(Marcus Crassus)

110–53 BC

Crassus was a partisan of Sulla, but he had good cause to be: his father and brother had been killed by Marius, and he himself, was forced to flee to Spain until his enemy Cinna died. At that point, he joined Sulla's army, and proved himself an able soldier. He attained great wealth during the proscriptions by buying and reselling property that was confiscated by the government. His reputation for avarice was tremendous. Although he won impressive military victories and was a capable statesman, he is more renowned for his love of money than for any specific achievement.

Besides his real-estate holdings, Crassus also owned silver mines and many slaves whom he hired out as laborers. Although covetous, he was not unkind, and part of his success was due to his amiable nature. His great rival for power was Pompey, and although Crassus was far richer than Pompey, Pompey was recognized as a better general. Crassus did distinguish himself however in the slave uprising against Spartacus, who, by the time Crassus became involved, had defeated every Roman army sent against him. By luck however, some of Spartacus's troops became separated, and Crassus was quick to attack the isolated remnant. His victory over Spartacus was impressive enough to get him elected consul in 70 B.C., along with Pompey. About this time, Crassus befriended Julius Caesar, who had already proven himself a talented statesman and fearless in battle. All that Caesar lacked was money, and Crassus had plenty of that. Together they worked to overcome the influence of Pompey, and eventually formed the First Triumvirate with him.

Once Caesar set off for Gaul, Crassus was re-elected consul with Pompey. He saw that Caesar was attaining great wealth and glory for himself in Gaul, and he accepted a proconsulship in Syria with the idea of doing likewise in Parthia, but his ambition overran his abilities. Against the better judgment of some of his advisors, he followed a local guide into a trap at Carrhae. His army was cut to pieces and both he and his son were killed.

Key events during the life of Crassus:

83 BC
Served with Sulla during first Mithradatic War.
81 BC
Dealt in real estate during era of Sulla's proscriptions, bought confiscated property.
  Made a great deal of money buying land. Became the richest man in Rome.
71 BC
Defeated Spartacus; put down slave revolt.
70 BC
Elected Consul with Pompey.
63 BC
Involved, but not directly, with Catiline Conspiracy.
60 BC
First Triumvirate.
58 BC
Loaned Caesar money, so that he could pay his debts before going to Gaul.
55 BC
Elected Consul with Pompey.
54 BC
Assigned Proconsul to Syria; raised an army to send against the Parthians.
53 BC
After suffering reverses, defeats, and treachery, Crassus and his son are killed at Carrhae.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Across the Euphrates  in  Helmet and Spear  by  Alfred J. Church
Man Who Loved Gold  in  Tales of the Romans: The Children's Plutarch  by  F. J. Gould
Revolt of the Slaves  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Pompey's Conquests  in  The Story of the Romans  by  H. A. Guerber
Crassus  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Gladiators' Revolt  in  The Story of Rome  by  Mary Macgregor
Revolt of the Gladiators  in  Historical Tales: Roman  by  Charles Morris

Image Links

Crassus defeated by the Parthians
 in Helmet and Spear

The Banquet of Crassus
 in Greatest Nations - Rome

Short Biography
Pompey Very renowned general. Defeated pirates. Led opposition to Caesar in civil war.
Sulla Defeated Mithradates in Greece. Marched on Rome, defeated the party of his enemy Marius.
Spartacus Gladiator who led a slave revolt. Held out for two years.
Julius Caesar Conquered Gaul, prevailed in civil war. Mastermind of Roman empire. Killed by senators.