Pompey the Great in Roman Biography

Pompey the Great, [Lat. Pompk'uis Mag'nus ; Fr. PompEe le Grand, po.v'pl' leh gRON,] (Cneius,) a famous Roman general and triumvir, was born on the 30th of September, 106 B.C., in the same year as Cicero. He fought under his father in the Social war, (So, n.C.,) and saved his lather's life when China attempted to assassinate him in 87 B.C. He raised, without a commission, three legions to fight for Sulla against the party of Marius in 83 B.C., and began to display his great military talents in the defeat of a hostile force under Brutus. For this success Sulla saluted him with the title of imperator. He gained another victory over the legates of Carbo in 82 B.C., reduced Numidia in 81, and obtained the honour of a triumph, although he was but a simple eques. In 76 B.C. he obtained command of an army sent to Spain against Sertorius, who defeated Pompey in two battles, but was assassinated in the year 72, soon after which Spain was reduced to subjection. With a high degree of popularity, Pompey returned to Italy in 71 B.C., and was elected consul (with Crassus) for the year 70, although he had not held any of the lower civil offices and was not legally eligible for other reasons. Among the important acts of his administration was the restoration of the power of the tribunes, by which he signalized his defection from the aristocratic party. He remained at Rome inactive during 69 and 68 B.C. In the next year his friends procured the passage of a law by which he was selected to conduct a war against the pirates (who infested the Mediterranean in great numbers) and was invested with irresponsible power for three years. He performed this service with complete success in less than one year, and, it is said, took 20,000 prisoners. The next enterprise to which he was called by his own ambition and the favour of the people was the termination of the Mithridatic war, which had been protracted for years. His claims having been advocated by Cicero in a long oration, (" Pro Lege Manilla,") he superseded Lucullus in 66 B.C. He defeated Mithridatts in Lesser Armenia in the same year, and after that king had escaped to the Crimea, which was difficult of access to the Roman army, Pompey turned southward, and reduced Syria to a Roman province in 64 H.C. After a siege of three months, he captured Jerusalem in 63, and entered the sanctuary of the Temple. Having received intelligence of the death of Mithridates, and having reduced Pontus and Bithynia to subjection, he returned to Italy in 62 B.C., and was received with general enthusiasm. The triumph which he obtained on this occasion was the most brilliant which the Romans had ever witnessed. Offended by the refusal of the senate to sanction his public acts in Asia, he identified himself with the popular party, and formed with Caesar and Crassus a coalition )r triumvirate, (59 B.C.) Pompey, having divorced Mucia his third wife, married Julia, a daughter of Caesar. He made no effort to prevent the banishment of Cicero, but he supported the bill for his restoration, in 57 B.C. His popularity was now on the decline. He had lost the confidence of the senate by his coalition with Caesar, who was his successful rival in respect to the favour of the people. Pompey could only obtain the consulship in 55 B.C. by the aid of Cxsar, with whom he and Crassus had formed another secret treaty or bargain. Anticipating the open hostility of Caesar to his ambitious projects, Pompey renewed his connection with the aristocracy, who accepted him as their leader in 51 B.C. About the end of the next year the friends of Pompey obtained a decree of the senate that Caesar should disband his army. In defiance of this decree, Caesar marched to Rome with a force which Pompey was unable to resist. His self-confidence was such that he had neglected to levy troops, and he was compelled to retreat to Epirus, where he collected, an army. (See CAESAR.) Urged on by the civilians and nobles of his camp, against his own judgment he offered battle to Caesar in the plain of Pharsaliain August, 48 B.C. and was completely defeated. lie escaped by sea, with his wife Cornelia, and sought refuge in Egypt, but was murdered in the act of landing, by order of Theodotus and Achillas, the chief ministers, in September, 48 B.C. His moral character is represented as better than that of the majority of Roman generals in his time. He was deficient in political abilities, and was guided by no fixed principles as a statesman. See Plutarch, " Life of Pompey ;" G. Long, " The Decline of the Roman Republic:" Dion CassiUS, " History;" Cickro, " Oratio pro Lege Martina;" Drumann, "Gescliichte Roms ;" " Appian, Bellum Civile ;" J. Upmarck. " Dissertatio de Pompejo Magno," 1709; " Nouvelle Biographie Ge'ue'rale."

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