What happened to Marcus Licinius Crassus' Gold?

What happened to Marcus Licinius Crassus' Gold?

Marcus Licinius Crassus (from the First Triumvirate) was considered to be richest man ever. After his death however, what happened to his immense fortune? It seems like a treasure like that would be noted in the annals, but I haven't seen anything Plutarch about this. Are there any other records?


Well, since Crassus died prematurely (at the Battle of Carrhae) during a rebellion that would seem to be unlikely. After all, if he were to have built a tomb it would have been in Italy, not Syria, and since he never got to retire to Rome because the Parthians unexpectedly killed him in battle, I think we can safely assume that whatever plans he had for his final resting place, they were unfulfilled.


Disasters waiting to happen: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Olivier plays Crassus in the film Spartacus / morphsplace.com

Crassus was not the first man to combine business with politics and, through lack of foresight, or because he was too proud to think, come a terrible cropper. He was born around 115 BC, both parents patrician. Naturally he went into the Roman army.

Still a young and inexperienced officer, he supported Lucius Cornelius Sulla during a civil war between Sulla and Gaius Marius. When the latter seized the city of Rome in 87 BC, Crassus vanished as fast as he could, but came back to help Sulla take power in 82. Historians agree that the origin of Crassus’ hatred of Pompey lie in the latter’s clear preference for Sulla.

Crassus was Praetor in 72 and 71 when he demolished the slaves’ rebellion led by Spartacus. You can see a romanticised version of this rebellion in an old Hollywood movie, made by Kirk Douglas’s company, directed by Stanley Kubrick, and starring himself as Spartacus. The part of Crassus is played by Laurence Olivier the scriptwriters had decided Crassus was cruel, weak, jealous of Pompey, and possibly gay as well (there is a dubious scene with Olivier and Tony Curtis together in a bath). Pompey, historically speaking, tried to take the credit for defeating the army of slaves, though Crassus achieved it by sheer force of arms. Pour encourager les autres he arranged two lines of crucifixions lining the Appian Way – slave soldiers who had briefly survived the battles.

In the year 70 however Crassus and Pompey actually cooperated to force the Senate to elect them to the consulship once they achieved this kind of power they used it to overthrow the last of the Sullan reforms to the Constitution.

During the 60s while Pompey was covering himself with glory outside Rome, Crassus was hard at work selling property that had been held by Sulla. He then became very rich indeed by using the capital to extend credit (at abnormally high interest) to senators in debt. He made the mistake of advancing credit to the young Julius Caesar in this manner – making him an enemy for life. In 65 Crassus was Censor, and probably encouraged the conspiracies of Cataline against the government in 65 and 64. He withdrew this support in the nick of time before Cataline’s unsuccessful coup in 63 BC.

In the year 60 he joined Caesar and Pompey to form the first Triumvirate. He entered into this coalition in order to smooth the passage of laws helpful to his business ventures in Asia. From 58 to 56 he plotted to neutralize Pompey’s power, but in 56 he and Pompey were Consuls. Off went Crassus to become Governor of Syria in 54, and everything would have been rosy had he not attempted to gain the military glory he had always wanted, by sacking Jerusalem and starting an inexplicable and unwarranted invasion of Parthia. He was defeated and killed in Southern Anatolia. Julius Caesar is said to have exclaimed that it was about time too.


Crassus’ fire brigade

Marcus Licinius Crassus was one of the richest Romans in history. One of his ways to become rich was organizing a “fire brigade”.

It is worth mentioning that in the half of the 1st century BCE in Rome, there were no fire fighting services. On the other hand, the fire was a common cataclysm in Rome. To a large extent, wooden buildings and city crush meant that a small spark was enough to start a fire that spread easily.

But how did the Crassus’ “fire brigade” worked? At the time when the fire broke out Crassus with his “firemen” (a group of 500 slaves – architects and builders) appeared on the spot and first bought the building with the earth for a very low price, and only then his people proceeded to extinguish the fire. In this way, Crassus became the owner of a large part of Roman real estate.

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Contents

Triumvirate Edit

The war in Parthia resulted from political arrangements intended to be mutually beneficial for Marcus Licinius Crassus, Pompeius Magnus, and Julius Caesar, the so-called First Triumvirate. In March and April 56 BC, meetings were held at Ravenna and Luca, in Caesar's province of Cisalpine Gaul, to reaffirm the weakening alliance formed four years earlier. It was agreed that the Triumvirate would marshal its supporters and resources to secure legislation for prolonging Caesar's Gallic command and to influence the upcoming elections for 55 BC, with the objective of a second joint consulship for Crassus and Pompeius. [4] The Triumvirate aimed to expand their faction's power by traditional means: military commands, placing political allies in office and advancing legislation to promote their interests. Pressure in various forms was brought to bear on the elections: money, influence from patronage and friendship and the force of 1000 troopers brought from Gaul by Crassus's son Publius. The faction secured the consulship and most of the other offices that were sought. Legislation passed by the tribune Trebonius (the Lex Trebonia) granted extended proconsulships of five years, matching that of Caesar in Gaul, to the two outgoing consuls. The Spanish provinces would go to Pompeius. Crassus arranged to have Syria with the transparent intention of going to war with Parthia. [5]

Developments in Parthia Edit

Meanwhile in Parthia, a war of succession had broken out in 57 BC after King Phraates III had been killed by his sons Orodes II and Mithridates IV, who then began fighting each other over the throne. In the first stage, Orodes emerged victorious and appointed his brother as king of Media (his de facto governor) as a compromise. [6] However, another armed clash made Orodes force Mithridates to flee to Aulus Gabinius, the Roman proconsul of Syria. [7] Gabinius sought to interfere in the succession dispute on behalf of Mithridates so that Rome could make him its puppet king and seize control of Parthia in the process. However, Gabinius abandoned his plans and opted to intervene in Ptolemaic Egyptian affairs instead. [6]

Mithridates proceeded to invade Babylonia on his own with some initial success but was soon confronted by the army of the Parthian commander Surena. [7]

Gabinius's successor, Crassus, also sought to ally himself with Mithridates and invaded Parthia's client-state Osroene in 54 BC but wasted most of his time in waiting for reinforcements on the Balikh River's left bank while Surena besieged, defeated and executed Mithridates in Seleucia on the Tigris. Orodes, now unopposed in his own realm, marched north to invade Rome's ally Armenia, where King Artavasdes II soon defected to the Parthian side. [6]

Crassus's preparations Edit

The notoriously-wealthy Marcus Crassus was around 62 when he embarked on the Parthian invasion. Greed is often regarded by the ancient sources, particularly his biographer Plutarch, as his major character fault and his motive for going to war. [8] The historian Erich S. Gruen believed that Crassus's purpose was to enrich the public treasury since personal wealth was not what Crassus most lacked. [9] Most modern historians tend to view insatiable greed, envy of Pompey's military exploits and rivalry as his motivations since his long-faded military reputation had always been inferior to that of Pompeius and, after five years of war in Gaul, to that of Caesar. His major military achievements had been the defeat of Spartacus in 71 BC and his victory at the Battle of the Colline Gate for Sulla a decade earlier. [10] Plutarch noted that Caesar wrote to Crassus from Gaul and endorsed the plan to invade Parthia, an indication that he regarded Crassus's military campaign as complementary and not merely rivalrous to his own. [11]

Another factor in Crassus's decision to invade Parthia was the expected ease of the campaign. The Roman legions had easily crushed the numerically superior armies of other eastern powers such as Pontus and Armenia, and Crassus expected Parthia to be an easy target. [12]

Cicero, however, suggested an additional factor: the ambitions of the talented Publius Crassus, who had commanded successful campaigns in Gaul under Caesar. Upon his return to Rome as a highly decorated officer, Publius took steps to establish his own political career. Roman sources view the Battle of Carrhae not only as a calamity for Rome and a disgrace for Marcus Crassus but also as a tragedy that cut short Publius Crassus's promising career. [13]

Some Romans objected to the war against Parthia. Cicero calls it a war nulla causa ("with no justification") on the grounds that Parthia had a treaty with Rome. [14] The tribune Ateius Capito put up strenuous opposition and infamously conducted a public ritual of execration as Crassus prepared to depart. [15]

Despite protests and dire omens, Marcus Crassus left Rome on November 14, 55 BC. [16] Publius Crassus joined him in Syria during the winter of 54–53 BC and brought with him the thousand Celtic cavalry troopers from Gaul who remained loyal to their young leader until their death.

Crassus arrived in Syria in late 55 BC and immediately set about using his immense wealth to raise an army. According to Plutarch, he assembled a force of seven legions for a total of about 28,000 to 35,000 heavy infantry. [17] He also had about 4,000 light infantry, and 4,000 cavalry, including the 1000-strong Gallic cavalry that Publius had brought with him. [18] With the aid of Hellenic settlements in Syria and the support of about 6,000 cavalry from Artavasdes, the Armenian king, Crassus marched on Parthia. Artavasdes advised him to take a route through Armenia to avoid the desert and offered him reinforcements of a further 10,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry. [19]

Crassus refused the offer and decided to take the direct route through Mesopotamia and to capture the great cities in the region. In response, the Parthian king, Orodes II , divided his army and took most of the soldiers, mainly foot archers with a small amount of cavalry, to punish the Armenians himself. He sent the rest of his forces, an all-cavalry force under the command of spahbod Surena, to scout out and harass Crassus's army. Orodes did not anticipate that Surena's heavily outnumbered force would be able to defeat Crassus and merely wanted to delay him. Plutarch described Surena's force as "a thousand mail-clad horsemen and a still greater number of light-armed cavalry". Including slaves and vassals, Surena's expedition numbered ten thousand in total, support by a baggage train of one thousand camels. [20]

Crassus received directions from the Osroene chieftain Ariamnes, who had assisted Pompey in his eastern campaigns. [21] Crassus trusted Ariamnes, who, however, was in the pay of the Parthians. He urged Crassus to attack at once and falsely stated that the Parthians were weak and disorganized. He then led Crassus's army into the most desolate part of the desert, far from any water. Crassus then received a message from Artavasdes that claimed that the main Parthian army was in Armenia, and the letter begged him for help. Crassus ignored the message and continued his advance into Mesopotamia. [22] He encountered Surena's army near the town of Carrhae.

After being informed of the presence of the Parthian army, Crassus's army panicked. Cassius recommended that the army should be deployed in the traditional Roman fashion, with infantry forming the centre and cavalry on the wings. At first, Crassus agreed, but he soon changed his mind and redeployed his men into a hollow square, each side formed by twelve cohorts. [23] That formation would protect his forces from being outflanked but at the cost of mobility. The Roman forces advanced and came to a stream. Crassus's generals advised him to make camp and to attack the next morning to give his men a chance to rest. Publius, however, was eager to fight and managed to convince Crassus to confront the Parthians immediately. [24]

The Parthians went to great lengths to intimidate the Romans. Firstly, they beat a great number of hollow drums and the Roman troops were unsettled by the loud and cacophonous noise. Surena then ordered his cataphracts to cover their armour in cloths and advance. When they were within sight of the Romans, they simultaneously dropped the cloths and revealed their shining armour. The sight was designed to intimidate the Romans. [25]

Though he had originally planned to shatter the Roman lines with a charge by his cataphracts, he judged that it would not yet be enough to break them. Thus, he sent his horse archers to surround the Roman square. Crassus sent his skirmishers to drive the horse archers off, but they were driven back by the latter's arrows. The horse archers then engaged the legionaries. The legionaries were protected by their large shields (scuta) and armour, but they could not cover the entire body. Some historians describe the arrows partially penetrating the Roman shields and nailing the shields to the limbs of the Roman infantry and nailing their feet to the ground. However, Plutarch wrote in his accounts that the Romans were met with a shower of arrows that passed through every kind of cover, hard and soft alike. Other historians state that most wounds inflicted were nonfatal hits to exposed limbs. [26]

The Romans repeatedly advanced towards the Parthians to attempt to engage in close-quarters fighting, but the horse archers were always able to retreat safely and loosed Parthian shots as they withdrew. The legionaries then formed the testudo formation by locking their shields together to present a nearly-impenetrable front to missiles. [27] However, that formation severely restricted their ability in melee combat. The Parthian cataphracts exploited that weakness and repeatedly charged the Roman line, which caused panic and inflicted heavy casualties. [28] When the Romans tried to loosen their formation to repel the cataphracts, the latter rapidly retreated, and the horse archers resumed shooting at the legionaries, who were now more exposed. [27]

Crassus now hoped that his legionaries could hold out until the Parthians ran out of arrows. [29] However, Surena used thousands of camels to resupply his horse archers. Upon his realisation, Crassus dispatched his son Publius with 1,300 Gallic cavalry, 500 archers and eight cohorts of legionaries to drive off the horse archers. The horse archers feigned retreat and drew off Publius' force, which suffered heavy casualties from arrow fire.

Once Publius and his men were sufficiently separated from the rest of the army, the Parthian cataphracts confronted them while the horse archers cut off their retreat. In the ensuing combat, the Gauls fought bravely, but their inferiority in weapons and armor was evident. They eventually retreated to a hill, where Publius committed suicide while the rest of his men were slaughtered, with only 500 being taken alive. [30]

Crassus, unaware of his son's fate but realising that Publius was in danger, ordered a general advance. He was confronted with the sight of his son's head on a spear. The Parthian horse archers began to surround the Roman infantry and shot at them from all directions. Meanwhile, the cataphracts mounted a series of charges that disorganised the Romans.

The Parthian onslaught did not cease until nightfall. Crassus, deeply shaken by his son's death, ordered a retreat to the nearby town of Carrhae and left behind 4000 wounded, who were killed by the Parthians the next morning. [31]

Four Roman cohorts got lost in the dark and were surrounded on a hill by the Parthians, with only 20 Romans surviving. [32]

The next day, Surena sent a message to the Romans and offered to negotiate with Crassus. Surena proposed a truce to allow the Roman army to return to Syria safely in exchange for Rome giving up all territory east of the Euphrates. Surena either sent an embassy to the Romans by the hills or went himself to state he wanted a peace conference on an evacuation. [33] [34]

Crassus was reluctant to meet with the Parthians, but his troops threatened to mutiny otherwise. [35] At the meeting, a Parthian pulled at Crassus's reins and sparked violence in which Crassus and his generals were killed.

After his death, the Parthians allegedly poured molten gold down his throat in a symbolic gesture mocking Crassus's renowned greed [36] . Plutarch reports that Crassus' severed head was then used as a prop for part of a play, Euripides' Bacchae, performed at a banquet before the king. [37] [38] The remaining Romans at Carrhae attempted to flee, but most were captured or killed. Roman casualties amounted to about 20,000 killed and 10,000 captured, [39] which made the battle one of the costliest defeats in Roman history. However, Parthian casualties were minimal.

Rome was humiliated by this defeat, which was made even worse by the fact that the Parthians had captured several Legionary Eagles. [40] It is also mentioned by Plutarch that the Parthians found the Roman prisoner-of-war who most resembled Crassus, dressed him as a woman and paraded him through Parthia for all to see. [41] Orodes II , with the rest of the Parthian Army, defeated the Armenians and captured their country. However, Surena's victory invoked the jealousy of the Parthian king, who ordered Surena's execution. Following Surena's death, Orodes II himself took command of the Parthian army and led an unsuccessful military campaign into Syria.

The Battle of Carrhae was one of the first major battles between the Romans and Parthians. It was the victory that led Parthia to invade Syria and Armenia several times, with varying successes. Rome also realised that its legionaries could not effectively fight against Parthian cavalry. [42]

Gaius Cassius Longinus, a quaestor under Crassus, led approximately 10,000 surviving soldiers from the battlefield back to Syria, where he governed as a proquaestor for two years, defending Syria from Orodes II 's further attacks. He received praise from Cicero for his victory. Cassius later played a key role in the conspiracy to assassinate Julius Caesar in 44 BC.

The 10,000 Roman prisoners of war appear to have been deported to Alexandria Margiana (Merv) near the Parthian Empire's northeastern border in 53 BC, where they reportedly married to local people. It has been hypothesized that some of them founded the Chinese city of Liqian after they had become soldiers for the Xiongnu during the Battle of Zhizhi against the Han dynasty, but that is disputed. [43]

The capture of the golden aquilae (legionary battle standards) by the Parthians was considered a grave moral defeat and evil omen for the Romans. When he was assassinated, Caesar was planning a retaliatory war. It was said that there would have been harsh retribution if Caesar won because the surviving son of Crassus would be among the Roman forces. [44]

However, the fall of the Roman Republic intervened, and the beginning of imperial monarchy at Rome followed. Sulla's first march on Rome in 88 BC had begun the collapse of the republican form of government, but the death of Crassus and the loss of his legions utterly reconfigured the balance of power at Rome. [45] An old theory ran that the death of Crassus, along with the death of Julia in 54, Pompey's wife and Caesar's daughter, may have severed the ties between Caesar and Pompey, and the First Triumvirate no longer existed. As a result, civil war broke out. Caesar won, and the Republic quickly became an autocratic dictatorship.

Several historians note the lapse of time between Crassus's death and the outbreak of civil war. Gaius Stern has claimed that the death nearly cut the links the First Triumvirate enjoyed with the blue-blooded aristocracy, leaving the entire state vulnerable to the friction that eventually turned into civil war. [46] Thus, an immediate effect of the battle may have been the elimination of certain private checks and balances (such as Crassus's relationship to Metellus Pius Scipio) that had kept a lid on political tensions.

It is rumoured that some of the survivors of Crassus's army ended up in China. [47] In the 1940s, Homer H. Dubs, an American professor of Chinese history at the University of Oxford, suggested that the people of Liqian were descended from Roman soldiers taken prisoner after the battle. The prisoners, Dubs proposed, were resettled by the Parthians on their eastern border and may have fought as mercenaries at the Battle of Zhizhi between the Chinese and the Xiongnu in 36 BC. Chinese chroniclers mention the use of a "fish-scale formation" of soldiers, which Dubs believed referred to the testudo formation. To date, no artifacts that might confirm a Roman presence, such as coins or weaponry, have been discovered in Zhelaizhai.

Rob Gifford, commenting on the theory, described it as one of many "rural myths". [ citation needed ] Alfred Duggan used the possible fate of the Roman prisoners as the kernel of his novel Winter Quarters, which suggested that they were employed as frontier guards on the eastern border of the Parthian Empire. [ citation needed ]


What happened to the wealth of Crassus?

I'm listening to the History of Rome podcast at the moment. Crassus supported Julius Caesar with his immense wealth during the period of the first triumvirate. By the time Octavian is in sole control of the empire, his (i.e. Octavian's) wealth is said to be one of the major instruments of control. Presumably he acquired this in Egypt. But what happened to the wealth of Crassus, and was it still an important element in politics?

Inheritance law in Rome was very clear. If Crassus passed on his wealth to someone, here's likely how it would go:

If an intestate had no sui heredes, the Twelve Tables gave the hereditas to the agnati Gaius, III.9). It is stated under Cognati, who are agnati. The hereditas did not belong to all the agnati, but only to those who were nearest at the time when it was ascertained that a person had died intestate. If the nearest agnatus either neglected to take the inheritance or died before he had taken possession of it, in neither case did the next in succession, as agnatus, take the inheritance. He was the nearest agnatus who was nearest at the time when it was ascertained that a person had died intestate, and not he though was nearest at the time of the death the reason of which appears to be that the hereditas was in a sense the property of the intestate until it was certain that he had left no will and as Gaius observes, if he had left a will, still it might happen that no person would be heres under that will and accordingly it seemed better, as he observes, to look for the nearest agnatus at the time when it is ascertained that there is no heres under the will. If there were several agnati in the same degree, and any one refused to take his share or died before he has assented to take it, such share accrued (adcrevit) to those who consented to take the hereditas.

He had two sons that could serve as "agnati" or "heirs." Marcus Licinius the elder brother, or Publius Licinius Crassus, the younger brother.

Publius died in battle shortly before Crassus himself did. So that left [Marcus Licinius Crassus] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Licinius_Crassus_(quaestor)). Sorry for the Wikipedia source, but there really isn't a whole lot about this guy, except for the fact that he became a pontifex (priest) of the Roman Church.

Although, this itself could be telling. Not just anyone could be a pontifex -- it was a position of respect and prestige, and towards the end of the Roman Republic, it became an increasingly politicized position.

So there is a very real chance that if Marcus Licinius Crassus did in fact inherit his father's enormous wealth, he could have very easily (and very quietly) bought himself a nice comfy position of prestige with which to live out the rest of his days.

I guess the best comparison today would be a wealthy political donor being given a cushy lobbying job or political office.


The Benefactor Of The Republic

The Rostra, from where orator would address the people, Foro Romano, Rome, via Digitales Forum Romanum

For a Roman, to be a wealthy man or a competent general was not enough. Those qualities were more than welcome, but a model Roman aristocrat had to be above all an educated man, and a fine orator . Marcus Licinius Crassus was not an exception. A charismatic speaker, Crassus knew how to approach common people, using a portion of his wealth to improve the lives of Rome’s citizens. Besides providing grain to the citizens of Rome, he funded temples, keeping a good relationship with priests and their gods. This was not done out of sheer generosity. Like any other Roman politician, Crassus depended on the will of the people. If he kept the populus happy and satisfied, in return he could count on their support.

The same applied to his fellow aristocrats. Roman political life was a complex labyrinth. To reach the top of this political hierarchy, and to remain in that place, the rich and powerful had to keep a number of clients who depended on their patron . Supporting a promising client and helping him reach a powerful position could enhance a patron’s status and allow him to collect favors later. Sometimes, the result of such a relationship could be a formidable alliance. This is exactly what happened between Crassus and Julius Caesar . Recognizing his potential, Crassus paid Caesar’s debts and took the young man under his wings to groom him. His calculation paid off since Caesar would later use his influence to boost the political career of his mentor.


The Story Of Marcus Crassus — The Original Donald Trump

As a scion of a rich family and a real estate mogul, the anti-hero of this story met his end when he rashly tried to invade Iran. However before that, his illustrious exploits included shady real estate deals, building a wall to hem in some very bad people from the south, and engagement in incredibly public affairs with women behind his wife’s back.

Sounds familiar? What if I told you t h at this happened over 2000 years ago in a galaxy far away? Well, not really far away, actually on the same planet that we are on now. And the man we are talking about is Donald J. Trump. My mistake again, we are talking about Marcus L. Crassus, and the L. stands for Licinius.

You might be familiar with the name if you watched the series “Spartacus”. He’s the Roman general who battled Spartacus and his army. In real life, Crassus was quite the character. Ambitious, greedy, and power hungry, there was no trick too sleazy when it came to making a buck.

Money, money, money

One of his major achievements was creating the first fire squad in the city of Rome. At that time, Rome was growing rapidly and since many of its buildings were not built with the greatest of care, fires were ever-present. Crassus saw a hole in the market and decided to fight these fires.

However, if you think it was for some altruistic purposes, you are in for a rude awakening. Whenever a fire broke out, the men on Crassus’ fire squad would rush over to the burning building and proceed unto…

They would proceed unto doing nothing. Actually, what they in fact did was go to the owner of the burning house and ask him to sell for cheap. Then they would go to the owners of the houses nearby and ask them to sell as well. If any of them refused, then they would just let the houses burn down to the ground!

In this way, Crassus managed to buy up significant real estate. However, this was not enough for him. He had other tricks up his sleeve. Marcus allied himself with Sulla, Rome’s dictator of the moment, and took advantage when Sulla decided to kill off his enemies in a series of proscriptions.

The way these proscriptions worked is that Sulla started off with a small list of his opponents that he wanted killed. However, the list kept getting larger by the day, and many guys sensing an opportunity added some other juicy names on it as well, not for any political stance in particular, but just because they had some nice property that these unsavory characters wanted to get their hands on.

One of the guys who profited handsomely from the proscriptions was Crassus. Whenever a guy got executed, there was Crassus, waiting to snap up his property for cheap.

Crassus was also linked to a very public sex scandal. Apparently, he bedded Licinia, one of the Vestal Virgins. Now, this was a big deal since the Vestal Virgins were considered sacred and sworn to keeping their virginity as a sign of religious devotion. The thing about this sexcapade was that Crassus did not sleep with Licinia because she was hot, but because he wanted to get his hands on her house!

Building a wall and making Mexico pay for it

As previously mentioned, Crassus was also the general who was tasked with bringing down Spartacus and his rebellion. How would he do it? His brilliant idea was to build a wall! Yes, a wall came into play.

Spartacus and his army had retreated to the Bruttium Peninsula of Italy. If you look on a map of the country, this is the boot trying to kick Sicily away. Crassus decided to build a wall from sea to sea in order to hem these bad hombres in. Unfortunately, it didn’t work and Spartacus managed to break through.

After defeating Spartacus, Crassus set his sights on the highest offices. In order to do that, he formed what later came to be called the First Triumvirate with Julius Caesar and Pompey. After 10 years of hanging out with these two guys, Crassus decided to go mess around in Syria. However, this was not enough for him, and he set his sights on places a bit further out, like Iran.

Well, actually back in the day, it was the Parthian Empire, a state ruled by the Parthians, who are related to Persians, who are now known as Iranians. The Parthian Empire stretched over vast areas of land in today’s Iraq and Iran, and Crassus thought that he could win eternal glory if he just crossed over and lobbed some missiles.

Boy was he wrong! At the first significant battle of the conflict, the Battle of Carrhae, not only was his army soundly defeated, but Crassus also lost his life. There is a story that after his death, the Parthians cut off his head and poured molten gold into it, just to make fun of his greed.

I got my hands on the button

Fast forward two thousand years to 2019. What happened a few days ago? The story goes that Donald J. Trump (the J. stands for John) wanted to lob over a few missiles into Iran. However, the order was rescinded before any of the airstrikes could proceed.

What we now have is another real estate mogul, greedy for money, and hungry for fame, leading a country and messing around in the Middle East. Donald Trump has been elected the President of the United States, and he ain’t kidding around.

What will the future bring? Maybe what we should remind ourselves is that Crassus was living in the dying days of the Roman Republic. He did not know it at the time, but a few decades after his death, the Republic would collapse, to be replaced by Empire.


What happened to Marcus Licinius Crassus' Gold? - History

Considered the wealthiest man in Roman history, and one of the richest of all time, Marcus Licinius Crassus was the second of three sons fathered by the influential Roman senator Publius Crassus. As a young officer, Marcus had been forced to flee to Hispania when Lucius Cinna took control of Rome 87 BC, but returned to support Lucius Sulla in the ensuing civil war. After Sulla’s victory, he held a praetorship, gaining some fame for putting down the salve uprising led by Spartacus. In 70 BC, Crassus and Pompey pressured the Senate into electing them co-consuls once in office, they reversed most of Sulla’s reforms.

During the next decade, as Pompey scored military victories abroad, Marcus Crassus amassed enormous wealth, mostly from the sale of property previously confiscated by Sulla, and loans to senators who liked living too well. He also maintained a troop of 500 slaves skilled in construction, and when one of Rome’s frequent fires broke out, would then buy up the ruins, quickly rebuild the neighborhood, and then charge exorbitant rents. At one point it was said that Crassus owned most of Rome.

He certainly wasn’t the first rich man to have delusions of grandeur, but in his case it proved decidedly deleterious. In 60 BC Crassus joined Pompey and young Julius Caesar in forming the so-called First Triumvirate to rule Rome. Whether it was jealousy of Caesar and Pompey or simply greed, Marcus Crassus managed to get the Senate to appoint him governor of the rich province of Syria. Not satisfied plundering Syria, he embarked on an ill-advised invasion of Parthia, where he was killed at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC. Legend has it that his head was severed and molten gold poured into his mouth as a mark of his infamous greed.

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Gain 60 Gold.


Again, while not making an actual appearance, Crassus is mentioned through dialogue. He is mentioned by Glaber when arguing with Ilithyia in regards to how she killed Licinia, and Glaber had to give patronage to

Batiatus in order to cover it up. Crassus is again mentioned, in passing, when Varinius makes a derogatory joke about him to two ladies at a party. Crassus' power and reputation is augmented when Varinius tells Ilithyia not to let Crassus hear of this jest, for fear of reprisal.


Event #5544: Marcus Licinius Crassus: wealthiest man in Roman history patron of Julius Caesar defeated and killed by Parthians

Marcus Licinius Crassus (c. 115 BC – 53 BC) was a Roman general and politician who played a key role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Amassing an enormous fortune during his life, Crassus is considered the wealthiest man in Roman history, and among the richest men in all history, if not the wealthiest.

Crassus began his public career as a military commander under Lucius Cornelius Sulla during his civil war. Following Sulla’s assumption of the dictatorship, Crassus amassed an enormous fortune through real estate speculation. Crassus rose to political prominence following his victory over the slave revolt led by Spartacus, sharing the Consulship with his rival Pompey the Great.

A political and financial patron of Julius Caesar, Crassus joined Caesar and Pompey in the unofficial political alliance known as the First Triumvirate. Together the three men dominated the Roman political system. The alliance would not last indefinitely due to the ambitions, egos, and jealousies of the three men. While Caesar and Crassus were lifelong allies, Crassus and Pompey disliked each other and Pompey grew increasingly envious of Caesar’s spectacular successes in the Gallic Wars. The alliance was re-stabilized at the Lucca Conference in 56 BC, after which Crassus and Pompey again served jointly as Consuls. Following his second Consulship, Crassus was appointed as the Governor of Roman Syria. Crassus used Syria as the launchpad for a military campaign against the Parthian Empire, Rome’s long-time Eastern enemy. Crassus’ campaign was a disastrous failure, resulting in his defeat and death at the Battle of Carrhae.

Crassus’ death permanently unraveled the alliance between Caesar and Pompey. Within four years of Crassus’ death, Caesar would cross the Rubicon and begin a civil war against Pompey and the Optimates.

Marcus Licinius Crassus was the second of three sons born to the eminent senator and vir triumphalis P. Licinius Crassus (consul 97, censor 89 BC). This line was not descended from the Crassi Divites, although often assumed to be. The eldest brother Publius (born c.116 BC) died shortly before the Italic War and Marcus took the brother’s wife as his own. His father and the youngest brother Gaius took their own lives in Rome in winter 87–86 BC to avoid capture when he was being hunted down by the Marians following their victory in the bellum Octavianum.

There were three main branches of the house of Licinii Crassi in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, 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, while we are explicitly informed that his great wealth was acquired rather than inherited, and that he was raised in modest circumstances.

Crassus’ homonymous grandfather, M. Licinius Crassus (praetor c.126 BC), was facetiously given the Greek nickname Agelastus (the grim) by his contemporary Gaius Lucilius, the famous inventor of Roman satire, who asserted that he smiled once in his whole life. This grandfather was son of P. Licinius Crassus (consul 171 BC). The latter’s brother C. Licinius Crassus (consul 168 BC) produced the third line of Licinia 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 sudden death subsequently 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. After Cinna’s death in 84 BC, Crassus went to the Roman province of Africa where adherents of Sulla were gathering.[6] When Sulla invaded Italy after returning from partial successes in the inconclusive Second Mithridatic War, Crassus joined Sulla and Metellus Pius, Sulla’s closest ally. He was given command of the right wing in the Battle of the Colline Gate when the remaining Marian adherents and the surviving Samnites marched on Rome in a last-ditch bid to oust Sulla from Rome. The Colline Gate was one of the entrances into Rome through the Servian Walls Crassus and his troops ensured Sulla’s victory, including destruction of the surviving Samnite troops and any other military opposition.

Marcus Licinius Crassus’ next concern was to rebuild the fortunes of his family, which had been confiscated during the Marian-Cinnan proscriptions. According to Plutarch’s “Life of Crassus”, Crassus made most of his fortune through “rapine and fire”. 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 to be glad 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. Crassus’s wealth is estimated by Pliny at approximately 200 million sestertii. Plutarch says the wealth of Crassus increased from less than 300 talents at first to 7,100 talents, or close to $8.4 Billion USD today, accounted right before his Parthian expedition, most of which Plutarch declares Crassus got “by fire and rapine, making his advantage of public calamities”.

Some of Crassus’ wealth was acquired conventionally, through traffic in slaves, production from silver mines, and speculative real estate purchases. Crassus tended to specialize in deals involving proscribed citizens and especially and notoriously purchasing during fires or structural collapse of buildings. When buildings were burning, Crassus and his purposely-trained crew would show up, and Crassus would offer to purchase the presumably doomed property and perhaps neighboring endangered properties from their owners for speculatively low sums if the purchase offer was accepted, Crassus would then use his army of some 500 slaves which he purchased due to their knowledge of architecture and building to put the fire out, sometimes before too much damage had been done: otherwise Crassus would use his crews to rebuild. If his purchase offers were not accepted, then Crassus would not engage in firefighting. Crassus’s slaves employed the Roman method of firefighting—destroying the burning building to curtail the spread of the flames. Similar methods were used by Crassus in the common event of the collapse of the large Roman buildings known as insulae, which were notorious for their poor construction and unsafe conditions. Crassus was happy to cheaply construct new insulae using his slave labour force, in place of the old insulae which had collapsed and/or burned however, he was known for his raising of rents rather than for his erection of improved residential structures.

Crassus was kinsman to 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.”

After rebuilding his fortune, Crassus’ next concern was his political career. As an adherent of Sulla, and the wealthiest man in Rome, 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 who blackmailed the dictator Sulla into granting him a triumph for victory in Africa over a rag-tag group of dissident Romans a first in Roman history on a couple of counts. First, Pompey was not even a praetor, on which grounds a triumph had been denied in 206 BC to the great Scipio Africanus, who had just defeated Hannibal’s brother Hasdrubal in Spain and brought Rome the entire province (Hispania). Second, Pompey had defeated fellow Romans however, a quasi-precedent had been set when the consul Lucius Julius Caesar (a relative of Gaius Julius Caesar) had been granted a triumph for a small victory over Italian (non-Roman) peoples in the Social War. Pompey’s triumph was the first granted to any Roman for defeating another Roman army. Crassus’ rivalry with Pompey and his envy of Pompey’s triumph would influence his subsequent career.

Crassus was rising steadily up the cursus honorum, the sequence of offices held by Roman citizens seeking political power, when ordinary Roman politics were interrupted by two events – first, the Third Mithridatic War, and second, the Third Servile War, which was the organized two-year rebellion of Roman slaves under the leadership of Spartacus (from the Summer of 73 BC to the Spring, 71 BC). In response to the first threat, Rome’s best general, Lucius Licinius Lucullus (consul in 74 BC), was sent to defeat Mithridates, followed shortly by his brother Varro Lucullus (consul in 73 BC, whose daughter Tertulla later became his wife). Meanwhile, Pompey was fighting in Hispania against Quintus Sertorius, the last effective Marian general, without notable advantage. Pompey succeeded only when Sertorius was assassinated by one of his own commanders. The only source to mention Crassus holding the office of praetor is Appian, and the date appears to be in 73 or possibly 72 BC.

The Senate did not initially take the slave rebellion seriously, until they believed Rome itself was under threat. 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 or taken prisoner. Eventually, 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 and strengthening 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. 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.”

Afterwards, when Spartacus retreated to the Bruttium peninsula in the southwest of Italy, Crassus tried to pen up his armies by building a ditch and a rampart across an isthmus 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.

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 Siler River, Crassus gained a decisive victory, and captured six thousand slaves alive. During the fighting, Spartacus attempted to kill Crassus personally, slaughtering his way toward the general’s position, but he succeeded only in killing two of the centurions guarding Crassus. 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 object 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 however, his political rival, Pompey, who had arrived with his veteran troops from Hispania (Spain) in time merely for a mop up operation against the disorganized and defeated fugitives who had scattered after the final battle, received credit for the final victory, writing a letter to the Senate, in which he argued that Crassus had merely defeated some slaves, while Pompey had won the war (referring also to the successfully concluded Spanish civil war, a success which Pompey also questionably claimed credit for). **This caused much strife between Pompey and Crassus. Crassus was honored only with an Ovation (originally a sheep sacrifice, which was much less an honor than was the Triumph), even though the danger to Rome and the destruction to Roman lives and property merited much more, considered purely from a military viewpoint however, as Plutarch eagerly and unhesitatingly points out, according to an ancient prejudice against slaves, even an Ovation was unseemly, according to ancient tradition: in Plutarch’s opinion, it was a shameful thing for a free man to claim any honor from battling slaves instead he retroactively recommended that if Crassus had to sully himself by performing such a duty, he should rather have done his job and then kept quiet about having done his duty, rather than wanting to brag about it, and unreasonably demanding the honor of a Triumph, something which by ancient tradition up to this point been reserved for a general whose military victories had led to significant gains of additional territory for his country. As a result of his thwarted hopes for a Triumph, together with the addition of the humiliating remarks made in the presence of the aristocratic senators, Crassus’ animosity towards his political enemy Pompey increased.

Nevertheless, Crassus was elected consul for 70 BC, alongside Pompey. In that year, Crassus displayed his wealth by public sacrifices to Hercules and entertained the populace at 10,000 tables and distributing sufficient grain to last each family three months, an act which had the additional ends of performing a previously made religious vow of a tithe to the god Hercules and also to gain support among the members of the popular party.

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 held the #2 post as 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 60/59 BC, the coalition of Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar (by now consul in 59). This coalition would last until Crassus’ own death.

In 55 BC, after the Triumvirate met at the Lucca Conference, 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 may 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 forty thousand troops (ten thousand cataphracts and thirty thousand infantrymen) on the condition that Crassus invaded 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’. Crassus refused, and chose the more direct route by crossing the Euphrates. His legions were defeated at Carrhae (modern Harran in Turkey) in 53 BC by a numerically inferior Parthian force. Crassus’ legions were mainly infantry men and were not prepared for the type of swift, cavalry-and-arrow attack that the Parthian troops were particularly adept at. The Parthians would get within shooting range, rain a barrage of arrows down upon Crassus’s troops, turn, fall back, and charge forth with another attack in the same vein. They were even able to shoot as well backwards as they could forwards, increasing the deadliness of their onslaught. Crassus refused his quaestor Gaius Cassius Longinus’s plans to reconstitute the Roman battle line, and remained in the testudo formation thinking that the Parthians would eventually run out of arrows.

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 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. A story later emerged that, after Crassus’ death, the Parthians poured molten gold into his mouth as a symbol of his thirst for wealth. Or, according to a popular but historically unreliable account that it was by this means that he was put to death.

The account given in Plutarch’s biography of Crassus also mentions that, during the feasting and revelry in the wedding ceremony of Artavazd’s sister to the Parthian king Orodes II’s son and heir Pacorus in Artashat, Crassus’ head was brought to Orodes II. Both kings were enjoying a performance of Euripides’ Greek tragedy The Bacchae and 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.

Crassus’ head was thus used in place of a prop head representing Pentheus and carried by the heroine of the play, Agave.

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.

Plutarch. “Life of Crassus”. Parallel Lives. trans. Bernadotte Perrin (Loeb Classical Library ed.).

Cicero. Letters of Marcus Tullius Cicero at Project Gutenberg

Dio Cassius Book 40, Stanza 26

Bivar, A.D.H. (1983). “The Political History of Iran Under the Arsacids,” in The Cambridge History of Iran (Vol 3:1), 21–99. Edited by Ehsan Yarshater. London, New York, New Rochelle, Melbourne, and Sydney: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-20092-X.

Marshall, B A: Crassus: A Political Biography (Adolf M Hakkert, Amsterdam, 1976)

Ward, Allen Mason: Marcus Crassus and the Late Roman Republic (University of Missouri Press, 1977)

Twyman, Briggs L: critical review of Marshall 1976 and Ward 1977, Classical Philology 74 (1979), 356–61

Hennessy, Dianne. (1990). Studies in Ancient Rome. Thomas Nelson Australia. ISBN 0-17-007413-7.

Holland, Tom. (2003). Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic. Little,Brown.

Sampson, Gareth C: The defeat of Rome: Crassus, Carrhae & the invasion of the east (Pen & Sword Books, 2008) ISBN 978-1-84415-676-4.

Smith, William (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 2.

Lang, David Marshall: Armenia: cradle of civilization (Allen & Unwin, 1970)

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This database, The Chronicle of the Fall of the Roman Empire (in short "QFG:COF" ) focuses on a chronological and categorized collection of various environmental and social events that accompanied the Fall of the Roman Empire.


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