Wake up Sheeple!

So there was a bit of a running joke (if I remember correctly)among some of my fellow ancient history undergraduates about the Roman general/dictator and all round stand up guy Lucius Cornelius Sulla being lord Voldemort…..

Sulla.

 

Voldemort.

 

Honestly I just can’t see it, sure they were both violent psychos born to aristocracy but who grew up poor to eventually rise up in soceity by dint of extraordinary natural ability and drive who then resorted to violence and death squads while seizing absolute power and ruling through fear with the aid of a significant segment of thier society’s traditional elite but……..Sulla clearly has eyebrows! I just don’t see it…..

I’ll tell you what I do see though people: The hidden truth! What THEY don’t want you to know! This so-called great man:

Proffesor “Dumbledore”

Is really:

Sulla. Notice the telltale eyebrows.

Don’t let the fake ass santa clause beard fool you, their one and the same! Wake up Sheeple! The true dark lord has been among us, ruling over us this whole time! He’s even got himself a new private army! Quiver in fear! because compared to Lucius Cornelius Sulla Voldedorks a pussy!

 

or…..maybe their all the same person………..*gasp*

Welcome back for another year students, In order to provide a little extra excitement to this years house competition, the house with the least points will be proscribed. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to see me for you will find no better freind in me…….nor worse enemy…..

Triumvirate versus dictatorship: Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Assasination and the outlet factor

Sup peeps, How’s it hanging? Today I’m here to talk to you about why Julius Caesar was assasinated and Augustus Caesar was not, well we all know that the straw men audience in my head scoff in their hypothetical hubris: it’s because Augustus Caesar cloaked his power like a sneaky fox but Julius paraded it like a pompous fool, no wonder they knifed him!

Well while I have no doubts whatsoever that Augustan massaging of political realities for the benefit of the senatorial class helped his regime to endure what I wish to discuss is an aspect of the often overlooked factor of their particular circumstances. Simply put Julius is often criticised for not being his nephew with scant thought given to what at least should be a blindingly obvious fact: He couldn’t be, among other things he likely didn’t have the time. Nor was Augustus always the respectful soft touch from the shadows sought of guy: Before Princeps Augustus there was Triumvir Octavianus a man who ruled through naked imperium and military might only limited by his absentee colleagues. This Octavian dealt with opposition summarily and brutally and did not cloak his power. If Caesar doing the same inevitably lead to his violent death, why not the future Augustus? Especially when the triumviral part of his career lasted for about a decade?

Before the Rubicon Caesar was essentially just another late Roman Republican strongman, albeit one of the most powerful their had been. He ruled over multiple provinces with a formiddable army but had not been in Rome for more than a decade and held no authority there or in most of Italy. It is only after the onset of civil war, by which time Julius Caesar was middle aged that that changed and Caesar’s tenure as a Roman ruler with the powers of Dictator was not long, but it was by the time of his death near absolute. To put it plainly Caesar’s office held no time limit nor did he have any colleagues either de jure or de facto and protracted military opposition to him had repeatedly failed. His Imperium was absolute, he had no rivals nor did significant alterior powerbases remain within the Roman world. Simply put if by 44BC you as a Roman senator found being under the rule of Caesar intolerable (even more so if you weren’t SUPER keen on Pompey’s sons, eh Cassius?) it would seem that only two options presented themselves to you: suicide or assasination. Cato had already chosen the former and we know that Brutus and Cassius et al would choose the latter despite the extreme risk and drastic nature of such an action.

But what if Sextus Pompey were much more powerful, or Caesar had a colleague more to your liking with whom his relationship was one of mutual rivalry and mistrust who ruled the East independently of Caesar and was keen to host like minded members of Rome’s elite. Perhaps joining either man would be preferable to the risk of an assasination plot? perhaps your preffered candidate if you were but patient would ultimately triumph and Caesar would topple from power, afterall this uneasy peace cannot last forever.

Or perhaps you realise with despair that thier all insufferable tyrants and killing Caesar would just mean exchanging one for another and you further realise Caesar’s colleague to the East may not care for the man personally but they are officially at least allies and at times useful to each other, whatever his actual feelings he’s unlikely to reward his assasin, indeed you may end up like the Egyptian’s who presented Caesar with Pompey’s head: sacrificed for the reputation of the victor…..

No assasination does not seem like such a smart move anymore, not unless we can get all of them, and their almost never in the same place. best (and safer) to back the lesser of the evils available to us or wait it out, aftertall even should this despicable tyrant somehow prevail over better men, even should we have to wait for more than 10 years for the right time Rome will never get used to Autocracy, never forget the crimes of earlier years, the origins of this so-called Caesar. Welcome to Triumviral period Rome.

Cinderella, The secret History of the Mongols and other Ancient texts I have perused, True story;)

Juius Caesar, The Civil War:

“Two triremes had sighted the ship of Decimus Brutus, which could easily be recognized from its ensign, and bore down on it from different directions. Brutus, however had just enough forewarning to make an effort and propel his ship a little way ahead of them. The two triremes collided at speed so hard that both were severely damaged by the impact, and in fact one had its beak broken off”- Julius Caesar, Civil war, part 2, 6. Reminds me of cartoon slapstick comedy…..

“a good commander should be able to gain as much by policy as by the sword”- Julius Caesar, The Civil War.

Julius Caesar, The Spanish War:

To think, if not for the failure of Gnaeus Pompeuius’s (Pompey’s elder son) invasian of the kingdom of Bogus, king Bogus may not have been able to help Caesar defeat the Boni/Pompeian’s in Africa, which would be totally bogus.

“one man, Antistius Turpio; confidant in his strength, he began boasting that there was not his match among his opponents. Then, like the legendary encounter between Achilles and Memnon, Quintus Pompeius Niger, a Roman knight from Italica, came forward from our ranks to engage with him. Antistius’s ferocity had drawn everyone’s attention away from the construction work; both battle lines were arrayed; for in this contest between two outstanding warriors, the outcome was uncertain, and it almost appeared that the fight between these two would bring the wart to a conclusion. Everyone was alert and eager, gripped by the enthusiasm of the partisans and supporters on his own side. The champions, with ready courage, came on to the plain to fight, their shields with engraved work, emblems of their renown, flashing*…..” {Text defective}- Spanish war, 25. Dammit Spanish war! That was probably going to be the coolest fight ever too…….stupid buildiup…………

Just finished reading the Spanish war after reading the African war, Alexandrine war and civil war. Aside from being easily the most poorly written (The Spanish, Alexandrine and African wars were not written by Caesar, who was a fantastic writer) about the only thing it illustrates well (there are many lacunae making much of the conflict incomprehensible) is the savagery of this last desperate phase of “Caesar’s” civil war, many have noted that the early part of the war (up to and to an extent including Pharsalus) was notably unbloody considering the scale of the conflict, in part due to Caesar’s famed clementia, the disclipine of his troops and his capacity to convince enemies to surrender or desert, after Pharsalus however increasingly only the real hardliners are left many of whom had already abused Caesar’s initial “mercy” and Caesar’s own troops and himself become tireder and less forgiving. It is perhaps no wonder that Caesar’s account of the civil war stops shortly after Pharsalus, recollections of the African war, and especially the Spanish war could hardly do his reputation for clemency credit nor Roman attempts to heal, the Spanish war was a particularly ugly conflict.
I mean after the battle of Munda, the Caesareans constructed a rampart out of the bodies of the pompeins they killed, while sticking thier heads on thier discareded pikes while beseiging the remnants of the Pompeian army………..Sh*t got dark!

 

The secret history of the Mongols:

Piece of advice if ever you offend one of Genghis Khans kin and he suggests the two of you sort it out with a freindly wrestling match, run. Letting the other guy win will not save you (seriusly this seems to be murder code for him).

Another thing to note about the secret history of the mongols is the propensity of Genghis and his brothers in it after slaughtering an entire tribe to abduct a small child from it to give to thier mother to raise as a gift, it’s like she’s collecting them. “Hi mum were back and look what we brought you, a one of a kind Tartar kid!” “oh isn’t he just adorable, but one of a kind really?” “well……as of yesterday……….”

Finished reading a partial translation of the secret history of the Mongols, Mongolia before and during the childhood and early life of Genghis Khan comes across as highly reminiscent of Hobbes state of nature. “Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall………and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”

 

“cinderella”:

So just read the earliest datable version of the Cinderella (only she isn’t called cinderella) story (at least at the time the article was written which I think was in the fifties). This story purportedly has originates from the natives (non-Han Chinese) of Sichuan and was recorded by a Tang dynasty official and scholar in the 800’s. Instead of a ball we have a ‘cave-festival'(reading into it further it’s possible no caves were involved, tricks of etymology and so forth.), instead of a fairy godmother (and I suppose the industrious clothes mice) we have the bones of our heroine’s over 10 foot long fish friend, treacherously killed by her stepmother and the king (not prince) arrests and tortures people to get info on the golden (not glass) shoe! Also the stepmother and stepsister get killed by flying rocks for some reason and thier resting place becomes a place for cavemen to make offerings and pray to acquire women. But she of the gold shoe and her fish bones got to go live with the king and his other wives.

 

True Histories/True lies:

Finally reading True Histories by Lucian of Samosata, I can definitly see why this satire written in the 2nd century AD is sometimes dubbed the first work of Science fiction- even if I the “scifi” element seems to compose less than half the text, it’s got airships (technically), alien abduction, interstellar colonisation, multiple sentient and non sentient alien species, first contact (well depends whether you count mr. abducted but I suppose if you counted backstory…), organ doning or lending, paths through the sky, inter celestial body war and politics, “people” grown rather than born, pregnant men and (sort of) sentient appliances. Also lots of themes and allusians to events from the classical era, particularly in regards to celestial war and politics by way of satire- transposing them to a ridicoulous and overblown context, again Sci Fi has imitated him here, only more often then not we are now expected to take them seriusly;).

Lucian moon

Undergraduate Capstone Thesis: Roman politics, literary archetypes and perceptions of Publius Licinius Crassus son of Marcus Crassus the triumvir

Capstone thesis (very slightly revised….I added some full stops, I’m sure any of you who’ve read much of this blog will appreciate the importance of that….): Roman politics, literary archetypes and perceptions of Publius Licinius Crassus son of Marcus Crassus the triumvir

So Yeah, this was an essay I submitted for a compulsary unit of my major for my Bachelors degree where we had to pick a research topic and write a roughly 5,000 word essay on it. While the subject I picked was of interest to me (it having to do with late Republican politics of course) I admittedly largely picked it over a few other ideas that intrigued me more because it was safer and less ambitious and I was by that time kinda lazy and very much anxious and lacking in confidance. Still I think it turned out pretty well. Behold my academic writing! Quake in fear before it’s majesty!…….and footnotes…..MOSTLY THE FOOTNOTES!!!! *spooky ghost sounds*

Publius Licinius Crassus was the son of Marcus Licinius Crassus famous for his membership in the so-called First Triumvirate, there is some debate as to whether he was Crassus’s first or second son, his brother also being called Marcus Licinius Crassus[1], while most scholars consider him the younger pointing out Marcus’s significantly earlier marriage[2] and the fact that as was traditional for the eldest son he was named after his father[3] others consider him the elder arguing that due to the childless and premature death of Marcus  Crassus ‘the Triumvir’s older brother Publius Crassus, Crassus the Triumvir named his eldest son Publius as the eldest male Crassus of any generation was traditionally so named (this fits with our picture  of Crassus attempts to take over the family responsibilities of his older brother by his marriage to his widow[4]) and so both sides use naming conventions to make their case. The waters are further murkied on this issue by Publius serving as one of Caesar’s lieutenants 4 years before his brother[5]. In any event either through birth, charm or ability Publius was clearly the favoured son.

By the time Publius joined his father for his ill-fated invasion of Parthia perhaps no aristocrat of his generation in Rome looked likely to have a more promising political future, the favoured son of Marcus Crassus one of Rome’s richest and most powerful men (and from an aristocratic family of long standing). Whose position within the so-called first triumvirate (I use the term to refer to the informal, though still quite real alliance between Pompey, Crassus and Caesar, though certainly, especially in Crassus’s case such an alliance did not preclude other valuable political connections) had perhaps never been stronger[6]. He (Publius) had recently married Cornelia Metella[7], connecting him directly to the extremely important Metelli clan and in particular to Metellus Scipio her father, who was at the time the family’s senior member. Despite the deep seated personal dislike and frequent political antagonism between his father and Cicero Publius Crassus had succeeded in obtaining Cicero’s good feeling and friendship[8] and due to his service under him in Gaul he also quite clearly attained the favours of Caesar. Few could boast such a breadth of positive connections, perhaps none so young. However The almost uniformly positive portrayal of this promising young man is briefly broken during the Carrhae campaign before the veil of impetuous hubris is itself replaced at death by the veil of the Tragic hero. How the biases of our sources as well as literary archetype’s and conventions affect the portrayal of Publius Crassus constitutes the core theme of this paper which in doing so also seeks to (some extent to) explore Publius’s role in his father’s political career and his own capabilities. We begin our exploration into Publius’s life and its sources with Caesar’s commentaries on the Gallic War.

 

Caesar’s Gallic war is composed of seven books, the final conflicts of Caesar against Gallic tribe’s being recorded by Aulus Hirtius in a final book[9], there is some dispute over whether these books were published all at once as used to be the popular opinion or individually or at least In batches in between campaigning seasons[10]. For a variety of reasons this paper holds to the latter view for instance it seems unlikely that the legate Sabinus so defamed in book 5 would be portrayed relatively favourably in prior books if they were written after the events of book 5[11] nor is Caesar likely to have boasted of the virtual annihilation of the adult male Nervii population only for a supposed army of tens of thousands of them to appear a few years later[12] nor claim that all Gaul was pacified with such regularity were he aware of at the time of writing of all or most subsequent  conflict.

Publius Crassus served with Caesar during his first three years in Gaul and accordingly makes his appearances in the first three books, Caesar while seldom negative in his portrayal of his lieutenants (indeed portrayals were usually at least implicitly positive[13]) was clearly writing to enhance his own prestige and as such keeps the focus primarily on himself[14]. While keeping the interest of his audience by significant coverage of the nature of his adversary’s (both as individuals such as Vercingetorix and as tribe’s such as the Aedui[15]) and on the quality and accomplishments of his army, the legate’s take a distinct backseat[16]. Despite their largely positive portrayal it is unlikely that Caesar’s legates were all men of exceptional military ability- choosing one’s legate’s was at the time as much motivated by political networking and patronage as military-administrative competence. It would seldom have been in Caesar’s interest barring a true disaster to offend a political contact, and the one time that happened a scapegoat (Sabinus, previously portrayed competently) was found[17]. Besides as members of Rome’s upper class many senior officers serving with Caesar are likely to have recorded their own version of events (Cicero certainly kept in contact with his brother Quintus[18]) and particularly if said officer had important Roman contacts political pragmatism cautioned against contradicting them or reporting something which they felt compelled to contradict without strong motive[19]. However usually this favourable treatment was implicit through a description of the actions of said lieutenants not explicit by attaching positive appellations directly to them as was often done with the army as a whole, legions, lower ranking officers and valiant foes[20] there are however a number of at least partial exceptions to this low key  positive portrayal.

Of all Caesar’s legate’s (and officers of equivalent rank, Decimus Brutus and Publius Crassus due to their youth were not technically legates but were functionally so[21], in this paper for convenience unless otherwise specified all military officers given command of a force larger than a cohort will be referred to as such) the aforementioned Quintus Titurius Sabinus was the only one to receive truly extensive negative treatment in the commentaries in which he is blamed for the annihilation in ambush of the legion over which he held joint command[22]. Other exceptions to the rule are due more too unusually positive rather than negative portrayals. Titus Labienus for instance who served with Caesar for the entirety of the Gallic wars is mentioned more times than any Roman in the commentaries other than Caesar himself and holds that distinction by a wide margin, and was both formally and by dint of the responsibility entrusted to him the senior legate[23] and is given credit in part for Caesar’s first victory over the Nervii[24] and for multiple independent victories in the field[25]. However in two of Labienus said victories Caesar records him giving a speech before the battle encouraging the soldiers to fight as if Caesar himself were with them and to do him proud as it were. By this device Caesar draws some of the reader’s attention back to himself and makes his legend part of the reason for victory even in his absence[26], though without directly detracting from Labienus’s contribution.

Labienus is not however the only Caesarean legate who merits an unusual degree of attention, Publius Crassus receives fairly extensive coverage in the Gallic wars for a legate, especially in book 3[27]. As Labienus is given much tactical credit for the defeat of the Nervii, Publius initiative in the decisive battle against the Germanic king Ariovistus is deemed pivotal[28]. However in his independent victories commanding a force for Caesar in Aquitaine, in which he won a battle, successfully besieged a well-defended town, stormed a well-fortified and defended camp and pacified the region[29] , the psychological role of the absent Caesar is reversed. The high moral of Crassus men in the face of the enemy is attributed in a positive light to their eagerness to prove what they could accomplish in the absence of their general and under such a young commander[30]. In essence Caesar deliberately divorced himself in particular from these victories and (as was admittedly his wont) emphasized the difficulty of the opposition Crassus faced, aside from the usual high estimates of enemy numbers Caesar records that the Gallic tribe’s recruited significant numbers of veterans of the Sertorian war who had expertise at constructing fortified camps and were otherwise formidable[31] and perhaps most ominously lists two Roman commanders that met defeat and death in the region in question[32]. Crassus first victory over the Aquitanians according to the Gallic war consisted of repulsing an attack on the march by the Sotiates tribe’s cavalry and pursuing them into an ambush by their infantry. Despite the ambush Crassus’s forces prevailed and Caesar does not indicate that the retreat of the enemy cavalry was feigned, nor censure Crassus for falling into an ambush[33] even though the following ambush by the infantry would strongly imply that it was (why else would you place your infantry in ambush and attack separately with your cavalry if not to lure the enemy to that location unprepared). Nevertheless it was the army more than its commander that distinguished itself here. Crassus army’s subsequent siege of the Sotiate capital was also successful, despite several sally’s including one rather hard-fought one that took place during a parley which may be what Dio is referring too when he says “He lost a few men, to be sure, by treachery in the course of a parley, but punished the enemy severely for this”[34]. His most notable accomplishment during this campaign however was perhaps his storming of an enemy camp highly fortified in a Roman manner: in the engagement that followed Crassus’s cavalry noticed that part of the enemy camp was not as well defended as the rest and Crassus promptly and boldly ordered the cavalry and the cohorts tasked with guarding the camp to take a circuitous route to the position so as not to be seen and attack the enemy at this vulnerable location while the mainstay of his forces continued their frontal assault, outflanked the enemy was comprehensively defeated[35]. The plan was excellent and as it involved removing the very camps defenders very bold. In future this young officer’s boldness would be seen in quite a different light.

Crassus’s achievements during his Aquitanian campaign were impressive but it’s clear Caesar was giving him favourable press, Decimus Brutus, the only other legate of Caesars referred to as young, during the same year defeated the Veneti but as with Labienus’s independent victories he shared the credit with Caesar and his failures (like Crassus getting caught in an ambush) do not appear to have been brushed over. Caesar claims that Decimus and his tribune’s did not know how to defeat the larger Veneti vessels, the crucial innovation it is implied was generated by men further down the hierarchy, while this is probably all true and Decimus is by no means portrayed as inept or as a failure there is a key difference in portrayal here[36]. Publius’s uniquely favourable treatment is unlikely to come down purely to ability, Labienus if not quite yet would in time prove himself by far the most distinguished of Caesar’s Gallic legate’s nor were others such as Decimus and Gaius Trebonius clearly without martial ability. Personal affection is likely to have played a role in a letter to Caesar Cicero bemoans the fate of young Publius who he describes as a man dear to them both. however Decimus Brutus was also in all probability close to Caesar, he was approached by Caesar’s assassins specifically because Caesar was known to trust him and was supposedly the man who convinced him to attend the senate on the Ides of March despite his wife’s misgivings (Though such stories involving ill-omens are highly suspect the story is still illuminating for what it tells us of Roman perceptions of the relationship between Caesar and Decimus Brutus)  and unlike many of Caesar’s other lieutenants and partisans, including Marcus Antonius he was named in Caesar’s will[37]. Though these events took place many years later and due to his earlier death we cannot know whether Caesar would have named Publius in his will) it is likely considering Decimus’s youth at the time of this command and Caesar’s possible relationship with his mother Sempronia[38] that he already favoured this young man as well.

During his later career Caesar showed a marked penchant for patronising talented, ambitious and perhaps impetuous young aristocrats, such as Publius Crassus, Decimus Brutus, Marcus Antonius, Caelius Rufus, Curio and Dolabella[39] aside from other motivations Caesar had no son and thus no known heir and a hunt for a suitable candidate was quite possibly a motivating factor behind this penchant or a successor to lead his faction (contrary to Augustan propaganda these need not have been the same thing). However if either of these were the case (a big If among many if’s so far explored)  it is particularly unlikely to have been Publius. The favoured son of Crassus is unlikely to have required such patronage and Caesar’s legacy would be suitably diluted in this regard by being shared with Marcus Crassus a man of comparable standing.

Which brings us to one final consideration, the importance of the father to the portrayal of the son; Marcus Crassus and Caesar at the time of the opening of the Gallic wars had a long history of close political collaboration[40]. While it is true that Crassus the triumvir’s other son, Marcus Crassus would serve with Caesar as Quaestor in Caesar’s fifth year in Gaul and likely from then onwards to the end of the Gallic wars and is barely mentioned and certainly not singled out for praise, though Marcus Crassus seems to have been an innocuous figure who barely appears in the sources dealing with his time despite his august parentage[41] this is more evidence of the importance of the father than it is the opposite. When Publius was serving with Caesar Crassus was a living and powerful ally who became particularly important towards the end of Publius’s time with Caesar when the alliance between Pompey, Crassus and Caesar threatened to break down. Crassus clearly benefited the least from the initial alliance with Caesar and Pompey around the time of Caesar’s first consulship. Caesar got an agrarian bill (which would have granted him much patronage) and a five year command over three provinces, Pompey got his Eastern settlement ratified and land for his soldiers, Crassus merely managed to get a difficult contract for Publicani clients rescinded (and a place on Caesar’s land commission)[42]. Furthermore the two consuls chosen for the next year had closer ties with Caesar (his new father-in-law) and Pompeius respectively and the two strengthened their alliance by marriage, with Pompey marrying Caesar’s daughter[43].

Crassus responded to his marginalization by allying himself with the Claudii in particular the radical tribune Clodius and other elements of Rome’s aristocracy and used them to politically weaken Pompey[44]. Under pressure Pompey drew closer to more conservative, anti-Crassan and anti-Caesarean politicians, eventually using his influence to recall Cicero whom had a history of hostility towards Clodius, Crassus and to a lesser extent Caesar[45]. As the political competition between Crassus’s and Pompey intensified, Pompey came more and more to rely on politicians opposed to Caesar to support himself against Crassus’s own emerging faction and the triumvirate itself came under threat[46].  At the time Caesar would have wrote the third book of the Gallic war (going with the above assumption that they were generally published at the end of the campaigning season under discussion) This conflict was coming to a head and it was likely becoming increasingly clear that the five year command previously granted Caesar (already over half over) would prove insufficient for the pacification of Gaul and the senator Domitius Ahenobarbus (who had strong associations with Caesar’s enemies) was energetically campaigning to replace Caesar in his command[47].Soon afterwards Crassus and Caesar would meet in Ravenna before going on to meet with Pompey as well at Luca[48], though we don’t know the details of the negotiations the results are clear: Cicero was pressured by Caesar and Pompey to reconcile with and support Crassus and Clodius likewise reconciled with Pompey, Pompey and Crassus ran together for the consulship with the support of Caesar and benefitted from the intimidation of Caesar’s veterans (led by Publius Crassus himself) at the election[49]. Both men were granted provincial commands with large armies and Caesar’s command in Gaul was extended by five years[50].

Simply put at the time Caesar wrote the third Gallic war he needed Crassus support a great deal as Crassus enhanced standing in the coalition after Luca indicates and so it is not surprising that his son is portrayed so favourably in that book in particular, by contrast Marcus Crassus came to Gaul as Caesar’s quaestor two years later, the year after Crassus consulship. Due to the five year extension Caesar’s position was now more secure and soon afterwards, well before Caesar’s political position once again became perilous Crassus had died at Carrhae with Marcus’s promising brother removing the key political impetus to praise his son. This makes all the more sense considering Quintus Cicero, the famous Marcus Cicero’s brother also receives perhaps unduly good treatment in the sources[51]

Our sources of Publius Crassus’s life outside of the role of military officer are scanty we know that he was a monetalis and became an augur when a position in that religious college opened up upon the death of Lucius Licinius Luccullus[52]. Publius also cultivated Cicero who deemed him a promising young orator, helped him develop said ability and prevailed upon him to pursue a conventional political career and focus on his civic talents. However as the source of this information is a work on oratory called the Brutus written by Cicero after Publius death in which Cicero uses the example of Publius to make a point about the sageness of such advice by bemoaning how Publius’s youthful ambition and military glory seeking lead to his death[53] he may have chosen to exaggerate the degree to which he advocated said course to Publius at the time. As mentioned above Dio records Publius being sent to Rome by Caesar with many of his veterans to lead them in violent and successful intimidations of rival electoral candidates and Cicero further mentions his attachment to the young man in letters both to Caesar and to Crassus, in the latter the connection is highlighted clearly in part to aggrandize himself with the newly re-empowered Crassus with whom Caesar and Pompey had forced him to reconcile[54] but it is noteworthy that he claims to be like a second father to the young man[55]. The former written after Publius’s death bemoans the loss of a well-liked mutual protégé but perhaps contains some of Cicero the new man’s resentment of consul’s in their cradles[56]. What may have proved decisive for Publius’s future had he lived longer was his marriage to Cornelia Metella which occurred shortly before the Parthian expedition[57]. Many years previously Publius’s brother had himself married into another branch of the powerful Metelli family, a branch seemingly hostile to Pompey who at the time still had good relations with other members of the family[58], in both marriages the hand of Crassus the triumvir can be felt and represent a key tactic utilized in Pompey and Crassus’s rival attempts to ally the Metelli with themselves. The marriage of Publius to Cornelia Metella shows that following the reestablishment of his alliance with Pompey and Caesar Crassus successfully reached out to the Metelli and perhaps even the Boni in general, this may have resulted from his having to abandon his anti-Pompeian alliance with the Claudii and Pompey his increasing Boni ties[59].

 

 

Finally we come to the Carrhae campaign, though many other sources refer if briefly to Rome’s defeat at Carrhae and In particular the death of both Marcus and Publius Crassus[60] only two descriptions of the battle and prior campaign survive from antiquity: Cassius Dio’s Roman history and Plutarch’s life of Crassus[61]. Of these Plutarch’s account is far more detailed and on the whole likely to be more accurate[62] however it is important to note that unlike Caesar or Cicero neither of these are primary sources, being born much later neither man was there during the campaign or spoke to anyone that was. Both men wrote well over a century later and so represent interestingly the only sources on the life of Publius Crassus who would not have been influenced by their relationship either with him or perhaps more crucially his father. Clearly however they must have got there information somewhere. The most important Roman involved to survive the Carrhae campaign was Lucius Cassius Longinus the future assassin of Julius Caesar, he served as Marcus Crassus’s quaestor during the ill-fated campaign (well from the Roman perspective…..) and commanded one of the army’s wings during the battle[63]. After the battle he succeeded in escaping back to Syria with the men then under his command, with no more senior Roman present at this tumultuous time Cassius took command of the approximately 10,000 legionaries who made it back from the Parthian campaign and defended the province successfully against first Parthian raids and a Jewish revolt then a larger Parthian force[64] earning acclaim at Rome. In the sources for the Carrhae campaign Cassius plays the role of a Roman military Cassandra, always giving the right advice, always being ignored, in favour frequently of the advice of treacherous foreign allies (such as the chieftain and guide Ariammes)[65], what’s more he is frequently portrayed as obviously right, however both Marcus and Publius Crassus had distinguished military careers, Marcus having played a pivotal role in the battle of the Colline gate and suppressed the Spartacus revolt mistakes were clearly made but they are unlikely to have been as obvious at the time as the sources suggest.

As the leading Roman survivor of Carrhae who however his service in the East started ended it (before the coming civil wars at least) with glory Cassius was in an excellent position to spread his version of events. We do not know the details of how though we do know that Quintus Dellius who served under Cassius in the civil war of Phillipi wrote a history of Parthia that Plutarch made use of in his life of Antony, it is likely all things considered that it served as a source for Crassus’s Parthian campaign as well[66]. Even so Cassius self-interest is unlikely to serve as a complete explanation for his portrayal and that of Publius Crassus and others during this campaign. If Cassius was a martial Roman Cassandra he did not lack for company, the prudent (or in some cases like Cassius downright prescient) but ignored Roman officer or ally at some point seems to have become a literary staple in accounts of Roman defeats. At Cannae the consul Aemilius Paulus reputedly cautioned against engaging Hannibal, was overruled by his co-consul Varro and died heroically in the battle[67], the allied Germanic chieftain (again reputedly) Segestes futily warned Varus of Arminius’s treacherous intentions[68]. Finally in the aforementioned ambush and alliance of Titurius Sabinus’s legion in the Gallic wars by Ambiorix’s forces Sabinus’s co-commander Marcus Cotta see’s Ambiorix’s protestations of friendship and warnings for what they are. His failure to convince Sabinus leads to their deaths, unlike Sabinus however who through his desperation to live falls for treachery a second time by agreeing to Parley with his attackers Cotta dies heroically leading his men in a last stand[69]. Due to his positive press Cassius is assigned the nobler literary trope and Marcus Crassus that of the man who consistently listens to bad council, indeed in Dio’s more hostile account Crassus’s portrayal is extremely similar to that of Sabinus, first being misled by supposed foreign allies and then at his most desperate moment having his judgement impaired by his desperation to live to fall for the enemy’s offer to negotiate where he died in a fight that broke out, probably due to treachery[70].

There is however one key difference between Carrhae and the ambush of Sabinus and indeed between Carrhae and Cannae, our Cassandra is not also our tragic hero. As he lived Cassius would have to wait many years to play second fiddle to Brutus in this role at Phillipi. In Dio clearly the more pro-Cassian and anti-Crassan of our sources no-one fills this role satisfactorily, despite Dio’s claim that Crassus acquiesced to the desire of the army following Carrhae for Cassius to take command (a claim not repeated in the more detailed Plutarch). In Plutarch’s account the death of the elder Crassus is nobler and the role of Publius in the battle and the nature of his death emphasized and romanticized, Plutarch’s Carrhae has its tragic heroes, oddly the same commanders he blames for the defeat, the Crassi.

When the Roman scouts first came into contact with the Surena’s Parthian army Publius reputedly reinforced his father’s inclination to seek battle that same day in opposition to Cassius (implied) and most of the officers who suggested making camp reconnoitring the enemy’s position and seeking battle in the morning[71]. The decision to seek battle immediately is naturally regarded as a mistake by our sources and Publius next action in our sources relating to the battle did not end well either, in command of one of the flanks and a portion of the cavalry Publius is ordered by his father to lead a combined force of cavalry, archers and legionaries to chase off the Parthian horse archers on one of the army’s flanks, ending the encirclement, relieving pressure and allowing his father’s army to reform. Publius’s counterattack is initially successful, chasing off the horse archers and allowing such a reform, however supposedly sensing victory Publius pursued the fleeing horse archers further away from the army and was then attacked by a division of cataphracts (a form of heavy cavalry) at the same time the fleeing horse archers counterattacked, using the cataphracts as protection while they continued to harass Publius’s forces. Furthermore it seems in the pursuit that Publius infantry fell behind his cavalry. It seems that like in his first battle in Aquitaine Publius had once again fallen for a feigned retreat[72], despite this paper’s attempt to expose stereotype’s that of the gifted but hot-headed aristocratic young cavalry officer does look like it might fit. Forced to engage the Cataphracts unsupported with his lighter cavalry Publius lead the Romans in probably the fiercest fighting of the battle, defeated and wounded he and his remaining men retreated to the shelter of their infantry. The situation being untenable Publius and some of his officers and friends reputedly killed themselves rather than flee before their force was overwhelmed and annihilated[73]. The death of Publius and his men was probably the decisive moment of the battle, his defeat demoralized Crassus’s remaining forces and the loss of most of the army’s cavalry prevented the romans from striking back against Surena’s horse archers nevertheless Plutarch does not drag Publius over the coals and he is given the most heroic (to the Romans) death of the campaign. In his combat with the Cataphracts and subsequent death Plutarch emphasis his courage in the fight and in his refusal to abandon his men taking his own life (with assistance)[74].

Considering the virtual annihilation of Publius’s detachment and the Roman penchant for heroic dramatization of their dead the details here are highly suspect and there may have been no witnesses of the final moments. This account may also be influenced by Publius’s freedman Appollonius who may have written an account of Publius’s life and was later praised by Cicero for his loyalty to the memory of the Crassi[75], regardless clearly Cassius did not represent (either directly or through his partisans) the only sources available to our own sources on the campaign.

So ends our recount of the life and sources of Publius Licinius Crassus: Military prodigy, glory hound and hot-head, ambitious, modest, eloquent, charming and well-liked high aristocrat, networker, marriage pawn, thuggish election fixer and tragic hero.

 

Biography:

The Sons of Crassus

Ronald Syme

Latomus , T. 39, Fasc. 2 (AVRIL-JUIN 1980), pp. 403-408

Published by: Societe d’Etudes Latines de Bruxelles

Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41531764

 

Goldsworthy, A. “CAESAR”, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006.

Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri.

Gruen E. (1974). The Last Generation of the Roman Republic. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.

Syme R. (1952). The Roman Revolution. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Crassorum Funera

Elizabeth Rawson

Latomus , T. 41, Fasc. 3 (JUILLET-SEPTEMBRE 1982), pp. 540-549

Published by: Societe d’Etudes Latines de Bruxelles

Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41532598

 

The Departure of Crassus for Parthia

Adelaide D. Simpson

Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association , Vol. 69, (1938), pp. 532-541

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/283197

 

Crassus’ New Friends and Pompey’s Return

Eve J. Parrish

Phoenix , Vol. 27, No. 4 (Winter, 1973), pp. 357-380

Published by: Classical Association of Canada

Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1087808

 

Sampson G. C. (2008). The Defeat of Rome Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East. Pen & Sword Books,47 Church Street Barnsley South Yorkshire.

Marshall B. A. (1976). Crassus A Political Biography. Adolf M. Hakkert, Amsterdam.

Cassius Dio, Roman history, trans. Cary E (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1914).

Julius Caesar, The Gallic War, trans. Edwards H. J (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1917.

Plutarch, Life of Crassus, trans. Warner R & Seager R (Penguin Books, 80 Strand, London, England, 2005).

Cicero, The Letters To His Friends, trans. Williams W. G (Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1927).

Welch K, Powell A (Ed). (1998). Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments. The Classical Press Wales, 15 Rosehill Terrace, Swansea.

 

http://www.attalus.org/old/brutus4.html

Cicero, Brutus, trans. Jones E.

Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, trans. C. Edwards (Oxford University Press, New York, 2000).

No Son for Caesar?

Ronald Syme

Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte , Bd. 29, H. 4 (4th Qtr., 1980), pp. 422-437

Published by: Franz Steiner Verlag

Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4435732

 

Goldsworthy A. (2000). The Fall Of Carthage The Punic Wars 265-146BC. Orion books, Orion house Upper St Martin’s Lane, London.

 

Tacitus, The complete works of Tacitus, tans. A. J. Church, W. J. Brodribb (Random house, New York, 1942).

 

[1] Syme, R. The Sons of Crassus, Latomus , T. 39, Fasc. 2 (AVRIL-JUIN 1980), pp. 403.

[2] Syme, R. The Sons of Crassus, Latomus , T. 39, Fasc. 2 (AVRIL-JUIN 1980), pp. 403-408.

[3] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg. 55.

[4] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri., pg 48.

[5] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg. 55-56.

[6] Sampson G. C. (2008). The Defeat of Rome Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East. Pen & Sword Books,47 Church Street Barnsley South Yorkshire, pg. 78-80.

[7] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg 284-285.

[8] Cic. Fam. VIII.

[9] Julius Caesar, The Gallic War, trans. Edwards H. J (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1917.

[10] Goldsworthy, A. “CAESAR”, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, pg. 187-188.

[11] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg. 93-94.

[12] Caes. Gal. 2, 28, Caes. Gal.5, 49.

[13] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg. 89.

[14] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg. 86-87.

[15] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg. 89-90.

[16] Goldsworthy, A. “CAESAR”, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, pg.188.

[17] Caes. Gal. 5, 26-37.

[18] Goldsworthy, A. “CAESAR”, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, pg. 190.

[19]Goldsworthy, A. “CAESAR”, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, pg. 189-190.

[20] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg 89-90.

[21] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg 92.

[22] Caes. Gal. 5, 26-37.

[23] Goldsworthy, A. “CAESAR”, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, pg. 191.

[24] Caes. Gal. 2, 26-28.

[25] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg 98-100.

[26] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg 99.

[27] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg 91-92.

[28] Caes. Gal. 1, 52-53.

[29] Caes. Gal. 3, 20-27.

[30] Caes. Gal. 3, 21.

[31] . Caes. Gal. 3, 23.

[32] Caes. Gal. 3, 20.

[33] Caes. Gal. 3, 20-21.

[34] Dio Cassius, Roman history, 39, 46.

[35] Caes. Gal. 3, 24-26.

[36] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg. 92.

[37] Suetonius, the deified Julius Caesar, 81-83, Plutarch, Caesar, 63-64, Plutarch, Brutus, 12.

[38] Syme R, No Son for Caesar? Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte , Bd. 29, H. 4 (4th Qtr., 1980), pg. 429.

[39] Goldsworthy, A. “CAESAR”, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, pg. 365-366.

[40] Goldsworthy, A. “CAESAR”, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2006, pg. 165.

[41] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg 93.

[42] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg 218-219.

[43] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg 222.

[44] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg 231-233.

[45]Marshall B. A. (1976). Crassus A Political Biography. Adolf M. Hakkert, Amsterdam, pg. 118-121.

[46] Marshall B. A. (1976). Crassus A Political Biography. Adolf M. Hakkert, Amsterdam, pg. 124-127.

[47] Marshall B. A. (1976). Crassus A Political Biography. Adolf M. Hakkert, Amsterdam, pg. 124.

[48] Marshall B. A. (1976). Crassus A Political Biography. Adolf M. Hakkert, Amsterdam, pg. 127-128.

[49] Dio Cassius, Roman history, 39, 31.

[50] Marshall B. A. (1976). Crassus A Political Biography. Adolf M. Hakkert, Amsterdam, pg. 128-129.

[51] Welck K, Caesar And his Officers In The Gallic War Commentaries, Julius Caesar As Artful Reporter: The War Commentaries as Political Instruments (1998) pg 97-98.

[52] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg 284-285.

[53] Cicero, Brutus, 281-282.

[54] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg 279, Cic. Fam. VIII.

[55] Cic. Fam. VIII.

[57] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg 284-285.

[58] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg 203-204.

[59] Ward A. (1977). MARCUS CRASSUS AND THE LATE ROMAN REPUBLIC. University of Missouri Press, Columbia, Missouri, pg 280.

[60] Sampson G. C. (2008). The Defeat of Rome Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East. Pen & Sword Books,47 Church Street Barnsley South Yorkshire, pg. 186-193.

[61] Sampson G. C. (2008). The Defeat of Rome Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East. Pen & Sword Books,47 Church Street Barnsley South Yorkshire, pg. 186-187.

[62] Sampson G. C. (2008). The Defeat of Rome Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East. Pen & Sword Books,47 Church Street Barnsley South Yorkshire, pg. 186-187.

[63] Plutarch, Crassus, 23.

[64] Sampson G. C. (2008). The Defeat of Rome Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East. Pen & Sword Books,47 Church Street Barnsley South Yorkshire, pg. 152-160.

[65] Sampson G. C. (2008). The Defeat of Rome Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East. Pen & Sword Books,47 Church Street Barnsley South Yorkshire, pg. 109.

[66] Sampson G. C. (2008). The Defeat of Rome Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East. Pen & Sword Books,47 Church Street Barnsley South Yorkshire, pg. 188-189.

[67] Goldsworthy A. (2000). The Fall Of Carthage The Punic Wars 265-146BC. Orion books, Orion house Upper St Martin’s Lane, London, pg. 199-213.

[68] Tacitus, Annals, 1, 55.

[69] Caes. Gal. 5, 26-37.

[70] Caes. Gal. 5, 26-37, Dio Cassius, 40, 20-27.

[71] Plutrach, Crassus, 23.

[72] Dio Cassius, Roman history,40, 21-22.

[73] Plutarch, Crassus, 25.

[74] Plutarch, Crassus, 25.

[75] Sampson G. C. (2008). The Defeat of Rome Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East. Pen & Sword Books,47 Church Street Barnsley South Yorkshire, pg. 189.

If Ancient Romans had social media: Cicero, Caesar, Cato & Sulla

Cicero:

CiceroSubstance, integrity, honesty, consistency, bravery, their just words really, and I’m REALLY good with words so why don’t people think I have them!#AlsoIstoppedCatiline

All this concern about survelliance, popular unrest, terrorisim and election stealing just pass a Sensatus Consultum Ultimum take it #fromtheguywhostoppedCatiline

@Atticus Plautus and chill? #Amicitiagoals#CatilineIstoppedhim#Idontmeantobrag

Caesar:

JuliusCaesar bust red background

Crossing Rubicon#YOLO!

Caesar is tweeting #thirdpersonbetheshit

All of Gaul is divided into three parts #Futurelatinlessons

You know if we had had Twitter during the Gallic Wars it would have saved me so much time, wouldn’t have had to bother with this commentary cr*p!#literatureishard

Mind those unicorns in the forest #trippingballs

So many naked Gauls, should have called it the phallic wars lol #frenchfashion #winteriscoming

part of fleet got lost, rest having difficulty forcing a landing in Britain #Stillbetterthanthetube

And all of Gaul was pacified #Missionaccomplished

Oh Sh*t where did all these hairy Gauls come from #Thatswhatshesaid #Meandmybigstylus

ladies and gentlemen we got him #Vercingetorix#Reallyreallypacifiedthistime

Crossing Rubicon#YOLO!

dining @Pharoahspalace Holy sh*t thats Pompey’s head! #orderingthesalad

I came, I saw, I instagrammed #picsoritdidnthappen

Ides of March more like Ides have passed amirite#temptingfate

Cato (the elder):

Cato the elderGoing out for some groceries, I think I’ll get figs, fresh ones! #Carthagemustbedestroyed

Gah! everythings closed! so annoying where’s this city’s enterpreneurial spirit gone! I blame immigrants! #Carthagemustbedestroyed

Oh well guess I’m ordering pizza, I’m so bad. I think I’ll get anchovies, I like salty things #Carthagemustbedestroyed

Nothing on tv only foppish lefty nonesense and some Greek drama, I suppose it’s the news for me again#Carthagemustbedestroyed

You know say what you will about Trump but he’s really got this ruthless capitalist and socially conservative political outsider demagogue thing down pat and I should know #MakeCarthagesaltagain

Sulla:

sulla_normalahhh….I love the smell of roasted Pleb in the morning……..#lifternotleaner #deplorables=delectables

Watching Death Note. Premise seems familiar, can’t think why#itsonthetipofmystylus

Just writing my memoirs, History will be kind to me for I intend to write it…………. and silence all Hostile witnesses.#suckitChurchill

The Athenians used to (before I sacked their conceited arses) mock my blotchy skin by claiming that “Sulla is a mulberry sprinkled over with meal”, I suppose that would make me (after I slaughtered them) a cereal killer!#itsfunnycauseitstrue

………Well, I don’t here laughter, I made a joke, laugh! Now!!!#IKnowwhereyoulive

My apologies for that outburst, sometimes I can be a little…..fruity, ahaha! ahaha! ahaha! ahaha!#lookbehindyou

Genghis Khan the geonoicidal warlord that keeps on giving part 1: Littering makes Genghis Khan cry!……..then it makes him mad…….

Remember kids this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfjT9TvfsPM

leads to this:

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate-weather/stories/was-genghis-khan-historys-greenest-conqueror

………*Ahem*:

“Bows!”
“Arrows!”
“Swords!”
“Saddles!”
“Horses!”

“Go Genghis!”

“By your Kuriltai’s poclamation, I am Genghis Khan”

Genghis Khan, he’s our hero
Gonna take the population down to zero

He’s our nightmares magnified
And he’s committing Genocide

Genghis Khan, he’s our hero
Gonna take the population down to zero

His enemies he will tear asunder
cities he like’s to loot and plunder

"YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS GENGHIS KHAN!"
“YOU’LL PAY FOR THIS GENGHIS KHAN!”

We’re the dogs of war
Khan’s enemies we will screw
‘Cause conquering Eurasia is the thing to do!

Looting and polluting is so the way
Hear what Captain Kirk has to say!

 

THE POWER IS MINE!
THE POWER IS MINE!

Lessons for innovators: Venetian style

https://hbr.org/2017/01/why-innovators-should-study-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-venetian-empire?utm_campaign=hbr&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

How Venice was supposed to compete with a series of emerging nation states bordering the Atlantic for Atlantic trade is I confess as a non-innovator somewhat beyond me particularly as the dominant early Atlantic colonial power of Spain controlled the only sea lane leaving the mediterranean but I’m sure other non Atlantic bordering European countries became maritime and colonial powers in the America’s and Europe………I just can’t think of any right now………..Also aren’t we ignoring the centralisation of European states (leading usually to the nation state) and the rise of the Ottomans as factors here? it’s hard to think how Venice could have fought the former and they did fight the latter but unsurprisingly they could not ultimately succesfully contest with the Ottoman juggernaut for dominance of the Eastern med: which was the heart of Venice’s colonial empire and trade network. In the end I suppose what I’m saying is that if innovators are to learn any lesson from the fall of Venice it’s not explore more (Venice never really explored, the whole mediterranean was already known to all states around it) or focus production for markets you can’t compete in but be better at fighting Turks. But the real lesson for “innovators” to learn from the decline of Venice is that sometimes your just screwed.

Pro-Lepidus

I dub this rant/series of related musings my pro-lepidus, it’s my third best pro piece……the one everyone forgets…….
So……..Marcus Aemilius Lepidus the triumvir I’ve thought for quite a while now that he gets a bad rap as he’s usually portrayed as the guy who’s just thier to make up the numbers (I mean otherwise you get I diumvirate and that’s just silly). You know because it needed to be a triumvirate…..only why? why did it need to be a triumvirate? because of the so-called first triumvirate? but the first triumvirate wasn’t a formal power-sharing alliance at all and it certainly wasn’t what it’s members called themselves nor how thier allies refferred to them. Thiers no symbolic or institutional reason why their need be 3 members. Which brings us to common reason given number 2: That Lepidus was put in as a third-party to counterbalance Antony and Octavian to prevent the two from going to war and resolve disputes, sort of like the role many imagine Crassus and Julia played between Pompey and Caesar to prevent civil war only people who say this tend to make him more like Julia than Crassus by maintaining that he of course had no power. But unless I’m mistaken Lepidus was neither the daughter, sister or wife of either man (that would certainly raise it’s own questions). His role was not familial or emotive and I don’t think anyone has seriusly argued that it was. Crassus was believed to be a potential peace keeper because he was a third powerful man that the others had to watch so they couldn’t afford to tie thier resources military or political up fighting each other because he could take advantage or so goes the logic. If Lepidus is a Crassus however he would much like Crassus need serious power and standing of his own to fulfill this role, not as much as his fellow triumvirs necesarily but enough to be a threat to one if he attempted to marginalize him.

In the end I suppose what it comes down too as to why Lepidus was chosen as triumvir is people are ignoring the obvious answer: because he was probably the third most important Caesarean and certainly one of the inner circle of faction power brokers but this answer goes unconsidered because it contradicts the assumption underlying the question. People don’t wonder why Octavian or Antony were triumvirs but they wonder about Lepidus (breifly that is, before they forget about him again), people ask the question because they assume lepidus didn’t matter and so their confused and answers have been based on that same assumption instead of questioning it.
Yes Lepidus was left behind for Phillipi but he was left behind to take care of ITALY and ROME and by extension much or all of the western med, this is not a position you give to a nobody, certainly no-one seems to use Antony being left to run Italy in Caesar’s abscence as an argument of Antony’s lack of importance, after Phillipi he was given control of Spain and Africa, hardly inconsequential territories and he was also the pontifex maximus. So why the assumption? Well I think it starts with the Romans and Greeks themselves, people innately like to think in binary, of opposites and dualities which to a lesser extent affects Crassus as well. A third party muddies the narrative particularly if thier not distinctive (and lepidus doesn’t seem to have been that) and his sidelining during the latter years of the triumvirate becomes retrospective in people’s perceptions of him.

He wasn’t at Phillipi, Cicero didn’t write a series of famous speeches against him and he didn’t make it to the final act, and when he goes out it’s with a whimper not a bang (though Antony doesn’t exactly go out in a blaze of glory either at least their’s a battle and a doomed romance and he dies), his army defects to Octavian without a battle and he is put under house arrest for the rest of his life. Lepidus basically gets outmaneuvered with contemptous ease and basically goes into a forced retirement, kinda underwhelming isn’t it. His career is also very peaceful, he didn’t fight a single battle as far as I’m aware against either of his triumviral partners or anyone else for that matter be it Sextus Pompey (late to the party) or Brutus and Cassius (he and Brutus’s fathers had died the two principal leaders in a breif civil war and he was married to his sister and his brother had joined the rebels (he had agreed to his brothrers proscription but hey water under the bridge) he may have chosen/been chosen to stay behind due to sympathy for his opponents) and there’s also no Parthian campaign or Italian land redistribution that he’s responsible for, things are peaceful and all the exciting, dramatic and important stuff the other guys are doing but thats not necesarily a sign of political unimportance at all and can even be a sign of the opposite (guys at the top of the political ladder often don’t have to do the hard and/or dirty work themselves, a true mark of political success is to have prestige, power and wealth without actually having to do anything, a parasite, a politician).
At the end of the day though he’s just not Caesar’s son or Caesar’s right hand man, the great general and man of action the hard partying Mark Antony. But thats the thing at the time of Caesar’s death Mark Antony may have been his co-consul but Lepidus was his master of the horse, which actually outranks consul. Indeed there’s little to suggest Antony’s seniority over Lepidus or for that matter some of Caesar’s other lieutenants, yes he was Caesar’s co-consul when he died but Caesar had both granted the consulship to other men (including Lepidus) and had other co-consul’s. Antony’s initial slight (and it was slight) pre-eminence after his death had to do with him happening to be consul when Caesar died, which unless Caesar planned to be assasinated that year (people have actually argued for it….weird…..) doesn’t really make Antony special.

We are so used to the idea of Antony as Caesar’s right hand man and best freind that the symbolism of lieutenant and old retainer has become monopolised by Antony leaving only room for the upstart son Octavian. Caesar’s other lieutenants including but not limited to Lepidus are forgotten due to the fame of a man who Lepidus kinda outranked, barely served in the Gallic wars (isn’t mentioned by name in Caesar’s commentaries of said war) and doesn’t appear in his will (I don’t think Lepidus does either but you see my point). Antony would be very pleased by this, scholars I think are so busy looking for Augustus’s propaganda (which also would not be kind to the third man) that their blind to Antony’s, just because a man lost in the end doesn’t mean his branding didn’t have a serious impact, if you doubt me see Cato the younger and Brutus’s treatment in our sources or just take a look at http://samuelrunge.com/2013/07/13/sullas-shadow-the-proscriptions-and-the-defining-of-a-generation/  or http://samuelrunge.com/2016/02/10/the-life-of-saint-brutus-patron-saint-of-credulity-and-public-speaking/.

None of this is to imply that even after reading between the lines so to speak does Lepidus come across as an impressive and dynamic figure. I came to argue for Lepidus relevance (and to take potshots at Antony) not to praise him.

Regards, Samuel.

Damned by faint praise! I knew I should have hired Cicero instead!
Damned by faint praise! I knew I should have hired Cicero instead!