Animated GifTheatrum Pompei Project
Top
Spacer
Main Portal
Spacer
Top
Home
Bar
Overview
Bar
Pompey Resources
Bar
Links
Top
SpacerBuildings of Pompeius
Spacer
Top
Introduction
Bar
Primary Sources
Bar
Latin Designations
Bar
Classic Scholarship
Bar
Topographic Dictionary
Bar
Current News
Bar
Image Database
Bar
Bibliography
Top
SpacerRome in the Fifties B.C.
Spacer
Top
Introduction
Bar
Communis Opinio
Bar
    Literature
Catullus
Bar
Catullan Resources
Bar
Other Poets
Bar
Cicero
Bar
    Politics
Magistrates
Bar
    Topography
Bar
Building Activity
Bar
    Numismatics
Bar
Denarii
Top
SpacerPublic Domain Classics and Scholarship
Spacer
Top
PDCS Home Page
Bar
Top
Spacer
Spacer
Top
Google
Web
theaterofpompey.com

Get Flash

MS IE

Get Adobe Acrobat!

Get Firefox

A TPP Exclusive

PLUTARCH'S LIFE OF POMPEY

Translated by A. H. Clough


Edited by Ulysses K. Vestal


Part I - From Youth to his First Consulship [1-23]



1.  The people of Rome seem to have entertained for Pompey from his childhood, the same affection that Prometheus in the tragedy of Aeschylus expresses for Hercules, speaking of him as the author of his deliverance, in these words,

Ah cruel Sire! how dear thy son to me!  The generous offspring of my enemy!

For on the one hand, never did the Romans give such demonstrations of a vehement and fierce hatred against any of their generals, as they did against Strabo, the father of Pompey; during whose lifetime, it is true, they stood in awe of his military power, as indeed he was a formidable warrior,but immediately upon his death, which happened by a stroke of thunder, they treated him with the utmost contumely, dragging his corpse from the bier, as it was carried to his funeral.  On the other side, never had any Roman the people's good-will and devotion more zealous throughout all the changes of fortune, more early in its first springing up, or more steadily rising with his prosperity, or more constant in his adversity, than Pompey had.  In Strabo, there was one great cause of their hatred , his insatiable covetousness; in Pompey, there were many that helped to make him the object of their love; his temperance, his skill, and exercise in war, his eloquence ofspeech, integrity of mind and affability in conversation and address; insomuch that no man ever asked a favor withless offense, or conferred one with a better grace.  When he gave, it was without assumption, when he received, it was with dignity and honor.

2.  In his youth, his countenance pleaded for him, seeming toanticipatehis eloquence, and win upon the affections of the people before he spoke.  His beauty even in his bloom of youth had something in it atonce of gentleness and dignity; and when his prime of manhood came, the majesty kingliness of his character at once became visible in it.  His hair sat somewhat hollow or rising a little; and this, with the languishing motion of his eyes, seemed to form a resemblance in his face, though perhaps more talked of than really apparent, to the statues of king Alexander. And because many applied that name to him in his youth, Pompey himself did not decline it, insomuch that some called him so in derision.  And Lucius Philippus, a man of consular dignity, when he was pleading in favor of him, thought it not unfit to say, that people could not be surprised if Philip was a lover of Alexander.  It is related of Flora, the courtesan, that when she was now pretty old, she took great delight in speaking of her early familiarity with Pompey, and was wont to say, that she could never part after being with him without a bite.  She would further tell, that Geminius, a companion of Pompey's, fell in love with her, and made his court with great importunity; and on her refusing, and telling him, however her inclinations were, yet she could not gratify his desires for Pompey's sake, he therefore made his request to Pompey, and Pompey frankly gave his consent, but never afterwards would have any converse with her, notwithstanding, that he seemed to have a great passion for her; and Flora, on this occasion, showed none of the levity that might have been expected of her, but languished for some time after under a sickness brought on by grief and desire.  This Flora, we are told, was such a celebrated beauty, that Caecilius Metellus, when he adorned the temple of Castor and Pollux with paintings and statues, among the rest dedicated hers for her singular beauty. In his conduct also to the wife of Demetrius, his freed servant, (who had great influence with him in his lifetime, and left an estate of four thousand talents,) Pompey acted contrary to his usual habits, not quite fairly or generously , fearing lest he should fall under thec ommon censure of being enamored and charmed with her beauty, which was irresistible, and became famous everywhere. Nevertheless, though he seemed to be so extremely circumspect and cautious, yet even in matters of this nature, he could not avoid the calumnies of his enemies, but upon the score of married women, they accused him, as if he had connived at many things, and embezzled the public revenue to gratify their luxury.  Of his easiness of temper and plainness, in what related to eating and drinking, the story is told, that once in a sickness, when his stomach nauseated common meats, his physician prescribed him a thrush to eat; but upon search, there was none to be bought, for they were not then in season, and on telling him they were to be had at Lucullus's, who kept them all the year round, "So then," said he, "if it were not for Lucullus's luxury, Pompey should not live;" and thereupon not minding the prescription of the physician, he contented himself with such meat as could easily be procured.  But this was at a later time.

3.  Being as yet a very young man, and upon an expedition in which his father was commanding against Cinna, he had in his tent with him one Lucius Terentius, as his companion and comrade, who, being corrupted by Cinna, entered into an engagement to kill Pompey, as others had done, to set the general's tent on fire.  This conspiracy being discovered to Pompey at supper, he showed no discomposure at it, but on the contrary drank more liberally than usual, and expressed great kindness to Terentius; but about bedtime, pretending to go to his repose, he stole away secretly out of the tent, and setting a guard about his father, quietly expected the event.  Terentius, when he thought the proper time come, rose with his naked sword, and coming to Pompey's bedside, stabbed several strokes through the bedclothes, as if he were lying there. Immediately after this there was a great uproar throughout all the camp, arising from the hatred they bore to the general, and a universal movement of the soldiers to revolt, all tearing down their tents, and betaking themselves to their arms.  The general himself all this while durst not venture out because of the tumult; but Pompey, going about in the midst of them, besought them with tears; and at last threw himself prostrate upon his face before the gate of the camp, and lay there in the passage at their feet, shedding tears, and bidding those that were marching off,if they would go, trample upon him.  Upon which, none could help going back again, and all, except eight hundred, either through shame or compassion, repented,and were reconciled to the general.

4.  Immediately upon the death of Strabo, there was an action commenced against Pompey, as his heir, for that his father had embezzled the public treasure.  But Pompey, having traced the principal thefts, charged them upon one Alexander, a freed slave of his father's, and proved before the judges that he had been the appropriator.  But he himself was accused of having in his possession some hunting tackle, and books, that were taken at Asculum.  To this he confessed thus far, that he received them from his father when he took Asculum, but pleaded further, that he had lost them since, upon Cinna's return to Rome when his home was broken open and plundered by Cinna's guards.  In this cause he had a great many preparatory pleadings against his accuser, in which he showed an activity and steadfastness beyond his years, and gained great reputation and favor; insomuch that Antistius, the praetor and judge of the cause, took a great liking to him, and offered him his daughter in marriage, having had some communications with his friends about it.  Pompey accepted the proposal, and they were privately contracted; however, the secret was not so closely kept as to escape the multitude, but it was discernible enough from the favor shown him by Antistius in his cause. And at last, when Antistius pronounced the absolutory sentence of the judges, the people, as if it had been upon a signal given, made the acclamation used according to ancient custom, at marriages, Talasio.  The origin of which custom is related to be this.  At the time when the daughters of the Sabines came to Rome, to see the shows and sports there, and were violently seized upon by the most distinguished and bravest of the Romans for wives, it happened that some goatswains and herdsmen of the meaner rank were carrying off a beautiful and tall maiden; and lest any of their betters should meet them, and take her away, as they ran, they cried out with one voice, Talasio, Talasius being a well-known and popular person among them, insomuch that all that heard the name, clapped their hands for joy , and joined with them in the shout, as applauding and congratulating the chance.  Now, say they, because this proved a fortunate match to Talasius, hence it is that this acclamation is sportively used as a nuptial cry at all weddings.  This is the most credible of the accounts that are given of the Talasio.

5.  And some few days after this judgment, Pompey married Antistia.  After this he went to Cinna's camp, where finding some false suggestions and calumnies prevailing against him, he began to be afraid and presently withdrew himself secretly; this sudden disappearance occasioned great suspicion.  And there went a rumor and speech throughout all the camp, that Cinna had murdered the young man; upon which all that had been anyways disobliged, and bore any malice to him, resolved to make an assault upon him.  He, endeavoring to make his escape, was seized by a centurion, who pursued him with his naked sword.  Cinna, in this distress, fell upon his knees, and offered him his seal-ring, of great value, for his ransom; but the centurion repulsed him insolently, saying, "I did not come to seal a covenant, but to be revenged upon a lawless and wicked tyrant;" and so dispatched him immediately.  Thus Cinna being slain, Carbo, a tyrant yet more senseless than he, took the command and exercised it, while Sulla meantime was approaching, much to the joy and satisfaction of most people, who in their present evils were ready to find some comfort if it were but in the exchange of a master.  For the city was brought to that pass by oppression and calamities, that being utterly in despair of liberty, men were only anxious for the mildest and most tolerable bondage.

6.  At that time Pompey was in Picenum in Italy, where he spent some time amusing himself , as he had estates in the country there, though the chief motive of his stay was the liking he felt for the towns of that district, which all regarded him with hereditary feelings of kindness and attachment.  But when he now saw that the noblest and best of the city began to forsake their homes and property, and fly from all quarters to Sulla's camp, as to their haven, he likewise was desirous to go; not, however, as a fugitive, alone and with nothing to offer, but as a friend rather than a suppliant, in a way that would gain him honor, bringing help along with him,and at the head of a body of troops.  Accordingly he solicited the Picentines for their assistance, who as cordially embraced his motion, and rejected the messengers sent from Carbo; insomuch that a certain Vindius taking upon him to say, that Pompey was come from the school-room to put himself at the head of the people, they were so incensed that they fell forthwith upon this Vindius and killed him.  From henceforward Pompey, finding a spirit of government upon him, though not above twenty-three years of age, nor deriving, an authority by commission from any man, took the privilege to grant himself full power, and causing a tribunal to be erected in the market-place of Auximum, a populous city, expelled two of their principal men, brothers of the name of Ventidius, who were acting against him in Carbo's interest, commanding them by a public edict to depart the city; and then proceeded to levy soldiers, issuing out commissions to centurions, and other officers, according to the form of military discipline.  And in this manner he went round all the rest of the cities in the district.  So that those of Carbo's faction were sent flying, and all others cheerfully submitting to his command, in a little time he mustered three entire legions, having supplied himself beside with all manner of provisions, beasts of burden, carriages, and other necessaries of war.  And with this equipage he set forward on his march towards Silla, not as if he were in haste, or desirous of escaping observation, but by small journeys, making several halts uponthe road, to distress and annoy the enemy, and exerting himself to detach from Carbo's interest every part of Italy that he passed through.

7.  Three commanders of the enemy encountered him at once, Carinna, Cloelius, and Brutus, and drew up their forces, not all in the front, nor yet together on any one part, but encamping three several armies in a circle about him, they resolved to encompass and overpower him.  Pompey was no way alarmed at this, but collecting all his troops into one body, and placing his horse in the front of the battle, where he himself was in person, he singled out and bent all his forces against Brutus, and when the Celtic horsemen from the enemy's side rode out to meet him, Pompey himself encountering hand to hand with the foremost and stoutest among them, killed him with his spear.  The rest seeing this turned their backs, and fled, and breaking the ranks of their own foot, presently caused a general rout; whereupon the commanders fell out among themselves , and marchedoff, some one way, some another, as their fortunes led them,and the towns round about came in and surrendered themselvestoPompey, concluding that the enemy was dispersed for fear.  Next after these, Scipio, the consul, came to attack him, and with as little success; for before the armies could join, or be within the throw of their javelins, Scipio's soldiers saluted Pompey's, and came over to them, while Scipio made his escape by flight.  Last of all, Carbo himself sent down several troops of horse against him by the river Arsis, which Pompey assailed with the same courage and success as before; and having routed and put them to flight, he forced them in the pursuit into difficult ground, unpassable for horse, where seeing no hopes of escape, they yielded themselves with their horses and armor, all to his mercy.

8.  Sulla was hitherto unacquainted with all these actions; and on the first intelligence he received of his movements was in great anxiety about him, fearing lest he should be cut off among so many and such experienced commanders of the enemy, and marched therefore with all speed to his aid.  Now Pompey, having advice of his approach, sent out orders to his officers, to marshal and draw up all his forces in full array, that they might make the finest and noblest appearance before the commander-in-chief; for he expected indeed great honors from him, but met with even greater.  For as soon as Sulla saw him thus advancing, his army so well appointed, his men so young and strong, and their spirits so high and hopeful with their successes, he alighted from his horse, and being first, as was his due, saluted by them with the title of Imperator, here turned the salutation upon Pompey, in the same term and style of Imperator, which might well cause surprise, as none could have ever anticipated that he would have imparted, to one so young in years and not yet a senator, a title which was the object of contention between him and the Scipios and Marii.  And indeed all the rest of his deportment was agreeable to this first compliment; whenever Pompey came into his presence, he paid some sort of respect to him, either in rising and being uncovered, or the like, which he was rarely seen to do to anyone else, notwithstanding that there were many about him of great rank and honor.  Yet Pompey was not puffed up at all, or exalted with these favors.  And when Sulla would have sent him with the expedition into Gaul, a province in which it was thought Metellus who commanded in it had done nothing worthy of the large forces at his disposal, Pompey urged, that it could not be fair or honorable for him, to take a province out of the hands of his senior in command and superior in reputation; however, if Metellus were willing, and should reques this service, he should be very ready to accompany and assist him in the war.  When Metellus came to understand this, heapproved of the proposal, and invited him over by letter.  And on this Pompey fell immediately into Gaul, where he not only achieved wonderful exploits of himself, but also fired up and kindled again that bold and warlike spirit, which old age had in a manner extinguished in Metellus, into a new heat; just as molten copper, they say, when poured upon that which is cold and solid, will dissolve and melt it faster than fire itself.  But as when a famous wrestler has gained the first place among men, and borne away the prizes at all the games, it is not usual to take account of his victories as a boy, or to enter them upon record among the rest; sowith the exploits of Pompey in his youth, though they were extraordinary in themselves, yet because they were obscured and buried in the multitude and greatness of his later wars and conquests, I dare not be particular in them, lest, by trifling away time in the lesser moments of his youth, we should be driven to omit those greater actions and fortunes which best illustrate his character.

9.  Now, when Sulla had brought all Italy under his dominion, and was proclaimed dictator, he began to reward the rest of his followers, by giving them wealth, appointing them to offices in the State, and granting them freely and without restriction any favors they asked for.  But as for Pompey, admiring his valor and conduct, and thinking that he might prove a great stay and support to him hereafter in his affairs, he sought means to attach him to himself by some personal alliance, and his wife Metella joining in his wishes, they both persuaded Pompey to put away Antistia, and marry Aemilia, the step-daughter of Sulla, borne by Metella to Scaurus her former husband, she being at that very time the wife of another man, living with him, and with child by him.  These were the very tyrannies of marriage, and much more agreeable to the times under Sulla, than to the nature and habits of Pompey; that Aemilia great with child should be, as it were, ravished from the embraces of another for him, and that Antistia should be divorced with dishonor and misery by him, for whose sake she had been but just before bereft of her father.  For Antistius was murdered in the senate, because he was suspected to be a favorer of Sulla for Pompey's sake; and her mother, likewise, after she had seen all these indignities, made away with herself; a new calamity to be added to the tragic accompaniments of this marriage, and that there might be nothing wanting to complete them, Aemilia herself died, almost immediately after entering Pompey's house, in childbed.

10.  About this time news came to Sulla, that Perpenna was fortifying himself in Sicily, that the island was now become a refuge and receptacle for the relics of the adverse party; that Carbo was hovering about those seas with a navy, that Domitius had fallen in upon Africa and that many of the exiled men of note who had escaped from the proscriptions were daily flocking into those parts.  Against these, therefore, Pompey was sent with a large force; and no sooner was he arrived in Sicily but Perpenna immediately departed, leaving the whole island to him.  Pompey received the distressed cities into favor, and treated all with great humanity, except the Mamertines in Messena; for when they protested against his court and jurisdiction, alleging their privilege and exemption founded upon an ancient charter or grant of the Romans, he replied sharply, "What! will you never cease prating of laws to us that have swords byour sides?"  It was thought, likewise, that he showed some inhumanity to Carbo, seeming rather to exult over his misfortunes, than to chastise his crimes.  For if there had been a necessity, as perhaps there was, that he should be taken off, that might have been done at first, as soon as he was taken prisoner, for then it would have been the act of him that commanded it.  But here Pompey commended a man that had been thrice consul of Rome, to be brought in fetters to stand at the bar, he himself sitting upon the bench in judgment, examining the cause with the formalities of law, to the offense and indignation of all that were present, and afterwards ordered him to be taken away and put to death.  It is related, by the way, of Carbo, that as soon as he was brought to the place, and saw the sword drawn for execution, he was suddenly seized with a looseness or pain in his bowels, and desired a little respite of the executioner, and a convenient place to relieve himself.  And yet further, Caius Oppius, the friend of Caesar, tells us, that Pompey dealt cruelly with Quintus Valerius, a man of singular learning and science.  For when he was brought to him, he walked aside, and drew him into conversation, and after putting a variety of questions to him, and receiving answers from him, he ordered his officers to take him away, and put him to death.  But we must not be too credulous in the case of narratives told by Oppius, especially when he undertakes to relate anything touching the friends or foes of Caesar.  This is certain, that there lay a necessity upon Pompey to be severe upon many of Sulla's enemies, those at least that were eminent persons in themselves, and notoriously known to be taken; but for the rest, he acted with all the clemency possible for him, conniving at the concealment of some, and himself being the instrument in the escape of others.  So in the case of the Himeraeans; for when Pompey had determined on severely punishing their city, as they had been abettors of the enemy, Sthenis, the leader of the people there, craving liberty of speech, told him, that what he was about to do was not at all consistent with justice, for that he would pass by the guilty ,and destroy the innocent; and on Pompey demanding, who that guilty person was that would assume the offenses of them all, Sthenis replied, it was himself, who had engaged his friends by persuasion to what they had done, and his enemies by force; whereupon Pompey being much taken with the frank speech and noble spirit of the man, first forgave his crime, and then pardoned all the rest of the Himeraeans.  Hearing, likewise, that his soldiers were very disorderly their march,doing violence upon the roads, he ordered their swords to besealed up in their scabbards, and whosoever kept them not so, were severely punished.

11.  While Pompey was thus busy in the affairs and government of Sicily, he received a decree of the senate, and a commission from Sulla, commanding him forthwith to sail into Africa, and make war upon Domitius with all his forces: for Domitius had rallied up a far greater army than Marius had had not long since, when he sailed out of Africa into Italy, and caused a revolution in Rome, and himself, of a fugitive outlaw, became a tyrant.  Pompey, therefore, having prepared everything with the utmost speed, left Memmius, his sister's husband, governor of Sicily, and set sail with one hundred and twenty galleys, and eight hundred other vessels laden with provisions, money, ammunition, and engines of battery.  He arrived with his fleet, part at the port of Utica, part at Carthage; and no sooner was he landed, but seven thousand of the enemy revolted and came over to him, while his own forces that he brought with him consisted of six entire legions.  Here they tell us of a pleasant incident that happened to him at his first arrival.  For some of his soldiers having by accident stumbled upon a treasure, by which they got a goodsum of money, the rest of the army hearing this, began to fancy that the field was full of gold and silver, which had been hid there of old by the Carthaginians in the time of their calamities, and thereupon fell to work, so that the army was useless to Pompey for many days, being totally engaged in digging for the fancied treasure, he himself all the while walking up and down only, and laughing to see so many thousands together, digging and turning up the earth.  Until at last, growing weary and hopeless, they came to themselves, and returned to their general, begging him to lead them where he pleased, for that they had already received the punishment of their folly.

12.  By this time Domitius had prepared himself; and drawn out his army in array against Pompey; but there was a watercourse betwixt them, craggy, and difficult to pass over; and this, together with a great storm of wind and rain pouring down even from break of day, seemed to leave but little possibility of their coming together, so that Domitius, not expecting any engagement that day, commanded his forces to draw off and retire to the camp.  Now Pompey, who was watchful upon every occasion, making use of the opportunity, ordered a march forthwith, and having passed over the torrent, fell in immediately upon their quarters.  The enemy was in a great disorder and tumult, and in that confusion attempted a resistance; but they neither were all there, nor supported one another; besides, the wind having veered about, beat the rain full in their faces. Neither indeed was the storm less troublesome to the Romans, for that they could not clearly discern one another, insomuch that even Pompey himself, being unknown, escaped narrowly; for when one of his soldiers demanded of him the word of battle, it happened that he was somewhat slow in his answer, which might have cost him his life.  The enemy being routed with a great slaughter, (for it is said, that of twenty thousand there escaped but three thousand,) the army saluted Pompey by the name of Imperator; but he declined it, telling them, that he could not by any means accept of that title, as long as he saw the camp of the enemy standing; but if they designed to make him worthy of the honor, they must first demolish it.  The soldiers on hearing this, went at once and made an assault upon the works and trenches, and there Pompey fought without his helmet, in memory of his former danger, and to avoid the like.  The camp was thus taken by storm, and amongthe rest, Domitius was slain.  After that overthrow, the cities of the country thereabouts were all either secured by surrender, or taken by storm.  King Iarbas, likewise, a confederate and auxiliary of Domitius, was taken prisoner, and his kingdom was given to Hiempsal.  Pompey could not rest here, but being ambitious to follow the good fortune and use the valor of his army, entered Numidia; and marching forward many days' journey up into the country, he conquered all wherever he came.  And having revived the terror of the Roman power, which was now almost obliterated among the barbarous nations, he said likewise, that the wild beasts of Africa ought not to be left without some experience of the courage and success of the Romans; and therefore he bestowed some few days in hunting lions and elephants.  And it is said, that it was not above the space of forty days at the utmost, in which he gave a total overthrow to the enemy, reduced Africa, and established the affairs of the kings and kingdoms of all that country, being then in the twenty-fourth year of his age.

13.  When Pompey returned back to the city of Utica, there we representedto him letters and orders from Sulla, commanding him to disband the rest of his army, and himself with one legion only to wait there the coming of another general, to succeed him in the government.  This, inwardly, was extremely grievous to Pompey, though he made no show of it.  But the army resented it openly, and when Pompey besought them to depart and go home before him, they began to revile Sulla, and declared broadly, that they were resolved not to forsake him, neither did they think it safe for him to trust the tyrant.  Pompey at first endeavored to appease and pacify them by fair speeches; but when he saw that his persuasions were in vain, he left the bench, and retired to his tent with tears in his eyes.  But the soldiers followed him, and seizing upon him, by force brought him again, and placed him in his tribunal; where a great part of that day was spent in dispute, they on their part persuading him to stay and command them, he, on the other side, pressing upon them obedience, and the danger of mutiny.  At last, when they grew yet more importunate and clamorous, he swore that he would kill himself if they attempted to force him; and scarcely even thus appeased them.  Nevertheless, the first tidings brought to Sulla were, that Pompey was up in rebellion; on which he remarked to some of his friends, "I see, then,it is my destiny to contend with children in my old age;" alluding at the same time to Marius, who, being but a mere youth, had given him great trouble, and brought him into extreme danger.  But being undeceived afterwards by better intelligence, and finding the whole city prepared to meet Pompey, and receive him with every display of kindness and honor, he resolved to exceed them all.  And, therefore, going out foremost to meet him, and embracing him with great cordiality, he gave him his welcome aloud in the title of Magnus, or the Great, and bade all that were present call him by that name.  Others say that he had this title first given him by a general acclamation of all the army in Africa, but that it was fixed upon him by this ratification of Sulla.  It is certain that he himself was the last that owned the title; for it was a long time after, when he was sent as proconsul into Spain against Sertorius, that he began to write himself in his letters and commissions by the name of Pompeius Magnus; common and familiar use having then worn off the invidiousness of the title.  And one cannot but accord respect and admiration to the ancient Romans, who did not reward the successes of action and conduct in war alone with such honorable titles, but adorned likewise the virtues and services of eminent men in civil government with the same distinctions and marks of honor.  Two persons received from the people the name of Maximus, or the Greatest, Valerius, for reconciling the senate and people, and Fabius Rullus, because he put out of the senate certain sons of freed slaves who had been admitted into it because of their wealth.

14.  Pompey now desired the honor of a triumph, which Sulla opposed, alleging that the law allowed that honor to none but consuls and praetors, and therefore Scipio the elder, who subdued the Carthaginians in Spain in far greater and nobler conflicts, never petitioned for a triumph, because he had never been consul or praetor; and if Pompey, who had scarcely yet fully grown a beard, and was not of age to be a senator, should enter the city in triumph, what a weight of envy would it bring, he said, at once upon his government and Pompey's honor. This was his language to Pompey, intimating that he could not by any means yield to his request, but if he would persist in his ambition, that he was resolved to interpose his power to humble him.  Pompey, however, was not daunted; but bade Sulla recollect, that more worshiped the rising than the setting sun; as if to tell him that his power was increasing, and Sulla's in the wane.  Sulla did not perfectly hear the words, but observing a sort of amazement and wonder in the looks and gestures of those that did hear them, he asked what it was that he said.  When it was told him, he seemed astounded at Pompey's boldness, and cried out twice together, "Let him triumph," and when others began to show their disapprobation and offense at it, Pompey, it is said, to gall and vex them the more, designed to have his triumphant chariot drawn with four elephants, (having brought over several which belonged to the African kings,) but the gates of the city being too narrow, he was forced to desist from that project, and be content with horses.  And when his soldiers, who had not received as large rewards as they had expected, began to clamor, and interrupt the triumph, Pompey regarded these as little as the rest, and plainly told them that he had rather lose the honor of his triumph, than flatter them.  Upon which Servilius, a man of great distinction, and at first one of the chief opposers of Pompey's triumph, said, he now perceived that Pompey was truly great and worthy of a triumph.  It is clear that he might easily have been a senator, also, if he had wished, but he did not sue for that, being ambitious, it seems, only of unusual honors.  For what wonder had it been for Pompey, to sit in the senate before his time?  But to triumph before he was in the senate, was really an excess of glory.  And moreover, it did not a little ingratiate him with the people who were much pleased to see him after his triumph take his place again among the Roman knights.

15.  On the other side, it was no less distasteful to Sulla to see how fast he came on, and to what a height of glory and power he was advancing; yet being ashamed to hinder him, he kept quiet.  But when, against his direct wishes, Pompey got Lepidus made consul, having openly joined in the canvass and, by the good-will the people felt for himself, conciliated their favor for Lepidus, Sulla could forbear no longer; but when he saw him coming away from the election through the forum with a great train after him, cried out to him, "Well, young man, I see you rejoice in your victory.  And, indeed, is it not a most generous and worthy act, that the consulship should be given to Lepidus, the vilest of men, in preference to Catulus, the best and most deserving in the city, and all by your influence with the people?  It will be well, however, for you to be wakeful and look to your interests; as you have been making your enemy stronger than yourself."  But that which gave the clearest demonstration of Sulla's ill-will to Pompey, was his last will and testament; for whereas he had bequeathed several legacies to all the rest of his friends, and appointed some of them guardians to his eon, he passed by Pompey without the least remembrance.  However, Pompey bore this with great moderation and temper; and when Lepidus and others were disposed to obstruct his interment in the Campus Martius, and to prevent any public funeral taking place, came forward in support of it, and saw his obsequies performed with all honor and security.

16.  Shortly after the death of Sulla, his prophetic words were fulfilled; and Lepidus proposing to be the successor to all his power and authority, without any ambiguities or pretences, immediately appeared in arms, rousing once more and gathering about him all the long dangerous remains of the old factions, which had escaped the hand of Sulla.  Catulus, his colleague, who was followed by the sounder part of the senate and people, was a man of the greatest esteem among the Romans for wisdom and justice; but his talent lay in the government of the city rather than the camp, whereas the exigency required the skill of Pompey.  Pompey, therefore, was not long in suspense which way to dispose of himself, but joining with the nobility, was presently appointed general of the army against Lepidus, who had already raised up war in great part of Italy, and held Cisalpine Gaul in subjection with an army under Brutus.  As for the rest of his garrisons, Pompey subdued them with ease in his march, but Mutina in Gaul resisted in a formal siege, and he lay here a long time encamped against Brutus.  In the meantime Lepidus marched in all haste against Rome, and sitting down before it with a crowd of followers, to the terror of those within, demanded a second consulship.  But that fear quickly vanished upon letters sent from Pompey, announcing that he had ended the war without a battle; for Brutus, either betraying his army, or being betrayed by their revolt, surrendered himself to Pompey, and receiving a guard of horse, was conducted to a little town upon the river Po, where he was slain the next day by Geminius, in execution ofPompey's commands.  And for this Pompey was much censured; for, having at the beginning of the revolt written to the senate that Brutus had voluntarily surrendered himself, immediately afterward he sent other letters, with matter of accusation against the man, after he was taken off.  Brutus, who with Cassius slew Caesar, was son to this Brutus; neither in war nor in his death like his father, as appears at large in his life.  Lepidus upon this being driven out of Italy, fled to Sardinia, where he fell sick and died of sorrow, not for his public misfortunes, as they say, but, upon the discovery of a letter, proving his wife to have been unfaithful to him.

17.  There yet remained Sertorius, a very different general from Lepidus, in possession of Spain, and making himself formidable to Rome; the final disease, as it were, in which the scattered evils of the civil wars had now collected.  He had already cut off various inferior commanders, and was at this time coping with Metellus Pius, a man of repute and a good soldier, though perhaps he might now seem too slow, by reason of his age, to second and improve the happier moments of war, and might be sometimes wanting to those advantages which Sertorius by his quickness and dexterity would wrest out of his hands.  For Sertorius was always hovering about, and coming upon him unawares, like a captain of thieves rather than soldiers, disturbing him perpetually with ambuscades and light skirmishes, whereas Metellus was accustomed to regular conduct, and fighting in battle array with full-armed soldiers.  Pompey,therefore, keeping his army in readiness, made it his object to be sent in aid to Metellus; neither would he be induced to disband his forces, notwithstanding that Catulus called upon him to do so, but by some colorable device or other he still kept them in arms about the city, until the senate at last thought fit, upon the report of Lucius Philippus, to decree him that government.  At that time, they say, one of the senators there expressing his wonder and demanding of Philippus whether his meaning was that Pompey should besent into Spain as proconsul, "No," replied Philippus, "but as proconsuls," as if both consuls for that year were in his opinion wholly useless.

18.  When Pompey was arrived in Spain, as is usual upon the fame of a new leader, men began to be inspired with new hopes, and those nations that had not entered into a very strict alliance with Sertorius, began to waver and revolt, whereupon Sertorius uttered various arrogant and scornful speeches against Pompey, saying in derision, that he should want no other weapon but a ferula and rod to chastise this boy with, if he were not afraid of that old woman, meaning Metellus.  Yet in deed and reality he stood in awe of Pompey, and kept on his guard against him, as appeared by his whole management of the war, which he was observed to conduct much more warily than before, for Metellus, which one would not have imagined, was grown excessively luxurious in his habits having given himself over to self-indulgence and pleasure, and from a moderate and temperate, became suddenly a sumptuous and ostentatious liver,so that this very thing gained Pompey great reputation and goodwill, as he made himself somewhat specially an example of frugality, although that virtue was habitual in him, and required no great industry to exercise it, as he was naturally inclined to temperance, and no ways inordinate in his desires.  The fortune of the war was very various; nothing however annoyed Pompey so much as the taking of the town of Lauron by Sertorius.  For when Pompey thought he had him safe inclosed, and had boasted somewhat largely of raising the siege, he found himself all of a suddenen compassed, insomuch that he durst not move out of his camp, but was forced to sit still whilst the city was taken and burnt before his face.  However, afterwards in a battle near Valentia, he gave great defeat to Herennius and Perpenna, two commanders among the refugees who had fled to Sertorius, and now lieutenants under him, in which he slew above ten thousand men.

19.  Pompey, being elated and filled with confidence by this victory, made all haste to engage Sertorius himself, and lest Metellus should come in for a share in the honor of the victory.  Late in the day, towards sunset, they joined battlenear the river Sucro, both being in fear lest Metellus should come:  Pompey, that he might engage alone, Sertorius, that he might have one alone to engage with.  The issue of the battle proved doubtful, for a wing of each side had the better; but of the generals, Sertorius had the greater honor, for that he maintained his post, having put to flight the entire division that was opposed to him, whereas Pompey was himself almost made a prisoner; for being set upon by a strong man at arms that fought on foot, (he being on horseback,) as they were closely engaged hand to hand, the strokes of their swords chanced to light upon their hands, but with a different success; for Pompey's was a slight wound only, whereas hecut off the other's hand.  However, it happened so, that many now falling upon Pompey together, and his own forces there being put to the rout, he made his escape beyond expectation, by quitting his horse, and turning him out among the enemy.  For the horse being richly adorned with golden trappings, and having a caparison of great value, the soldiers quarreled among themselves for the booty, so that while they were fighting with one another, and dividing the spoil, Pompey made his escape.  By break of day the next morning, each drew out his forces into the field to claim the victory; but with Metellus coming up, Sertorius vanished, having broken up and dispersed his army.  For this was the way in which he used to raise and disband his armies, so that sometimes he would be wandering up and down all alone, and at other times again he would come pouring into the field at the head of no less than one hundred and fifty thousand fighting-men, swelling of a sudden like a winter torrent.  When Pompey was going after the battle to meet and welcome Metellus, and when they were near one another, he commanded his attendants to lower their rods in honor of Metellus, as his senior and superior.  But Metellus on the other side forbade it, and behaved himself in general very obligingly to him, not claiming any prerogative either in respect of his consular rank or seniority; excepting only that when they encamped together, the watchword was given to the whole camp by Metellus.  But generally they had their camps asunder, being divided and distracted by the enemy, who took all shapes, and being always in motion, would by some skillful artifice appear in a variety of places almost in the same instant, drawing them from one attack to another, and at last keeping them from foraging, wasting the country, and holding the dominion of the sea, Sertorius drove them both out of that part of Spain which was under his control, and forced them for want of necessaries to retreat into provinces that did not belong to them.

20.  Pompey, having made use of and expended the greatest part of his ownprivate revenues upon the war, sent and demanded moneys of the senate, adding, that in case they did not furnish him speedily, he should beforced to return into Italy with his army.  Lucullus being consul at that time, though at variance with Pompey, yet in consideration that he himself was acandidate for the command against Mithridates, procured and hastened these supplies, fearing lest there should be any presence or occasion given to Pompey of returning home, who of himself was no less desirous of leaving Sertorius, and of undertaking the war against Mithridates, as an enterprise which by all appearance would prove much more honorable and not so dangerous.  In the meantime Sertorius died, being treacherously murdered by some of his own party; and Perpenna, the chief among them, took the command, and attempted to carry on the same enterprises with Sertorius, having indeed the same forces and the same means, only wanting the same skill and conduct in the use of them.  Pompey therefore marched directly against, Perpenna, and finding him acting merely at random in his affairs, had a decoy ready for him, and sent out a detachment of ten cohorts into the level country with orders to range up and down and disperse themselves abroad.  Thebait took accordingly, and no sooner had Perpenna turned upon the prey and had them in chase, but Pompey appeared suddenly with all his army and joining battle, gave him a total overthrow.  Most of his officers were slain in the field, and he himself being brought prisoner to Pompey, was by his order put to death.  Neither was Pompey guilty in this of ingratitude or unmindfulness of what had occurred in Sicily, which somehave laid to his charge, but was guided by a high minded policy and a deliberate counsel for the security of his country.  For Perpenna, having in his custody all Sertorius's papers, offered to produce several letters from the greatest men in Rome, who, desirous of a change and subversion of the government, had invited Sertorius into Italy.  And Pompey, fearing that these might be the occasion of worse wars than those which were now ended, thought it advisable to put Perpenna to death, and burnt the letters without reading them.

21.  Pompey continued in Spain after this so long a time as wasnecessaryfor the suppression of all the greatest disorders in the province; and after moderating and allaying the more violent heats of affairs there, returned with his army into Italy, where he arrived, as chance would have it, in the height of the servile war.  Accordingly, upon hisarrival, Crassus, the commander in that war, at some hazard precipitated a battle, in which he had great success, and slew upon the place twelve thousand three hundred of the insurgents.  Nor yet was he so quick, but that fortune reserved to Pompey some share of honor in the success of this war, for five thousand of those that had escaped out of the battle fell into his hands; and when he had totally cut them off, he wrote to the senate, that Crassus had overthrown the slaves in battle, but that he hadp lucked up the whole war by the roots.  And it was agreeable to the people in Rome both thus to say, and thus to hear said, because of the general favor of Pompey.  But of the Spanish war and the conquest of Sertorius, no one, even in jest, could have ascribed the honor to anyone else.  Nevertheless, all this high respect for him, and this desire to see him come home, were not unmixed with apprehensions and suspicions that he might perhaps not disband his army, but take his way by the forceof arms and a supreme command to the seat of Sulla. Andso in thenumber of all those that ran out to meet him and congratulate his return, as many went out of fear as affection.  But after Pompey had removed this alarm, by declaring beforehand that he would discharge the army after his triumph, those that envied him could now only complain that he affected popularity, courting the common people more than the nobility ,and that whereas Sulla had abolished the tribuneship of the people, he designed to gratify the people by restoring that office, which was indeed the fact.  For there was not any one thing that the people of Rome were more wildly eager for, or more passionately desired, than the restoration of that office, insomuch that Pompey thought himself extremely fortunate in this opportunity, despairing (if he were anticipated by someone else in this) of ever meeting with any other sufficient means of expressing his gratitude for the favors which he had received from the people.

22.  Though a second triumph was decreed him, and he was declared consul, yet all these honors did not seem so great an evidence of his power and glory, as the ascendant which he had over Crassus; for he, the wealthiest among all the statesmen of his time, and the most eloquentand greatest too, who had looked down on Pompey himself , and on all others as beneath him, durst not appear a candidate for the consulship before he had applied to Pompey.  The request was made accordingly, and was eagerly embraced by Pompey, who had long sought an occasion to oblige him in some friendly office; so that he solicited for Crassus, and entreated the people heartily, declaring, that their favor would be no less to him in choosing Crassus his colleague, than in making himself consul.  Yet for all this, when they were created consuls, they were always at variance,and opposing one another.  Crassus prevailed most in the senate, andPompey's power was no less with the people, he having restored to them the office of tribune, and having allowed the courts of judicature to be transferred back to the knights by a new law.  He himself in person, too, afforded them a most grateful spectacle, when he appeared and craved his discharge from the military service.  For it is an ancient custom among the Romans, that the knights, when they had served out their legal time in the wars, should lead their horses into the market-place before the two officers, called censors, and having given an account of the commanders and generals under whom they served, as also of the places and actions of their service, should be discharged, every man with honor or disgrace, according to his deserts.  There were then sitting in state upon the bench two censors, Gellius and Lentulus,inspecting the knights, who were passing by in muster before them, when Pompey was seen coming down into the forum, with all the ensigns of a consul, but leading his horse in his hand.  When he came up, he bade his lictors make way for him, and so he led his horse to the bench; the people being all this while in a sort of amaze, and all in silence, and the censors themselves regarding the sight with a mixture of respect and gratification.  Then the senior censor examined him:  "Pompeius Magnus, I demand of you whether you have served the full time in the wars that is prescribed by the law?"  "Yes,"replied Pompey with a loud voice, "I have served all, and all under myself as general."  The people hearing this gave a great shout, and made such an outcry for delight, that there was no appeasing it; and the censors rising from their judgment-seat,accompanied him home to gratify the multitude, who followed after, clapping their hands and shouting.

23.  Pompey's consulship was now expiring, and yet his difference with Crassus increasing, when one Caius Aurelius, a knight, aman who had declined public business all his lifetime, mounted the hustings, and addressed himself in an oration to the assembly, declaring that Jupiter had appeared to him in a dream, commanding him to tell the consuls, that they should not give up office until they were friends.  After this was said, Pompey stood silent, but Crassus took him by the hand, and spoke in this manner:  "I do not think ,fellow-citizens, that I shall do anything mean or dishonorable, inyielding first to Pompey, whom you were pleased to ennobl ewith the title of Great, when as yet he scarce had a hair on his face and granted the honor of two triumphs, before he had a place in the senate."  Hereupon they were reconciled and laid down their office.  Crassus resumed the manner of life which he had always pursued before.  But Pompey in the great generality of causes for judgment declined appearing on either side, and by degrees withdrew himself totally from the forum, showing himself butseldom in public; and whenever he did, it was with a great train after him.  Neither was it easy to meet or visit him without a crowd of people about him; he was most pleased to make his appearance before large numbers at once, as though he wished to maintain in this way his state and majesty, and as if he held himself bound to preserve his dignity from contact with the addresses and conversation of common people.  And life in the robe of peace is only too apt to lower the reputation of men that have grown great by arms, who naturally find difficulty in adapting themselves to the habits of civil equality.  They expect to be treated as the first in the city, even as they were in the camp; and on the other hand, men who in war were nobody, think it intolerable if in the city at any rate they are not to take the lead.  And so, when a warrior renowned for victories and triumphs shall turn advocate and appear among them in the forum, they endeavor their utmost to obscure and depress him; whereas, if he gives up any pretensions here and retires, they will maintain his military honor and authority beyond the reach of envy.  Events themselves not long after showed the truth of this.

[Proceed to the Next Section]

[Return to the Index for Plutarch's Life of Pompey]
Untitled
clear
All Original Content Is Copyright © 1999-2007 by Ulysses K. Vestal

NO restrictions, however, exist on the use of original content.