The Internet Classics Archive | Crassus by Plutarch
The First Triumvirate was an informal political alliance of three prominent men between 60 and . Caesar then improved relations between Crassus and Pompey and 'these three most powerful men pooled their interests.' Appian also noted. Crassus by Plutarch, part of the Internet Classics Archive. only for his own profit , and that, on discovering this, Sylla never after trusted him in any public affairs. When somebody was saying Pompey the Great was coming, he smiled, and .. only Cato encouraged Domitius, who was his friend and relation, to proceed. Trusting to rapidity of movement he forwarded money to Faesulae and . The latter thereupon brought Crassus into friendly relations with Pompey. In a public assembly he asked Pompey and Crassus what they thought.
As for the overriding problem of poverty, his contribution to solving it was to settle tens of thousands of his veterans on land confiscated from enemies in Italy; having become landowners, the veterans would be ready to defend the social order, in which they now had a stake, against the dispossessed. At the beginning of 80 Sulla laid down his dictatorship and became merely consul, with the senior Metellus Quintus Metellus Piusa relative of his wife, as his colleague.
The state of emergency was officially ended. At the end of the year, after seeing to the election of two reliable consuls, Sulla retired to Campania as a private citizen; he hoped that the restored oligarchy would learn to govern the state he had handed over to them.
For 78 Marcus Lepidusan ambitious patrician whom Sulla disliked and distrusted, was elected consul. Sulla did not intervene. Within a few months, Sulla was dead. Lepidus at once attacked his system, using the grievances of the expropriated as a rallying cry and his province of Gaul as a base. But he was easily defeated by his former colleague Quintus Catulusassisted by young Gnaeus Pompeius Pompey.
The Roman state in the two decades after Sulla 79—60 bc The early career of Pompey Pompey was the son of Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo, who had triumphed after the Social War but had incurred general hatred because of cold-blooded duplicity during the troubles of 88 and Though not old enough to hold any regular magistracy he was born inhe had, from these military bases, blackmailed Sulla into granting him a triumph 81 and had married into the core of the Sullan oligarchy.
Meanwhile a more serious challenge to the system had arisen in Iberia. Quintus Sertoriusa former praetor of tough Sabine gentry stock, had refused to follow most of his social betters in joining Sulla; instead he had left for Spain, where he claimed to represent the legitimate government.
When the consuls of 77 would have nothing to do with this war, Pompey was entrusted by the Senate, through the efforts of his eminent friends and sponsors, with the task of assisting Metellus. The war dragged on for years, with little glory for the Roman commanders.
Although Sertorius had many sympathizers in Italy, superior numbers and resources finally wore him down, and he was assassinated by a Roman officer.
The death of Nicomedes IV of Bithynia 74 led to another major war. The Eastern command again led to intrigues in Rome. The command finally went to Lucius Lucullusa relative of Sulla and consul in 74, who hoped to build up a countervailing power in the East.
At the same time, Marcus Antonius, father of the later Triumvir, was given a command against the pirates in the eastern Mediterranean whom his father had already fought in —partly, perhaps, as further reinsurance against Pompey.
With Italian manpower heavily committed, a minor slave rising led by Spartacus 73 assumed threatening dimensions, until Marcus Crassus an old Sullan and profiteer in the proscriptions volunteered to accept a special command and defeated the slaves. At this point 71 Pompey returned from Spain with his army, crucified the remnants of the slave army, and claimed credit for the victory.
Pompey and Crassus He and Crassus now confronted each other, each demanding the consulship for 70, though Pompey had held no regular magistracy and was not a senator. Agreeing to join forces, both secured it. During their consulship, the political, though not the administrative, part of the Sullan settlement was repealed.
For future impunity he relied on his aristocratic connections especially the Metelli and their friendshis fortune, and the known corruptibility of the Sullan senatorial juries. But Verres was unlucky. The year 70 thus marked the loss of control by the Sullan establishment. The nobility families descended from consuls continued to gain most of the consulships, with the old patriciate revived by Sulla after a long decline stronger than for generations; the Senate still supervised administration and made ordinary political decisions; the system continued to rely essentially on mos majorum constitutional custom and auctoritas prestige —potent forces in the status society of the Roman Republic.
The solid bases of law and power that Sulla had tried to give it had been surrendered, however. The demagogue—tribune or consul—could use the legal machinery of the popular assembly hence such men are called populareswhile the commander could rely on his army in the pursuit of private ambition.
The situation that Sulla had tried to remedy now recurred, made worse by his intervention. His massacres and proscriptions had weeded out the defenders of lawful government, and his rewards had gone to the timeservers and the unscrupulous.
The large infusion of equites into the Senate had intensified the effect. While eliminating the serious friction between the two classes, which had made the state ungovernable by 91, it had filled the Senate with men whose tradition was the opposite of that sense of mission and public service that had animated the best of the aristocracy.
Few men in the new ruling class saw beyond self-interest and self-indulgence. One result was that massive bribery and civil disorder in the service of ambition became endemic. Laws were repeatedly passed to stop them, but they remained ineffective because few found it in their interest to enforce them.
Exploitation of the provinces did not decrease after Verres: Extortion cases became a political ritual, with convictions impossible to obtain. Cicero, thenceforth usually counsel for the defense, presented hair-raising behaviour as commonplace and claimed it as acceptable. Pompey made Syria into a province and added a large part of Pontus to Bithynia inherited in 74 and occupied in 70 ; the demagogue Clodius annexed Cyprus —driving its king to suicide—to pay for his massive grain distributions in Rome; Caesarfinally, conquered Gaul by open aggression and genocide and bled it white for the benefit of his friends and his ambitions.
Crassus would have done the same with Parthia, had he succeeded. Opposition to all this in the Senate, where it appeared, was based on personal or political antagonism.
If the robber barons were attacked on moral grounds, it was because of the use they made of their power in Rome. Politically, the 60s lay under the shadow of Pompey. Refusing to take an ordinary province in 69, he waited for his chance. It came in 67 when his adherent Gabiniusas tribune, secured him, against the opposition of all important men, an extraordinary command with unprecedented powers to deal with the pirates.
Pompey succeeded within a few months where Antonius and others had failed. Meanwhile Lucullus had driven Mithradates out of Anatolia and into Armenia; but he had offended Roman businessmen by strict control and his own soldiers and officers by strict discipline. Faced with mutinies, he suffered a reverse and became vulnerable to attacks in Rome.
In 66 another tribunician law appointed Pompey, fresh from his naval victories, to take over supreme command in the East, which he did at once, studiously insulting his predecessor. He quickly defeated Mithradates and procured his death, then spent some time in a total reorganization of the East, where Asia the chief source of revenue was protected by three further provinces and a ring of client states beyond the frontier. The whole of the East now stood in his clientela clientshipand most of it owed him money as well.
He returned by far the wealthiest man in Rome. There was much material for revolution, with poverty especially in the country, among families dispossessed by Sulla and debt among both the poor and the dissolute rich providing suitable issues for unscrupulous populares.
Catiline himself fell in a desperate battle. Like his compatriot Marius, he had saved the state for its rulers: Pompey was miffed at having to share his fame with a municipal upstart, and eminent gentlemen could not forgive that upstart for having driven patricians to their death. Like Marius, he wanted recognition, not tyranny. He dismissed his army, to the surprise of Crassus and others, and basked in the glory of his triumph and the honours voted to him.
But having given up power, he found himself caught in a net of constitutional obstruction woven by his politically experienced enemies and was unable to have either of his principal demands met: It was at this point that Caesar returned from Spain. Gaius Julius Caesardescended as he insisted from kings and gods, had shown talent and ambition in his youth: In 63 he won a startling success: Despite some cynicism among Roman aristocrats toward the state religion, its ceremonial was kept up and was a recognized means of political manipulation; thus priesthoods could give more lasting power than magistracies, in addition to the cachet of social success.
Young Caesar was now head of the hierarchy.
After his praetorship 62Caesar successfully governed Spain, clearing a surplus sufficient to pay off his debts. On returning to Rome, he naturally hoped for the consulship of 59; but his enemies, by legal chicaneryforced him to choose between standing for office and celebrating a triumph. He gave up the triumph and easily became consul. The final collapse of the Roman Republic 59—44 bc Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus For his consulship Caesar fashioned an improbable alliance: Pompey got what he wanted, and so did Crassus whose immediate need was a concession to the Asian tax farmers, in whose companies he probably had much of his capital.
Caesar left for Gaul, but Rome was never the same; the shadow of the alliance hung over it, making the old-style politics impossible. Just when he seemed about to succeed, the three dynasts secretly met and revived their compact Rome had to bow once more. In 55 Pompey and Crassus were consuls, and the contents of their secret agreement were slowly revealed. Caesar, whom his enemies had made efforts to recall, was prolonged in his command for five years and it later appeared had been promised another consulship straight after, to secure him against prosecution and give him a chance of another army command.
Pompey was given a special command over all of Spain, which he exercised through deputies while he himself remained just outside Rome to keep an eye on the city. Crassus, who now needed glory and new wealth to equal those of his allies, was to attack Parthia with a large army. Thus the three dynasts would practically monopolize military power for the foreseeable future. Cicero, among others, had to submit and was thenceforth their loyal spokesman. He now used this fact to rationalize his surrender.
His brother took service in Gaul under Caesar. Clodius, as tribune, had created a private army, and there was no state force to counter it. Pompey could have done it by calling his soldiers in, but the Senate did not trust him enough to request this, and Pompey did not wish to parade himself as an unashamed tyrant. Other men formed private armies in opposition to Clodius, and one Milo at last managed to have him killed after a scuffle By then, however, Roman politics had radically and unexpectedly changed.
Political maneuvers Julia died in 54, breaking the ties between Caesar and Pompey. Caesar pressed Pompey to renew them, but Pompey held off, preserving his freedom of action.
By 52 Pompey and Caesar stood face to face, still nominally friends but with no personal link between them and no common interests. Unlike Pompey, he used his wealth to dispense patronage and buy useful friends. At this point Pompey cautiously offered the oligarchy his support. It had much to give him that he wanted—control of the administrative machine, respectability, and the seal of public approval.
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. 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.
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? We have a great many men not unworthy to be fellow-consuls with either the one or the other. 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 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.
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.
The Roman Empire: The Fall of the Roman Republic | Tiberius
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. 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 tonguehighly 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.
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.Rome - From Republic to Empire: Pompey
He did not convene the senate for the rest of his consulship and proposed motions directly to the plebeian council. Cassius Dio thought Caesar proposed the bill as a favour to Pompey and Crassus. When many senators opposed the bill, Caesar pretended to be indignant and rushed out of the senate. Appian noted that Caesar did not convene it again for the rest of the year. Instead, he harangued the people and proposed his bills to the plebeian council.
He also wrote that the allocations concerned land in the plain of Stella a relatively remote area on the eastern Campanian border that had been made public in by-gone days, and other public lands in Campania that had not been allotted but were under lease. Land distribution, which was anathema to conservative aristocrats, was usually proposed by the plebeian tribunes who were often described by Roman writers who were usually aristocrats as base and vile. It was only the most arrogant plebeian tribunes who courted the favour of the multitude and now Caesar did this to support his consular power 'in a disgraceful and humiliating manner'.
Calpurnius Bibulus just said that he would not tolerate any innovations during his year of office. Caesar did not ask any questions to other officials. Instead he brought forward the two most influential men in Rome, Pompey and Crassus, now private citizens, who both declared their support for the law. Caesar asked Pompey if he would help him against the opponents of the law.
Pompey said that he would and Crassus seconded him.
Bibulus, supported by three plebeian tribunes, obstructed the vote. When he ran out of excuses for delaying he declared a sacred period for all the remaining days of the year.
This meant that the people could not legally even meet in their assembly. Caesar ignored him and set a date for the vote. The senate met at the house of Calpurnius Bibulus because it had not been convened, and decided that Bibulus was to oppose the law so that it would look that the senate was overcome by force, rather than its own inaction. On the day of the vote Bibulus forced his way through the crowd with his followers to the temple of Castor where Caesar was making his speech.
When he tried to make a speech he and his followers were pushed down the steps. During the ensuing scuffle, some of the tribunes were wounded. Bibulus defied some men who had daggers, but he was dragged away by his friends.
Cato pushed through the crowd and tried to make a speech, but was lifted up and carried away by Caesar's supporters. He made a second attempt, but nobody listened to him. The next day Calpurnius Bibulus tried unsuccessfully to get the senate, now afraid of the strong popular support for the law, to annul it. Bibulus retired to his home and did not appear in public for the rest of his consulship, instead sending notices declaring that it was a sacred period and that this made votes invalid each time Caesar passed a law.
The plebeian tribunes who sided with the optimates also stopped performing any public duty. The people took the customary oath of obedience to the law. However, on the day when they were to incur the established penalties they took the oath. In Appian's account it is at this point that the Vettius affair occurred. He was arrested and questioned at the senate house. He said that he had been sent by Calpurnius Bibulus, Cicero, and Cato, and that the dagger was given to him by one of the bodyguards of Calpurnius Bibulus.
Caesar took advantage of this to arouse the crowd and postponed further interrogation to the next day.
However, Vettius was killed in prison during the night. Caesar claimed that he was killed by the optimates who did not want to be exposed.
The crowd gave Caesar a bodyguard. According to Appian, it is at this point that Bibulus withdrew from public business and did not go out of his house for the rest of his term of office.
Caesar, who ran public affairs on his own, did not make any further investigations into this affair. He did not say when this happened and did not give any details about the actual event. He wrote that Vettius accused these two men and Calpurnius Bibulus.
However, Bibulus had revealed the plan to Pompey, which undermined Vettius' credibility. There were suspicions that he was lying about Cicero and Lucullus as well and that this was a ploy by Caesar and Pompey to discredit the optimates.
There were various theories, but nothing was proven. After naming the mentioned men in public, Vettius was sent to prison and was murdered a little later. Caesar and Pompey suspected Cicero and their suspicions were confirmed by his defence of Gaius Antonius Hybrida in a trial.
Plutarch did not indicate when the incident happened either. In his version it was a ploy by the supporters of Pompey, who claimed that Vettius was plotting to kill Pompey. When questioned in the senate he accused several people, but when he spoke in front of the people, he said that Licinius Lucullus was the one who arranged the plot. No one believed him and it was clear that the supporters of Pompey got him to make false accusations.
The deceit became even more obvious when he was battered to death a few days later. The opinion was that he was killed by those who had hired him.
Vettius, an informer, claimed that he had told Curio Junior that he had decided to use his slaves to assassinate Pompey. Curio told his father Gaius Scribonius Curiowho in turn told Pompey. When questioned in the senate he said that there was a group of conspiratorial young men led by Curio.
The secretary of Calpurnius Bibulus gave him a dagger from Bibulus.
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He was to attack Pompey at the forum at some gladiatorial games and the ringleader for this was Aemilius Paullus. However, Aemilius Paullus was in Greece at the time. He also said that he had warned Pompey about the danger of plots. Vettius was arrested for confessing to possession of a dagger. The next day Caesar brought him to the rosta a platform for public speecheswhere Vettius did not mention Curio, implicating other men instead.
Cicero thought that Vettius had been briefed on what to say during the night, given that the men he mentioned had not previously been under suspicion. Cicero noted that it was thought that this was a setup and that the plan had been to catch Vettius in the forum with a dagger and his slaves with weapons, and that he was then to give information.
He also thought that this had been masterminded by Caesar, who got Vettius to get close to Curio. Fearing that Pompey might take charge in Rome while Caesar was away for his governorships see belowCaesar tied Pompey to himself by marrying him to his daughter Julia even though she was betrothed to another man.
He also married the daughter of Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninusone for the consuls elected for the next year 58 BC. Appian wrote that Cato said that Rome had become a mere matrimonial agency. These marriages were also mentioned by Plutarch and Suetonius.
The first was designed to relieve the publicani from a third of their debt to the treasury see previous section for details about the publicani. Cassius Dio noted that the equites often had asked for a relief measure to no avail because of opposition by the senate and, in particular, by Cato. Caesar's influence eclipsed that of Calpurnius Bibulus, with some people suppressing the latter's name in speaking or writing and stating that the consuls were Gaius Caesar and Julius Caesar.
The plebeian council granted him the governorship of Illyricum and Cisalpine Gaul with three legions for five years. The senate granted him the governorship of Transalpine Gaul and another legion when the governor of that province died because it feared that if it refused this the people would also grant this to Caesar.
Caesar believed that Clodius owed him a favour in return for not testifying against him when he was tried for sacrilege three years earlier see above.
In another passage Cassius Dio wrote that after the trial Clodius hated the optimates. As mentioned in the previous section, Plutarch wrote that Pompey had already allied with Clodius when his attempt to have the acts for his settlements in the east failed before the creation of the triumvirate. However, Clodius was a patrician and the plebeian tribunate was exclusively for plebeians. Therefore, he needed to be transferred to the plebeian order transitio ad plebem by being adopted into a plebeian family.
In some letters written in 62 BC, the year after Clodius's trial, Cicero wrote that Herrenius, a plebeian tribune, made frequent proposals to the plebeian council to transfer Clodius to the plebs, but he was vetoed by many of his colleagues.
He also proposed a law to the plebeian council to authorise the comitia centuriata the assembly of the soldiers to vote on the matter. The consul Quintus Metellus Celer proposed an identical bill to the comitia centuriata. The whole senate rejected it. However, he was not elected due to the opposition of Metellus Celer, who argued that his transitio ad plebem was not done according to the lex curiata, which provided that adrogatio should be performed in the comitia curiata.
Cassius Dio wrote that this ended the episode. During his consulship Caesar effected this transitio ad plebem and had him elected as plebeian tribune with the cooperation of Pompey. Clodius silenced Calpurnius Bibulus when he wanted to make a speech on the last day of his consulship in 59 BC and also attacked Cicero.
One re-established the legitimacy of the collegia ; one made the state-funded grain dole for the poor completely free for the first time previously it was at subsidised prices ; one limited the remit of bans on the gatherings of the popular assemblies; and one limited the power of the censors to censor citizens who had not been previously tried and convicted.
Cassius Dio thought that the aim of these laws was to gain the favour of the people, the equites and the senate before moving to crush the influential Cicero. Then he proposed a law that banned officials from performing augury the divination of the omens of the gods on the day of the vote by the popular assemblies, with the aim of preventing votes from being delayed.
Officials often announced that they would perform augury on the day of the vote because during this voting was not allowed and this forced its postponement. In Cassius Dio's opinion, Clodius wanted to bring Cicero to trial and did not want the voting for the verdict delayed. The latter, fearing that this could result in disturbances and delays, outwitted them by deceit, agreeing with Cicero not to bring an indictment against him.
However, when these two men lowered their guard, Clodius proposed a bill to outlaw those who would or had executed any citizen without trial. This brought within its scope the whole of the senate, which had decreed the executions during the Catilinarian conspiracy of 63 BC see above. Of course, the actual target was Cicero, who had received most of the blame because he had proposed the motion and had ordered the executions. Cicero strenuously opposed the bill. He also sought the support of Pompey and Caesar, who were secretly supporting Clodius, a fact they went to some pains to conceal from Cicero.
Caesar advised Cicero to leave Rome because his life was in danger and offered him a post as one of his lieutenants in Gaul so that his departure would not be dishonourable. Pompey advised him that to leave would be an act of desertion and that he should remain in Rome, defend himself and challenge Clodius, who would be rendered ineffective in the face of Pompey and Cicero's combined opposition.
He also said that Caesar was giving him bad advice out of enmity. Pompey and Caesar presented opposite views on purpose to deceive Cicero and allay any suspicions. Cicero attached himself to Pompey, and also thought that he could count on the consuls. They assembled on the Capitol and sent envoys to the consuls and the senate on his behalf. Lucius Ninnius tried to rally popular support, but Clodius prevented him from taking any action.
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Aulus Gabinius barred the equites from accessing the senate, drove one of the more persistent out of the city, and rebuked Quintus Hortensius and Gaius Curio.
Calpurnius Piso advised Cicero that leaving Rome was the only way for him to be safe, at which Cicero took offence. Caesar condemned the illegality of the action taken in 63 BC, but did not approve the punishment proposed by the law because it was not fitting for any law to deal with past events.
Crassus had shown some support through his son, but he sided with the people. Pompey promised help, but he kept making excuses and taking trips out of Rome.
Cicero, unnerved by the situation, considered resorting to arms and slighted Pompey openly. However, he was stopped by Cato and Hortensius, who feared a civil war.
Cicero then left for Sicilywhere he had been a governor, hoping to find sympathy there. On that day the law was passed without opposition, being supported even by people who had actively helped Cicero. His property was confiscated and his house was demolished. Then Clodius carried a law that banned Cicero from a radius of miles from Rome and provided that both he and those who harboured him could be killed with impunity. As a result of this, he went to Greece.
When Pompey and Aulus Gabinius remonstrated, he insulted them and came into conflict with their followers. Pompey was annoyed because the authority of the plebeian tribunes, which he had restored in 70 BC see above was now being used against him by Clodius.
Pompey left and did not return to the forum while Clodius was a tribune Plutarch must have meant except for public business as Pompey did attend sessions of the senate and the plebeian council, which were held in the northern area of the forum. He stayed at home and conferred about how to appease the senate and the nobility. He was urged to divorce Julia and switch allegiance from Caesar to the senate. He rejected this proposal, but agreed with ending Cicero's exile.
So, he escorted Cicero's brother to the forum with a large escort to lodge the recall petition. There was another violent clash with casualties, but Pompey got the better of it. Titus Annius Miloanother plebeian tribune, presented the measure to the plebeian council and Publius Cornelius Lentulus Spintherone of the consuls for 57 BC, provided support in the senate partly as a favour to Pompey and partly because of his enmity towards Clodius.
Clodius was supported by his brother Appius Claudius, who was a praetor, and the other consul, Quintus Caecilius Metellus Nepos who had opposed Cicero six years earlier see above. Pro-Cicero and pro-Clodius factions developed, leading to violence between the two. On the day of the vote, Clodius attacked the assembled people with gladiators, resulting in casualties, and the bill was not passed. Milo indicted the fearsome Clodius for the violence, but Metellus Nepos prevented this.
Milo started using gladiators, too, and there was bloodshed around the city.