Page:Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) - Volume 3.djvu/491

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.

POMPEIUS. 479


the triumphal car was regarded as one of the noblest objects of ambition.

Having thus succeeded in carrying his point against the dictator Pompey again exhibited his power in promoting in b. c. 79 the election of M. Aemilius Lepidus to the consulship, in opposition to the wishes of Sulla. Through Pompey's influence Lepidus was not only elected, but obtained a greater number of votes than his colleague Q. Catulus, who was supported by Sulla. The latter had now retired from public affairs, and would not relinquish his Epicurean enjoyments for the purpose of defeating Pompey's plans, but contented himself with warning the latter, as he met him returning from the comitia in triumph, "Young man, it is time for you not to slumber, for you have strengthened your rival against yourself." The words of Sulla were prophetic; for upon his death, which happened in the course of the same year, Lepidus attempted to repeal the laws of Sulla, and to destroy the aristocratical constitution which he had established. He seems to have reckoned upon the support of Pompey; but in this he was disappointed, for Pompey remained faithful to the aristocracy, and thus saved his party. During the year of the consulship of Lepidus and Catulus, b. c. 78, peace was with difficulty preserved [Lepidus, No. 13]; but at the beginning of the following year b. c. 77, Lepidus, who had been ordered by the senate to repair to his province of Further Gaul, marched against Rome at the head of an army, which he had collected in Etruria. Here Pompey and Catulus were ready to receive him; and in the battle which followed under the walls of the city, Lepidus was defeated and obliged to take to flight. While Catulus followed him into Etruria, Pompey marched into Cisalpine Gaul, where M. Brutus, the father of the so-called tyrannicide, commanded a body of troops on behalf of Lepidus. On Pompey's approach Brutus threw himself into Mutina, which he defended for some time, but at length surrendered the town to Pompey, on condition that his life should be spared. This was granted by Pompey; but next day he was murdered, by Pompey's orders, at Rhegium, a small town on the Po, whither he had retired after the surrender of Mutina. Pompey was much blamed for this cruel and perfidious act, which was however more in accordance with the spirit of his party than his own general conduct. But he seems to have acted now in accordance with Sulla's principles; for he likewise put to death Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus, the son of Lepidus, whom he took prisoner at Alba in Liguria. The war in Italy was now at an end; for Lepidus, despairing of holding his ground in Etruria, had sailed with the remainder of his forces to Sardinia, where he died shortly afterwards

The senate, who now began to dread Pompey, ordered him to disband his army; but he found various excuses for evading this command, as he was anxious to obtain the command of the war against Sertorius in Spain. Sertorius was the only surviving general of the Marian party, who still continued to hold out against the aristocracy. By his extraordinary genius and abilities he had won the hearts of the Spaniards, and had for the last tree years successfully opposed Metellus Pius, one of the ablest of Sulla's generals [Sertorius]. The misfortunes of Metellus only increased Pompey's eagerness to gain laurels, where a veteran general had met with nothing but disasters; and he therefore still continued at the head of his army in the neighbourhood of Rome. The senate, however, hesitated to give him this opportunity for gaining fresh distinction and additional power but as Sertorius was now joined by Perperna, and was daily becoming more formidable, it became absolutely necessary to strengthen Metellus ; and as they had no general except Pompey, who was either competent or willing to conduct the war against Sertorius, they at length unwillingly determined to send him to Spain, with the title of Proconsul, and with equal powers to Metellus. In the debate in the senate which ended in his appointment, it was urged that no private man ought to receive the title of Proconsul, whereupon L. Philippus replied with bitter scorn, in allusion to the insignificance of the existing consuls, "Non ego ilium mea sententia pro consule, sed pro cosulibus mitto."

In forty days Pompey completed his preparations, and left Italy with an army of 30,000 foot and 1000 horse, at the beginning of b. c. 76, being then thirty years of age. He crossed the Alps between the sources of the Rhône and the Po, and advanced towards the southern coast of Spain. The Spanish tribes, through which he marched, did not offer him much resistance, and the town of Lauron (not far from Valencia) declared in his favour. But the approach of Sertorius quickly changed the face of matters, and taught Pompey that he had a more formidable enemy to deal with than any he had yet encountered. His army was suddenly surprised by Sertorius, and he was obliged to retreat with the loss of a legion. Sertorius followed up his victory by taking the town of Lauron, which he committed to the flames, almost before Pompey's face. Thus his first campaign in Spain ended ingloriously. He passed the winter in the Nearer Province, and at the beginning of b. c. 75 crossed the Iberus, and again marched southward against C. Herennius and Perperna, the legates of Sertorius. These he defeated, with great loss, near Valencia; and elated with his success, and anxious to wipe off the disgrace of the preceding year, he hastened to attack Sertorius, hoping to crush him entirely before Metellus arrived to share the glory with him. Sertorius, who had advanced from the west, was equally eager to fight before the junction of the two Roman armies. The battle, thus eagerly desired by both generals, was fought on the banks of the Sucro (Xucar). It was obstinately contested, but was not decisive. The right wing, where Pompey commanded in person, was put to flight by Sertorius, and Pompey himself was nearly killed in the pursuit; his left wing, however, which was under the command of his legate L. Afranius, drove the right wing of Sertorius's army off the field, and took his camp. Night put an end to the battle; and the approach of Metellus on the following day obliged Sertorius to retire. Pompey and Metellus then continued together for a time, but were reduced to great straits for want of provisions, and were frequently obliged to separate in order to obtain food and fodder. On one of these occasions they were attacked at the same time, Pompey by Sertorius, and Metellus by Perperna; Metellus defeated the latter with a loss of 5000 men, but Pompey was routed by Sertorius, and lost 6000 of his troops Shortly after this Pompey retired, for the winter,