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  • Author or Editor: Nikolaus Leo Overtoom x
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The consequences of Crassus’ invasion of Mesopotamia in 54–53 BCE were unanticipated and unintended; however, his disastrous failure shocked the Roman world and suddenly established the Parthians as a serious rival to Rome. Moreover, the shame the Romans felt after the Battle of Carrhae was considerable. The battle scarred the Roman psyche and severely damaged the Roman ego. This study synthesizes and investigates what became a vicious and virulent Roman literary tradition of anti-Crassus propaganda, examining how numerous Roman writers over the course of numerous centuries used the dead and disgraced Crassus as a convenient scapegoat to help explain Rome’s failure to dominate the East and subdue the Parthian rival. It demonstrates that these writers ignored the legitimate causes for the First Romano-Parthian War (56 BCE – 1 CE), which Crassus had inherited, and illustrates that the disaster at Carrhae became a popular moralizing lesson about the consequences of greed, impiety, and hubris.

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