Thus Crassus passed eight months in concealment; but as soon as he heard of Cinna's death, he disclosed himself. Many flocked to his standard, out of whom he selected twenty-five hundred men, and went about visiting the cities. One of these, Malaca, he plundered, as many writers testify, but they say that he himself denied the charge and quarrelled with those who affirmed it.
After this he collected sailing vessels, crossed into Africa, and joined Metellus Pius, an illustrious man, who had got together a considerable army. However, he remained there no long time, but after dissension with Metellus set out and joined Sulla, with whom he stood in a position of special honour. But when Sulla crossed into Italy, he wished all the young men with him to take active part in the campaign, and assigned different ones to different undertakings. Crassus, being sent out to raise a force among the Marsi, asked for an escort, since his road would take him past the enemy.
But Sulla was wroth, and said to him vehemently:
‘I give thee as an escort thy father, thy brother, thy friends, and thy kinsmen, who were illegally and unjustly put to death, and whose murderers I am pursuing.’ Thus rebuked and incited, Crassus set out at once, and forcing his way vigorously through the enemy, raised a considerable force, and showed himself an eager partisan of Sulla in his struggles.
Out of these activities first arose, as they say, his ambitious rivalry with Pompey for distinction For although Pompey was the younger man, and the son of a father who had been in ill repute at Rome and hated most bitterly by his fellow-citizens, still, in the events of this time his talents shone forth conspicuously, and he was seen to be great, so that Sulla paid him honours not very often accorded to men who were older and of equal rank with himself, rising at his approach, uncovering his head, and saluting him as Imperator.
All this inflamed and goaded Crassus, although it was not without good reason that Sulla thus made less of him.
For he was lacking in experience, and his achievements were robbed of their favour by the innate curses of avarice and meanness which beset him. For instance, when he captured the Umbrian city of Tuder, it was believed that he appropriated to himself most of the spoil, and charges to this effect were laid before Sulla.
But in the struggle near Rome, which was the last and greatest of all, while Sulla was defeated and his army repulsed and shattered, Crassus was victorious with the right wing,1
pursued the enemy till nightfall, and then sent to Sulla informing him of his success and asking supper for his soldiers. However, during the proscriptions and public confiscations which ensued, he got a bad name again, by purchasing great estates at a low price, and asking donations.
It is said that in Bruttium he actually proscribed a man without Sulla's orders, merely to get his property, and that for this reason Sulla, who disapproved of his conduct, never employed him again on public business. And yet Crassus was most expert in winning over all men by his flatteries; on the other hand, he himself was an easy prey to flattery from anybody. And this too is said to have been a peculiarity of his, that, most avaricious as he was himself, he particularly hated and abused those who were like him.