Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus
White bust
Bust of Pompey, copy of an original from 70–60 BC, Venice National Archaeological Museum
Born29 September 106 BC
Died28 September 48 BC (aged 57)
Pelusium, Egypt
Cause of deathAssassination
Resting placeAlbanum, Italy
Occupation(s)Military commander and politician
OfficeConsul (70, 55, 52 BC)
RelativesPompeia gens
Military career
Awards3 Triumphs

Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus (Latin: [ˈŋnae̯ʊs pɔmˈpeːi̯ʊs ˈmaŋnʊs]; 29 September 106 BC – 28 September 48 BC), known in English as Pompey (/ˈpɒmp/, POM-pee) or Pompey the Great, was a general and statesman of the Roman Republic. He played a significant role in the transformation of Rome from republic to empire. Early in his career, he was a partisan and protégé of the Roman general and dictator Sulla; later, he became the political ally, and finally the enemy, of Julius Caesar.

A member of the senatorial nobility, Pompey entered into a military career while still young. He rose to prominence serving the dictator Sulla as a commander in the civil war of 83–81 BC. Pompey's success as a general while young enabled him to advance directly to his first consulship without following the traditional cursus honorum (the required steps to advance in a political career). He was elected as consul on three occasions (70, 55, 52 BC). He celebrated three triumphs, served as a commander in the Sertorian War, the Third Servile War, the Third Mithridatic War, and in various other military campaigns. Pompey's early success earned him the cognomen Magnus – "the Great" – after his boyhood hero Alexander the Great. His adversaries gave him the nickname adulescentulus carnifex ("teenage butcher") for his ruthlessness.[1]

In 60 BC, Pompey joined Crassus and Caesar in the informal political alliance known as the First Triumvirate, cemented by Pompey's marriage with Caesar's daughter, Julia. After the deaths of Julia and Crassus (in 54 and 53 BC), Pompey switched to the political faction known as the optimates—a conservative faction of the Roman Senate. Pompey and Caesar then began contending for leadership of the Roman state in its entirety, eventually leading to Caesar's Civil War. Pompey was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, and he sought refuge in Ptolemaic Egypt, where he was assassinated by the courtiers of Ptolemy XIII.

  1. ^ Leach 1978, p. 29.