Unlike a long line, it would prevent his men from being overrun by Parthian cavalry charges. At this point, Crassus gathered 1, cavalry, 8 cohorts of infantry and auxiliary archers in one formation under the command of Publius Crassus and ordered them to charge the Parthian archers in attempt to close the distance between them and bring them to hand to hand combat. Abgar II reported that a small Parthian force under Surena was nearby. It was this victory that led Parthia to invade Syria and Armenia several times, with varying successes. Crassus took this advice, then changed the formation into a hollow square with 12 cohorts on each side and a cavalry detachment next to each cohort. Crassus received directions from the Osroene chieftain Ariamnes, who had previously assisted Pompey in his eastern campaigns.

Orodes then sent a peace delegation to Crassus. It halted Roman expansion, gave Mesopotamia back to the Parthians, and consolidated the Euphrates as the boundary between the two powers. These prisoners, Dubs proposed, were resettled by the Parthians on their eastern border and may have fought as mercenaries at the Battle of Zhizhi , between the Chinese and the Xiongnu in 36 BC. The defeat was primarily a failure of leadership. In addition to his failure to understand the local culture and politics, Crassus suffered from a severe case of preparing to fight the last war. As a result, they were outreached by the Parthians and many had their horses taken out from under them on the first charge. Crassus made a lot of money by buying fire-damaged properties at discount prices, repairing them using slave labor and then selling them at a profit.

There, Roman heavy infantry had carried the day against numerically superior but lightly armed and armored forces.

To balance an batt,e tradition generally hostile toward Crassus, see T.

They decided to withdraw under cover of darkness before the Parthians could return. Crassus was guilty of a long series of blunders as a commander, failing at politics, intelligence and tactics.


Crassus himself was sixty years old at the time of the Parthian campaign. Marcus Licinius Crassus c. Thus, he sent his horse carrjae to surround the Roman square. It is commonly seen as one of the earliest and most important battles between the Roman and Parthian empires and one of the most crushing defeats in Roman history.

When they were within sight of the Romans, they simultaneously dropped the cloths, revealing their shining armor. With Crassus out of the picture, the two were set on a collision course which within a few years would bsttle to civil war and the collapse of the Roman Republic.

Kaveh Farrokh | Christopher Jones: The Battle of Carrhae, 53 BCE

There is no cover to hide behind when fighting in the desert, hence slight technical differences such as the range of weapons and the strength of armor become very important. These were the noblemen and aristocrats of Parthian society, mounted warriors similar to a medieval European knight. Cicerohowever, suggests an additional factor: However, Crassus failed to consolidate these gains and did not get strong commitment from the local Greek population to supply troops for the coming campaign.

Orodes began to view Surena as a potential threat to the throne, and had him murdered. Crassus himself was killed when truce negotiations turned violent. As the Romans were facing a force that was entirely cavalry and could attack from any direction, forming a hollow square was again not the worst possible idea.

He urged Crassus to attack at once, falsely stating that the Parthians were weak and disorganized. Four cohorts were surrounded on one hill and cut down, with only 20 men escaping to Carrhae.

Roman casualties for the entire campaign, according to Plutarch, ran to 20, dead and 10, captured, with only small groups of men escaping to Roman territory. Artabazes then decided to withdraw his forces from what was becoming apparent to him as a suicide mission, and returned to Armenia.


The Parthian army traveled light. The horse archers moved in to surround the square on all sides. The Parthian onslaught did not cease until nightfall. A modern re-enactor in the gear of a legionnaire of the late Roman Republic. At carthae point, Crassus gathered 1, cavalry, 8 cohorts of infantry and auxiliary archers in one formation under the command of Publius Crassus and ordered them to charge the Parthian archers in attempt to close the distance between them and bring them to hand to hand combat.

Seven Roman legions were lost, annihilated by a force a third of their size. Rome was humiliated by this defeat, and this was made even worse by the fact that the Parthians had captured several Legionary Eagles. Webarchive template carrhad links.

carrbae They were unfamiliar with eastern ways of fighting. Assuming that he assigned non-combat support troops to garrison duty, he was departing Syria with at most 30, legionnaires.

Battle of Carrhae

He was fabulously wealthy and very powerful due to his wealth, but had never received a major military command. Farrokh, pageShadows in the Desert: Cassius and Octavius ignored him and began plotting to break during the next moonless night and return to Roman Syria.

In response, Cassius recommended extending the lines as far as possible and positioning cavalry along the flanks to avoid being surrounded.

The Romans were left to wait in formation in the uncertain darkness. The dry air of summer made their bows even more effective.