Asses the Role of Pompey as a Significant Military Leader Essay

Pompey was crucial and significant during the period of the rise and fall of Rome, steadily yet surely he increased ranks within the Roman politics order via Military and Political events. Despite coming form a Cinna family (enemy of Sulla) Pompey became a strong leader along side Sulla. Only to derail from Sulla’s beliefs and order that he so idolised, to grow and lead on his own. Pompey’s rise to political power (which was the strongest of powers in Rome) was highly based on his military techniques and endeavours.

The revolt of Lepidus in 77BC began ironically by Lepidus agreeing to an oath to not fight between consuls, but the Populares still arrived only years later with an army to rebel against Sulla’s reforms and Cursus Honorum. This army was lead by Himself and Brutus. The senate seeing Lepidus as a threat, granted Pompey Propraetorian imperium, the power to guide an army, for the second time (*) to assist Catalus. Catulus defeated Lepidus, and shortly after Brutus fell to Pompey, and was killed.

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Not all of the army of Lepidus were killed, and they fled to Spain in search of a new leader, as they were an army, not wanting to split and return home. As they reached Spain they joined under power with Sertorius, a Roman rebel leader. Pompey, already admired with his efforts against Lepidus, wanted to boost his glory, in doing so he ignored Catulus’s orders to disband his army to be granted the permission to fight along side Metellus against Sertorius. These efforts were once again successful for persuasive Pompey and he was granted a third illegal imperium as they also had no choice as Sertorius became more fearful.

Again the fear of being taken over or destruction of what Sulla had created, including the powerful senate standings, had been left on the, extremely willing, Pompey, who gladly took the place next to Metellus and after most of the defeat had passed, Pompey arrives to ‘clear off’ the handful of Sertorius’ army only to arrive home in all glory as being the main contender in the win over Sertorius. The allies of Sertorius in Spain were treated humanely by Pompey, and strategically became a profitable investment for Rome as he granted some citizenship. (*) Pompey’s early relations with Sulla had granted him his first propraetorian imperium.

These actions were unheard of as Pompey firstly had no political power and was far below the requisite age. This was against Sulla’s own reforms during his own time under his own observation. This occasion was the start of Pompey as a powerful politically strong Roman with the help of Sulla and the senates need and lengths they would go to remain in power. After Pompey had been successful against the Marians, Sulla stated him as ‘Magnus’ (great), Pompey began to grow, not only in power but in self belief and strength, demanding a triumph for his efforts.

Pompey states ‘that more people worship the rising than the setting sun’ implying that he, who is growing will gain respect and power whilst the old, setting men will fall, referring to Sulla. Sulla again disobeyed his own reforms that were based on age, experience and political power and gave in to his requests. At this time, Sulla as well as senators noticed that Pompey was beginning to rise, reputation wise and politically and his significance in Rome’s wellbeing became more and more crucial.

The senate made efforts to reduce Pompey’s input into the security of Rome as the situation became more obvious. Sallust quotes Pompey towards the senate “For after having exposed me, in spite of my youth, to a cruel war, you have, so far as in you lay, destroyed me and my faithful army, the most wretched of all deaths, starvation. ” [1] Yet he always remained the one of power, experience and military ‘appeal’ Piracy in the periods of 80-70BC in the Mediterranean sea was widespread and was a large problem, but never concerned Rome or its crucial provinces.

Large farm owners dismissed the pirates as sometimes they made profits from the trades that the pirates made at markets. This began to come across as threatening to Rome and after attempts to dislodge the pirates they simply moved location from Cilicia to Crete. In 67 pirate activities began to disadvantage Rome and the corn industries. Aulus Gabinius a roman statesmen and general prosed to pass a law under the name Lex Gabinia which would grant extraordinary power to a Roman with the responsibility to “drive the pirates off the sea”(Gabinius).

This imperium was directed to friend of Gabinius; Pompey, and was just what Pompey needed to excel his reputation. Gabinius’ choice was one of precision, to put forward the word of Pompey to the senate to gain “amici” with not only the soon to be powerful Pompey but also the senate for his guidance. The provisions were read to the people and they were all for this. The senate warned of the dangers of giving one person of Pompey’s stature this large amount of power but it still went forward. Pompey manned his own section of the large fleet and distributed the rest of this army across the Mediterranean.

He first commanded the west of the sea, surrounding pirate forces and sending them to harbours. Within fourteen days the entire Western Mediterranean had be cleared and lived up to the expectations that were placed upon him. This expertise of military shown by Pompey was outstanding, and was greatly recognised as it was on sea as well. Although he had shown the job can be done, the senate in Rome along with Catulus remained in uncertainty as this power would be available to him for 3 years.

Pompey’s orders continued as they moved east, conquering fleets of pirates as some gave themselves up and in return, treated humanely. The surrender of the remaining fleets at Cilicia marked the end of this war in only 3 months. This marked another milestone in Pompey’s rise to power and military and political status. Word of his efforts had reached home before he arrived back; saved cities viewed him as “saviour. ” Plutach quotes wall graffiti in Athens, referring to Pompey “The more you know you’re a man, the more you become a god. [2] But although the war was over, his decisions next prove to be one of genius towards increasing the spread and workforce of the Roman Empire. Pompey did not slave all his enemies but instead developed a plan of resettlement. In the idea that being resettled and given the opportunity to work, farm and cultivate they would be happier and receive citizenship. This variation in leadership and war demonstrated his ability to command, not just concur. Take a problem and with the judgement and suitable power and turn it into profitable circumstances.

Under populated cities of Cilicia and available land in Greece was soon filled and eliminated the piracy that threatened The Empire. Pompey starting out as a good friend of Sulla, an amici; Pompey’s attitudes and contribution to the Empire was a recognised from such a young age. This age was extremely low, and was accompanied by his lack of political and military status, which went completely against the wishes and reforms of Sulla. As Pompey grew his presence became more and more crucial to the sustainability of the Empire which assisted his rise to political power.

The senate even continued to go against Sulla’s reforms even though they had 2 very great reasons not to; it was against the views of a great ruler and his system of ‘Cursus Honorum’ (power to those who served the time, and power was rewarded to those successful in the political community) and it was obvious that the more room you gave to Pompey and the more request and honour, the more he grew, the more dangerous he became. After a series of extraordinary commands and triumphs Pompey decided then to play by the rules and lay low and uneasily reframing from providing his military expertise from who sought them, such as the senate.

He disbanded the legions and prepared to live as a Roman politician. Pompey still had to repay promises he had made like finding farmlands for retired veterans. Although it seemed to be a time of rest or change from the norm he never ceased to crave the political power that engulfed The Roman Empire, which is why he and Crassus and Caesar created the Triumvirate (first of the kind). This agreement to work together for their own ends was inappropriately named as this alliance was not a legally established body and was even a secret for sometime.

The three members joined for different reasons, and they all benefited from each others activities/status’; Crassus, the populare was wealthy and was in search of status in Rome and Caesar was in need of money and Pompey was still aiming to accelerate after completing his period as Consul. This ‘power house’ of political friendship (amicitiae) became isolated from the Roman society but juxtaposed the idea of Populares and Optimates and also the senate. It was the idea that you either were for the Triumvirate or not important.

This coalition passed laws and promoted Caesar for his upcoming to consul. It was shown that Pompey’s career was far from over. His significance as a leader was proven that it wasn’t ‘just’ the military aspects that he partook in that helped him rise to receive the triumphs and all glory or his manipulative actions towards Sulla and the senate where his role was crucial. But that he was a noble and successful politician as well. This may have been successful as law as were passed and plans were all followed through it wasn’t always going to be as glorious as time continued.

Velleius Paterculus states “its results were to bring ruin to the city, the world, and even at different times, to each of the three men” [3] Pompey’s career as a political significance to the Roman Empire was mostly assisted by his military background. With the help of Roman assemblies, Pompey was allowed to rise through the ranks and show that he was able to command his army as well as be in great power and handle those who were for and against him. He grew to become a significant military and leader of his time by following and learning significant leaders, gaining trust with power and not only conquering, but commanding.

His actions/events that have been shown have benefited him over the period as he rose, but was a highly significant part in the fall of The Roman Empire. Bibliography http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Aulus_Gabinius http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Spartacus http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Sulla http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Catallus http://www. knowledgerush. com/kr/encyclopedia/Pompey_the_Great/ http://ancienthistory. about. com/library/bl/bl_time_firsttrium. htm http://penelope. uchicago. edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Moralia/Sayings_of_Romans*/B. html http://www. unrv. com/fall-republic/first-triumvirate. hp Ancient Rome IV – The Fall of the Roman Kingdom http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=Bg2MT_FhGYs=related Ancient Rome XX – The Conquests of Pompey http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=-B9p_KVqkZ8 -In Beard, M. North, J. Price – Religions of Rome, Vol. 1 -SALLUST – Loeb classics series -Great rivals in History: When Politics Gets personal Cummins, Joseph. Sydney: Murdoch Books, 2008 -A Noise of War: Caesar, Pompey, Octavian, and the struggle for Rome Langguth, A. J. New York : Simon & Schuster, c1994. -The Romans : life in the Empire Guittard, Charles. Brookfield, Conn. : Millbrook Press, c1992.


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