Page:Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) - Volume 3.djvu/500

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488 POMPEIUS.

seacoast with a few friends, only anxious to escape seacoast with a few friends, only anxious to escape from the country. He embarked on board a merchant ship at the mouth of the river Peneus, and first sailed to Lesbos, where he took up his wife Cornelia, who was staying in the island, and from thence made for the coast of Pamphylia, where he was joined by several vessels and many senators. His friends now advised him to seek refuge in Egypt, since he had been the means of restoring to his kingdom the father of the young Egyptian monarch, and might, therefore, reckon upon the gratitude of the court. He accordingly set sail for Egypt, with a considerable fleet and about 2000 soldiers, and upon his arrival off the coast sent to beg for the protection of the king. The latter was only thirteen years of age, and the government was in the hands of Pothinus, an eunuch, Theodotus of Chios, and Achillas. These three men, dreading Caesar's anger if they received Pompey, and likewise fearing the resentment of the latter if they forbade him to land, resolved to release themselves from their difficulties by putting him to death. They accordingly sent out a small boat, took Pompey on board with three or four attendants, and rowed for the shore. His wife and friends watched him from the ship, anxious to see in what manner he would be received by the king, who was standing on the edge of the sea with his troops; but just as the boat reached the shore, and Pompey was in the act of rising from his seat, in order to step on land, he was stabbed in the back by Septimius, who had formerly been one of his centurions, and was now in the service of the Egyptian monarch. Achillas and the rest then drew their swords; whereupon Pompey covered his face with his toga, without uttering a word, and calmly submitted to his fate. He was killed on the 29th of September, the day before his birthday, b. c. 48, and had consequently just completed his 58th year. His head was cut off, and his body, which was thrown out naked on the shore, was buried by his freedman Philippus, who had accompanied him from the ship. The head was brought to Caesar when he arrived in Egypt soon afterwards, but he turned away from the sight, shed tears at the untimely end of his rival, and put his murderers to death.

The character of Pompey is not difficult to estimate. He was simply a soldier; his life from his seventeenth to his forty-second year was spent almost entirely in military service; and when he returned to Rome after the conquest of Mithridates, he did not possess any knowledge of civil affairs, and soon displayed his incompetency to take a leading part in the political commotions of the time. He had a high sense of his own importance, had been accustomed for years to the passive obedience which military discipline required, and expected to be treated at Rome with the same deference and respect which he had received in the camp. With an overweening sense of his own influence, he did not condescend to attach himself to any political party, and thus became an object of suspicion to both the aristocracy and the people. He soon found out, what Marius had discovered before him, that something more was required than military glory to retain the affections of the multitude; and he never learnt the way to win the hearts of men. He was of a cold and phlegmatic temperament, and seems to have possessed scarcely any personal friends among the Roman nobles. He was both a proud and a vain man, faults which above all others make a man disliked by his associates and equals. At the same time his moral character was superior to that of the majority of his contemporaries; and he was free from most of the vices which pervaded all the higher ranks of society at the time. The ancient writers bear almost unanimous testimony to the purity of his marriage life, to his affection for his different wives, to the simplicity and frugality of his mode of life, and to the control which he possessed over his passions and appetites. In his government of the provinces he also exhibited a striking contrast to most of the Roman nobles ; justice was not to be purchased from him, nor did he enrich himself, according to the ordinary fashion, by plundering the subjects of Rome. His untimely death excites pity; but no one, who has well studied the state of parties at the downfal of the Roman commonwealth, can regret his fall. He had united himself to a party which was intent on its own aggrandizement and the ruin of its opponents; and there is abundant evidence to prove, that had that party gained the mastery, a proscription far more terrible than Sulla's would have taken place, the lives of every distinguished man on the other side would have been sacrificed, their property confiscated, and Italy and the provinces divided as booty among a few profligate and unprincipled nobles. From such horrors the victory of Caesar saved the Roman world.

Pompey was married several times. His wives and children are mentioned in the Stemma in p. 475, and an account of his two surviving sons is given below. Pompey never had his own portrait struck upon his coins; but it appears on the coins of Pompeiopolis and on those of his sons Cneius and Sextus. [See below Nos. 24 and 25.]

(The principal ancient authorities for the life of Pompey are the biography of Plutarch, the histories of Dio Cassius, Appian, and Velleius Paterculus, the Civil War of Caesar, and the Letters and Orations of Cicero. His life is related at length by Drumann, Geschichte Roms, vol. iv.)


23. Pompeia, sister of the triumvir. [Pompeia, No. 3.]


24. Cn. Pompeius Magnus, the eldest son of the triumvir [No. 22] by his third wife Mucia, was born between the years b. c. 80 and 75. He accompanied his father in the expedition against the pirates b. c. 67, but he must then have been too young to have taken any part in the war. On the breaking out of the civil war in b. c. 49, he was sent to Alexandria to obtain ships and troops for his father ; and after procuring an Egyptian fleet of fifty ships he joined the squadron that was cruising in the Adriatic Sea in b. c. 48. Here he succeeded in taking several of Caesar's vessels off Oricum, and he made an unsuccessful attack upon the town of Lissus. After the defeat of his father at Pharsalia, he was deserted by the Egyptian fleet which he commanded, and he then repaired to the island of Corcyra, where many of the Roman nobles, who had survived the battle, had taken refuge. Here he maintained that, possessing as they did the command of the sea, they ought not to despair of success ; and he was very nearly killing Cicero, when the latter recommended submission to the conqueror. On his way to Africa, which his party had resolved to make the scene of the war, he learnt from his brother Sextus the death of his