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Marcus Licinius Crassus is the main antagonist of Spartacus: War of the Damned.
Marcus Crassus displays a keen, power hungry attitude. He presents one of the most intelligent minds that Spartacus and the Rebel army ever faces. He expects more from his son as a military authority, waiting for him to display true competence as a leader before granting him a position rather than forcing him in through bribes or favors. Marcus Crassus craves the downfall of Spartacus for the glory of Rome. Unlike Glaber and Varinius, Crassus is more calculative and doesn't underestimate Spartacus. Also unlike other Roman leaders tasked to take down Spartacus, Crassus actually admires the Rebel general, especially for his keen intellect, unique strategies, and military tactics.
While somewhat arrogant, he believes in working hard to earn titles and position and is furious at his son's spoiled nature. Crassus also doesn't view slaves as worthless either, taking a particular interest in gladiators holding a great deal of respect for them. This is seen from his interactions with Kore and Hilarus, as he shows great care for them. To many other Romans, Crassus also has a profound sense of justice and believes that nobody is above punishment, including fellow Romans and even family, friends, or lovers.
Despite his noteworthy qualities, however, Crassus is capable of being cruel and ruthless, and will stop at nothing to further his goals and ambitions, such as by employing decimation on his troops as punishment for cowardice, condemning a Roman citizen of Sineussa, Laetia, to slavery for the apparent crime of assisting the rebels (despite the fact that she did so to save her fellow Romans from being killed), taking over the city of Sinuessa captured from the Rebels as his his own, for the purpose of increasing his already vast wealth, ordering siege engines to fire on areas of the battlefield despite the fact that they would hit his own troops, and his ruthless execution of any captured and defeated slaves, including by mass crucifixions.
Skills and Abilities
Crassus's greatest ability is his vast wealth, allowing him to amass a vast army (which, being only nominally under the control of the Republic, operates de facto his own private army) and fund the campaign against Spartacus out of his own pocket. This also enables him bribe potential allies of the rebel slaves to switch sides, to effectively buy political influence and allies within the Roman Senate, and to attract skilled Roman Commanders in need of his financial patronage, such as Gaius Julius Ceasar.
Crassus possesses formidable fighting skills, having been trained as both a Roman soldier and even in the ways of a champion-level gladiator, eventually being capable of besting one. He was trained in the style of dimachaeri, wielding two blades. As such, the Imperator is of considerable skill, able to easily best low-level Rebels during combat, and even managed to skillfully hold his own against the Rebel leader Spartacus during their final confrontation. It should be noted that Spartacus had received several wounds from battle whilst dispatching a clutch of soldiers and was already in a weakened state; while Crassus had suffered a head wound and most likely a concussion from their initial confrontation. This leads him to stand as one of, if not the most, skilled Roman in swordplay seen in the series.
In regard to military tactics Crassus is brilliant, unorthodox and often ruthless. Unlike previous roman Generals he does not underestimate Spartacus and his rebel forces, and has shown an ability and willingness to adapt his battle strategies in order to match the former gladiator, making him a flexible and unpredictable foe. Examples are his instituting decimation as punishment for desertion and cowardice, the effective employment of subterfuge by sending a disguised Ceasar undercover as a spy into the occupied city of Sinuessa for the purpose of weakening the rebels internally, and by the building of vast siege fortifications in the mountains above Sinuessa in order to trap the retreating rebels, having anticipated correctly this is the direction they would retreat, (which would not have been possible without his vast wealth).
- Crassus can be seen as the Nemesis of Spartacus, after the death of Glaber. He also can also be considered the mirror image of Spartacus.
- All the main villains in the series are tied in some way to the house of Batiatus. In the case of Crassus he is tied there by his cousin Licinia, who was murdered there by Illythia, the wife of Glaber. Ironically Crassus never learns of the reason for her disappearance and her name is never mentioned in the third series.
- Although he doesn't appear until the third season, his presence reverberates throughout the preceding tqo series, most notably as his cousin Licinia appears in the first season and an important plotline is her murder by Illythia, and he is spoken of in fear and reverence by other Romans, such as Glaber and Batiatus.
- Crassus commits several acts which could qualify as crossing the moral event horizon, such as condemning innocents to slavery, treating his own troops as cannon fodder, and use of mass crucifixion of captured and defeated slaves. However his sympathetic qualities, such as his honourable treatment of Spartacus as a worthy foe (as opposed to just another slave to be put down), his genuine love of his own family and his respectful treatment of his own slaves prevent him from being classified as pure evil.
- The real Crassus and Spartacus did meet before the final battle to discuss terms. The conversation was never recorded by scribes, however it can be assumed no agreements were reached.
- Crassus is correctly depicted as employing decimation to discourage cowardice, and in fact he was the first Roman General to reinstate the practice after it had fallen into disuse.
- Crassus, along with Vettius and Ceasar, are the only antagonists to survive the events of the series (although the fate of Vettius after he fled Capua in Gods of the Arena is left unknown).
- Crassus's decision to take over the city of Sinuessa after most of the Roman citizens have been slaughtered is likely meant to mirror Crassus's practice of buying properties in Rome that had been seized from their previous owners by the dictator Sulla (to whom Crassus was allied), and then selling them for exorbitant prices. In fact this is how Crassus made his fortune. He also purchased properties that were destroyed in fire at below market prices, restored them with slave labour and then sold them for exorbitant prices.