Pompey

Pompey

Overview
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey (ˈpɒmpiː) or Pompey the Great (Classical Latin
Classical Latin
Classical Latin in simplest terms is the socio-linguistic register of the Latin language regarded by the enfranchised and empowered populations of the late Roman republic and the Roman empire as good Latin. Most writers during this time made use of it...

 abbreviation: CN·POMPEIVS·CN·F·SEX·N·MAGNVS; September 29, 106 BC – September 29, 48 BC), was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

. He came from a wealthy Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 provincial background, and established himself in the ranks of Roman nobility by successful leadership in several military campaigns.
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Quotations

Stop quoting laws, we carry weapons!

To the defenders of a besieged city who were crying outrage
Encyclopedia
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey (ˈpɒmpiː) or Pompey the Great (Classical Latin
Classical Latin
Classical Latin in simplest terms is the socio-linguistic register of the Latin language regarded by the enfranchised and empowered populations of the late Roman republic and the Roman empire as good Latin. Most writers during this time made use of it...

 abbreviation: CN·POMPEIVS·CN·F·SEX·N·MAGNVS; September 29, 106 BC – September 29, 48 BC), was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

. He came from a wealthy Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 provincial background, and established himself in the ranks of Roman nobility by successful leadership in several military campaigns. Sulla addressed him by the cognomen
Cognomen
The cognomen nōmen "name") was the third name of a citizen of Ancient Rome, under Roman naming conventions. The cognomen started as a nickname, but lost that purpose when it became hereditary. Hereditary cognomina were used to augment the second name in order to identify a particular branch within...

 Magnus (the Great), and he was awarded three triumphs
Roman triumph
The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the military achievement of an army commander who had won great military successes, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. In Republican...

.

Pompey joined his rival Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus was a Roman general and politician who commanded the right wing of Sulla's army at the Battle of the Colline Gate, suppressed the slave revolt led by Spartacus, provided political and financial support to Julius Caesar and entered into the political alliance known as the...

 and his ally Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 in the unofficial military-political alliance known as the First Triumvirate
First Triumvirate
The First Triumvirate was the political alliance of Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Unlike the Second Triumvirate, the First Triumvirate had no official status whatsoever; its overwhelming power in the Roman Republic was strictly unofficial influence, and...

. The first triumvirate was validated by the marriage between Julia Caesaris
Julia (daughter of Julius Caesar)
Julia Caesaris , 83 or 82 BC-54 BC, was the daughter of Gaius Julius Caesar the Roman dictator, by his first wife, Cornelia Cinna, and his only child in marriage. Julia became the fourth wife of Pompey the Great and was renowned for her beauty and virtue.-Life:Julia was born around 83 BC–82 BC...

 (daughter of Julius Caesar) and Pompey. After the deaths of Julia and Crassus, Pompey sided with the optimates
Optimates
The optimates were the traditionalist majority of the late Roman Republic. They wished to limit the power of the popular assemblies and the Tribunes of the Plebs, and to extend the power of the Senate, which was viewed as more dedicated to the interests of the aristocrats who held the reins of power...

, the conservative and aristocratic faction of the Roman Senate
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

. Pompey and Caesar contended for the leadership of the Roman state, leading to a civil war
Caesar's civil war
The Great Roman Civil War , also known as Caesar's Civil War, was one of the last politico-military conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the Roman Empire...

. When Pompey was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus
Battle of Pharsalus
The Battle of Pharsalus was a decisive battle of Caesar's Civil War. On 9 August 48 BC at Pharsalus in central Greece, Gaius Julius Caesar and his allies formed up opposite the army of the republic under the command of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus...

, he sought refuge in Egypt, where he was assassinated. His career and defeat are significant in Rome's subsequent transformation from Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 to Principate
Principate
The Principate is the first period of the Roman Empire, extending from the beginning of the reign of Caesar Augustus to the Crisis of the Third Century, after which it was replaced with the Dominate. The Principate is characterized by a concerted effort on the part of the Emperors to preserve the...

 and Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

.

Early life and political debut


Pompey's father, Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo, was a wealthy landed Italian provincial from Picenum
Picenum
Picenum was a region of ancient Italy. The name is an exonym assigned by the Romans, who conquered and incorporated it into the Roman Republic. Picenum was the birthplace of such notables as Pompey the Great and his father Pompeius Strabo. It was situated in what is now Marche...

, one of the homines novi (new men). Pompeius Strabo ascended the traditional cursus honorum
Cursus honorum
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum...

, becoming quaestor
Quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

in 104 BC, praetor
Praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

in 92 BC and consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

in 89 BC, and acquired a reputation for greed, political double-dealing and military ruthlessness. He supported Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix , known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as that of dictator...

's traditionalist optimates
Optimates
The optimates were the traditionalist majority of the late Roman Republic. They wished to limit the power of the popular assemblies and the Tribunes of the Plebs, and to extend the power of the Senate, which was viewed as more dedicated to the interests of the aristocrats who held the reins of power...

against the popularist
Populares
Populares were aristocratic leaders in the late Roman Republic who relied on the people's assemblies and tribunate to acquire political power. They are regarded in modern scholarship as in opposition to the optimates, who are identified with the conservative interests of a senatorial elite...

 general Marius
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

 in the first Marian-Sullan
Sulla's first civil war
Sulla's first civil war was one of a series of civil wars in ancient Rome, between Gaius Marius and Sulla, between 88 and 87 BC.- Prelude - Social War :...

 war. He died during the Marian siege against Rome in 87 BC, either as a casualty of pandemic plague, or struck by lightning, or possibly both. In Plutarch's account, his body was dragged from its bier
Bier
A bier is a stand on which a corpse, coffin or casket containing a corpse, is placed to lie in state or to be carried to the grave.In Christian burial, the bier is often placed in the centre of the nave with candles surrounding it, and remains in place during the funeral.The bier is a flat frame,...

 by the mob. His nineteen-year-old son Pompey inherited his estates, his political leanings and the loyalty of his legions.


Pompey had served two years under his father's command, and was involved in the final acts of the Marsic Social War against the Italians. He returned to Rome and was prosecuted for misappropriation of plunder: his betrothal to the judge's daughter, Antistia
Antistia
Antistia was the first wife of Pompey the Great. Pompey had been arraigned on charges of peculation of plunder. The judge of Pompey's trial happened to be Antistia's father. Pompey made a deal with Antistius, and agreed to marry Antistia. In exchange, he was acquitted.However, the marriage did not...

, secured a rapid acquittal.

For the next few years, the Marians
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

 had possession of Italy. When Sulla returned from campaign against Mithridates
Mithridates VI of Pontus
Mithridates VI or Mithradates VI Mithradates , from Old Persian Mithradatha, "gift of Mithra"; 134 BC – 63 BC, also known as Mithradates the Great and Eupator Dionysius, was king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia from about 120 BC to 63 BC...

 in 83 BC, Pompey raised three Picenean legions to support him against the Marian regime of Gnaeus Papirius Carbo
Gnaeus Papirius Carbo
Gnaeus Papirius Carbo was a three-time consul of ancient Rome.A member of the Carbones of the plebeian gens Papiria, and nephew of Gaius Papirius Carbo , he was a strong supporter of the Marian party, and took part in the blockade of Rome...

.

Sulla and his allies displaced the Marians in Italy and Rome: Sulla, now Dictator
Roman dictator
In the Roman Republic, the dictator , was an extraordinary magistrate with the absolute authority to perform tasks beyond the authority of the ordinary magistrate . The office of dictator was a legal innovation originally named Magister Populi , i.e...

 of Rome, was impressed by the young Pompey's self-confident performance. He addressed him as imperator
Imperator
The Latin word Imperator was originally a title roughly equivalent to commander under the Roman Republic. Later it became a part of the titulature of the Roman Emperors as part of their cognomen. The English word emperor derives from imperator via Old French Empreur...

and offered his stepdaughter, Aemilia Scaura
Aemilia Scaura
Aemilia Scaura was the daughter of the patrician Roman Marcus Aemilius Scaurus and his second wife Caecilia Metella Dalmatica....

, in marriage. Aemilia – already married and pregnant – divorced her husband and Pompey divorced Antistia. Though Aemilia died in childbirth soon after, the marriage confirmed Pompey's loyalty and greatly boosted his career.

Sicily and Africa


With the war in Italy over, Sulla sent Pompey against the Marian
Gaius Marius
Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

s in Sicily and Africa. In 82 BC, Pompey secured Sicily, guaranteeing Rome's grain supply. He executed Gnaeus Papirius Carbo and his supporters out of hand, which may have led to his dubbing as the adulescens carnifex (adolescent butcher). In 81 BC, he moved on to the Roman province of Africa
Africa Province
The Roman province of Africa was established after the Romans defeated Carthage in the Third Punic War. It roughly comprised the territory of present-day northern Tunisia, and the small Mediterranean coast of modern-day western Libya along the Syrtis Minor...

, where he defeated Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and the Numidia
Numidia
Numidia was an ancient Berber kingdom in part of present-day Eastern Algeria and Western Tunisia in North Africa. It is known today as the Chawi-land, the land of the Chawi people , the direct descendants of the historical Numidians or the Massyles The kingdom began as a sovereign state and later...

n king Hiarbas, after a hard-fought battle.

After this string of victories, Pompey was proclaimed Imperator
Imperator
The Latin word Imperator was originally a title roughly equivalent to commander under the Roman Republic. Later it became a part of the titulature of the Roman Emperors as part of their cognomen. The English word emperor derives from imperator via Old French Empreur...

by his troops on the field in Africa; once back in Rome, he was given an enthusiastic popular reception and hailed by Sulla as Magnus (the Great) – probably in recognition of Pompey's undoubted victories and popularity, but also with some degree of sarcasm. The young general was still officially a mere privatus
Privatus
In Roman law, the Latin adjective privatus makes a legal distinction between that which is "private" and that which is publicus, "public" in the sense of pertaining to the Roman people ....

(private citizen) who had held no offices in the cursus honorum
Cursus honorum
The cursus honorum was the sequential order of public offices held by aspiring politicians in both the Roman Republic and the early Empire. It was designed for men of senatorial rank. The cursus honorum comprised a mixture of military and political administration posts. Each office had a minimum...

. The title may have been meant to cut Pompey down to size; he himself used it only later in his career.

When Pompey demanded a triumph
Roman triumph
The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the military achievement of an army commander who had won great military successes, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. In Republican...

 for his African victories, Sulla refused; it would be an unprecedented, even illegal, honour for a young privatus – he must disband his legions. Pompey refused, and presented himself expectantly at the gates of Rome. Sulla gave in. However, Sulla had his own triumph first, then allowed Metellus Pius his triumph, relegating Pompey to an extra-legal third place in a quick succession of triumphs. On the day, Pompey attempted to upstage both his seniors in a triumphal chariot towed by an elephant, representing his exotic African conquests. The elephant would not fit through the city gate. Some hasty replanning was needed, much to the embarrassment of Pompey and amusement of those present. His refusal to give in to his troops' near-mutinous demands for cash probably impressed his mentor and Rome's conservatives.

Quintus Sertorius and Spartacus


Pompey's career seems to have been driven by desire for military glory and disregard for traditional political constraints. In the consular elections of 78 BC, he supported Lepidus against Sulla's wishes. In 78, Sulla died; when Lepidus revolted, Pompey suppressed him on behalf of the Senate. Then he asked for proconsul
Proconsul
A proconsul was a governor of a province in the Roman Republic appointed for one year by the senate. In modern usage, the title has been used for a person from one country ruling another country or bluntly interfering in another country's internal affairs.-Ancient Rome:In the Roman Republic, a...

ar imperium
Imperium
Imperium is a Latin word which, in a broad sense, translates roughly as 'power to command'. In ancient Rome, different kinds of power or authority were distinguished by different terms. Imperium, referred to the sovereignty of the state over the individual...

in Hispania
Hispania
Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

 to deal with the populares
Populares
Populares were aristocratic leaders in the late Roman Republic who relied on the people's assemblies and tribunate to acquire political power. They are regarded in modern scholarship as in opposition to the optimates, who are identified with the conservative interests of a senatorial elite...

general Quintus Sertorius
Quintus Sertorius
Quintus Sertorius was a Roman statesman and general, born in Nursia, in Sabine territory. His brilliance as a military commander was shown most clearly in his battles against Rome for control of Hispania...

, who had held out for the past three years against Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius was a pro-Sullan politician and general. He was named Pius because of his 99 BC petition to return his father from exile and was true to his cognomen for the constance and inflexibility with which he always fought for his father's rehabilitation and return to...

, one of Sulla's most able generals. The Roman aristocracy turned him down – they were beginning to fear the young, popular and successful general. Pompey resorted to his tried and tested persuasion; he refused to disband his legions until his request was granted. The senate acceded, reluctantly granted him the title of proconsul and powers equal to those of Metellus, and sent him to Hispania.

Pompey remained there from 76 – 71 BC; he was for long unable to bring the war
Sertorian War
The Sertorian War was a conflict of the Roman civil wars in which a coalition of Iberians and Romans fought against the representatives of the regime established by Sulla. It takes its name from Quintus Sertorius the main leader of the opposition to Sulla. The war lasted from 80 BC to 72 BC. The...

 to an end due to Sertorius' guerrilla tactics. Though he was never able to decisively beat Sertorius (and he nearly met disaster at the battle of Sucro), he won several campaigns against his junior officers. His war of attrition did significantly weaken Sertorius, and by 74 BC, Metellus and Pompey were winning cities after cities. Finally, Pompey managed to crush the populares when Sertorius was murdered by his own officer, Marcus Perperna Vento
Marcus Perperna Vento
Marcus Perpenna Vento or Perperna was a Roman statesman and general. He betrayed Quintus Sertorius, and was executed by Pompey the Great.Perpenna belonged to the populares faction, led by Gaius Marius and Lucius Cornelius Cinna...

, who was defeated in 72 by the young general, at their first battle. By early 71, the whole of Hispania was subdued. Pompey showed a talent for efficient organisation and fair administration in the conquered province; this extended his patronage throughout Hispania and into southern Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

. Some time in 71 BC, he set off for Italy, along with his army.

Meanwhile, Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus was a Roman general and politician who commanded the right wing of Sulla's army at the Battle of the Colline Gate, suppressed the slave revolt led by Spartacus, provided political and financial support to Julius Caesar and entered into the political alliance known as the...

 was facing Spartacus
Spartacus
Spartacus was a famous leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and surviving historical accounts are sometimes contradictory and may not always be reliable...

 to end Rome's Third Servile War
Third Servile War
The Third Servile War , also called the Gladiator War and the War of Spartacus by Plutarch, was the last of a series of unrelated and unsuccessful slave rebellions against the Roman Republic, known collectively as the Roman Servile Wars...

. Crassus defeated Spartacus, but in his march towards Rome, Pompey encountered the remnants of Spartacus' army; he captured five thousand of them and claimed the credit for finishing the revolt, which infuriated Crassus.

Back in Rome, Pompey was wildly popular. On December 31, 71 BC, he was given a triumph for his victories in Hispania – like his first, it was granted extralegally. To his admirers, he was the most brilliant general of the age, evidently favoured by the gods and a possible champion of the people's rights. He had successfully faced down Sulla and his Senate; he or his influence might restore the traditional plebian rights and privileges lost under Sulla's dictatorship. So Pompey was allowed to bypass another ancient Roman tradition; at only 35 years of age and while not even a senator, he was elected Consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

by an overwhelming majority vote, and served in 70 BC with Crassus as partner. Pompey's leap from mere eques to Consul was not simply unprecedented; his tactics offended the traditionalist nobility whose values he claimed to share and defend. He had left them no option but to allow his consulship.

Campaign against the pirates



Two years after his consulship, Pompey was offered command of a naval task force to deal with piracy in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

. The conservative faction of the Senate remained suspicious and wary of him; this seemed yet another illegal or at least extraordinary appointment. Pompey's supporters for this command – including Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 – were in the minority, but support was whipped up through his nomination by the Tribune
Tribune
Tribune was a title shared by elected officials in the Roman Republic. Tribunes had the power to convene the Plebeian Council and to act as its president, which also gave them the right to propose legislation before it. They were sacrosanct, in the sense that any assault on their person was...

 of the Plebs Aulus Gabinius
Aulus Gabinius
Aulus Gabinius, Roman statesman and general, and supporter of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, was a prominent figure in the later days of the Roman Republic....

 who proposed a Lex Gabinia
Lex Gabinia
In the law of ancient Rome, the Lex Gabinia of 67 BC granted Pompeius Magnus extraordinary proconsular powers in any province within 50 miles of the Mediterranean Sea...

; Pompey should have control over the sea and the coasts for 50 miles inland. This would set him above every military leader in the East – it was passed despite vehement opposition.

According to Rome's historians, pirates
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 had freely plundered the coastal cities of Greece, Asia and Italy itself. The extent and nature of their threat is questionable; anything that threatened Rome's grain supply was cause for panic. Roman public opinion and Pompey's supporters may have exaggerated the problem. Various settlements, peoples and city-states around the Mediterranean had coexisted several centuries and most had operated small fleets for war, or trade in commodities, including slaves. Their alliances might be loose and temporary or more-or-less permanent; some regarded themselves as nations. With Rome's increasing hegemony, the independent maritime economies of the Mediterranean would have been further marginalised; an increasing number would have resorted to piracy. As long as they met Rome's increasing requirement for slaves, left her allies and territories untouched and offered her enemies no support, they were tolerated. Some were subsidised. But fear of piracy was potent – and these same pirates, it was later alleged, had assisted Sertorius.

By the end of that winter, the preparations were complete. Pompey allocated one of thirteen areas to each of his legates, and sent out their fleets. In forty days, the western Mediterranean was cleared. Dio reported communication was restored between Hispania, Africa, and Italy; and that Pompey then attended to the largest of these alliances, centered on the coast of "Rough Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

". After "defeating" its fleet, he induced its surrender with promises of pardon, and settled many of its people at Soli
Soli, Cilicia
Soli was an ancient city and port in Cilicia, in present day Turkey, a part of Mezitli municipality which in turn is a part of Greater Mersin. It was a colony of Rhodes, founded c. 700 BC. Soli was destroyed in the 1st century BC, and rebuilt by Pompey the Great. Thereafter, it was called...

, which was henceforward called Pompeiopolis. De Souza (2002) finds that Pompey had officially returned the Cilicians to their own cities, which were ideal bases for piracy and not – as Dio would have it – for the dignified reformation of pirates as farmers. Pompey's entire campaign is therefore in question; its description as "war" is hyperbole – some form of treaty or payoff is likely, with Pompey as chief negotiator. This was standard practice, but undignified and seldom acknowledged; Rome's generals were supposed to wage and win wars. A decade on, in the 50's BC, the Cilicians and pirates in general remained a nuisance to Rome's sea trade.

In Rome, however, Pompey was hero; once again, he had guaranteed the grain supply. According to Plutarch, by the end of the summer of 66 BC, his forces had swept the Mediterranean clear of opposition. Pompey was hailed as the first man in Rome, Primus inter pares
Primus inter pares
Primus inter pares is Latin phrase describing the most senior person of a group sharing the same rank or office.When not used in reference to a specific title, it may indicate that the person so described is formally equal, but looked upon as an authority of special importance by their peers...

(the first among equals). Cicero could not resist a panegyric
Panegyric
A panegyric is a formal public speech, or written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and discriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical. It is derived from the Greek πανηγυρικός meaning "a speech fit for a general assembly"...

:


"Pompey made his preparations for the war at the end of the winter, entered upon it at the commencement of spring, and finished it in the middle of the summer."


The expedience of his campaign probably guaranteed Pompey his next and even more impressive command, this time in Rome's long-running war against Mithridates. By the 40's BC, Cicero could comment less favourably on the pirate campaign, and especially the funded "resettlement" at Soli/Pompeiopolis; "we give immunity to pirates and make our allies pay tribute."

Pompey in the east



Pompey spent the rest of that year and the beginning of the next visiting the cities of Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 and Pamphylia
Pamphylia
In ancient geography, Pamphylia was the region in the south of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus . It was bounded on the north by Pisidia and was therefore a country of small extent, having a coast-line of only about 75 miles with a breadth of...

, and providing for the government of newly-conquered territories. In his absence from Rome (66 BC), he was nominated to succeed Lucius Licinius Lucullus
Lucullus
Lucius Licinius Lucullus , was an optimate politician of the late Roman Republic, closely connected with Sulla Felix...

 as commander in the Third Mithridatic War
Third Mithridatic War
The Third Mithridatic War was the last and longest of three Mithridatic Wars fought between Mithridates VI of Pontus and his allies and the Roman Republic...

 against Mithridates VI of Pontus
Mithridates VI of Pontus
Mithridates VI or Mithradates VI Mithradates , from Old Persian Mithradatha, "gift of Mithra"; 134 BC – 63 BC, also known as Mithradates the Great and Eupator Dionysius, was king of Pontus and Armenia Minor in northern Anatolia from about 120 BC to 63 BC...

 in the east. Pompey's command was proposed by the tribune Gaius Manilius
Gaius Manilius
Gaius Manilius was a Roman tribune of the people in 66 BCE.At the beginning of his year of office he succeeded in getting a law passed , which gave freedmen the privilege of voting together with those who had manumitted them, that is, in the same tribe as their patroni; this law, however, was...

, supported by Caesar and justified by Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 in pro Lege Manilia. Like the Gabinian law, it was opposed by the aristocracy, but was carried nonetheless.

Lucullus, a plebeian
Plebs
The plebs was the general body of free land-owning Roman citizens in Ancient Rome. They were distinct from the higher order of the patricians. A member of the plebs was known as a plebeian...

 noble, was incensed at the prospect of his replacement by a "new man" such as Pompey. The outgoing commander and his replacements traded insults. Lucullus called Pompey a "vulture" who fed from the work of others. Lucullus was referring not merely to Pompey's new command against Mithridates, but also his claim to have finished the war against Spartacus.

At Pompey's approach, Mithridates strategically withdrew his forces. Tigranes the Great
Tigranes the Great
Tigranes the Great was emperor of Armenia under whom the country became, for a short time, the strongest state east of the Roman Republic. He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House...

 refused him refuge, so he made his way to his own dominions in the Cimmerian Bosporus. Pompey secured a treaty with Tigranes, and in 65 BC set out in pursuit of Mithridates, but met resistance from the Caucasian Iberians
Caucasian Iberia
Iberia , also known as Iveria , was a name given by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli , corresponding roughly to the eastern and southern parts of the present day Georgia...

 and Albanians
Caucasian Albania
Albania is a name for the historical region of the eastern Caucasus, that existed on the territory of present-day republic of...

. He advanced to Phasis
Phasis (town)
Phasis was an ancient and early medieval city on the eastern Black Sea coast, founded in the 7th/6th century BC as a colony of the Milesian Greeks at the mouth of the eponymous river in Colchis, near the modern-day port city of Poti, Georgia.-Etymology:...

 in Colchis and liaised with his legate Servilius, admiral of his Euxine fleet, before decisively defeating Mithridates. Pompey then retraced his steps, wintered at Pontus
Pontus
Pontus or Pontos is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος...

, and made it into a Roman province. In 64 BC, he marched into Syria
History of Syria
The history of Syria:*Prehistory and Ancient Near East: see Pre-history of the Southern Levant, Fertile Crescent, Ebla, Mitanni*Antiquity: see Syro-Hittite states, Greater Syria, Roman Syria...

, deposed its king, Antiochus XIII Asiaticus
Antiochus XIII Asiaticus
Antiochus XIII Dionysus Philopator Kallinikos, known as Asiaticus was one of the last rulers of the Greek Seleucid kingdom.He was son of king Antiochus X Eusebes and the Ptolemaic princess Cleopatra Selene I, who acted as regent for the boy after his father's death sometime between 92 and 85 BC...

, and reconstituted this, too, as a Roman province. In 63 BC, he moved south, and established Roman supremacy in Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

 and Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria , or Cœle-Syria or Celesyria, traditionally given the meaning 'hollow' Syria, was the region of southern Syria disputed between the Seleucid dynasty and the Ptolemaic dynasty. Rather than limiting the Greek term to the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, it is often used to cover the entire area...

.

In Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

, Pompey intervened in civil war between Hyrcanus II, who supported the Pharisee faction and Aristobulus II, who supported the Sadducees in Judaea's civil war. The armies of Pompey and Hyrcanus II laid siege to Jerusalem. After three months, the city fell.

"Of the Jews there fell twelve thousand, but of the Romans very few.... and no small enormities were committed about the temple itself, which, in former ages, had been inaccessible, and seen by none; for Pompey went into it, and not a few of those that were with him also, and saw all that which it was unlawful for any other men to see but only for the high priests. There were in that temple the golden table, the holy candlestick, and the pouring vessels, and a great quantity of spices; and besides these there were among the treasures two thousand talents of sacred money: yet did Pompey touch nothing of all this, on account of his regard to religion; and in this point also he acted in a manner that was worthy of his virtue. The next day he gave order to those that had the charge of the temple to cleanse it, and to bring what offerings the law required to God; and restored the high priesthood to Hyrcanus, both because he had been useful to him in other respects, and because he hindered the Jews in the country from giving Aristobulus any assistance in his war against him."
(Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

, Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

, book 14, chapter 4; tr. by William Whiston, available at Project Gutenberg.)


During the war in Judea, Pompey heard of Mithridates' suicide; his army had deserted him for his son Pharnaces
Pharnaces II of Pontus
Pharnaces II of Pontus, also known as Pharnaces II was a prince, then King of Pontus and the Bosporan until his death. He was a monarch of Persian and Greek Macedonian ancestry. Pharnaces II was the youngest son and child born to King Mithridates VI of Pontus from his first wife, his sister Queen...

. Rome's Asian protectorates now extended as far east as the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 and the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

. Pompey's military victories, political settlements and annexations in Asia created Rome's new frontier on the east.

Return to Rome, and third triumph


News of Pompey's victories in the east – and probably of his divine honours there – reached Rome before he did. He had cult at Delos and was "saviour" in Samos and Mytelene. Plutarch quotes a wall-graffito in Athens, referring it to Pompey: "The more you know you're a man, the more you become a god". In Greece, these honours were standard fare for benefactors. In Rome, they would have seemed dangerously monarchic.

In Pompey's absence, his old supporter Cicero had risen to the consulship. His old enemy and colleague Crassus supported Caesar. In the Senate and behind its scenes, Pompey was probably equally admired, feared and excluded; on the streets he was as popular as ever. His eastern victories earned him his third triumph. On his 45th birthday, in 61 BC, he rode the triumphal chariot, a magnificent god-king, but one of Republican form, ritualistically reminded of his impermanence and mortality. Even so, he was accompanied by a gigantic portrait head of himself, studded with pearls. His third triumph exceeded all others; an unprecedented two days were scheduled for its procession and games (ludi
Ludi
Ludi were public games held for the benefit and entertainment of the Roman people . Ludi were held in conjunction with, or sometimes as the major feature of, Roman religious festivals, and were also presented as part of the cult of state.The earliest ludi were horse races in the circus...

). Spoils, prisoners, army and banners depicting battle scenes wended the triumphal route between the Campus Martius
Campus Martius
The Campus Martius , was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome...

 and the Capitoline temple of Jupiter. To conclude, he gave an immense triumphal banquet and money to the people of Rome, and promised them a new theatre. Plutarch claimed this triumph represented Pompey's – and therefore Rome's – domination over the entire world, an achievement to outshine even Alexander's. In the meantime, Pompey promised his retiring veterans public lands to farm, then dismissed his armies. It was a reassuringly traditional gesture, but the Senate remained suspicious. They debated and delayed his eastern political settlements and the promised gifts of public land. From now on, Pompey seems to have toed a cautious line between his enthusiastic popular supporters and the conservatives who seemed so reluctant to acknowledge his solid achievements. It would lead him into unexpected political alliances.

Caesar and the First Triumvirate


Although Pompey and Crassus distrusted each other, Crassus' tax farming
Tax farming
Farming is a technique of financial management, namely the process of commuting , by its assignment by legal contract to a third party, a future uncertain revenue stream into fixed and certain periodic rents, in consideration for which commutation a discount in value received is suffered...

 clients were being rebuffed at the same time Pompey's veterans were being ignored, and by 61 BC, their grievances had pushed them both into an alliance with Caesar, six years younger than Pompey, returning from service in Hispania, and ready to seek the consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

ship for 59 BC. Their political alliance, known as the First Triumvirate
First Triumvirate
The First Triumvirate was the political alliance of Gaius Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus, and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Unlike the Second Triumvirate, the First Triumvirate had no official status whatsoever; its overwhelming power in the Roman Republic was strictly unofficial influence, and...

, operated to the benefit of each. Pompey and Crassus would make Caesar Consul, and Caesar would use his consular power to promote their claims.

Caesar's consulship of 59 BC brought Pompey land for his veterans, confirmation of his Asian political settlements and a new wife. She was Caesar's daughter, Julia
Julia (daughter of Julius Caesar)
Julia Caesaris , 83 or 82 BC-54 BC, was the daughter of Gaius Julius Caesar the Roman dictator, by his first wife, Cornelia Cinna, and his only child in marriage. Julia became the fourth wife of Pompey the Great and was renowned for her beauty and virtue.-Life:Julia was born around 83 BC–82 BC...

; Pompey was said to be besotted by her. In the same year, Clodius
Publius Clodius Pulcher
Publius Clodius Pulcher was a Roman politician known for his popularist tactics...

 renounced his patrician status, was adopted into a plebian gens and was elected a Tribune of the plebs. At the end of his consulship, Caesar secured proconsular command in Gaul. Pompey was given the governorship
Roman governor
A Roman governor was an official either elected or appointed to be the chief administrator of Roman law throughout one or more of the many provinces constituting the Roman Empire...

 of Hispania Ulterior, but remained in Rome to oversee the grain supply as curator annonae.

Despite his preoccupation with his new wife, Pompey handled the grain issue well. His political acumen was less sure. When Clodius turned on him in turn, Pompey defended himself by supporting Cicero's recall from exile (57 BC). Once back in Rome, Cicero stepped back into his role as Pompey's defender and Clodius' antagonist, but Pompey himself retreated to his lovely young wife and his theatre plans; such behaviour was not expected of the once dazzling young general. Pompey might equally have been obsessed, exhausted and frustrated. His own party had not forgiven him for allowing Cicero's expulsion. Some tried to persuade him that Crassus was plotting his assassination. Meanwhile, Caesar seemed set on outstripping both his colleagues in generalship and popularity.
By 56 BC, the bonds between the three men were fraying.

Caesar was no longer the amenable silent partner of the trio. He called first Crassus, then Pompey, to a secret meeting in the northern Italian town of Lucca
Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

 to rethink their joint strategy. They agreed that Pompey and Crassus would again stand for the consulship in 55 BC. Once elected, they would extend Caesar's command in Gaul by five years. At the end of their joint consular year, Crassus would have the influential and lucrative governorship of Syria, and use this as a base to conquer Parthia. Pompey would keep Hispania in absentia.

In 55 BC, Pompey and Crassus were elected as consuls, against a background of bribery, civil unrest and electioneering violence. Pompey's new theatre was inaugurated in the same year. It was Rome's first permanent theatre, a gigantic, architecturally daring, self-contained complex on the Campus Martius
Campus Martius
The Campus Martius , was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome...

, complete with shops, multi-service buildings, gardens and a temple to Venus Victrix. The latter connected its donor to Aeneas, a son of Venus and ancestor of Rome itself. In its portico, the statuary, paintings and personal wealth of foreign kings could be admired at leisure. Pompey's triumph lived on. His theatre made an ideal meetingplace for his supporters.

From confrontation to war


In 54 BC, Julia, Caesar's only child and Pompey's wife, died in childbirth along with her baby. Pompey and Caesar shared their grief and condolences, but Julia's death broke their family bonds. The following year, Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus
Marcus Licinius Crassus was a Roman general and politician who commanded the right wing of Sulla's army at the Battle of the Colline Gate, suppressed the slave revolt led by Spartacus, provided political and financial support to Julius Caesar and entered into the political alliance known as the...

, his son Publius
Publius Licinius Crassus (son of triumvir)
Publius Licinius Crassus was one of two sons of the triumvir Marcus Licinius Crassus and Tertulla. He belonged to the last generation of Roman nobiles who came of age and began a political career before the collapse of the Republic...

 and most of his army were annihilated by the Parthians at Carrhae
Battle of Carrhae
The Battle of Carrhae, fought in 53 BC near the town of Carrhae, was a major battle between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic. The Parthian Spahbod Surena decisively defeated a Roman invasion force led by Marcus Licinius Crassus...

. Caesar, not Pompey, was now Rome's great new general and the fragile balance of power between them was under threat. Public anxiety spilled over: rumours circulated that Pompey would be offered dictatorship for the sake of law and order. Caesar sought a second matrimonial alliance with Pompey, offering his grandniece Octavia
Octavia Minor
Octavia the Younger , also known as Octavia Minor or simply Octavia, was the sister of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus , half-sister of Octavia the Elder, and fourth wife of Mark Antony...

 (the sister of the future emperor Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

). This time, though, Pompey refused. In 52 BC, he married Cornelia Metella
Cornelia Metella
Cornelia Metella was the daughter of Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica . She appears in numerous literary sources, including an official dedicatory inscription at Pergamon....

, the very young widow of Crassus's son Publius, and the daughter of Caecilius Metellus Scipio
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica
Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica , in modern scholarship often as Metellus Scipio, was a Roman consul and military commander in the Late Republic. During the civil war between Julius Caesar and the senatorial faction led by Pompeius Magnus , he remained a staunch optimate...

, one of Caesar’s greatest enemies. Pompey was drifting back toward the optimates. It can be presumed that they thought him the lesser of two evils.

In the same year, Publius Clodius was murdered. When his supporters burned down the Senate House in retaliation, the Senate appealed to Pompey. He reacted with ruthless efficiency. Cicero, defending the accused murderer Titus Annius Milo
Titus Annius Milo
Titus Annius Milo Papianus was a Roman political agitator, the son of Gaius Papius Celsus, but adopted by his maternal grandfather, Titus Annius Luscus...

, was so shaken by a Forum
Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum...

 seething with armed soldiers, he was unable to complete his defense. Once order was restored, the Senate and Cato
Cato the Younger
Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis , commonly known as Cato the Younger to distinguish him from his great-grandfather , was a politician and statesman in the late Roman Republic, and a follower of the Stoic philosophy...

 avoided granting Pompey dictatorship – it recalled Sulla and his bloody proscriptions. Instead they made him sole Consul; this gave him sweeping, but limited, powers. A Dictator could not be lawfully punished for measures taken during his office. As sole Consul, Pompey would be answerable for his actions once out of office.

While Caesar was fighting against Vercingetorix
Vercingetorix
Vercingetorix was the chieftain of the Arverni tribe, who united the Gauls in an ultimately unsuccessful revolt against Roman forces during the last phase of Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars....

 in Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

, Pompey proceeded with a legislative agenda for Rome. Its details suggested covert alliance with Caesar's enemies: among his various legal and military reforms was a law allowing retrospective prosecution for electoral bribery. Caesar's allies correctly interpreted this as a threat to Caesar once his imperium ended. Pompey also prohibited Caesar from standing for the consulship in absentia, though this had been permitted under past laws. This seemed to put paid to Caesar's plans after his term in Gaul expired. Finally, in 51 BC, Pompey was more forthright; Caesar would not be permitted to stand for Consul unless he relinquished his armies. This would, of course, leave Caesar defenseless before his enemies. As Cicero sadly noted, Pompey had been diminished by age, uncertainty, his fear of Caesar and the strain of being the chosen tool of a quarreling oligarchy of optimates. The coming conflict seemed inevitable.

Civil war and assassination



In the beginning, Pompey claimed he could defeat Caesar and raise armies merely by stamping his foot on the soil of Italy, but by the spring of 49 BC, with Caesar crossing the Rubicon and his invading legions sweeping down the peninsula, Pompey ordered the abandonment of Rome. His legions retreated south towards Brundisium, where Pompey intended to find renewed strength by waging war against Caesar in the east. In the process, neither Pompey nor the Senate thought of taking the vast treasury with them, probably thinking Caesar would not dare take it for himself. It was left conveniently in the Temple of Saturn
Temple of Saturn
The Temple of Saturn is a monument to the agricultural deity. The Temple of Saturn stands at the foot of the Capitoline Hill in the western end of the Forum Romanum in Rome, Italy.-Archaeology:...

 when Caesar and his forces entered Rome.

Barely eluding Caesar in Brundisium, Pompey crossed over into Epirus
Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

, where, during Caesar's Spanish campaign, Pompey had gathered a large force in Macedonia, comprising nine legions reinforced by contingents from the Roman allies in the east. His fleet, recruited from the maritime cities in the east, controlled the Adriatic. Nevertheless, Caesar managed to cross over into Epirus in November 49 BC, and proceeded to capture Apollonia
Apollonia, Illyria
Apollonia was an ancient Greek city in Illyria, located on the right bank of the Aous river . Its ruins are situated in the Fier region, near the village of Pojani, in modern-day Albania...

. Pompey managed to arrive in time to save Dyrrhachium, and he then attempted to wait Caesar out during the siege of Dyrrhachium, in which Caesar lost 1000 men and Pompey lost 2000. Yet, by failing to pursue at the critical moment of Caesar's defeat, Pompey threw away the chance to destroy Caesar's much smaller army. As Caesar himself said, "Today the enemy would have won, if they had had a commander who was a winner" (Plutarch, 65). According to Suetonius
Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius , was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order in the early Imperial era....

, it was at this point that Caesar said that "that man (Pompey) does not know how to win a war." With Caesar on their backs, the conservatives led by Pompey fled to Greece. Caesar and Pompey had their final showdown at the Battle of Pharsalus
Battle of Pharsalus
The Battle of Pharsalus was a decisive battle of Caesar's Civil War. On 9 August 48 BC at Pharsalus in central Greece, Gaius Julius Caesar and his allies formed up opposite the army of the republic under the command of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus...

 in 48 BC. The fighting was bitter for both sides, and although Pompey was expected to win, due to advantage in numbers, the brilliant tactics and the superior fighting abilities of Caesar's veterans led to a victory for Caesar. Pompey met his wife Cornelia and his son Sextus Pompeius
Sextus Pompeius
Sextus Pompeius Magnus Pius, in English Sextus Pompey , was a Roman general from the late Republic . He was the last focus of opposition to the Second Triumvirate...

 on the island of Mytilene
Mytilene
Mytilene is a town and a former municipality on the island of Lesbos, North Aegean, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Lesbos, of which it is a municipal unit. It is the capital of the island of Lesbos. Mytilene, whose name is pre-Greek, is built on the...

. He then wondered where to go next. The decision of running to one of the eastern kingdoms was overruled in favour of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

.

After his arrival in Egypt, Pompey's fate was decided by the counselors of the young king Ptolemy XIII. While Pompey waited offshore, they argued the cost of offering him refuge with Caesar already en route to Egypt; the king's eunuch Pothinus
Pothinus
Pothinus , a eunuch, was regent for Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt. He is most remembered for turning Ptolemy against his sister and co-ruler Cleopatra VII, thus starting a civil war, and for having Pompey decapitated and presenting the severed head to Julius...

 won out. In the final dramatic passages of his biography, Plutarch had Cornelia watch anxiously from the trireme as Pompey left in a small boat with a few sullen, silent comrades, and headed for what appeared to be a welcoming party on the Egyptian shore. As Pompey rose to disembark, he was stabbed to death by his betrayers, Achillas
Achillas
Achillas was one of the guardians of the Egyptian king Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator, and commander of the king's troops, when Pompey fled to Egypt in 48 BC...

, Septimius
Lucius Septimius
Lucius Septimius was an Ancient Roman soldier stationed in Egypt in the 1st century BC. He is remembered by history as one of the assassins of Pompey the Great....

 and Salvius. Plutarch has him meet his fate with great dignity, one day after his 59th birthday. His body remained on the shoreline, to be cremated by his loyal freeman Philip on the rotten planks of a fishing boat. His head and seal were presented to Caesar, who, according to Plutarch, mourned this insult to the greatness of his former ally and son-in-law, and punished his assassins and their Egyptian coconspirators, putting both Achillas and Pothinus to death. Pompey's ashes were eventually returned to Cornelia, who carried them to his country house near Alba
Alba Longa
Alba Longa – in Italian sources occasionally written Albalonga – was an ancient city of Latium in central Italy southeast of Rome in the Alban Hills. Founder and head of the Latin League, it was destroyed by Rome around the middle of the 7th century BC. In legend, Romulus and Remus, founders of...

. Cassius Dio describes Caesar's reactions with scepticism, and considers Pompey's own political misjudgements, rather than treachery, as instrumental in his downfall. In Appian's account of the civil war, Caesar has Pompey's severed head interred in Alexandria, in ground reserved for a new temple to the goddess Nemesis
Nemesis (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Nemesis , also called Rhamnousia/Rhamnusia at her sanctuary at Rhamnous, north of Marathon, was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris . The Greeks personified vengeful fate as a remorseless goddess: the goddess of revenge...

, whose divine functions included the punishment of hubris
Hubris
Hubris , also hybris, means extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power....

. For Pliny
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

, the humiliation of Pompey's end is anticipated by the vaunting pride of his oversized portrait-head, studded entirely with pearls, and carried in procession during his greatest Triumph.


Later portrayals and reputation


To the historians of his own and later Roman periods, Pompey fulfilled the trope of the great man who achieved extraordinary triumphs through his own efforts, yet fell from power and was, in the end, murdered through treachery.

He was a hero of the Republic, who seemed once to hold the Roman world in his palm, only to be brought low by his own poor judgment and Caesar. Pompey was idealized as a tragic hero almost immediately after Pharsalus and his murder. Plutarch portrayed him as a Roman Alexander the Great, pure of heart and mind, destroyed by the cynical ambitions of those around him. This portrayal of him survived into the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 periods, for example in Corneille
Pierre Corneille
Pierre Corneille was a French tragedian who was one of the three great seventeenth-century French dramatists, along with Molière and Racine...

's play The Death of Pompey
The Death of Pompey
The Death of Pompey is a tragedy by the French playwright Pierre Corneille on the death of Pompey the Great. It premiered in 1642, with Julius Caesar played by Molière...

(1642).

Pompey has appeared as a character in several modern novels, plays, motion pictures, and other media. A theatrical portrayal was John Masefield
John Masefield
John Edward Masefield, OM, was an English poet and writer, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death in 1967...

's play The Tragedy of Pompey the Great
The Tragedy of Pompey the Great
The Tragedy of Pompey the Great is a play by John Masefield, based on the career of the Roman general and politician Pompey the Great.The play premiered at the Aldwych Theatre on 4 December 1910 and was first published in 1914. The play was later filmed for television in 1950 for the BBC Sunday...

(1910). Chris Noth
Chris Noth
Christopher David "Chris" Noth is an American actor. He is known for long-running television roles as Det. Mike Logan on the police procedural and legal drama television series, Law & Order and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and as Big on Sex and the City. For the latter role, he has been...

 portrays Pompey in the 2002 miniseries Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar (TV miniseries)
Julius Caesar is a 2002 mini-series about the life of Julius Caesar. It was directed by Uli Edel, and written by Peter Pruce and Craig Warner. It is a dramatization of the life of Julius Caesar through 82 BC to his death in 44 BC...

. He appears as a major character in the first season of the HBO series Rome
Rome (TV series)
Rome is a British-American–Italian historical drama television series created by Bruno Heller, John Milius and William J. MacDonald. The show's two seasons premiered in 2005 and 2007, and were later released on DVD. Rome is set in the 1st century BC, during Ancient Rome's transition from Republic...

, in which he is portrayed by Kenneth Cranham
Kenneth Cranham
Kenneth Cranham is a film, television and stage actor. He starred in the title role in the popular 1980s comedy drama Shine on Harvey Moon. He also appeared in Layer Cake, Gangster No. 1, Rome, Oliver! and many other films. He is probably best known to horror genre fans as the deranged Dr...

.
In television series Xena Warrior Princess, he is portrayed by the actor Jeremy Callaghan
Jeremy Callaghan
Jeremy Callaghan is an Australian actor whose portrayal of the cute and shy Constable Brian Morley on the popular TV drama Police Rescue ensured international attention...

.

Marriages and offspring

  • First wife, Antistia
    Antistia
    Antistia was the first wife of Pompey the Great. Pompey had been arraigned on charges of peculation of plunder. The judge of Pompey's trial happened to be Antistia's father. Pompey made a deal with Antistius, and agreed to marry Antistia. In exchange, he was acquitted.However, the marriage did not...

  • Second wife, Aemilia Scaura
    Aemilia Scaura
    Aemilia Scaura was the daughter of the patrician Roman Marcus Aemilius Scaurus and his second wife Caecilia Metella Dalmatica....

     (Sulla's stepdaughter)
  • Third wife, Mucia Tertia
    Mucia Tertia
    Mucia Tertia was a Roman matrona who lived in the 1st century BC. She was the daughter of Quintus Mucius Scaevola, the pontifex maximus, consul in 95 BC. Her mother was a Licinia that divorced her father to marry Quintus Caecilius Metellus Nepos, in a scandal mentioned by several sources...

     (whom he divorced for adultery, according to Cicero
    Cicero
    Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

    's letters)
    • Gnaeus Pompeius
      Gnaeus Pompeius
      Gnaeus Pompeius should not be confused with his father, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, known as "Pompey the Great."Gnaeus Pompeius , also known as Pompey the Younger , was a Roman politician and general from the late Republic .Gnaeus Pompeius was the elder son of Pompey the Great Gnaeus Pompeius should...

      , executed in 45 BC, after the Battle of Munda
      Battle of Munda
      The Battle of Munda took place on March 17, 45 BC in the plains of Munda, modern southern Spain. This was the last battle of Julius Caesar's civil war against the republican armies of the Optimate leaders...

    • Pompeia Magna, married to Faustus Cornelius Sulla; ancestor of Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Claudia Antonia's first husband)
    • Sextus Pompey, who would rebel in Sicily
      Sicily
      Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

       against Augustus
      Augustus
      Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

  • Fourth wife Julia
    Julia (daughter of Julius Caesar)
    Julia Caesaris , 83 or 82 BC-54 BC, was the daughter of Gaius Julius Caesar the Roman dictator, by his first wife, Cornelia Cinna, and his only child in marriage. Julia became the fourth wife of Pompey the Great and was renowned for her beauty and virtue.-Life:Julia was born around 83 BC–82 BC...

     (daughter of Caesar)
  • Fifth wife, Cornelia Metella
    Cornelia Metella
    Cornelia Metella was the daughter of Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica . She appears in numerous literary sources, including an official dedicatory inscription at Pergamon....

     (daughter of Metellus Scipio)

Chronology of Pompey's life and career

  • 106 BC September 29– Born in Picenum
    Picenum
    Picenum was a region of ancient Italy. The name is an exonym assigned by the Romans, who conquered and incorporated it into the Roman Republic. Picenum was the birthplace of such notables as Pompey the Great and his father Pompeius Strabo. It was situated in what is now Marche...

  • 83 BC– Aligns with Sulla
    Lucius Cornelius Sulla
    Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix , known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as that of dictator...

    , after his return from the Mithridatic War against King Mithridates IV of Pontus
    Mithridates IV of Pontus
    Mithridates IV of Pontus or known by his full name Mithridates Philopator Philadelphus was a prince and sixth King of the Kingdom of Pontus....

    ; Marriage to Aemilia Scaura
    Aemilia Scaura
    Aemilia Scaura was the daughter of the patrician Roman Marcus Aemilius Scaurus and his second wife Caecilia Metella Dalmatica....

  • 82–81 BC– Defeats Gaius Marius
    Gaius Marius
    Gaius Marius was a Roman general and statesman. He was elected consul an unprecedented seven times during his career. He was also noted for his dramatic reforms of Roman armies, authorizing recruitment of landless citizens, eliminating the manipular military formations, and reorganizing the...

    's allies in Sicily and Africa
  • 81 BC– Returns to Rome and celebrates First triumph
  • 76–71 BC– Campaign in Hispania
    Hispania
    Another theory holds that the name derives from Ezpanna, the Basque word for "border" or "edge", thus meaning the farthest area or place. Isidore of Sevilla considered Hispania derived from Hispalis....

     against Sertorius
  • 71 BC– Returns to Italy and participates in the suppression of a slave rebellion
    Third Servile War
    The Third Servile War , also called the Gladiator War and the War of Spartacus by Plutarch, was the last of a series of unrelated and unsuccessful slave rebellions against the Roman Republic, known collectively as the Roman Servile Wars...

     led by Spartacus
    Spartacus
    Spartacus was a famous leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and surviving historical accounts are sometimes contradictory and may not always be reliable...

    ; Second triumph
  • 70 BC– First consulship (with M. Licinius Crassus
    Marcus Licinius Crassus
    Marcus Licinius Crassus was a Roman general and politician who commanded the right wing of Sulla's army at the Battle of the Colline Gate, suppressed the slave revolt led by Spartacus, provided political and financial support to Julius Caesar and entered into the political alliance known as the...

    )
  • 67 BC– Defeats the pirates and goes to Asia province
  • 66–61 BC– Defeats King Mithridates of Pontus; end of the Third Mithridatic War
  • 64–63 BC– Pompey's March through Syria, the Levant, and Judea
  • 61 BC September 29– Third triumph
  • 59 BC April– The first triumvirate
    Triumvirate
    A triumvirate is a political regime dominated by three powerful individuals, each a triumvir . The arrangement can be formal or informal, and though the three are usually equal on paper, in reality this is rarely the case...

     is constituted; Pompey allies to Julius Caesar
    Julius Caesar
    Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

     and Licinius Crassus; marriage to Julia (daughter of Julius Caesar)
    Julia (daughter of Julius Caesar)
    Julia Caesaris , 83 or 82 BC-54 BC, was the daughter of Gaius Julius Caesar the Roman dictator, by his first wife, Cornelia Cinna, and his only child in marriage. Julia became the fourth wife of Pompey the Great and was renowned for her beauty and virtue.-Life:Julia was born around 83 BC–82 BC...

  • 58–55 BC– Governs Hispania Ulterior by proxy, construction of Pompey's Theater
  • 55 BC– Second consulship (with M. Licinius Crassus), Dedication of the Theatre of Pompey
  • 54 BC– Julia
    Julia (daughter of Julius Caesar)
    Julia Caesaris , 83 or 82 BC-54 BC, was the daughter of Gaius Julius Caesar the Roman dictator, by his first wife, Cornelia Cinna, and his only child in marriage. Julia became the fourth wife of Pompey the Great and was renowned for her beauty and virtue.-Life:Julia was born around 83 BC–82 BC...

    , dies; the first triumvirate ends
  • 52 BC– Serves as sole consul for intercalary month
    Mercedonius
    Mercedonius, also known as Intercalaris, was the intercalary month added in leap years of the Roman calendar. The resulting year was either 377 or 378 days long. The exact mechanism by which this was done is not clearly specified in ancient sources. Modern scholarship holds that Februarius was...

    , third ordinary consulship with Metellus Scipio for the rest of the year; marriage to Cornelia Metella
    Cornelia Metella
    Cornelia Metella was the daughter of Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica . She appears in numerous literary sources, including an official dedicatory inscription at Pergamon....

  • 51 BC– Forbids Caesar (in Gaul) to stand for consulship in absentia
  • 50 BC– Falls dangerously ill with fever in Campania, but is saved 'by public prayers'
  • 49 BC– Caesar crosses the Rubicon River and invades Italy; Pompey retreats to Greece with the conservatives
  • 48 BC– Caesar defeats Pompey's army near Pharsalus, Greece. Pompey retreats to Egypt and is killed there.

External links

  • Pompey's War Jona Lendering details Pompey's conquest of Judea