Evaluate the Role of Pompey as a significant military leader during this period (78-31BC)

Essay by sam511High School, 12th gradeA, August 2006

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It is debatable amongs historians as to the significance of Pompey as a military leader. While Dr B. Marshall describes Pompey as "an image cultivated to parallel Alexander the Great" having conquered half the known world, there are those who challenge this with the view that Pompey simply had the adequacy to complete the tasks that others had already begun. Plutarch and even Cicero particularly demonstrate this view. However, despite these personal views on Pompey it is undeniable that his various military and extraordinary commands had a significant impact on Rome's military in the period 78-31BC.

Pomepy first rose to a position of significance in the Roman military world in 87BC when at the age of twenty three he independantly raised a private army to aid Sulla in the civil war against the Marians. The abnormality of this situation was further demonstrated when Pompey was granted pro-praetorian imperium in order to command the force.

Moreover, Pompey was far below the requsite pro-praetorial age and was yet to hold a public office. This is indeed an outstanding achievement and is generally classified as Pompey's first of many extraordinary commands. This is later supported by Cicero in his speech on Pompey and the Mithridatic command in 66BC, stating "that someone of extreme youthfulness, who held no public office, should raise an army in a time of national crisis was a complete innovation..." He was to hold the imperium granted by this command for the next two years. This was then used to his advantage in the Marian war in Sicily and South Africa, where upon his return to Rome he demanded a triumph. Despite the fact that Pompey had no previous military experience Sulla reluctantly granted Pompey the triumph, thus severly undermining his own constitutional reforms.

In 77BC Pompey was provided...