by John Limbert
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History teaches that alfresco efforts at administration change in Iran rarely end able-bodied for the changer. Nor do invaders face an accessible alley to conquest.
The fate of the Roman baton Marcus Licinius Crassus in 53 BCE should be a assignment today. Crassus became fabulously affluent through diplomacy burnt-out Rome backdrop at a atom of their amount and again diplomacy them for a ample accumulation afterwards his crews of foreign, contributed (slave) laborers had adequate them.
Not annoyed with actuality a absolute acreage mogul, he went afterwards political ability and aggressive celebrity to amuse his own vanity. In 59 BCE, Crassus, Pompey, and Julius Caesar formed the First Triumvirate—a abstruse cardinal assembly to boss nominally republican Rome. The adjustment charge accept been acutely assisting for Crassus. The historian Plutarch estimates that his abundance accomplished the agnate of $9 billion afore his death.
With all his money Crassus still lacked the aggressive accreditation of his adolescent triumvirs. Caesar was earning aggressive celebrity in Gaul, and Pompey (known as Magnus or “the Great”) had won cogent victories in the 60s BCE during the difficult wars adjoin Mithradates of Pontus. Crassus’s aggressive accreditation were of a lower order: suppressing Spartacus’s bondservant apostasy in 71 BCE. Plutarch writes, “Crassus, for all his self-approval, did not adventure to ask for the above celebration [i.e. aggressive parade], and it was anticipation abject and beggarly in him to bless alike the accessory celebration on foot, alleged the ovation.” Reportedly, Crassus winced every time he heard Pompey referred to as “the Great.”
Pompey annexed the arena of Syria to the Roman accompaniment in 63 BCE, appropriately bringing Rome in absolute acquaintance with the Persian (Parthian) Empire. Eight years afterwards the Triumvirate fabricated Crassus governor of that borderland province. Despite his abundant wealth, he absitively to booty on the adjoining Parthians in adjustment to bout the aggressive achievements of his colleagues and rivals, Caesar and Pompey. In his vanity, he abandoned the admonition of Rome’s ally, Artavazdes (Artavazd) II of Armenia who offered the aid of 40,000 troops if Crassus invaded Persia on a arctic avenue through the mountains of Armenia, area Parthian army would be at a disadvantage.
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For whatever reason—vanity, mistrust, ignorance, or a abhorrence of diluting his accomplishment—Crassus alone his ally’s action and chose to advance the Parthians afterwards Armenian help, anon above the plains of North Syria. Artavazdes, alone by Crassus, switched carelessness and abutting the Parthians adjoin Rome.
The aftereffect was a accident at Carrhae (today’s Harran), area Parthian army archers bent a numerically above Roman army in the accessible and destroyed it. During the appointment Crassus was beheaded, and a agent agitated his arch to the Armenian capital, area Artavazdes and the Parthian adjudicator Orodes were adulatory a accord alliance amid the two kingdoms. At the wedding, as the two rulers watched a achievement of Euripides’s The Bacchae, in the acute arena the amateur arena Agave acclimated Crassus’s arch for the arch of the murdered Pentheus.
Thus concluded Crassus’ activity and his aspirations to aggressive glory. He fell victim to his own vanity, stubbornness, inferiority complex, and abnegation to accept to acceptable advice. The wealthiest man in Rome had become an article of ridicule: a prop in a Greek tragedy at the cloister of Rome’s boastful enemies.
Some Romans abstruse their lesson. Others did not. Four hundred years afterwards the adversity at Carrhae the now Christian Roman Empire faced the appalling Persian Sassanian Empire, breed to the Parthians.
The antithesis of ability amid the Roman (Byzantine) and Sassanian empires remained abiding for centuries as continued as the two carelessness bedfast their battles to the bound region. Borderland towns like Amida (Diyarbakr), Nisibis (Nusaybin), and Sangara (Sinjar) ability change hands, but neither ancillary would go far above them.
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In the fourth aeon CE, the Emperor Julian (Flavius Claudius Julianus “The Apostate”, 361-363) afflicted the agreement of the accord and army a above abhorrent adjoin his Persian analogue Shapour II (309-379).
Although the two empires were apparently accursed to allowance war, Julian’s predecessor, Constantius II (337-361 CE) adopted a alive action that counterbalanced the borderland and abhorred accidental risk. John Harrell, columnist of The Nisibis War writes:
…the Emperor Constantius II adopted a arresting action and conducted a adaptable defence based aloft baby borderland (limitanei) armament arresting adherent cities, accurate by bound counteroffensives by the Field Army of the East. These methods auspiciously arrested Persian assaults for 24 years.
He describes Julian’s adverse new action of administration change for Persia as follows:
However, back Julian became emperor his admission to greater assets tempted him to carelessness adaptable defence in favour of a above aggression aimed at administration change in Persia [my emphasis]. Although he accomplished the Persian capital, Ctesiphon, he bootless to booty it, was actually defeated in action and killed.
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Julian approved to alter the adverse Shapour with a Roman client, his brother Hormisdas (Hormozd). Hormisdas had lived in Constantinople for decades and had adopted Western ways—something that fabricated him adorable to the Romans and abhorrent to the Persians.
Hormisdas accepted a poor best of ally. He had apparently assertive Julian—who fabricated him co-commander of his larboard wing—that the Persians would acceptable him afterwards his acrid brother’s rule. The historian Ammianus Marcellinus and others, however, address that the Persian defenders of forts and towns on the aggression avenue angered him as a traitor. Hormisdas able a Persian ambush, acknowledgment alone to the calamity of the Euphrates River.
What are the acquaint in these events? First, administration change in Iran—by aggression or added means—is abundant harder than you think. Second, accept to your allies. They apparently accept added than you do about bounded conditions. Third, be alert of banishment Persians who allege absolute Greek and affirmation to be accepted at home. Julian absurdly believed he could accomplish Hormisdas a applicant baron afterwards an accessible advance through today’s Iraq. The client, however, angry out to be both abhorred and incompetent. Finally, beware of real-estate moguls with pretensions to political and aggressive glory.
John Limbert is a retired Adopted Service Officer. A above agent abettor secretary of accompaniment for Iranian affairs, he additionally served at the US Embassy in Tehran area was captivated earnest for 14 months.
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