Bust of Crassus, in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Orodes II's portrait on the obverse of a tetradrachm, showing him wearing a beard and a diadem on his head, Mithradatkert mint
1st century AD bust of Pompey, after an original from 55–50 BC
Bust of Crassus, in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Extent of the Parthian Empire
Coin of Mithridates IV
A view of Monte Conero in Marche, Italy (formerly Picenum), birthplace of Pompey
A Roman marble head of the triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus, mid-1st century BC, Grand Palais, Paris
Formations at the start of the battle
Map of the Parthian–Roman borders, ca. 55 BC.
Roman statue putatively depicting Pompey, at the Villa Arconati a Castellazzo di Bollate (Milan, Italy), brought from Rome in 1627 by Galeazzo Arconati
A Roman bust of Pompey the Great made during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), a copy of an original bust from 70 to 60 BC, Venice National Archaeological Museum, Italy
Relief of a Parthian cataphract attacking a lion using kontos
Parthian mounted archer, located in Palazzo Madama, Turin.
Marble bust of Pompey at the Louvre, Paris
From left to right: Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Pompey the Great
Roman coin of Augustus (19 BC) showing a Parthian soldier returning the standards captured at Carrhae. Augustus hailed the return of the standards as a political victory over Parthia.
Coin of Quintus Labienus
Modern bust of Pompey in the Residenz, Munich
Denarius minted by Publius Licinius Crassus, son of the triumvir Marcus, as monetalis in 55 BC; on the obverse is a laureate bust of Venus, perhaps in honor of his commanding officer Julius Caesar; on the reverse is an unidentified female figure, perhaps representing Gaul
Parthian horseman
Regular coin of Orodes II with a seated archer on the reverse
A Roman portrait of Crassus, Pompey's political rival turned begrudging ally, in the Musée du Louvre, Paris
"The torture of Crassus," 1530s, Louvre
Detail from the breastplate of Augustus Prima Porta, showing a Parthian man returning the aquila lost by Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae
Coin of Orodes II with Tyche-Khvarenah on the reverse
A denarius of Pompey minted in 49–48 BC
A tetradrachm of Tigranes II the Great of Armenia, minted at Antioch, 83–69 BC
Pompey in the Temple of Jerusalem, a miniature by Jean Fouquet, 15th century
The bust of Mithridates of Pontus in the Louvre, Paris
Judea (shown in blue) under Hyrcanus II in 63 BC, having been reduced to a small vassal as Pompey annexed the north for Rome (shown in red)
A modern bust of Pompey, restored in the 17th century with a black marble base, Vaux-le-Vicomte, France
18th-century depiction of the third triumph
From left to right: Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Pompey the Great
The Tusculum portrait, a bust of Julius Caesar in the Archaeological Museum of Turin, Italy
A Roman bust of Pompey the Great made during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), a copy of an original bust from 70 to 60 BC, Venice National Archaeological Museum, Italy
The Flight of Pompey after Pharsalus, by Jean Fouquet
Roman bust of Cleopatra VII of Ptolemaic Egypt, mid-1st century BC, Altes Museum, Antikensammlung Berlin, showing Cleopatra with a "melon" hairstyle and Hellenistic royal diadem worn over the head
Theodotus shows Caesar the head of Pompey; etching, 1820
The head of Pompey on a denarius minted in 40 BC by his son Sextus Pompeius Magnus Pius

An invading force of seven legions of Roman heavy infantry under Marcus Licinius Crassus was lured into the desert and decisively defeated by a mixed cavalry army of heavy cataphracts and light horse archers led by the Parthian general Surena.

- Battle of Carrhae

Meanwhile, the Roman general and triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus had made an attempt to extend his share of Roman territory by eastward conquest.

- Orodes II

This attempt proved disastrous, with Crassus meeting his end in 53 BC, in the Battle of Carrhae, by Orodes' general Surena.

- Orodes II

Crassus rose to political prominence following his victory over the slave revolt led by Spartacus, sharing the consulship with his rival Pompey the Great.

- Marcus Licinius Crassus

During the Roman Republican civil wars, the Parthians sided first with Pompey and then with Brutus and Cassius, but took no action until 40 BC, when Pacorus, assisted by the Roman deserter Quintus Labienus, conquered a great part of Syria and Asia Minor, but was defeated and killed by Ventidius in 38 BC. Orodes, who was deeply afflicted by the death of his favourite son, relinquished the throne to his son Phraates IV, and died soon afterward.

- Orodes II

In 60 BC, Pompey joined Crassus and Caesar in the military-political alliance known as the First Triumvirate.

- Pompey

Crassus' campaign was a disastrous failure, ending in his defeat and death at the Battle of Carrhae.

- Marcus Licinius Crassus

The following four-year period of peace between the remaining two members of the Triumvirate, Julius Caesar and Pompey, argues against the view that Crassus had been a peacekeeper within the group and supports the views of most Roman historians that friction between Crassus and Pompey had always been a greater cause of tension than that between Caesar and Pompey.

- Battle of Carrhae

Meanwhile, in Parthia, a war of succession had broken out in 57 BC after King Phraates III had been killed by his sons Orodes II and Mithridates IV, who then began fighting each other over the throne.

- Battle of Carrhae

The account given in Plutarch's biography of Crassus also mentions that, during the feasting and revelry in the wedding ceremony of Artavazdes' sister to the Parthian king Orodes II's son and heir Pacorus in the Armenian capital of Artashat, Crassus' head was brought to Orodes II.

- Marcus Licinius Crassus

Shortly after the death of Julia, Crassus died at the Battle of Carrhae (May 53 BC), bringing the first triumvirate to an end.

- Pompey

According to Plutarch, Pompey considered going to Parthia, but was advised Parthia's king, Arsaces, was untrustworthy and the place unsafe for Pompey's wife.

- Pompey
Bust of Crassus, in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

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The Parthian Empire in 94 BC at its greatest extent, during the reign of Mithridates II ((r. 124 – 91))

Parthian Empire

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Major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, Arsaces I, who led the Parni tribe in conquering the region of Parthia in Iran's northeast, then a satrapy under Andragoras, in rebellion against the Seleucid Empire.

Major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, Arsaces I, who led the Parni tribe in conquering the region of Parthia in Iran's northeast, then a satrapy under Andragoras, in rebellion against the Seleucid Empire.

The Parthian Empire in 94 BC at its greatest extent, during the reign of Mithridates II ((r. 124 – 91))
The silver drachma of Arsaces I (r. c. 247–211 BC) with the Greek language inscription ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ "of Arsaces"
Parthia, shaded yellow, alongside the Seleucid Empire (blue) and the Roman Republic (purple) around 200 BC
Drachma of Mithridates I, showing him wearing a beard and a royal diadem on his head. Reverse side: Heracles/Verethragna, holding a club in his left hand and a cup in his right hand; Greek inscription reading ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ ΦΙΛΕΛΛΗΝΟΣ "of the Great King Arsaces the Philhellene"
Drachma of Mithridates II (r. c. 124–91 BC). Reverse side: seated archer carrying a bow; inscription reading "of the King of Kings Arsaces the Renowned/Manifest Philhellene."
Han dynasty Chinese silk from Mawangdui, 2nd century BC, silk from China was perhaps the most lucrative luxury item the Parthians traded at the western end of the Silk Road.
Bronze statue of a Parthian nobleman from the sanctuary at Shami in Elymais (modern-day Khūzestān Province, Iran, along the Persian Gulf), now located at the National Museum of Iran. Dated 50 BC-150 AD, Parthian School.
A Roman marble head of the triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus, who was defeated at Carrhae by Surena
Roman aurei bearing the portraits of Mark Antony (left) and Octavian (right), issued in 41 BC to celebrate the establishment of the Second Triumvirate by Octavian, Antony and Marcus Lepidus in 43 BC
Drachma of Phraates IV (r. c. 38–2 BC). Inscription reading ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΝ ΑΡΣΑΚΟΥ ΕΥΕΡΓΕΤΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ ΦΙΛΕΛΛΗΝΟΣ "of the King of Kings Arsaces the Renowned/Manifest Benefactor Philhellene"
A close-up view of the breastplate on the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta, showing a Parthian man returning to Augustus the legionary standards lost by Marcus Licinius Crassus at Carrhae
A denarius struck in 19 BC during the reign of Augustus, with the goddess Feronia depicted on the obverse, and on the reverse a Parthian man kneeling in submission while offering the Roman military standards taken at the Battle of Carrhae
Map of the troop movements during the first two years of the Roman–Parthian War of 58–63 AD over the Kingdom of Armenia, detailing the Roman offensive into Armenia and capture of the country by Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo
Parthian king making an offering to god Herakles-Verethragna. Masdjid-e Suleiman, Iran. 2nd–3rd century AD. Louvre Museum Sb 7302.
Rock relief of Parthian king at Behistun, most likely Vologases III (r. c. 110–147 AD)
A Parthian (right) wearing a Phrygian cap, depicted as a prisoner of war in chains held by a Roman (left); Arch of Septimius Severus, Rome, 203 AD
A Sarmatian-Parthian gold necklace and amulet, 2nd century AD. Located in Tamoikin Art Fund
Parthian golden necklace, 2nd century AD, Iran, Reza Abbasi Museum
A Parthian ceramic oil lamp, Khūzestān Province, Iran, National Museum of Iran
Coin of Kamnaskires III, king of Elymais (modern Khūzestān Province), and his wife Queen Anzaze, 1st century BC
A statue of a young Palmyran in fine Parthian trousers, from a funerary stele at Palmyra, early 3rd century AD
Coin of Mithridates II of Parthia. The clothing is Parthian, while the style is Hellenistic (sitting on an omphalos). The Greek inscription reads "King Arsaces, the philhellene"
A ceramic Parthian water spout in the shape of a man's head, dated 1st or 2nd century AD
Parthian votive relief from Khūzestān Province, Iran, 2nd century AD
A barrel vaulted iwan at the entrance at the ancient site of Hatra, modern-day Iraq, built c. 50 AD
The Parthian Temple of Charyios in Uruk.
A wall mural depicting a scene from the Book of Esther at the Dura-Europos synagogue, dated 245 AD, which Curtis and Schlumberger describe as a fine example of 'Parthian frontality'
A sculpted head (broken off from a larger statue) of a Parthian soldier wearing a Hellenistic-style helmet, from the Parthian royal residence and necropolis of Nisa, Turkmenistan, 2nd century BC
Parthian long-necked lute, c. 3 BC – 3 AD
Royal Parthian objects at the Persia exhibition, Getty Museum

The Parthians destroyed the army of Marcus Licinius Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC, and in 40–39 BC, Parthian forces captured the whole of the Levant except Tyre from the Romans.

It is only with the beginning of the reign of Orodes II in c. 57 BC, that the line of Parthian rulers can again be reliably traced.

When this siege failed, Tigranes the Younger once again fled, this time to the Roman commander Pompey.