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Licinius Crassus, Lūcius


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 outstanding orator and master and model of Cicero, who idealizes him, esp. in his On the Orator, where he is the chief speaker. Born 140 bc, he studied law under Publius Mucius Scaevola and Quintus Mucius Scaevola (1). Quaestor in Asia (see Asia, roman province), he studied philosophy and rhetoric there and in Athens, and on his return became a leading orator in the courts. In 106 he supported the jury law of Servilius Caepio in a great speech attracting popular support for the senate. He became consul 95. In 92, as censor, he quarrelled with his colleague, but they jointly issued an edict prohibiting the teaching of rhetoric in Latin, in part probably in order to restrict access to the powerful weapon of oratory.

Crassus taught a generation of ambitious young aristocrats, including Livius Drusus, imbuing them with his ideas of aristocratic reform. He supported Drusus, who aimed at putting them into practice, in his tribunate (91), rallying the senate behind him against the consul in what Cicero called his ‘swan song’. His death soon after led to Drusus' failure.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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