Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spartacus, Crassus and Pompey

Num igitur ex eo bello partem aliquam laudis appetere conaris? num tibi illius victoriae gloriam cum M. Crasso aut Cn. Pompeio communicatam putas?

Surely you're not trying to seek some part of the praise from that war with Spartacus? Surely you don't think that you should share in the glory of that victory, along with Crassus and Pompey?

(Cicero, In Verrem V.5)
Who were these guys?
Crassus, Marcus Licinius (d. 53 B.C.), one of Sulla's lieutenants, and a man of great wealth, who as praetor in 71 B.C. defeated the insurrection of Spartacus. He was consul with Pompey in 70, and combined with him in abolishing Sulla's constitution and diminishing the power of the senate. During Pompey's absence in the East he joined Caesar in the lead of the popular party, and in 60 with Caesar and Pompey formed the coalition known as the 'first triumvirate'. He chose the province of Syria in 54, as an easy way of acquiring wealth and glory, but was defeated by the Parthians at Carrhae in 53 and subsequently murdered by them. There is a life of him by Plutarch, who relates that he owned silver mines, purchased confiscated estates during Sulla's proscriptions, and also made a practice of buying houses in Rome when they were on fire and consequently cheap, thus coming to own a large part of the city. He made himself popular by his general affability and his good offices to all.

Pompey 'The Great' (Pompeius, Gnaeus) (106 - 48 B.C.) son of one of the consuls for the year 89 B.C., first came into prominence by raising an army to support Sulla on his return to Italy in 83, and by distinguished service against the Marians in Sicily and Africa. After Sulla's death he held an extraordinary command against Sertorius in Spain. In 70 he and Crassus having sunk their differences obtained the consulship, intending to revoke some of Sulla's outstanding laws. in 67 he was charged with the mission of expelling the pirates from the Mediterranean, which he successfully accomplished; and in the next year was given the command against Mithridates with extraordinary powers. He utterly defeated Mithridates, made provinces of Bithynia-Pontus and Syria (capturing Jerusalem after a seige), enlarged the province of Cilicia, and effected a general settlement. He was a great founder and restorer of cities in the East. But on his return to Italy in 62 he failed to take advantage of his strength, as a leader of a devoted army, to make himself a secure position in the State. Though a good general and a great organiser, he lacked political enterprise and originality. He dismissed his legions and allowed himself to be humiliated by the Senate, which refused to ratify his Eastern settlement and to recompense his troops... There is a life of Pompey by Plutarch.

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