The Rise of Crassus and Pompey

Two men had risen to prominence as supporters of Sulla. One was Publius Licinius Crassus (117-53 BC), who had played a major part in the victory of the Colline Gate for Sulla. The other, Gnaeus Pompeius (106-48 BC), known to the modern historians as Pompey, was a youthful commander of remarkable military talents. Such talents in fact that Sulla had entrusted him with the suppression of the Marians (the supporters of Marius) in Africa. This command he had fulfilled so satisfactorily that it had earned him the complimentary title 'Magnus' ('the Great') from the dictator. Crassus had no little ability, but he chose to concentrate it on the acquisition of wealth.

Sulla was hardly dead, when the inevitable attempt to overturn his constitution was made by the consul Lepidus, the champion of the popular party. when he took up arms however, he was easily crushed (77 BC).

In one quarter, the Marians had not yet been suppressed. The Marian Sertorius had retreated to Spain when Sulla returned to Italy, and there he had been making himself a formidable power, partly by rallying the Spanish tribes to join him as their leader.

He was very much more than a mere match for the Roman forces sent to deal with him. Pompey, charged with the business of dealing with him in 77 BC, fared not much better than his predecessors.

More worryingly the menacing king Mithridates of Pontus, no longer in awe of Sulla, was negotiating with Sertorius with the intention of renewing the war in 74 BC.

But this alliance came to nothing as Sertorius was assassinated in 72 BC. With Sertorius'' death the defeat of the Marians in Spain posed no great difficulty to Pompey anymore.

Pompey could now return home to Rome to claim and receive credit, scarcely deserved, for having succeeded were others had failed.


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