Page 0425


strove with all their might to close with their elusive foe, but the latter pursued the

established tactics, and could not be reached. At length the son of Crassus, bearing his

father's name and commanding the Roman cavalry, put himself at the head of a squadron of

six thousand men, and charged furiously upon the Parthians. The latter fell back from the

onset as if in panic. The young Crassus pressed on after the enemy further and further,

until he was out of sight, when all of a sudden the Parthian cavalry recovered itself,

threw forward the wings, and completely surrounded the Romans. The latter fought with

desperation. The Gallic horsemen dismounted, rushed among the enemy's horses, seized the

spears, and stabbed the steeds to death. But no valor could avail. The Roman advance under

the young Crassus was beaten down almost to a man. The commander himself was slain, and

his head stuck on a pike.

Again the drums sounded, and the charge on the main body under the Proconsul was renewed.

The head of Crassus' son was borne aloft in full view of the Romans, who now, shattered by

the battle, began to recede from the field. The wounded were abandoned, and on the

following morning were slain by the Parthians. Crassus the elder, with the remnant,

succeeded in making his way to Carrhae, where he stationed himself behind the ramparts and

found a momentary security. It was hoped that he could hold his position until his ally

Artavasdes, king of Armenia, could come to his relief. Perhaps this might have been done,

as the Parthians were incompetent as besiegers. Nevertheless, they hovered around Carrhae,

and cut off the city from supplies.

It appears, however, that the Parthian commander preferred to take no risks as to the

future. Nothing short of the complete discomfiture of Crassus and his remaining forces

would satisfy. To this end the Surena now stooped to treachery. He plotted to inveigle the

Proconsul into his power. It may not be certainly known whether he contemplated the

destruction of his enemy's life by perfidy, but it is in the nature of bad faith to bring

a more criminal catastrophe than was imagined at the outset. The Surena, whatever may have

been his intentions, opened negotiations with the pent-up Romans. He rode with unstrung

bow and outstretched hand into the open space before the city, and called out for Crassus

to come forth and confer with him on the conditions of peace. The wily Parthian had

prepared for the occasion by letting slip certain of the Roman prisoners, into whose ears

false information had first been dropped to the effect that the Parthians were anxious for

peace and friendship with the Romans, and that Crassus might easily come to an agreement

with the Parthian king. These insinuations had been carried by the returning prisoners

into Carrhae, and the Roman mind was abused to the extent of accepting them as true.

Crassus, however, already beyond his sixtieth year, and well informed as to the

disposition and character of the Asiatics, was slow to take the bait. But the legionaries

were now thoroughly demoralized,