We left our story of ancient Rome with the collapse of the “Triumvirate” of Crassus, Pompey and Caesar, and Caesar crossing the Rubicon.
But how did the Triumvirate come together in the first place? By any standard, knitting together this political alliance was a spectacular achievement. Crassus was the richest man in Rome. Pompey was wealthy as well, and had a stellar military reputation. Caesar was immensely popular. At these heights of power, building partnerships is no easy task.
It was Caesar’s handiwork. Caesar started from his friendship with Crassus. Here is Crassus, the richest man in Rome (from Democratic Underground.com)
Some may recall Crassus from the 1960 Stanley Kubrick movie Spartacus where Crassus was played by Laurence Olivier. In the film, he is the nasty guy who crucifies the whole slew of rebel gladiators, including Kirk Douglas who paid the price for having the starring role.
Caesar used his friendship to reconcile Crassus and Pompey, and in the process have himself elected consul. He strengthened his alliance with Pompey by giving Pompey his daughter Julia in marriage. This was a considerable gift, as Julia was twenty years younger than Pompey and quite a beauty. Perhaps more important, Pompey was deeply in love with her. In turn, Julia was a loyal and caring spouse.
Roger Fisher should use this as a case study. Caesar had “gotten to yes” in a very big way, building a framework on based on interests, relationships and trust to allocate power in a partnership. BTW, this is a very different image of Caesar than we typically see in the movies. Not the brilliant military man, but rather the patient and clever politician.
And it seems as well that the collapse of the Triumvirate was no fault of Caesar’s. If anyone was to blame it was Crassus. Crassus just couldn’t get over the idea that he had to have a great military victory in Persia. Why? No one really knows.
In the next installment we will take a closer look at what happened when an aging Crassus invaded Persia, and how that disaster may have upset the balance of political power in Rome.