A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

8. P. LICINIUS CRASSUS DIVES MUCIANUS, was the adopted son of No. 7. (Cic. Brut. 26.) His natural father was P. Mucius Scaevola, who was consul B. C. 175. In the year B. C. 131 he was consul and pontifex maximus, and, according to Livy, was the first priest of that rank who went beyond Italy. (Epit. lix.) As pontifex maximus, he forbade his colleague, Valerius Flaccus,

who was flamen Martialis, to undertake the command against Aristonicus, and imposed a fine upon him, in case of his leaving the sacred rites. The people remitted the fine, but shewed their sense of due priestly subordination by ordering the flamen to obey the pontiff. (Cic. Phil. 11.8.) Crassus, though his own absence was liable to similar objection, proceeded to oppose Aristonicus, who had occupied the kingdom of Pergamus, which had been bequeathed by Attalus to the Roman people. His expedition to Asia was unfortunate. He suffered a defeat at Leucae, and was overtaken in his flight between Elaea and Smyrna by the body-guard of the enemy. In order that he might not be taken alive, he struck a Thracian in the eye with his horse-whip, and the Thracian, smarting with the blow, stabbed him to death. (V. Max. 3.2.12.) His body was buried at Smyrna, and his head was brought to Aristonicus, who, in the following year, surrendered to Perperna, and was put to death at Rome. He was so minutely skilled in the Greek language, that when he presided in Asia, he was in the habit of giving judgment to those who resorted to his tribunal in any one of five dialects in which they preferred their claim. (Quint. Inst. 11.2, fin.) Cicero extols him as a good orator and jurist (Cic. Brut. 26; compare Dig. 1. tit. 2. s. 4), and Gellius (who gives an example of the strictness of his military discipline) says that, according to Sempronius Asellio and other writers of Roman history, he possessed five of the best of good things, " quod esset ditissimus, quod nobilissimus, quod eloquentissimus, quod jurisconsultissimus, quod pontifex maximus." (Gel. 1.13.) How the legal lore of Crassus was on one occasion well-nigh foiled in contest with the superior eloquence of Ser. Sulpicius Galba (whose son married the daughter of Crassus) may be read in Cicero (Cic. de Orat. 1.56). By Heineccius (Hist. Jur. Roms. 1.143) and many others, he has been confounded with L. Licinius Crassus, the orator, No. 23. (Rutilius, Vitae JCtoruma, c. xviii.)