Publius Licinius Crassus Dives (consul 97 BC)

Publius Licinius Crassus Dives (died 87 BC) was a member of the respected and prominent Crassi branch of the plebeian gens Licinia as well as the father of the famed Marcus Licinius Crassus. His father was Marcus Licinius Crassus Agelastus (son of the consul Publius Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus) and his brother Marcus Licinius Crassus served as a praetor in 107 BC.

Publius became a financial backer of the Roman colony of Narbonese Gaul (modern Narbonne, France). Before his consulship, he proposed a law regulating expenses of the table, which was approved. He became consul in 97 BC. In his consulship, the senate abolished the practising of magic arts and human sacrifice. Between 97 BC and 93 BC, he served in Hispania Ulterior as governor and won a battle over the Lusitani, for which he was awarded and honoured with a triumph.

He served as a censor in 89 BC. As a censor, he banned foreign wines and unguents. He later became an electorate officer dividing new citizens into voting districts. His colleague was long-time friend Lucius Julius Caesar III.

Publius had a small house despite his immense wealth. His sons by his wife Venuleia were Publius Licinius Crassus (who died in the Social War), Lucius Licinius Crassus (killed in 87 BC) and Marcus Licinius Crassus Dives, the triumvir. He remained with his family for the rest of his life, living long enough to see the two sons Publius and Lucius marry, as well as the birth of his first grandchild.

Conflict between the Populares under Gaius Marius and the Optimates under Lucius Cornelius Sulla was escalating in the 80s BC. Although originally a supporter of Marius, Publius adopted a more neutral position opposed to the methods of both Marius and Sulla. He was killed, or committed suicide to avoid a more humiliating death, after the Marians took Rome in 87 BC.

As author?

The geographer Strabo refers to a treatise on the Cassiterides, the semi-legendary Tin Islands regarded as situated somewhere near the west coasts of Europe, written by a Publius Crassus[1] but not now extant. Several scholars of the 19th and early 20th centuries, including Theodor Mommsen[2] and T. Rice Holmes, thought that this prose work resulted from an expedition during Publius's grandson's occupation of Armorica.[3] Scholars of the 20th and early 21st centuries have been more inclined to assign authorship to the elder Publius, during his proconsulship in Spain in the 90s BC, in which case the grandson's Armorican mission may have been prompted in part by business interests and a desire to capitalize on the earlier survey of resources.[4]

See also


  1. Strabo, 3.5.11, Bill Thayer's edition at LacusCurtius online.
  2. Theodor Mommsen, History of Rome (1894), vol. 4, p. 63 = Römische Geschichte (1889), vol. 3, p. 269, as cited by Holmes, Ancient Britain p. 495, note 1.
  3. Various views on the subject documented by T. Rice Holmes, "The Cassiterides, Ictis, and the British Trade in Tin," in Ancient Britain and the Invasions of Julius Caesar (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907) pp. 483–498; on authorship, pp. 494–497
  4. Christopher Hawkes, “Britain and Julius Caesar,” Proceedings of the British Academy 63 (1977) 124–192; also J.S. Richardson, Hispaniae: Spain and the Development of Roman Imperialism, 218–82 BC (Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 159 online. T. Corey Brennan, in The Praetorship in the Roman Republic (Oxford University Press, 2000), vol. 2, p. 501 online, calls the expedition to the Cassiterides “a purely scientific trip,” without apparent irony.
Political offices
Preceded by
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Nepos and Titus Didius
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus
97 BC
Succeeded by
Gaius Cassius Longinus and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus
Preceded by
Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus (consul 96 BC) and Lucius Licinius Crassus
Censors of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Julius Caesar
89 BC
Succeeded by
Lucius Marcius Philippus (consul 91 BCE) and Marcus Perperna (consul 92 BCE)
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