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In his work, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, Plutarch selects some few individuals who had some outstanding characters or who achieved salient things in their lives. Amongst these noble Grecians and Romans are Nicias and Crassus. Plutarch expounds lives these two nobles and compares them as exposited in this paper.
Life of Nicias
Nicias was amongst the three renowned, honest, and loving citizens in Athens according to what Aristotle noted. Moreover, he was a captain most of the time working with his master Captain Pericles but sometimes working alone. Fortunately, after Pericles passed away, Nicias fame and popularity propelled him to nobility for people loved him dearly. “…his gravity was neither severe nor odious, but mingled with a kind of modesty…which made them thereby the more to love and esteem him” (Plutarch 295).
There appeared to be some fortune in all that Nicias did. He managed to overcome his closest rival Cleon, by use of subtle tactics. For instance, while Cleon was humorous, something that Nicias lacked, Nicias noted the weakness and, “crept into people’s favor with liberality, with charges of common plays…exceeding in cost and pleasant sports…” (Plutarch 295). He had massive wealth.
His simplicity and popularity ensured that he fitted in any group that he found himself. For instance, he would reward his cravers generously regardless of whether they are malicious or good-hearted. Through these tactics, orators could not find anything to accuse him for he did not even drink, engage in useless talk, or get involved in pleasures that would taint his reputation.
In office he would busy himself with office issues; not meddling with other people’s business. Nicias simplicity and openness made him bring peace amongst Grecians something they call, Nicium peace even to date. His nature to create peace enabled him to stoop low before Gylippus who had taken hostage some Athenians; unfortunately, he was seized, taken in as a prisoner, and killed.
Life of Crassus
Crassus was a man of good character; however, accusations that he had defiled Licinia; a nun, tinted his reputation. “…vice of covetousness in Crassus that drowned many other goodly virtues in him” (Plutarch 333). It is unfortunate that one vice would destroy many of Crassus’ virtues.
Nevertheless, despite this shortcoming, Crassus was a wealthy man through diligence, ‘by fire and blood.” He was a friendly person even to strangers; moreover, he would lend his friends interest-free money. Unfortunately, Cinna and Marius attacked Rome forcing Crassus, his father and brother to escape to Spain in a flight. Rumors had it that, some tyrants were looking for Crassus. In Spain, he lived in caves until Cinna died after eight months. He maneuvered his way back to Italy under Sylla.
Later he became part of Cesar’s reign in Rome where he worked under Pompey and became popular amongst Romans for he would lend them money and spend time with them in the market place. “To pleasure everyman; so that by this easy access and familiarity…he grew to exceed the gravity and majesty of Pompey” (Plutarch 340).
At one time, he saved Cesar by lending him 838 talents to satisfy his creditors something that elevated Crassus to nobility; he became the governor and praetor of Gaul; however, Po attacked and overthrew him. Fortunately, the senate was offended, overruled this act, and restored Crassus.
He achieved several feats like conquering Spartacus in Romania. However, later in his reign, Crassus fell into conflict with King Hyrodes and he was slew by Surena, one of the king’s men. His head “his head was brought the same night before the kings…” (Plutarch 374). This marked the end of one Marcus Crassus.
Nicias and Crassus
Before comparing these, two noble men, it is important to note that, even though both were rich, Nicias’ wealth was more just than Crassus’ was. Nicias was a man of the people as aforementioned; he never did anything malicious; on the contrary, he purposed to do things that would benefit all.
On his side, Crassus was unpredictable; at one time, he would be friendly, at the other cruel. He had a way of getting what he wanted. For instance, he admitted that “he came to be consul the second time by plain force and cruelty, having hired two murderers to kill Cato and Domitius” (Plutarch 378).
Crassus was an enterprising person and he believed greatness was to be earned. On the other side, Nicias was a quiet character and revered people regardless of their class and status. Whilst the Athenians forced Nicias to war against his wish, Crassus forced Romans into war against their wish. Therefore, “the commonwealth fell into misery by the one, brought into misery by the other” (Plutarch 380). These are some of the differences exhibited by this Grecian and Roman.
Nevertheless, these two great men shared some traits. In his fight against Cleon, Nicias portrayed ambition similar to that of Crassus against Spartacus. Crassus died in the hands of Surena after falling apart with his enemies; he yielded himself to his enemies. Similarly, Nicias surrendered before his enemies in a bid to strike a peace deal; unfortunately, he died infamously. The bottom line is that, they al yielded to their enemies.
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Nicias, a Grecian and Crassus, a Roman were both noble men in their times. They ruled differently with Nicias believing in peace while Crassus believed in fighting and violence to have his way. They were rich even though Nicias’ wealth was more just than that of Crassus. Nevertheless, they died similar death of yielding to their enemies.
Plutarch. “Plutarch Selected Lives.” Mossman, Judith. (Ed). Wordsworth Classics of World Literature, 1994.