Pompey and Circumstances

Well, all went along peaceful and prosperous for a bit, which was a sure sign to Romans that something needed shaking up. Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey the Great (or in his formative years, Pompey the Sort of Okay) was happy to oblige.

This young upstart joined the military back during the first civil war, and by the time it finished, had already made a name for himself for misappropriation of plunder. Not too keen on exploring life behind bars, Pompey used his brilliant tactical mind to become engaged to the judge’s daughter, Antistia. Somehow, he was rapidly acquitted of all crimes.

Despite his inauspicious beginning, Pompey was actually a darn good general and after a number of victories, managed to impress even the great Sulla himself. In fact, Sulla was so impressed that he insisted Pompey marry his daughter Aemilia Scaura despite the fact that she was already pregnant and married to someone else. Since Antistia had started nagging him about wearing his muddy sandals in the house and never bringing her flowers anymore, Pompey agreed. Besides, it was a good career move. (Later on, Pompey would fall back on this tactic again to marry Caesar’s daughter, Julia.)

Never much of a homebody, Pompey left to go conquer Sicily, securing Rome’s grain supply. Then he marauded down through Africa just for a change of pace. He felt this was pretty impressive, and when he returned home, demanded a Triumph so everybody else could know how impressive this was too. Sulla was less than impressed this time and denied him unless he would disband his legions like the law demanded. Young rebel that he was, Pompey went ahead and did it anyway. He even brought along an elephant which greatly amused the populace when it wouldn’t fit through the city gates. (He should have learned a lesson from Hannibal.)

After that, Pompey went out again to earn a second and third triumph after subduing Hispania, Southern Gaul, Iberia, Albania, Phoenicia, Syria, and the pirates of the Mediterranean. And to finish it all off, he laid siege to Jerusalem and the city fell within three months. This gained him a great deal of popularity except for among the Hispanians, Gauls, Iberians, Albanians, Phoenicians, Syrians, pirates, and Jews. But hey, the man knew his audience and the Romans loved him for it.

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