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Old November 23rd, 2012, 03:05 PM   #1
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Crassus receives the Triumph for the defeat of Spartacus.


How might this have affected the course of the history of the Republic, specifically concerning the First Triumvirate? I would venture to guess that Crassus would have been less likely to attack the Parthians to prove himself militarily (if he had still received command in Syria at all; it's possible that he would have been given command elsewhere).
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 05:45 PM   #2
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How might this have affected the course of the history of the Republic, specifically concerning the First Triumvirate? I would venture to guess that Crassus would have been less likely to attack the Parthians to prove himself militarily (if he had still received command in Syria at all; it's possible that he would have been given command elsewhere).
That's pretty unlikely; Spartacus was crushed by ML Crassus eighteen years before Carrhae.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 06:02 PM   #3

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That's pretty unlikely; Spartacus was crushed by ML Crassus eighteen years before Carrhae.
I must agree with the op. Whilst I cannot say a campaign against Parthia would have been impossible, I think it would have been improbable; at least in the ill conceived manner Crassus did it historically.

The basis of the invasion as you should know yourself, was that Crassus was eager for a substantial success that would make his position in the triumvirate more substantial.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 06:25 PM   #4
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I must agree with the op. Whilst I cannot say a campaign against Parthia would have been impossible, I think it would have been improbable; at least in the ill conceived manner Crassus did it historically.

The basis of the invasion as you should know yourself, was that Crassus was eager for a substantial success that would make his position in the triumvirate more substantial.
Yup, almost a generation ago; IMHO to find any relation between such remote events is utterly far fetched, to say the least.

The Roman sources like LM Plutarchus or Appianus were naturally systematically hostile and entirely biased against any military Roman loser like ML Crassus (or CT Varro or PQ Varus or many more for that matter) but strictly speaking there was nothing atypical about Crassus' imperialism in Syria against the Parthians.

The contemporary campaigns of let say:
- CJ Caesar against the Gauls, Germans & Britons
(including even the campaigns of ML Crassus Jr in Aquitania)
- the previous campaign of Cn. Pompeius Magnus against the Jewish kingdom, or
- even the campaign of the proconsul MT Cicero in Cilicia
(just some examples among myriad)
... had all been equally arbitrary unprovoked Roman invasions.

The only relevant difference (especially for the Roman historians) was that the later were successful...

But of course, as speculative (alternative) History goes, virtually anything would be possible

Last edited by sylla1; November 23rd, 2012 at 06:30 PM.
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 06:29 PM   #5

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Yup, almost a generation ago; IMHO to find any relation between such remote events is utterly far fetched, to say the least.

The Roman sources like LM Plutarchus or Appianus were naturally systematically entirely hostile against any military Roman loser like ML Crassus (or CT Varro or PQ Varus or many more for that matter) but strictly speaking there was nothing atypical about Crassus' imperialism in Syria against the Parthians.

The contemporary campaigns of CJ Caesar against the Gauls, Germans & Britons and the previous campaign of Cn. Pompeius Magnus against the Jewish kingdom, or even the campaign of the proconsul MT Cicero in Cilicia (just some examples among myriad) were equally arbitrary unprovoked Roman invasions; the only relevant difference (especially for the Roman historians) was that the later were successful.

But of course, as speculative (alternative) History goes, virtually anything would be possible
Success was everything (especially military success) to the Romans and you know this
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 06:32 PM   #6
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Success was everything (especially military success) to the Romans and you know this
Ergo backing yours truly's stated conclusion; yup, I know that
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 06:44 PM   #7

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Ergo backing yours truly's stated conclusion; yup, I know that
I see what you did there

Actually, I need to re-read Plutarch's Life of Crassus for some other project of mine, so thanks for reminding me

In all seriousness though, we see two sides of Crassus in both of these battles. At the battle of the Siler river, you see a patient and decisive Crassus mixed with ruthlessness. Efficient. At Carrhae, we see the opposite. Rash judgement, bad planning and impatience.

Maybe Crassus should have taken Artavasdes' aid
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Old November 23rd, 2012, 07:40 PM   #8
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I see what you did there

Actually, I need to re-read Plutarch's Life of Crassus for some other project of mine, so thanks for reminding me

In all seriousness though, we see two sides of Crassus in both of these battles. At the battle of the Siler river, you see a patient and decisive Crassus mixed with ruthlessness. Efficient. At Carrhae, we see the opposite. Rash judgement, bad planning and impatience.

Maybe Crassus should have taken Artavasdes' aid
The Parthians had been some years ago defeated by the Armenians of Tigranes the Great, who in turn had been crushed by the legions of LL Lucullus & Cn Pompeius Magnus; it was no wonder that the Romans of the time would have tended to underestimate the Parthians, ostensibly including the objectively competent legates of ML Crassus, i.e. his homonymous son & C. Cassius Longinus.

Again, the accusation of hubris against seriously defeated Roman commanders was virtually standard.

Besides, military triumphs were hardly mere vanity for any Roman republican politician; they could have a critical impact on any career, notably including Crassus' partners Cn Pompeius Magnus & CJ Caesar.
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Old November 24th, 2012, 04:25 AM   #9

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The Parthians had been some years ago defeated by the Armenians of Tigranes the Great, who in turn had been crushed by the legions of LL Lucullus & Cn Pompeius Magnus; it was no wonder that the Romans of the time would have tended to underestimate the Parthians, ostensibly including the objectively competent legates of ML Crassus, i.e. his homonymous son & C. Cassius Longinus.

Again, the accusation of hubris against seriously defeated Roman commanders was virtually standard.

Besides, military triumphs were hardly mere vanity for any Roman republican politician; they could have a critical impact on any career, notably including Crassus' partners Cn Pompeius Magnus & CJ Caesar.
Well yes, I don't disagree with anything you said here at all.

What I was attempting to state that we see two different minds of Crassus here, which may indicate the position he was in. In the servile war, he was coming from a good position. Rome had been "humiliated" by escaped slaves, and he showed the ruthlessness of Romans with the ancient ritual of decimation and the neccesary patience in trapping Spartacus, when he built the walls of circumvellation. Both of these aspect led to his decisive victory.

During the Parthian expedition, he was more hurried because of the growing political and military success of his two triumvirate colleagues, and he wanted to be on the same level of respect as them. He had sut been given governership of Syria, which would offer a mass of wealth to add to his own, and he used that as a springboard.

Imo, he wisely refused the aid of Artavasdes, given his later double dealings with Marc Antony.
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