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Lutatius Catulus. It is said, indeed, that when Crassua
intended a violent and unjust measure, which was the re-
ducing 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 no-
body 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 de-
clares that Crassus came to him by night, and brought a
letter concerning Catiline, stating the details of the con-
spiracy. 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 fol-
lower of Cicero, insomuch that he put himself into mourn-
ing 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
wdthout the help of one of them; he therefore made it his



CRASSUS, 21*

business to reconcile them, making it appear that by weaken-
ing 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 com-
mand 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 immod-
erate desire of ruling, but Crassus, adding to his old disease
of covetousness, a new passion after trophies and triumphs,
emulous of Ceesar'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 Csesar came out of Gaul to Lucca,
a great many went thither from Rome to meet him. Pom
pey 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, Csesar to keep his army, and Pom-
pey 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
Csesar 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 pres-
ently suspected, and a report was soon spread that tlw*



220 PLUTARCITS LIVES.

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 per-
sist, as though he was now defending the public liberty,
as these men, he said, did not so much aim at the consul-
ate 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 con-
suls. Not long after, they surrounded the house with
armed men, thrust Cato out of the forum, killed some that
made resistance, and decreed Csesar his command for five
years longer, and provinces for themselves, Syria, and both



CRASSU8. 2211

the Spains, which being divided by lots, Syria fell to Cras-
sus, and the Spains to Pompey.

All were well pleased with the change, for the people
were desirous that Pompey should not go far from the city,
and he, being extremely fond of his wife, was very glad to
continue there ; but Crassus was so transported with his
fortune, that it was manifest he thought he had never had
such good-luck befall him as now, so that he had much to
do to contain himself before company and strangers ; but
amongst his private friends he let fall many vain and
childish words, which were unworthy of his age, and con-
trary to his usual character, for he had been very little
giv&i to boasting hitherto. But then being strangely
puffed up, and his head heated, he would not limit his fort-
une 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 inter-
fere 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 pro-
ceed, and then commanded his attendant officer to seize
him and detain him ; but the other tribunes not permitting



2^2 FLUTARCWS

it, the officer released Crassus. Ateius, therefore, running
to the gate, wheii Crassus was come thither, set down a
chafing-dish with lighted fire in it, and burning incense
and pouring lihations on it, cursed him with dreadful im-
precations, 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 utter er himself
seldom prospers ; so that they are not often made use of,
and but upon a great occasion. And Ateius was blamed
at the time for resorting to them, as the city itself, in
whose cause he used them, would be the first to feel the ill
effects of these curses and supernatural terrors.

Crassus arrived at Brundusium, and though the sea was
very rough, he had not patience to wait, but went on board,
and lost many of his ships. With the remnant of his army
he marched rapidly through Galatia, where meeting with
king Deiotarus, who, though he was very old, was about
building a new city, Crassus scoffingly told him, "Your
majesty begins to build at the twelfth hour." " Neither do
you," said he, " O general, undertake your Parthian ex-
pedition 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 Meso-
potamia, 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 per-
mitted 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
torse in the new conquests, he returned to take up hi*



CBASSU&

winter quarters in Syria, where his son was to meet him
coming from Caesar out of Gaul, decorated with rewards
for his valor, and bringing with him one thousand select
horse. Here Crassus seemed to commit his first error, and
except, indeed, the whole expedition, his greatest ; for,
whei'eas he ought to have gone forward and seized Babylon
and Seleucia, cities that were ever at enmity with the Par*
thians, 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 ot
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, ambas-
sadors 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. Cras-
sus 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



224 PLUTAECH'S LIVES,

grow here before you will see ft^leucia ; n 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 seein greater thai) really it was.
By flight it was impossible to escape them, and as impos-
sible to overtake them when they Aed, and they had a new
and strange sort of darts, as swif6 as sight, for they pierced
whatever they met with, before you could see who threw
them ; their men at arms we 'e so provided that their
weapons would cut through anything, and their armor
give way to nothing. All which when the soldiers
heard, their hearts failed them ; for till now they thought
there was no difference between the Parthians and the Ar-
menians 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 ex-
pectation ; accordingly, some of the officers advised Crassus
to proceed no further at present, but reconsider the whole
enterprise, amongst whom in particular was Cassius, the
quaestor. The soothsayers, also, told him privately the
signs found in the sacrifices were continually adverse and
unfavorable. But he paid no heed to them, or to anybody
who gave any other advice than to proceed. Nor did Arta-
bazes, 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
gupply Ms army with abundant provision, which he woulv?



CRASSUS. 225

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 re*
turned him but cold thanks for his readiness to serve him,
and for the splendor of his assistance, arid told him he was
resjlved to pass through Mesopotamia, where he had left
a great many brave Roman soldiers ; whereupon the Ar-
menian 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 back-
ward ; 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 re-
turn ; " and whereas he ought, when he had perceived his
Hunder, to have corrected himself, and explained his mean-
ing, 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
slipt out of his hand, and when he saw the standers-by con-
cerned 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 le-
g-ions, little less than four thousand horse, and as many
light-armed soldiers, and the scouts returning declared that



226 PL UTA ECH'S L1VE&

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 sup-
plied by the boats, which might always accompany the
army, and the river would secure them from being envi-
roned, and, if they should fight, it might be upon equal
terms.

While Crassus was still considering, and as yet undeter-
mined, there came to the camp an Arab chief named Ariara-
jies, 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 possi-
ble from the river and hills into the wide open plain, where
he might be surrounded. For the Parthians desired any-
thing 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



CRASSUS. 227

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 de-
spise 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 tha
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, ona
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 honor had long belonged to his family, that at th^
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 hi& 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 Ari-
amnes 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



228 PL UTARCH ' 8 LIVES.

this to be seen ; so that they were not only spent with
thirst, and the difficulty of the passage, but were dismayed
with the uncomfortable prospect of not a bough, not a
stream, not a hillock, not a green herb, but in fact a sea of
sand, which encompassed the army with its waves. They
began to suspect some treachery, and at the same time
came messengers from Artavasdes, that he was fiercely
attacked by Hyrodes, who had invaded his country, so
that now it was impossible for him to send any succors,
and that he therefore advised Crassus to turn back,
and with joint forces to give Hyrodes battle, or at least
that he should march and encamp where horses could
not easily come, and keep to the mountains. Crassus, out
of anger and perverseness, wrote him no answer, but told
them, at present he was not at leisure to mind the
Armenians, but he would call upon them another time, and
revenge himself upon Artavasdes for his treachery. Gas-
sius 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 littJe further, and ran about the oamp, and,
professing to cheer up the soldiers, asked them, jokingly,
" What, do you think you march through Campania, expect-
ing every wheve to find springs, and shady trees, and baths,
and inns of entertainment? Consider you now travel
through tbe 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



CRASSUS. 229

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 desti-
tute 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 grate-
ful 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 if



230 PLUTARCH'S LIVES.

to eat and drink as they stood in their ranks, and before
they had all well done, he led them on, not leisurely and
with halts to take breath, as if he was going to battle, but
kept on his pace as if he had been in haste, till they saw
the enemy, contrary to their expectation, neither so many
nor so magnificently armed as the Romans expected. For
Surena had hid his main force behind the first ranks, and
ordered them to hide the glittering of their armor with
coats and skins. But when they approached and the gen-
eral gave the signal, immediately all the field rung with
a hideous noise and terrible clamor. For the Parthians



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