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By Plutarch

(legendary, died 53 B.C.E.)

Translated by John Dryden

Marcus CRASSUS, whose father had borne the office of a censor, and
received the honour 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 neighbourhood, 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 labourers 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 persons, 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 citizen-like, 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
succour 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 travelling,
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 seashore, 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 to 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 that 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
good-will 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
despatched 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 honour 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 spoils to his own use, for which
he was complained of to Sylla. But in the last and greatest battle
before Rome itself when 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 honour and
power as Pompey had from his many famous expeditions. And it was a
curious thing in their rivalry, that Pompey's name and interests 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 interests 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
mingled 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 hot-headed 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 the 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 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 gladiators' 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 countrywoman, 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 dishonourable. 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 herdsmen 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 the 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 honour. 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 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 encamped 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
honour 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 the march, they came to them with their swords
in their hands, 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 honour of this war was reserved to 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, but
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 honoured 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 honour, 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 honour of his own appointment. But once entered upon the employment,
this amity continued not long; but differing almost in everything,
disagreeing, quarrelling, 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 anything 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 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 torch-bearer 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 change, for the people were desirous
that Pompey should 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

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 the 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 valour, 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, "Hair 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 them; their
men-at-arms were so provided that their weapons would cut through
anything, and their armour 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 unfavourable. 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
suit, 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 splendour
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 travelled
privately, he had one thousand camels to carry his baggage, two hundred
chariots for his concubines, one thousand completely armed men for
life-guards, and a great many more light-armed; and he had at least
ten thousand horsemen altogether, of his servants and retinue. The
honour 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 succours, 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 drouth 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 armour
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 clamour. 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 armour, 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 dishonour 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 endeavour
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 around
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 a 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 a 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 armour, 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 drouth, 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 defence 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 armour-bearer, and commanded him to run him through.
It is said 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 succours. 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 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 despatched;
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, every one 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
have 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 turning 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 dislodgment 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 was 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 demanded 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
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
at 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 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 general 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
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 intrusted
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 greeting 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,
his Milesiaca; 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 mend 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 honour 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. 



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Translation of "The Deeds of the Divine Augustus" by Augustus is
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