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Silaces (also spelled Sillakes) was a Parthian commander who fought against the Roman general and triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus. Initially the satrap of Ichnae, a fortress in Mesopotamia, he was defeated and wounded by Crassus' forces, and fled to the Parthian court, where he informed king Orodes II (r. 57–37 BC) of the Roman invasion.[1] Silaces later commanded the Parthian contingent alongside Surena at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC, where Crassus was defeated and killed.[2] Crassus' defeat at Carrhae was one of the worst military defeats of Roman history.[3] Parthia's victory cemented its reputation as a formidable if not equal power with Rome.[4] While Orodes and Artavasdes II of Armenia were observing a play of The Bacchae of Euripides (c. 480–406 BC) at the Armenian court in honor of the wedding of Orodes' son Pacorus I and Artavasdes' sister, Silaces announced the news of the victory at Carrhae, and put the head of Crassus at Orodes' feet.[5] The head was given to the producer of the play, who decided to use Crassus' actual severed head in place of the stage-prop head of Pentheus.[6]


  1. ^ Cassius Dio, Book 40, 12.1.
  2. ^ Plutarch, vol III. XXI.
  3. ^ Kennedy 1996, p. 78.
  4. ^ Bivar 1983, pp. 55–56; Brosius 2006, p. 96
  5. ^ Dąbrowa 2018, p. 80; Bivar 1983, p. 56
  6. ^ Bivar 1983, p. 56.


Ancient works

Modern works

Further reading

  • Overtoom, Nikolaus Leo (2021). "Reassessing the Role of Parthia and Rome in the Origins of the First Romano-Parthian War (56/5–50 BCE)". Journal of Ancient History. 9 (2): 238–268. doi:10.1515/jah-2021-0007.