The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

crass as.

idleness, and calculated rather to encourage effron­tery than to sharpen intellect. He thought that the Latins in almost every valuable acquirement excelled the Greeks, and was displeased to see his countrymen stoop to an inferior imitation of Gre­cian customs. The censors suppressed the schools by a proclamation, which may be found in the Dialogue de Oratoribus and in Gellius (xv. 11), and deserves to be referred to as an example of the form of a censorian edict. Though the two cen­sors concurred in this measure, they were men of very different habits and tempers, and passed the period of their office in strife and discord. Crassus was fond of elegance and luxury. He had a house upon the Palatium, which, though it yielded in magnificence to the mansion of Q. Catulus upon the same hill, and was considerably inferior to that of C. Aquilius upon the Viminal, was remarkable for its size, the taste of its furniture, and the beauty of its grounds. It was adorned with pillars of Hymettian marble, with expensive vases, and tri­clinia inlaid with brass. He had two goblets, carved by the hand of Mentor, which served rather for ornament than for use. His gardens were provided with fish-ponds, and some noble lotus-trees shaded his walks with their ample foliage. Ahenobarbus, his colleague, found fault with such corruption of manners (Plin. H. N. xvii. 1), esti­mated his house at a hundred million (sester-tium millies)., or according to Valerius Maximus (ix. 1. § 4) six million (sexagies sestertio) sester­ces, and complained of his crying for the loss of a lamprey, as if it had been a daughter. It was a tame lamprey, which used to come at the call of Crassus, and feed out of his hand. Crassus made a public speech against his colleague, and by his great powers of ridicule, turned him into derision ; jested upon his name (Sueton. Nero, 2), and to the accusation of weeping for a lamprey, replied, that it was more than Ahenobarbus had done upon the loss of any of his three wives. (Aelian, Hist. Anim. viii. 4.) On many occasions, he availed himself of his power of exciting a laugh against his opponent (Cic. de Or. ii. 59, 60, 70), and was not scrupulous as to the mode, Thus, though he care­fully avoided everything that might impair his own dignity, and might seem to his audience to savour of buffoonery, he sometimes jested upon personal deformities, as may be seen by reference to his sally upon L. Aelius Lamia in his speech for C. Aculeo (Cic. de Or. ii.65), and his answer to the trouble­some witness, as reported by Pliny. (H.N. xxxv. 4.) Shortly before his death, he spoke in favour of Cn. Plancus in opposition to the charge of M. Junius Brutus the Accuser. [brutus, No. 14.] Brutus, in allusion to his fine house and effeminate manners, called him the Palatine Venus, and taunted him with political inconsistency for de­preciating the senate in his speech for the Nar-bonese colony, and flattering that body in his speech for the lex Servilia. The successful repar­tee of Crassus is well known from being recorded by Cicero (de Orat. ii. 54, pro Cluent. 51) and Quintilian (vi. 3. § 44). His last speech was delivered in the senate in b. c. 91, against L. Mar-cius Philippus, the consul, an enemy of the opti-mates. Philippus, in opposing the measures of M. Livius Drusus, imprudently asked how, with such a senate, it was possible to carry on the go­vernment of the commonwealth. Crassus fixed upon this expression, and on that day seemed to

881

CRASSUS.

excel himself in the vehemence of his assault upon the consul. Philippus was so irritated by his bitter words, that he ordered his lictor to seize some of the goods of Crassus by way of pledge,-^-a strong measure, adopted usually by the highest magistrates to constrain the performance of public duties, or to punish contumacious contempt ot public authority. Crassus repelled the lictor, and said that he could not respect the character of con­sul in a man who refused to treat him as a senator. " If you want to restrain me, it will not do to seize my goods.* You must tear out this tongue. Even then, with my very breath I will continue to denounce your lawless conduct." At his dicta­tion a vote of the senate was passed by which they vindicated their own patriotism; but the passionate vehemence of this contention shattered his health and brought on a fever. He returned to his dwelling, was seized with a shivering fit, and in seven days was dead.

Such was the end of one of the greatest orators that Rome ever produced. In an age abounding with orators he stood pre-eminent. (Veil. Pat. ii. ,9.) The rougher style of Coruncanius, Cato, and the Gracchi, had been succeeded by a medium style, which, without sacrificing strength to artificial rules, was more polished and ornamented. His sentences were short and well-turned. In debate he was self-possessed and pertinacious, and his lively wit gave a peculiar zest to his reply. He employed words in common use, but he always em­ployed the best and most proper words. His mode of stating his facts and arguments was wonderfully clear and concise. Though peror-natus, he was perbrevis. In early life he had dis­ciplined his taste by the excellent practice of care­fully translating into Latin the most celebrated specimens of Grecian eloquence. In the treatise De Oratore, Cicero introduces him as one of the principal speakers, and he is understood to express Cicero's own sentiments. Few of his speeches were preserved in writing, and of those few the greater part, if we may judge from the fragments that remain, consisted of senatorial orations and harangues to the people. His chief excellence seems to have lain in this style rather than in ju­dicial oratory; yet, in the judgment of Cicero, ho was eloquentmm jurisperitissimus. (Guil. Grotius, de Vit. JCtorum^ i. 7. $ 9 ; Meyer, Oratorum Romanorum Fragment^ pp. 291—317 ; Drumann, Gesch. Roms. iv. p. 62.)

24 and 25. licixia. [LiciNiA.]

26. L. licinius crassus scipio, grandson of Crassus the orator [No. 23], one of whose daugh­ters married his father P. Scipio Nasica, who was praetor, b. c. 94, His grandfather, having no son, adopted him by his testament, and made him heir to his property. (Cic. Brut. 58 ; Plin. H. N9 xxxiv. 3. s. 8.)

27. licinius crassus dives, of uncertain pedigree, was praetor in b. c. 59, when L. Vet-tius was accused before him of conspiracy against the life of Pompey. (Cic. ad Att. ii. 24. § 2.)

* " Non tibi ilia sunt caedenda.'* (Cic. de Or. iii. 1.) Caedenda here implies seizure not sale. It is probable that, as a symbol of taking legal possession, the officer struck the goods, or marked them with notches, and that the ceremony was analogous to the manus injectio in personal arrest.

3 l

Pages
About | First

880

881

882
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.