Pompey, also known as Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, was a Roman general and politician who lived during the late Roman Republic. He was born in 106 BC in Picenum, a region in central Italy, and he died in 48 BC in Egypt.
Pompey’s military career began at an early age. He served in the Roman army under his father and then under the consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla during the civil wars of the 80s BC. Pompey quickly proved himself to be a skilled commander and strategist, earning a reputation as one of the greatest generals of his time.
Pompey put down several revolts in Italy and Sicily during his early military career. He also played a crucial role in Sulla’s campaign against Mithridates VI of Pontus, a powerful enemy of Rome who had conquered much of Asia Minor. Pompey’s success in this campaign earned him the title of “Magnus” or “the Great,” and he became one of the most celebrated generals in Rome.
After Sulla’s death, Pompey returned to Rome and entered politics. He quickly became involved in the power struggles of the late Republic, aligning himself with the conservative senatorial party and opposing the popular reforms of the tribunes. He was elected consul in 70 BC and used his position to push through several measures that strengthened the power of the Senate and the aristocracy.
In 67 BC, Pompey was tasked with putting down a rebellion in the eastern provinces of the Roman Republic. He successfully defeated the rebels and brought the region under Roman control. This campaign was followed by other conquests in the east, including the annexation of Syria and the defeat of the Armenian king Tigranes the Great.
Pompey’s success in the East made him one of the most powerful men in Rome, and he was hailed as a hero by many. However, his rise to power also made him enemies, particularly among the populares, or popular party, who saw him as a threat to their power.
In 60 BC, Pompey formed an alliance with Julius Caesar and Crassus, two other powerful politicians in Rome. This alliance, known as the First Triumvirate, allowed the three men to dominate Roman politics and effectively control the government. However, tensions soon arose between Pompey and Caesar, and the alliance eventually broke down.
In 49 BC, Caesar crossed the Rubicon River with his army and started a civil war against Pompey and the Senate. Pompey was forced to flee Italy and eventually ended up in Egypt, where agents of the Egyptian king Ptolemy XIII assassinated him.
Pompey was a complex figure who played a significant role in the politics and military history of the late Roman Republic. He was a brilliant general who conquered vast territories for Rome. Still, he was also a controversial politician who supported the aristocracy’s interests over those of the common people. His alliance with Caesar and Crassus paved the way for the downfall of the Republic, but his military achievements earned him a place among the great generals of history.
Pompey the Great by Robin Seager