History of Pompey - History


(collier: dp. 3,085; 1. 245'; b. 33'6"; dr. 15'10"; s. 10 k.;
cpl. 114; a. none)

Po1npey, formerly S.S. Harleeh, was built in 1897 by S. P. Austin and Sons, Ltd., Sunderland, England. She was purchased 19 April 1898 by the Navy from James and Charles Harrison, London, England, and commissioned 26 May 1898 as Po1npey at Norfolk, Lt. Comdr. E. W. Sturdy in command.

Po7npey served as a collier to Rear Admlral Sampson's squadron at Key West 6 to 12 June, and after 12 June at Havana and Cardenas. She returned to Key West 3 August where she remained until sailing for Hampton Roads 20 August. She was stationed at Norfolk 23 August to 23 December, before decommissioning at Philadelphia 18 January

Converted to a torpedo boat tender (AF-5), she recommissioned at Cavitel Philippines, 6 July 1911. Stationed in the Philippines durmg World War I, she decommissioned 5 July 1921 at Olongapo, Philippines. Struck from the Navy Register 28 March 1922, she was transferred to the War Department 12 July 1922.

From gorgeous artworks to grimacing corpses, archaeologists are still uncovering the truth about life—and death—in the doomed city

If you stand inside the ruins of Pompeii and listen very, very hard, you can almost hear the creaking of cart wheels, the tumult of the marketplace, the echoes of Roman voices. Few modern visitors would care to conjure the ghost city’s most striking feature, its appalling stench—togas were brightened by bleaching with sulfur fumes, animal and human waste flowed down streets whenever it rained heavily—but on this pleasantly piney day in early spring, Pompeii has that peculiar stillness of a place where calamity has come and gone. There’s a whiff of mimosa and orange blossom in the salt air until, suddenly, the wind swoops down the “Vicolo dei Balconi,” Alley of the Balconies, kicking up the ancient dust along with it.

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This article is a selection from the September 2019 issue of Smithsonian magazine

Vesuvius engulfed Pompeii, Pliny the Younger recalled, in darkness that was "as if the light has gone out of a room that is locked and sealed." (Chiara Goia)

In A.D. 79, when Mount Vesuvius rumbled to life after being dormant for nearly 300 years, the alley was entombed and its balconies largely incinerated in the cascades of scorching ash and superheated toxic gases known as pyroclastic surges that brought instant death to the residents of Pompeii. Archaeologists discovered and unearthed the Vicolo dei Balconi only last year, in a part of the site called Regio V, which is not yet open to the public. The alleyway turned out to be lined with grand houses, some with intact balconies, some with amphorae—the terra-cotta containers used to hold wine, oil and garum, a sauce made from fermented fish intestines. Now, like nearly all the other scents of Rome’s classical era, the once pungent garum is virtually odorless.

Still off-limits, Regio V will someday be opened to visitors. One-third of Pompeii's 170 acres remain buried and not studied by modern researchers. (Chiara Goia)

Part of the “Grande Progetto Pompei,” or Great Pompeii Project, the $140 million conservation and restoration program launched in 2012 and largely underwritten by the European Union, the Regio V dig has already yielded skeletons, coins, a wooden bed, a stable harboring the remains of a thoroughbred horse (bronze-plated wooden horns on the saddle iron harness with small bronze studs), gorgeously preserved frescoes, murals and mosaics of mythological figures, and other dazzling examples of ancient Roman artistry.

That’s a surprisingly rich cache for what is arguably the most famous archaeological site in the world. But until now Pompeii has never been subjected to fully scientific excavation techniques. Almost as soon as the clouds of choking volcanic dust had settled, tunneling plunderers—or returning homeowners—grabbed whatever treasures they could. Even during the 1950s, the artifacts that researchers and others found were deemed more significant than the evidence of everyday life in the year 79. So far, the most explosive information to come out of this new excavation—one that will prompt textbooks to be rewritten and scholars to re-evaluate their dates—has no material value whatsoever.

One of the central mysteries of that fateful day, long accepted as August 24, has been the incongruity of certain finds, including corpses in cool-weather clothing. Over the centuries, some scholars have bent over backward to rationalize such anomalies, while others have voiced suspicions that the date must be incorrect. Now the new dig offers the first clear alternative.

Scratched lightly, but legibly, on an unfinished wall of a house that was being refurbished when the volcano blew is a banal notation in charcoal: “in [d]ulsit pro masumis esurit[ions],” which roughly translates as “he binged on food.” While not listing a year, the graffito, likely scrawled by a builder, cites “XVI K Nov”—the 16th day before the first of November on the ancient calendar, or October 17 on the modern one. That’s nearly two months after August 24, the fatal eruption’s official date, which originated with a letter by Pliny the Younger, an eyewitness to the catastrophe, to the Roman historian Tacitus 25 years later and transcribed over the centuries by monks.

A charcoal inscription, newly uncovered, resets the eruption date from August to October, solving a mystery: Why did shops stock fresh autumn fare like chestnuts? (Chiara Goia)

Massimo Osanna, Pompeii’s general director and mastermind of the project, is convinced that the notation was idly doodled a week before the blast. “This spectacular find finally allows us to date, with confidence, the disaster,” he says. “It reinforces other clues pointing to an autumn eruption: unripe pomegranates, heavy clothing found on bodies, wood-burning braziers in homes, wine from the harvest in sealed jars. When you reconstruct the daily life of this vanished community, two months of difference are important. We now have the lost piece of a jigsaw puzzle.”

Massimo Osanna is restoring public faith in Pompeii after years of neglect 3.5 million people visited in 2018, a million more in 2012. (Map by Guilbert Gates Chiara Goia)

The robust campaign that Osanna has directed since 2014 marks a new era in old Pompeii, which earlier this decade suffered visibly from age, corruption, vandalism, climate change, mismanagement, underfunding, institutional neglect and collapses caused by downpours. The most infamous occurred in 2010 when the Schola Armaturarum, a stone building that featured resplendent frescoes of gladiators, keeled over. Giorgio Napolitano, Italy’s president at the time, called the incident a “disgrace for Italy.” Six years ago, Unesco, the United Nations agency that seeks to preserve the world’s most significant cultural assets, threatened to place Pompeii on its list of World Heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities gave higher priority to protecting it.

The project has led to the opening, or reopening, of dozens of passageways and 39 buildings, including the Schola Armaturarum. “The restoration of the Schola was a symbol of redemption for Pompeii,” says Osanna, who is also a professor of classical archaeology at the University of Naples. He has assembled a vast team of more than 200 experts to conduct what he terms “global archaeology,” including not only archaeologists but also archaeozoologists, anthropologists, art restorers, biologists, bricklayers, carpenters, computer scientists, demographers, dentists, electricians, geologists, geneticists, mapping technicians, medical engineers, painters, plumbers, paleobotanists, photographers and radiologists. They’re aided by enough modern analytical tools to fill an imperial bathhouse, from ground sensors and drone videography to CAT scans and virtual reality.

The cast of a victim of the Vesuvius eruption on view in the museum of Pompeii. (Chiara Goia) The cast of a victim of the Vesuvius eruption on view in the museum of Pompeii. (Chiara Goia) The cast of a victim of the Vesuvius eruption at a site open to the public. (Chiara Goia) The cast of a victim of the Vesuvius eruption at a site open to the public. (Chiara Goia) Anthropologist Valeria Moretti cleans bones of six people found huddled together in a house in the Regio V site, still off-limits to the public. (Chiara Goia) The bones of the six victims are now kept in the Laboratory of Applied Research at Pompeii. (Chiara Goia)

At the time of the cataclysm, the city is said to have had a population of about 12,000. Most escaped. Only about 1,200 bodies have been recovered, but the new work is changing that. Excavators in Regio V recently uncovered skeletal remains of four women, along with five or six children, in the innermost room of a villa. A man, presumed to be somehow connected to the group, was found outside. Was he in the act of rescuing them? Abandoning them? Checking to see if the coast was clear? These are the sorts of riddles that have been seizing our imaginations since Pompeii was discovered.

The house in which this horror played out had frescoed rooms, suggesting that a prosperous family lived within. The paintings were preserved by the ash, streaks of which still stain the walls. Even in the current unrestored state, the colors—black, white, gray, ocher, Pompeii red, deep maroon—are astonishingly intense. As you step from room to room, over one threshold into another, finally standing in the spot where the bodies were found, the immediacy of the tragedy gives you chills.

Left: A remarkably intact terra-cotta amphora found in Regio V's House of the Garden would have held wine, olive oil or dried fruit.

Right: A 13- by 18 inch fresco, also newly uncovered, of Leda, raped by Jupiter in a swan guise, was built up from as many as six or seven layers of plaster under pigments. (Chiara Goia)

Back outside on the Vicolo dei Balconi, I walked by archaeological teams at work and came across a freshly uncovered snack bar. This mundane convenience is one of some 80 scattered through the city. The large jars (dolia) embedded in the masonry serving-counter establish that this was a Thermopolium, the McDonald’s of its day, where drinks and hot foods were served. Typical menu: coarse bread with salty fish, baked cheese, lentils and spicy wine. This Thermopolium is adorned with paintings of a nymph seated on a sea horse. Her eyes seem to be saying “Hold the fries!”—but maybe that’s just me.

As I walk the Roman street, Francesco Muscolino, an archaeologist who was kindly showing me around, points out the courtyards, election notices and, scratched into the outer wall of a home, a lewd graffito thought to be targeted at the last occupants. Though he cautions that even the Latin is practically unprintable, he tries his best to clean up the single entendre for a family readership. “This is about a man named Lucius and a woman named Leporis,” he says. “Lucius probably lived in the house and Leporis appears to have been a woman paid to do something. erotic.”

I later ask Osanna if the inscription was meant as a joke. “Yes, a joke at their expense,” he says. “It was not an appreciation of the activity.”

Osanna laughs softly at the mention of a rumor he spread to combat theft at the site, where visitors regularly attempt to make off with souvenirs. “I told a newspaper about the curse on objects stolen from Pompeii,” he says. Since then, Osanna has received hundreds of purloined bricks, fresco fragments and bits of painted plaster in packages from across the world. Many were accompanied by letters of apology claiming that the mementos had brought bad luck. A repentant South American wrote that after he pinched a stone, his family “had nothing but trouble.” An Englishwoman whose parents had pocketed a roof tile while on their honeymoon returned it with a note: “All through my childhood this piece was showcased at my home. Now that they are both dead, I want to give it back. Please, don’t judge my mother and father. They were children of their generation.”

Osanna smiles. “From the point of view of tourist psychology,” he says, “her letter is an incredible treasure.”

The smallish, roundish Osanna wears a suede jacket, a trim Vandyke beard and an air of becoming modesty. He looks faintly out of place in his office at the University of Naples, seated behind a desk and surrounded by computer monitors, with only the high-rises of the city in view and not a trace of rubble anywhere. On his desk is Pompeianarum Antiquitatum Historia, by Giuseppe Fiorelli, the archaeologist who took charge of the excavations in 1860. It was Fiorelli, Osanna tells me, who had liquid plaster poured into the cavities left in the volcanic ash by bodies that had long since rotted away. Once the plaster had set, workers chipped away at the encasing layers of ash, pumice and debris to remove the casts, revealing the posture, dimensions and facial expressions of Pompeiians in their final moments. To Osanna, the results—tragic figures caught writhing or gasping for breath with their hands covering their mouths—are grim reminders of the precariousness of human existence.

Osanna himself grew up near the extinct volcano Monte Vulture in the southern Italian hill town of Venosa, birthplace of the lyric poet Horace. According to local legend, Venosa was founded by the Greek hero Diomedes, King of Argos, who dedicated the city to the goddess Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) to appease her after the defeat of her beloved Troy. The Romans wrenched the town from the Samnites in 291 B.C. and made it a colony.

As a child, Osanna frolicked in the ruins. “I was 7 when I found a skull in the necropolis under the medieval church in the center of town,” he recalls. “That emotional moment was when I fell in love with archaeology.” At 14, his stepfather took him to Pompeii. Osanna remembers feeling thunderstruck. He came under the spell of the ancient city. “Still, I never imagined I would someday be involved in its excavation,” he says.

He went on to earn two doctoral degrees (one in archaeology, the other in Greek mythology) study the second-century Greek geographer and travel writer Pausanias teach at universities in France, Germany and Spain and oversee the ministry of archaeological heritage for Basilicata, a region of southern Italy famous for its shrines and churches dating from antiquity to medieval times, and its 9,000-year-old cave dwellings. “Near the Bradano River is the Tavole Palatine, a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Hera,” Osanna says. “Given that it was built in the late sixth century B.C., the structure is very well preserved.”

A recently exposed fresco shows Adonis, a Greek, with Venus, a Roman goddess. Mythology reflects political reality: Victorious Rome adopted Greek culture. (Chiara Goia)

Pompeii wasn’t so lucky. Today’s archaeological park is largely a rebuild of a rebuild. And no one in its long history rebuilt more than Amedeo Maiuri, a human dynamo, who, as superintendent from 1924 to 1961, directed digs during some of Italy’s most trying times. (During World War II, the Allied aerial assault of 1943—more than 160 bombs dropped—demolished the site’s gallery and some of its most celebrated monuments. Over the years, 96 unexploded bombs have been found and inactivated a few more are likely to be uncovered in areas not yet excavated.) Maiuri created what was effectively an open-air museum and hired a staff of specialists to continuously watch over the grounds. “He wanted to excavate everywhere,” says Osanna. “Unfortunately, his era was very poorly documented. It is very difficult to understand if an object came from one house or another. What a pity: His excavations made very important discoveries, but were carried out with inadequate instruments, using inaccurate procedures.”

After Maiuri retired, the impetus to excavate went with him.

When Osanna took over, the Italian government had slashed spending on culture to the point where ancient Pompeii was falling down faster than it could be repaired. Though the site generated more tourist revenue than any monument in Italy except the Colosseum, so little attention had been paid to day-to-day upkeep that in 2008 Silvio Berlusconi, then prime minister, declared a state of emergency at Pompeii and, to stave off its disintegration, appointed Marcello Fiori as the new special commissioner. It didn’t take long for the restorer to disintegrate, too. In 2013, Fiori was indicted after he allegedly awarded building contracts inflated by as much as 400 percent spent $126,000 of taxpayers’ money on an adoption scheme for the 55 feral dogs wandering forlornly amid the ruins (about $2,300 per stray) $67,000 on 1,000 promotional bottles of wine—enough to pay the annual salary of a badly needed additional archaeologist $9.8 million in a rush job to repair seating at the city’s amphitheater, altering its historical integrity by cementing over the original stones and $13,000 to publish 50 copies of a book on Fiori’s extraordinary accomplishments.

Osanna took the job somewhat reluctantly. The archaeological site was beset by labor strife, work crews had been infiltrated by the powerful Naples Camorra mafia, buildings were crumbling at an alarming rate. To revive interest in the place and its history, Osanna mounted a popular exhibition focused on victims of the eruption, preserved in plaster. He gave visitors the opportunity to explore the site by moonlight, with guided tours, video installations and wine tastings based on an ancient Roman recipe. “It’s always difficult to change the culture,” he says. “You can achieve change, I think, step by step.”

In addition to stabilizing structures, archaeologists install extensive drainage to divert destructive rainwater. (Chiara Goia)

Having spent much of his first three years safeguarding what had already been uncovered, Osanna began to probe an untouched wedge of land in Regio V, considered the last great explorable section of the city. While bolstering the fragile walls, his team was soon disabused of the notion that Pompeii was preserved completely intact there. “We found traces of digs going back to the 1700s,” he says. “We also found a more contemporary tunnel that extended for more than 600 feet and ended in one of the villas. Evidently, tomb raiders got there first.”

The new excavation—which has also put a stop to looting—has opened a window on early post-Hellenistic culture. The entrance hall of one elegant home features the welcoming image of the fertility god Priapus, weighing his prodigious membrum virile on a scale like a prize-winning zucchini. Dominating a wall of the atrium is a stunning fresco of the hunter Narcissus leaning languidly on a block of stone while contemplating his reflection in a pool of water.

Discovered only last year, a floor mosaic of Orion turning into a constellation hints at the influence of Egypt, where the study of astronomy was revered. (Chiara Goia)

Embellished with a tracery of garlands, cherubs and grotesques, the bedroom of the same house contains a small, exquisite painting depicting the eroticized myth of Leda and the Swan. Half-nude, with dark eyes that seem to follow the observer, the Spartan queen is shown in flagrante with Jupiter disguised as a swan. The king of the gods is perched on Leda’s lap, claws sunk into her thighs, neck curled beneath her chin. Osanna says the explicit fresco is “exceptional and unique for its decisively sensual iconography.” He speculates that the owner of the house was a wealthy merchant, perhaps a former slave, who displayed the image in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the local aristocracy. “By flaunting his knowledge of the myths of high culture,” he says, “the homeowner could have been trying to elevate his social status.”

One floor design found in the House of Jupiter stumped archaeologists: A mosaic showing a winged half-man, half-scorpion with hair ablaze, suspended over a coiled snake. “As far as we knew, the figure was unknown to classical iconography,” says Osanna. Eventually he identified the character as the hunter Orion, son of the sea god Neptune, during his transformation into a constellation. “There is a version of the myth in which Orion announces he will kill every animal on Earth,” Osanna explains. “The angered goddess Gaia sends a scorpion to kill him, but Jupiter, god of sky and thunder, gives Orion wings and, like a butterfly leaving the chrysalis, he rises above Earth—represented by the snake—into the firmament, metamorphosing into a constellation.”

In the exceptionally luxurious Casa di Leda, decorations on an atrium wall include a satyr and nymph associated with the cult of Dionysus. (Chiara Goia)

Roman religious practices were evident at a villa called the House of the Enchanted Garden, where a shrine to the household gods—or lararium—is embedded in a chamber with a raised pool and sumptuous ornamentation. Beneath the shrine was a painting of two large snakes slithering toward an altar that held offerings of eggs and a pine cone. The blood-red walls of the garden were festooned with drawings of fanciful creatures—a wolf, a bear, an eagle, a gazelle, a crocodile. “Never before have we found such complex decoration within a space dedicated to worship inside a house,” marvels Osanna.


Pompey was born in Picenum (a region of Ancient Italy) to a local noble family. His father, Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo, was the first of his branch of the gens Pompeia to achieve senatorial status in Rome, despite his provincial origins. The Romans referred to Strabo as a novus homo (new man). Pompeius Strabo ascended the traditional cursus honorum, becoming quaestor in 104 BC, praetor in 92 BC and consul in 89 BC.

Pompey's father acquired a reputation for greed, political double-dealing, and military ruthlessness. He fought the Social War against Rome's Italian allies. He supported Sulla, who belonged to the optimates, the pro-aristocracy faction, against Marius, who belonged to the populares (in favor of the people), in Sulla's first civil war (88–87 BC). Strabo died during the siege of Rome by the Marians, in 87 BC—either as a casualty of an epidemic, [3] or by having been struck by lightning. [4] [5] [6] His twenty-year-old son Pompey inherited his estates and the loyalty of his legions. [7] [8]

Pompey served under his father's command during the final years of the Social War. [9] When his father died, Pompey was put on trial due to accusations that his father stole public property. [10] As his father's heir, Pompey could be held to account. He discovered that the theft was committed by one of his father's freedmen. Following his preliminary bouts with his accuser, the judge took a liking to Pompey and offered his daughter Antistia in marriage, and so Pompey was acquitted. [11]

Another civil war broke out between the Marians and Sulla in 84–82 BC. The Marians had previously taken over Rome while Sulla was fighting the First Mithridatic War (89–85 BC) against Mithridates VI in Greece. [12] In 84 BC, Sulla returned from that war, landing in Brundisium (Brindisi) in southern Italy. Pompey raised three legions from his father's veterans and his own clients in Picenum to support Sulla's march on Rome against the Marian regime of Gnaeus Papirius Carbo and Gaius Marius. Cassius Dio described Pompey's troop levy as a "small band." [13]

Sulla defeated the Marians and was appointed as Dictator. He admired Pompey's qualities and thought that he was useful for the administration of his affairs. He and his wife, Metella, persuaded Pompey to divorce Antistia and marry Sulla's stepdaughter Aemilia. Plutarch commented that the marriage was "characteristic of a tyranny, and benefitted the needs of Sulla rather than the nature and habits of Pompey, Aemilia being given to him in marriage when she was with a child by another man." Antistia had recently lost both her parents. Pompey accepted, but "Aemilia had scarcely entered Pompey's house before she succumbed to the pangs of childbirth." [14] Pompey later married Mucia Tertia, but there's no record of when this took place, the sources only mentioning Pompey's divorce with her. Plutarch wrote that Pompey dismissed with contempt a report that she had had an affair while he was fighting in the Third Mithridatic War between 66 and 63 BC. However, on his journey back to Rome, he examined the evidence more carefully and filed for divorce. [15] Cicero wrote that the divorce was strongly approved. [16] Cassius Dio wrote that she was the sister of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer and that Metellus Celer was angry because he had divorced her despite having had children by her. [17] Pompey and Mucia had three children: the eldest, Gnaeus Pompey (Pompey the Younger) Pompeia Magna, a daughter and Sextus Pompey, the younger son. Cassius Dio wrote that Marcus Scaurus was Sextus’ half-brother on his mother's side. He was condemned to death, but later released for the sake of his mother Mucia. [18]

The survivors of the Marians, those who were exiled after they lost Rome and those who escaped Sulla's persecution of his opponents, were given refuge on Sicily by Marcus Perpenna Vento. Papirius Carbo had a fleet there, and Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus had forced entry into the Roman province of Africa. Sulla sent Pompey to Sicily with a large force. According to Plutarch, Perpenna fled and left Sicily to Pompey. While the Sicilian cities had been treated harshly by Perpenna, Pompey treated them with kindness. However, Pompey "treated Carbo in his misfortunes with an unnatural insolence," taking Carbo in fetters to a tribunal he presided over, examining him closely "to the distress and vexation of the audience," and finally, sentencing him to death. Pompey also treated Quintus Valerius "with unnatural cruelty." [19] His opponents dubbed him adulescentulus carnifex (adolescent butcher). [20] While Pompey was still in Sicily, Sulla ordered him to the province of Africa to fight Gnaeus Domitius, who had assembled a large force there. Pompey left his brother-in-law, Gaius Memmius, in control of Sicily and sailed his army to Africa. When he got there, 7,000 of the enemy forces went over to him. Domitius was subsequently defeated at the battle of Utica and died when Pompey attacked his camp. Some cities surrendered, some were taken by storm. King Hiarbas of Numidia, who was an ally of Domitius, was captured and executed. Pompey invaded Numidia and subdued it in forty days, restoring Hiempsal II to the throne. When he returned to the Roman province of Africa, Sulla ordered him to send back the rest of his troops and remain there with one legion to wait for his successor. This turned the soldiers who had to stay behind against Sulla, but Pompey said that he would rather kill himself than go against Sulla. When Pompey returned to Rome, everyone welcomed him. To outdo them, Sulla saluted him as Magnus (the Great), after Pompey's boyhood hero Alexander the Great, and ordered the others to give him this cognomen. [21]

Pompey asked for a triumph, but Sulla refused because the law allowed only a consul or a praetor to celebrate a triumph, and said that if Pompey—who was too young even to be a senator—were to do so, he would make both Sulla's regime and his honor odious. Plutarch commented that Pompey "had scarcely grown a beard as yet." Pompey replied that more people worshiped the rising sun than the setting sun, implying that his power was on the increase, while Sulla's was on the wane. According to Plutarch, Sulla did not hear him directly, but saw expressions of astonishment on the faces of those that did. When Sulla asked what Pompey had said, he was taken aback by the comment and cried out twice "Let him have his triumph!" Pompey tried to enter the city on a chariot drawn by four of the many elephants he had captured in Africa, but the city gate was too narrow and he changed over to his horses. His soldiers, who had not received as much of a share of the war booty as they expected, threatened a mutiny, but Pompey said that he did not care and that he would rather give up his triumph. Pompey went ahead with his extra-legal triumph. [22] Sulla was annoyed, but did not want to hinder his career and kept quiet. However, in 79 BC, when Pompey canvassed for Lepidus and succeeded in making him a consul against Sulla's wishes, Sulla warned Pompey to watch out because he had made an adversary stronger than him. He omitted Pompey from his will. [23]

After Sulla's death in 78 BC, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus tried to revive the fortunes of the populares. He became the new leader of the reformist movement silenced by Sulla. He tried to prevent Sulla from receiving a state funeral and from having his body buried in the Campus Martius. Pompey opposed this and ensured Sulla's burial with honours. In 77 BC, when Lepidus had left for his proconsular command (he was allocated the provinces of Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul), his political opponents moved against him and he was recalled from his proconsular command. When he refused to return, they declared him an enemy of the state, and, when Lepidus did move back to Rome, he did so at the head of an army.

The Senate passed a Consultum Ultimum (the Ultimate Decree) which called on the interrex Appius Claudius and the proconsul Quintus Lutatius Catulus to take necessary measures to preserve public safety. Catulus and Claudius persuaded Pompey, who had several legions' worth of veterans in Picenum (in the northeast of Italy) ready to take up arms at his command, to join their cause. Pompey, invested as a legate with propraetorial powers, quickly recruited an army from among his veterans and threatened Lepidus, who had marched his army to Rome, from the rear. Pompey penned up Marcus Junius Brutus, one of Lepidus's lieutenants, in Mutina.

After a lengthy siege, Brutus surrendered. Plutarch wrote that it was not known whether Brutus had betrayed his army or whether his army had betrayed him. Brutus was given an escort and retired to a town by the river Po, but the next day he was apparently assassinated on Pompey's orders. Pompey was blamed for this, because he had written that Brutus had surrendered of his own accord, and then wrote a second letter denouncing him after he had him murdered. [24] [25]

Catulus, who had recruited an army at Rome, now took on Lepidus, directly defeating him in a battle just to the north of Rome. After having dealt with Brutus, Pompey marched against Lepidus' rear, catching him near Cosa. Although Pompey defeated him, Lepidus was still able to embark part of his army and retreat to Sardinia. Lepidus fell ill while on Sardinia and died, allegedly because he found out that his wife had had an affair. [26] [27] [28] [25]

Sertorian War Edit

Quintus Sertorius, the last survivor of the Cinna-Marian faction (Sulla's main opponents during the civil wars of 88-80 BC), waged an effective guerrilla war against the officials of the Sullan regime in Hispania. He was able to rally the local tribes, particularly the Lusitanians and the Celtiberians, in what came to be called the Sertorian War (80-72 BC). Sertorius's guerrilla tactics wore down the Sullans in Hispania he even drove the proconsul Metellus Pius from his province of Hispania Ulterior. Pompey, who had just successfully assisted the consul Catulus in putting down the rebellion of Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, asked to be sent to reinforce Metellus. He had not disbanded his legions after squashing the rebels and remained under arms near the city with various excuses until he was ordered to Hispania by the senate on a motion of Lucius Philippus. A senator asked Philippus if he "thought it necessary to send Pompey out as proconsul. 'No, indeed!' said Philippus, 'but as proconsuls,' implying that both the consuls of that year were good for nothing." [29] Pompey's proconsular mandate was extra-legal, as a proconsulship was the extension of the military command (but not the public office) of a consul. Pompey, however, was not a consul and had never held public office. His career seems to have been driven by desire for military glory and disregard for traditional political constraints. [30]

Pompey recruited an army of 30,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry, its size evidence of the seriousness of the threat posed by Sertorius. [31] [32] On Pompey's staff were his old lieutenant Afranius, D. Laelius, Petreius, C. Cornelius, probably Gabinius and Varro. [33] Gaius Memmius, his brother-in-law, who was already serving in Spain under Metellus, was transferred to his command and served him as a quaestor. [33] On his way to Hispania, he opened a new route through the Alps and subdued tribes that had rebelled in Gallia Narbonensis. [34] [35] Cicero later describes Pompey leading his legions to Spain through a welter of carnage in a transalpine war during the autumn of 77 BC. [36] After a hard and bloody campaign, Pompey wintered his army near the Roman colony of Narbo Martius. [33] In the spring of 76 BC, he marched on and entered the Iberian peninsula through the Col de Petrus. [37] He would remain in Hispania from 76 BC to 71 BC. Pompey's arrival gave the men of Metellus Pius new hope and led to some local tribes, which were not tightly associated with Sertorius, to change sides. According to Appian, as soon as Pompey arrived, he marched to lift the siege of Lauron, where he suffered a substantial defeat at the hands of Sertorius himself. [38] It was a serious blow to Pompey's prestige. Pompey spent the rest of 76 BC recovering from the defeat and preparing for the coming campaign. [39]

In 75 BC, Sertorius decided to take on Metellus while he left the battered Pompey to two of his legates (Perpenna and Herennius). In a battle near Valentia, Pompey defeated Perpenna and Herennius and regained some of his prestige. [40] Sertorius, hearing of the defeat, left Metellus to his second-in-command, Hirtuleius, and took over the command against Pompey. Metellus then promptly defeated Hirtuleius at the Battle of Italica and marched after Sertorius. [39] [40] [41] Pompey and Sertorius, both not wanting to wait for the arrival of Metellus (Pompey wanted the glory of finishing off Sertorius for himself and Sertorius did not relish fighting two armies at once), hastily engaged in the indecisive Battle of Sucro. [39] [40] On Metellus’ approach, Sertorius marched inland. Pompey and Metellus pursued him to a settlement called "Seguntia" (certainly not the more known Saguntum settlement on the coast, but one of the many Celtiberian towns called Seguntia, since Sertorius had withdrawn inland), where they fought an inconclusive battle. Pompey lost nearly 6,000 men and Sertorius half of that. [42] Memmius, Pompey's brother-in-law and the most capable of his commanders, also fell. Metellus defeated Perpenna, who lost 5,000 men. According to Appian, the next day, Sertorius attacked Metellus' camp unexpectedly, but he had to withdraw because Pompey was approaching. [42] Sertorius withdrew to Clunia, a mountain stronghold in present-day Burgos, and repaired its walls to lure the Romans into a siege and sent officers to collect troops from other towns. He then made a sortie, passed through the enemy lines and joined his new force. He resumed his guerrilla tactics and cut off the enemy's supplies with widespread raids, while pirate tactics at sea disrupted maritime supplies. This forced the two Roman commanders to separate. Metellus went to Gaul, and Pompey wintered among the Vaccaei and suffered shortages of supplies. When Pompey spent most of his private resources on the war, he asked the senate for money, threatening to go back to Italy with his army if this was refused. The consul Lucius Licinius Lucullus, canvassing for the command of the Third Mithridatic War, believing that it would bring glory with little difficulty and fearing that Pompey would leave the Sertorian War to take on the Mithridatic one, ensured that the money was sent to keep Pompey. [43] [44] Pompey got his money and was stuck in Hispania until he could convincingly beat Sertorius. The "retreat" of Metellus made it seem like victory was further away then ever and led to the joke that Sertorius would be back in Rome before Pompey. [45]

In 73 BC, Rome sent two more legions to Metellus. He and Pompey then descended from the Pyrenees to the river Ebro. Sertorius and Perpenna advanced from Lusitania again. According to Plutarch, many of the senators and other high-ranking men who had joined Sertorius were jealous of their leader. This was encouraged by Perpenna, who aspired to the chief command. They secretly sabotaged him and meted out severe punishments on the Hispanic allies, pretending that this was ordered by Sertorius. Revolts in the towns were further stirred up by these men, which caused Sertorius to kill some allies and sell others into slavery. [46] Appian wrote that many of Sertorius' Roman soldiers defected to Metellus. Sertorius reacted with severe punishments and started using a bodyguard of Celtiberians instead of Romans. Moreover, he reproached his Roman soldiers for treachery. This aggrieved the soldiers, because they felt that they were blamed for the desertion of other soldiers and, since this was happening while they were serving under an enemy of the regime in Rome, in a sense, they were betraying their country through him. Moreover, the Celtiberians treated them with contempt as men under suspicion. These facts made Sertorius unpopular only his skill at command kept his troops from deserting en masse.

Metellus took advantage of his enemy's poor morale, bringing many towns allied to Sertorius under subjection. Pompey besieged Palantia until Sertorius showed up to relieve the city. Pompey set fire to the city walls and retreated to Metellus. Sertorius rebuilt the wall and then attacked his enemies who were encamped around the castle of Calagurris, which led to the loss of 3000 men. In 72 BC, there were only skirmishes. However, Metellus and Pompey advanced on several towns, some of them defecting and some being attacked. Appian wrote that Sertorius fell unto "habits of luxury," drinking and consorting with women. He was defeated continually. He became hot-tempered, suspicious and cruel in punishment. Perpenna began to fear for his safety and conspired to murder Sertorius. [47] Plutarch, instead, thought that Perpenna was motivated by ambition. He had gone to Hispania with the remnants of the army of Lepidus in Sardinia and had wanted to fight this war independently to gain glory. He had joined Sertorius reluctantly because his troops wanted to do so when they heard that Pompey was coming to Hispania, but, in all reality, he wanted to take over the supreme command. [48]

When Sertorius was murdered, the formerly disaffected soldiers grieved for the loss of their commander whose bravery had been their salvation and were angry with Perpenna. The native troops, especially the Lusitanians, who had given Sertorius the greatest support, were angry too. Perpenna responded with the carrot and the stick: he gave gifts, made promises and released some of the men Sertorius had imprisoned, while threatening others and killing some men to strike terror. He secured the obedience of his troops, but not their true loyalty. Metellus left the fight against Perpenna to Pompey. The two skirmished for nine days. Then, as Perpenna did not think that his men would remain loyal for long, he marched into battle, but Pompey ambushed and defeated him. Frontinus wrote about the battle in his stratagems:

Pompey put troops here and there, in places where they could attack from ambush. Then, pretending fear, he pulled back drawing the enemy after him. Then, when he had the enemy exposed to the ambuscade, he wheeled his army about. He attacked, slaughtering the enemy to his front and on both flanks. [49]

Pompey won against a poor commander and a disaffected army. Perpenna hid in a thicket, fearing his troops more than the enemy, and was eventually captured. Perpenna offered to produce letters to Sertorius from leading men in Rome who had invited Sertorius to Italy for seditious purposes. Pompey, fearing that this might lead to an even greater war, had Perpenna executed and burned the letters without even reading them. [50] Pompey remained in Hispania to quell the last disorders and settle affairs. He showed a talent for efficient organisation and fair administration in the conquered province. This extended his patronage throughout Hispania and into southern Gaul. [51] His departure from Hispania was marked by the erection of a Triumphal monument at the summit off the pass over the Pyrenees. On it, he recorded that, from the Alps to the limits of Further Spain, he had brought 876 towns under Roman sway. [52] [53]

Third Servile War Edit

While Pompey was in Hispania, the rebellion of the slaves led by Spartacus (the Third Servile War, 73–71 BC) broke out. Crassus was given eight legions and led the final phase of the war. He asked the senate to summon Lucullus and Pompey back from the Third Mithridatic War and Hispania, respectively, to provide reinforcements, "but he was sorry now that he had done so, and was eager to bring the war to an end before those generals came. He knew that the success would be ascribed to the one who came up with assistance, and not to himself." [54] The senate decided to send Pompey, who had just returned from Hispania. On hearing this, Crassus hurried to engage in the decisive battle, and routed the rebels. On his arrival, Pompey cut to pieces 6,000 fugitives from the battle. Pompey wrote to the senate that Crassus had conquered the rebels in a pitched battle, but that he himself had extirpated the war entirely. [55] [56]

First consulship Edit

Pompey was granted a second triumph for his victory in Hispania, which, again, was extra-legal. He was asked to stand for the consulship, even though he was only 35 and thus below the age of eligibility to the consulship, and had not held any public office, much less climbed the cursus honorum (the progression from lower to higher offices). Livy noted that Pompey was made consul after a special senatorial decree, because he had not occupied the quaestorship, was an equestrian and did not have senatorial rank. [57] Plutarch wrote that "Crassus, the richest statesman of his time, the ablest speaker, and the greatest man, who looked down on Pompey and everybody else, had not the courage to sue for the consulship until he had asked the support of Pompey." Pompey accepted gladly. In the Life of Pompey, Plutarch wrote that Pompey "had long wanted an opportunity of doing him some service and kindness. " [58] In the Life of Crassus, he wrote that Pompey "was desirous of having Crassus, in some way or other, always in debt to him for some favor". [59] Pompey promoted his candidature and said in a speech that "he should be no less grateful to them for the colleague than for the office which he desired." [59] [58]

Pompey and Crassus were elected consuls for the year 70 BC. Plutarch wrote that, in Rome, Pompey was looked upon with both fear and great expectation. About half of the people feared that he would not disband his army, seize absolute power by arms and hand power to the Sullans. Pompey, instead, declared that he would disband his army after his triumph and then "there remained but one accusation for envious tongues to make, namely, that he devoted himself more to the people than to the senate. " [60] When Pompey and Crassus assumed office, they did not remain friendly. In the Life of Crassus, Plutarch wrote that the two men differed on almost every measure, and by their contentiousness rendered their consulship "barren politically and without achievement, except that Crassus made a great sacrifice in honour of Hercules and gave the people a great feast and an allowance of grain for three months." [61] Towards the end of their term of office, when the differences between the two men were increasing, a man declared that Jupiter told him to "declare in public that you should not suffer your consuls to lay down their office until they become friends." The people called for a reconciliation. Pompey did not react, but Crassus "clasped him by the hand" and said that it was not humiliating for him to take the first step of goodwill. [62] [63]

Neither Plutarch nor Suetonius [64] wrote that the acrimony between Pompey and Crassus stemmed from Pompey's claim about the defeat of Spartacus. Plutarch wrote that "Crassus, for all his self-approval, did not venture to ask for the major triumph, and it was thought ignoble and mean in him to celebrate even the minor triumph on foot, called the ovation (a minor victory celebration), for a servile war." [65] According to Appian, however, there was a contention for honours between the two men—a reference to the fact that Pompey claimed that he had ended the slave rebellion led by Spartacus, whereas in actual fact Crassus had done so. In Appian's account, there was no disbanding of armies. The two commanders refused to disband their armies and kept them stationed near the city, as neither wanted to be the first to do so. Pompey said that he was waiting the return of Metellus for his Spanish triumph Crassus said that Pompey ought to dismiss his army first. Initially, pleas from the people were of no avail, but eventually Crassus yielded and offered Pompey the handshake. [66]

Plutarch's reference to Pompey's "devot[ing] himself more to the people than to the senate" was related to a measure regarding the plebeian tribunes, the representatives of the plebeians. As part of the constitutional reforms Sulla carried out after his second civil war, he revoked the power of the tribunes to veto the senatus consulta (the written advice of the senate on bills, which was usually followed to the letter), and prohibited ex-tribunes from ever holding any other office. Ambitious young plebeians had sought election to this tribunate as a stepping stone for election to other offices and to climb up the cursus honorum. Therefore, the plebeian tribunate became a dead end for one's political career. He also limited the ability of the plebeian council (the assembly of the plebeians) to enact bills by reintroducing the senatus auctoritas, a pronouncement of the senate on bills that, if negative, could invalidate them. The reforms reflected Sulla's view of the plebeian tribunate as a source of subversion that roused the "rabble" (the plebeians) against the aristocracy. Naturally, these measures were unpopular among the plebeians, the majority of the population. Plutarch wrote that Pompey "had determined to restore the authority of the tribunate, which Sulla had overthrown, and to court the favour of the many" and commented that "there was nothing on which the Roman people had more frantically set their affections, or for which they had a greater yearning, than to behold that office again." [67] Through the repeal of Sulla's measures against the plebeian tribunate, Pompey gained the favour of the people.

In the Life of Crassus, Plutarch did not mention this repeal and, as mentioned above, he only wrote that Pompey and Crassus disagreed on everything and that, as a result, their consulship did not achieve anything. Yet, the restoration of tribunician powers was a highly significant measure and a turning point in the politics of the late Republic. This measure must have been opposed by the aristocracy, and it would have been unlikely that it would have been passed if the two consuls had opposed each other. Crassus does not feature much in the writings of the ancient sources. Unfortunately, the books of Livy, otherwise the most detailed of the sources, which cover this period have been lost. However, the Periochae, a short summary of Livy's work, records that "Marcus Crassus and Gnaeus Pompey were made consuls. and reconstituted the tribunician powers." [57] Suetonius wrote that, when Julius Caesar was a military tribune, "he ardently supported the leaders in the attempt to reestablish the authority of the tribunes of the commons [the plebeians], the extent of which Sulla had curtailed." [68] The two leaders are presumed to have been the two consuls, Crassus and Pompey.

Piracy in the Mediterranean became a large-scale problem, with a big network of pirates coordinating operations over wide areas with many fleets. According to Cassius Dio, the many years of war contributed to this, as a large number of fugitives joined them, since pirates were more difficult to catch or break up than bandits. The pirates pillaged coastal fields and towns. Rome was affected through shortages of imports and the supply of grains, but the Romans did not pay proper attention to the problem. They sent out fleets when "they were stirred by individual reports" and these did not achieve anything. Cassius Dio wrote that these operations caused greater distress for Rome's allies. It was thought that a war against the pirates would be big and expensive, and that it was impossible to attack or drive back all the pirates at once. As not much was done against them, some towns were turned into pirate winter quarters and raids further inland were carried out. Many pirates settled on land in various places and relied on an informal network of mutual assistance. Towns in Italy were also attacked, including Ostia, the port of Rome, with ships burned and pillaged. The pirates seized important Romans and demanded large ransoms. [69]

Cilicia had been a haven for pirates for a long time. It was divided into two parts: Cilicia Trachaea (Rugged Cilicia), a mountainous area in the west, and Cilicia Pedias (Flat Cilicia) in the east, by the Limonlu river. The first Roman campaign against the pirates was led by Marcus Antonius Orator in 102 BC, in which parts of Cilicia Pedias became Roman territory, but only a small part becoming a province. Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus was given the command of fighting piracy in Cilicia in 78–74 BC. He won several naval victories off Cilicia and occupied the coasts of nearby Lycia and Pamphylia. He received his agnomen of Isauricus because he defeated the Isauri, who lived in the core of the Taurus Mountains, which bordered on Cilicia. He incorporated Isauria into the province of Cilicia Pedias. However, much of Cilicia Pedias belonged to the kingdom of Armenia. Cilicia Trachea was still under the control of the pirates. [70]

In 67 BC, three years after Pompey's consulship, the plebeian tribune Aulus Gabinius proposed a law (lex Gabinia) for choosing ". from among the ex-consuls, a commander with full power against all the pirates." [71] He was to have dominion over the waters of the entire Mediterranean and up to fifty miles (80 km) inland for three years, empowered to pick fifteen lieutenants from the senate and assign specific areas to them, allowed to have 200 ships, levy as many soldiers and oarsmen as he needed and collect as much money from the tax collectors and the public treasuries as he wished. The use of treasury in the plural might suggest power to raise funds from treasures of the allied Mediterranean states as well. [72] Such sweeping powers were not a problem because comparable extraordinary powers given to Marcus Antonius Creticus to fight piracy in Crete in 74 BC provided a precedent. [73] The optimates in the Senate remained suspicious of Pompey—this seemed yet another extraordinary appointment. [74] Cassius Dio claimed that Gabinius "had either been prompted by Pompey or wished in any case to do him a favor. he did not directly utter Pompey's name, but it was easy to see that if, once the populace should hear of any such proposition, they would choose him." [75] Plutarch described Gabinius as one of Pompey's intimates and claimed that he "drew up a law which gave him not an admiralty, but an out-and-out monarchy and irresponsible power over all men." [72]

Cassius Dio wrote that Gabinius’ bill was supported by everybody except the senate, which preferred the ravages of pirates rather than giving Pompey such great powers, and the senators nearly killed Pompey. This outraged the people, who set upon the senators. They all ran away, except for the consul Gaius Piso, who was arrested, but Gabinius had him freed. The optimates tried to persuade the other nine plebeian tribunes to oppose the bill. Only two, Trebellius and Roscius, agreed, but they were unable to do so. Trebellius tried to speak against the bill, but Gabinius postponed the vote and introduced a motion to remove him from the tribunate. After seventeen tribes had voted in favor of the motion, Trebellius backed down, keeping his office, but forced into silence. Having witnessed this, Roscius did not dare to speak, but suggested with a gesture that two commanders should be chosen, for which the people booed him loudly. The law was passed and the senate ratified it reluctantly. Pompey tried to appear as if he was forced to accept the command because of the jealousy that would be caused if he would lay claim to the post and the glory that came with it. Cassius Dio commented that Pompey was "always in the habit of pretending as far as possible not to desire the things he really wished." [76] [77]

Plutarch did not mention Pompey being nearly killed. He gave details of the acrimony of the speeches against Pompey, with one of the senators proposing that Pompey should be given a colleague. Only Caesar supported the law and, in Plutarch's view, he did so "not because he cared in the least for Pompey, but because from the outset he sought to ingratiate himself with the people and win their support." In his account, the people did not attack the senators, only shouting loudly, resulting in the assembly being dissolved. On the day of the vote, Pompey withdrew to the countryside, and the lex Gabinia was passed. Pompey extracted further concessions and received 500 ships, 120,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry and twenty-four lieutenants. With the prospect of a campaign against the pirates, the prices of provisions fell. Pompey divided the sea and the coast into thirteen districts, each assigned to a commander with his own forces. [78]

Appian gave the same number of infantry and cavalry, but the number of ships was 270, and the lieutenants were twenty-five. He listed them and their areas of command as follows: Tiberius Nero and Manlius Torquatus (in command of Hispania and the Straits of Hercules) Marcus Pomponius (Gaul and Liguria) Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Marcellinus and Publius Atilius (Africa, Sardinia, Corsica) Lucius Gellius and Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Clodianus (Italy) Plotius Varus and Terentius Varro (Sicily and the Adriatic Sea, as far as Acarnania) Lucius Sisenna (the Peloponnese, Attica, Euboea, Thessaly, Macedon, and Boeotia) Lucius Lollius (the Greek islands, the Aegean sea, and the Hellespont) Publius Piso (Bithynia, Thrace, the Propontis and the mouth of the Euxine) Quintus Caecilius Metellus Nepos Iunior (Lycia, Pamphylia, Cyprus, and Phoenicia). Pompey made a tour of the whole area. He cleared the western Mediterranean in forty days, proceeded to Brundisium (Brindisi) and cleared the eastern Mediterranean in the same amount of time. [79]

In Plutarch's account, Pompey's scattered forces encompassed every pirate fleet they came across and brought them to port, the remaining pirates escaping to Cilicia. Pompey attacked Cilicia with his sixty best ships after that, he cleared the Tyrrhenian Sea, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and the Libyan Sea in forty days with the help of his lieutenants. Meanwhile, the consul Piso sabotaged Pompey's equipment and discharged his crews, and thus Pompey went back to Rome. The markets in Rome now were well-stocked with provisions again and the people acclaimed Pompey. Piso was nearly stripped of his consulship, but Pompey prevented Aulus Gabinius from proposing a bill to this effect. He set sail again and reached Athens, defeating the Cilician pirates off the promontory of Coracesium. He then besieged them and they surrendered, together with the islands and towns they controlled, the latter being fortified and difficult to take by storm. Pompey seized many ships, but he also spared the lives of 20,000 pirates. He resettled some of them in the city of Soli, which had recently been devastated by Tigranes the Great, the king of Armenia. Most were resettled in Dyme in Achaea, Greece, which was underpopulated and had plenty of good land. Some pirates were received by the half-deserted cities of Cilicia. Pompey thought that they would abandon their old ways and be softened by a change of place, new customs and a gentler way of life. [80]

In Appian's account, Pompey went to Cilicia expecting to have to undertake sieges of rock-bound citadels. However, he did not have to. His reputation and the magnitude of his preparations provoked panic and the pirates surrendered, hoping to be treated leniently because of this. They gave up large quantities of weapons, ships and shipbuilding materials. Pompey destroyed the material, took away the ships and sent some of the captured pirates back to their countries. He recognised that they had undertaken piracy due to the poverty caused by the mentioned war and settled many of them in Mallus, Adana, Epiphania or any other uninhabited or thinly populated town in Cilicia. He sent some to Dyme in Achaea. According to Appian, the war against the pirates lasted only a few days. Pompey captured 71 ships and 306 ships were surrendered. He seized 120 towns and fortresses and killed about 10,000 pirates in battles. [81]

In Cassius Dio's brief account, Pompey and his lieutenants patrolled "the whole stretch of sea that the pirates were troubling," and his fleet and his troops were irresistible both on sea and land. The leniency with which he treated the pirates who surrendered was "equally great" and won over many pirates, who went over to his side. Pompey "took care of them" and gave them land which was empty or settled them in underpopulated towns so that they would not resort to crime due to poverty. Soli was among these cities. It was on the Cilician coast and had been sacked by Tigranes the Great. Pompey renamed it Pompeiopolis. [82]

Metellus, a relative of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius, with whom Pompey had fought in Hispania, had been sent to Crete, which was the second source of piracy before Pompey assumed command. He hemmed in and killed many pirates, besieging the remnants. The Cretans called on Pompey to come to Crete, claiming that it was under his jurisdiction. Pompey wrote to Metellus to urge him to stop the war and sent one of his lieutenants, Lucius Octavius. The latter entered the besieged strongholds and fought with the pirates. Metellus persisted, captured and punished the pirates, and sent Octavius away after insulting him in front of the army.

Third Mithridatic War Edit

Lucius Licinius Lucullus was conducting the Third Mithridatic War (73–63 BC) against Mithridates VI, the king of Pontus, and Tigranes the Great, the king of Armenia. He was successful in battle however, the war was dragging on and he opened a new front in Armenia. In Rome, he was accused of protracting the war for "the love of power and wealth" and of plundering royal palaces as if he had been sent "not to subdue the kings, but to strip them." Some of the soldiers were disgruntled and were incited by Publius Clodius Pulcher not to follow their commander. Commissioners were sent to investigate and the soldiers mocked Lucullus in front of the commission. [83]

In 68 BC, the province of Cilicia was taken from Lucullus and assigned to Quintus Marcius Rex. He refused a request for aid from Lucullus because his soldiers refused to follow him to the front. According to Cassius Dio, this was a pretext. [84] One of the consuls for 67 BC, Manius Acilius Glabrio, was appointed to succeed Lucullus. However, when Mithridates won back almost all of Pontus and caused havoc in Cappadocia, which was allied with Rome, Glabrio did not go to the front, but delayed in Bithynia. [85]

Another plebeian tribune, Gaius Manilius, proposed the lex Manilia. It gave Pompey command of the forces and the areas of operation of Lucullus, and, in addition to this, Bithynia, which was held by Acilius Glabrio. It commissioned him to wage war on Mithridates and Tigranes, allowing him to retain his naval force and his dominion over the sea granted by the lex Gabinia. Therefore, Phrygia, Lycaonia, Galatia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Upper Colchis, Pontus and Armenia, as well as the forces of Lucullus, were added to his command. Plutarch noted that this meant the placing of Roman supremacy entirely in the hands of one man.

The optimates were unhappy about so much power being given to Pompey and saw this as the establishment of a tyranny. They agreed to oppose the law, but they were fearful of the mood of the people. Only Catulus spoke up, and the law was passed. [86] The law was supported by Julius Caesar and justified by Cicero in his extant speech Pro Lege Manilia. [87] Former consuls also supported the law, with Cicero mentioning Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus (consul in 72 BC), Gaius Cassius Longinus Varus (73 BC), Gaius Scribonius Curio (76 BC) and Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus (79 BC). [88] According to Cassius Dio, while this was happening, Pompey was preparing to sail to Crete to face Metellus Creticus. [89] Lucullus was incensed at the prospect of his replacement by Pompey. The outgoing commander and his replacement traded insults. Lucullus called Pompey a "vulture" who fed from the work of others, referring not merely to Pompey's new command against Mithridates, but also his claim to have finished the war against Spartacus. [90]

According to Cassius Dio, Pompey made friendly proposals to Mithridates to test his disposition. Mithridates tried to establish friendly relations with Phraates III, the king of Parthia. Pompey foresaw this, established a friendship with Phraates and persuaded him to invade the part of Armenia under Tigranes. Mithridates sent envoys to conclude a truce, but Pompey demanded that he lay down his arms and hand over the deserters. There was unrest among the scared deserters, which were joined by some of Mithridates' men, who feared having to fight without them. The king held them in check with difficulty and had to pretend that he was testing Pompey. Pompey, who was in Galatia, prepared for war. Lucullus met him and claimed that the war was over and that there was no need for an expedition. He failed to dissuade Pompey and verbally abused him. Pompey ignored him, forbade the soldiers to obey Lucullus and marched to the front. [91] In Appian's account, when the deserters heard about the demand to hand them back, Mithridates swore that he would not make peace with the Romans and that he would not give them up. [92]

Cassius Dio wrote that Mithridates kept withdrawing because his forces were inferior. Pompey entered Lesser Armenia, which was not under Tigranes' rule. Mithridates did the same and encamped on a mountain that was difficult to attack. He sent the cavalry down for skirmishes, which caused a large number of desertions. Pompey moved his camp to a wooded area for protection, setting up a successful ambush. When Pompey was joined by more Roman forces, Mithridates fled to the Armenia of Tigranes.

In Plutarch's version, the location of the mountain is unspecified and Mithridates abandoned it because he thought that it had no water. Pompey took the mountain and had wells sunk. He then besieged Mithridates' camp for 45 days, however, Mithridates managed to escape with his best men. Pompey caught up with him by the river Euphrates, lined up for battle to prevent him from crossing the river and advanced at midnight. He wanted to just surround the enemy camp to prevent an escape in the darkness, but his officers convinced him to charge. The Romans attacked with the moon at their back, confusing the enemy who, because of the shadows, thought that they were nearer. The enemy fled in panic and was cut down. [93] [94]

In Cassius Dio, this battle occurred when Mithridates entered a defile. The Romans hurled stones, arrows and javelins on the enemy, which was not in battle formation, from an elevated height. When they ran out of missiles, they charged those on the outside and those in the center were crushed together. Most were horsemen and archers, and they could not respond in the darkness. When the moon rose, it was behind the Romans, creating shadows and causing confusion for the enemy. Many were killed, but many, including Mithridates, fled. He then tried to go to Tigranes. Plutarch wrote that Tigranes forbade him from coming and put a reward on him, while Cassius Dio did not mention a reward. He wrote that Tigranes arrested his envoys because he thought that Mithridates was responsible for a rebellion by his son.

In both Plutarch and Cassius Dio, Mithridates went to Colchis, on the southeastern shore of the Black Sea). Cassius Dio added that Pompey had sent a detachment to pursue him, but he outstripped them by crossing the river Phasis. He reached the Maeotis (the sea of Azov, which is connected to the north shore of the Black Sea) and stayed in the Cimmerian Bosporus. He had his son Machares, who ruled it and had gone over to the Romans, killed and recovered that country. Meanwhile, Pompey set up a colony for his soldiers at Nicopolitans in Cappadocia. [95] [96]

In Appian's account, Mithridates wintered at Dioscurias in Colchis, in 66/65 BC. He intended to travel around the Black Sea, reach the strait of the Bosporus and attack the Romans from the European side while they were in Asia Minor. He also wanted to seize the kingdom of Machares, his son who had gone over to the Romans. He crossed the territory of the Scythians (partly by permission, partly by force) and the Heniochi, who welcomed him, and he made alliances with their many princes. He contemplated marching through Thrace, Macedonia and Pannonia and crossing the Alps into Italy. He gave some of his daughters in marriage to the more powerful Scythian princes. Machares sent envoys to say he had made terms with the Romans out of necessity, and then fled to the Pontic Chersonesus, burning the ships to prevent Mithridates from pursuing him. However, his father found other ships and sent them after him, and Machares eventually killed himself. [97]

In Appian, at this stage, Pompey pursued Mithridates as far as Colchis and then marched against Armenia. In the accounts of Plutarch and Cassius Dio, instead, he went to Armenia first and to Colchis later. In Appian, Pompey thought that his enemy would never reach the sea of Azov or do much if he escaped. His advance was more of an exploration of that country, which was the place of the legends of the Argonauts, Heracles, and Prometheus. He was accompanied by the neighbouring tribes. Only Oroeses, the king of the Caucasian Albanians, and Artoces, the king of the Caucasian Iberians, resisted him. Learning of an ambush planned by Oroeses, Pompey defeated him at the Battle of the Abas, driving the enemy into a forest and setting it on fire, pursuing the fugitives until they surrendered and brought him hostages. He then marched against Armenia. [98]

In Plutarch's account, Pompey was invited to invade Armenia by Tigranes’ son (also named Tigranes), who rebelled against his father. The two men received the submission of several towns. When they got close to Artaxata (the royal residence), Tigranes, knowing Pompey's leniency, surrendered and allowed a Roman garrison in his palace. He went to Pompey's camp, where Pompey offered the restitution of the Armenian territories in Syria, Phoenicia, Cilicia, Galatia, and Sophene, which Lucullus had taken. He demanded an indemnity and ruled that the son should be king of Sophene, which Tigranes accepted. His son was not happy with the deal and remonstrated, for which he was put in chains and reserved for Pompey's triumph. Soon after this, Phraates III, the king of Parthia asked to be given the son in exchange for an agreement to set the river Euphrates as the boundary between Parthia and Rome, but Pompey refused. [99]

In the version of Cassius Dio, the son of Tigranes fled to Phraates. He persuaded the latter, who had a treaty with Pompey, to invade Armenia and fight his father. The two reached Artaxata, causing Tigranes to flee to the mountains. Phraates then went back to his land, and Tigranes counterattacked, defeating his son. The younger Tigranes fled and at first wanted to go to Mithridates. However, since Mithridates had been defeated, he went over to the Romans and Pompey used him as a guide to advance into Armenia. When they reached Artaxata, the elder Tigranes surrendered the city and went voluntarily to Pompey's camp. The next day, Pompey heard the claims of father and son. He restored the hereditary domains of the father, but took the land he had invaded later (parts of Cappadocia, and Syria, as well as Phoenicia and Sophene) and demanded an indemnity, assigning Sophene to the son. This was the area where the treasures were, and the son began a dispute over them. He did not obtain satisfaction and planned to escape, so Pompey promptly put him in chains. The treasures went to the old king, who received far more money than had been agreed. [100]

Appian gave an explanation for the young Tigranes turning against his father. Tigranes killed two of his three sons, the first one in battle and the other while hunting, because, instead of helping him when he was thrown off his horse, he put a diadem on his head. Following this incident, he gave the crown to the third son, Tigranes. However, the latter was distressed about the incident and waged war against his father. He was defeated and fled to Phraates. Because of all this, Tigranes did not want to fight any more when Pompey got near Artaxata. The young Tigranes took refuge with Pompey as a suppliant with the approval of Phraates, who wanted Pompey's friendship. The elder Tigranes submitted his affairs to Pompey's decision and made a complaint against his son. Pompey called him for a meeting. He gave 6,000 talents for Pompey, 10,000 drachmas for each tribune, 1,000 for each centurion, and fifty for each soldier. Pompey pardoned him and reconciled him with his son.

In Appian's account, Pompey gave the latter both Sophene and Gordyene. The father was left with the rest of Armenia and was ordered to give up the territory he has seized in the war: Syria (west of the river Euphrates) and part of Cilicia. Armenian deserters persuaded the younger Tigranes to make an attempt on his father, so Pompey arrested and chained him. He then founded a city in Lesser Armenia where he had defeated Mithridates, calling it Nicopolis (City of Victory). [101]

In Appian's account, after Armenia (still in 64 BC), Pompey turned west, crossed Mount Taurus and fought Antiochus I Theos, the king of Commagene, until the two made an alliance. He then fought Darius the Mede, and put him to flight. This was because he had "helped Antiochus or Tigranes before him." [102] According to Plutarch and Cassius Dio, instead, it was at this point that Pompey turned north. The two writers provided different accounts of Pompey's operations in the territories on the Caucasus Mountains and Colchis. He fought in Caucasian Iberia (inland and to the south of Colchis) and Caucasian Albania (or Arran, roughly corresponding with modern Azerbaijan).

In Plutarch, the Albanians at first granted Pompey free passage, but in the winter they advanced on the Romans who were celebrating the festival of the Saturnalia with 40,000 men. Pompey let them cross the river Cyrnus and then attacked them and routed them. Their king begged for mercy and Pompey pardoned him. He then marched on the Iberians, who were allies of Mithridates. He routed them, killing 9,000 of them and taking 10,000 prisoners. Then, he invaded Colchis and reached Phasis on the Black Sea, where he was met by Servilius, the admiral of his Euxine fleet. However, he encountered difficulties there and the Albanians revolted again, so Pompey turned back. He had to cross a river whose banks had been fenced off, made a long march through a waterless area and defeated a force of 60,000 badly-armed infantry and 12,000 cavalry led by the king's brother. He pushed north again, but turned back south because he encountered a great number of snakes. [103]

In Cassius Dio, Pompey wintered near the river Cyrnus. Oroeses, the king of the Albanians, who lived beyond this river, attacked the Romans during the winter, partly to favour the younger Tigranes, who was a friend, and partly because he feared an invasion. He was defeated and Pompey agreed to his request for a truce, even though he wanted to invade their country, desiring to postpone the war until after the winter. In 65 BC, Artoces, the king of the Iberians, who also feared an invasion, prepared to attack the Romans. Pompey learned of this and invaded his territory, catching him unaware. He seized an impregnable frontier pass and got close to a fortress in the narrowest point of the river Cyrnus, leaving Artoces with no chance to array his forces. He withdrew, crossed the river and burned the bridge, making the fortress surrender. When Pompey was about to cross the river, Artoces sued for peace. However, he then fled to the river. Pompey pursued him, routed his forces and hunted down the fugitives. Artoces fled across the river Pelorus and made overtures, but Pompey would agree to terms only if he sent his children as hostages. Artoces delayed, but l, when the Romans crossed the Pelorus in the summer, he handed over his children and concluded a treaty.

Pompey moved on to Colchis and wanted to march to the Cimmerian Bosporus against Mithridates. However, he realised that he would have to confront unknown hostile tribes and that a sea journey would be difficult because of a lack of harbors. Therefore, he ordered his fleet to blockade Mithridates and turned on the Albanians. He went to Armenia first to catch them off guard and then crossed the river Cyrnus. He heard that Oroeses was coming close and wanted to lead him into a conflict. At the Battle of the Abas, he hid his infantry and got the cavalry to go ahead. When the cavalry was attacked by Oroeses, it withdrew towards the infantry, which then engaged, letting the cavalry through its ranks. Some of the enemy forces, which were in hot pursuit, also ended up through their ranks and were killed, with the rest being surrounded and routed. Pompey then overran the country, granting peace to the Albanians and concluding truces with other tribes on the northern side of the Caucasus. [104]

Pompey withdrew to Lesser Armenia. He sent a force under Afrianius against Phraates, who was plundering the subjects of Tigranes in Gordyene. Afrianius drove him out and pursued him as far as the area of Arbela, in northern Mesopotamia. [105] Cassius Dio gave more details. Phraates renewed the treaty with Pompey because of his success and because of the progress of his lieutenants. They were subduing Armenia and the adjacent part of Pontus, and, in the south, Afrianius was advancing to the river Tigris that is, towards Parthia. Pompey demanded the cession of Corduene, which Phraates was disputing with Tigranes, and sent Afrianius there, who occupied it unopposed and handed it to Tigranes before receiving a reply from Phraates. Afrianius also returned to Syria through Mesopotamia (a Parthian area), contrary to the Roman-Parthian agreements. Pompey treated Phraates with contempt, so the king sent envoys to complain about the suffered wrongs. In 64 BC, when he did not receive a conciliatory reply, Phraates attacked Tigranes, accompanied by the son of the latter. He lost a first battle, but won another, and Tigranes asked Pompey for help. Phraates brought many charges against Tigranes and many insinuations against the Romans. Pompey did not help Tigranes, stopped being hostile to Phraates and sent three envoys to arbitrate the border dispute. Tigranes, angry about not receiving help, reconciled with Phraates in order not to strengthen the position of the Romans. [106]

Stratonice, the fourth wife of Mithridates, surrendered Caenum, one of the most important fortresses of the king. Pompey also received gifts from the king of the Iberians. He then moved from Caenum to Amisus (modern Samsun, on the north coast of Anatolia). Pompey then decided to move south because it was too difficult to try to reach Mithridates in the Cimmerian Bosporus and thus, he did not want to "wear out his own strength in a vain pursuit," content with preventing merchant ships reaching the Cimmerian Bosporus through his blockade, and preferred other pursuits. He sent Afrianius to subdue the Arabs around the Amanus Mountains (in what was then on the coast of northern Syria). He went to Syria with his army, annexing the country because it had no legitimate kings. He spent most of his time settling disputes between cities and kings or sending envoys to do so, gaining prestige as much for his clemency as for his power. By being helpful to those who had dealings with him, he made them willing to put up with the rapacity of his friends and was thus able to hide this. The king of the Arabians at Petra, Aretas III of Nabataea, wanted to become a friend of Rome. Pompey marched towards Petra to confirm this, and was criticized because this was seen as an evasion of the pursuit of Mithridates. He was urged to turn against him, since there were reports that Mithridates was preparing to march on Italy via the river Danube. However, while Pompey was encamped near Petra, a messenger brought the news that Mithridates was dead. Pompey left Arabia and went to Amisus. [107]

Cassius Dio wrote that Pompey "arbitrated disputes and managed other business for kings and potentates who came to him. He confirmed some in possession of their kingdoms, added to the principalities of others, and curtailed and humbled the excessive powers of a few." He united Coele-Syria and Phoenicia, which had been ravaged by the Arabians and Tigranes. [108] Antiochus XIII Philadelphus (one of the last rulers of Syria) asked for them back, to no avail, and Pompey put them under Roman jurisdiction. [109]

Cassius Dio also mentioned that Mithridates planned to reach the river Danube and invade Italy. However, he was aging and becoming weaker. As his position became weaker and that of the Romans stronger, a series of incidents happened. Some of his associates became estranged, a massive earthquake destroyed many towns, there was a mutiny by the soldiers and some of his sons were kidnapped and taken to Pompey. All of this contributed to him becoming unpopular. Mithridates was mistrustful and had his wives and some of his remaining children killed. One of them, Pharnaces II, plotted against him. He won over both the men who were sent to arrest him and then the soldiers who were sent against him afterwards. In 64 BC, he obtained the voluntary submission of Panticapaeum, the city where Mithridates was staying. Mithridates tried to poison himself, but failed because he was immune, due to taking "precautionary antidotes in large doses every day." He was killed by the rebels. Pharnaces embalmed his body and sent it to Pompey as proof of his surrender, for which he was granted the kingdom of Bosporus and listed as an ally. [110]

Syria Edit

Syria had once been the heart of the vast Seleucid Empire, but, after the death of Antiochus IV in 164 BC, it had become increasingly unstable. Continuous civil wars had weakened central authority. By 163 BC, the Maccabean Revolt established the independence of Judea. The Parthians gained control of the Iranian Plateau. In 139 BC, they defeated the Seleucid king Demetrius II, and took Babylon from the Seleucids. The following year, they captured the king. His brother Antiochus VII gained the support of the Maccabees, regained the submission of the once vassal kingdoms of Cappadocia and Armenia, drove back the Parthians and retook Mesopotamia, Babylon, and Media. However, he was killed in battle and the Seleucids lost all of their gains. By 100 BC, the Seleucid Empire was reduced to a few cities in western Syria. It still had to put up with countless civil wars, surviving only because none of its neighbors took it over. In 83 BC, invited by a faction in one of the civil wars, Tigranes II of Armenia invaded Syria and virtually ended Seleucid rule. When Lucius Licinius Lucullus defeated Tigranes in the Third Mithridatic War in 69 BC, a rump Seleucid kingdom was restored. However, the civil wars continued.

Pompey was concerned about the political instability to the southeast of Rome's new provinces in Asia Minor. Both Syria and Judea were lacking stability. In Syria, the Seleucid state was disintegrating, and in Judea, there was a civil war. Pompey's actions in Syria and Judea are known through the work of Josephus, the ancient Jewish-Roman historian. In 65 BC, Pompey sent two of his lieutenants, Metellus and Lollius, to Syria, to take possession of Damascus. During the winter of 64/63 BC, Pompey had wintered his army at Antioch, Seleucid Syria's capital. There, he received many envoys and had to arbitrate in countless disputes. [111] At the beginning of the campaigning season of 63 BC, Pompey left Antioch and marched south. He took and destroyed two strongholds being used by brigands: Lysias, ruled over by a Jewish brigand named Silas, and Syria's old military capital, Apameia. [112] He then took on the robber gangs of the Libanus range and the coast north of Sidon. [112] He executed a brigand chief named Dionysius of Tripolis, and took over the country of Ptolemy of Calchis. [112] [113] Ptolemy was hated in Syria, Phoenicia and Judea Pompey, however, let him escape punishment in exchange for 1,000 talents (24,000,000 sesterces). [112] This vast sum was used by Pompey to pay his soldiers, vividly illustrating the attractions of piracy and brigandage in the poorly controlled country. [112] He also took Heliopolis. The Pompeian army then crossed the Anti-Lebanon mountains, took Pella and reached Damascus, where he was met by ambassadors from all over Syria, Egypt and Judea. This completed the takeover of Syria. [114] From this time onward, Syria was to be a Roman province.

Judea Edit

A conflict between the brothers Aristobulus II and Hyrcanus II over the succession to the Hasmonean throne began in Judea in 69 BC, in which Aristobulus deposed Hyrcanus. Then, Antipater the Idumaean became the advisor to the weak-willed Hyrcanus and persuaded him to contend for the throne, advising him to escape to Aretas III, the king of the Arabian Nabataean Kingdom. Hyrcanus promised Aretas that, if he restored him to the throne, he would give him back twelve cities his father had taken from him. Aretas besieged Aristobulus in the Temple in Jerusalem for eight months (66–65 BC). The people supported Hyrcanus, with only the priests supporting Aristobulus. Meanwhile, Pompey, who was fighting Tigranes the Great in Armenia, sent Marcus Aemilius Scaurus (who was a quaestor) to Syria. Since two of Pompey's lieutenants, Metellus and Lollius, had already taken Damascus, Scaurus proceeded to Judea. The ambassadors of Aristobulus and Hyrcanus asked for his help, both offering Scaurus bribes and promises. He sided with Aristobulus because he was rich and because it was easier to expel the Nabateans, who were not very warlike, than to capture Jerusalem. He ordered Aretas to leave and said that, if he did not, he would be an enemy of Rome. Aretas withdrew, and Aristobulus gathered an army, pursued him and defeated him. Scaurus then returned to Syria. [115]

When Pompey went to Syria, he was visited by ambassadors from Syria and Egypt, with Aristobulus sending him a very expensive golden vine. A little later, ambassadors from Hyrcanus and Aristobulus went to see him. The former claimed that first Aulus Gabinius and then Scaurus had taken bribes. Pompey decided to arbitrate the dispute later, at the beginning of spring, and marched to Damascus. There, he heard the cases of Hyrcanus, Aristobulus and those who did not want a monarchy and wanted to return to the tradition of being under the high priest. Hyrcanus claimed that he was the rightful king as the elder brother and that he had been usurped, accusing Aristobulus of making incursions in nearby countries and being responsible for piracy, thus causing a revolt. Aristobulus claimed that Hyrcanus' indolence had caused him to be deposed, and that he took power lest others seize it. Pompey reproached Aristobulus for his violence, and told the men to wait for him, for he would settle the matter after dealing with the Nabataeans. However, Aristobulus went to Judea. This angered Pompey, who marched on Judea and went to the fortress of Alexandreium, where Aristobulus fled to. [116]

Aristobulus went to talk to Pompey and returned to the fortress three times to pretend he was complying with him, intending to wear him down and prepare for war should he rule against him. When Pompey ordered him to surrender the fortress, Aristobulus did give it up, but withdrew to Jerusalem and prepared for war. While Pompey was marching on Jerusalem, he was informed about the death of Mithridates. Pompey encamped at Jericho, where Aristobulus went to see him, promising to give him money, and received him into Jerusalem. Pompey forgave him and sent Aulus Gabinius with soldiers to receive the money and the city. However, the soldiers of Aristobulus did not let them in, which led Pompey to arrest Aristobulus and enter Jerusalem. The pro-Aristobulus faction went to the Temple and prepared for a siege, while the rest of the inhabitants opened the city gates. Pompey sent in an army led by Piso and placed garrisons in the city and at the palace, yet the enemy refused to negotiate. Pompey built a wall around the area of the Temple and encamped inside this wall. However, the temple was well fortified and there was a deep valley around it. The Romans built a ramp and brought siege engines and battering rams from Tyre. [117]

Pompey took advantage of the enemy celebrating the Sabbath to deploy his battering rams, since Jewish law did not allow the Jews to meddle with the enemy if they were not attacking them on the day of the Sabbath. Therefore, the defenders of the Temple did not counter the deployment of the battering rams by the Romans, which, on the other days of the week, they had successfully prevented. The next day, the wall of the Temple was broken through and the soldiers went on a rampage. [118] According to Josephus, 12,000 Jews fell. Josephus wrote "No small enormities were committed about the temple itself, which, in former ages, had been inaccessible, and seen by none for Pompey went into it, and not a few of those that were with him also, and saw all that which it was unlawful for any other men to see but only for the high priests. There were in that temple the golden table, the holy candlestick, and the pouring vessels, and a great quantity of spices and besides these there were among the treasures two thousand talents of sacred money: yet did Pompey touch nothing of all this, on account of his regard to religion and in this point also he acted in a manner that was worthy of his virtue." The next day, he ordered the men in charge of the Temple to purify it, and to bring offerings to God, as Jewish law required. Pompey restored Hyrcanus to the high priesthood "both because he had been useful to him in other respects, and because he hindered the Jews in the country from giving Aristobulus any assistance in his war against him." [119]

Pompey returned the Syrian cities the Jews had conquered to Syrian rule, thus bringing Judea back to its original territory. He rebuilt the city of Garara and restored seven inland cities and four coastal ones to its inhabitants. He also made Jerusalem a tributary of Rome and Judea a satellite of Syria. According to Josephus, Pompey then went to Cilicia, taking Aristobulus and his children with him, and, after this, he returned to Rome. [120]

This contrasts with the account of Plutarch, who did not mention any action in Judea. He wrote that Pompey marched on Petra (the capital of the Kingdom of Nabataea) to confirm Aretas, who wanted to become a friend of Rome. It was while he was encamped near Petra that he was told that Mithridates was dead, and he then left Arabia and went to Amisus. [121] Josephus did write that Pompey marched on Nabataea, but did not mention the reason for this. However, he also marched to Judea to deal with Aristobulus, and it was not mentioned whether he actually reached Petra before turning to Judea. He learned of the death of Mithridates when he was marching towards Jerusalem. When he completed matters in Judea, he went to Cilicia instead of Amisus.

Cassius Dio gave a brief account of Pompey's campaign in Judea and wrote that, after this, he went to Pontus, which fits with Plutarch writing that he went to Amisus. [122] Strabo in his Geographica gives a short account of Pompey's siege of the temple, in line with the account of Josephus.

Josephus wrote that after his siege of the Temple in Jerusalem, Pompey gave the governorship of Syria (for 62 BC) as far as the river Euphrates and Egypt to Marcus Aemilius Scaurus, giving him two legions. Scaurus made an expedition against Petra, in Arabian Nabataea. He burned the settlements around it because it was difficult to gain access to. His army suffered hunger, thus Hyrcanus ordered Antipater to supply grain and other provisions from Judea. [123] Josephus did not give an explanation for the actions of Scaurus, but it probably had to do with the security of the Decapolis. Josephus also wrote:

Now the occasions of this misery which came upon Jerusalem were Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, by raising a sedition one against the other for now we lost our liberty, and became subject to the Romans, and were deprived of that country which we had gained by our arms from the Syrians, and were compelled to restore it to the Syrians. Moreover, the Romans exacted of us, in a little time, above ten thousand talents and the royal authority, which was a dignity formerly bestowed on those that were high priests, by the right of their family, became the property of private men. [124]

Pompey's settlements in the East Edit

Pompey set out to liberate a number of Hellenised towns from their rulers. He joined seven towns east of the river Jordan that had been under the Hasmoneans of Judea, plus Damascus, into a league. Philadelphia (today's Amman), which had been under Nabataea, also joined the league, which was called the Decapolis (Ten Cities). They were mostly in Transjordan (now part of Jordan) and around the east of the sea of Galilee, part of which extended into Syria. It seems that Pompey organized the league as a means of preserving the sovereignty of the city-states. Although he put them under the protection of the Roman province of Syria, each city-state was autonomous. It is thought that it was not organized as a political unit and that the cities cooperated on economic and security matters. Josephus mentioned five of these cities as being taken away from the Hasmoneans and restored to their inhabitants (i.e. they were given self-government). He also mentioned cities in Judea: Azotus (Ashdod), Jamneia (Yavne), Joppa (Jaffa), Dora (Tel Dor, now an archaeological site), Marissa (Tel Maresha) and Samaria (now an archaeological site). He also mentioned Strato's Tower (later called Caesarea Maritima), Arethusa (now replaced by Al-Rastan) in Syria, and the city of Gaza as being restored to their people. Two other towns near Gaza, Anthedon (now an archaeological site) and Raphia (Rafah), as well as another inland town, Adora (Dura, near Hebron) were also restored. [125]

The liberation of the cities was symbolised by the adoption of the Pompeian era, which made it comparable to a new foundation. This calendar counted the years from 63 BC, the year when self-government started. Damascus continued to use the Seleucid era. A number of the cities in Judea and Galilee also adopted the Pompeian era. Several of the towns had been damaged during Hasmonean rule, but the damage was not extensive and reconstruction was completed by the time of the governorship in Syria of Aulus Gabinius in 57 BC. Gaza and Raphia adopted the Pompeian era when reconstruction was completed, in 61 and 57 BC respectively. The town of Samaria adopted the appellation of Gabinian, presumably because reconstruction there was finished under the governorship of Gabinius. The towns also experienced repopulation, with some of the exiles returning home and probably new settlers for the nearby areas and Hellenized Syrians being brought in. A distinction between citizens of the polis and natives was restored. Jews were not counted as citizens because of religion, and were probably deported or saw their property confiscated in revenge, with some probably becoming tenants of Hellenized landowners. Such developments increased the long-standing hostility between Jews and Hellenized people. [126]

Besides annexing Syria and turning Judea into a client kingdom and a satellite of Syria, Pompey annexed the coastal strip in the western part of the Kingdom of Pontus and merged it with Bithynia, turning both into the Roman province of Bithynia et Pontus. The kingdom of Bithynia had been bequeathed to Rome by its last king, Nicomedes IV, in 74 BC, triggering the Third Mithridatic War. During this war, it was not formally annexed. The territories Mithridates had conquered, apart for Lesser Armenia, became client states. The eastern coast and the interior of Pontus plus the Bosporan Kingdom became client kingdoms under Pharnaces II of Pontus, the son of Mithridates who had rebelled against his father and gone over to the Romans. Pompey installed Aristarchus as a client ruler in Colchis. He gave Lesser Armenia to Galatia under the Roman client king Deiotarus as a reward for his loyalty to Rome.

Pompey greatly expanded the province of Cilicia along the coast (adding Pamphylia to its west) and inland. He reorganized it into six parts: Cilicia Aspera, Cilicia Campestris, Pamphylia, Pisidia (north of Pamphylia), Isauria (east of Pisidia), Lycaonia (north of Cilicia Trachea) and the greater part of Phrygia (north of Pisidia and Isauria). He left Tarcondimotus I in control of Anazarbos and Mount Amanus, to the east of Cilicia Campestris. Tarcondimotus and his son and successor (Tarcondimotus II) were loyal allies of Rome.

As noted above, ancient Cilicia was divided into Cilicia Trachea, a mountainous region in the west, and Cilicia Pedias, in the east, by the river Limonlu. Cilicia had been made the military operational area of Marcus Antonius Orator for his 102 BC campaign against the pirates, and a small part of Cilicia Pedias then became Roman territory. It was made the military operational area for the 78–74 BC campaign of Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus. However, Cilicia was not actually part of this, and he campaigned in eastern Lycia and Pamphylia. He incorporated the territories he subdued in those two areas in the province of Cilicia. However, Cilicia Trachea was still held by the pirates, and most of Cilicia Pedias belonged to Tigranes the Great, of Armenia. This area of Anatolia came truly under Roman control after Pompey's victories.

In 66 BC, following Quintus Caecilius Metellus Creticus' campaigns there (69–67 BC), Crete was annexed as a Roman province. Livy wrote: "Having subdued the Cretans, Quintus Metellus gave laws to their island, which had until then been independent." [127]

  • The Roman province of Bithynia was enlarged and became the province of Bithynia et Pontus (Pompey added the western part of Pontus). was divided between Deiotarus ruling the Tolistobogii in the west, Domnilaus ruling the Tectosages in the middle, Brogitarus ruling the Trocmi in the east, and Pylaemenes ruling Paphlagonia in the north. was restored to Ariobarzanes (Pompey actually increased his lands).
  • The Roman province of Cilicia was also enlarged (Pompey added Pamphylia and several other inland areas). Cilicia kept its name.
  • The coastal strip from Gaza to the gulf of Issus was formed into a new Roman province, that is, Syria.
  • Deiotarus (the ruler of the Tolistobogii) was given an extensive kingdom east of Bithynia et Pontus consisting of the eastern part of Pontus and Lesser Armenia. was given to Aristarchus. was given to Antiochus. was given to Abgar.
  • The Amanus range was given to Tarcondimotus. was allowed to remain king of Armenia. became independent of Armenia (but a client of Rome). became a client of Rome. was reinstated as ruler and high priest of Judaea (although much of the power in Judaea passed into the hands of Antipater).

Pompey went back to Amisus, where he found many gifts from Pharnaces and many dead bodies of the royal family, including that of Mithridates. Pompey could not look at Mithridates' body and sent it to Sinope. Before he departed for Rome, Pompey paid his army. The sum distributed amounted, we are told, to 16,000 talents (384,000,000 sesterces). [128] He then travelled in greater pomp. On his way to Italy, he went to Mytilene on the island of Lesbos, and decided to build a theater in Rome modelled on that of this city. In Rhodes, he listened to the sophist philosophers and gave them money. He also gave rewards to philosophers in Athens and gave the city money towards its restoration (it had been damaged by Lucius Cornelius Sulla during the First Mithridatic War). In Rome, there were rumors that Pompey would march his army against the city and establish a monarchy. Crassus secretly left with his children and money, yet Plutarch thought that it was more likely he did this because he wanted to give credibility to the rumors rather than through genuine fear. However, Pompey disbanded his army when he landed in Italy. He was cheered by the inhabitants of the cities he passed on his way to Rome and many people joined him. Plutarch remarked that, if he arrived in Rome with such a large crowd, he would not have needed an army for a revolution. [129]

In the Senate, Pompey was probably equally admired and feared. On the streets, he was as popular as ever. His eastern victories earned him his third triumph, which he celebrated on his 45th birthday in 61 BC, [130] seven months after his return to Italy. Plutarch wrote that it surpassed all previous triumphs, taking place over an unprecedented two days. Much of what had been prepared would not find a place and would have been enough for another procession. Inscriptions carried in front of the procession indicated the nations he defeated (the Kingdom of Pontus, Armenia, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, Media, Colchis, Caucasian Iberia, Caucasian Albania, Syria, Cilicia, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Judaea and Nabataea) and claimed that 900 cities, 1,000 strongholds, 800 pirate ships and 1,000 pirates were captured and that 39 cities were founded. Some also claimed that his conquests were adding 85 million drachmas to the 30 million drachmas of the public revenues from taxes [131] and that he brought 20,000 drachmas in silver and gold. The captives led in the triumph were the leaders of the pirates the son of Tigranes the Great with his wife and daughter a wife of Tigranes the Great a sister and five children of Mithridates VI Aristobulus II, the king of the Jews hostages from the Caucasian Albanians and the Caucasian Iberians and the king of Commagene. [132]

Appian gave the names of the paraded children of Mithridates VI. They were the sons Artaphernes, Cyrus, Oxathres, Darius, and Xerxes, and the daughters Orsabaris and Eupatra. He specified that there were three Iberian chiefs and two Albanian ones. Olthaces, the chief of the Colchians the tyrants of the Cilicians the female rulers of the Scythians and Menander the Laodicean, the commander of Mithridates' cavalry, were also paraded. In total, 324 people were paraded. The procession included images of Tigranes and Mithridates, who were not present, and the sons and daughters of Mithridates who had died. The image of Mithridates was made of gold and was four meters high. There was a tablet with the inscription "Ships with brazen beaks captured, 800 cities founded in Cappadocia, 8 in Cilicia and Coele-Syria, 20 in Palestine, the one which is now Seleucis. Kings conquered: Tigranes the Armenian Artoces the Iberian Oroezes the Albanian Darius the Mede Aretas the Nabataean and Antiochus of Commagene." There were two-horse carriages and litters laden with gold or ornaments, including the couch of Darius the son of Hystaspes and the throne and scepter of Mithridates. There were 75,100,000 drachmas of silver coin and 700 ships brought to the port. Appian also related that "Pompey himself was borne in a chariot studded with gems, wearing, it is said, the cloak of Alexander the Great, if anyone can believe that. It seems to have been found among the possessions of Mithridates that the inhabitants of Kos had received from Cleopatra VII of Egypt." [133]

Pliny the Elder wrote that Pompey displayed "a chessboard made of two precious stones, three feet in width by two in length. " and remarked that his displays were ". more the triumph of luxury than the triumph of conquest." [130] Plutarch wrote "That which most enhanced his glory and had never been the lot of any Roman before, was that he celebrated his third triumph over the third continent." [132] His triumphs were for victories in Africa, Hispania and Asia. Only Scipio Aemilianus had celebrated triumphs for victories in two continents (in Africa and Hispania). Cassius Dio wrote that Pompey displayed his "trophies beautifully decked out to represent each of his achievements, even the smallest and after them all came one huge one, decked out in costly fashion and bearing an inscription stating that it was a trophy of the inhabited world". He also noted that he did not add any title to his name, as he was happy with his appellation as Magnus (the Great), and that he did not contrive to receive any other honor. [134]

Pompey increased the state's income by 70 percent (from 200 million sesterces to 340 million sesterces per annum), and the value of the booty handed over to the treasury was a further 480 million sesterces. [135] Pompey never gave an insight into his own personal fortune, but it must have been vast. Many speculated that Pompey had surpassed Crassus in wealth.

When Pompey returned to Rome from the Third Mithridatic War, he asked the Roman senate to ratify the acts of his settlements with the cities, kings and princes in the east. This was opposed by the senators, particularly the optimates, who were suspicious of the power Pompey had acquired with the lex Gabinia and the lex Manilia and the popularity he gained with his military successes. They saw him as a threat to their supremacy and as a potential tyrant. In 60 BC, the optimates also defeated a bill that would have distributed farmland to Pompey's veterans, and to some of the landless urban poor of Rome, who relied on a grain dole distributed by the state to survive. The consul Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer opposed the bill very effectively. The other consul, Afrianius, whose election had been sponsored by Pompey, was of no assistance. According to Cassius Dio, he "understood how to dance better than to transact any business." [17] In the end, lacking support, Pompey let the matter drop. The Pompeian camp proved to be inadequate to respond the obstructionism of the optimates. [136]

Midsummer of 60 BC saw the return to Rome of Julius Caesar, flushed with success from his campaign in Hispania and determined to win the consulship. Caesar was a skilled and energetic politician and exactly the man Pompey was looking for. Caesar also enjoyed the support of Marcus Licinius Crassus, allegedly Rome's wealthiest man and a political force on his own, who had also seen his agenda blocked by the optimates. Caesar won the election for one of the two consulships for 59 BC, and could provide the kind of support needed for Pompey's and Crassus' bills to be passed. Caesar also pursued a policy of conciliating Crassus and Pompey, who had become rivals over the last decade. [137]

Thus, Caesar brought into being this alliance between these three men, which historians call the First Triumvirate. Together, these three men could break the resistance of the optimates. Pompey's political clout was based on his popularity as a military commander and on the political patronage and purchase of votes for his supporters and himself that his wealth could afford. He also had the support of his war veterans: "Prestige, wealth, clients, and loyal, grateful veterans who could be readily mobilized—these were the opes which could guarantee [Pompey's] brand of [power]." [138] Crassus was a property speculator and the richest man in Rome, who also had extensive patronage networks.

Caesar was elected, and proposed an agrarian bill to the plebeian council, which Pompey and Crassus publicly supported. The bill passed over the opposition of his colleague as consul, Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, whose election had been funded by the optimates due to his opposition to Caesar and his bill. Calpurnius Bibulus subsequently retired from politics and Caesar had the acts of Pompey's settlements in the east passed. [139] [140] [141] [142] [143] A law that made Caesar governor of Gallia Cisalpina and Illyricum also passed. When the governor of Gallia Transalpina died, Caesar was given that province as well. Caesar tied Pompey to himself by marrying him to his daughter Julia, even though she was betrothed to another man. [144] [145] [146] [147] He then left Rome to take on these governorships and got involved in his Gallic Wars, which lasted from 58 to 50 BC. Pompey and Caesar set Publius Clodius Pulcher against Marcus Tullius Cicero, who was an opponent of the triumvirate. Clodius managed to have Cicero exiled, but soon, Pompey decided to have Cicero recalled to Rome, because Clodius turned against him. A grateful Cicero stopped opposing Pompey. [148] [149] [150] [151]

In 58 BC, food shortages in Rome caused popular unrest. Cicero persuaded the people to appoint Pompey as praefectus annonae (prefect of the provisions) in Italy and beyond for five years. This post was instituted at times of severe grain shortages to supervise the grain supply. Clodius alleged that the scarcity of grain had been engineered to support a law that boosted Pompey's power, which had been decreasing. Both Plutarch and Cassius Dio thought that the law made Pompey "the master of all the land and sea under Roman possession." Pompey sent agents and friends to various places and sailed to Sardinia, Sicily and the Roman province of Africa (the breadbaskets of the Roman empire) to collect grain. He collected it in such abundance that the markets were filled and there was also enough to supply foreigners. Appian wrote that this success gave Pompey great reputation and power. Cassius Dio also wrote that Pompey faced some delays in the distribution of grain because many slaves had been freed prior to the distribution and Pompey wanted to take a census to ensure they received it in an orderly way. [152] [153] [154]

In 56 BC, Caesar, who was fighting the Gallic Wars, crossed the Alps into Italy and wintered in Lucca, Tuscany. In the Life of Crassus, Plutarch wrote that Caesar met Pompey and Crassus and agreed that the two of them would stand for the consulship and that he would support them by sending soldiers to Rome to vote for them. They were then to secure the command of provinces and armies for themselves and confirm his provinces for a further five years. In the Life of Pompey, Plutarch added that Caesar also wrote letters to his friends and that the three men were aiming at making themselves the masters of the state. [155] [156] [157] [158] Cassius Dio, who wrote the most detailed account of the period, did not mention the Lucca conference. In his version, instead, Pompey and Crassus agreed to stand for the consulship between themselves as a counterpoise to Caesar. Pompey was annoyed about the increasing admiration of Caesar due to his success in the Gallic Wars, which, he felt, overshadowed his own exploits. He tried to persuade the consuls not to read Caesar's reports from Gaul and to send someone to relieve his command. He was unable to achieve anything through the consuls, and felt that Caesar's increasing independence made his own position precarious. He began to arm himself against Caesar and got closer to Crassus because he thought he could not challenge Caesar on his own. The two men decided to stand for the consulship so that they could be more than a match for Caesar.

Once elected, Pompey and Crassus got Gaius Trebonius, a plebeian tribune, to propose a measure that gave the province of Syria and the nearby lands to one of the consuls, and the provinces of Hispania Citerior and Hispania Ulterior to the other. They would hold the command there for five years, being able to levy as many troops as they wanted and "make peace and war with whomsoever they pleased." The supporters of Caesar were unhappy, and therefore Crassus and Pompey extended Caesar's command in Gaul. According to Cassius Dio, this was for three years, not five. [159] In the Life of Pompey, Plutarch wrote that the laws proposed by Trebonius were in accordance with the agreement made at Lucca. They gave Caesar's command a second five-year term, assigned the Roman province of Syria and an expedition against Parthia to Crassus and gave Pompey the two provinces in Hispania (where there had recently been disturbances), the whole of Africa (presumably, Plutarch meant Cyrenaica, as well as the Roman province of Africa) and four legions. Pompey lent two of these legions to Caesar for his wars in Gaul at his request. [160] According to Appian, Pompey lent Caesar only one legion, when two of Caesar's lieutenants were defeated in Gaul by Ambiorix in 54 BC. [161]

In 54 BC, Pompey was the only member of the triumvirate who was in Rome. Caesar continued his campaigns in Gaul and Crassus undertook his campaign against the Parthians. In September 54 BC, Julia, the daughter of Caesar and wife of Pompey, died while giving birth to a girl, who also died a few days later. [162] [163] Plutarch wrote that Caesar felt that this was the end of his good relationship with Pompey. The news created factional discord and unrest in Rome as it was thought that the death brought the end of the ties between Caesar and Pompey. The campaign of Crassus against Parthia was disastrous. Shortly after the death of Julia, Crassus died at the Battle of Carrhae (May 53 BC), bringing the first triumvirate to an end. Plutarch thought that fear of Crassus had led Pompey and Caesar to be decent to each other and his death paved the way for the subsequent friction between these two men and the events that eventually led to civil war. [164] [165] Florus wrote "Caesar's power now inspired the envy of Pompey, while Pompey's eminence was offensive to Caesar Pompey could not brook an equal or Caesar a superior." [166] Seneca wrote that, with regard to Caesar, Pompey "would ill endure that anyone besides himself should become a great power in the state, and one who was likely to place a check upon his advancement, which he had regarded as onerous even when each gained by the other's rise: yet within three days' time he resumed his duties as general, and conquered his grief [for the death of his wife] as quickly as he was wont to conquer everything else." [167]

In the Life of Pompey, Plutarch wrote that the plebeian tribune Lucilius proposed to elect Pompey dictator. Cato the Younger, who had been the fiercest opponent of the triumvirate, opposed this, and Lucilius came close to losing his tribunate. Despite all this, two consuls for the next year (53 BC) were elected as usual. In 53 BC, three candidates stood for the consulship for 52 BC. Besides resorting to bribery, they promoted factional violence, which Plutarch saw as a civil war. There were renewed and stronger calls for a dictator. However, in the Life of Cato, Plutarch did not mention any calls for a dictator and, instead, he wrote that there were calls for Pompey to preside over the elections, which Cato the Younger opposed. In both versions, the violence among the three factions continued and the elections could not be held. The optimates favored entrusting Pompey with restoring order. Marcus Calpurnius Bibulus, the former enemy of the triumvirate, proposed in the senate that Pompey should be elected as sole consul. Cato changed his mind and supported this on the ground that any government was better than no government. Pompey asked him to become his advisor and associate in governance, to which Cato replied that he would do so in a private capacity. [168] [169]

Pompey married Cornelia, a daughter of Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica. Some people disliked this, because Cornelia was much younger, and thought she would have been a better match for his sons. There were also people who thought that Pompey gave priority to his wedding over dealing with the crisis in the city, and he was also seen as being partial in the conduct of some trials. However, he succeeded in restoring order and chose his father-in-law as his colleague for the last five months of the year. Pompey was granted an extension of his command in his provinces in Hispania and was given an annual sum for the maintenance of his troops. Cato warned Pompey about Caesar's manoeuvres to increase his power by using the money he made from the spoils of war to extend his patronage in Rome, and urged him to counter Caesar. Pompey hesitated, and Cato stood for the consulship in order to deprive Caesar of his military command and have him tried, but he was not elected. The supporters of Caesar argued that Caesar deserved an extension of his command so that the fruit of his success would not be lost, which triggered a debate. Pompey showed goodwill towards Caesar, claiming that he had letters from Caesar in which he said he wanted to be relieved of his command, but Pompey opined that he should be allowed to stand for the consulship in absentia. Cato opposed this and said that, if Caesar wanted this, he had to lay down his arms and become a private citizen. Pompey did not contest Cato's view, which gave rise to suspicions about his real feelings towards Caesar. [170]

Pompey was moving towards a power struggle with Caesar and relied on the support of the Senate and the optimates. The bone of contention between the two men was the troops they both commanded. According to Plutarch, the rift between Pompey and Cato became exacerbated when Pompey fell seriously ill in Naples in 50 BC. Upon his recovery, the people of Naples offered thanksgiving sacrifices, and the resulting celebration spread throughout Italy. He was feted in towns he travelled to on his way back to Rome. Plutarch wrote that this was said "to have done more than anything else to bring about [the subsequent civil] war. For while the public rejoicing was great, a spirit of arrogance came upon Pompey, which went beyond the calculations based upon facts, and, throwing to the winds caution. he indulged himself in unlimited confidence and contempt for Caesar's power, feeling that he would need neither an armed force to oppose him nor any irksome labor of preparation, but that he would pull him down much more easily than he had raised him up." [171] This assessment is a bit exaggerated, especially with regard to the feeling of not needing an army. However, it is likely that the display of popular support made Pompey overconfident.

In 51 BC, the consul Marcus Claudius Marcellus proposed to send a successor to take command of Caesar's provinces before his term of office had expired, whereas Pompey said that Caesar's command should come to an end on its expiration. In Appian's opinion, this was a pretense of fairness and goodwill. Two bitter enemies of Caesar, Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Claudius Marcellus (a cousin of the previous consul) were chosen as consuls for 50 BC. Gaius Scribonius Curio, who was also opposed to Caesar, became one of the new plebeian tribunes. Caesar obtained the neutrality of Aemilius Paullus with a large sum of money, and the help of Curio by paying off his debts. When Marcellus proposed sending someone to assume command of Caesar's army, Paullus remained silent, and Curio seconded the motion, but added that Pompey should also give up his provinces and armies to remove fear of conflict, which encountered opposition. Curio maintained his stance that both men should lay down their command, because they were suspicious of each other and there would not be peace. The people praised him as the only politician who was willing to incur the enmity of both men for the good of Rome. Pompey promised to give up his governorship and armies, claiming that Caesar would do the same. According to Appian, the aim of this was to create prejudice against Caesar, who did not seem likely to give up his command, and to have a successor for Caesar's command appointed immediately, thus forcing Caesar to disband his armies, while Pompey retained his with impunity.

Curio exposed this, saying that promises were not enough and that Pompey should lay down his command immediately and that Caesar should disarm after this, because, if Caesar would do so first, Pompey, aiming at supreme power, would have no incentive to disarm. He also proposed that, unless both obeyed, both should be declared public enemies and troops should be levied against them. The Senate was suspicious of both men, but deemed Pompey to be less of a threat and hated Caesar because he had disregarded the Senate when he was consul. Some senators proposed that Caesar should disarm first, but Curio maintained that Caesar was a counterbalance to Pompey's power and that either Pompey should disarm first or both should do so simultaneously. The Senate disagreed and he dismissed the motion without coming to a resolution. [172]

Despite this impasse, the Senate did pass a decree that Caesar and Pompey should send a legion to Syria to defend it against the Parthians who had defeated Crassus. Pompey took advantage of this to recall the soldiers he had lent Caesar. Caesar gave them 250 drachmas and sent them to Rome, together with a legion of his own. According to Appian, Pompey had lent him one legion according to Caesar, it was two legions. [173] However, the Parthian threat to Syria did not materialize and the legions were sent to Capua. Pompey's soldiers said that Caesar's troops were worn out, longed to return home, and would defect to Pompey as soon as they had crossed the Alps. Whether through ignorance or corruption, this information was wrong Caesar's soldiers were very loyal to him. Pompey believed the reports and did not levy troops to counter Caesar's forces. [174]

Caesar crossed the Alps with a legion and arrived at Ravenna, close to the border with Italy. Curio advised him to assemble his whole army and march on Rome, but Caesar decided to negotiate. He proposed to give up his governorships and troops, but retain two legions and the provinces of Illyricum and Gallia Cisalpina until he should be elected consul. Pompey agreed, but the consuls refused. Curio went to Rome with a letter Caesar wrote to the senate and gave it to the two newly elected consuls, Gaius Claudius Marcellus and Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Crus. Caesar proposed that both he and Pompey lay down their arms at the same time and said that, if Pompey retained his, he would not expose himself to his enemies. Claudius Marcellus put forward the questions of sending a successor to Caesar and disarming Pompey separately. No senator voted for Pompey to give up his arms, because his troops were in the suburbs, whereas all but two voted for Caesar to disband his army. There was a false rumor that Caesar was marching on Rome, to which Claudius proposed that Caesar be declared public enemy and that the army at Capua be sent against him, but Curio opposed this on the ground that it was a false rumor. Two of the new plebeian tribunes, Mark Antony and Quintus Cassius Longinus, did not allow the motions to be ratified. This angered senators, who debated a punishment for them, and the consul Cornelius Lentulus advised them to leave the Senate, for their safety. There were detachments of Pompey standing around the senate house, that secretly went to Caesar along with Curio. [175] [176]

In Plutarch's version, Curio's demands were very popular. Pompey should be required to give up his troops, and if not, Caesar should retain his. In the latter case, the two men would remain a match for each other and would not cause trouble. However, weakening one of them would double the power of the other. Claudius Marcellus called Caesar a robber and urged for him to be voted a public enemy unless he should lay down his arms. Curio, helped by Antony and Piso, prevailed, moving for a vote about Caesar laying down his arms and Pompey retaining his command, which passed. Then, he moved for a vote on both men laying down their arms and relinquishing their command, for which only twenty-two favored Pompey. Curio felt that he had won the day and rushed before the people, being applauded and "pelted with garlands and flowers." However, Claudius Marcellus declared that "since he saw ten legions already looming up in their march over the Alps, he himself also would send forth a man who would oppose them in defense of his country." [177]

According to Cassius Dio, the senators went to Pompey and gave him both funds and troops. According to Appian, Lucius Domitius was appointed as Caesar's successor, and he took to the field with 4,000 men from the active list. The Senate thought that the arrival of Caesar's army from Gaul would take time and that he would not rush with a small force, directing Pompey to levy 130,000 Italian soldiers (mainly from the veterans) and to recruit as many men as possible from the neighboring provinces. All the money from the public treasury and, if needed, from the private wealth of the senators, was to be used to pay for the soldiers. Contributions were also to be levied from the allied cities as quickly as possible. Caesar, accustomed to celerity and audacity, decided to advance with just the one legion, anticipating his enemy and seizing strategic positions in Italy. [178] [179]

Caesar sent a detachment to Ariminum (Rimini), the first town in Italy, and took it by surprise. He then advanced towards Rome, having crossed the river Rubicon at the boundary of Italy. On hearing of this, the consuls directed Pompey to quickly recruit more troops. The Senate, still unprepared, was panicked at Caesar's unexpected speed. Cicero proposed sending messengers to Caesar to negotiate their safety, but the frantic consuls rejected this path. [180] Therefore, Caesar marched on to Rome, winning over all the cities on the way without a fight, either because their garrisons were too weak or they preferred his cause. Pompey, after learning of this from a defector and having had no time to prepare a large enough force, sent Roman envoys to Caesar to request negotiations. Caesar agreed to negotiate, promising the envoys that no one would suffer harm at his hands and that he would call for the immediate disbandment of the troops. However, the people of Rome feared war and were already calling for both men to disarm at the same time.

Pompey knew that any negotiations would soon leave him inferior to Caesar rather than an equal partner. Therefore, before his envoys could return, Pompey planned his flight to Campania to pursue the war from there. He ordered the senators and officials to go with him, and to seize the public treasury to pay for the troops they needed to recruit. However, after hearing exaggerated reports about Caesar not being conciliatory, the senators disobeyed and hurriedly left Rome to their own estates without touching the money. The flight from Rome was disorderly. As Pompey rushed away, he hastily levied troops from the Italian cities on the road, setting up garrisons as he went. [181]

Caesar stopped his march on Rome and claimed that he was fighting against his opponents and in defense of Rome. He sent letters throughout Italy that challenged Pompey, who responded with a letter campaign himself and tried to make Caesar look as if he had turned down reasonable terms. In response, Caesar ordered his lieutenants to advance Picenum, Etruria and Umbria were taken. Caesar was joined by his 12th legion, which increased his numbers in Italy to two legions. Pompey did not want to send his newly recruited green forces against Caesar's battle-hardened veterans, so he decided to abandon Italy and called on all loyalist commanders to retreat south.

Meanwhile, Caesar had set out against Corfinium, in central Italy, which was occupied by Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. Domitius had thirty-one cohorts at Corfinium and decided to make a stand, probably figuring that, outnumbering Caesar three to two, he had a chance to halt the Caesarian advance. Caesar quickly took the neighboring town of Sulmo, garrisoned by seven cohorts. His eighth legion had arrived, increasing the number of his veteran legions to three, and Curio had brought up twenty-two cohorts of recruits. Caesar now outnumbered Domitius five to three and started building siegeworks all around the city. Realizing that escape for the whole army was impossible and that no relief was on its way, Domitius apparently decided to attempt to save himself and tried to escape the siege. His troops, however, found out his plans, seized Domitius as he was trying to escape, and took him to Caesar, who let Domitius go and even let him take his money with him. Domitius' soldiers, however, were made to swear a new oath of loyalty (to Caesar) and were added to Caesar's army. They were eventually sent to Sicily under the command of Asinius Pollio and helped him take the island from Marcus Porcius Cato. [182]

Pompey hastened to Nuceria and then to Brundisium, the main port for crossing to Greece. He had finally decided to abandon Italy and to complete his war preparations in Greece. He wrote to the governors of the provinces, and also to the kings and cities he had won over in the Third Mithridatic War, asking them to send aid. Pompey knew he could not reach his troops in Hispania because Caesar controlled Gaul and, therefore, blocked the land route into the Iberian peninsula. He believed Caesar would be unable to pursue him to Greece because there were too few ships, and the winter, which made the Mediterranean difficult to sail, was approaching. Possibly because of the change of plan, there were only enough transports for thirty out of his fifty cohorts. Pompey decided he should let the consuls and their new recruits cross over to Dyrrhachium first, and they left by the 8th of March. On the 9th of March, after sixteen days of hard marching, Caesar's army arrived at Brundisium and proceeded to set up camp outside the town walls. The city was difficult to seize, and Caesar tried to negotiate peace and resume his friendship with Pompey, who merely said that he would relay that to the consuls. Caesar then besieged and attacked the city, and Pompey repelled him until the ships returned, setting sail at night. After this, Caesar seized the city and captured two ships full of men. [183] [184] [185] [186]

From Dyrrhachium, Pompey marched to Macedonia, where he set up a training area and a camp at Beroea, a town in the lower Haliacmon valley, sixty kilometers west of Thessalonica. Pompey rapidly proceeded to build his new army. He already had with him the five legions he brought from Italy, and to these were added four more the veteran settlers in Macedonia and Crete provided one, the remains of the two legions which formed the permanent garrison of Cilicia provided one and the consul Lentulus, now governor of Asia, recruited two more. Furthermore, Metellus Scipio, the governor of Syria, was ordered to bring his two legions to Greece, but he had some difficulty bringing them across the Amanus range and got no further than Pergamum before deciding to put his men into winter quarters. Pompey also sent instructions to all the client rulers of the East to provide troops: Galatia, Cappadocia, Lesser Armenia, Lycia, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Paphlagonia, Pontus, Greater Armenia, Commagene and Egypt all sent contingents. The infantry was distributed among the legions there also were 3,000 archers, 1,200 slingers, and, the pride of the army, 7,000 cavalry. [187] [188] [189]

Pompey also gathered a fleet, estimated by Plutarch at 500 fighting ships with many more transports and other craft, but probably nearer 300 fighting ships. They were under the supreme command of Marcus Bibulus and divided into five flotillas commanded by: Gnaeus Pompey (60 ships from Egypt) Laelius and Triarius (the Asiatic fleet) Gaius Cassius Longinus (70 ships from Syria) Marcellus and Coponius (20 ships from Rhodes) and Marcus Octavius and Scribonius Libo (the fleets from Achaea and Liburnia). The task of the grand fleet was to maintain a patrol along the whole eastern coast of the Adriatic, to prevent corn from reaching the Italian ports, safeguard the transport of essentials to the Pompeian forces and their supply bases and, most importantly, keep Caesar from crossing over. Sixteen ships were sent to assist Massilia, which was under siege by Caesar's forces. [190] [191] [188] [189]

Caesar went to Rome, after which he embarked on an astonishing 27-day forced march to Hispania and defeated the troops Pompey had there. Caesar then returned to Italy, crossed the Adriatic Sea and landed in what is now southern Albania, even though the Pompeian fleet controlled this sea. [192] There, he advanced on Oricum, which the commander of the garrison handed to him. Two lieutenants of Pompey, who were guarding merchant ships loaded with wheat for Pompey's troops, sank them with their warships to prevent them from falling into Caesar's hands. Caesar marched on Apollonia, and the inhabitants handed him the city. Straberius, the commander of the garrison, abandoned the city.

Caesar then headed for Dyrrhachium (Durrës, Albania), where Pompey had an arsenal. Pompey hurried to defend Dyrrhachium and arrived there first. The opposing forces fought the Battle of Dyrrhachium. Pompey's troops heavily outnumbered the enemy. He built a fortified camp south of the city, so Caesar started to build a circumvallation to besiege it. At the same time, Pompey extended his own fortifications to force Caesar to stretch out his. Six attempts to break through by Pompey were repulsed. Caesar's troops suffered food shortages, while Pompey's were supplied by ships, as his camp was near the sea. However, Pompey held a limited amount of land, which created shortages of fodder for his animals. Water was also scarce, because Caesar had cut off the local streams. When harvest time came close, Caesar's troops were going to have plenty of grain.

Pompey needed to break the siege. Two deserters from Caesar's camp told him about a gap in Caesar's fortifications where two palisades near the sea had not been joined together. Pompey's troops attacked it and broke through, however, Mark Antony and Caesar brought in reinforcements and pushed them back. Pompey entrenched a camp near this spot to gain land for fodder. He also occupied a small camp Caesar had abandoned and added an entrenchment so that the two camps were joined, and gained access to a stream. [193]

Caesar attacked these new fortifications. However, he was outnumbered, and Pompey sent a large cavalry force to outflank Caesar's troops, which made Caesar withdraw and give up the siege. Pompey could have destroyed Caesar's retreating army by pursuing it, but did not. Caesar thought that victory was unexpected for Pompey, because, a little earlier, his troops were fleeing from their camp, and Caesar thought Pompey suspected an ambush. Moreover, Pompey's cavalry was hindered by the narrow passages of the fortifications, many of which were occupied by Caesar's troops. Plutarch wrote that Caesar said to his friends: "Today, victory would have been with the enemy if they had had a victor in command." [194]

Caesar went to Apollonia to leave his wounded men there, pay his army, encourage his allies and leave garrisons in the towns. He sent off the baggage train at night, and, during the day, he left for Asparagum (also in Illyria). Pompey pursued him and encamped nearby. The next day, Caesar marched on, sending the baggage train off at night again and then eluding Pompey. After four days, Pompey gave up this fruitless pursuit.

Caesar marched speedily. He was in a hurry to join his lieutenant, Gnaeus Domitius Calvinus, to prevent him from being blindsided by Pompey's arrival. Caesar considered three contingencies:

  1. to draw Pompey away from the coast and from his stores at Dyrrhachium, and fight him in equal conditions
  2. to go to Italy with his army and that of Gnaeus Domitius' via Illyria, should Pompey cross back to Italy
  3. to blockade Metellus Scipio, one of Pompey's lieutenants, to force Pompey to move to his aid, should Pompey try to besiege Apollonia and Oricum to cut Caesar off the coast.

Caesar informed Gnaeus Domitius about his plans, left garrisons at Apollonia, Lissus and Oricum, and began a march through Epirus and Athamania. Pompey decided to hurry to Metellus Scipio to back him up or, should Caesar decide not to leave the coast, to attack Gnaeus Domitius himself. Both men marched quickly with light equipment. Pompey was marching towards Candavia, a mountain district in Illyria.

Gnaeus Domitius and Metellus Scipio had been encamped close to each other. The former left to forage and moved towards Candavia, thus exposing himself to an attack by Pompey. Caesar was not aware of this, however, some Gallic scouts who had defected from Caesar to Pompey spotted some of Domitius' Gallic scouts and informed them about the situation after Dyrrhachium. Domitius, who was only a four-hour march away, avoided the danger and joined Caesar, who was on his way to Aeginium, a town just past the border of Thessaly. Domitius arrived at Gomphi, the first town in Thessaly, from which envoys had offered their resources to Caesar and asked him for a garrison.

However, Pompey had spread exaggerated rumors about Caesar's defeat, and the governor of Thessaly cast his lot with Pompey. He ordered the gates of the city to be closed, and asked Pompey to come help, because the town could not withstand a long siege. However, although Metellus Scipio had already brought his troops to Larissa, the capital of Thessaly, Pompey had not yet arrived. Caesar besieged Gomphi to gain its resources and to frighten the neighboring areas, taking it by storm in one day and quickly going to Metropolis. This town also closed its gates, but surrendered when they heard about the fall of Gomphi. All Thessalian towns not held by Metellus Scipio's troops submitted to Caesar. [195]

The two forces fought the Battle of Pharsalus. They were encamped near each other. With the joining of Pompey and Metellus Scipio's large armies, Pompey's supporters were confident of victory, and encouraged him to take to the field against Caesar rather than follow a strategy of attrition. Caesar lined up his men close to Pompey's camp to test him. In the next few days, he pushed his lines closer to the hill where Pompey's camp was. He got lightly-armed young foot soldiers to intermix with the cavalry to get used to this kind of fighting, and to prepare for confronting a cavalry force seven times larger.

Pompey always lined up on the lower spurs of the hill, on uneven ground that was unfavorable to Caesar, and would not be drawn into battle. Caesar kept moving his camp and was always on the march, so that he could get supplies from various places and wear out Pompey's army. One day, Pompey drew up his men further from the rampart of his camp. Caesar thought this looked like a chance to fight on more advantageous ground, and he prepared for battle. Pompey's army outnumbered Caesar's, by almost two to one. Pompey tried to have his numerically superior cavalry outflank Caesar's left wing and rout his army. However, Caesar placed six select cohorts at the rear to stop this cavalry. It worked, and Caesar's men defeated the enemy.

Pompey left the field and went to his camp. When his men were driven within the rampart, Caesar attacked the camp. The camp guards fought hard, but the men who had fled from the battlefield without arms were more keen on escaping than fighting. The men posted on the rampart could not withstand the shower of javelins and left their positions. Pompey rode away from the camp and went to Larissa. From there, he reached the coast with a retinue of 30 cavalry and boarded a grain ship. [196]

Caesar pursued Pompey to prevent him from gathering other forces to renew the war. Pompey had stopped at Amphipolis, where he held a meeting with friends to collect money. An edict was issued in his name that all the youth of the province of Macedonia (i.e. Greece), whether Greeks or Romans, were to take an oath. It was not clear whether Pompey wanted new levies to fight or whether this was concealment of a planned escape.

When he heard that Caesar was approaching, Pompey left and went to Mytilene, on the island of Lesbos, to take on board his wife Cornelia and his son. Pompey then set sail and stopped over only when he needed to get food or water. He reached Attaleia (Antalya) in Pamphylia, where some warships from Cilicia had been assembled for him. There, Pompey heard that Cato the Younger was sailing to Africa. Pompey blamed himself for not having used his superior navy and not having stationed at a place where he could have had naval backup if he had been defeated on land instead of fighting far from the coast. He asked the cities in the area for money to man his ships and looked for a temporary refuge in case the enemy caught up with him.

According to Plutarch, Pompey considered going to Parthia, but was advised Parthia's king, Arsaces, was untrustworthy and the place unsafe for Pompey's wife. This last point put Pompey off. He was advised to go instead to Egypt, which was only three days' sail away, and whose king, Ptolemy XIII, although only a boy, was indebted by the friendship and the help Pompey had given to his father, Ptolemy XII. [197]

According to Caesar, Pompey went from Mytilene to Cilicia and Cyprus. There, he learned that the inhabitants of Antioch and the Romans resident there had taken up arms to prevent him from going there. The same action had been taken in Rhodes against Lucius Cornelius Lentulus Crus, the consul of the previous year, and Publius Lentulus, an ex-consul, who were also escaping. They reached the island and were barred from the port, with the islanders having been informed that Caesar was approaching. Pompey gave up on going to Syria. He took funds from the tax collectors, borrowed money to hire soldiers, and armed 2,000 men. He boarded a ship with many bronze coins. [198]

Pompey set sail from Cyprus with warships and merchant ships. He heard that Ptolemy was in Pelusium with an army and that he was at war with his sister Cleopatra VII, whom he had deposed. The camps of the opposing forces were close, thus Pompey sent a messenger to announce his arrival to Ptolemy and to request his aid.

Potheinus the eunuch, who was the boy king's regent, held a council with Theodotus of Chios, the king's tutor Achillas, the head of the army amongst others. According to Plutarch, some advised driving Pompey away, and others welcoming him. Theodotus argued that neither option was safe: if welcomed, Pompey would become a master and Caesar an enemy, while, if turned away, Pompey would blame the Egyptians for rejecting him and Caesar for making him continue his pursuit. Instead, assassinating Pompey would eliminate fear of him and gratify Caesar. [199]

Caesar thought this was decided because Ptolemy's forces included many of Pompey's soldiers who had been taken to Alexandria from Syria by Aulus Gabinius to restore Ptolemy XII when he had been deposed. These soldiers had subsequently remained in Egypt as part of the Ptolemaic army. Caesar therefore assumed that the king's advisors had decided to murder Pompey in case he tried to manipulate the Roman contingent of the Egyptian forces, in order to seize power. [200]

On September 28, Achillas went to Pompey's ship on a fishing boat together with Lucius Septimius, who had once been one of Pompey's officers, and a third assassin, Savius. Pompey's associates saw this lack of pomp with suspicion, and advised Pompey to put back out to open sea, out of reach of the Egyptians' missiles. Achillas claimed that the sea's sandy bottom and shallows had not allowed him to approach with a ship. However, the royal ships were seen taking crews on board, and there were soldiers on the shore.

Cornelia thought Pompey was going to be killed, but he boarded the boat. The lack of friendliness on the boat prompted Pompey to tell Septimius that he was an old comrade, the latter merely nodding. He thrust a sword into Pompey, and then Achillas and Savius stabbed him with daggers. The people on Pompey's ship could see this and, horrified, fled. Because the wind was favorable, the Egyptians did not pursue them.

Pompey's head was severed, and his unclothed body was thrown into the sea. Philip, one of Pompey's freedmen who had boarded the boat, wrapped it with his tunic and made a funeral pyre on the shore. Pompey died the day before his 58th birthday. [201]

When Caesar arrived in Egypt a few days later, he was appalled. He turned away, loathing the man who brought Pompey's head. When Caesar was given Pompey's seal ring, he cried. [202] Theodotus left Egypt and escaped Caesar's revenge. Pompey's remains were taken to Cornelia, who gave them burial at his Alban villa. [203]

Pompey's military glory was second to none for two decades. Yet his skills were occasionally criticized by some of his contemporaries. Sertorius or Lucullus, for instance, were especially critical. [204] Pompey's tactics were usually efficient, albeit not particularly innovative or imaginative, and they could prove insufficient against greater tacticians. However, Pharsalus was his only decisive defeat. [205] At times, he was reluctant to risk an open battle. While not extremely charismatic, Pompey could display tremendous bravery and fighting skills on the battlefield, which inspired his men. [205] While being a superb commander, Pompey also earned a reputation for stealing other generals' victories. [206]

On the other hand, Pompey is usually considered an outstanding strategist and organizer, who could win campaigns without displaying genius on the battlefield, but simply by constantly outmaneuvering his opponents and gradually pushing them into a desperate situation. [205] Pompey was a great forward planner, and had tremendous organizational skill, which allowed him to devise grand strategies and operate effectively with large armies. [207] During his campaigns in the east, he relentlessly pursued his enemies, choosing the ground for his battles. [ citation needed ]

Above all, he was often able to adapt to his enemies. On many occasions, he acted very swiftly and decisively, as he did during his campaigns in Sicily and Africa, or against the Cilician pirates. During the Sertorian war, on the other hand, Pompey was beaten several times by Sertorius. Therefore, he decided to resort to a war of attrition, in which he would avoid open battles against his chief opponent but instead try to gradually regain the strategic advantage by capturing his fortresses and cities and defeating his junior officers. [205] In some instances, Sertorius showed up and forced Pompey to abandon a siege, only to see him strike somewhere else. [208] This strategy was not spectacular, but it led to constant territorial gains and did much to demoralize the Sertorian forces. By 72 BC, the year of his assassination, Sertorius was already in a desperate situation and his troops were deserting. Against Perpenna, a tactician far inferior to his former commander-in-chief, Pompey decided to revert to a more aggressive strategy and he scored a decisive victory that effectively ended the war.

Against Caesar too, his strategy was sound. During the campaign in Greece, he managed to regain the initiative, join his forces to that of Metellus Scipio (something that Caesar wanted to avoid) and trap his enemy. His strategic position was hence much better than that of Caesar and he could have starved Caesar's army to death. [207] However, he was finally compelled to fight an open battle by his allies, and his conventional tactics proved no match to those of Caesar (who also commanded the more experienced troops).

For the historians of his own and later Roman periods, Pompey fit the trope of the great man who achieved extraordinary triumphs through his own efforts, yet fell from power and was, in the end, murdered through treachery.

He was a hero of the Republic, who once seemed to hold the Roman world in his palm, only to be brought low by Caesar. Pompey was idealized as a tragic hero almost immediately after Pharsalus and his murder.

Plutarch portrayed Pompey as a Roman Alexander the Great, pure of heart and mind, destroyed by the cynical ambitions of those around him. This portrayal of him survived into the Renaissance and Baroque periods, for example, in Pierre Corneille's play The Death of Pompey (1642).

Despite his war against Caesar, Pompey was still widely celebrated during the imperial period as the conqueror of the Orient. For example, pictures of Pompey were carried at Augustus' funeral procession. And, as a triumphator, he had numerous statues in Rome, one of which was on the forum of Augustus. Although the imperial power did not honour Pompey as much as it did his arch enemy, who was considered a god, his reputation among many aristocrats and historians was equal, or even superior, to that of Caesar. [209]

Pompey has appeared as a character in multiple modern works.

Comics Edit

  • Pompey makes a guest appearance in the French comic book Asterix and the Actress.
  • In comics, Pompey appears as Julius Caesar's foe throughout the Adventures of Alix series.

Films and theater Edit

  • A theatrical portrayal of his life was John Masefield's play The Tragedy of Pompey the Great (1910).
  • In the opening scene of the film King of Kings (1961), he is played by actor Conrado San Martín.

Literature Edit

  • In Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series of historical novels, Pompey's youthful exploits are depicted in Fortune's Favourites, the formation of the First Triumvirate and his marriage to Julia is a large part of Caesar's Women and his loss of Julia, the dissolution of the First Triumvirate, his later political career, the civil war between him and Caesar and his eventual defeat, leading to his betrayal and murder in Egypt, are all told in Caesar.
  • Pompey is a recurring character in the Roma Sub Rosa series of novels by Steven Saylor, portraying his role in the civil war with Caesar. His final appearance is in Saylor's novel The Judgment of Caesar, which depicts his murder by Ptolemy in Egypt.
  • Pompey also appears frequently in the SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts, narrated by senator Decius Metellus, a fictional nephew of Caecilius Metellus Pius. Decius despises Pompey as a glory-seeker and credit-grabber, while acknowledging that he is a political dunce who was eventually swept up into the optimates ' feud with Caesar.
  • Pompey is a major recurring character in Robert Harris' trilogy of the life of Cicero (Imperium, Lustrum and Dictator), in which Pompey is portrayed as bombastic and dim-witted, though fearsome.

Television Edit

  • In the television series Xena: Warrior Princess, he is portrayed by actor Jeremy Callaghan. portrays Pompey in the miniseries Julius Caesar (2002).
  • He appears as a major character in the season 1 of the HBO series Rome, portrayed by Kenneth Cranham.
  • He was played by John Shrapnel in the BBC One docudrama series, Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (2006).
  • In the television series Spartacus: War of the Damned, he is portrayed by actor Joel Tobeck.
  • He appears in the Netflix series Roman Empire, played by Stephen Lovatt.
  • Pompey's first wife was Antistia
  • His second wife was Aemilia, Sulla's stepdaughter
  • His third wife was Mucia Tertia, whom he divorced for adultery, according to Cicero's letters. The two had three children:
      , executed in 45 BC, after the Battle of Munda , married to Faustus Cornelius Sulla, with descendants , who would rebel in Sicily against Augustus.
  • After returning from his campaigns in the east, Pompey spent a large part of his new wealth on building projects. The grandest of these was a great stone theater complex, on the Campus Martius and the lower slopes of the Pincian Hill in northern Rome. Based, so it was said, on that of Mytilene, it was Rome's first stone theater and a landmark in the history of Roman architecture. [210]

    Pompey commissioned and collected hundreds of paintings and statues to decorate the theater. Pliny records the names of several "old masters" whose works were acquired, and there is evidence that Pompey patronized at least two contemporary Italian sculptors, Pasiteles and Coponius. [211] [212]

    On 12 August 55 BC, the Theater of Pompey was inaugurated. Containing seats for an estimated 10,000 spectators, it had a temple of Venus (Pompey's patron goddess) constructed at the back of the cavea, or auditorium, in such a way that the tiers of the seats formed the steps leading up to the front of the temple. Attached to the southeast side of the theater was a great porticus or rectangular garden, measuring approximately 180 by 135 meters, with covered colonnades running around the sides, providing shelter for the spectators in the event of rain. The walls of the colonnades were decorated with paintings gathered from the art collections of the Roman world. Either in the porticus or the theater itself were numerous statues, the arrangement of which was entrusted to Cicero's good friend Atticus. They included fourteen statues, representing the nations which Pompey had conquered, and one of Pompey himself was placed in a large hall attached to the porticus, where meetings of the Senate could be held. [213]

    Plutarch tells us that Pompey built himself a house in the vicinity of the theater, "like a dinghy behind a yacht," more splendid than his old house on the Carinae but not extravagant enough to incite envy. [214]

    Description of the remains

    The city of Pompeii was shaped irregularly because it was built on a prehistoric lava flow. Excavations indicate that the southwestern part of the town is the oldest, but scholars do not agree on the stages by which the walls were expanded or on who the builders were. The walls are 2 miles (3 km) in circumference, and they enclose an area of about 163 acres (66 hectares). Seven city gates have been excavated. The chief street running in a southeast-northwest direction was the Via Stabiana it connected the Porta Vesuvio, or Vesuvius Gate (144 feet [44 metres] above sea level), in the highest part of the city, with the Porta di Stabia, or Stabiae Gate (26 feet [8 metres]), in the lowest part. Through this gate came traffic from the Sarnus River and Stabiae. This street was crossed by two other main streets, the Via dell’Abbondanza and the Via di Nola.

    The public buildings are for the most part grouped in three areas: the Forum (elevation 110 feet [34 metres]), located in the large level area on the southwest the Triangular Forum (82 feet [25 metres]), standing on a height at the edge of the south wall overlooking the bay and the Amphitheatre and Palaestra, in the east.

    The Forum was the centre of the city’s religious, economic, and municipal life it was a large rectangular area surrounded by a two-story colonnaded portico. Dominating the Forum on the north was the temple dedicated to the Capitoline triad of deities: Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. To the east was the Macellum, or large provision market. To the south were the small sanctuary of the city Lares (guardian deities), built after the earthquake in 62 ce the Temple of Vespasian and the imposing headquarters of the woolen industry, erected by the wealthy patroness Eumachia. Opposite the Capitolium, on the southern end of the Forum, were the meeting place of the city council and the offices of the magistrates of the city. The large basilica, with its main room surrounded on four sides by a corridor, is the most architecturally significant building in the city it is of considerable importance in studying the origin and development of the Christian basilica. It served as a covered exchange and as a place for the administration of justice. To the west was the Temple of Venus Pompeiana, patron deity of Pompeii. Across from the basilica was the Temple of Apollo, one of the earliest in the city.

    The Triangular Forum is the site of the Doric Temple, the oldest temple in Pompeii. Between the 3rd and the 1st century bce a theatre, a palaestra (sports ground), and a small covered theatre were built to the east of the Triangular Forum. The temples of Zeus Meilichius and of Isis and the old Samnite palaestra were nearby. In the east corner of Pompeii was the Amphitheatre, and to the west a large palaestra was built to replace the old Samnite palaestra. Baths were scattered throughout the town: the Stabian Baths (which predate the Roman period), the Forum Baths, the Central Baths (still under construction at the time of the eruption), and many baths in luxurious private homes.

    But more significant than the public buildings, examples of which have been excavated at other sites, are the hundreds of private homes. These are unique, for only at Pompeii is it possible to trace the history of Italic and Roman domestic architecture for at least four centuries. The earliest houses date from the first Samnite period (4th–3rd century bce ). The House of the Surgeon is the best-known example of the early atrium house built during this period.

    The most luxurious houses were built during the second Samnite period (200–80 bce ), when increased trade and cultural contacts resulted in the introduction of Hellenistic refinements. The House of the Faun occupies an entire city block and has two atria (chief rooms), four triclinia (dining rooms), and two large peristyle gardens. Its facade is built of fine-grained gray tufa from Nuceria, the chief building material of this period. The walls are decorated in the First Pompeian, or Incrustation, style of painting, which imitates marble-veneered walls by means of painted stucco. The famous Alexander the Great mosaic found in the House of the Faun is probably a copy of a lost Hellenistic painting. Many of the houses from this period were decorated with elaborate floor mosaics. (See mosaic: Roman mosaics.) The House of the Silver Wedding, with its imposing high-columned atrium, was also built during this period, but it underwent later alterations. The handsome banquet hall and the exedra, which served as a schoolroom for children of the family, were decorated in the Second Pompeian, or Architectural, style, which was popular from 80 bce to 14 ce .

    The large number of houses built during the Samnite period made it necessary to build fewer houses in the Roman period. Those that were built were usually less imposing, with lower atria, but with more elaborate decoration. The House of Marcus Lucretius Fronto is a small but elegant house of the Roman Imperial period. The tablinum (master’s office) is decorated in especially fine Third Pompeian, or Egyptianizing, style, usually dated from the early empire to the earthquake. The House of the Vettii is typical of the homes of the prosperous merchant class of the Roman period. Some of its rooms are decorated in the Fourth Pompeian, or Ornamental, style.

    The atrium-peristyle house, with its handsome paintings, elegant furniture, and beautiful gardens with fountains and bronze and marble sculptures, is not as typical as has generally been supposed. There are also numerous small homes throughout the city, many of them shop houses. Excavators now preserve as completely as possible all aspects of ancient life. The homes of the humble are as informative as those of the wealthy. Many roofs, second stories, and balconies have been restored.

    The Ancient City of Pompeii- History & Facts

    How the city of Pompeii may have looked like before it was fatally destroyed.

    From the shade the mountain provided, to the lives that blossomed from being a center of trade, to the huge building structures, Pompeii was a site to see. This article looks at the history and facts surrounding the rise and fall of the great and ancient city of Pompeii.

    Pompeii History – Settlement in Campania

    The region that became Pompeii was initially occupied by individuals on a scarp on the delta of River Sarno during the Bronze Age. This region and its neighboring areas had both fertile volcanic soil and good weather conditions that were very promising for farming. Olives and grapes were some of the plants the land favored.

    The initial colonists were ignorant of the fact that the scarp they had discovered and were building on was molded from an old volcanic eruption. According to Servius, the name Pompeii stems from “pumpe”. ‘Pumpe’, in turn, means a remembrance of Hercules’ triumph over the giants. The town Herculaneum, which was close to Pompeii, was also named after the myth of Hercules’ battle with the giants.

    Samnite Period and Roman Rule

    By the 8th century BCE, the Greeks had settled in Campania. Etruscans also lived there till they lost to the Greeks and Syracusan in a clash that happened at Cumae in 474 BCE. After that, the individuals of Samnite, locals from the mountain, penetrated and took hold of power in that area. The Samnite fought among themselves in the 4th Century BCE which then led to wars. The wars were fought from 343 BCE to 290 BCE, thus commenced the influence of the Romans in the area. Rome had an eye for Pompeii and the town prospered.

    By the second century BCE, they had begun the construction of huge buildings in the area. Pompeii had a detached mindset of their own when it came to the rule of the Romans due to its Samnite roots. After a Samnite insurrection in Pompeii, a Roman general, Sulla, managed to overcome it by beleaguering the city. In 80 BCE, Sulia established the colony of Venus there, migrating 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers to the town. With the town flourishing again, they initiated a local senate. Several infrastructural projects sprung up. For example, they built a new amphitheater (which could hold 5,000 spectators) and an odeon (ancient Greek and Roman buildings meant for singing and other performance arts), which could hold about 1,500 people.

    A Flourishing Trade Center

    Pompeii had become a crucial port on the Bay of Naples. Aceria, Nucerai, and Nola, which were colonies surrounding Pompeii, passed their produce through the town to be distributed all over the empire. Some of the imports were onions, fish sauce, walnuts, almonds, apricots, cabbages, and wool. The exports included silk, spices, foreign fruits, savage arena beasts, and sandalwood. Slaves were also traded for labor on farms and farm-related activities. The meals of citizens of Pompeii also included foods such as snails, beef, lemon, pork, beans, and oysters.

    In terms of architecture, there was a wall surrounding Pompeii that had numerous gates. There were about three passageways that divided the traffic of vehicles and footers.

    Mount Vesuvius Awakens

    On February 5th, 62 CE, a monolithic seism occurred around the region of Mount Vesuvius. These were the first signs of the mountain awakening once again. The seism, which many historians today peg at 7.5 using the Richter scale, laid waste to the neighboring towns. Portions of Naples, which were 20 miles away were destroyed. Just a small number of structures avoided destruction at Pompeii. The walls of the city along with housings and temples broke down. Fires destroyed parts of the town and toxic gases released killed sheep in the neighboring rural areas.

    It is believed that the number of deaths was in the thousands. The town’s water system was badly affected and the pipes below ground and water conduits were also damaged. A substantial number of inhabitants left the town. After all that, repairs were made in the town and life gradually set out towards the normal.

    Prelude to the Devastating Eruption of 79 CE

    The inhabitants seemed not to be alarmed, though seismal activities were ongoing for the next decade or so. Life and rebuilding from the cataclysm of 62 CE went on till 79 CE when unusual occurrences started happening in the high summer.

    Dead fish drifted on the surface of water bodies. Wells along with springs unexplainably dried up and the slopes’ vines which were on Mount Vesuvius enigmatically drooped and died. The frequency of seismal activities skyrocketed even though it was not that powerful. Although some of the inhabitants had moved from the town, a large number of them seemed not to be concerned about the events that were developing. Unknowing to them, they were about to experience a cataclysmic event.

    Volcanic Eruption – 79 CE

    An enormous bang strongly indicated that magma built up over a millennium had, at last, surged through Vesuvius’ crater. According to the traditional date, it happened in the morning of August 24th 79 CE. However, there was an incomplete inscription which was found at the land site in 2018 CE that hinted it was mid-October the eruption occurred.

    From the volcano, bawled fire along with smoke. At the time, it appeared as if the Mountain was just showing off innocent fireworks but by noon the eruption of Mount Vesuvius had began. A full cone of the mountain flew off due to the immense built-up pressure and explosion, and a mushroom-shaped cloud containing particles of pumice stones climbed to a level of 27 miles towards the sky. The explosion’s power is estimated to be a hundred thousand times more powerful than the atomic bombs that caused desolation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945 CE.

    Ash from the explosion begun pouring down on Pompeii. It was not heavy in weight but its density gave it such a nature that the place was overlaid in centimeters depth of ash within minutes. People attempted leaving the town and some also searched for refuge where it was available. Those who could not find any refuge urgently tried to stay above the continuously changing strata of volcanic substance.

    Another enormous explosion sounded loudly in the atmosphere later that afternoon. It spread a pillar of ash that was 6 miles taller in height than the former cloud. The ash that rained contained stones which were heavier than that of the initial eruption. The volcanic substance that had completely enveloped the town was meters in depth at this point. Structures broke down due to the collected weight. People took refuge close to walls and beneath stairs for safety, some clinging to their beloved ones, whiles others had their most valued possessions in their grasp. The gigantic cloud that hovered above descended due to its weight at 11 pm. It knocked through the town in six desolating waves of hyper-heated ash with air that smothered and scorched all the inhabitants present. As ash continuously poured down, the city which was once vivacious was deeply immersed and eradicated from the planet.

    Rediscovery and Archaeology

    In 1755 CE, Pompeii was re-ascertained when the building of the Sarno Canal started. Local accounts of “the city” were established to have been true when a whole town beneath a couple meters of volcanic detritus was found. Pompeii then became a vital tourist site on the stylish Grand Tour for famed visitants such as Stendhal, Goethe, and Mozart.

    Stendhal did well in capturing the unusual and strong impression to aid new visitants on having mental pictures of the past when he penned “…here you feel as if, just by being there, you know more about the place than any other scholar”.

    Apart from architectural remnants, bookmen of Pompeii have had the opportunity to excavate some rare historical artifacts, an actual gem of data that gives them an unequaled perspective of the past. For instance, the number of bronze statues has hinted bookmen to discern that the material was usually employed in the art of the Romans than antecedently believed.

    Data stemming from a rich source using skeletal remnants and plaster bandages of the deceased in the volcanic substance provide proof the citizens had bad teeth as an occurring issue. Tooth caries and abscesses caused by meals that were too sweetened were occurring issues along with tuberculosis. Malaria and brucellosis were also dominant. Some of the skeletal remnants of slaves, which were found still in chains in spite of the disaster, told a pitiful story of lingering inflammation of joints, undernourishment, and malformation triggered by overworking.

    Reconstruction of the everyday life of the town people has been made possible through the rich accounts that are well kept at the place. These being 1,000s of election notifications and 100s of wax tablets, mostly related to monetary dealings. Amphorae labels, graffiti and tomb engravings were additional priceless sources. These sources are usually attainable to historians likewise their diversity. This gives an understanding into sectors of culture (bondsmen, the low class, females, and gladiators) frequently overlooked or inadequately tackled in customarily surviving writings like academic books and lawful documentations.

    The distinctive archaeological proof obtained from Pompeii gives us the scarcest of chance the opportunity to recreate the real views, expectations, misery, wittiness and even a similar normality of the inhabitants who existed in Pompeii back in the past.

    Pompey History Matters

    News & features from the Pompey History Society

    Pompey History Society Launch New Project

    Posted on 2nd Sep 2019 by Colin Farmery

    Share your memories of club's back-to-back titles The Pompey History Society are excited to announce the launch of a new Heritage Lottery Funded project. ‘Pompey: Champions Remembered – 70 Years On’ will celebrate and reminisce on the succe …

    A brief guide to Pompeii, plus 8 fascinating facts about the ancient Roman city

    After the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, the ancient Roman city of Pompeii was lost for centuries. Today, it is one of the world's most famous – and fascinating – archaeological sites. Here, historian Dominic Sandbrook explores how in AD 79 Vesuvius erupted with devastating results, while Dr Joanne Berry shares eight lesser-known Pompeii facts…

    This competition is now closed

    Published: August 24, 2020 at 10:32 am

    On the afternoon of 24 August 79, the commander of the Roman fleet, Pliny the Elder, was at home in Misenum at the northern end of the Bay of Naples. He was working on some papers after a leisurely lunch when his sister noticed “a cloud of unusual size and appearance”, rising above the peak of Vesuvius. Pliny immediately called for a boat but, even before he had set out, a message arrived from the town at the foot of the mountain where residents were terrified of the looming cloud.

    By the time Pliny had crossed the bay to the town of Stabiae, it was obvious that something terrible was afoot. Vesuvius now seemed ablaze, wrote Pliny’s nephew, known as Pliny the Younger, while “ashes were already falling, hotter and thicker as the ships drew near, followed by bits of pumice and blackened stones, charred and cracked by the flames”. With ash filling the sky, the unnatural darkness seemed “blacker and denser than any ordinary night”.

    Barely three miles away on the volcano’s fertile slopes stood Pompeii. That wealthy town was no stranger to disaster – it had been damaged by an earthquake just 17 years earlier – but as the ash began to fall, it was obvious that this was far, far worse.

    • Read more about the eruption that covered Pompeii and Herculaneum under a layer of pumice and ash, providing a remarkable window into ancient Roman life

    Almost certainly thousands were killed, though the true figure will never be known. Even at Misenum, where the elder Pliny’s relatives waited in vain for his return – he collapsed and died in the chaos – utter panic took hold. “You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives,” wrote Pliny’s nephew. It felt, he added, as though “the whole world was dying with me, and I with it.”

    A quick guide to Pompeii

    Where is Pompeii?

    Pompeii is on the west coast of Italy near modern-day Naples

    What was the volcano, and when did the eruption bury Pompeii?

    Mount Vesuvius erupted in August AD 79

    How many died at Pompeii?

    Almost certainly thousands were killed, though the true figure will never be known

    When was Pompeii rediscovered?

    Historian Daisy Dunn explains

    In the late 16th century, an Italian architect stumbled upon the ruins of Pompeii while digging a canal, but little came of the discovery. It would be another 150 years before excavating the buried city began in earnest. At the instruction of the future King Charles III of Spain, excavations got underway in 1748 by a Spanish military engineer named Rocque Joaquín de Alcubierre – the man who had been digging at Herculaneum a decade earlier. But the initial priority was not to protect and stabilise the structures found under the thick layers of ash, but to lift treasures or valuable art objects.

    Only when Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli took charge in the 1860s did the excavations become more systematic. It was Fiorelli who took plaster casts of the voids in the ash left by the bodies of the dead. The findings at Pompeii and Herculaneum inspired new forms of archaeology and influenced new waves of interest in ancient worlds across Europe.

    Recently, an area of north Pompeii has been excavated for the first time as part of the 105-million (around £96 million) Great Pompeii Project. This latest series of investigations has uncovered remarkable mosaics, wall paintings, and a colourfully decorated bar used for serving hot food. With a significant proportion of Pompeii still to be excavated, we may hope to see even more ancient works of art in the future.

    Here, Roman historian and archaeologist Dr Joanne Berry shares eight lesser-known facts about the city on the west coast of Italy near modern-day Naples…

    Pompeii is not frozen in time, nor is it a perfect time-capsule

    The eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79 caused vast damage – fires were started, rooftops were swept away, columns collapsed. Most of the inhabitants of the town escaped into the surrounding countryside (although we have no idea how many of those died there). They took with them small valuables, like coins and jewellery, and lamps. Organic materials, like sheets, blankets, clothes, curtains, were mostly destroyed.

    In the years and centuries after the eruption, salvagers explored Pompeii, tunnelling through walls and removing valuable objects. The earliest formal excavations in the 18th century were little more than treasure-hunting exercises, which means that records of finds are poor or non-existent. There is also evidence that some finds, such as wall-paintings and pottery, were deliberately destroyed by the excavators because they were not considered to be of high enough quality! All these factors make Pompeii a challenging site to study – much like most other archaeological sites.

    What was life like for the Romans who lived in Pompeii, pre-eruption? Not that different from our own, as Mary Beard reveals in her A to Z of life in the ancient town of Pompeii…

    Pompeii resembled a giant building site

    It is commonly known that in AD 63 a massive earthquake caused major damage in the town. Scholars now agree, however, that this was merely one in a series of earthquakes that shook Pompeii and the surrounding area in the years before AD 79, when Vesuvius erupted. It is clear that some buildings were repaired several times in this period.

    In fact, Pompeii must have resembled a giant building site, with reconstruction work taking place in both public buildings and private houses. In the past scholars argued that the town was abandoned by the wealthy in this period and taken over by a mercantile class. These days we see the scale of rebuilding as a sign of massive investment in the city – possibly sponsored by the emperor – by inhabitants who sought to improve their urban environment.

    The amphitheatre was colourfully decorated…

    When the amphitheatre was first excavated in 1815, a remarkable series of frescoes [mural paintings] adorned its parapet wall. There were large painted panels of wild animals, such as a bear and a bull facing off, tied together by a length of rope so that neither could escape the other, and a referee standing between two gladiators. On either side of these, smaller panels depicted winged victories, or candelabra-lit spaces.

    The frescoes probably were painted on the podium wall in the period immediately before the eruption. Within a few months of their excavation, however, they had been completely destroyed by frost, leaving no traces of their presence that can be seen by visitors today. Luckily for us, drawings had been made of them when they were excavated, so we have some idea of the original colourful decoration of the amphitheatre.

    … as was the House of Julia Felix

    A series of frescos were found in the atrium of the Praedium [aka ’Estate] of Julia Felix that seem to depict scenes of everyday life in the forum (the political centre of the Roman city). Twelve fragments of these frescoes survive: one depicts a beggar being offered something by a woman wearing a green tunic, and another shows a boy being whipped – this sometimes has been considered evidence of the presence of a school in the forum area.

    Other fragments show a man cleaning another man’s shoes, a cobbler, merchants displaying their wares to two women, and figures selling bread, fruit and vegetables, and what look like socks. In one scene a customer holds the hand of a child. Horses, mules, and carts, and possibly a chariot can be identified in other scenes

    In one important fragment, a banner has been strung from two equestrian statues and four male figures have stopped to read it, or to have it read to them (since we don’t know for sure how many people in Pompeii could read) All these scenes remind us that the Forum was not just the political centre of the Roman city – it was its economic and social heart too.

    Listen: Daisy Dunn revisits the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and considers the history that was preserved at Pompeii and Herculaneum, on this episode of the HistoryExtra podcast:

    The Cult of Isis was particularly popular at Pompeii

    In addition to the famous Temple of Isis [dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis], images and statuettes of Isis have been found in more than 20 houses, often alongside figurines of more traditional Roman gods and goddesses.

    Although Roman writers were suspicious of the Cult of Isis, which they thought threatened traditional Roman values like honour and duty to the state the Temple of Isis at Pompeii had existed at Pompeii for around 200 years before the eruption of AD 79 – which means that the Cult had a long and established following at Pompeii. Followers of Isis believed that she offered the possibility of life after death, but she was also patron goddess of sailors. This surely explains her popularity at Pompeii, which was located by the sea.

    The Cult of Isis attracted women, freedmen, and slaves to its ranks, but its rites and ceremonies remain unknown.

    Despite what you might read, there is only one securely identified brothel (or ‘Lupanar’) at Pompeii

    It is located on a narrow, winding street in the centre of the town, and it is today one of the most visited tourist attractions in the excavations. We know it was a brothel from its layout (it is divided into cubicles, each with a masonry bed), erotic wall paintings, and multiple explicit graffiti that list sexual acts and prices.

    Scholars have suggested that other ‘brothels’ were located in houses with erotic wall paintings, but in actual fact erotic paintings are ubiquitous at Pompeii and are not associated with the sale of sex. This does not mean that prostitution only took place in the Lupanar, however. Advertisements for prostitutes have been found in the streets of tombs that surround the town, and bars probably sold sex as well as food and wine.

    The plastercasts of the victims of the eruption are the most famous artefacts from Pompeii. But did you know that archaeologists also make plastercasts of root cavities in gardens to determine what flowers, fruits and vegetables were being grown in AD 79?

    This technique was first pioneered by Wilhelmina Jashemski (1910–2007), an American archaeologist who studied every garden in Pompeii. One large garden was found to be a vineyard – there were 2,014 root cavities that were found to have been made by vines, and additional cavities from the wooden stakes that supported these plants. The vineyard had been divided into four parts by intersecting paths, and trees had been growing along the paths and at intervals through the vineyard. Vegetables seem to have been grown under the vines too. Other gardens grew vines on a smaller scale, and vegetables and fruit and nut trees were common.

    Although some of the produce must have been consumed by the inhabitants of the houses concerned, it is likely that much was destined for sale at market.

    Waiting for a legal case to be heard in the Basilicain the Forum of Pompeii must have been long and boring, if the evidence of nearly 200 scribblings found on its walls is anything to go by

    Some people simply scratched their names and the date, just like modern graffiti. Others used this public venue (used for law courts, administration and business transactions) to vent their bile (‘Chios, I hope your piles irritate you so they burn like they’ve never burned before!’) or make accusations (‘Lucilla was making money from her body’, and ‘Virgula to her bloke Tertius: you’re a dirty old man!’).

    Some graffiti were started in one hand, but finished in another: a slave called Agatho starts to ask something of the goddess Venus his sentence is finished by someone else who writes ‘I ask that he perish’.

    Some of those waiting seem to have resorted to playing games: a remarkable graffito records the names of three men playing ‘Trigon’, a game that involved players throwing multiple balls at each other. Another man is designated as score-keeper, and one is tasked with fetching the balls. Clearly the Basilica was a lively spot!

    Dr Joanne Berry is a lecturer in ancient history at Swansea University. She is author of The Complete Pompeii (Thames and Hudson, 2007, reprinted in paperbook in 2012), co-author of The Complete Roman Legions (Thames and Hudson Ltd, 2015) and the founder of Blogging Pompeii, a news and discussion site for Pompeii and the archaeological sites of the Bay of Naples.

    This article was first published by HistoryExtra in 2016

    The Romans had private sex clubs

    The wealthy Romans built private sex clubs inside of their villas. They decorated the walls of these clubs with erotic art to encourage and inspire sex. Often, the visitors would enter through a separate entrance.

    In these clubs, the Romans would organize private sex parties that would be a source of gossips for years.

    Some Romans took it a step further. They founded private brothels in their sex clubs.

    The notorious Roman Emperor Caligula ran his own brothel in the Imperial Palace.

    Pompeii: History, Reconstruction, and Architecture of the Ancient Italian City

    Credit: Altair4 Multimedia

    Pompeii, the ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples, boasted an assortment of baths, houses, temples, public structures, graffiti, frescoes, and even a gymnasium and a port. But more than any of these antediluvian avenues, the city is best known for our fascination with disaster for over 400 years, after its rediscovery way back in 1599 AD. In fact, the site of Pompeii has been a popular tourist destination for over 250 years – thus merging an unfortunate episode of history and the innate level of human curiosity. However, beyond just the ‘popular’ impact of the disaster, there was the historical city of Pompeii – a thriving Roman settlement with over 11,000 in population. To that end, in this article, we will aim to present the history, reconstruction, and architecture of this ancient city that was influenced by various people of Italy, including the Oscans, Etruscans, Greeks, Samnites, and Romans.

    The History of Pompeii –

    The Origins of Pompeii and its Etymology (circa 8th Century – 5th Century BC)

    Pompeii, Italy: Stone Stele with Oscan inscription. Credit: Monopthalmos (Flickr)

    Delving into the origins of Pompeii, the first known evidence of proper habitations in the area (south-western part of Italy) possibly harks back to the Bronze Age. Fast forwarding to centuries later, a juncture close to the mouth of River Sarno was occupied by five villages of the Oscans, an Italic people from 8th century BC.

    By circa 740 BC, the area came under the influence of the Greeks – who were known have established their trading colonies in the Campania region. And it was the Greeks who probably endowed Pompeii with its first urban character, by building a Doric Temple that later became the focal point of a forum and introducing the cult of Apollo. Over time, Pompeii, with its advantages of favorable climate and rich volcanic soil, was transformed into a safe port used by maritime powers like the Greeks and the Phoenicians.

    In terms of etymology, it appears that Greeks already observed the potent nature of Vesuvius, as can be discerned from their myth (interpreted by the Romans) that describes how Hercules defeated earth giants in the Phlegraean Plain (or ‘plain of fire) on route to Sicily. Thus the nearby town of Herculaneum may have been named after this mythical narrative of Hercules.

    Furthermore, according to one ancient Roman account, Pompeii comes from pumpe – the procession that commemorates the hero’s victory over the giants. However, on the academic side of affairs, many scholars believe Pompeii is possibly derived from pompe – meaning ‘five’ in Oscan, thus once again alluding to the original five villages on the site. Yet another hypothesis states that the name is derived from gens Pompeia – the Romanized family name.

    In any case, reverting to history, by the 6th century BC, the local Italic inhabitants and the Greek colonists had merged into a single community of Pompeii. This strengthened nature of the Pompeii urbanites is also mirrored by the tufa city walls that guarded the settlement. However, by the late 6th century (circa 524 BC), the Etruscans arrived in the region and possibly took commercial control of the city, while preserving its political autonomy – thereby making Pompeii one of the members of the Etruscan League of Cities.

    The settlement, by then, already functioned as a regional trading hub with its typical urban character comprising a market square (forum), necropolis, and limestone walls. But the Etruscan influence on Pompeii was cut short after just five decades, with the Greek city of Cumae, allied with Syracuse, inflicting a heavy naval defeat on the Etruscans in the Bay of Naples, in circa 474 BC.

    The Samnite Interlude (circa 424-290 BC)

    Samnite Warriors. Source: Weapons and Warfare

    Quite intriguingly, even the ‘new found’ Greek political might in Pompeii was short-lived, with the Campania region, in turn, being invaded by the Samnites, a warlike Italic people originally hailing from the south-central part of the peninsula.

    The city itself had already begun to show signs of deterioration since circa 450 BC, with dilapidation of various urban areas and lack of offerings made at the Temple of Apollo. And possibly, by circa 424 BC, Pompeii was wholly conquered by the Samnites, and the settlement, along with other proximate cities like Capua and Nola, gradually adopted the characteristics and architectural styles of their Italic overlords.

    To that end, while the Samnites were known for their proclivity towards martial pursuits, archaeological evidence has also alluded to the cultural and architectural achievements of these people. For example, recent excavations have revealed the remains of a full-fledged Samnite temple within the confines of Pompeii.

    Dated from circa 4th-3rd century BC, the structure was dedicated to Mefitis, the Samnite equivalent of Venus, who was also venerated in volcanic areas and swamps as the personification of poisonous fumes emanating from the earth. In addition to the temple, archaeologists have also found a Samnite tomb, along with objects and artifacts, like lamps, terra cotta work, seashells, coins, and a bath. The latter ‘bath’ feature was possibly used for what historians have called ‘sacred prostitution’. In the ritual, the betrothed women were required to lose their virginity for a coin before their actual marriage.

    The Roman Pompeii (circa 290 BC – 62 AD)

    Interestingly enough, in spite of political control of the Samnites over Pompeii in the 4th century BC, the era also brought forth nascent levels of Roman influence in the city – possibly because it hosted a part of the Roman army during the Latin Wars, circa 343 BC.

    And by the time of the Third Samnite Wars (298–290 BC), residents of Pompeii sided with the ascendant Romans who ultimately triumphed over the Samnites – resulting in the hegemony of the Roman Republic in the Italian peninsula. Consequently, Pompeii was awarded the status of a socii (akin to an allied state with semi-autonomous powers and Roman protection).

    Over the period comprising the next centuries, Pompeii was transformed into an important port in the Bay of Naples. The trading hub was also noted for exporting goods such as garum, olives, figs, cherries, apricots, along with vegetables like onions and cabbages. But the characteristic item associated with the thriving city arguably relates to wine – the product of the rich volcanic soil that provided the ideal conditions for growing of grapes. Additionally, Pompeii served as the importing point for various exotic commodities, including sandalwood, spices, silk, and even foreign animals for the arena.

    The opulent mercantile scope was complimented on the architectural level, with the erection of bigger walls with double parapets, paving of wider streets in most parts of the settlement (that were innovatively repaired by using molten iron), and building of various structures ranging from shops, taverns, thermal baths, aqueducts, schools to launderettes, brothels, slave-quarters, domus (large Roman residences), and large villas (many dating from the 2nd century BC, showcasing their Greco-Roman styles).

    The main Triangular Forum of the city (named after its geometric triangle shape) also underwent through a revitalization, with the construction of the Basilica (courthouse), Temple of Jupiter, and the Macellum (provision market). Moreover, Pompeii was known as a resort and a popular retreat for the upper classes from across the Roman Republic.

    On the political side of affairs, in spite of Pompeii’s allied status with Rome that was even maintained during the mercurial times of the Second Punic War, the inhabitants of Campania (including Pompeii) finally revolted against the Roman Republic in circa 91 BC – due to their perceived lack of rights when compared to Roman citizens. This led to the Social Wars (91-88 BC), an event that once again resulted in a Roman victory.

    However, as a means to assuage the semi-autonomous cities and polities, the Republic offered Roman citizenship to all its Italian allies, thereby resulting in the complete Romanization of Italy. As for Pompeii, the city was successfully besieged by Sulla during the war. Consequently, it came into the fold of the Roman authority and was settled by around 5,000 of Sulla’s veteran legionaries. From that point on, Pompeii was ruled as a Roman colony called Colonia Cornelia Veneria Pompeianorum – and the town was further revitalized with a formation of a local senate and the building of an Amphitheater.

    The Wrath of Vesuvius (62 – 79 AD)

    The above animation made by the Zero One team was showcased at a 2009 exhibition named aptly as the ‘ A Day in Pompeii’, in the Melbourne Museum. Suffice it to say, the exhibition used 3D renderings to present a more accurate picture of the impending disaster that took place in 79 AD, and its baleful effects in the span of 48-hours surrounding the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

    Pompeii (and the region of Campania), known for minor seismic activities, was afflicted by a massive earthquake in 62 AD. As a consequence, a great number of structures, including temples, roads, houses, collapsed, while fires and smoke made their severe presence felt in many corners of the city. In spite of the ensuing anarchy and a significant number of casualties, parts of the infrastructure and forum were rebuilt, including the Central Thermal Baths. Many new structural projects were also initiated, like the Temple of Vespasianus and the Temple of Lares.

    And while Pompeii experienced increasing degrees of seismic activities in the following years, the catastrophe struck in the year 79 AD, when Vesuvius erupted. Shrouded by displays of smoke, fire, explosions, and layers of pumice particles, the city was soon covered in flecks and fragments of ash discharged by the eruption.

    And while the buildings were already beginning to collapse from the weight of such heavy deposits, the ‘shock-and-awe’ came forth hours later – in the form of destructive waves of superheated volcanic matter and gas (pyroclastic flows) from the imploding cloud over the volcano. According to some studies, it might have been the heat rather than asphyxiation (caused by ash) that resulted in many untimely deaths inside the buildings.

    Pliny the Younger, described the scene of the disaster in letters written to Cornelius Tacitus, a friend of his. Written a few years after the event, one of the passages of a second letter reads like this –

    Ashes were already falling, not as yet very thickly. I looked around: a dense black cloud was coming up behind us, spreading over the earth like a flood.’ Let us leave the road while we can still see, I said,’ or we shall be knocked down and trampled underfoot in the dark by the crowd behind.’ We had scarcely sat down to rest when darkness fell, not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, but as if the lamp had been put out in a closed room.

    You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.

    Reconstruction of Pompeii –

    However, as we mentioned before, beyond just the ‘popular’ impact of the disaster, there was the historical city of Pompeii – a thriving Roman settlement with over 11,000 in population. In fact, by the late 1st century AD, Pompeii was known for its export of wine and its resort-like characteristics (which explains the bevy of ancient ‘holiday homes’ in the city). To that end, the folks over at Altair4 Multimedia have concocted a superb animation (above) that aptly presents the historicity of Pompeii, before it was ‘marred’ by catastrophic events.

    A series of watercolor illustrations made by noted French archaeologist Jean-Claude Golvin also captures the various houses, public areas, and overview of the thriving city of ancient Pompeii. Overview of Pompeii Forum Amphitheater Violent scenes within the Amphitheater. Theater Baths of Stabiae Temple of Isis Praedia (estate) of Julia Felix Atrium inside House of the Faun House of Menander Large Villa of Loreius Busy Street of Pompeii

    Researchers have also been able to recreate a Roman domus (large house) inside Pompeii that existed before the natural disaster of 79 AD. Envisaged as a continuation of the Swedish Pompeii Project (now overseen by Sweden’s Lund University), the authentic reconstruction project was led by archaeologists Anne-Marie Leander Touati – with the experts utilizing 3D scanning and even drone technologies.

    Architecture of Pompeii –

    Forum –

    The animation starts off with the Forum of Pompeii, which like in many Roman cities, pertained to the political as well as the commercial heart of the settlement. To that end, the Forum of Pompeii, rectangular in its plan, consisted of the principal municipal offices (including the tabularium), the courthouse (known as the Basilica), some of the main temples (including the Capitolium) and the bustling macellum (market).

    Interestingly enough, archaeological evidence has suggested that before the calamitous eruption of Vesuvius there were plans undertaken by the Roman city council to rather deck up and expand the forum area.

    Basilica –


    In its core design, the Roman basilica was inspired by the Greek stoa, a spatial scope that was basically conceived to provide shelter to merchants and other small enterprises at the edge of the agora. In any case, the basilica of Pompeii probably served as a courthouse of the city, and it was built in late 2nd century BC, by the south-west corner of the forum.

    The building in itself was pretty large, with its external dimensions measuring 226 x 86 ft. The complementary inner portico is formed by 12 x 4 columns and measures 150 x 42 ft, giving shape (and endowing volume) to the main hall comprising a long columnar nave surrounded by an aisle.

    Temple of Apollo –

    Original Source: Panoramio

    The cult of Apollo was prevalent in the regions of Campania since at least 6th century BC, thus even corresponding to the Samnite period. The subsequent sanctuary to the god was finally expanded and embellished with the Temple of Apollo, as shown in the video, in 1st century AD – possibly after the earthquake of 62 AD. This final form and expansion of the complex were patronized during the rule of emperor Nero, and as such the temple itself exhibited architectural features that fused both Italic and Greek styles.

    To that end, the structure showcases a rectangular plan, with the entire perimeter surrounded by a whopping 48 columns. And in line with classical architecture, the inner cella raised atop the podium was reached through a long flight of steps. Now interestingly enough, one of these columns, that visually marked the cella of the god, also contained a sundial. And since we brought up gods, the Temple of Apollo housed two statues, with one depicting Apollo with his arrows and the other representing Diana – both currently kept in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.

    Temple of Jupiter –

    Photo by Peggy Mekemson

    The main religious structure of Pompeii arguably pertained to the Temple of Jupiter (also known as the Capitolium). Located on the northern side of the Forum, the structure was possibly built in 150 BC and dedicated to the triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. In essence, the Temple of Jupiter mirrored the ‘Romanization’ of Pompeii, a city that was previously inspired by the Greeks, in spite of the earlier years of Samnite rule. To that end, this particular complex symbolized the effect (and scope) of Roman architecture in religious and civic life, with purely Italic design motifs dominating the facades of the large structure.

    In terms of volumetric dimensions, the base podium of the Temple of Jupiter alone measures around 121 x 56 x 10 ft or 68,000 cu ft. And as for the importance of the complex, the main hall that housed the statues of the gods also enclosed a lower chamber that was used for storing sacrificial offerings as well as the treasury of the city. Unfortunately, a significant part of the temple was already destroyed by the earthquake of 62 AD, and thus the smaller Temple of Jupiter Meilichios was the primary seat of religious activities, circa 79 AD (when Vesuvius erupted).

    Odeon and Amphitheater –

    Pompeii has the distinction of having Italy’s oldest known permanent stone theater, and the structure was possibly constructed in 70 BC after the full-fledged Roman conquest of the settlement. Interestingly enough, in spite of its public status, the amphitheater was privately funded, probably by two local officials Quinctius Valgus and Marcius Porcius, in a bid to enhance their influence. In any case, the theater, mainly known for hosting gladiatorial fights, was big enough to accommodate 20,000 people, thus suggesting how spectators also came from outside Pompeii, especially from the nearby towns.

    In fact, according to ancient sources, in 59 AD, spectators from the nearby town of Nuceria fought against the ones from Pompeii in an ensuing riot. As a result, Nero had to impose a ban on games inside the Pompeii amphitheater for 10 years.

    The Villas of Pompeii –

    Source: Pinterest

    In the ‘section’ of villas, the Altair4 video starts off by showcasing the Villa of Diomedes, which was designed as a pseudo-urban domus, originally built by one M. Arrius Diomedes. Comprising elements of the typical Roman upper-class house, the residential compound boasted living areas, service rooms and even specific bathing zones.

    These spatial features were complemented by gorgeous views of the proximate gardens and the distant sea from the triclinium (dining room) of the villa. The domus also had a lower section comprising a wine cellar that doubled as a supporting system for the peristyle around the garden. Unfortunately, the incredible architectural features were accompanied by grisly findings of around 20 ancient bodies left dead by the pernicious fumes of Mount Vesuvius, along with a silver key and a horde of 1356 sesterces (Roman coins).

    The Altair4 video also presents a bevy of other villas, including the famed ‘House of the Faun‘ (Casa del Fauno in Italian). Easily one of the largest and impressive residences of Pompeii, the domus was possibly also one of the most luxurious aristocratic houses in all of the Roman Empire. Named after a statue of a dancing faun (that doubled as a basin for catching rainwater), the villa itself flaunted 32,000 sq ft in the area ( the equivalent of more than half of an American football field), thus encompassing an entire insula or city block.

    And like the Villa of Diomedes, the domus showcased the typically sophisticated features of Roman residential architecture, along with its fair share of artworks and mosaics. In the latter category, archaeologists discovered the renowned ‘Alexander Mosaic’, composed of rare tesserae – that depicts the Battle of Issus in unison.

    Macellum of Pompeii –

    Photo by Peter Kwok

    Located on the forum of Pompeii, the macellum was envisaged as a sort of a provision market for the burgeoning city. Interestingly enough, initially archaeologists were confused by the remnants of twelve column bases at the center of the structure that hinted at its status as a pantheon. However, later excavations also led to the discovery of cereals, fruits, bones and fish scales in the vicinity, thus proving that the structure functioned as a market.

    In any case, a particular section of the macellum on the eastern side is entirely dedicated to the imperial cult, which in itself suggests the crucial role of Roman rulers in the first century of the empire. The building also exemplifies the unique Roman tendency to fuse economic and public domains, which not only translates to the discovery of items relating to food and provisions but also pertains to intricate wall frescoes bedecking the market.

    The Thermal Baths –

    Photo Credit: Carole Raddato (Flickr)

    Carrying on with the ‘public’ tradition of Roman life, the thermal baths (thermae) of Pompeii had a bevy of interesting features, including cold baths, tepid baths, and even hot baths. In fact, the city boasted three thermal complexes, with the Stabian Thermal Baths being the oldest – dating back from the Samnite period succeeded by The Forum Thermal Baths that were originally constructed under the orders of Sulla in 1st century BC.

    These were followed by the Central Thermal Baths – a massive complex (largest among the three) built after the earthquake of 62 AD, comprising a whole insula. Designed in a more spatially efficient manner than its predecessors – to better serve the citizens, these baths were accompanied by the gymnasium, sudatorium (vaulted sweating-room) and ‘unisex’ rooms that catered to both the genders.

    And as for the water heating scope used in Roman thermae, the architectural feature entailed the use of hypocaust systems. Simply put, the contemporary engineers devised an ancient variant of underfloor HVAC heating via a proximate furnace, often complemented by running heated water through the cavities in the wall. The Augustan period also saw the development of window panes. These relatively rudimentary specimens (utilized for preventing cold drafts into the baths) were probably rough cast into a wooden frame on top of a layer of sand or stone.

    Temple of Vespasianus –

    Source: Rome Art Lovers

    Located on the eastern side of the main forum, the Temple of Vespasianus was built after the earthquake of 62 AD, as a sanctum of worship for the cult of the Emperor. According to –

    A central door leads into a space in front of the inner sanctuary which is bounded on the front side by four columns. Inside these, a staircase on either side led up to a podium on which stood the cella containing the cult statue. Behind the sacellum were three rooms used for the officiators both of this temple and of the adjacent Temple of the Lares which could be reached via a communicating doorway. A marble altar with bas-relief sculptures can be seen in the center of the sanctuary.

    Temple of the Public Lares –

    Another religious structure built after the earthquake of 62 AD, the Temple of The Public Lares(guardian deities in ancient Roman religion) was dedicated to Pompeii’s tutelary gods. Intriguingly enough, the building was started as a means to assuage the divine entities after the natural calamity though the construction was probably not wholly complete by 79 AD, the year of the greater disaster brought upon by the eruption of Vesuvius. As for its interesting architecture, once again according to –

    Although it had not been completed at the moment of the eruption, what remains suggests that its architecture was quite unusual. It was completely open on the side looking onto the Forum and could be reached through a portico adjoining the colonnade on the Forum, the bases of which are still visible. The temple had no roof and was floored with colored marble arranged in a geometrical design. In the center stood an altar, of which few remains can now be seen. In the rear wall, a niche probably housed three statues of the town’s gods. On either side of the entrance were two alcoves with inset niches where the statues of other Lares undoubtedly stood.

    Triangular Forum –

    Reconstruction of the Foro Triangolare

    The Triangular Forum (Foro Triangolare in Italian), named after its geometric triangle shape, was possibly laid down by 2nd century BC, on the southern part of the hill where Pompeii was founded. In fact, the later building project was undertaken on the huge natural terrace that already housed some of the major sacred areas of the town, circa 6th century BC. Used for horse races and other forms of public entertainment, the interior of this forum is covered on three sides by a colonnade, while the southern-side was kept ‘open’ for an unobtrusive view of the surrounding panorama.

    The southern part of the Triangular Forum also comprises a Doric temple (dedicated to Athena and Heracles) and a tholos (burial structure characterized by its false dome), constructed around what must have been a sacred well. A nearby building, shaped like a wishbone, consists of a smaller enclosure which had the tomb of a very important aristocrat (possibly one of the major patrons of the original settlement).

    Temple of Isis –

    Considered among the first discoveries made at the site of Pompeii in 1764, the Temple of Isis preserved its relatively small but delicately ornate facades, after being rebuilt post 62 AD. Frequented mostly by women, freedmen, and slaves, Ancient Vine describes the structure as such –

    The Temple has a mixture of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman architectural features. This is not surprising since the Roman architecture of this period was very ornate, often used bright colors, and borrowed and mixed styles from many eras. There were many statues in the Temple of Isis and the portico walls were covered with elaborate murals. To the left of the temple was a small roofless structure containing a tank that may have held the sacred water from the Nile, which was very important in many Isis ceremonies. In the rear of the sanctuary was a room containing a marble table where sacred meals were probably

    Other Features –

    Restored kitchen inside Pompeii. Credit: Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii

    The video also showcases a flurry of other fascinating features that were present in ancient Pompeii, including the Fullonica and the Torcular uvarum. To that end, the Fullonica di Stephanus was a three-storied launderette that served the rich and noble Roman families of the city, circa 1st century AD.

    Interestingly enough, historians have visualized how the establishment also provided food and refreshments to its famished attendants, while the extravagant patricians sent forth their expensive togas for washing. In line with the prevalent Roman practice, these garments were cleaned in imposing containers by using a composition of clay and urine.

    Researchers have actually been able to restore the actual complementary kitchens of the Fullonica launderette. These ‘refurbished’ kitchens aptly glimpse into the ancient techniques and equipment for cooking food. Harking back to a period 2,000 years ago, the restorations showcase how the Romans cooked their food over specifically-made troughs that accommodated burning charcoal. Food like meat, fish, and vegetables was then put on grills that rested atop the flaming charcoal while accompanying dishes like soups, stews and gravies were concocted in pots and pans that were held by special tripods over the heated troughs.

    And finally, in addition to food, there were drinks to consider – and this is where the torcular uvarum mechanism came into prominence. Essentially designed as a press for grapes, the tool was operated by dedicated personnel to extract the juice.

    Pompeii, an introduction

    Pompeii, once called the “City of the Dead,” gives a marvelous sense of day-to-day Roman life.

    Forum, looking toward Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii

    Preserved under volcanic ash

    Pompeii may be famous today, with millions of tourists visiting each year, but in the ancient world It was simply a market and trading town specializing in a fish-based condiment (called garum) other sites on the Bay of Naples were far better known as sumptuous vacation spots.

    Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius (a volcano near the Bay of Naples) in 79 C.E. making the town one of the best-preserved examples of a Roman city, and tourists today marvel at the sensation of walking through a real ancient city.

    While the volcano took thousands of lives and made the region uninhabitable for centuries, the layers of volcanic ash preserved Pompeii in a manner unparalleled at other ancient Roman sites. Not only have the magnificent temples and villas of the town been preserved, but also one-room workshops, graves of lower-class citizens, and modest take-out restaurants frequented by the hoi polloi. Organic materials like food, clothing, and wood are more often preserved in nearby Herculaneum, because of the differences in volcanic materials covering the two towns. And so, Pompeii, this “city of death” in fact tells us more about daily life in first-century Italy than even the city of Rome itself.

    Storefront oven and pots, Pompeii, before 79 C.E.

    Not always Roman

    Pompeii, however, was not always a Roman town. By the mid-sixth century B.C.E. both Etruscans and Greeks had settled in this area, yet their specific contributions to the founding of Pompeii as a city are currently poorly understood since archaeological exploration of the earliest phases of the town have been scarce. The Doric Temple in Pompeii’s Triangular Forum, nevertheless, suggests a stronger Greek than Etruscan presence.

    Remains of the Doric temple in the Triangular Forum, Pompeii (photo: Dave & Margie Hill / Kleerup, CC BY-SA 2.0)

    The 5th and 4th centuries B.C.E. at Pompeii were a time of dominance by the Samnites—an indigenous people of south-central Italy who spoke the Oscan language. Their settlement occupied what is now the south-west corner of Pompeii, a site strategically placed at the mouth of the Sarno River near the Bay of Naples. By the middle of the 4th century, the melting-pot of cultures in this region had reached a boiling point, with Greek, Samnite, and Roman residents coming into conflict.

    Over the course of the 3rd century B.C.E., Pompeii was one of many Italian towns that came to be dominated by the Romans. This power shift put Pompeii on a path to prosperity and many large, new, public buildings were constructed in the late 3rd century and into the 2nd. This was the time at which the Forum acquired its general footprint and large high-status houses replaced simpler ones.

    View of atrium (with a marble-lined impluvium or recessed basin to catch rainwater) opens to a large peristyle beyond in the ornate House of Menander, Pompeii, before 79 C.E.

    Pompeii becomes Roman

    The years 91-88 B.C.E. were dramatic ones for Pompeii, as it took part in a rebellion against Rome (the Social Wars). Having lost this battle of allied cities against the capital, the Roman general Sulla re-founded the city as a proper Roman colony and settled his army veterans in Pompeii. The existing inhabitants of Pompeii must have resented this move, but when new public buildings, including the Amphitheater, were constructed to meet the needs and desires of the new residents, this resentment may have eased. Later, the period of the early Roman Empire (c. 27 B.C.E.-69 C.E.) was a prosperous one for Pompeii large, luxurious homes as well as imported goods from around the Mediterranean show up at this time.

    Amphitheater, Pompeii with a view at upper left to the modern city, and upper right to the ancient city.

    The City Plan and its Major Features

    The vast majority of the buildings visible at Pompeii today are from the Roman period, but some earlier features remain. The nucleus of the city in the 6th century B.C.E. was situated on a plateau overlooking the Sarno River at the southwest corner of what became the final “version” of Pompeii, and was organized around sanctuaries dedicated to Apollo and Minerva (or possibly Hercules). This early city had walls and a roughly grid-shaped street plan.

    As Pompeii grew in size and population, the city walls were expanded, with gates at the ends of major roads. Slowly, the largely agricultural land inside the walls was built over with homes, places of production, markets, and other urban amenities. The east-west streets (known today by their modern names via della Fortuna, via di Nola, via dell’Abbondanza) and north-south ones (via Stabiana, via di Mercurio) formed the basis for the creation of insulae (city blocks), most of which are generally rectangular and contained a mix of domestic, commercial, and industrial buildings.

    The Forum, “theater district,” amphitheater, and baths

    Ancient Roman cities were almost never zoned or planned for specific activities. There are two main areas of Pompeii, however, that were loosely organized around a general function. The Forum, at the southwest corner of the city, was the site of various services and structures, and could be considered a sort of “downtown” for Pompeii.

    Additionally, a kind of “entertainment district” in the south-central section of Pompeii included two theaters—one open-air, the other smaller and roofed. In these theaters, one could see plays, hear musical performances, and perhaps hold civic or social gatherings. These entertainments differ drastically from those enjoyed in the amphitheater at Pompeii.

    Pompeii Amphitheater with a Brawl between Pompeians and Nucerini, fresco in the IV Pompeian style (59-79 C.E.), was discovered in the peristilium (colonnade with garden) of the House of Actius Anicetus in 1869.

    Built more than 150 years before the Colosseum in Rome, Pompeii’s facility is the first known Roman amphitheater, where gladiators fought one another or hunted wild animals as a spectacle. It is estimated that between 10,000-15,000 people could be accommodated in Pompeii’s amphitheater. A fresco from a house at Pompeii illustrates in a shorthand way the spectacula (seating area) and arena (playing surface) as well as the velarium (sun shade) of the amphitheater.

    As in Rome, Pompeii also had public establishments for bathing. At least five public baths (and scores of private ones within homes) provided not simply a place to get clean, but also opportunities for social interaction and exercise. Communal bathing was a custom for middle- and upper-class Romans men especially would spend their afternoons in the baths, enjoying heated pools, steam rooms, cold plunge tubs, massages, ball games, and so forth, in the company of their peers and surrounded by beautiful decoration in mosaic, stucco, and sculpture.

    Painted stucco decoration, Stabian Baths, Pompeii (photo: Matt Brisher, CC BY 2.0)

    Both the Stabian and the Forum Baths were initially constructed with public funds, indicating the extent to which such establishments were considered essential for Pompeii’s residents. Surviving inscriptions, however, indicate that a wealthy citizen could contribute financing for an addition to (or renovation of) the baths, as in the case of a large marble fountain in the caldarium (hot-water room) of the Forum Baths.

    An aqueduct fed both private and public baths, although many residents of Pompeii relied on rainwater or abundant wells in the city to supply their water. The high state of preservation at Pompeii provides a view of the city’s water supply, from the aqueduct, through a distribution center at the high northern part of the town, through water towers and public fountains, and into private homes by way of terracotta and lead pipes. The most luxurious homes in Pompeii had fountains decorated with mosaics, sea shells, sculpture, and even frescoes.

    The Forum

    The religious, political, and commercial center of any Roman city was its forum. A kind of town center existed in the earliest phases of Pompeii at its southwest corner, but the forum only received monumental form and decoration in the 2nd century B.C.E. At that time, the Temple of Jupiter (eventually the Capitolium), Macellum (market), and Basilica (law court) were constructed and the open piazza of the forum was paved with stone. Statues of illustrious Pompeians, civic benefactors, and the imperial family stood under the forum colonnades and in the open areas of the piazza as well as in two buildings dedicated to the worship of divinized emperors—the Imperial Cult Building and the Sanctuary of Augustus (these statues are now entirely lost, save for their bases).

    Aerial view of the Forum, Pompeii (photo: ElfQrin, CC BY-SA 4.0)

    Religious Life at Pompeii

    The forum provided ample opportunity for the citizens of Pompeii to worship their various gods as well as divinized members of the imperial family. Temples to Apollo and Venus stood just outside the forum proper and represent both early (6th century B.C.E.) and later (post-80 B.C.E.) historical building periods, respectively. Smaller temples throughout Pompeii honored Jupiter, Asclepius, and Minerva (in the Greek temple in the Triangular Forum). Even more modest shrines stood at important crossroads and inside the atria of private homes. These lararia, dedicated to somewhat mysterious guardian deities called Lares, were decorated with paintings and received small votive offerings.

    Temple of Isis, 2nd century B.C.E., Pompeii (photo: Carole Raddato, CC BY-SA 2.0)

    A small, yet impressive temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis stands just to the north of the Large Theater. The cult of Isis had been introduced to Italy as early as the 2nd century B.C.E. and was apparently very popular at Pompeii, as indicated by the sumptuous painted stucco decoration of the precinct walls, Fourth Style wall paintings, a marble statue of Isis herself (now in the Naples Archaeological Museum), and abundant finds of votive offerings, some of which were imported from Egypt.

    Death and Burial

    Because of the circumstances of its destruction, Pompeii often encourages macabre interest in those who perished in the city during the 79 C.E. eruption of Vesuvius. Yet for centuries, citizens of Pompeii had been solemnly commemorating their dead with sometimes elaborate tombs and costly grave goods. Longstanding traditions among ancient Mediterranean cultures generally prohibited burials within a city’s walls and Pompeii followed that tradition. The roads leading from the various city gates are lined on both sides with tombs—some were for individual burials while others were designed for multiple occupancy (usually of the lower classes or freed slaves). The most prestigious burials can be recognized both by their forms and by their location just outside a city gate, where they could be seen by as many passers-by as possible.

    Tomb of the Flavii, Pompeii (photo: Gary Willis, CC BY-SA 2.0). The tomb resembled an apartment house and had 14 identical niches, only 9 were used at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius.

    There was no standard shape for Roman tombs and Pompeiian funerary monuments could be decorated with statues of the deceased, pseudo-autobiographical relief sculpture, wall paintings, and even functional features like benches. Multiple-occupancy “house tombs,” popular in the last century of Pompeii’s existence, contained the cremated remains of various members of a single family or social group. These lower-cost tombs had brief inscriptions about the deceased persons and small niches held the stone, ceramic, or glass ash urns.

    An open-air museum

    At the time of the destruction of the city, an estimated 15,000 people lived in Pompeii. As many as 2,000 died in the ash and toxic gases of Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 C.E. The city today is an open-air museum dedicated to the experience of walking through an ancient Roman town. And while the houses and wall paintings from the last phase of Pompeii are what attracts the most visitors, the city’s complex social and building history, as well as the urban infrastructure, are worth noting as well.

    Watch the video: Pompeii Walking Tour in 4K Part 1 (December 2021).