The Sickest Burn In Political History: Lucius Licinius Crassus’ Famous Retort

By Francis Tunwase

Politicians are known to be pretty sassy – in fact, you probably require a little bit of sassiness to survive in any political office. However, while you might think that this trend only started in modern times, you’d be wrong.

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Politicians have been doing vain things like throwing jabs at each other since the days of the Roman Empire. And no one did it quite like Lucius Licinius Crassus. 

A senator and orator, Crassus was one of the most prolific statesmen of his time. Known especially for his oratory skills, he was never one to shy away from a sparring match with words. 

Besides his oratory skills, Crassus was also known for living an exuberant lifestyle. He was notably the first Roman to use imported marble columns, and he pretty much exuded the flashy lifestyle that several politicians and their spouses have come to be known for today.

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As a part of his luxurious lifestyle, Crassus owned a beloved pet eel – something that must have been pretty weird at the time. He loved his little eel so much that when it died, he literally threw a funeral party for it.

Sadly, this was the point when one of his mates, named Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, decided to poke fun at his relationship with the eel. Crassus didn’t think twice before using Ahenobarbus three dead spouses and lack of tears against him.

Yeah, you can just imagine the utter silence that must have fallen on that entire room. Crassus looking at Ahenobarbus dead in the eye while he delivered a mad burn, and the latter just walked back to his seat in disgrace. If it happened today, somebody would’ve probably said, “Oh, snap!”