquoDives&rdquo meaning &ldquoThe Rich&rdquo &ndash is often reputed to have been the wealthiest man in ancient history, enjoying an estimated net worth equivalent to $20 billion.

Marcus Licinius Crassus (b. 115 BCE) was a Roman general, politician, and early supporter of Julius Caesar. Inheriting a vast fortune of seven million sesterces &ndash a silver coin of moderate value &ndash after the death of his father in 87 BCE, during the dictatorship of Lucius Cornelius Sulla (82-81 BCE), Crassus took advantage of the policy of proscription to increase his wealth to monumental levels. Under proscription, a condemned man was forfeit of his property and his possessions were sold off to the highest bidder. Leveraging his inheritance, Crassus bought entire neighborhoods of Rome at under market value during this period.

Using this wealth to enter politics, Crassus, along with Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar, came to dominate the final period of the Roman Republic as the First Triumvirate. Appointed Governor of Syria, Crassus was killed in 53 BCE at the Battle of Carrhae against the Parthian Empire. Without his moderating influence, the power-balance collapsed. Just four years later, Caesar crossed the Rubicon and the Roman Republic entered its final days. Crassus&rsquo eventual wealth is estimated at between 170 to 200 million sesterces &ndash approximately equal to the annual budget of the Roman treasury &ndash and roughly $20,000,000,000 today.


Surname

Some researchers give the full name to Marcus Licinius Crassus Dives and rely on Marcus Tullius Cicero , Pliny the Elder and Apuleius . The ancient historian BA Marshall argues, however, that the Latin dives 'rich' can also be understood simply as a descriptive adjective , or it is confused with Publius Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus , the consul of the year 131 BC. BC, before, whose branch of the gens Licinia - unlike that of the Triumvirn - carried the Cognomen Dives verifiably.


The Lost Legion of Carrhae and the Mysterious Army

The Chinese description of the fish scale formation used by the mercenary soldiers bears a vague resemblance to the testudo formation practiced by Roman legions. This has led to the popular theory that these mysterious soldiers were in fact exiled Roman legionnaires from the Battle of Carrhae who had hired themselves out as mercenaries for the Huns.

This idea was first suggested by the historian Homer Dubs. Dubs argued that some of the soldiers in exile gave up trying to go back to Rome and hired themselves out as mercenaries for local warlords in the region. Some of these former Roman soldiers may have found themselves working for the Huns in their war against the Chinese.

Proponents of this theory have searched for Liqian and believe that they have found it. Zhelaizhai is a modern village near Lanzhou. What is interesting about the town is that the people living there have traits such as brown hair and blue eyes, which contrast with the appearance of most of the surrounding people. Additionally, a helmet was reportedly found with Chinese characters written on it saying, “one of the surrendered.” Two other artifacts of interest are a Roman style water pot, and a trunk of wood with stakes similar to those used by the Romans to construct forts. The appearance of the villagers and the discovery of unusual artifacts has led many believers in the legend to identify Zhelaizhai with Liqian. Because the legend has been popularized, the town has used it to attract tourists, even going as far as to construct Roman style buildings and statues.


Marcus Licinius Crassus (86 or 85-ca. 49 BC) was a quaestor of the Roman Republic in 54 BC. He was the elder son of the Marcus Crassus who formed the political alliance known as the "First Triumvirate" with Pompeius Magnus ("Pompey the Great") and Julius Caesar. His mother was Tertulla, the daughter of Marcus Varro Lucullus. Crassus and his younger son, Publius, died at the Battle of Carrhae in 53, after which time Marcus continued to be a partisan of Caesar.

Marcus served under Caesar in the Gallic Wars, first as quaestor, then as proquaestor in 53. He is attested as a lieutenant (legatus) under Caesar in 49. He was also a pontifex of Roman state religion, probably as early as 60 BC.

Scholarly opinion is divided as to whether Marcus or Publius was the elder, but with Roman naming conventions, the eldest son almost always carries on his father's name, including the praenomen, or first name, while younger sons are named for a grandfather or uncle. The achievements of Publius, named after his grandfather (consul in 97 BC) and uncle, eclipse those of his brother to such an extent that some have questioned the traditional birth order. Both Ronald Syme and Elizabeth Rawson, however, have argued vigorously for a family dynamic that casts Marcus as the older but Publius as the more talented younger brother.

Military career

In January 54 BC, Cicero mentions that Marcus was in Rome, but later that year he began his quaestorship in Gaul. If he took part in the invasion of Britannia, Caesar omitted mentioning him. When arrangements for winter quarters were made at the end of the campaigning season, Marcus is noted as in charge of a legion. He continued with this command the next spring in actions against the Menapii in Belgic Gaul. Marcus Crassus is the only quaestor other than Marcus Antonius (the famous Mark Antony) to be named by Caesar in his account of the Gallic Wars, but Marcus's service record is undistinguished. Between 53 and 49, Marcus is mentioned only in passing, for remaining loyal to Caesar.

In 49 BC, Caesar as dictator appointed Marcus governor of Cisalpine Gaul, the ethnically Celtic north of Italy. He appears to have remained a loyal partisan of Caesar. The Augustan historian Pompeius Trogus, of the Celtic Vocontii, said that the Parthians feared especially harsh retribution in any war won against them by Caesar, because the surviving son of Crassus would be among the Roman forces, seeking revenge for the deaths of his father and brother.

Marcus married a Caecilia Metella, the daughter of Metellus Creticus (consul 69 BC). Her tomb commemorates their marriage. Their son, the Marcus Licinius Crassus who was consul in 30 BC, seems in his ambition and ability to have resembled his uncle Publius more than his father.


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Marcus Licinius Crassus, Louvre - History


Marcus Licinius Crassus 115 (?) - 53 BC

Marble portrait head of a Roman, perhaps Marcus Licinius Crassus

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

Marcus Licinius Crassus was a greedy man.

He fought on Lucius Cornelius Sulla ' s side during the civil war in 83 and 82 BC. The fighting action scared many people out of their houses. Marcus made a fortune by, attention realtors, confiscating these properties and re-selling them.

In 71 BC, Marcus Licinius Crassus put an end to the revolt of the slaves, the Gladiatorian War , and initiated the battle that killed Spartacus .

Together with Pompey , Crassus was consul in 70 BC and 55 BC. Pompey and Crassus were immensely envious of each other's fame and wealth.

In 60 BC, Julius Caesar formed the First Triumvirate together with Crassus and Pompey.

In 53 BC, Crassus attacked the Parthians with a Roman army, but he and his son were killed in the Battle of Carrhae, which was fought in Mesopotamia. Crassus' army was sent packing by the Parthians.

Surenas was the commander of the Parthian army, who took 10,000 Roman prisoners. Crassus' lieutenant Cassius collected the wrecks of the army, and prevented the Parthians from conquering Syria.

The Family of Marcus Licinius Crassus

His father was Publius Licinius Crassus, who committed suicide in 87 BC because of political complications. Welcome to ancient Rome.


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