The Battle of Carrhae, fought in 53 BC near the town of Carrhae, was an important battle between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic.The Parthian Spahbod Surena decisively defeated a Roman invasion force led by Marcus Licinius Crassus.It was the first of the battles between the Roman and Persian empires, and one of the most crushing defeats in Roman history. When the Romans abandoned the formation, the cataphracts withdrew and the horse archers resumed shooting. The Battle of Carrhae, also known as the Battle of Callinicum, took place in 296 or 297, after the invasion of Mesopotamia and Armenia by the Sasanian king Narseh.The battle took place between Carrhae and Callinicum and was a victory for the Sasanians.Narseh attacked with forces recruited from the Euphrates frontier. But Antony was in such haste to depart for Phraata (according to Plutarch, to conquer it quickly and return to Cleopatra) that he failed to bring along any siege equipment, including his 80-foot ram. In this final battle the slave army was indeed destroyed and according to Plutarch Spartacus himself, deserted by those that were about him…surrounded by the enemy and bravely defending himself, was cut in pieces. The legionaries were protected by their large shields and armor, but these could not cover the entire body. It was also an early example of hit-and-run, guerrilla-style warfare, carried out in a manner that would stand up well by 21st century standards. In March and April 56 BC, meetings were held in Ravenna and Luca, in Cisalpine Gaul, to reaffirm the weakening alliance formed four years earlier by Julius Caesar, Pompey Magnus and Marcus Crassus. The Battle of Hattin in July 1187 CE in present-day Israel was one of the great victories of Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt and Syria (r. 1174-1193 CE). At this battle, for the first real time, the Empires of Rome and Parthia clashed. What did Julius Caesar say after the Battle of Zela? Such was the Battle of Carrhae, one of the worst defeats for Rome since Cannae, hundreds of years earlier. Crassus knew very well that to reach the status of his colleagues he would need to win military victories and new territories for Rome. Now it was his army that was being vanquished – bogged down in the sand by a much smaller force of just 10,000 mounted archers. Gareth Sampson sets out to redeem Crassus from the pervading myth … Where quotation marks are used in this article, the words are his. The Parthian cavalry's will eventually broke and panic spread, many of the horse archers being killed as they tried to escape. Joseph Conrad, Polish-born novelist (Heart of Darkness, Nostromo). For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Military History magazine today! The Battle of Carrhae was a battle between the Romans, led by Crassus, and the Parthians, led by Surena in 53 BCE. Food supplies ran out, and many of the soldiers became sick. As to this Parthian war, though, Plutarch wrote that Ateius and many others murmured that one man should undertake a war against a people that had done them no injury, and were at amity with them. Alarmed, the Roman Senate gave Crassus command of an army. Surena’s soldiers marched behind, each carrying a Roman head. Next, in 71 BC Crassus maneuvered Spartacus onto the peninsula of Rhegium, where he bottled up the slave army by building a trench across the isthmus, described by Plutarch as three-hundred furlongs long, fifteen feet broad and as much in depth. on a hill. But that apparent retreat was just another feint, for when the Romans had been lured a sufficient distance from the square the Parthians suddenly turned and reappeared in force. It was an army with absolutely no infantry. This was a significant error, because the Parthians waged war like no nation Rome had ever faced. Rome at the time of Carrhae, though still a republic, was ruled by three powerful public figures known as the First Triumvirate: Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus-known to posterity as Pompey the Great-Gaius Julius Caesar and Marcus Licinius Crassus. The cataphract wore scale body armor, articulated plating on his arms and greaves on his legs. He was advised by his lieutenant, Gaius Cassius Longinus (better known to history for his role in cutting Julius Caesar’s ambitions down to size on the Ides of March, nine years later) to advance along the Euphrates towards Seleucia, having his flank protected and his water supply guaranteed by proximity to the river. Roman casualties amounted to about 200 killed and 1000 wounded, while the Parthians suffered over 9400 killed. With a long lance as his primary weapon, he looked like a forerunner of the medieval knight, differing only in the absence of stirrups hanging from his saddle. Surena then ordered his cataphracts to cover their armor in cloths and advance. The fierce Celts were able to seize the cataphracts’ lances and drag them to the ground, where the Parthians’ heavy armor rendered them helpless. Things went from bad to worse. He then required his army to salute him as Imperator (or field marshal) for what he regarded as a great victory. Crassus arrived in Syria in late 55 BC and immediately set about using his immense wealth to raise an army. Emerging from winter quarters in 53 BC, the Romans were met by an embassy from King Orodes II of Parthia. The Armenian king Artavasdes advised Crassus to take a route through Armenia to avoid the desert and offered him reinforcements of 16,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry. While that slaughter went on, the main Parthian force was laying siege to Crassus and the surviving Romans in Carrhae. Publius was able to rally some of his Gallic cavalry, though, and they managed the closest thing to a genuine Roman success in the whole sorry campaign. ⁓The Voice before the Void “Battle of Carrhae” Wikipedia. As he tried to march his army back to the safety of Armenia, he was abandoned by his disgusted ally, King Artavasdes-the same Artavasdes who so preoccupied Crassus’ thoughts in 53 BC. Ateius went so far as to have Crassus arrested. Once again, the Armenian urged that Crassus withdraw from the desert and renew the attack from Armenia, where their forces could be joined on friendly ground. Crassus paid no attention. Start your review of The Defeat of Rome in the East: Crassus, the Parthians, and the Disastrous Battle of Carrhae, 53 BC. Crassus sent his skirmishers to drive the horse archers off, but they were driven back by the latter's arrows. The Battle of Carrhae (53 bc), with the Parthians led by Surenas with his light and heavy cavalry, cost Rome seven legions and the lives of Crassus and his son. The horse archers then engaged the legionaries. His son, Publius, joined him in Syria during the winter of 54–53 BC, bringing with him the thousand Celtic cavalry troopers from Gaul. Write a review. Then when receiving the command of the easter… For that mopping up operation, coupled with his more significant conquests in Iberia, the Senate awarded him a formal triumph, while Crassus had to settle for a mere ovation. The triumvirate aimed to expand their faction's power through traditional means: military commands, placing political allies in office, and advancing legislation to promote their interests. The sally seemed to succeed at first-the Parthians fled and Publius exultantly detached his cavalry in pursuit. Vintage engraving of the death of Crassus soon after the Battle of Carrhae. Unknown to them, however, Surena hid the main body of his army behind the first rank, and had them conceal the glittering of their armor. Incredibly, Crassus at first entertained the fantastic hope that the Armenians would come to his rescue, until his officers brought him to his senses. Their commander was decapitated, and his head was used as an ornament at the banquet of the Parthian king. Spartacus and one-third of his force managed to break out on a wild, snowy night, however, by filling a section of the trench with earth, thereby making it passable. The sight was designed to intimidate the Romans, but Surena was impressed by the lack of effect it had. But Orodes II grew to resent this and had him executed. They had come to this eastern province of the kingdom of Parthia seeking conquest and plunder but, deceived by a false guide and commanded by an arrogant blunderer, the legions were almost annihilated. List of Prime Ministers of the United States of America (A United Kingdom of Scandinavia). He raised seven legions (35,000 men), eight cohorts of auxiliaries (4000 men), and 4000 cavalry, including the 1000 Gallic horsemen brought to Syria by Publius. Alternative History is a FANDOM Lifestyle Community. This formation would allow his forces to maneuver, but at the risk of being outflanked. Crassus now hoped that his legionaries could hold out until the Parthians ran out of arrows. When Crassus revived his army career, the opponent he chose was the Parthian kingdom. When he was assassinated, Caesar was planning a retaliatory war. Vol 3 Ep 33 - BATTLE - The Battle of Carrhae ( 53 BCE ) 53 BCE - The first major encounter between the Romans and the Parthians involved the mighty Roman army taking on an extremely unusual army. The Gauls were immediately surrounded and attacked by the mounted archers. In 216 B.C., the Roman Republic was embroiled in the second of what would eventually be three devastating wars with the North African city-state of Carthage. The Roman General Marcus Licinius Crassus won a decisive victory over the Parthian General Surena and was the opening battle in … Seventeen years after the Battle of Carrhae, Marcus Antonius, aka Mark Antony, tried to redeem Roman honor by re-invading Parthia. 1) Battle of Carrhae (6 May, 53 BC) – We start off the list with a Roman defeat – and, it was not just any defeat. The Parthian Surena decisively defeated a Roman invasion force, led by Marcus Licinius Crassus. He did not trust Phraates’ offer of safe passage in return for surrender, and refused the services of a guide in a journey across the desert, instead following a course over hilly terrain that was unfavorable to Parthian cavalry. Such was the Battle of Carrhae, a disaster almost unmatched in the otherwise glorious history of Roman arms. Antony next went into winter quarters, where Plutarch wrote that he anxiously awaited Cleopatra’s arrival and passed his time in wine and drunkenness. He decided to sail immediately, despite the appearance of a storm, and so began his campaign by losing a number of ships. Most of all, it was a monument to the delusions, conceits and military incompetence of the Roman commander, Marcus Licinius Crassus. Carrhae Battlefield near the modern town of Harran in Turkey was the setting for one of the most crushing Roman defeats, inflicted at the hands of the Parthians. Before withdrawing into winter quarters, Crassus was joined in Syria by his son, Publius, who had been serving with distinction under Caesar in Gaul. Indeed, only the threat of losing his political prestige could bestir Antony from the bed of his paramour, the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII. After being informed of the presence of the Parthian army, Crassus deployed his army in the traditional Roman fashion, with infantry forming the center and cavalry on the wings. Commander Surena and Arsacid Parthian Army L… But Orodes would join the general he betrayed in 38 BC, at the hands of his own son, Phraactes. Crassus' campaign was a disastrous failure, ending in his defeat and death at the Battle of Carrhae. This article was originally published on TheHistoryNet.com in June 2005 issue for Military History magazine. Twenty-four thousand Romans perished in this ill-starred campaign, half from disease. But his campaign fared little better than that of Marcus Licinius Crassus, with the notable exception that Antony came back alive.Antony’s official pretext for the campaign was to recover the standards and prisoners lost by Crassus, but his true motives were remarkably similar to Crassus.’ As a member of the Second Triumvirate, Antony sought military glory to counter-balance the power of his co-ruler, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, the future Emperor Augustus. Thus, he sent his horse archers to surround the Roman square. In the confusion and the dark the fleeing columns became separated, with the result that some groups never made it to Carrhae, and those that did wandered in throughout the long night. Ariamnes, of course, was a spy, sent to lead Crassus into a trap, but Surena was in fact the Parthian commander-and an interesting character in his own right. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. The battle marked the death of the much despised and probably the richest Roman of his time – Marcus Licinius Crassus (the very same general who subdued Spartacus). Unfortunately for Crassus, he met his fate at the battle of Carrhae. Through Surenas’s brilliant victory the routes to Iran and India were closed to Rome, and its… Plutarch and Dio recall he was killed in a scuffle whilst attempting to negotiate with the Parthians. That revelation, according to Plutarch, left Crassus struck with amazement and initially paralyzed. B.D. The rest of the Romans in Crassus’ contingent either surrendered or were hunted down and killed. The Parthians occasionally employed mercenaries or raised militia to serve as infantry, but very often-including at Carrhae-their forces were entirely mounted. All surrendered to the Romans voluntarily, except for Zenodotia. The Roman legions had no answer for the flood of arrows launched by the nimble Parthian horse archers. The Carthaginians and their allies, led by Hannibal, surrounded and practically annihilated a larger Roman and Italian army under the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. Ozzy Osbourne, singer, songwriter, actor; member of the influential rock band Black Sabbath; an MTV reality show, The Osbournes, followed the lives of the singer and his family (2002-05). The Battle of Carrhae was an important battle between the Roman Republic and the Parthian Empire. That night, Plutarch wrote, he led Crassus out of Carrhae and into the midst of morasses and places full of ditches, so that the Romans were hopelessly lost as morning broke, then disappeared. Before long the breakout snowballed into a full-fledged slave revolt throughout Italy that became known as the Third Servile War. Legislation passed by the tribune Trebonius granted extended proconsulships of five years, matching that of Caesar in Gaul, to Pompey and Crassus. What is more, the Roman citizens, according to Plutarch, thought Crassus petty for accepting even that much-a victory over slaves was not thought to be very heroic. With Crassus dead, the rule of three became a rule of two. Plutarch wrote that Crassus, out of anger and perverseness, decided that this was actually treachery on the part of the Armenians. The legionaries then formed the testudo formation, in which they locked their shields together to present a nearly impenetrable front to missiles. Crassus had some military accomplishments on his resum. Upon realizing this, Crassus dispatched his son Publius with his 1000 Gallic cavalry to advance and provoke an attack from the horse archers. The Romans found themselves stranded in the Mesopotamian desert, not far from a little town called Carrhae. He brought with him 1,000 Gallic cavalry, who would play an important part at the battle to come. As the fighting raged before Crassus and his retinue, a Parthian horseman trotted towards the commander. The Romans were led by Crassus, who wanted a victory to balance those of his fellow triumvirs Pompey and Julius Caesar. The Crusader states of the Levant had been created shortly after the First Cr… This article was written by Belleville, Illinois-based contributor Bryan Dent. Crassus spent his time in Syria during the winter of 54-53, more like an userer than a general, Plutarch wrote, noting that it pleased him to weigh, by scale and balance, all the treasures in the local temples he had captured. Meanwhile, the Parthians, led by King Phraates IV-the regicidal son of the late Orodes II-harassed the column throughout its march. 9 AD. What had begun some 50 years earlier as a territorial dispute had devolved into an existential duel, with both powers vying for supremacy. For all the preparations he made in mobilizing a mighty invasion force, Crassus’ first mistake was his failure to acquaint himself with the tactics of the Parthian army. That night, Cassius and some other officers who saw that he had suffered a complete breakdown, took upon themselves the decision to withdraw all the able-bodied troops they could to the town of Carrhae, leaving their wounded behind. Take your favorite fandoms with you and never miss a beat. He was envious of the glory and popularity of his fellow triumvir Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar. The young aristocrat Caesar had been known mostly for his eloquent speeches in the Senate, but the martial talents he had recently displayed in Gaul and Britannia were fast giving rise to a new legend. Publius was severely wounded and was dragged away by some survivors to a nearby hill for a last stand. We can see that the Battle of Carrhae itself had been won by the better general, but this does not mean that we can perpetuate the blackening of Crassus’ reputation. Some of the army’s scouts, now battered and bloodied, came in to report that their comrades were dead, and that they themselves had barely escaped. Pompey arrived in Italy in time to assist Crassus in rounding up the surviving slaves, who were crucified on rows of crosses that lined the Appian Way. The king advised Crassus to invade Parthia by way of his realm-the Romans would then be provisioned by the Armenians, and the hilly country of that land would be unfavorable to Parthian cavalry. What he failed to do, though, was continue on to occupy the cities of Babylon and Seleucia, which had large Greek-speaking populations and were not friendly to their Parthian occupiers. Blaming Artavasdes for his failure, Antony kidnapped the Armenian king, had him bound and displayed him in Egypt, where the Roman commander awarded himself a triumph for this great victory. Crassus, a nouveau riche entrepreneur, was both a successful politician and the richest man in Rome. Morgan Llywelyn, American-born Irish author noted for historical fantasy and historical fiction novels, as well as historical nonfiction (1921, the War for Independence); received Exceptional Celtic Woman of the Year award (1999). He even tried to exhort his men with a patriotic speech, but Plutarch claimed that he saw but few who gave much heed to him. He was the leader of the House of Suren and was best known for defeating the Romans in the Battle of Carrhae. In a slaughter known as the battle of Carrhae the Romans lost nearly their entire army and Crassus was killed. Horse-archers would ride swiftly at the enemy, loose an arrow at the enemy and then wheel around and retreat short range. Terri Schiavo, who became the focus of a 15-year legal struggle over the question of artificially prolonging the life of a patient, Schiavo, whom doctors had diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. Battle of Carrhae (53 BC) was one of the most important because it had profound implications for both Rome and for the eastern provinces of its Empire. But triumph or not, it would be many years before Rome dared venture again into a war with the Parthians or their successors, the Sassanids. Wherever he traveled, even to battle, he required 1,000 camels to carry his baggage, 200 wagons to transport his concubines, and was accompanied by 1,000 armed bodyguards. Hunger and disease continued to wrack the army, however, and at one point some of Antony’s troops actually mutinied. The Battle of Carrhae was an important battle between the Roman Republic and the Parthian Empire. Plutarch estimated the final count of Roman casualties to be 20,000 killed and 10,000 captured. The Parthians had a standard practice of employing captured soldiers as border guards. Prince Sverre Magnus, third in line of succession to the Norwegian throne. To maintain his punishment of the Roman legions, Surena had cleverly arranged for a running supply train of camels to keep his horse archers resupplied with arrows. Parthia V Rome: The battle of Carrhae I Curator's Corner season 4 episode 4 - Duration: 8:03. The Parthians went to great lengths to intimidate the Romans. Crassus reluctantly went to Surena’s camp to discuss the terms and was promptly murdered. Seventeen years after the Battle of Carrhae, Marcus Antonius, aka Mark Antony, tried to redeem Roman honor by re-invading Parthia. The Battle of Carrhae between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic in 53 BC. Plutarch reported Crassus took it by storm, plundered the goods, and sold the inhabitants. First they beat a great number of hollow drums and the Roman troops were unsettled by the loud and cacophonous noise. Julius Caesar. Daryl Hannah, actress (Blade Runner, Steel Magnolias). The Spanish provinces would go to Pompey, while Crassus would govern Syria, with the transparent intention of going to war with Parthia. Crassus next received word from his ally, King Artavasdes of Armenia, along with 6,000 Armenian cavalry. Instead he was taken with a local Arab chieftain named Ariamnes, who persuaded Crassus that only a token force of Parthians, commanded not by King Orodes but by a General Surena, was nearby to oppose him. Not surprisingly, that guide also turned out to be a spy. Surena won great fame for his victory over the Romans at Carrhae. At least Antony did not repeat the most glaring mistakes of Crassus’ venture. Behind them came Parthian singing women, chanting what Plutarch described as abusive songs on the cowardice and effeminacy of Crassus. What was the major flaw in Pharnaces II's strategy? Yet even death wasn’t the end for insults to Crassus. Surena’s reward for his great victory, according to Plutarch, was to be executed, out of mere envy. Carrhae, Battle of — (53 BC) Battle that stopped the Roman invasion of Parthian Mesopotamia (see Parthia). Crassus' generals advised him to make camp, and attack the next morning in order to give his men a chance to rest. For all of his wealth and political power, Crassus, according to the 1st century Greek historian Plutarch, had always envied Pompey’s military fame. This, the proverbial Parthian shot, was the sort of tactic that the Romans were apt to regard with disdain, as being cowardly. He also made better use of his own cavalry, actually driving the Parthians from the field in several skirmishes. The army of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and its Latin allies were totally defeated and, shortly after, Jerusalem was captured too. Battle of Carrhae Anniversary Special: A story of greed, deceit, genius, envy, and deep historical significance. Parthian horse archers engaging the Roman leginaries in the early stages of the battle. The army then blindly and awkwardly marched ahead, and in a rare stroke of good luck stumbled upon the Balissus River. A number of Romans did manage to escape from Carrhae that night, including the group led by Cassius. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. It was a battle of shocking brutality, even by ancient standards. The Battle of Carrhae was fought in 53 BC between the Roman Republic and the Parthian Empire near the ancient town of Carrhae (present-day Harran, Turkey). The final pathetic phase of Crassus’ campaign began when he opted once again to hire a local guide to lead him and his 1,500-man contingent in their breakout. 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