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Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Defeat of Rome in the East: While Rome was able to recover from its disaster at Cannae, it never retrieved the results of Carrhae, a defeat that sealed the East as an impenetrable barrier to Roman ambition, and also signaled the demise of the Republic.

His 36, legionaries crossed the Euphrates and were met by a much smaller Parthian army, albeit one mounted on horseback in the dispersed, missile-firing steppe-war tradition. Later called to a parlay he was forced to attend by his nearly mutinous soldiers, Crassus and his officers were murdered by the Parthians. The now-leaderless Roman army disintegrated, only some 6, escaped to escape. At least 20, Roman legionaries were left dead on the field, with 10, more captured.

The author also provides an analysis of the mysterious Parthians, a people who vied with Rome as the most powerful empire on earth. In this book Dr. Gareth Sampson, currently a tutor in ancient history at the University of Manchester, lays out not only the gruesome outcome of the battle but its immense consequences on history. Hardcover , pages. Published July 16th by Casemate first published February 21st To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

To ask other readers questions about The Defeat of Rome in the East , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Defeat of Rome in the East. Lists with This Book. Apr 07, Katie Bayford rated it really liked it. Gareth Sampson sets out to redeem Crassus from the pervading myth of incompetency, and does a fine job of it.

Not only is this book a valuable read for those wanting to understand the Roman-Parthian war this book covers literally everything , and does it in an engaging and readable manner , it's a brilliant and convincing reappraisal of Crassus as a military leader.

We have so much more information about Rome than we do about Parthia that it's great that Sampson even tried to write a balanced account. He's also bending over backwards to be fair to Crassus, which was different. But this was much more a military history than what I wanted -- which isn't fair. As a military history it's pretty good, and reasonably solid.

If you don't know much about Carrhae and want to know more, this would be a terrific book, as comprehensive and modern as you're likely to get We have so much more information about Rome than we do about Parthia that it's great that Sampson even tried to write a balanced account. If you don't know much about Carrhae and want to know more, this would be a terrific book, as comprehensive and modern as you're likely to get. I wanted more about the Parthians.

There were a couple of unexamined things that made me roll my eyes -- the "Greek cities" of Mesopotamia were glad to be liberated by the Romans? There's no evidence, and this is just sloppy thinking. Whose heirs did they think they were? They must have been Greek speaking -- or at least bilingual. I know we don't know the answers to a lot of this, but the questions should at least be raised, rather than conventionally ignored.

Sep 13, Burt rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Folks with an above average interest in Roman history. The first and only book I have read and I am very ill-read in this area that fills in the blanks between the conquest of Italy and the emergence of Rome as a world power.

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I encountered this book at Historicon in Lancaster in June. It is dense, fairly scholarly written and a real challenge, but the author, in the first fifty pages, has filled in a lot of blanks for me in my understanding of the rise of Rome. The rest of the book is as interesting as the beginning. If you wonder how Rome got to b The first and only book I have read and I am very ill-read in this area that fills in the blanks between the conquest of Italy and the emergence of Rome as a world power. If you wonder how Rome got to be Rome, then this book is for you.

Jul 04, Richard rated it really liked it. His book jacket blurb says he is involved in the study of the power struggles and civil warfare of the late Roman Republic, and its expansionist policies in the East. This book, which is intended to be accessible for the general reader and the scholar, reflects his knowledge of those subjects. It provides many interesting details on the life of one of the most influential politicians and generals of the perio Gareth Sampson, PhD, is a professor of ancient history at the University of Manchester.

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It provides many interesting details on the life of one of the most influential politicians and generals of the period, who is nevertheless not remembered as much as his powerful peers. Marcus Licinius Crassus never seems to have received the esteem he deserved. He was possibly the most wealthy Roman, who manipulated the Republic's complicated and dangerous political system with unmatched finesse while showing, during several times of severe national peril, his ability to lead an army.

However, he had the bad luck of leading an army into one of the most devastating defeats Rome ever experienced; this humiliation, against a much more numerically inferior Parthian army, is one reason ancient historians have not been kind to Crassus. Sampson begins his study of the events leading to the ultimate fate of Crassus with two book sections which trace the rise of Rome and Parthia, two civilizations on the periphery of the Graeco-Persian world who would come into conflict numerous times over hundreds of years.

The section on Rome's rise encompasses much of Rome's history in a few pages, with descriptions of such city-state defining moments as the Phyrric, Ilyrian, Macedonian, Spartan, Seluecid, Achaean and Mithridatic Wars. Much easy-to-digest detail on these important earlier Roman involvements is available here, but I felt I was reading something from Ancient World after a while. I found the section on Parthia's rise more easy to digest, with its depiction of the warrior race of horsemen from the steppes of central Asia who formed an empire that would stretch from China's borders to beyond the Euphrates.

We learn that the region of Parthia situated west of the Caspian Sea and crossing the modern countries of Iran and Turkmenistan was originally populated by semi-nomadic Scythian tribes; they were conquered by the First Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great. Living on the edge of this great empire, the Parthians and other neighboring races formed a "satrapy" which pledged provincial loyalty to Persia and would supply soldiers in various Persian military expeditions, including the invasion of Greece under Xerxes about BC.

The Parthians would later find themselves living as underlords in the corners of the Seluecid empire. Dynastic Parthian internal wars would eventually lead to the foundation of the Arsacid Dynasty which would provide leaders to Parthia for centuries. Parthia would struggle for, and obtain its independence, lose it, regain it again and become a super power in events which Sampson would describe in full detail.

Crassus' rise to power was facilitated by his drive to succeed and dominate, which was ruthless even by Roman standards.

The Battle of Carrhae, 53 B.C.

At one point, when Marius and his ally Lucius Cornelius Cinna were in control during Sulla's foreign deployment, they stormed the City of Rome and massacred many political enemies. As Sampson states, most of Rome's leading senators, and their families, were butchered. The dead included the father and elder brother of Crassus; he survived by fleeing to Spain. Sampson lays the groundwork for his rebuttal of two thousand years of critics who blamed Crassus' defeat at Carrhae on his lack of martial ability by showing us how he personally raised an army in Spain, and entered the civil wars by joining Sulla.

He was a key general of Sulla's when he sailed his army from Africa to Italy in 83 BC and his stature would be elevated by his leadership of forces which provided Sulla with his ultimate victory. Crassus' military reputation would be further enhanced by his defeat of the Spartacan slave army which threatened Rome in 73 BC. Another general in Sulla's service who would become famous was Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus Pompey the Great , who would become Crassus' nemesis but also his frequent ally in grasping the political spoils of Rome.

Crassus' family never had the great wealth to reflect their patrician status and political influence, but his greed and avarice would make him extremely wealthy in the wake of Sulla's victory. As Sampson writes, when Crassus and Pompey combined their resources, they outstripped the rest of the Senate in its entirety. Among their accomplishments was the sharing of the Conselship on two occassions. In time of war, a Consul would often take control of a Roman army.

After their year in office, the ex-Consuls would be granted proconsulship, i. The political history of Rome in this era was truly fascinating, as it was deadly. Crassus and Pompey competed against each other and with the Senate during the 60's BC to dominate the government at a time when the oligarchic Republic was moving to anarchy, domination by powerful manipulators, and ultimately, later, dictatorship. The two generals had succeeded in using bribery and intimidation to achieve their political ends, then joined forces with Crassus' young protege, Pompey's father-in-law and rising public hero of the Gallic wars, Gaius Julius Caesar.

This powerful alliance of triumvirs was able to force the Senate to allow the three generals to effectively partition the armies and imperial possessions of the Republic. The faction secured the consulship and most, though not all, of the other offices sought. Legislation passed by the tribune Trebonius the lex Trebonia granted extended proconsulships of five years, matching that of Caesar in Gaul, to the two outgoing consuls.

The Spanish provinces would go to Pompeius; Crassus arranged to have Syria , with the transparent intention of going to war with Parthia. The notoriously wealthy Marcus Crassus was around sixty-two when he embarked on the Parthian invasion. Greed is often regarded by the ancient sources, particularly his biographer Plutarch , as his major character fault and also his motive for going to war. His major military achievements had been the defeat of Spartacus in 71 BC and his victory at Battle of the Colline Gate for Sulla a decade earlier. The Roman legions had easily crushed the numerically superior armies of other eastern powers such as Pontus and Armenia , and Crassus expected Parthia to be an easy target.

Cicero , however, suggests an additional factor: Upon his return to Rome as a highly decorated officer, Publius took steps to establish his own political career. Roman sources view the Battle of Carrhae not only as a calamity for Rome and a disgrace for Marcus Crassus, but also as a tragedy for cutting short Publius Crassus's promising career. Some Romans objected to the war against Parthia.

Crassus arrived in Syria in late 55 BC and immediately set about using his immense wealth to raise an army. He assembled a force of seven legions about 35, heavy infantry. In addition he had about 4, light infantry , and 4, cavalry , including the 1, Gallic cavalry Publius had brought with him.

Artavasdes advised him to take a route through Armenia to avoid the desert and offered him reinforcements of 16, cavalry and 30, infantry. In response, the Parthian king Orodes II divided his army and he took most of the soldiers, mainly foot archers with a small amount of cavalry, to punish the Armenians and sent the rest of his forces, 9, horse archers and 1, cataphracts under the command of Spahbod Surena , to scout out and harass Crassus' army.

Orodes did not anticipate that Surena's force, outnumbered by almost four to one, would be able to defeat Crassus, and merely wanted to delay him.

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Crassus received directions from the Osroene chieftain Ariamnes, who had previously assisted Pompey in his eastern campaigns. He urged Crassus to attack at once, falsely stating that the Parthians were weak and disorganized. He then led Crassus' army into the most desolate part of the desert, far from any water. Crassus then received a message from Artavasdes, claiming that the main Parthian army was in Armenia and begging him for help.

Crassus ignored the message and continued his advance into Mesopotamia. After being informed of the presence of the Parthian army, Crassus' army panicked. His general Cassius recommended that the army be deployed in the traditional Roman fashion, with infantry forming the center and cavalry on the wings. At first Crassus agreed, but he soon changed his mind and redeployed his men into a hollow square , each side formed by twelve cohorts.

The Roman forces advanced and came to a stream. Crassus' generals advised him to make camp, and attack the next morning in order to give his men a chance to rest. Publius, however, was eager to fight and managed to convince Crassus to confront the Parthians immediately. The Parthians went to great lengths to intimidate the Romans.

First they beat a great number of hollow drums and the Roman troops were unsettled by the loud and cacophonous noise. Surena then ordered his cataphracts to cover their armor in cloths and advance. When they were within sight of the Romans, they simultaneously dropped the cloths, revealing their shining armor. The sight was designed to intimidate the Romans. Thus, he sent his horse archers to surround the Roman square. Crassus sent his skirmishers to drive the horse archers off, but they were driven back by the latter's arrows. The horse archers then engaged the legionaries.

The legionaries were protected by their large shields scuta and armor reenactment with composite bows do not answer the question whether arrows can penetrate mail , but these could not cover the entire body. Some historians describe the arrows partially penetrating the Roman shields, and nailing the shields to the limbs of the Roman infantry as well as nailing their feet to the ground. However, Plutarch wrote in his accounts that the Romans were met with a shower of arrows that passed through every kind of cover, hard and soft alike.

Other historians state that the majority of wounds inflicted were non-fatal hits to exposed limbs. The legionaries then formed the testudo formation , in which they locked their shields together to present a nearly impenetrable front to missiles. The Parthian cataphracts exploited this weakness and repeatedly charged the Roman line, causing panic and inflicting heavy casualties.

Crassus now hoped that his legionaries could hold out until the Parthians ran out of arrows. Upon realizing this, Crassus dispatched his son Publius with 1, Gallic cavalry, archers and eight cohorts of legionaries to drive off the horse archers. The horse archers feigned retreat, drawing off Publius' force who suffered heavy casualties from arrow fire. Once Publius and his men were sufficiently separated from the rest of the army, the Parthian cataphracts confronted them while the horse archers cut off their retreat. In the ensuing combat the Gauls fought bravely, however their inferiority in weapons and armor was evident and they eventually retreated to a hill, where Publius committed suicide while the rest of his men were slaughtered, with only taken alive.

He was confronted with the sight of his son's head on a spear. The Parthian horse archers began to surround the Roman infantry, shooting at them from all directions, while the cataphracts mounted a series of charges that disorganized the Romans. The Parthian onslaught did not cease until nightfall.

Crassus The battle of Carrhae. - The Best Documentary Ever

Crassus, deeply shaken by his son's death, ordered a retreat to the nearby town of Carrhae , leaving behind 4, wounded, who were killed by the Parthians the next morning. The next day, Surena sent a message to the Romans, offering to negotiate with Crassus. Surena proposed a truce, allowing the Roman army to return to Syria safely in exchange for Rome giving up all territory east of the Euphrates.

Surena either sent an embassy to the Romans by the hills or went himself stating he wanted a peace conference to evacuate. Crassus and his generals were killed. After his death, the Parthians allegedly poured molten gold down his throat, in a symbolic gesture mocking Crassus' renowned greed. Roman casualties amounted to about 20, killed and 10, captured [33] making the battle one of the costliest defeats in Roman history. Parthian casualties were minimal. Rome was humiliated by this defeat, and this was made even worse by the fact that the Parthians had captured several Legionary Eagles.