Facts and Events
Marcus Licinius Crassus (Latin: M·LICINIVS·P·F·P·N·CRASSVS) (ca. 115 BC – 53 BC) was a Roman general and politician who played a key role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Amassing an enormous fortune during his life, Crassus is considered the wealthiest man in Roman history, and among the richest men in all history.
Crassus began his public career as a military commander under Lucius Cornelius Sulla during his civil war. Following Sulla's assumption of the dictatorship, Crassus amassed an enormous fortune through real estate speculation. Crassus rose to political prominence following his victory over the slave revolt led by Spartacus, sharing the Consulship with his rival Pompey the Great.
A political and financial patron of Julius Caesar, Crassus joined Caesar and Pompey in the unofficial political alliance known as the First Triumvirate. Together the three men dominated the Roman political system. The alliance would not last indefinitely due to the ambitions, egos, and jealousies of the three men. While Caesar and Crassus were lifelong allies, Crassus and Pompey disliked each other and Pompey grew increasingly envious of Caesar's spectacular successes in the Gallic Wars. The alliance was re-stabilized at the Lucca Conference in 56 BC, after which Crassus and Pompey again served jointly as Consuls. Following his second Consulship, Crassus was appointed as the Governor of Roman Syria. Crassus used Syria as the launchpad for a military campaign against the Parthian Empire, Rome's long-time Eastern enemy. Crassus' campaign was a disastrous failure, resulting in his defeat and death at the Battle of Carrhae.
Crassus' death permanently unraveled the alliance between Caesar and Pompey. Within four years of Crassus' death, Caesar would cross the Rubicon and begin a civil war against Pompey and the Optimates.
In some Latin languages, such as Portuguese and Spanish, there is a popular expression used to describe a fatal error which is a "Crassus' error", pertaining the strategic error of Crassus which led to his demise in Parthia.