Crassus. I. Lucius Licinins, a Roman orator, born in 140 B. C, died in 91. He was educated with great care for the forum, entered into political life at a very early age, and when only 21 distinguished himself by the successful prosecution of C. Carbo on a criminal charge, the nature of which is unknown. Carbo escaped conviction by suicide. Crassus now engaged in several other important suits, and pursued his forensic career with great success. In 114 he met with almost his first defeat, in failing to secure the acquittal of his relative Licinia, a vestal, who was accused of unnatural crimes. Soon after this he was appointed quaestor, and he afterward filled successively all the Roman offices, Q. Mucius Scaevola being always his colleague except in the tribunate of the people and the censorship. During the years when he was not in office he continued to distinguish himself in the forum. As quaestor he seems to have had Asia as his province, and on his return from it he visited Athens. As curule aedile (103) he gave magnificent games for the people. As consul (95) he contributed to the enacting of a law expelling all allies, not citizens of Rome, from the city, which rigorous measure was one of the sources of the social war.
Sent as proconsul to the province of Cisalpine Gaul, his administration was distinguished for strict justice. While censor in 92 he caused the schools of the Latin rhetoricians to be closed, as pernicious to the morals of the people.
Shortly before his death he vehemently defended the laws proposed by the tribune M. Livius Drusus against L. M. Philippus, one of the consuls. Crassus was fond of elegance and luxury; his house on the Palatine hill was remarkable for its splendor, and adorned with works of art. In Cicero's De Oratore he figures as one of the speakers, and is supposed to express the opinions of the author. II. Marcus Licinius, one of the first Roman triumvirate, born about 105 B. C, killed near Car-rhae in Mesopotamia in 53. He belonged to a different family from that of the preceding, several members of which had attained high honors in the republic, and borne the surname of Dives (rich). His father, who was consul and censor, was in the civil war a zealous partisan of Sulla, and died by his own hand after the victorious return of Marius and Cinna in 87. Young Orassus escaped to Spain, whence he went to Africa after the death of Cinna, and from there to Italy (83) to fight against the Marian party. Enriched with the spoils of the defeated and proscribed party, his avaricious and speculative spirit found ample means to augment his wealth by purchases at auction, by farming, mining, and letting out houses and slaves, and thus fully to deserve the family surname.
His riches and hospitality gave him influence and favor with the people, which paved his way to civil and military distinctions, though he was possessed of no remarkable talents. In 71 he was praetor, and received the command against the revolted slaves under Spartacus; he rapidly raised six legions, and defeated the gladiator in a bloody battle on the river Silarus, in which Spartacus was slain. Crassus received an ovation, being crowned, as conqueror of slaves, with a wreath of laurel instead of myrtle, and was elected, together with Pompey, consul for the following year. Rivalling the influence of his great colleague, he bribed the people of Rome by extraordinary banquets and distributions of corn; but he was finally reconciled with Pompey, and united with him and Caesar in forming the first triumvirate (60 B. C). Caesar, who received the province of Gaul, lulled by some minor undertakings the attention of his colleagues, who supported him by the influence of their fame and wealth. The. compact was renewed, and Crassus was again elected with Pompey consul for the year 55. According to the new terms, Caesar was to continue his government in Gaul, Pompey received Spain, and Crassus Syria. Lavish preparations betrayed his intention of entering upon a great expedition against the Parthians, which promised to become a source of boundless conquests and riches.
In anticipation of these, his joy is said to have been childish; and the opposition of the tribunes, as well as various omens which alarmed the people, could not deter him from his undertaking. He marched through Macedonia and Thrace to Asia, crossed the Euphrates in 54, and laid waste Mesopotamia, but returned to Syria, where he spent the winter, before starting on a new campaign in 53. He recrossed the Euphrates, following the false advice of an Arabian chief, and was attacked by Surena, the general of Orodes, king of the Parthians, near Carrhae, supposed to be the Biblical Haran. The Romans were defeated with immense slaughter. Crassus retreated to the town, but was compelled by a mutiny of the soldiers to accept the invitation of the enemy to a conference, on the way to which he was treacherously killed. The circumstances of this event are variously related. His head was sent to the Parthian king, who poured into his mouth melted gold, saying, "Now be satiated with what thou covetedst through life".