Copyright
Plutarch.

Plutarch's Lives (Volume 3) online

. (page 18 of 38)
Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's Lives (Volume 3) → online text (page 18 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the time ; so that his kindness was often thought worse
than the paying the interest would have been. His enter-
tainments were, for the most part, plain and citizenlike, the
company general and popular; good taste and kindness
made them pleasanter than sumptuosity would have done.
As for learning, he chiefly cared for rhetoric, and what
would be serviceable with large numbers ; he became one
of the best speakers at Rome, and by his pains and indus-
try outdid the best natural orators. For there was no trial
how mean and contemptible soever that he came to unpre'
pared ; nay, several times he undertook and concluded a
cause, when Pompey and Csesar and Cicero refused to stand
up, upon which account particularly he got the love of the
people, who looked upon him as a diligent and careful man,
ready to help and succor his fellow-citizens. Besides, the
people were pleased with his courteous and unpretending
salutations and greetings, for he never met any citizen
however humble and low, but he returned him his salute
by name. He was looked upon as a man well-read in
history, and pretty well versed in Aristotle's philosophy, in
which one Alexander instructed him, a man whose inter
course with Crassus gave a sufficient proof of his good
oature and gentle disposition ; for it is hard to say whet h CM



CRA88V9.

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 under-
standing 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 Spam, 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 com-
manded and that he would kill him if he intermeddled. The
cave is not far from the sea ; a small and insignificant look-
ing 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



208 PLUTAKCH'B LIVES.

lack either water or light, for a very pleasant and whole
some spring runs at the foot of the cliffs, and natural
chinks, in the most advantageous place, let in the light al?
day long, and the thickness of the rock makes the air with-
in 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 any.
thing of the matter, though they within saw, and expected
him at the customary times. Neither was their entertain-
ment 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 in-
structed, answered, they came to wait upon their master,
w'lo 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. Fenes-
tella 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 whs



CRA88US. 209

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 upoa
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 honor which he seldom
showed to older men and his own equals, and always saluted
him Imperator. This fired and stung Crassus, though, indeed,
he could not with any fairness claim to be preferred ; for he
both wanted experience, and his two innate vices, sordidness
and avarice, tarnished all the lustre of his actions. For
when he had taken Tudertia, a town of the Umbrians, ha
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, where Sylla was worsted,
some of his battalions giving ground, and others being quite
broken, Crassus got the victory on the right wing, which
lie commanded, and pursued the enemy till night, and theo
U



210 PLUTARCH 1 S LIVES.

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. Kay, 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 un-
dertakings ; that he had had a triumph before he was capa-
ble 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 kind-
nesses, pleading, lending money, by speaking and canvass-
ing among the people for those who had objects to obtain
from them, he gradually gained as great honor and power
as Pompey had from his many famous expeditions. And it
was a curious thing in their rivalry, that Pompey's name
and 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,



CRASSU& 211

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 im-
placable enemy, and easily abandoned both his attachments
and his animosities, as he found it for his advantage, so
that in short spaces of time, the same men and the same
measures had him both as their supporter and as their
opponent. He was much liked, but was feared as much or
even more. At any rate, when Sicinius, who was the
greatest troubler of the magistrates and ministers of his
time, was asked how it was he let Crassus alone, " Oh,"
said he, "he carries hay on his horns," alluding to the
custom of tying hay to the horns of a bull that used to
butt, that people might keep out of his way.

The insurrection of the gladiators and the devastation ot
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 Thra-



213 PLUTAtlCWS LIVES.

cians, who, not for any fault by them committed, but simpty
through the cruelty of their master, were kept in confine-
ment for this object of fighting one with another. Two
hundred of these formed a plan to escape, but being dis-
covered, 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 condi-
tion, 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
dishonorable. Afterwards Clodius, the prsetor, took the
command against them with a body of three thousand men
from Rome, and besieged them within a mountain, ac-
cessible 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 thenca
to the bottom, by which, without any danger, they got
down all but one, who stayed there to throw them down



CBASSUS 213

their arms, and after this succeeded in saving himself
The Romans were ignorant of all this, and, therefore, com-
ing 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, re-
volted 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 dif-
ficulty 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 prsetor himself, in one of which he took his lictors and his
own horse, he began to be great and terrible ; but wisely con-
sidering 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 suc-
cess, 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,



[4 PLUTARCW8 LIVES,

who was prsetor of that part of Gaul that lies about the Pa,
met him with ten thousand men, but being overcome in
battle, he had much ado to escape himself, with the loss of
a great many of his men.

When the senate understood this, they were displeased
at the consuls, and ordering them to meddle no further,
they appointed Crassus general of the war, and a great
many of the nobility went volunteers with him, partly out
of friendship, and partly to get honor. He stayed himself
on the borders of Picenum, expecting Spartacus would
come that way, and sent his lieutenant, Mummius, with
two legions, to wheel about and observe the enemy's
motions, but upon no account to engage or skirmish.
But he, upon the first opportunity, joined battle, and was
routed, having a great many of his men slain, and a great
many only saving their lives with the loss of their arms.
Crassus rebuked Mummius severely, and arming the sol-
diers 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 hia
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,



CRAS8U8.

and considering the nature of the place, which of itaelf
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 ex-
pectation, 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 wonder-
fully 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
honor of the action would redound to him that came to his
assistance. Resolving, therefore, first to set upon those
that had mutinied and encamped apart, whom Caius Can-
nicius 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



216 PLUTARCH'S LIVES.

battle which proved a most bloody one. Of twelve thou-
sand three hundred whom he killed, two only were found
wounded in their backs, the rest all having died standing in
their ranks and righting bravely. Spartacus, after this dis-
comfiture, retired to the mountains of Petelia, but v^uintms^
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 Poinpey was at hand ; and people
began to talk openly, that the honor of this war was re-
served to him, who would come and at once oblige the
enemy to fight and put an end to the war. Crassus, there-
fore, eager to fight a decisive battle, encamped very near the
enemy, and began to make lines of circumvallation ; but the
slaves make 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
Poinpey had much, of the credit 01 the action. For he mat



CRASSUS. 217

with many of the fugitives, and slew them, and wrote to the
senate that Crassus indeed had vanquished the slaves in
a pitched battle, but that he had put an end to the war.
Pompey was honored with a magnificent triumph for his
conquest over Sertorius and Spain, while Crassus could not
himself so much as desire a triumph in its full form, and
indeed it was thought to look but meanly in him to accept
. of the lesser honor, called the ovation, for a servile war, and
perform a procession on foot. The difference between this
and the other, and the origin of the name, are explained in
the life of Marcellus.

And Pompey being immediately invited to the consul-
ship, 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 fco
the people, that he should be not less beholden to them for
his colleague, than for the honor of his own appointment.
But once entered upon the employment, this amity continued
not long ; but differing almost in everything, disagreeing,
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, ad-
dressing 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, " apppeared 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 Cras-
sua, first offering him his hand, said, " I cannot think, my



218 PLUTAECWS LIVE&

countrymen, that I do anything humiliating or unworthj
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 v
for he neither made a scrutiny of the senate, nor took a re-
view of the horsemen, nor a census of the people, tnough
he had as mild a man as could be desired for his colleague,



Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's Lives (Volume 3) → online text (page 18 of 38)