Pompey: Meet the Greatest Warrior in Rome

02/09/2021

     Pompey the Great was a successful Roman politician and general and for many, considered the GREATEST warrior in Rome, but for others, just a vulture, check it out.


Who was Pompey?

     Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, known simply as Pompey, was a politician of the Roman Republic, elected consul three times with Marco Licínio Crasso the first two times and Fifth Cecílio Metelo Pio Cipião Násica in the last, with a period of one month in which he had no partner with extraordinary powers. Pompey came from a wealthy provincial family and his father, Cneu Pompeu Strabo, consul in 89 B.C., was the first of his family to achieve consular position.

     His immense success as a general at a very young age paved the way for him to occupy his first consulate without following the normal path of the cursus honorum, the expected career of a magistrate. He was also a victorious commander during the Second Civil War in Sulla, which gave him the name "Magno" ("the Great"). He celebrated three triumphs on account of his victories.

     In the mid-60s BCE, Pompey joined Crassus and Julius Caesar in the unofficial political-military alliance known as the First Triumvirate, sealed with Pompey's marriage to Caesar's daughter, Julia. After the deaths of Julia and Crassus, Pompey joined the optimates party, the conservative faction of the Roman senate.


Sula and Pompey:

     With the war in Italy over, Sulla sent Pompey to confront the Marians in Sicily and Africa. In 82 BCE, Pompey conquered Sicily, which guaranteed the grain supplies of the city of Rome, immediately executing Papyrus Carbão and his allies, which probably earned him the nickname "Teenage Butcher". In 81 B.C. Pompey went to Africa and defeated Cneu Domitius Enobarbo, son-in-law of Cina, and the Numidian king Hiarbas after a hard battle.

     After this series of victories, Pompey was proclaimed an imperator by his troops on the African battlefield. Back in Rome, he received an enthusiastic popular reception and was called "Magno" ("the Great"), probably in recognition of his unquestionable victories and his popularity. However, Sulla's reluctance to do so seems evident.

     The young general was officially still a mere citizen and had not yet held any official office. The title may also have been a way of reducing the success of Pompeu, who used it only later in his career


Pompey in Jerusalem:

     Of the Jews, twelve thousand fell, but of the Romans, very few ... And not a few enormities were committed in the temple itself, which, in previous times, was inaccessible and could not be seen by anyone; for Pompey entered it and not a few of those who were with him too and saw what it was illegal to be seen by any other men, accessible only to the high priests. There was a golden table in the Temple, a sacred chandelier, water vessels and a great deal of spices; and, besides these, there was the treasure of two thousand talents of sacred money: but Pompey did not touch any of this because of his respect for religion; and at this point, he acted worthy of his virtue.

     The next day, he gave the order for those in charge of the temple to clean it and to take the offerings required by the Law to God there; and he restored the high priesthood to Hircano, both because he had been useful to him in other functions, and because he prevented the Jews in the countryside from helping the country in any way in its war against him.


The First Triumvirate:

     Although Pompey and Crassus did not trust each other, Crassus's landowners clients were being dislodged at the same time that Pompey's veterans were being ignored, which led them, as early as 61 BC, into an alliance with Julius Caesar, who he was six years younger than Pompey and was returning from his mandate in Hispania and ready to run for the consulate in 59 BC.The alliance between the three, later known as "First Triumvirate", was beneficial to all three. Pompey and Crassus would make Caesar the new consul and he, in turn, would use his new powers to advance the causes that interested them both in the Senate.

     Caesar's consulate in 59 BC managed to free the lands for Pompey's veterans, confirmed his Asian settlements and earned him a new wife. Julia was Caesar's daughter and sources say that Pompey fell in love with her. In the same year, Clódio renounced his patrician status, was adopted by commoners and was elected tribune of the commoners. At the end of his consular term, Caesar secured himself a proconsular command in Gaul, a great desire of his. Pompey received the government of Hispania Ulterior, but remained in Rome to oversee the grain supply as curator of the anona. Wikipedia


Pompey's death:

     Pompey fate was sealed by the advisers of the young king Ptolemy XIII. While Pompey waited to disembark, they argued that the cost of offering him refuge with Caesar already on the way to Egypt behind him would be too high, an argument led by eunuch Potino. In the final passages of his biography, Plutarch reports Cornelia watching anxiously from the trireme while Pompey paddled with a taciturn and silent group of allies in a boat heading for what appeared to be a group prepared to welcome him on the coast of Pelúsio. As Pompey rose to disembark, he was stabbed to death by traitors, led by Aquila, Sétimo and Sálvio.

     Plutarch recounts that Pompey faced his destiny with great dignity on his birthday. His body remained on the coast and would be cremated by his loyal freed Philip using the rotten wooden planks of an old fishing vessel. His head and seal were given to Caesar, who, according to Plutarch, lamented this insult to the greatness of his former ally and son-in-law and punished his assassins and his Egyptian co-conspirators, having Aquila and Fotino executed. Pompey's ashes were finally delivered to Cornelia, who took them back to the family's estate near Alba.

     Dião Cássio describes César's reaction with skepticism and considers that Pompey's own political mistakes and not this betrayal led to his downfall. In Apiano's account of the Civil War, Caesar ordered Pompey's severed head to be buried in Alexandria on a site reserved for a new temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Nemesis, among whose functions was the punishment of Huberis. For Plínio, Pompeu's humiliating ending was anticipated by the immense pride of his enormous bust, decorated entirely with pearls and carried in procession in his greatest triumph (the third). Suetonius, however, claimed that Caesar even restored the statues of Sula and Pompey to their original locations that had been overthrown by the common people.

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