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The Defeat of Rome (ePub)

Crassus, Carrhae and the Invasion of the East

Ancient History > Rome & the Roman Provinces Military

By Gareth C Sampson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 4.1 MB (.epub)
Illustrations: 20 illustrations
ISBN: 9781844686346
Published: 21st February 2008


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In 53BC the Proconsul Marcus Crassus and 36,000 of his legionaries were crushed by the Parthians at Carrhae in what is now eastern Turkey. Crassus' defeat and death and the 20,000 casualties his army suffered were an extraordinary disaster for Rome. The event intensified the bitter, destructive struggle for power in the Roman republic, curtailed the empire's eastward expansion and had a lasting impact on the history of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It was also the first clash between two of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world. Yet this critical episode has often been neglected by writers on the period who have concentrated on the civil war between Pompey and Caesar. Gareth Sampson, in this challenging and original study, reconstructs the Carrhae campaign in fine detail, reconsiders the policy of imperial expansion and gives a fascinating insight into the opponents the Romans confronted in the East – the Parthians.

What a fantastic book. Methodical, clear, well researched. Crassus was not a dithering idiot but merely outclassed. As a fan of ancient history, loved reading it.

Sukanya Ramanujan via Twitter

If you do and internet search for the Battle of Carrhae of for books on the topic you will find little other than cursory treatments. That's one of the reasons that Gareth C. Sampson's book is valuable resource on the battle. But the book, now in its second edition, is not just worthwhile for its analysis of the battle, but also for its coverage on Marcus Licinius Crassus' long career and the rise of the Parthian Empire...

... As for Carrhae itself, Sampson does an impressive job of weighing the merits of the accounts of the battle by Plutarch and Cassius Dio. Sampson painstakingly presents them side by side throughout his battle narrative. He goes to great lengths to show the strengths and weaknesses of each and where they veer into fiction rather than fact. Plutarch's account is far more reliable even though suffering from its own limitations, such as the continuing controversy surrounding what actually unfolded during the Roman retreat from the town of Carrhae toward the relative safety of Syria and Armenia.

Sampson is at his best when he describes how Crassus paid the ultimate penalty for a campaign that initially underestimated the Parthians and spiralled out of control once the Romans met the Parthians in battle.

Medieval Warfare Magazine

an accessible and cogently written book. The Defeat of Rome in the East is an invaluable addition to the literature field and one sure to enjoy a long shelf like in both municipal and university libraries alike.


the book is very well written and tightly referenced.... Recommended, especially for those who only remember Crassus as the guy who played by Laurence Olivier in Spartacus.

 Gareth C Sampson

About Gareth C Sampson

After a career in corporate finance, Gareth C Sampson returned to the study of ancient Rome and gained his PhD from the University of Manchester, where he taught for a number of years. He now lives in Plymouth with his wife and children.

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