As a scion of a rich family and a real estate mogul, the anti-hero of this story met his end when he rashly tried to invade Iran. However before that, his illustrious exploits included shady real estate deals, building a wall to hem in some very bad people from the south, and engagement in incredibly public affairs with women behind his wife’s back.
Sounds familiar? What if I told you that this happened over 2000 years ago in a galaxy far away? Well, not really far away, actually on the same planet that we are on now. And the man we are talking about is Donald J. Trump. My mistake again, we are talking about Marcus L. Crassus, and the L. stands for Licinius.
You might be familiar with the name if you watched the series “Spartacus”. He’s the Roman general who battled Spartacus and his army. In real life, Crassus was quite the character. Ambitious, greedy, and power hungry, there was no trick too sleazy when it came to making a buck.
Money, money, money
One of his major achievements was creating the first fire squad in the city of Rome. At that time, Rome was growing rapidly and since many of its buildings were not built with the greatest of care, fires were ever-present. Crassus saw a hole in the market and decided to fight these fires.
However, if you think it was for some altruistic purposes, you are in for a rude awakening. Whenever a fire broke out, the men on Crassus’ fire squad would rush over to the burning building and proceed unto…
They would proceed unto doing nothing. Actually, what they in fact did was go to the owner of the burning house and ask him to sell for cheap. Then they would go to the owners of the houses nearby and ask them to sell as well. If any of them refused, then they would just let the houses burn down to the ground!
In this way, Crassus managed to buy up significant real estate. However, this was not enough for him. He had other tricks up his sleeve. Marcus allied himself with Sulla, Rome’s dictator of the moment, and took advantage when Sulla decided to kill off his enemies in a series of proscriptions.
The way these proscriptions worked is that Sulla started off with a small list of his opponents that he wanted killed. However, the list kept getting larger by the day, and many guys sensing an opportunity added some other juicy names on it as well, not for any political stance in particular, but just because they had some nice property that these unsavory characters wanted to get their hands on.
One of the guys who profited handsomely from the proscriptions was Crassus. Whenever a guy got executed, there was Crassus, waiting to snap up his property for cheap.
Crassus was also linked to a very public sex scandal. Apparently, he bedded Licinia, one of the Vestal Virgins. Now, this was a big deal since the Vestal Virgins were considered sacred and sworn to keeping their virginity as a sign of religious devotion. The thing about this sexcapade was that Crassus did not sleep with Licinia because she was hot, but because he wanted to get his hands on her house!
Building a wall and making Mexico pay for it
As previously mentioned, Crassus was also the general who was tasked with bringing down Spartacus and his rebellion. How would he do it? His brilliant idea was to build a wall! Yes, a wall came into play.
Spartacus and his army had retreated to the Bruttium Peninsula of Italy. If you look on a map of the country, this is the boot trying to kick Sicily away. Crassus decided to build a wall from sea to sea in order to hem these bad hombres in. Unfortunately, it didn’t work and Spartacus managed to break through.
After defeating Spartacus, Crassus set his sights on the highest offices. In order to do that, he formed what later came to be called the First Triumvirate with Julius Caesar and Pompey. After 10 years of hanging out with these two guys, Crassus decided to go mess around in Syria. However, this was not enough for him, and he set his sights on places a bit further out, like Iran.
Well, actually back in the day, it was the Parthian Empire, a state ruled by the Parthians, who are related to Persians, who are now known as Iranians. The Parthian Empire stretched over vast areas of land in today’s Iraq and Iran, and Crassus thought that he could win eternal glory if he just crossed over and lobbed some missiles.
Boy was he wrong! At the first significant battle of the conflict, the Battle of Carrhae, not only was his army soundly defeated, but Crassus also lost his life. There is a story that after his death, the Parthians cut off his head and poured molten gold into it, just to make fun of his greed.
I got my hands on the button
Fast forward two thousand years to 2019. What happened a few days ago? The story goes that Donald J. Trump (the J. stands for John) wanted to lob over a few missiles into Iran. However, the order was rescinded before any of the airstrikes could proceed.
What we now have is another real estate mogul, greedy for money, and hungry for fame, leading a country and messing around in the Middle East. Donald Trump has been elected the President of the United States, and he ain’t kidding around.
What will the future bring? Maybe what we should remind ourselves is that Crassus was living in the dying days of the Roman Republic. He did not know it at the time, but a few decades after his death, the Republic would collapse, to be replaced by Empire.