In 53BC the Proconsul Marcus Crassus and 36,000 of his legionaries were crushed by the Parthians at Carrhae in what is now eastern Turkey. Crassus' defeat and death and the 20,000 casualties his army suffered were an extraordinary disaster for Rome. The event intensified the bitter, destructive struggle for power in the Roman republic, curtailed the empire's eastward expansion and had a lasting impact on the history of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It was also the first clash between two of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world. Yet this critical episode has often been neglected by writers on the period who have concentrated on the civil war between Pompey and Caesar. Gareth Sampson, in this challenging and original study, reconstructs the Carrhae campaign in fine detail, reconsiders the policy of imperial expansion and gives a fascinating insight into the opponents the Romans confronted in the East - the Parthians.
After a career in corporate finance, Gareth Sampson returned to the study of ancient Rome and gained his PhD from the University of Manchester where he taught for a number of years. He has made a detailed study of early Roman political history and in particular the political office of the tribunate of the plebs. Following his doctorate he engaged in a study of the power struggles and the civil warfare of the late republic and its expansionist policies in the East. In addition to The Defeat of Rome he has published The Collapse of Rome: Marius, Sulla and the First Civil War and The Crisis of Rome: The Jugurthine and Northern Wars and the Rise of Marius. His forthcoming book is Roman Expansion Between the Punic Wars. He now lives in Plymouth.