Did Caesar’s Ambition to Conquer Parthia Lead to His Assassination?

Julius Caesar on Horseback, Writing and Dictating Simultaneously to His Scribes by Jaques de Gheyn II (1629) (Public Domain)

Did Caesar’s Ambition to Conquer Parthia Lead to His Assassination?

In 56 BC, Julius Caesar invited Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus to Luca in Cisalpine Gaul (modern-day Lucca, Italy) in an effort to repair their strained relationship, which had been established around 60 BC, but was kept secret from the Senate. During this event, a crowd of 100 or more senators showed up to petition for their desired sovereign patronages. The men cast lots and chose which areas to govern. Caesar’s wish was granted and he acquired Gaul; Pompey obtained Spain; and Crassus received Syria. All of this became official when Pompey and Crassus were elected as consuls in 55 BC.

The First Triumvirate of the Roman Republic:  Gnaeus Pompeius, Licinius Crassus, and Gaius Julius Caesar (Mary Harrsch/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

The First Triumvirate of the Roman Republic:  Gnaeus Pompeius, Licinius Crassus, and Gaius Julius Caesar (Mary Harrsch/ CC BY-SA 4.0)

Crassus was delighted that his lot fell on Syria as it was his desire to make the two previous campaigns of Lucullus against Tigranes and Pompey’s against Mithridates, appear mediocre. His grand strategy of conquest and confiscation went beyond Parthia, surpassed Bactria and India, reaching the Outer Ocean – a strategy easier envisioned than orchestrated.


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