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Publius is young Crassus. If there is any apparent confusion between
the father and son, it will be removed by reading carefully. I have
chosen to translate Plutarch, not to mend him.]

[Footnote 76: The reading of this passage in Appian (_Parthica_, c.
29) is [Greek: telmasin entuchontes] τέλμασιν ἐντυχόντες, which
Sintenis has adopted. The common reading is [Greek: suntagmasin
entuchontes] συντάγμασιν ἐντυχόντες, which various critics variously

[Footnote 77: In the old Latin translation of Guarini, the name Cn.
Plancus occurs in place of Megabacchus. Kaltwasser conjectures that
Megabacchus was a Greek, but the context implies that he was a Roman.
Orelli (_Onomastic._ C. Megaboccus) takes him to be the person
mentioned by Cicero (_Ad Attic._ ii. 7), which Gronovius had already
observed, and again by Cicero, _Pro Scauro_, c. 2.]

[Footnote 78: Censorinus was a cognomen of the Marcia Gens, and
several of the name are mentioned in the history of Rome; but this
Censorinus does not appear to be otherwise known.]

[Footnote 79: Carrhæ was a Mesopotamian town, south of Orfa or Edessa,
and about 37° N. lat. It is supposed to be the Haran of Genesis (xi.

[Footnote 80: Ichnæ was a town on the Bilecha, south of Carrhæ. Dion
Cassias (40. c. 12) calls it Ichniæ, and adds that Crassus before
taking Nikephorium had been defeated by Talymenus Eilakes. Eilakes is
probably a blunder in the copies of Dion; and it is conjectured that
he is the Sillakes mentioned by Plutarch (c. 21), Appian, and Orosius
(vi. 3).]

[Footnote 81: The death of young Crassus, and the subsequent
misfortunes of the Romans, are described by Dion Cassius, 40. c. 21,

[Footnote 82: Or Egnatius. He is called Gnatius by Appian.]

[Footnote 83: Cassius escaped to Syria, which he successfully defended
against the invading Parthians, who lost their commander, Osakes.
(Dion Cassius. 40. c. 28, 29; Cicero, _Ad Attic._ v. 20; Orosius, vi.

Cicero was proconsul of Cilicia during the Parthian invasion of Syria
B.C. 51.]

[Footnote 84: Sinnaca is mentioned by Strabo p. 747, but he says
nothing which enables us to fix its position. If Plutarch's narrative
is correct; it was not far from Carrhæ; and Carrhæ was considered by
the Romans to be the scene of the death of Crassus, probably because
it was the nearest known place to the spot where he fell.]

[Footnote 85: 'The river' is the Euphrates.]

[Footnote 86: The stories about the death of Crassus varied, as we
might suppose. Dion Cassius (40. c. 27) remarks that, according to one
version of the story, Crassus was badly wounded, and was killed by one
of his own people to prevent him from being taken alive. He adds that
the chief part of the army of Crassus made their escape.]

[Footnote 87: The story of molten gold being poured into the mouth of
the head of Crassus is given by Dion Cassius as a report. Floras (iii.
11) has the same story; and he says that it was the right hand of
Crassus which was sent to the king, as we might conjecture it would
be, if only one was sent.]

[Footnote 88: Kaltwasser asks, "Was this perchance intended as an
allusion to the avarice of Crassus, as the female dress was intended
to refer to his cowardice?" The probable answer is Yes.]

[Footnote 89: As this was a Greek town, it had a Greek constitution,
and was governed by a body which the Romans called a Senate. The
Senate of Seleukeia is mentioned by Tacitus (_Annal._ vi. 42):
"Trecenti opibus, aut sapientia delecti, ut Senatus: sua populo vis;
et quoties concordes agunt, spernitur Parthus."]

[Footnote 90: This Aristeides wrote lewd stories called Milesiaca, of
which there were several books. They were translated into Latin by the
historian L. Cornelius Sisenna, a contemporary of Sulla. It is not
said whether the original or the translation formed a part of the camp
furniture of this unworthy Roman soldier. The work of Aristeides was
known to Ovidius (_Tristia,_ ii. 413, 443), who attempts to defend his
own amatory poetry by the example of Sisenna, who translated an
obscene book.]

[Footnote 91: Probably there is an error in the name: Roscius has been
proposed as the probable reading.]

[Footnote 92: Plutarch is alluding to the fable of the two wallets,
which every man carries, one in front with his neighbours' faults in
it, and the other behind containing his own. Phædrus (iv. 10, ed.
Orelli) has pithily told the apologue: -

Peras imposuit Iuppiter nobis duas:
Propriis repletam vitiis post tergum dedit,
Alienis ante pectus suspendit gravem.
Hac re videre nostra mala non possumus:
Alii simul delinquunt, censores sumus.

Two wallets Juppiter has placed upon us:
Our own faults fill the bag we bear behind,
Our neighbour's heavy wallet hangs in front.
And so we cannot see our own ill deeds;
But if another trips, forthwith we censure.


[Footnote 93: This word means a thick stick; and a snake of like

[Footnote 94: Greek adventurers were always making their way to the
courts of these barbarous Asiatic kings to serve in the capacity of
physicians, mountebanks, or impostors of some kind. Several instances
are mentioned by Herodotus. Tralles was a considerable town near the
west coast of Asia Minor, from which this actor came.]

[Footnote 95: Pentheus, king of Thebes, son of Agave; would not
recognise the divinity of Bacchus, whereupon Bacchus infuriated the
women, and among them Agave, who killed her own son. She is introduced
in the Bacchæ with his head in her hand, exulting over the slaughter
of the supposed wild beast.

The passage which is cited is from the Bacchæ of Euripides, v. 1168,
ed. Elmsley. The exact meaning of the word [Greek: helika] ἕλικα in
the passage is uncertain. See Elmsley's note.]

[Footnote 96: The word is Exodium ([Greek: exodion] ἐξόδιον), a kind
of entertainment common among the Romans, though it is a Greek word.
Plutarch means that this exhibition before the kings was like the
farce which is acted after a tragedy. It seems as if Jason was first
playing the part of Agave, and was then going to play that of
Pentheus; but on seeing the head he put aside the mask and dress of
Pentheus, and recited the words of the frantic mother. Plutarch
sometimes leaves things in a kind of mist: he gives his reader
opportunity for conjecture.]

[Footnote 97: Pacorus was completely defeated B.C. 38 near the
Euphrates by P. Ventidius Bassus, who was the legatus of M. Antonius.
Pacorus lost his life in the battle (Dion Cassius, 49. c. 20;
Plutarch, _Life of Antonius_, c. 34). It is said that Pacorus fell on
the same day on which Crassus lost his life fifteen years before, the
9th of June (Dion Cassius, 49. c. 21, and the note of Reimarus).]

[Footnote 98: He began his reign under the name of Arsakes XV.
Phraates IV., according to some authorities, B.C. 37. He was not
satisfied with murdering his father: he murdered his brothers, and
many distinguished Parthians. His name occurs again in Plutarch's Life
of Antonius. Phraates delivered up to Augustus, B.C. 20, the Roman
soldiers, eagles, and standards which had been taken by Crassus; an
event which is commemorated by extant medals, and was recorded by
Augustus among his other exploits in the Monumentum Ancyranum.]

[Footnote 99: This is the Greek word ([Greek: akoniton] ὰκόνιτον): the
same name is now given to Monkshood or Wolfsbane, a genus of
Ranunculaceae. Aconite is now used as a medicine; "The best forms are
either an alcoholic extract of the leaves, or an alcoholic tincture of
the root made by displacement." It is a poisonous plant, and death has
followed from the careless use of it ("Aconite," _Penny Cyclopædia_
and _Supplement_ to the _P. Cyc._).

With this farce, as Plutarch remarks, the history of Crassus
terminates. If Plutarch designed to make Crassus contemptible, he has
certainly succeeded. And there is nothing in other authorities to
induce us to think that he has done Crassus injustice. With some good
qualities and his moderate abilities, he might have been a respectable
man in a private station. But insatiable avarice, and that curse of
many men, ambition without the ability that can ensure success and
command respect, made Crassus a fool in his old age, and brought him
to an ignominious end.]


I. In the first place, the wealth of Nikias was much more honestly and
creditably obtained than that of Crassus. Generally speaking, one
cannot approve of men who make their money from mines, which are as a
rule worked by criminals, or savages, labouring in chains in unhealthy
subterranean dungeons; but yet this method of amassing a fortune seems
much the more honourable, when compared with Crassus's purchase of
confiscated lands and his habit of bidding for houses that were on
fire. Crassus too used to practise these openly, like a trade: while
he was also accused of taking bribes for his speeches in the Senate,
of defrauding the allies of Rome, of currying favour with great ladies
and assisting them to shield offenders from justice. Nothing of this
sort was ever laid to the charge of Nikias, who, however, was
ridiculed for giving money to common informers because he feared their
tongues. Yet this action of his, though it would have been a disgrace
to Perikles, or Aristeides, was a necessity for Nikias, who was
naturally of a timid disposition. Thus Lykurgus the orator excused
himself when accused of having bought off some informers who
threatened him. "I am glad," said he, "that after so long a public
life as mine I should have been at last convicted of giving bribes
rather than of receiving them."

The expenditure of Nikias was all calculated to increase his
popularity in the state, being devoted to offerings to the gods,
gymnastic contests and public dramatic performances. But all the money
he spent that way, and all that he possessed was but a small part of
what Crassus bestowed upon a public feast at Rome for some tens of
thousands of guests, whom he even maintained at his own cost for some
time after. So true it is that wickedness and vice argue a want of
due balance and proportion in a man's mind, which leads him to acquire
wealth dishonestly, and then to squander it uselessly.

II. So much for their riches. Now in their political life, Nikias
never did anything bold, daring or unjust, for he was outwitted by
Alkibiades, and always stood in fear of the popular assembly. Crassus,
on the other hand, is accused of great inconsistency, in lightly
changing from one party to another, and he himself never denied that
he once obtained the consulship by hiring men to assassinate Cato and
Domitius. And in the assembly held for the dividing for the provinces,
many were wounded and four men slain in the Forum, while Crassus
himself (which I have forgotten to mention in his Life) struck one
Lucius Annalius, a speaker on the other side, so violent a blow with
his fist that his face was covered with blood. But though Crassus was
overbearing and tyrannical in his public life, yet we cannot deny that
the shrinking timidity and cowardice of Nikias deserve equally severe
censure; and it must be remembered that when Crassus was carrying
matters with so high a hand, it was no Kleon or Hyperbolus that he had
for an antagonist, but the great Julius Cæsar himself, and Pompeius
who had triumphed three several times, and that he gave way to neither
of them, but became their equal in power, and even excelled Pompeius
in dignity by obtaining the office of censor. A great politician
should not try to avoid unpopularity, but to gain such power and
reputation as will enable him to rise above it.

Yet if it were true that Nikias preferred quiet and security to
anything else, and that he stood in fear of Alkibiades in the
assembly, of the Spartans at Pylus, and of Perdikkas in Thrace, he had
every opportunity to repose himself in Athens and to "weave the
garland of a peaceful life," as some philosopher calls it. He had
indeed a true and divine love of peace, and his attempt to bring the
Peloponnesian war to an end, was an act of real Hellenic patriotism.
In this respect Crassus cannot be compared with Nikias, not though he
had carried the frontier of the Roman empire as far as the Caspian and
the Indian seas.

III. Yet a statesman, in a country which appreciates his merits,
ought not when at the height of his power to make way for worthless
men, and place in office those who have no claim to it, as Nikias did
when he laid down his own office of commander-in-chief and gave it to
Kleon, a man who possessed no qualification whatever for the post
except his brazen effrontery. Neither can I praise Crassus for having
so rashly and hurriedly brought the war with Spartacus to a crisis,
although he was actuated by an honourable ambition in fearing that
Pompeius would arrive and take from him the glory of having completed
the war, as Mummius took from Marcellus the glory of winning Corinth.
But on the other hand the conduct of Nikias was altogether monstrous
and inexcusable. He did not give up his honourable post to his enemy
at a time when there was hope of success and little peril. He saw that
great danger was likely to be incurred by the general in command at
Pylus, and yet he was content to place himself in safety, and let the
state run the risk of ruin, by entrusting an incompetent person with
the sole management of affairs. Yet Themistokles, rather than allow an
ignorant commander to mismanage the war against Persia, bribed him to
lay down his office. So also Cato at a most dangerous crisis became a
candidate for the office of tribune of the people in order to serve
his country. But Nikias, reserving himself to play the general at the
expense of the village of Minoa, the island of Kythera, and the
miserable inhabitants of Melos,[100] when it came to fighting the
Lacedæmonians eagerly stripped off his general's cloak, and entrusted
to an inexperienced and reckless man like Kleon, the conduct of an
enterprise involving the safety of a large Athenian fleet and army,
showing himself no less neglectful of his own honour than he was of
the interests of his country. After this he was forced against his
will into the war with Syracuse, in which he seems to have imagined
that his army would capture the city by remaining before it doing
nothing, and not by vigorous attacks. No doubt it is a great testimony
to the esteem in which he was held by his countrymen, that he was
always opposed to war and unwilling to act as general, and was
nevertheless always forced by them to undertake that office: whereas
Crassus, who always wished for an independent command, never obtained
one except in the servile war, and then only because all the other
generals, Pompeius, Metellus, and Lucullus, were absent. Yet at that
time Crassus was at the height of his power and reputation: but his
friends seem to have thought him, as the comic poet has it,

"Most excellent, save in the battle-field."

And in his case also, the Romans gained no advantage from his
ambitious desire of command. The Athenians sent Nikias to Sicily
against his will, and Crassus led the Romans to Parthia against their
will. Nikias suffered by the actions of the Athenians, while Rome
suffered by the actions of Crassus.

IV. However, in their last moments we incline rather to praise Nikias
than to blame Crassus. Nikias, a skilful and experienced commander,
did not share the rash hopes of his countrymen, but never thought that
Sicily could be conquered, and dissuaded them from making the attempt.
Crassus, on the other hand, urged the Romans to undertake the war with
Parthia, representing the conquest of that country as an easy
operation, which he nevertheless failed to effect. His ambition was
vast. Cæsar had conquered the Gauls, Germans, Britons, and all the
west of Europe, and Crassus wished in his turn to march eastward as
far as the Indian Ocean, and to conquer all those regions of Asia
which Pompeius and Lucullus, two great men and actuated by a like
desire for conquest, had previously aspired to subdue. Yet they also
met with a like opposition. When Pompeius was given an unlimited
command in the East, the appointment was opposed by the Senate, and
when Cæsar routed thirty thousand Germans, Cato proposed that he
should be delivered up to the vanquished, and that thus the anger of
the gods should be turned away from the city upon the author of so
great a crime as he had committed by breaking his word. Yet the Romans
slighted Cato's proposals and held a solemn thanksgiving for fifteen
days to show their joy at the news. How many days then must we imagine
they would have spent in rejoicing if Crassus had sent despatches
announcing the capture of Babylon, and then had reduced Media, Persia,
Hyrkania, Susa, and Bactria to the condition of Roman provinces. "If a
man must do wrong," as Euripides says of those who cannot live in
peace, and be contented when they are well off, they should do it on a
grand scale like this, not capture contemptible places like Skandeia
or Mende, or chase the people of Ægina, like birds who have been
turned out of their nests. If we are to do an injustice, let us not do
it in a miserable pettifogging way, but imitate such great examples as
Crassus and Alexander the Great. Those who praise the one of these
great men, and blame the other, do so only because they are unable to
see any other distinction between them except that the one failed and
the other succeeded.

V. When acting as general, Nikias did many great exploits, for he was
many times victorious, all but took Syracuse, and ought not justly to
bear the blame of the whole Sicilian disaster, because of his disease,
and the ill will which some bore him at Athens. Crassus on the other
hand committed so many mistakes as to put it out of the power of
fortune to aid him, so that one wonders not so much that his folly was
overcome by the Parthians as that it could overcome the good fortune
of the Romans. Now as the one never disregarded religious observances
and omens, the other despised them all, and yet both alike perished,
it is hard to say what inference we ought to draw, as to which acted
most wisely, yet we must incline rather to the side of him who
followed the established rule in such matters rather than that of him
who insolently discarded all such observances. In his death Crassus is
more to be commended, because he yielded himself against his will in
consequence of the entreaties of his friends, and was most
treacherously deceived by the enemy, while Nikias delivered himself up
to his enemies through a base and cowardly desire to save his life,
and thus made his end more infamous.


[Footnote 100: I cannot find that Nikias took any part in the massacre
of the people of Melos in 416 B.C.]


I. It is perhaps not a matter of surprise, if in the lapse of time,
which is unlimited, while fortune[101] is continually changing her
course, spontaneity should often result in the same incidents; for, if
the number of elemental things is not limited, fortune has in the
abundance of material a bountiful supply of sameness of results; and,
if things are implicated in a dependence upon definite numbers, it is
of necessity that the same things must often happen, being effected by
the same means. Now, as some are pleased to collect, by inquiry and
hearsay, from among the things which accidentally happen, such as
bear some likeness to the works of calculation and forethought: such,
for instance, as that there were two celebrated Atteis,[102] the one a
Syrian and the other an Arcadian, and that both were killed by a wild
boar; that there were two Actæons, one of whom was torn in pieces by
his dogs and the other by his lovers; that there were two
Scipios,[103] by one of whom the Carthaginians were first conquered,
and by the other were cut up root and branch; that Troy was taken by
Hercules, on account of the horses of Laomedon, and by Agamemnon by
means of the wooden horse, as it is called, and was taken a third time
by Charidemus, by reason of the Ilians not being able to close the
gates quick enough, owing to a horse having got between them; that
there are two cities which have the same name with the most fragrant
of plants, Ios[104] and Smyrna, and that Homer was born in one of them
and died in the other: I may be allowed to add to these instances,
that the most warlike of commanders and those who have accomplished
most by a union of daring and cunning, have been one-eyed men,
Philippus,[105] Antigonus, Annibal, and the subject of this
Life - Sertorius; he whom one may affirm to have been more continent as
to women than Philip, more true to his friends than Antigonus, more
merciful to his enemies than Annibal,[106] inferior in understanding
to none of them, but in fortune inferior to all; and, though he always
found Fortune more hard to deal with than his open enemies, yet he
proved himself her equal by opposing the experience of Metellus, the
daring of Pompeius, the fortune of Sulla, and the power of the whole
Roman state; a fugitive and a stranger putting himself at the head of
barbarians. Of all the Greeks, Eumenes[107] of Kardia presents the
nearest resemblance to him. Both of them were men qualified to
command; both were warlike, and yet full of stratagem; both became
exiles from their native land and the commanders of foreign troops;
and both had the same violent and unjust fortune in their end, for
both of them were the objects of conspiracy, and were cut off by the
hands of those with whom they were victorious over their enemies.

II. Quintus Sertorius belonged to a family not among the meanest in
Nussa,[108] a Sabine city. He was carefully brought up by a widowed
mother, for he had lost his father, and he appears to have been
exceedingly attached to her. His mother's name, they say, was Rhea. He
had a competent practical education in the courts of justice, and, as
a young man, he attained some influence in the city by his eloquence.
But his reputation and success in war diverted all his ambition in
that direction.

III. Now, first of all, after the Cimbri and Teutones had invaded
Gaul, he was serving under Cæpio[109] at the time when the Romans were
defeated and put to flight; and, though he lost his horse and was
wounded in the body, he crossed the Rhone swimming in his cuirass and
with his shield against the powerful stream - so strong was his body
and disciplined by exercise. On a second occasion, when the same
barbarians were advancing with many thousand men and dreadful threats,
so that for a Roman to stand to his ranks at such a time, and to obey
his general, was a great matter, Marius had the command, and Sertorius
undertook to be a spy upon the enemy. Putting on a Celtic dress, and
making himself master of the most ordinary expressions of the
language, for the purpose of conversation when occasion might offer,
he mingled with the barbarians, and, either by his own eyes or by
inquiry, learning all that was important to know, he returned to
Marius. For this he obtained the prize of merit; and in the rest of
the campaign, having given many proofs of his judgment and daring, he
was honoured and trusted by his general. After the close of the war
with the Cimbri and Teutones, he was sent as tribune by Didius[110]
the prætor to Iberia, and he wintered in Castlo,[111] a city of the
Celtiberi. The soldiers, being in the midst of abundance, lost all
discipline, and were generally drunk, which brought them into contempt
with the barbarians, who, by night, sent for aid from their neighbours
the Gyrisœni, and, coming on the soldiers in their lodgings, began to
slaughter them. Sertorius with a few others stole out, and, collecting
the soldiers who made their escape, surrounded the city. Finding the
gates open through which the barbarians had secretly entered, he did
not make the same mistake that they did, but he set a watch there,
and, hemming in the city on all sides, he massacred every man who was
of age to bear arms. When the massacre was over, he ordered all his
soldiers to lay down their own armour and dress, and, putting on those
of the barbarians, to follow him to the city from which the men came
who had fallen on them in the night. The barbarians were deceived by
the armour, and he found the gates open, and a number of men expecting
to meet friends and fellow-citizens, returning from a successful
expedition. Accordingly, most of them were killed by the Romans near

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