Pompey, or Pompey the Great (106-48 BCE), was a Roman general and political leader in the waning days of the Roman Republic. Pompey is largely remembered in conjunction with Julius Caesar, as the two were part of the First Triumvirate, which descended into civil war and Caesar’s eventual military defeat of Pompey and establishment of a dictatorship that would soon transform into the Roman Empire.
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus was the son of a wealthy provincial, Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo, who developed a reputation for ruthlessness and greed. Pompey served under his father’s military command and later married the daughter of Sulla, who became Dictator of Rome in 82 BCE. Under Sulla’s command, Pompey led armies in Sicily and North Africa, and was declared imperator by his troops. Returning to Rome, it was Sulla who gave Pompey the name “Magnus” (the Great).
Following Sulla’s death, Pompey campaigned in modern-day Spain, defeating the remnants of Spartacus’ army in 71 BCE. Pompey, a hero in Rome, formed the First Triumvirate with Caesar and Crassus in 59 BCE. Pompey married Caesar’s daughter, but their alliance broke with her early death. Civil war broke out within a few years, with Caesar defeating Pompey at the Battle of Pharsalus. Pompey fled to Egypt, and was assassinated by Egyptian officials of Ptolemy XIII. Despite his defeat, Pompey remained a Roman hero, a great man brought down by treachery.