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THE

LIFE OF MARCUS CRASSUS.

SUMMARY.

Crassus' birth, education, wealth, and avarice. His calcu lation of his property. He keeps open house: cultivates oratory. His obliging manner. Marius and Cinna put his brother to death. He escapes into Spain; and is very kindly received by Vibius. He forms an intimate union with Sylla, and renders him several services. His mode of enriching himself. He gives security for Cæsar to a great amount, and preserves his credit with both that general and Pompey. Beginning of the war with Spartacus. Clodius defeated. Spartacus gains several advantages over the Roman generals sent against him. Crassus appointed to oppose him: his lieutenant, Mummius, worsted. Crassus encloses Spartacus in the peninsula of Rhegium; and defeats him. Spartacus beats a detachment of his army, but is again defeated, and slain. Crassus elected consul with Pompey, and afterward censor, does nothing memorable in either of those magistracies: is suspected of having been privy to Catiline's conspiracy, and enters into a fatal league with Cæsar and Pompey against the republic. Their project. Pompey and Crassus again sue for the consulship; and carry their election by violence. Crassus' extravagant and puerile anticipations. Ateius fruitlessly endeavours to turn him from his Parthian enterprise. He sets out on his expedition: his first successes. He discovers his avarice in Syria; and receives there an embassy from the Parthian

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king; but in spite of alarming accounts of the enemy, and inauspicious omens at his sacrifices, persists in his undertaking. Treacherous advice of Ariamnes. High character of Surena. Message of Artavasdes to Crassus. He draws up his army in line of battle. Engagement. Parthian mode of fighting. Crassus despatches his son to chase the enemy: he is killed, and his detachment cut in pieces. Address of Crassus to his army. Night separates the combatants. Crassus' consternation. The Romans retreat to Carræ. One of his lieutenants defeated by the Parthians. Surena's stratagem to discover whether or not Crassus was in Carræ. Crassus betrayed by Andromachus, whom he had chosen as guide in his flight. Surena invites him to an interview, which he is constrained by his troops to grant. He is assassinated; and his army almost entirely destroyed. His head and hand sent to Orodes. His death finally avenged by Divine Justice.

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MARCUS CRASSUS, whose father had borne the office of censor and been honoured with a triumph, was brought up in a small house with his two brothers; both of whom married while their parents were living, and all ate at the same table. This, we may suppose, contributed not a little to render him sober and moderate in his diet. Upon the death of one of his brothers, he took the widow into his house, and had children by her'. With respect to women, there was not a man in Rome more regular in his conduct, though, when somewhat advanced in years, he was suspected of a criminal commerce with one of the vestal virgins named Licinia. For this, Licinia was impeached by one Plotinus. The vestal (it seems) had a beautiful coun

1 Upon the subject of incestuous marriages, under the old and new civil law of Rome, M. Ricard has a long and learned note; but it may be sufficient in this place to remark that these, as far as affinity was concerned, only occurred when that affinity was in a direct line, between parents and their step-children or children-in-law. Collaterally, with brothers' or sisters' relicts, &c. they were anciently lawful, especially if there were no children by the preceding connexion. See Cic. pro P. Quint, 6.

try-house, which Crassus wishing to purchase at am under-price, paid his court to the lady with great assiduity, and thence incurred that suspicion. His judges, knowing that avarice was at the bottom of the affair, acquitted him of the charge of having corrupted the vestal; and he never let her rest, till she had sold him her house.

The Romans say, Crassus had only that single vice of avarice, which cast a shade over his many virtues. He appeared indeed to have but one bad quality, because it was so much more powerful than the rest, that it quite obscured them. His love of money was most evident from the size of his estate, and his manner of raising it. At first, it did not exceed three hundred talents. But during his public employments, after he had consecrated the tenth of his substance to Hercules, given an entertainment to the people and a supply of bread-corn to each citizen for three months, he found upon an exact computation that he was master of seven thousand one hundred talents. The greatest part of this fortune, if we may declare the truth to his extreme disgrace, was gleaned from war and from fires; for he made a traffic of the public calamities. When Sylla

had taken Rome, and sold the estates of those whom he had put to death, which he both accounted and denominated the spoils of his enemies, he was desirous to involve all persons of consequence in his crime, and he found in Crassus a man who refused no kind of gift or purchase.

Crassus observed likewise, how liable the city was to fires, and how frequently houses fell down; which misfortunes were owing to the weight of the buildings, and their standing so close together. In consequence of this, he provided himself with slaves who were carpenters and masons, and continued to collect them till he had upward of five hundred. He then made it his business to buy houses that were on fire, and others that joined upon them; and he commonly got them at a low price, on account of the fear and distress of the

2 The streets were narrow and crooked, and the houses chiefly of wood after the Gauls had burned the city.

owners about the event. Hence, he gradually became master of great part of Rome. But, though he had so many workmen, he built no more for himself than the single house, in which he lived. For he used to say, "Those who love building will soon ruin themselves, and need no other enemies."

Though he had several silver-mines and lands of high value, as well as labourers who turned them to the best advantage, yet it may be truly asserted, that his revenue from these sources was nothing in comparison with what he derived from his slaves. Such a number he had of them, and all serviceable as readers, amanuenses, book-keepers, stewards, or cooks. He himself attended to their education, and often gave them lessons; esteeming it a principal part of the business of a master to inspect and take care of his servants, whom he considered as the living instruments of economy. In this he was certainly right, if he thought (as he often said) that other matters should be managed by servants, but servants by masters. Economics, indeed, so far as they regard only inanimate things, serve merely the low purposes of gain; but, where they regard human beings, they rise higher, and form a considerable branch of politics. He was wrong however in saying, that "no man ought to be esteemed rich, who could not with his own revenue maintain an army.” For, as Archidamus observes, it never can be calculated what such a monster as war will devour; nor, consequently, can it be determined what fortune is sufficient for its demands. Very different, in this respect, were the sentiments of Crassus from those of Marius. When the latter had made a distribution of lands among his soldiers, at the rate of fourteen acres a man, and found that they wished for more, he said; "I hope no Roman will ever think that portion of land too little, which is sufficient to maintain him."

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It must be acknowledged, that Crassus behaved in a generous manner to strangers; to them his house stood always open. To which we may add, that he used to end money to his friends without interest. Nevertheless, his rigour in demanding it, the very day on

which it became due, often made the apparent favour a greater inconvenience than the paying of interest would have been. As to his invitations, they were most of them to the commonalty and the vulgar; and though there was a simplicity in the provision, yet there was a neatness and an unceremonious welcome, which made it more agreeable than grander banquets.

With regard to his studies, he cultivated oratory, most particularly that of the bar, for the sake of serving his clients. And, though he might be reckoned equal upon the whole to the first-rate speakers, yet by his care and application he exceeded those, whom nature had more highly favoured. For there was not a cause, ́ however unimportant, to which he did not come prepared. Besides, when Pompey and Cæsar and Cicero refused to speak, he often rose, and finished the argument in favour of the defendant. This his promptitude to assist any unfortunate citizen was a very popular thing. And his obliging manner, in his common address, had an equal charm. There was not a Roman, however mean and insignificant, whom he did not salute, or whose salutation he did not return by name.

His knowledge of history is also said to have been extensive, and he was not without a taste of Aristotle's philosophy. In the latter branch he was assisted by a philosopher, named Alexander 3; a man who, during his acquaintance with Crassus, gave the most glorious proofs of his disinterested and mild disposition. For it is not easy to say, whether his poverty was greater when he entered, or when he left his house. He was the only friend, that Crassus would take with him into the country; upon which occasions he would lend him a cloke for the journey, and demand it again when he returned to Rome. Wonderful indeed was that man's patience; particularly, if we consider, that the philosophy which he professed did not look upon poverty as a thing indifferent. But this was a later circumstance in Crassus' life.

3 Xylander conjectures this might be Alexander the Milesian, who is also called Polyhistor and Cornelius, and who is said to have flourished in the times of Sylla.

4 The philosophy of Aristotle, as well as that of Plato, reckoned riches among real blessings, and looked upon them as conducive to virtue.

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