Crassus 

by Plutarch

 


Marcus Crassus, whose father had borne the office of a censor, and
received the honor of a triumph, was educated in a little house
together with his two brothers, who both married in their parents'
lifetime; they kept but one table amongst them; all which,
perhaps, was not the least reason of his own temperance and
moderation in diet. One of his brothers dying, he married his
widow, by whom he had his children; neither was there in these
respects any of the Romans who lived a more orderly life than he
did, though later in life he was suspected to have been too
familiar with one of the vestal virgins, named Licinia, who was,
nevertheless, acquitted, upon an impeachment brought against her
by one Plotinus. Licinia stood possessed of a beautiful property
in the suburbs, which Crassus desiring to purchase at a low price,
for this reason was frequent in his attentions to her, which gave
occasion to the scandal, and his avarice, so to say, serving to
clear him of the crime, he was acquitted. Nor did he leave the
lady till he had got the estate.

People were wont to say that the many virtues of Crassus were
darkened by the one vice of avarice, and indeed he seemed to have
no other but that; for it being the most predominant, obscured
others to which he was inclined. The arguments in proof of his
avarice were the vastness of his estate, and the manner of raising
it; for whereas at first he was not worth above three hundred
talents, yet, though in the course of his political life he
dedicated the tenth of all he had to Hercules, and feasted the
people, and gave to every citizen corn enough to serve him three
months, upon casting up his accounts, before he went upon his
Parthian expedition, he found his possessions to amount to seven
thousand one hundred talents; most of which, if we may scandal him
with a truth, he got by fire and rapine, making his advantages of
the public calamities. For when Sylla seized the city, and
exposed to sale the goods of those that he had caused to be slain,
accounting them booty and spoils, and, indeed, calling them so
too, and was desirous of making as many, and as eminent men as he
could, partakers in the crime, Crassus never was the man that
refused to accept, or give money for them. Moreover observing how
extremely subject the city was to fire, and falling down of
houses, by reason of their height and their standing so near
together, he bought slaves that were builders and architects, and
when he had collected these to the number of more than five
hundred, he made it his practice to buy houses that were on fire,
and those in the neighborhood, which, in the immediate danger and
uncertainty, the proprietors were willing to part with for little,
or nothing; so that the greatest part of Rome, at one time or
other, came into his hands. Yet for all he had so many workmen,
he never built anything but his own house, and used to say that
those that were addicted to building would undo themselves soon
enough without the help of other enemies. And though he had many
silver mines, and much valuable land, and laborers to work in it,
yet all this was nothing in comparison of his slaves, such a
number and variety did he possess of excellent readers,
amanuenses, silversmiths, stewards, and table-waiters, whose
instruction he always attended to himself, superintending in
person while they learned, and teaching them himself, accounting
it the main duty of a master to look over the servants, that are,
indeed, the living tools of housekeeping; and in this, indeed, he
was in the right, in thinking, that is, as he used to say, that
servants ought to look after all other things, and the master
after them. For economy, which in things inanimate is but
money-making when exercised over men becomes policy. But it was
surely a mistaken judgment, when he said no man was to be
accounted rich that could not maintain an army at his own cost and
charges, for war, as Archidamus well observed, is not fed at a
fixed allowance, so that there is no saying what wealth suffices
for it, and certainly it was one very far removed from that of
Marius; for when he had distributed fourteen acres of land a man,
and understood that some desired more, "God forbid," said he,
"that any Roman should think that too little which is enough to
keep him alive and well."

Crassus, however, was very eager to be hospitable to strangers; he
kept open house, and to his friends he would lend money without
interest, but called it in precisely at the time; so that his
kindness was often thought worse than the paying the interest
would have been. His entertainments were, for the most part,
plain and citizenlike, the company general and popular; good taste
and kindness made them pleasanter than sumptuosity would have
done. As for learning, he chiefly cared for rhetoric, and what
would be serviceable with large numbers; he became one of the best
speakers at Rome, and by his pains and industry outdid the best
natural orators. For there was no trial how mean and contemptible
soever that he came to unprepared; nay, several times he undertook
and concluded a cause, when Pompey and Caesar and Cicero refused
to stand up, upon which account particularly he got the love of
the people, who looked upon him as a diligent and careful man,
ready to help and succor his fellow-citizens. Besides, the people
were pleased with his courteous and unpretending salutations and
greetings; for he never met any citizen however humble and low,
but he returned him his salute by name. He was looked upon as a
man well-read in history, and pretty well versed in Aristotle's
philosophy, in which one Alexander instructed him, a man whose
intercourse with Crassus gave a sufficient proof of his
good-nature, and gentle disposition; for it is hard to say whether
he was poorer when he entered into his service, or while he
continued in it; for being his only friend that used to accompany
him when traveling, he used to receive from him a cloak for the
journey, and when he came home had it demanded from him again;
poor patient sufferer, when even the philosophy he professed did
not look upon poverty as a thing indifferent. But of this
hereafter.

When Cinna and Marius got the power in their hands, it was soon
perceived that they had not come back for any good they intended
to their country, but to effect the ruin and utter destruction of
the nobility. And as many as they could lay their hands on they
slew, amongst whom were Crassus's father and brother; he himself,
being very young, for the moment escaped the danger; but
understanding that he was every way beset and hunted after by the
tyrants, taking with him three friends and ten servants, with all
possible speed he fled into Spain, having formerly been there and
secured a great number of friends, while his father was Praetor of
that country. But finding all people in a consternation, and
trembling at the cruelty of Marius, as if he was already standing
over them in person, he durst not discover himself to anybody, but
hid himself in a large cave, which was by the sea-shore, and
belonged to Vibius Pacianus, to whom he sent one of his servants
to sound him, his provisions, also, beginning to fail. Vibius was
well pleased at his escape, and inquiring the place of his abode
and the number of his companions, he went not to him himself, but
commanded his steward to provide every day a good meal's meat, and
carry it and leave it near such a rock, and so return without
taking any further notice or being inquisitive, promising him his
liberty if he did as he commanded, and that he would kill him if
he intermeddled. The cave is not far from the sea; a small and
insignificant looking opening in the cliffs conducts you in; when
you are entered, a wonderfully high roof spreads above you, and
large chambers open out one beyond another, nor does it lack
either water or light, for a very pleasant and wholesome spring
runs at the foot of the cliffs, and natural chinks, in the most
advantageous place, let in the light all day long; and the
thickness of the rock makes the air within pure and clear, all the
wet and moisture being carried off into the spring.

While Crassus remained here, the steward brought them what was
necessary, but never saw them, nor knew anything of the matter,
though they within saw, and expected him at the customary times.
Neither was their entertainment such as just to keep them alive,
but given them in abundance and for their enjoyment; for Pacianus
resolved to treat him with all imaginable kindness, and
considering he was a young man, thought it well to gratify a
little his youthful inclinations; for to give just what is
needful, seems rather to come from necessity than from a hearty
friendship. Once taking with him two female servants, he showed
them the place and bade them go in boldly, whom when Crassus and
his friends saw, they were afraid of being betrayed, and demanded
what they were, and what they would have. They, according as they
were instructed, answered, they came to wait upon their master who
was hid in that cave. And so Crassus perceiving it was a piece of
pleasantry and of goodwill on the part of Vibius, took them in and
kept them there with him as long as he stayed, and employed them
to give information to Vibius of what they wanted, and how they
were. Fenestella says he saw one of them, then very old, and
often heard her speak of the time and repeat the story with
pleasure.

After Crassus had lain concealed there eight months, on hearing
that Cinna was dead, he appeared abroad, and a great number of
people flocking to him, out of whom he selected a body of two
thousand five hundred, he visited many cities, and, as some write,
sacked Malaca, which he himself, however, always denied, and
contradicted all who said so. Afterwards, getting together some
ships, he passed into Africa, and joined with Metellus Pius, an
eminent person that had raised a very considerable force; but upon
some difference between him and Metellus, he stayed not long
there, but went over to Sylla, by whom he was very much esteemed.
When Sylla passed over into Italy, he was anxious to put all the
young men that were with him in employment; and as he dispatched
some one way, and some another, Crassus, on its falling to his
share to raise men among the Marsians, demanded a guard, being to
pass through the enemy's country, upon which Sylla replied
sharply, "I give you for guard your father, your brother, your
friends and kindred, whose unjust and cruel murder I am now going
to revenge;" and Crassus, being nettled, went his way, broke
boldly through the enemy, collected a considerable force, and in
all Sylla's wars acted with great zeal and courage. And in these
times and occasions, they say, began the emulation and rivalry for
glory between him and Pompey; for though Pompey was the younger
man, and had the disadvantage to be descended of a father that was
disesteemed by the citizens, and hated as much as ever man was,
yet in these actions he shone out, and was proved so great, that
Sylla always used, when he came in, to stand up and uncover his
head, an honor which he seldom showed to older men and his own
equals, and always saluted him Imperator. This fired and stung
Crassus, though, indeed, he could not with any fairness claim to
be preferred; for he both wanted experience, and his two innate
vices, sordidness and avarice, tarnished all the lustre of his
actions. For when he had taken Tudertia, a town of the Umbrians,
he converted, it was said, all the spoil to his own use, for which
he was complained of to Sylla. But in the last and greatest
battle before Rome itself, where Sylla was worsted, some of his
battalions giving ground, and others being quite broken, Crassus
got the victory on the right wing, which he commanded, and pursued
the enemy till night, and then sent to Sylla to acquaint him with
his success, and demand provision for his soldiers. In the time,
however, of the proscriptions and sequestrations, he lost his
repute again, by making great purchases for little or nothing, and
asking for grants. Nay, they say he proscribed one of the
Bruttians without Sylla's order, only for his own profit, and
that, on discovering this, Sylla never after trusted him in any
public affairs. As no man was more cunning than Crassus to
ensnare others by flattery, so no man lay more open to it, or
swallowed it more greedily than himself. And this particularly
was observed of him, that though he was the most covetous man in
the world, yet he habitually disliked and cried out against others
who were so.

It troubled him to see Pompey so successful in all his
undertakings; that he had had a triumph before he was capable to
sit in the senate, and that the people had surnamed him Magnus, or
the Great. When somebody was saying Pompey the Great was coming,
he smiled, and asked him, "How big is he?" Despairing to equal
him by feats of arms, he betook himself to civil life, where by
doing kindnesses, pleading, lending money, by speaking and
canvassing among the people for those who had objects to obtain
from them, he gradually gained as great honor and power as Pompey
had from his many famous expeditions. And it was a curious thing
in their rivalry, that Pompey's name and interest in the city was
greatest when he was absent, for his renown in war, but when
present he was often less successful than Crassus, by reason of
his superciliousness and haughty way of living, shunning crowds of
people, and appearing rarely in the forum, and assisting only some
few, and that not readily, that his interest might be the stronger
when he came to use it for himself. Whereas Crassus, being a
friend always at hand, ready to be had and easy of access, and
always with his hands full of other people's business, with his
freedom and courtesy, got the better of Pompey's formality. In
point of dignity of person, eloquence of language, and
attractiveness of countenance, they were pretty equally excellent.
But, however, this emulation never transported Crassus so far as
to make him bear enmity, or any ill-will; for though he was vexed
to see Pompey and Caesar preferred to him, yet he never minded any
hostility or malice with his jealousy; though Caesar when he was
taken captive by the corsairs in Asia, cried out, "O Crassus, how
glad you will be at the news of my captivity!" Afterwards they
lived together on friendly terms, for when Caesar was going
praetor into Spain, and his creditors, he being then in want of
money, came upon him and seized his equipage, Crassus then stood
by him and relieved him, and was his security for eight hundred
and thirty talents. And, in general, Rome being divided into
three great interests, those of Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus, (for
as for Cato, his fame was greater than his power, and he was
rather admired than followed,) the sober and quiet part were for
Pompey, the restless and hotheaded followed Caesar's ambition, but
Crassus trimmed between them, making advantages of both, and
changed sides continually, being neither a trusty friend nor an
implacable enemy, and easily abandoned both his attachments and
his animosities, as he found it for his advantage, so that in
short spaces of time, the same men and the same measures had him
both as their supporter and as their opponent. He was much liked,
but was feared as much or even more. At any rate, when Sicinius,
who was the greatest troubler of the magistrates and ministers of
his time, was asked how it was he let Crassus alone, "Oh," said
he, "he carries hay on his horns," alluding to the custom of tying
hay to the horns of a bull that used to butt, that people might
keep out of his way.

The insurrection of the gladiators and the devastation of Italy,
commonly called the war of Spartacus, began upon this occasion.
One Lentulus Batiates trained up a great many gladiators in Capua,
most of them Gauls and Thracians, who, not for any fault by them
committed, but simply through the cruelty of their master, were
kept in confinement for this object of fighting one with another.
Two hundred of these formed a plan to escape, but their plot being
discovered, those of them who became aware of it in time to
anticipate their master, being seventy-eight, got out of a cook's
shop chopping-knives and spits, and made their way through the
city, and lighting by the way on several wagons that were carrying
gladiator's arms to another city, they seized upon them and armed
themselves. And seizing upon a defensible place, they chose three
captains, of whom Spartacus was chief, a Thracian of one of the
nomad tribes, and a man not only of high spirit and valiant, but
in understanding, also, and in gentleness, superior to his
condition, and more of a Grecian than the people of his country
usually are. When he first came to be sold at Rome, they say a
snake coiled itself upon his face as he lay asleep, and his wife,
who at this latter time also accompanied him in his flight, his
country-woman, a kind of prophetess, and one of those possessed
with the bacchanal frenzy, declared that it was a sign portending
great and formidable power to him with no happy event.

First, then, routing those that came out of Capua against them,
and thus procuring a quantity of proper soldiers' arms, they
gladly threw away their own as barbarous and dishonorable.
Afterwards Clodius, the praetor, took the command against them
with a body of three thousand men from Rome, and besieged them
within a mountain, accessible only by one narrow and difficult
passage, which Clodius kept guarded, encompassed on all other
sides with steep and slippery precipices. Upon the top, however,
grew a great many wild vines, and cutting down as many of their
boughs as they had need of, they twisted them into strong ladders
long enough to reach from thence to the bottom, by which, without
any danger, they got down all but one, who stayed there to throw
them down their arms, and after this succeeded in saving himself.
The Romans were ignorant of all this, and, therefore, coming upon
them in the rear, they assaulted them unawares and took their
camp. Several, also, of the shepherds and herdsman that were
there, stout and nimble fellows, revolted over to them, to some of
whom they gave complete arms, and made use of others as scouts and
light-armed soldiers. Publius Varinus, the praetor, was now sent
against them, whose lieutenant, Furius, with two thousand men,
they fought and routed. Then Cossinius was sent, with
considerable forces, to give his assistance and advice, and him
Spartacus missed but very little of capturing in person, as he was
bathing at Salinae; for he with great difficulty made his escape,
while Spartacus possessed himself of his baggage, and following
the chase with a great slaughter, stormed his camp and took it,
where Cossinius himself was slain. After many successful
skirmishes with the praetor himself, in one of which he took his
lictors and his own horse, he began to be great and terrible; but
wisely considering that he was not to expect to match the force of
the empire, he marched his army towards the Alps, intending, when
he had passed them, that every man should go to his own home, some
to Thrace, some to Gaul. But they, grown confident in their
numbers, and puffed up with their success, would give no obedience
to him, but went about and ravaged Italy; so that now the senate
was not only moved at the indignity and baseness, both of the
enemy and of the insurrection, but, looking upon it as a matter of
alarm and of dangerous consequence, sent out both the consuls to
it, as to a great and difficult enterprise. The consul Gellius,
falling suddenly upon a party of Germans, who through contempt and
confidence had straggled from Spartacus, cut them all to pieces.
But when Lentulus with a large army besieged Spartacus, he sallied
out upon him, and, joining battle, defeated his chief officers,
and captured all his baggage. As he made toward the Alps,
Cassius, who was praetor of that part of Gaul that lies about the
Po, met him with ten thousand men, but being overcome in battle,
he had much ado to escape himself, with the loss of a great many
of his men.

When the senate understood this, they were displeased at the
consuls, and ordering them to meddle no further, they appointed
Crassus general of the war, and a great many of the nobility went
volunteers with him, partly out of friendship, and partly to get
honor. He stayed himself on the borders of Picenum, expecting
Spartacus would come that way, and sent his lieutenant, Mummius,
with two legions, to wheel about and observe the enemy's motions,
but upon no account to engage or skirmish. But he, upon the first
opportunity, joined battle, and was routed, having a great many
of his men slain, and a great many only saving their lives, with
the loss of their arms. Crassus rebuked Mummius severely, and
arming the soldiers again, he made them find sureties for their
arms, that they would part with them no more, and five hundred
that were the beginners of the flight, he divided into fifty tens,
and one of each was to die by lot, thus reviving the ancient Roman
punishment of decimation, where ignominy is added to the penalty
of death, with a variety of appalling and terrible circumstances,
presented before the eyes of the whole army, assembled as
spectators. When he had thus reclaimed his men, he led them
against the enemy; but Spartacus retreated through Lucania toward
the sea, and in the straits meeting with some Cilician pirate
ships, he had thoughts of attempting Sicily, where, by landing two
thousand men, he hoped to new kindle the war of the slaves, which
was but lately extinguished, and seemed to need but a little fuel
to set it burning again. But after the pirates had struck a
bargain with him, and received his earnest, they deceived him and
sailed away. He thereupon retired again from the sea, and
established his army in the peninsula of Rhegium; there Crassus
came upon him, and considering the nature of the place, which of
itself suggested the undertaking, he set to work to build a wall
across the isthmus; thus keeping his soldiers at once from
idleness, and his foes from forage. This great and difficult work
he perfected in a space of time short beyond all expectation,
making a ditch from one sea to the other, over the neck of land,
three hundred furlongs long, fifteen feet broad, and as much in
depth, and above it built a wonderfully high and strong wall. All
which Spartacus at first slighted and despised, but when
provisions began to fail, and on his proposing to pass further, he
found he was walled in, and no more was to be had in the
peninsula, taking the opportunity of a snowy, stormy night, he
filled up part of the ditch with earth and boughs of trees, and so
passed the third part of his army over.

Crassus was afraid lest he should march directly to Rome, but was
soon eased of that fear when he saw many of his men break out in a
mutiny and quit him, and encamp by themselves upon the Lucanian
lake. This lake they say changes at intervals of time, and is
sometimes sweet, and sometimes so salt that it cannot be drunk.
Crassus falling upon these beat them from the lake, but he could
not pursue the slaughter, because of Spartacus suddenly coming up,
and checking the flight. Now he began to repent that he had
previously written to the senate to call Lucullus out of Thrace,
and Pompey out of Spain; so that he did all he could to finish the
war before they came, knowing that the honor of the action would
redound to him that came to his assistance. Resolving, therefore,
first to set upon those that had mutinied and encamped apart, whom
Caius Cannicius and Castus commanded, he sent six thousand men
before to secure a little eminence, and to do it as privately as
possible, which that they might do, they covered their helmets,
but being discovered by two women that were sacrificing for the
enemy, they had been in great hazard, had not Crassus immediately
appeared, and engaged in a battle which proved a most bloody one.
Of twelve thousand three hundred whom he killed, two only were
found wounded in their backs, the rest all having died standing in
their ranks, and fighting bravely. Spartacus, after this
discomfiture, retired to the mountains of Petelia, but Quintius,
one of Crassus's officers, and Scrofa, the quaestor, pursued and
overtook him. But when Spartacus rallied and faced them, they
were utterly routed and fled, and had much ado to carry off their
quaestor, who was wounded. This success, however, ruined
Spartacus, because it encouraged the slaves, who now disdained any
longer to avoid fighting, or to obey their officers, but as they
were upon their march, they came to them with their swords in
their hand, and compelled them to lead them back again through
Lucania, against the Romans, the very thing which Crassus was
eager for. For news was already brought that Pompey was at hand;
and people began to talk openly, that the honor of this war was
reserved for him, who would come and at once oblige the enemy to
fight and put an end to the war. Crassus, therefore, eager to
fight a decisive battle, encamped very near the enemy, and began
to make lines of circumvallation; but the slaves made a sally, and
attacked the pioneers. As fresh supplies came in on either side,
Spartacus, seeing there was no avoiding it, set all his army in
array, and when his horse was brought him, he drew out his sword
and killed him, saying, if he got the day, he should have a great
many better horses of the enemies, and if he lost it, he should
have no need of this. And so making directly towards Crassus
himself, through the midst of arms and wounds, he missed him, hut
slew two centurions that fell upon him together. At last being
deserted by those that were about him, he himself stood his
ground, and, surrounded by the enemy, bravely defending himself,
was cut in pieces. But though Crassus had good fortune, and not
only did the part of a good general, but gallantly exposed his
person, yet Pompey had much of the credit of the action. For he
met with many of the fugitives, and slew them, and wrote to the
senate that Crassus indeed had vanquished the slaves in a pitched
battle, but that he had put an end to the war. Pompey was honored
with a magnificent triumph for his conquest over Sertorius and
Spain, while Crassus could not himself so much as desire a triumph
in its full form, and indeed it was thought to look but meanly in
him to accept of the lesser honor, called the ovation, for a
servile war, and perform a procession on foot. The difference
between this and the other, and the origin of the name, are
explained in the life of Marcellus.

And Pompey being immediately invited to the consulship, Crassus,
who had hoped to be joined with him, did not scruple to request
his assistance. Pompey most readily seized the opportunity, as he
desired by all means to lay some obligation upon Crassus, and
zealously promoted his interest; and at last he declared in one of
his speeches to the people, that he should be not less beholden to
them for his colleague, than for the honor of his own appointment.
But once entered upon the employment, this amity continued not
long; but differing almost in everything, disagreeing,
quarreling, and contending, they spent the time of their
consulship, without effecting any measure of consequence, except
that Crassus made a great sacrifice to Hercules, and feasted the
people at ten thousand tables, and measured them out corn for
three months. When their command was now ready to expire, and
they were, as it happened addressing the people, a Roman knight,
one Onatius Aurelius, an ordinary private person, living in the
country, mounted the hustings, and declared a vision he had in his
sleep: "Jupiter," said he, "appeared to me, and commanded me to
tell you, that you should not suffer your consuls to lay down
their charge before they are made friends." When he had spoken,
the people cried out that they should be reconciled. Pompey stood
still and said nothing, but Crassus, first offering him his hand,
said, "I cannot think, my countrymen, that I do any thing
humiliating or unworthy of myself, if I make the first offers of
accommodation and friendship with Pompey, whom you yourselves
styled the Great, before he was of man's estate, and decreed him a
triumph before he was capable of sitting in the senate."

This is what was memorable in Crassus's consulship, but as for his
censorship, that was altogether idle and inactive, for he neither
made a scrutiny of the senate, nor took a review of the horsemen,
nor a census of the people, though he had as mild a man as could
be desired for his colleague, Lutatius Catulus. It is said,
indeed, that when Crassus intended a violent and unjust measure,
which was the reducing Egypt to be tributary to Rome, Catulus
strongly opposed it, and falling out about it, they laid down
their office by consent. In the great conspiracy of Catiline,
which was very near subverting the government, Crassus was not
without some suspicion of being concerned, and one man came
forward and declared him to be in the plot; but nobody credited
him. Yet Cicero, in one of his orations, clearly charges both
Crassus and Caesar with the guilt of it, though that speech was
not published till they were both dead. But in his speech upon
his consulship, he declares that Crassus came to him by night, and
brought a letter concerning Catiline, stating the details of the
conspiracy. Crassus hated him ever after, but was hindered by his
son from doing him any open injury; for Publius was a great lover
of learning and eloquence, and a constant follower of Cicero,
insomuch that he put himself into mourning when he was accused,
and induced the other young men to do the same. And at last he
reconciled him to his father.

Caesar now returning from his command, and designing to get the
consulship, and seeing that Crassus and Pompey were again at
variance, was unwilling to disoblige one by making application to
the other, and despaired of success without the help of one of
them; he therefore made it his business to reconcile them, making
it appear that by weakening each other's influence they were
promoting the interest of the Ciceros, the Catuli, and the Catos,
who would really be of no account if they would join their
interests and their factions, and act together in public with one
policy and one united power. And so reconciling them by his
persuasions, out of the three parties he set up one irresistible
power, which utterly subverted the government both of senate and
people. Not that he made either Pompey or Crassus greater than
they were before, but by their means made himself greatest of all;
for by the help of the adherents of both, he was at once
gloriously declared consul, which office when he administered with
credit, they decreed him the command of an army, and allotted him
Gaul for his province, and so placed him as it were in the
citadel, not doubting but they should divide the rest at their
pleasure between themselves, when they had confirmed him in his
allotted command. Pompey was actuated in all this by an
immoderate desire of ruling, but Crassus, adding to his old
disease of covetousness, a new passion after trophies and
triumphs, emulous of Caesar's exploits, not content to be beneath
him in these points, though above him in all others, could not be
at rest, till it ended in an ignominious overthrow, and a public
calamity. When Caesar came out of Gaul to Lucca, a great many
went thither from Rome to meet him. Pompey and Crassus had
various conferences with him in secret, in which they came to the
resolution to proceed to still more decisive steps, and to get the
whole management of affairs into their hands, Caesar to keep his
army, and Pompey and Crassus to obtain new ones and new provinces.
To effect all which there was but one way, the getting the
consulate a second time, which they were to stand for, and Caesar
to assist them by writing to his friends, and sending many of his
soldiers to vote.

But when they returned to Rome, their design was presently
suspected, and a report was soon spread that this interview had
been for no good. When Marcellinus and Domitius asked Pompey in
the senate if he intended to stand for the consulship, he
answered, perhaps he would, perhaps not; and being urged again,
replied, he would ask it of the honest citizens, but not of the
dishonest. Which answer appearing too haughty and arrogant,
Crassus said, more modestly, that he would desire it if it might
be for the advantage of the public, otherwise he would decline it.
Upon this some others took confidence and came forward as
candidates, among them Domitius. But when Pompey and Crassus now
openly appeared for it, the rest were afraid and drew back; only
Cato encouraged Domitius, who was his friend and relation, to
proceed, exciting him to persist, as though he was now defending
the public liberty, as these men, he said, did not so much aim at
the consulate, as at arbitrary government, and it was not a
petition for office, but a seizure of provinces and armies. Thus
spoke and thought Cato, and almost forcibly compelled Domitius to
appear in the forum, where many sided with them. For there was,
indeed, much wonder and question among the people, "Why should
Pompey and Crassus want another consulship? and why they two
together, and not with some third person? We have a great many men
not unworthy to be fellow-consuls with either the one or the
other." Pompey's party, being apprehensive of this, committed all
manner of indecencies and violences, and amongst other things lay
in wait for Domitius, as he was coming thither before daybreak
with his friends; his torchbearer they killed, and wounded several
others, of whom Cato was one. And these being beaten back and
driven into a house, Pompey and Crassus were proclaimed consuls.
Not long after, they surrounded the house with armed men, thrust
Cato out of the forum, killed some that made resistance, and
decreed Caesar his command for five years longer, and provinces
for themselves, Syria, and both the Spains, which being divided by
lots, Syria fell to Crassus, and the Spains to Pompey.

All were well pleased with the chance, for the people were
desirous that Pompey should not go far from the city, and he,
being extremely fond of his wife, was very glad to continue there;
but Crassus was so transported with his fortune, that it was
manifest he thought he had never had such good luck befall him as
now, so that he had much to do to contain himself before company
and strangers; but amongst his private friends he let fall many
vain and childish words, which were unworthy of his age, and
contrary to his usual character, for he had been very little given
to boasting hitherto. But then being strangely puffed up, and his
head heated, he would not limit his fortune with Parthia and
Syria; but looking on the actions of Lucullus against Tigranes and
the exploits of Pompey against Mithridates as but child's play, he
proposed to himself in his hopes to pass as far as Bactria and
India, and the utmost ocean. Not that he was called upon by the
decree which appointed him to his office to undertake any
expedition against the Parthians, but it was well known that he
was eager for it, and Caesar wrote to him out of Gaul, commending
his resolution, and inciting him to the war. And when Ateius, the
tribune of the people, designed to stop his journey, and many
others murmured that one man should undertake a war against a
people that had done them no injury, and were at amity with them,
he desired Pompey to stand by him and accompany him out of the
town, as he had a great name amongst the common people. And when
several were ready prepared to interfere and raise an outcry,
Pompey appeared with a pleasing countenance, and so mollified the
people, that they let Crassus pass quietly. Ateius, however, met
him, and first by word of mouth warned and conjured him not to
proceed, and then commanded his attendant officer to seize him and
detain him; but the other tribunes not permitting it, the officer
released Crassus. Ateius, therefore, running to the gate, when
Crassus was come thither, set down a chafing-dish with lighted
fire in it, and burning incense and pouring libations on it,
cursed him with dreadful imprecations, calling upon and naming
several strange and horrible deities. In the Roman belief there
is so much virtue in these sacred and ancient rites, that no man
can escape the effects of them, and that the utterer himself
seldom prospers; so that they are not often made use of, and but
upon a great occasion. And Ateius was blamed at the time for
resorting to them, as the city itself, in whose cause he used
them, would be the first to feel the ill effects of these curses
and supernatural terrors.

Crassus arrived at Brundusium, and though the sea was very rough,
he had not patience to wait, but went on board, and lost many of
his ships. With the remnant of his army he marched rapidly
through Galatia, where meeting with king Deiotarus, who, though he
was very old, was about building a new city, Crassus scoffingly
told him, "Your majesty begins to build at the twelfth hour."
"Neither do you," said he, "O general, undertake your Parthian
expedition very early." For Crassus was then sixty years old, and
he seemed older than he was. At his first coming, things went as
he would have them, for he made a bridge over Euphrates without
much difficulty, and passed over his army in safety, and occupied
many cities of Mesopotamia, which yielded voluntarily. But a
hundred of his men were killed in one, in which Apollonius was
tyrant; therefore, bringing his forces against it, he took it by
storm, plundered the goods, and sold the inhabitants. The Greeks
call this city Zenodotia, upon the taking of which, he permitted
the army to salute him Imperator, but this was very ill thought
of, and it looked as if he despaired a nobler achievement, that he
made so much of this little success. Putting garrisons of seven
thousand foot and one thousand horse in the new conquests, he
returned to take up his winter quarters in Syria, where his son
was to meet him coming from Caesar out of Gaul, decorated with
rewards for his valor, and bringing with him one thousand select
horse. Here Crassus seemed to commit his first error, and except,
indeed, the whole expedition, his greatest; for, whereas he ought
to have gone forward and seized Babylon and Seleucia, cities that
were ever at enmity with the Parthians, he gave the enemy time to
provide against him. Besides, he spent his time in Syria more
like an usurer than a general, not in taking an account of the
arms, and in improving the skill and discipline of his soldiers,
but in computing the revenue of the cities, wasting many days in
weighing by scale and balance the treasure that was in the temple
of Hierapolis, issuing requisitions for levies of soldiers upon
particular towns and kingdoms, and then again withdrawing them on
payment of sums of money, by which he lost his credit and became
despised. Here, too, he met with the first ill-omen from that
goddess, whom some call Venus, others Juno, others Nature, or the
Cause that produces out of moisture the first principles and seeds
of all things, and gives mankind their earliest knowledge of all
that is good for them. For as they were going out of the temple,
young Crassus stumbled, and his father fell upon him.

When he drew his army out of winter quarters, ambassadors came to
him from Arsaces, with this short speech: If the army was sent
by the people of Rome, he denounced mortal war, but if, as he
understood was the case, against the consent of his country,
Crassus for his own private profit had invaded his territory, then
their king would be more merciful, and taking pity upon Crassus's
dotage, would send those soldiers back, who had been left not so
truly to keep guard on him as to be his prisoners. Crassus
boastfully told them he would return his answer at Seleucia, upon
which Vagises, the eldest of them, laughed and showed the palm of
his hand, saying, "Hail will grow here before you will see
Seleucia;" so they returned to their king, Hyrodes, telling him it
was war. Several of the Romans that were in garrison in
Mesopotamia with great hazard made their escape, and brought word
that the danger was worth consideration, urging their own
eye-witness of the numbers of the enemy, and the manner of their
fighting, when they assaulted their towns; and, as men's manner
is, made all seem greater than really it was. By flight it was
impossible to escape them, and as impossible to overtake them when
they fled, and they had a new and strange sort of darts, as swift
as sight, for they pierced whatever they met with, before you
could see who threw; their men-at-arms were so provided that their
weapons would cut through anything, and their armor give way to
nothing. All which when the soldiers heard, their hearts failed
them; for till now they thought there was no difference between
the Parthians and the Armenians or Cappadocians, whom Lucullus
grew weary with plundering, and had been persuaded that the main
difficulty of the war consisted only in the tediousness of the
march, and the trouble of chasing men that durst not come to
blows, so that the danger of a battle was beyond their
expectation; accordingly, some of the officers advised Crassus to
proceed no further at present, but reconsider the whole
enterprise, amongst whom in particular was Cassius, the quaestor.
The soothsayers, also, told him privately the signs found in the
sacrifices were continually adverse and unfavorable. But he paid
no heed to them, or to anybody who gave any other advice than to
proceed. Nor did Artabazes, king of Armenia, confirm him a
little, who came to his aid with six thousand horse; who, however,
were said to be only the king's life-guard and suite, for he
promised ten thousand cuirassiers more, and thirty thousand foot,
at his own charge. He urged Crassus to invade Parthia by the way
of Armenia, for not only would he be able there to supply his army
with abundant provision, which he would give him, but his passage
would be more secure in the mountains and hills, with which the
whole country was covered, making it almost impassable to horse,
in which the main strength of the Parthians consisted. Crassus
returned him but cold thanks for his readiness to serve him, and
for the splendor of his assistance, and told him he was resolved
to pass through Mesopotamia, where he had left a great many brave
Roman soldiers; whereupon the Armenian went his way. As Crassus
was taking the army over the river at Zeugma, he encountered
preternaturally violent thunder, and the lightning flashed in the
faces of the troops, and during the storm a hurricane broke upon
the bridge, and carried part of it away; two thunderbolts fell
upon the very place where the army was going to encamp; and one of
the general's horses, magnificently caparisoned, dragged away the
groom into the river and was drowned. It is said, too, that when
they went to take up the first standard, the eagle of itself
turned its head backward; and after he had passed over his army,
as they were distributing provisions, the first thing they gave
was lentils and salt, which with the Romans are the food proper to
funerals, and are offered to the dead. And as Crassus was
haranguing his soldiers, he let fall a word which was thought very
ominous in the army; for "I am going," he said, "to break down the
bridge, that none of you may return;" and whereas he ought, when
he had perceived his blunder, to have corrected himself, and
explained his meaning, seeing the men alarmed at the expression,
he would not do it out of mere stubbornness. And when at the last
general sacrifice the priest gave him the entrails, they slipped out
of his hand, and when he saw the standers-by concerned at it, he
laughed and said, "See what it is to be an old man; but I shall
hold my sword fast enough."

So he marched his army along the river with seven legions, little
less than four thousand horse, and as many light-armed soldiers,
and the scouts returning declared that not one man appeared, but
that they saw the footing of a great many horses which seemed to
be retiring in flight, whereupon Crassus conceived great hopes,
and the Romans began to despise the Parthians, as men that would
not come to combat, hand to hand. But Cassius spoke with him
again, and advised him to refresh his army in some of the garrison
towns, and remain there till they could get some certain
intelligence of the enemy, or at least to make toward Seleucia,
and keep by the river, that so they might have the convenience of
having provision constantly supplied by the boats, which might
always accompany the army, and the river would secure them from
being environed, and, if they should fight, it might be upon equal
terms.

While Crassus was still considering, and as yet undetermined,
there came to the camp an Arab chief named Ariamnes, a cunning and
wily fellow, who, of all the evil chances which combined to lead
them on to destruction, was the chief and the most fatal. Some of
Pompey's old soldiers knew him, and remembered him to have
received some kindnesses of Pompey, and to have been looked upon
as a friend to the Romans, but he was now suborned by the king's
generals, and sent to Crassus to entice him if possible from the
river and hills into the wide open plain, where he might be
surrounded. For the Parthians desired anything, rather than to
be obliged to meet the Romans face to face. He, therefore, coming
to Crassus, (and he had a persuasive tongue,) highly commended
Pompey as his benefactor, and admired the forces that Crassus had
with him, but seemed to wonder why he delayed and made
preparations, as if he should not use his feet more than any arms,
against men that, taking with them their best goods and chattels,
had designed long ago to fly for refuge to the Scythians or
Hyrcanians. "If you meant to fight, you should have made all
possible haste, before the king should recover courage, and
collect his forces together; at present you see Surena and
Sillaces opposed to you, to draw you off in pursuit of them, while
the king himself keeps out of the way." But this was all a lie,
for Hyrodes had divided his army in two parts, with one he in
person wasted Armenia, revenging himself upon Artavasdes, and sent
Surena against the Romans, not out of contempt, as some pretend,
for there is no likelihood that he should despise Crassus, one of
the chiefest men of Rome, to go and fight with Artavasdes, and
invade Armenia; but much more probably he really apprehended the
danger, and therefore waited to see the event, intending that
Surena should first run the hazard of a battle, and draw the enemy
on. Nor was this Surena an ordinary person, but in wealth,
family, and reputation, the second man in the kingdom, and in
courage and prowess the first, and for bodily stature and beauty
no man like him. Whenever he traveled privately, he had one
thousand camels to carry his baggage, two hundred chariots for his
concubines, one thousand completely armed men for his life-guards,
and a great many more light-armed; and he had at least ten
thousand horsemen altogether, of his servants and retinue. The
honor had long belonged to his family, that at the king's
coronation he put the crown upon his head, and when this very king
Hyrodes had been exiled, he brought him in; it was he, also, that
took the great city of Seleucia, was the first man that scaled the
walls, and with his own hand beat off the defenders. And though
at this time he was not above thirty years old, he had a great
name for wisdom and sagacity, and, indeed, by these qualities
chiefly, he overthrew Crassus, who first through his overweening
confidence, and afterwards because he was cowed by his calamities,
fell a ready victim to his subtlety. When Ariamnes had thus
worked upon him, he drew him from the river into vast plains, by a
way that at first was pleasant and easy, but afterwards very
troublesome by reason of the depth of the sand; no tree, nor any
water, and no end of this to be seen; so that they were not only
spent with thirst, and the difficulty of the passage, but were
dismayed with the uncomfortable prospect of not a bough, not a
stream, not a hillock, not a green herb, but in fact a sea of
sand, which encompassed the army with its waves. They began to
suspect some treachery, and at the same time came messengers from
Artavasdes, that he was fiercely attacked by Hyrodes, who had
invaded his country, so that now it was impossible for him to send
any succors, and that he therefore advised Crassus to turn back,
and with joint forces to give Hyrodes battle, or at least that he
should march and encamp where horses could not easily come, and
keep to the mountains. Crassus, out of anger and perverseness,
wrote him no answer, but told them, at present he was not at
leisure to mind the Armenians, but he would call upon them another
time, and revenge himself upon Artavasdes for his treachery.
Cassius and his friends began again to complain, but when they
perceived that it merely displeased Crassus, they gave over, but
privately railed at the barbarian, "What evil genius, O thou worst
of men, brought thee to our camp, and with what charms and potions
hast thou bewitched Crassus, that he should march his army through
a vast and deep desert, through ways which are rather fit for a
captain of Arabian robbers, than for the general of a Roman army?"
But the barbarian being a wily fellow, very submissively exhorted
them, and encouraged them to sustain it a little further, and ran
about the camp, and, professing to cheer up the soldiers, asked
them, jokingly, "What, do you think you march through Campania,
expecting everywhere to find springs, and shady trees, and baths,
and inns of entertainment? Consider you now travel through the
confines of Arabia and Assyria." Thus he managed them like
children, and before the cheat was discovered, he rode away; not
but that Crassus was aware of his going, but he had persuaded him
that he would go and contrive how to disorder the affairs of the
enemy.

It is related that Crassus came abroad that day not in his scarlet
robe, which Roman generals usually wear, but in a black one,
which, as soon as he perceived, he changed. And the
standard-bearers had much ado to take up their eagles, which
seemed to be fixed to the place. Crassus laughed at it, and
hastened their march, and compelled his infantry to keep pace with
his cavalry, till some few of the scouts returned and told them
that their fellows were slain and they hardly escaped, that the
enemy was at hand in full force, and resolved to give them battle.
On this all was in an uproar; Crassus was struck with amazement,
and for haste could scarcely put his army in good order. First,
as Cassius advised, he opened their ranks and files that they
might take up as much space as could be, to prevent their being
surrounded, and distributed the horse upon the wings, but
afterwards changing his mind, he drew up his army in a square, and
made a front every way, each of which consisted of twelve cohorts,
to every one of which he allotted a troop of horse, that no part
might be destitute of the assistance that the horse might give,
and that they might be ready to assist everywhere, as need should
require. Cassius commanded one of the wings, young Crassus the
other, and he himself was in the middle. Thus they marched on
till they came to a little river named Balissus, a very
inconsiderable one in itself, but very grateful to the soldiers,
who had suffered so much by drought and heat all along their
march. Most of the commanders were of the opinion that they ought
to remain there that night, and to inform themselves as much as
possible of the number of the enemies, and their order, and so
march against them at break of day; but Crassus was so carried
away by the eagerness of his son, and the horsemen that were with
him, who desired and urged him to lead them on and engage, that he
commanded those that had a mind to it to eat and drink as they
stood in their ranks, and before they had all well done, he led
them on, not leisurely and with halts to take breath, as if he was
going to battle, but kept on his pace as if he had been in haste,
till they saw the enemy, contrary to their expectation, neither so
many nor so magnificently armed as the Romans expected. For
Surena had hid his main force behind the first ranks, and ordered
them to hide the glittering of their armor with coats and skins.
But when they approached and the general gave the signal,
immediately all the field rung with a hideous noise and terrible
clamor. For the Parthians do not encourage themselves to war with
cornets and trumpets, but with a kind of kettle-drum, which they
strike all at once in various quarters. With these they make a
dead hollow noise like the bellowing of beasts, mixed with sounds
resembling thunder, having, it would seem, very correctly
observed, that of all our senses hearing most confounds and
disorders us, and that the feelings excited through it most
quickly disturb, and most entirely overpower the understanding.

When they had sufficiently terrified the Romans with their noise,
they threw off the covering of their armor, and shone like
lightning in their breastplates and helmets of polished Margianian
steel, and with their horses covered with brass and steel
trappings. Surena was the tallest and finest looking man himself,
but the delicacy of his looks and effeminacy of his dress did not
promise so much manhood as he really was master of; for his face
was painted, and his hair parted after the fashion of the Medes,
whereas the other Parthians made a more terrible appearance, with
their shaggy hair gathered in a mass upon their foreheads after
the Scythian mode. Their first design was with their lances to
beat down and force back the first ranks of the Romans, but when
they perceived the depth of their battle, and that the soldiers
firmly kept their ground, they made a retreat, and pretending to
break their order and disperse, they encompassed the Roman square
before they were aware of it. Crassus commanded his light-armed
soldiers to charge, but they had not gone far before they were
received with such a shower of arrows that they were glad to
retire amongst the heavy-armed, with whom this was the first
occasion of disorder and terror, when they perceived the strength
and force of their darts, which pierced their arms, and passed
through every kind of covering, hard and soft alike. The
Parthians now placing themselves at distances began to shoot from
all sides, not aiming at any particular mark, (for, indeed, the
order of the Romans was so close, that they could not miss if they
would,) but simply sent their arrows with great force out of
strong bent bows, the strokes from which came with extreme
violence. The position of the Romans was a very bad one from the
first; for if they kept their ranks, they were wounded, and if
they tried to charge, they hurt the enemy none the more, and
themselves suffered none the less. For the Parthians threw their
darts as they fled, an art in which none but the Scythians excel
them, and it is, indeed, a cunning practice, for while they thus
fight to make their escape, they avoid the dishonor of a flight.

However, the Romans had some comfort to think that when they had
spent all their arrows, they would either give over or come to
blows; but when they presently understood that there were numerous
camels loaded with arrows, and that when the first ranks had
discharged those they had, they wheeled off and took more, Crassus
seeing no end of it, was out of all heart, and sent to his son
that he should endeavor to fall in upon them before he was quite
surrounded; for the enemy advanced most upon that quarter, and
seemed to be trying to ride round and come upon the rear.
Therefore the young man, taking with him thirteen hundred horse,
one thousand of which he had from Caesar, five hundred archers,
and eight cohorts of the full-armed soldiers that stood next him,
led them up with design to charge the Parthians. Whether it was
that they found themselves in a piece of marshy ground, as some
think, or else designing to entice young Crassus as far as they
could from his father, they turned and began to fly; whereupon he
crying out that they durst not stand, pursued them, and with him
Censorinus and Megabacchus, both famous, the latter for his
courage and prowess, the other for being of a senator's family,
and an excellent orator, both intimates of Crassus, and of about
the same age. The horse thus pushing on, the infantry stayed
little behind, being exalted with hopes and joy, for they supposed
they had already conquered, and now were only pursuing; till when
they were gone too far, they perceived the deceit, for they that
seemed to fly, now turned again, and a great many fresh ones came
on. Upon this they made an halt, for they doubted not but now the
enemy would attack them, because they were so few. But they
merely placed their cuirassiers to face the Romans, and with the
rest of their horse rode about scouring the field, and thus
stirring up the sand, they raised such a dust that the Romans
could neither see nor speak to one another, and being driven in
upon one another in one close body, they were thus hit and killed,
dying, not by a quick and easy death, but with miserable pains and
convulsions; for writhing upon the darts in their bodies, they
broke them in their wounds, and when they would by force pluck out
the barbed points, they caught the nerves and veins, so that they
tore and tortured themselves. Many of them died thus, and those
that survived were disabled for any service, and when Publius
exhorted them to charge the cuirassiers, they showed him their
hands nailed to their shields, and their feet stuck to the ground,
so that they could neither fly nor fight. He charged in himself
boldly, however, with his horse, and came to close quarters with
them, but was very unequal, whether as to the offensive or
defensive part; for with his weak and little javelins, he struck
against targets that were of tough raw hides and iron, whereas the
lightly clad bodies of his Gaulish horsemen were exposed to the
strong spears of the enemy. For upon these he mostly depended,
and with them he wrought wonders; for they would catch hold of the
great spears, and close upon the enemy, and so pull them off from
their horses, where they could scarce stir by reason of the
heaviness of their armor, and many of the Gauls quitting their own
horses, would creep under those of the enemy, and stick them in
the belly; which, growing unruly with the pain, trampled upon
their riders and upon the enemies promiscuously. The Gauls were
chiefly tormented by the heat and drought being not accustomed to
either, and most of their horses were slain by being spurred on
against the spears, so that they were forced to retire among the
foot, bearing off Publius grievously wounded. Observing a sandy
hillock not far off, they made to it, and tying their horses to
one another, and placing them in the midst, and joining all their
shields together before them, they thought they might make some
defense against the barbarians. But it fell out quite contrary,
for when they were drawn up in a plain, the front in some measure
secured those that were behind; but when they were upon the hill,
one being of necessity higher up than another, none were in
shelter, but all alike stood equally exposed, bewailing their
inglorious and useless fate. There were with Publius two Greeks
that lived near there at Carrhae, Hieronymus and Nicomachus; these
men urged him to retire with them and fly to Ichnae, a town not
far from thence, and friendly to the Romans. "No," said he,
"there is no death so terrible, for the fear of which Publius
would leave his friends that die upon his account;" and bidding
them to take care of themselves, he embraced them and sent them
away, and, because he could not use his arm, for he was run
through with a dart, he opened his side to his armor-bearer, and
commanded him to run him through. It is said that Censorinus fell
in the same manner. Megabacchus slew himself, as did also the
rest of best note. The Parthians coming upon the rest with their
lances, killed them fighting, nor were there above five hundred
taken prisoners. Cutting off the head of Publius, they rode off
directly towards Crassus.

His condition was thus. When he had commanded his son to fall
upon the enemy, and word was brought him that they fled and that
there was a distant pursuit, and perceiving also that the enemy
did not press upon him so hard as formerly, for they were mostly
gone to fall upon Publius, he began to take heart a little; and
drawing his army towards some sloping ground, expected when his
son would return from the pursuit. Of the messengers whom Publius
sent to him, (as soon as he saw his danger,) the first were
intercepted by the enemy, and slain; the last hardly escaping,
came and declared that Publius was lost, unless he had speedy
succors. Crassus was terribly distracted, not knowing what
counsel to take, and indeed no longer capable of taking any;
overpowered now by fear for the whole army, now by desire to help
his son. At last he resolved to move with his forces. Just upon
this, up came the enemy with their shouts and noises more terrible
than before, their drums sounding again in the ears of the Romans,
who now feared a fresh engagement. And they who brought Publius's
head upon the point of a spear, riding up near enough that it
could be known, scoffingly inquired where were his parents and
what family he was of, for it was impossible that so brave and
gallant a warrior should be the son of so pitiful a coward as
Crassus. This sight above all the rest dismayed the Romans, for
it did not incite them to anger as it might have done, but to
horror and trembling, though they say Crassus outdid himself in
this calamity, for he passed through the ranks and cried out to
them, "This, O my countrymen, is my own peculiar loss, but the
fortune and the glory of Rome is safe and untainted so long as you
are safe. But if any one be concerned for my loss of the best of
sons, let him show it in revenging him upon the enemy. Take away
their joy, revenge their cruelty, nor be dismayed at what is past;
for whoever tries for great objects must suffer something.
Neither did Lucullus overthrow Tigranes without bloodshed, nor
Scipio Antiochus; our ancestors lost one thousand ships about
Sicily, and how many generals and captains in Italy? no one of
which losses hindered them from overthrowing their conquerors; for
the State of Rome did not arrive to this height by fortune, but by
perseverance and virtue in confronting danger."

While Crassus thus spoke exhorting them, he saw but few that gave
much heed to him, and when he ordered them to shout for the
battle, he could no longer mistake the despondency of his army,
which made but a faint and unsteady noise, while the shout of the
enemy was clear and bold. And when they came to the business, the
Parthian servants and dependents riding about shot their arrows,
and the horsemen in the foremost ranks with their spears drove the
Romans close together, except those who rushed upon them for fear
of being killed by their arrows. Neither did these do much
execution, being quickly dispatched; for the strong thick spear
made large and mortal wounds, and often run through two men at
once. As they were thus fighting, the night coming on parted
them, the Parthians boasting that they would indulge Crassus with
one night to mourn his son, unless upon better consideration he
would rather go to Arsaces, than be carried to him. These,
therefore, took up their quarters near them, being flushed with
their victory. But the Romans had a sad night of it; for neither
taking care for the burial of their dead, nor the cure of the
wounded, nor the groans of the expiring, everyone bewailed his
own fate. For there was no means of escaping, whether they should
stay for the light, or venture to retreat into the vast desert in
the dark. And now the wounded men gave them new trouble, since to
take them with them would retard their flight, and if they should
leave them, they might serve as guides to the enemy by their
cries. However, they were all desirous to see and hear Crassus,
though they were sensible that he was the cause of all their
mischief. But he wrapped his cloak around him, and hid himself,
where he lay as an example, to ordinary minds, of the caprice of
fortune, but to the wise, of inconsiderateness and ambition; who,
not content to be superior to so many millions of men, being
inferior to two, esteemed himself as the lowest of all. Then came
Octavius, his lieutenant, and Cassius, to comfort him, but he
being altogether past helping, they themselves called together the
centurions and tribunes, and agreeing that the best way was to fly,
they ordered the army out, without sound of trumpet, and at first
with silence. But before long, when the disabled men found they
were left behind, strange confusion and disorder, with an outcry
and lamentation, seized the camp, and a trembling and dread
presently fell upon them, as if the enemy were at their heels. By
which means, now and then fuming out of their way, now and then
standing to their ranks, sometimes taking up the wounded that
followed, sometimes laying them down, they wasted the time, except
three hundred horse, whom Egnatius brought safe to Carrhae about
midnight; where calling, in the Roman tongue, to the watch, as
soon as they heard him, he bade them tell Coponius, the governor,
that Crassus had fought a very great battle with the Parthians;
and having said but this, and not so much as telling his name, he
rode away at full speed to Zeugma. And by this means he saved
himself and his men, but lost his reputation by deserting his
general. However, his message to Coponius was for the advantage
of Crassus; for he, suspecting by this hasty and confused delivery
of the message that all was not well, immediately ordered the
garrison to be in arms, and as soon as he understood that Crassus
was upon the way towards him, he went out to meet him, and
received him with his army into the town.

The Parthians, although they perceived their dislodgement in the
night, yet did not pursue them, but as soon as it was day, they
came upon those that were left in the camp, and put no less than
four thousand to the sword, and with their light; horse picked up
a great many stragglers. Varguntinus, the lieutenant, while it
was yet dark, had broken off from the main body with four cohorts
which had strayed out of the way; and the Parthians, encompassing
these on a small hill, slew every man of them excepting twenty,
who with their drawn swords forced their way through the thickest,
and they admiring their courage, opened their ranks to the right
and left, and let them pass without molestation to Carrhae.

Soon after a false report was brought to Surena, that Crassus,
with his principal officers, had escaped, and that those who were
got into Carrhae were but a confused rout of insignificant people,
not worth further pursuit. Supposing, therefore, that he had lost
the very crown and glory of his victory, and yet being uncertain
whether it were so or not, and anxious to ascertain the fact, that
so he should either stay and besiege Carrhae or follow Crassus, he
sent one of his interpreters to the walls, commanding him in Latin
to call for Crassus or Cassius, for that the general, Surena,
desired a conference. As soon as Crassus heard this, he embraced
the proposal, and soon after there came up a band of Arabians, who
very well knew the faces of Crassus and Cassius, as having been
frequently in the Roman camp before the battle. They having
espied Cassius from the wall, told him that Surena desired a
peace, and would give them safe convoy, if they would make a
treaty with the king his master, and withdraw all their troops out
of Mesopotamia; and this he thought most advisable for them both,
before things came to the last extremity; Cassius, embracing the
proposal, desired that a time and place might be appointed where
Crassus and Surena might have an interview. The Arabians, having
charged themselves with the message, went back to Surena, who wee
not a little rejoiced that Crassus was there to be besieged.

Next day, therefore, he came up with his army, insulting over the
Romans, and haughtily demanding of them Crassus and Cassius bound,
if they expected any mercy. The Romans, seeing themselves deluded
and mocked, were much troubled at it, but advising Crassus to lay
aside his distant and empty hopes of aid from the Armenians,
resolved to fly for it; and this design ought to have been kept
private, till they were upon their way, and not have been told to
any of the people of Carrhae. But Crassus let this also be known
to Andromachus, the most faithless of men, nay he was so
infatuated as to choose him for his guide. The Parthians then, to
be sure, had punctual intelligence of all that passed; but it
being contrary to their usage, and also difficult for them to
fight by night, and Crassus having chosen that time to set out,
Andromachus, lest he should get the start too far of his pursuers,
led him hither and thither, and at last conveyed him into the
midst of morasses and places full of ditches, so that the Romans
had a troublesome and perplexing journey of it, and some there
were who, supposing by these windings and turnings of Andromachus
that no good was intended, resolved to follow him no further. And
at last Cassius himself returned to Carrhae, and his guides, the
Arabians, advising him to tarry there till the moon was got out of
Scorpio, he told them that he was most afraid of Sagittarius, and
so with five hundred horse went off to Syria. Others there were,
who having got honest guides, took their way by the mountains
called Sinnaca, and got into places of security by daybreak; these
were five thousand under the command of Octavius, a very gallant
man. But Crassus fared worse; day overtook him still deceived by
Andromachus, and entangled in the fens and the difficult country.
There were with him four cohorts of legionary soldiers, a very few
horsemen, and five lictors, with whom having with great difficulty
got into the way, and not being a mile and a half from Octavius,
instead of going to join him, although the enemy were already upon
him, he retreated to another hill, neither so defensible nor
impassable for the horse, but lying under the hills of Sinnaca,
and continued so as to join them in a long ridge through the
plain. Octavius could see in what danger the general was, and
himself, at first but slenderly followed, hurried to the rescue.
Soon after, the rest, upbraiding one another with baseness in
forsaking their officers, marched down, and falling upon the
Parthians, drove them from the hill, and compassing Crassus about,
and fencing him with their shields, declared proudly, that no
arrow in Parthia should ever touch their general, so long as there
was a man of them left alive to protect him.

Surena, therefore, perceiving his soldiers less inclined to expose
themselves, and knowing that if the Romans should prolong the
battle till night, they might then gain the mountains and be out
of his reach, betook himself to his usual craft. Some of the
prisoners were set free, who had, as it was contrived, been in
hearing, while some of the barbarians spoke of a set purpose in
the camp to the effect that the king did not design the war to be
pursued to extremity against the Romans, but rather desired, by
his gentle treatment of Crassus, to make a step towards
reconciliation. And the barbarians desisted from fighting, and
Surena himself, with his chief officers, riding gently to the
hill, unbent his bow and held out his hand, inviting Crassus to an
agreement, and saying that it was beside the king's intentions,
that they had thus had experience of the courage and the strength
of his soldiers; that now he desired no other contention but that
of kindness and friendship, by making a truce, and permitting them
to go away in safety. These words of Surena the rest received
joyfully, and were eager to accept the offer; but Crassus, who had
had sufficient experience of their perfidiousness, and was unable
to see any reason for the sudden change, would give no ear to
them, and only took time to consider. But the soldiers cried out
and advised him to treat, and then went on to upbraid and affront
him, saying that it was very unreasonable that he should bring
them to fight with such men armed, whom himself, without their
arms, durst not look in the face. He tried first to prevail with
them by entreaties, and told them that if they would have patience
till evening, they might get into the mountains and passes,
inaccessible for horse, and be out of danger, and withal he
pointed out the way with his hand, entreating them not to abandon
their preservation, now close before them. But when they mutinied
and clashed their targets in a threatening manner, he was
overpowered and forced to go, and only turning about at parting,
said, "You, Octavius and Petronius, and the rest of the officers
who are present, see the necessity of going which I lie under, and
cannot but be sensible of the indignities and violence offered to
me. Tell all men when you have escaped, that Crassus perished
rather by the subtlety of his enemies, than by the disobedience of
his countrymen."

Octavius, however, would not stay there, but with Petronius went
down from the hill; as for the lictors, Crassus bade them be gone.
The first that met him were two half-blood Greeks, who, leaping
from their horses, made a profound reverence to Crassus, and
desired him, in Greek, to send some before him, who might see that
Surena himself was coming towards them, his retinue disarmed, and
not having so much as their wearing swords along with them. But
Crassus answered, that if he had the least concern for his life,
he would never have entrusted himself in their hands, but sent two
brothers of the name of Roscius, to inquire on what terms, and in
what numbers they should meet. These Surena ordered immediately
to be seized, and himself with his principal officers came up on
horseback, and greetings him, said, "How is this, then? A Roman
commander is on foot, whilst I and my train are mounted." But
Crassus replied, that there was no error committed on either side,
for they both met according to the custom of their own country.
Surena told him that from that time there was a league between the
king his master and the Romans, but that Crassus must go with him
to the river to sign it, "for you Romans," said he, "have not good
memories for conditions," and so saying, reached out his hand to
him. Crassus, therefore, gave order that one of his horses should
be brought; but Surena told him there was no need, "the king, my
master, presents you with this;" and immediately a horse with a
golden bit was brought up to him, and himself was forcibly put
into the saddle by the grooms, who ran by the side and struck the
horse to make the more haste. But Octavius running up, got hold
of the bridle, and soon after one of the officers, Petronius, and
the rest of the company came up, striving to stop the horse, and
pulling back those who on both sides of him forced Crassus
forward. Thus from pulling and thrusting one another, they came
to a tumult, and soon after to blows. Octavius, drawing his
sword, killed a groom of one of the barbarians, and one of them,
getting behind Octavius, killed him. Petronius was not armed, but
being struck on the breastplate, fell down from his horse, though
without hurt. Crassus was killed by a Parthian, called
Pomaxathres; others say, by a different man, and that Pomaxathres
only cut off his head and right hand after he had fallen. But
this is conjecture rather than certain knowledge, for those that
were by had not leisure to observe particulars, and were either
killed fighting about Crassus, or ran off at once to get to their
comrades on the hill. But the Parthians coming up to them, and
saying that Crassus had the punishment he justly deserved, and
that Surena bade the rest come down from the hill without fear,
some of them came down and surrendered themselves, others were
scattered up and down in the night, a very few of whom got safe
home, and others the Arabians, beating through the country, hunted
down and put to death. It is generally said, that in all twenty
thousand men were slain, and ten thousand taken prisoners.

Surena sent the head and hand of Crassus to Hyrodes, the king,
into Armenia, but himself by his messengers scattering a report
that he was bringing Crassus alive to Seleucia, made a ridiculous
procession, which by way of scorn, he called a triumph. For one
Caius Paccianus, who of all the prisoners was most like Crassus,
being put into a woman's dress of the fashion of the barbarians,
and instructed to answer to the title of Crassus and Imperator,
was brought sitting upon his horse, while before him went a parcel
of trumpeters and lictors upon camels. Purses were hung at the
end of the bundles of rods, and the heads of the slain fresh
bleeding at the end of their axes. After them followed the
Seleucian singing women, repeating scurrilous and abusive songs
upon the effeminacy and cowardliness of Crassus. This show was
seen by everybody; but Surena, calling together the senate of
Seleucia, laid before them certain wanton books, of the writings
of Aristides, the Milesian; neither, indeed, was this any
forgery, for they had been found among the baggage of Rustius, and
were a good subject to supply Surena with insulting remarks upon
the Romans, who were not able even in the time of war to forget
such writings and practices. But the people of Seleucia had
reason to commend the wisdom of Aesop's fable of the wallet,
seeing their general Surena carrying a bag full of loose Milesian
stories before him, but keeping behind him a whole Parthian
Sybaris in his many wagons full of concubines; like the vipers and
asps people talk of, all the foremost and more visible parts
fierce and terrible with spears and arrows and horsemen, but the
rear terminating in loose women and castanets, music of the lute,
and midnight revellings. Rustius, indeed, is not to be excused,
but the Parthians had forgot, when they mocked at the Milesian
stories, that many of the royal line of their Arsacidae had been
born of Milesian and Ionian mistresses.

Whilst these things were doing, Hyrodes had struck up a peace with
the king of Armenia, and made a match between his son Pacorus and
the king of Armenia's sister. Their feastings and entertainments
in consequence were very sumptuous, and various Grecian
compositions, suitable to the occasion, were recited before them.
For Hyrodes was not ignorant of the Greek language and literature,
and Artavasdes was so expert in it, that he wrote tragedies and
orations and histories, some of which are still extant. When the
head of Crassus was brought to the door, the tables were just
taken away, and one Jason, a tragic actor, of the town of Tralles,
was singing the scene in the Bacchae of Euripides concerning
Agave. He was receiving much applause, when Sillaces coming to
the room, and having made obeisance to the king, threw down the
head of Crassus into the midst of the company. The Parthians
receiving it with joy and acclamations, Sillaces, by the king's
command, was made to sit down, while Jason handed over the
costume of Pentheus to one of the dancers in the chorus, and
taking up the head of Crassus, and acting the part of a bacchante
in her frenzy, in a rapturous impassioned manner, sang the lyric
passages,

We've hunted down a mighty chase to-day,
And from the mountain bring the noble prey;

to the great delight of all the company; but when the verses of
the dialogue followed,

What happy hand the glorious victim slew?
I claim that honor to my courage due;

Pomaxathres, who happened to be there at the supper, started up
and would have got the head into his own hands, "for it is my
due," said he, "and no man's else." The king was greatly pleased,
and gave presents, according to the custom of the Parthians, to
them, and to Jason, the actor, a talent. Such was the burlesque
that was played, they tell us, as the afterpiece to the tragedy of
Crassus's expedition. But divine justice failed not to punish
both Hyrodes, for his cruelty, and Surena for his perjury; for
Surena not long after was put to death by Hyrodes, out of mere
envy to his glory; and Hyrodes himself, having lost his son
Pacorus, who was beaten in a battle with the Romans, falling into
a disease which turned to a dropsy, had aconite given him by his
second son, Phraates; but the poison working only upon the
disease, and carrying away the dropsical matter with itself, the
king began suddenly to recover, so that Phraates at length was
forced to take the shortest course, and strangled him.