17. To Mock His Greed, the Parthians Poured Molten Gold Down Crassus’ Throat
The mounted Parthian archers shot up Crassus’ army from a distance, and retreated whenever the Romans advanced. As casualties mounted, morale plummeted. Unable to think of a plan, Crassus rested his hopes on the Parthians running out of arrows. Unfortunately, they had a supply train of thousands of camels loaded with arrows. Finally, Crassus ordered his son to take the Roman cavalry and some infantry, and drive off the horse archers. The Parthians feigned retreat, Crassus’ son chose the wrong moment to be an idiot, and rashly pursued. He was slaughtered with all his men. The Parthians rode back to the Roman army and taunted Crassus with his son’s head on a spear.
Shaken, Crassus abandoned thousands of his wounded and retreated to Carrhae. The Parthians invited him to negotiate, and offered to let his army go in exchange for Roman territorial concessions. Crassus was reluctant to meet the Parthians, but his men threatened to mutiny if he did not, so he went. Things did not go well, violence broke out at the meeting, and ended with Crassus and his generals killed. To mock his avarice, the Parthians poured molten gold down Crassus’ throat. The surviving Romans fled, but most were hunted down and killed or captured. Out of Crassus’ 50,000 men, only 10,000 made it back to Roman territory.