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Crassus(krăs`əs), ancient Roman family, of the plebeian Licinian gens. It produced men who achieved great note in the 2d cent. and 1st cent. B.C.
One of the well-known members was Lucius Licinius Crassus, d. 91 B.C., a noted orator and lawyer (much admired by Cicero). He was a strict follower of constitutional forms, and he and Scaevola as consuls in 95 B.C. proposed a law—called the Licinian Law, the Lex Licinia, or the Lex Licinia Mucia—to banish from Rome Latins who had gained Roman citizenship by illegal means (or what the law set as illegal means). This greatly aggravated anti-Roman sentiment among the allies and helped bring on the Social WarSocial War
or Marsic War
[Lat. socii=allies], 91B.C.–88 B.C., struggle brought on by demands of the Italian allies for the privileges of Roman citizenship.
..... Click the link for more information. .
Publius Licinius Crassus, d. 87 B.C., was consul in 97. He was the financial backer of the Roman colony of Narbo (modern Narbonne) in Gaul and achieved fame by his victories in Spain after his consulship. He was a partisan of SullaSulla, Lucius Cornelius
, 138 B.C.–78 B.C., Roman general. At the height of his career he assumed the name Felix. He served under Marius in Africa and became consul in 88 B.C., when Mithradates VI of Pontus was overrunning Roman territory in the east.
..... Click the link for more information. and, after being proscribed by the followers of MariusMarius, Caius
, c.157 B.C.–86 B.C., Roman general. A plebeian, he became tribune (119 B.C.) and praetor (115 B.C.) and was seven times consul. He served under Scipio Africanus Minor at Numantia and under Quintus Metellus against Jugurtha.
..... Click the link for more information. , committed suicide.
His son, Marcus Licinius Crassus, d. 53 B.C., was the best-known member of the family. He was a man of considerable charm and almost unbounded avarice and ambition. He was a partisan of Sulla and commanded some of Sulla's forces. He was also a highly successful dealer in real estate, and bought property that was confiscated or deserted in the period of the bloody Sullan proscriptions. He became the principal landowner in Rome by organizing his private fire brigade, buying burning houses cheap, and then putting out the fire.
Crassus gained immense prestige—along with PompeyPompey
(Cnaeus Pompeius Magnus) , 106 B.C.–48 B.C., Roman general, the rival of Julius Caesar. Sometimes called Pompey the Great, he was the son of Cnaeus Pompeius Strabo (consul in 89 B.C.), a commander of equivocal reputation.
..... Click the link for more information. —for suppressing the uprising of SpartacusSpartacus
, d. 71 B.C., leader in an ancient Italian slave revolt, b. Thrace. He broke out (73 B.C.) of a gladiators' school at Capua and fled to Mt. Vesuvius, where many fugitives joined him.
..... Click the link for more information. . They were both consuls together in 70 B.C., and Crassus' rivalry and jealousy of Pompey grew. He was involved in plotting against CatilineCatiline
(Lucius Sergius Catilina) , c.108 B.C.–62 B.C., Roman politician and conspirator. At first a conservative and a partisan of Sulla, he was praetor in 68 B.C. and governor of Africa in 67 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. , apparently secretly encouraging the conspiracy but not directly participating in it. He and Julius CaesarCaesar, Julius
(Caius Julius Caesar), 100? B.C.–44 B.C., Roman statesman and general. Rise to Power
Although he was born into the Julian gens, one of the oldest patrician families in Rome, Caesar was always a member of the democratic or popular party.
..... Click the link for more information. drew closer together, Crassus hoping to use Caesar's ability, Caesar (deep in debt) hoping to use Crassus' money.
Caesar, seeing that he needed stronger support than Crassus, created (60 B.C.) the First Triumvirate—Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar. With Crassus' envy of Pompey and Pompey's scorn of Crassus, the arrangement worked only because of Caesar's consummate ability in handling men. Crassus seems to have backed the political maneuvers of the notorious ClodiusClodius
(Publius Clodius Pulcher) , d. 52 B.C., Roman politician. He belonged to the Claudian gens (see Claudius), and his name is also written as Publius Claudius Pulcher. He was brother to Appius Claudius Pulcher and to the notorious Clodia. In 62 B.C.
..... Click the link for more information. , and trouble was stirred up between Crassus and Pompey. Caesar called both of them to Lucca, where in 56 B.C. a conference reaffirmed the alliance.
Crassus and Pompey were again consuls together in 55. Crassus managed to get Syria assigned for his proconsular service in 54. Avid for military glory, he left even before his term as consul was up to undertake a campaign against the Parthians. His ambition outran his ability. After early successes, his army was completely routed at Carrhae (modern Haran) by Parthian archers in 53 B.C. Crassus in this disgrace was treacherously murdered, and Caius Cassius Longinus (see CassiusCassius
, ancient Roman family. There were a number of well-known members. Spurius Cassius Viscellinus, d. c.485 B.C., seems to have been consul several times. In 493 B.C. he negotiated a treaty establishing equal military assistance between Rome and the Latin cities.
..... Click the link for more information. ) had difficulty in saving even the remnants of the army.