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Pompey’s Favor of the Senate Over Julius Caesar

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Pompey was a Roman general who played a major part during the time of the First Triumvirate and the rise of Julius Caesar. He was an active participant in Roman politics, in which he controlled the food supply and conquered many foreign regions in the name of Rome (Woolf, 139). During his lifetime, he created tense relationships with both the Senate and with Julius Caesar. With the threat of civil war due to conflicts with Caesar, Pompey had to make a choice: side with Caesar, or side with the Senate. He decided the right choice was to side with the latter. Pompey had justified reasons to support his choice to go against Caesar such as he had family ties related to the Senate, they shared a fear of Caesar's success, and his previous relations in the Roman government.

One reason was that, Pompey had family ties that were related to the Senate. This allowed him to obtain special commands that benefited both him and the Senate (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?).Pompey had been born into a family that was in the senatorial class, due to his father Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). His family was particularly powerful in Picenum, which was a region that was east of Rome (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). This allowed the family to have clients to create their own private army, which they used to side with Marius during his war versus Sulla, the dictator of Rome at the time. (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). So when Gnaeus passed away, Pompey was able to obtain this private army, and his family's land which he put to good use. (Whalen, Sandvick. What Was the Contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman History?) He first switched sides of the war and became a lieutenant of Sulla (Coolidge, 16). When Sulla passed away, Pompey was in a position where he could go into dictatorship over Rome (Coolidge, 16). To the Senate's relief, he declined the offer (Coolidge, 16).

The opposition to his attempted dictatorship pleased the Senate, who greatly disliked the idea of a single ruler (Coolidge, 16). Pompey was also able to use his private army to get special commands from the Senate (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). In Spain he was able to end the rule of Sertorius (Wasson First Triumvirate). This allowed him to conquer and effectively lead Spain (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). This conquering benefitted both Pompey and the Senate, for it was the first time Rome had been able to rule the country (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). Later, he was also able to conquer Syria, Pontus, and Bithynia, all of which were turned into Roman provinces (Lloyd, Pompey). This greatly pleased the Senate, who gave more commands to Pompey in return (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). Pompey's second great success was being a part of the forming of the Annona, which was the supply of free grain for the Roman people (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). He had created a system where grain from Sicily, Egypt, and areas of North Africa was to be transported by sea, and then distributed to the people of Rome (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). Pompey was able to use this accomplishment as a way to gain support in the city, and for social stability (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). The Senate used the Annona as a way to benefit Rome's economy, their society, and even their political system (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?).

Both the Senate and Pompey had a shared fear and jealousy of what Julius Caesar had done. The Senate was an oligarchy and heavily disliked the idea of having a single, all-powerful ruler (Lendering, Gaius Julius Caesar: Constitutional Problems.). They were worried that Caesar may try to take over Rome and rule as a dictator (Lendering, Gaius Julius Caesar: Constitutional Problems.). This had already happened previously, with Sulla taking complete control over the Republic (Lloyd, Pompey). Caesar had experienced great success in conquering Gaul and other neighboring regions (Lendering, Gaius Julius Caesar: Constitutional Problems.). This caused Pompey to become jealous, for he had been one of the most successful generals in ancient Rome (Lloyd, Pompey). He also had a very unstable relationship with Julius Caesar due to marriage between their families (Wasson, First Triumvirate). To create an alliance between the two Pompey married Caesar's daughter, Julia, as part of a political move (Woolf, 141). There was peace between them until Julia Caesar died, causing their political links to be damaged, and Caesar and Pompey starting to go their separate ways (Woolf, 141).

Pompey also had previous relations to the Senate. Due to his former successes with the conquering of the East, in 70 CE Pompey was able to start his first consulship with Crassus (Lloyd, Pompey). Initially, he was ineligible for this due to his young age and him not becoming a quaestor or praetor before his term (Lloyd, Pompey). However, the Senate overlooked the rules and allowed Pompey to become consul (Lloyd, Pompey). When he returned from Spain he realized that the Senate was failing, and decided to turn it around by using his power to lower its responsibilities (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). During this time, he had been chosen by the Senate to take control of the piracy situation and Rome's food supply (Whalen, Sandvick. What was the contribution of Pompey the Great to Roman history?). His creation of the Gabinian Law in 67 CE allowed him to oppose the piracy that was occurring in the Mediterranean, which raised Rome's corn supply (Wasson, First Triumvirate). After this success, he returned and demanded that his army be given land (Lloyd, Pompey). His idea seemed logical, for no one wanted the unemployed veterans in the city, but the Senate disapproved (Lloyd, Pompey).

This helped form the First Triumvirate with Julius Caesar and another power in the Roman government, Crassus, were Pompey's only mission was to obtain this land for his soldiers (Lloyd, Pompey). Through this rule he was able to achieve this land (Lloyd, Pompey). But the triumvirate started to fall apart, so Pompey decided to return to a joint consulship with Crassus, and he became governor of Spain (Lloyd, Pompey). The triumvirate was further damaged when Crassus died, leaving Pompey on his own (Lloyd, Pompey). When Caesar decided to return to Rome, he requested consulship, which both the Senate and Pompey declined (Lloyd, Pompey). Instead, the Senate named Pompey consul with the support of Cato, who was a leader in government at the time (Lloyd, Pompey). This lead to the complete destruction of the relationship between Caesar and Pompey (Lloyd, Pompey).

In conclusion, Pompey had justified reasons to side with the Senate and to go against Caesar. Pompey and the Senate were able to join forces due to their shared jealousy and hatred over Julius Caesar, how Pompey had been apart of the Senate before, and how Pompey had family ties to the Senate which allowed him to improve Rome. Unfortunately, this alliance between powers failed. Pompey was killed when escaping from his defeat, and with his death caused the end of the oligarchy era in Rome (Wasson, First Triumvirate). Pompey's decision of choosing the Senate would affect how Rome was governed for the rest of the empire's reign.

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