Pompeius Magnus, Gnaeus (Pompey the Great) (106-48 B.C.).
Born the son of Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo (106); while still in his teens, he served under his father during the Social War (war with the Socii or Allies); in the Civil War (of Marius and Sulla) was at first inclined toward Cinna's democratic cause (83-84); suddenly changed sides and raised three legions of troops in support of Sulla's march on Rome (83); married Sulla's stepdaughter Aemilia, and was sent to secure Sicily and Africa for Sulla (81-80); refused to disband his army, but returned to Rome without it and celebrated a triumph (March 12, 79); following Sulla's death, he received from the Senate the first of two extraordinary commissions: to suppress the rebellion of M. Aemilius Lepidus (78-77); having accomplished this, the second commission was to subdue Quintus Sertorius in Spain, which he accomplished only after Sertorius was murdered by his subordinate, Q. Matellus Pius (77-72); returned to Rome in time to help stamp out the vestiges of Spartacus' slave revolts during the Third Servile War (71); after celebrating a second triumph, was--despite his youth and lack of senatorial rank--elected consul with strong popular support (70); given by the Senate a commission to suppress piracy, with authority over the entire Mediterranean Sea and all lands within fifty miles, for a period of three years; moving with typical speed and efficiency, Pompeius swept the pirates from the seas within six months (67); given command in the East against Mithridates of Pontus and Tigranes of Armenia, superseding L. L. Lucullus (late 67); Pompeius ambushed and utterly defeated Tigranes, causing him to surrender his conquests (65); remaining in the East, he consolidated Roman control of Asia Minor (66-62); returned to Rome, disbanding his army at Brundisium (Brindisi), and celebrated a third triumph (September 28-29, 61); as a political figure in Rome (61-50), he was isolated largely because of suspicions about his ambitions; joined with Julius Caesar and M. Licinius Crassus in the First Triumvirate, to establish uneasy stability in Rome and to divide responsibility for the colonial areas (60); met with Crassus and Caesar at Luca (Lucca) to settle differences (56); was consul with Crassus for a second time (55); given the governorship of Spain for five years, but argued that his duties in reorganizing the Roman grain supply required him to stay in the city and ruled Spain through deputies (legati); the death of his fourth wife Julia (Caesar's daughter) (54) and Crassus' death at Carrhae (53) placed Caesar and Pompeius in opposition; Pompeius became the champion of the optimates (aristocrats) and of senatorial constitutionalism; nevertheless, on the excuse of growing anarchy in Rome, Pompeius had himself unconstitutionally elected sole consul (52), and his absolute governorship of Spain was renewed for five more years (50); in the unease generated by Caesar's imminent return, after expiration of his proconsulship in Gaul (which was to be March 1, 49), Pompeius and his allies persuaded the Senate to call on him to defend the Senate and the state (December 2, 50); after Caesar's invasion of Italy (January 11, 49), Pompeius and most of the Senate fled to Brundisium and thence to Illyria (Yugoslavia) (February); Caesar made an expedition to Spain (49-48), and then, eluding Pompeius' control of the sea, pursued him to Illyria; Pompeius outmaneuvered Caesar's outnumbered army near Dyrrhacium but failed to press his advantage (spring 48); withdrew east to Pharsalus, where, against his better judgment, he was persuaded to utilize his numerical advantage by fighting a battle there, and his army was crushed (August 3, 48); he fled the field to join his fifth wife Cornelia on Lesbos (Lesvos); he then traveled to Egypt where he was murdered by one of his presumed supporters as he debarked (September 28, 48).
A splendid administrator, in his earlier career he was an enterprising, resourceful, and determined general; his campaigns against Caesar were lackluster and uncertain, perhaps due to effects of a severe illness in the summer of 50; politically, he was nominally a defender of the constitutional status quo, and so became a champion of the aristocracy and an enemy of his early supporters, the populares; with Marius, Sulla, and Caesar, one of the four great figures of late republican Rome. <BL>
Sources: Appian, The Civil Wars. Caesar, Julius, De bello civili. Cicero, Letters. Plutarch, "Pompey," Parallel Lives. Syme, Ronald, The Roman Revolution. Oxford, 1939. Van Ooteghem, Jules, Pompee le Grand. Brussels, 1951. Encyclopaedia Britannica. 24 vols. Chicago, 1966. Oxford Classical Dictionary, 2d ed. London, 1970.
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|Author:||Walker, Cheryl L.; Bongard, David L.|
|Publication:||The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography|
|Article Type:||Reference Source|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1992|
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