Marcus Licinius Crassus
He was also known for his avarice and went to great lengths to aquire property and wealth. At his height, Crassus owned much of Rome and has been calculated to have been one of the richest people in the history of the world.
Crassus was born into a noble family; his father Publius Licinius Crassus Dives had been consul and himself came from a long line of politicians and soldiers. Although wealthy, Crassus lived in a modest house.
When he was in his late 20s his family were involved with the uprising in Rome by Marius and Cinna who captured the city from Sulla and his supporters including Crassus' family. In the bloodbath that followed Crassus' father and brother were killed (or possibly committed suicide) and Crassus escaped from the city, the family fortune lost.
Eight months later, after the death of Cinna, Crassus came out of hiding, collected an army of 2500 men, and joined Sulla in recapturing Rome. He also won himself a reputation as a worthy general.
On his return to Rome, Crassus began to buy up the houses of his vanquished polticial enemies and at knock-down prices. He also bought mines and then slaves which he trained and re-sold. It was during this period that he not only regained the family fortune but also built it to become the largest landowner in Rome and immensely powerful through his wealth.
At this time a great rivalry between Crassus and Pompey grew up. As he could not defeat Pompey militarily, Crassus decided to try and beat him by popular vote. He thus went about lending money on favourable terms (i.e. interest free as long as it was paid back on time) and also helping useful people by representing them in court when others would not.
In 73 BCE a slave revolt under Spartacus broke out. Two seperate armies were sent by Rome to defeat the slaves but both were unsuccessful. In 71 BCE Crassus was given command and he put General Mummius in charge. Against Crassus' direct order Mummius engaged Spartacus in battle and was defeated. Out of Mummius' men, 500 were considered to have shown cowardice in battle; they were divided into groups of ten and one from each group of ten was killed which was the standard punishment for cowardice. [This is the origin of the word decimate.]
Spartacus at this time was in southern Italy, trapped on the mainland. Crassus asked Rome for help and they sent his rival Pompey. To avoid Pompey defeating Spartacus and taking credit for the whole operation, Crassus attacked Spartacus' army before Pompey arrived and inflicted a crushing defeat on them, killing Spartacus in the process.
But the remnants of Spartacus' army were mopped up by Pompey who did, indeed, take credit for the victory.
Crassus and his rival Pompey were made joint consuls in 70 but their continued rivalry meant that little of importance was achieved during this time. This continued until 60 when Julius Caesar persuaded them to make peace. The three men then formed the First Triumverate to rule Rome.
In 50 Crassus left Rome for Syria where he had been appointed governor. His plan was to attack Parthia (modern north-east Iran) although it was widely criticised at home since Parthia had never threatened Rome in any way.
Crassus then proceeded rashly deep into Parthian territory where he was subjected to guerilla style attacks by mobile units of Parthians, finally hunted down and killed in a skirmish.
The historian Dio Cassius, writing in the late 2nd or early 3rd century wrote that after his death, the Parthians poured molten gold into Crassus' mouth as a punishment for his greed.
When his brother died, Crassus married the widow.
Later in life he was accused of intimacy with one of the vestal virgins; he was acquited of the charge, however.
|Whos here now: Members 0 Guests 1 Bots & Crawlers 0|