The Parthian Wars

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Parthian Wars

After the negotiations of the conference of Luca in 56, Crassus gained the consulship in 55 and secured the governorship of Ceria in 54. Crassus craved the military recognition which personified Pompey and Caesar. He had learnt that money did not result in popularity, but military exploits did.

Relations between Parthia and Rome were never good, and he now set out on a war against them. First, he raided Mesopotamia and then spent the winter of 54/53 in Ceria, where he immediately became unpopular with the locals (Because he kept requisitioning temples).

In 53, Crassus crossed the Euphartes with 35,000 men with the intention of marching on Seleucia-ad-Tigeris. Crassus’ main problem was that his army consisted almost entirely of legionary infantry and he possessed no cavalry. An arrangement with the king of Armenia to supply cavalry had fallen through.

Crassus marched his legionaries against an army of 10,000 horsemen of the Parthian king Orodes II. The place where the armies met around the city of Carrhae was ideally suited for cavalry. The Parthian horse archers could take aim for a safe distance against the Roman infantry. 25,000 Romans were killed or captured by the Parthian’s with the remaining 10,000 escaping back to Roman territory. Crassus’ son was killed during battle and Crassus was killed while trying to negotiate terms for surrender.

The significance of the Mithridatic and Parthian Wars

* The Eastern Settlement of 63 was the outcome of hard campaigning by Lucullus and a combination of force and diplomacy from Pompey. The wars against Mithridates were a drawn out affair with Rome emerging the dominant force at a terrible cost. * Caesar had revisited the eastern region in 47 and regained territories lost to the son of Mithridates who had taken advantage of Rome’s civil war to assert his influence. * The conquest of Parthia had been particularly costly to Rome. Rome’s supremacy in Parthia was never certain even...
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