Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

12/01/2004

Nothing has never not already happened:

"IN 53 B.C., the same year that Julius Caesar invaded Britain, the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus invaded Persia. He was over sixty, and looked older than his age, a round-faced bullet-headed man who thirsted for wealth and fame, and seems never to have been satisfied with the wealth and fame he had acquired. He had already fought in many batdes and shown himself to be a capable commander. He was already the wealthiest man in Rome, with a huge fortune founded upon money-lending and the control of the unscrupulous Roman fire-brigade, whose officers were not above setting fires and rescuing for their own profit whatever they could lay their hands on in the burning buildings. He was one of the three triumtairi, who together ruled the Roman Empire. Power, money, women, enormous estates all these were at his command. If he had been asked why he troubled to invade Persia, he would have answered that though he was a millionaire many times over, he wanted above everything else to lay his hands on the great treasures of gold known to be in Persia and he wanted also to return to Rome as a triumphator, a man who had subdued the enemy in battle, secured vast treasure and many prisoners, and was therefore entitled to take his place in the great ceremonial procession known as a Triumph....

"He believed the war would be over in a few weeks. It would provide an easy victory and yield a great booty, and he was not overly troubled by the thought that the Roman Senate had refused to grant him permission to carry on the war, for had not his intelligence staff reported that the Persians were divided among themselves? Crassus saw himself as the new Alexander. He would dictate terms to the Persians, and for a while rule them as King....

"He was famous for his wealth, his elegance, his hot temper, his extraordinary energy. He was a master strategist in politics and a consummate organizer, but there is no evidence that he had ever studied oriental history. He knew little about the history of Persia. He did not realize that a Roman attack in force would put an end to all the tribal quarrels in the country....

"Twenty thousand Romans were killed in a single day, and ten thousand were made prisoner. Among the dead was Gassus [Crassus' son] himself. His head (so Plutarch says) was cut off and taken to Armenia, where the Parthian "King of Kings" Orodes was attending a conference concerning a marriage treaty. The Parthians had been deeply impressed by Greek culture, called themselves Philhellenes and regarded themselves in some way as the successors of Alexander the Great. Orodes was attending a performance of Euripides' Bacchae. The severed head was brought to him, and he held it up at the moment when the actor spoke of another severed head, which is mentioned in the play. The Romans, remembering Crassus' ill-gotten wealth, liked to tell an apocryphal story of how he was found alive and molten gold was poured into his mouth, before his head was cut off...."

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