Pompey the Great

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“He was a very big man when it came to small bathrooms...”
~ Pliny the Elder on Pompey the Great
“..Up Yours , Pompey !...”
~ Julius Caesar on Pompey the Great
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Pompey the Great: Cries of 'Oi You Fatty' guaranteed a legion charging your way.

Pompey the Great (September 29, 106 BC – September 29, 48 BC) was a Roman General who believed modesty wasn't the best policy and that he knew best. He really was Pompey the Fathead who preferred to get his own way and said that only the best Romans ought to run the republic. Everyone else were basically 'plebs or slaves or worse'..

Pompey Before He Was Great

Gnuttela Pompey Magnum ('Pomps') was born with a champagne bottle in his mouth in Italy in around 106 B.C. He came from a family of staunch and socially exclusive Conservative Republicans who were also known as the 'optiates' for making a lot of money selling alcohol and drugs to riot happy plebians in Rome.

Pompey's first career move was to join his local football club in Pompeii . They were named after one of his ancestors Horace 'I Ate All the Pomp-pies' Pompey who started the team to run off excess fat. They were known the 'Lava Boys' for their red hot skills and matching tempers , especially when they played their games in the Vesuvius Arena against their hated rivals Stabiae and Herculaneum . Pompey is said to have been a good player but by the age of 16 he had started to turn into a bit of teen gut bucket from eating too much roman junk food (Fried Nightingales in Batter , Mars & Venus Chocolate Bars etc ) so he hung up his boots and turned to politics.

Like his family and friends, Pompey supported the Roman Republican general Sulla and was given a military command by him to see if Pompey liked the 'Killin' and Slayin' business. He did and helped his patron prevail in a bloody series of 'elections' (i.e. pitched battles) against the Populist-Democrats. They were lead by the plebby plumbers , Marius 'Mario' Superbus and Luigi Double Dexterus and were good at running around and jumping over barrels. Eventually Sulla won, abolished elections and declared himself Dictator for This Life and Beyond.

Sulla Promotes Pompey To Killer-in-Chief

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Sulla: The broken nosed dictator tries to soften his bloody reputation with a pair of wacky sunglasses. He failed.

Sulla took a liking to the 'young fatty boy' and applauded his tendency to indulge in casual cruelty. When the Republicans took power in 82 BC , Sulla and Pompey drew up a list of everyone who was: (1) A Democrat . Or (2) A Democrat With a Lot of Gold and (3) if their surname ended in 'Clinton' or 'Kennedy'. Then a Dispatch with Dishonour squad were then sent round to execute Republican party policy on the unlucky political opponent. Any Democrats who were somehow missed off this list were rounded up and catapulted into the Tiber with lead weights tied to their membrum viriles .

However Sulla became jealous of 'the big boy' as he secretly called Pompey - and sent him off to Hispanica to polish off any remaining Democrats who were still trying to court the ethnic vote out there. Once again Pompey trounced the field and returned to Rome. He now asked for a Triple Decker Triumph with a cherry on top to show off his many captives and trophies. Sulla started to say ' So you think you're really great then Pompey ?' but the crowd (who looked forward to spitting at their defeated rivals) misheard Sukka and started to exclaim Pompey the Great...Pompey Magnum....Pompey is going to win the cup !

When Pompey's Away - Spartacus Will Play

Pompey was asked to return to Hispania again and whilst he was there he heard his old mentor Sulla had retired and then died watering his garden with a urinary problem. Though Pompey lowered a few flags at half mast and ripped up his toga in the traditional mourning mode , he knew he was the real leader of the Republicans and wanted to go back to Rome to confront the 'Rabblecrats' as he called his opponents . But Pompey was delayed by another rebellion by which time The Popular-Democrats (now lead by the sexually dubious Julius Caesar) had managed to get back into power when the Republican senators fell asleep after a heavy lunch.

However no sooner was he in charge, Caesar soon decided to 'retire' and head out East for the good of his sexual desires. This left Lepidus 'the Limpet' i(father of his equally disgusting son Lepidus the Triumvir who was to feature later) in charge of Rome and said he wanted to be 'nice' to the restive slave population. Lepidus wanted to improve their conditions and even told them 'Being A Slave Means You Never Need To Know When Your Next Lunch Is Arriving' - or some such tosh like that.

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Pompey's rather effete triumphal parade in Rome.

This was all too much for one particular slave called Spartacus who lead a revolt of third billing gladiators near Naples and soon had the country..ok..the really rich Romans quaking and quacking in their sandals. They had hoped the Mayor of Rome Marcus Licinius Crassus (A.K.A 'Boomburgh' Goldgetter) would take on runaway slave army but crafty Crassus calculated that as he cornered the market in Fortified Villas , he could let the crisis go on a bit longer. Eventually when he heard Pompey was on the way back , Crassus defeated Spartacus but Pompey still took all the credit when he caught up with some of the stragglers and proclaimed he was the true victor. The senate ordered a triumph for Pompey whilst Crassus was fobbed off with an imitation gold chariot clock for his slave suppression work. Crassus wasn't amused and vowed he would get his own back on 'The Great Gut Bucket' one day.

Fat Man Defecates to Another Party!

The Roman Senate was still worried about the return of a civil war and hoped somehow Pompey , Caesar and Crassus would be good and do their bidding. But Pompey decided that he liked the fame and accolades of the 'dirty mob' and so changed his political colours and became a 'Pompey Democrat' . He moved across the Senate floor like a slug looking for fresh lettuce (Cicero) and plonked his expansive arse next to the Democrat leaders Caesar and Crassus . Pompey's opportunism was too much for old style Republican party leaders like Cato, Chico, Harpo, Groucho , Thicko and (the boring one) Zeppo who were reduced to shouting out 'bananas' , 'horse feathers' and 'duck soup' everytime Pompey stood up to sound important. Now the former 'Fat Boy Great' got a new name nickname: 'Pompous Pompey' , or simply - 'Pompous'.

The East Capitulates

Pompey soon tired of the insults and boredom of Rome and volunteered to take a few legions east for a 'little look around ' in 67 BC. The Republican minority in the Senate still hated him and refused any special status to Pompey but he got his 'sacking/pillaging/expanding Roman Civilization etc.' permit and moved East to take on King Mithradates of Pontus.

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Roman soldiers looking for a nice place to sack, destroy and sow salt on.

A war was already in full flow by the time Pompey arrived. The local Roman commander (a veteran Marian supporter) Lucius Licinius Lucullus or the Triple L Man was pretty annoyed to see 'Fat Boy Treacherous' as he called Pompey and was deeply suspicious. The two didn't get on as Lucullus was sure Pompey was really just playing for time in his current guise as a 'Democrat'. He was also pissed off as he had just dealt with Mithradates , a local Greek speaking ruler who had fancied himself as the new Alexander the Great and was working how much to take in expenses from his victory. Now Pompey was going to get all the credit again as Lucullus lost his command to his rival and grumpily went back to Rome to retire with 365 female slaves to cater for his damaged ego and over active libido. If some Romans liked to collect customised chariots , Lucullus preferred more firm and fleshier pleasures . At least it beat gardening or working at McDonalds.

Meanwhile Pompey had moved towards Syria where he knew more riches lay as the local dynasty in control - the Seleucids - had more or less killed each other off in a long running family dispute whose turn it was to be king 'before the fat eunuch sang' . These rulers were the pathetic and pathological descendants of one of Alexander the Great's generals/hatchet men Seleucus of Antioch . The Seleucids had once been a mighty dynasty ruling over much of the Middle East to the borders of India. However by now they were the sort of people you were only safe to meet once they were chained inside a padded cell. Pompey took one look at the few remaining living members of this family , annexed their empire to Rome and reallocated them to jobs cleaning the public toilets in Damascus. He then packed up his army and marched south where a delegation of strange looking men in clothes and long beards were waiting to meet him: He had reached the frontier of the The Jewish Kingdom of Judea.

Hello? Is it me you're looing for??

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Pompey withdraws all the loot from the Temple as he quickly opens and closes his account there.

The Maccabees dynasty had ruled Judea for the last 100 years and had managed to build up their own independent state away from the control of the Seleucids and Ptolemies. But as was common - a typical bout of family disharmony had broken out about the old issue of who was more jewish than the other bunch. Two brothers Aristobolus and Hyrcanus were supported respectively by the Sadducees and the Pharisees . Trying to work who were the 'Republicans ' and who were the 'Democrats' (The Romans tried to fit everyone they met with their political labels they understood back home) - Pompey who was of course officially a 'Democrat' chose the more 'Democratic' Hyrcanus. He was trying to get back into Jerusalem and therefore enlisted the support of Pompey's Roman army. After a relatively short siege - the supporters of Hyrcanus and the Romans captured the city and made short work of the losing side.

Normally the Romans would have ransacked the place but instead Pompey announced he wanted to 'see' the Jewish god 'Yahweh'. When he was told that Yahweh was inside but not taking any visitors - Pompey and his generals pushed aside the priests and finally came to a small room at the back of a hall. When he pulled aside he curtain , Pompey was surprised to see an old man in a black top hat playing an organ with a small dog pulling at his trousers.

So You Must be Yahweh - the God of the Jews ?? it is reported Pompey asked.

Nah..piss off. I am here to tune the organ. Yahweh is over there .. and the story continues to say that the old man pointed to a park bench made of solid gold. Pompey thought he heard someone snoring but could see nothing or feel anything as he sat down on the bench. He then looked back at the man sitting by the organ .

You Will Only See Him If You Believe in Him Pompey.. and it is said that with that the old man disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Totally baffled and confused , Pompey is said to have emerged from the Temple as white as a sheet. He then posted a note ..'I Don't Understand These People. Neither Should You Fellow Romans..Keep Out.' BAH

The Three Roman Amigos

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The Triumvirs squabble over who should sit on the best chair at a party in Rome.

It was probably as a result of his experiences in Judea that Pompey came back to Rome as a somewhat changed man. He arrived just in time to understand that some obscure event called the 'Catacombs' conspiracy had got everyone denouncing each other and threatening war again. So Pompey decided to team up with Julius Caesar and Crassus and this time they would take power as 'The Three Amigos ' - or to more dustier and cobweb covered historians , the First Triumvirate.

To make this new alliance family-friendly, Pompey ditched his wife (the mother of his two sons Fiver and Sextus) and agreed to shack up with Caesar's daughter Julia . This disappointed Crassus's son Publius who also wanted to get dynastically friendly with Julia too and offered to go halves with Pompey . What this actually meant was never explained and perhaps luckily for Julia , never implemented.

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The Triumvirs inability to agree on the same footwear doomed their political arrangement.

At first it seemed all well with the three men as they shared power - and the wealth of Rome . However Pompey now regretted his earlier abandonment of the Republicans and gave them secret signals that he was 'the man' to restore them to power and overthrow the Democrats.

Pompey Goes Back to the Republicans as Crassus Takes a Dive

With Julius Caesar away in Gaul and about to go on a cheap holiday excursion to Britannia , and Crassus out in the East looking for any gold Pompey had overlooked - the 'Fat Man Cometh' and openly announced that he was really a Republican after all and had been a pretend Popular-Democrat all along. His old party comrades like Cicero and Brutus were overjoyed and called Pompey the best man in Rome and built a theatre in his honour - complete with their own mini senate where they could argue for hours without interruption from opposition politicians.

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Pompey's Pillar in Alexandria . It is said to mark the spot where he was murdered by Ptolemy's eunuchs. Oddly , the pillar is about all that remains of Alexandria from this time and it was erected to man who was killed within minutes of arriving on shore !

Around this time Pompey's wife Julia suddenly keeled over , leaving him a happy widower . He promptly married his secretary but this news upset Caesar. Pompey suggested the Triumvirs should all met up again in Pompey's Tuscany villa for a chin wag and Chianti but then news reached Rome that Crassus and his son had been killed by the Parthians. Now the Republicans goaded Pompey to go for the top spot alone and to declare Julius Caesar a public enemy and walking knife cushion. Pompey agreed and thought he had nothing to worry about 'baldy'.

Rubicon and Rub Out

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Pompey clears off in a dirt storm as his army fall apart like a stale pork pie.

However the years of living on couches and getting fat had drained the old fighting skills of Pompey. He let Caesar and his Roman army cross the Rubicon and before he could denounce his former colleague in suitable and insulting language . Then Caesar's leading general Mark Antony raced through the gates of Rome and seized the main treasury bonds of the Republicans and raided their safe deposit boxes.

Now it was more 'how fast can a fat man run ?' as Pompey took ship to Greece to bring his legions together to take on Caesar. However once again he underestimated Caesar's speedy tactics and lost the battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC. Deserted by his Republican supporters who decided to make peace with Caesar - Pompey hopped on a passing ship bound for Alexandria and decided to try his luck there. He was sure the King Ptolemy would welcome a 'wise head' to deal with Julius Caesar and has pursuing legions.

Pompey moored his ship in Alexandria's harbour and sent a message to King Ptolemy . An hour later a large party of Egyptian immigration officers arrived to meet Pompey and asked him to step onto the quay.

Greetings Great Pharoah's Representatives. I am Pompey the Great from Rome.

Greetings to you Great Pompey. Your reputation runs in front of you like a shy virgin on her wedding night. replied one of Ptolemy's eunuchs. He was carrying a large jar which he put in front of the Roman general.

What's this for ? asked Pompey as he peered inside and saw it was full of vinegar.

Your head Pompey.. and with that he was decapitated on the spot by an Egyptian soldier who had accompanied the 'welcoming committee'.

Pompey's cranium was dropped inside the jar and a label was attached on the outside that read 'For Julius Caesar. A Gift from the Living God of Egypt. Love Ptolemy and All the Eunuchs in Egypt.'

After Burn

Pompey's death was greeted with a street party in Rome and the burning of his effigy on a huge bonfire. Now that Caesar had won - everyone expected Rome would finally end the endless civil wars.

However Pompey's friends were upset and eventually set up a statue of their leader in the Roman Senate. It was given a wry smile and became a mute witness when Julius Caesar was stabbed underneath its fat , chubby legs in 44 BC. Cold irony perhaps for Pompey .

Notes

  • Though he was a Republican - Pompey also took time out to check on the Democrat party leaders Marius and Cinna. It was a sign that Pompey's political allegiance was essentially to himself.
  • Pompey's prosperous background was always used against him by political rivals. He was known as 'Senator Fathead' .
  • His defection to the Democrats was the subject of a bitter story by Cicero .
  • The Pompey Theatre later became Rome's top burlesque nightclub during the Roman Empire. The room where Caesar was stabbed to death became a shrine .The building was reduced to rubble by the Vandals in the 5th Century A.D as the result of a riotous stag party.
  • Pompey's death has also been recorded as occurring in a nightclub . This looks more plausible.

See also

Preceded by:
Sulla
Triumvir
60BC-48BC
Succeeded by:
Julius Caesar and Crassus



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