The reputation of Cn. Pompeius Magnus among his contemporaries from 83 to 59 B.C.

Thomas Patrick Hillman, Fordham University


Political power in the late Republic rested largely on a man's reputation within Roman society. An individual's family background and marital connections, record of service to the State in war and peace, number of clients, and oratorical ability were all factors in the formation of his reputation. In turn reputation influenced a man's current standing and future course in politics. A man, for example, who had become known as an enemy of law and order, or who was considered dangerously ambitious, would be opposed by those who thought him so. That man would then change his strategy in the hope of overcoming, evading, or conciliating the opposition. Reputation, therefore, both influenced and was influenced by a man's political stature, behavior, and assets. Cn. Pompeius Magnus was a man whose career exemplified this process, and it is the purpose of this dissertation to investigate how his reputation and political career helped shape each other. The size of his clientela initially made him attractive to those in power. His subsequent successes in war gained him honors, the love of the People and of his own class, the Equites, as well as a marriage alliance with the central families of the ruling class. Continued prosperity for Pompeius in the service of the State not only increased the affection of the People and won him the highest office in the land, but also began to worry the mighty, who feared what tyrannical ambitions Pompeius might as a result conceive. From that point Pompeius had to struggle to gain his desires, pitting the good opinion and votes of the People and Equites against the apprehensions and authority of the Senate. His unscrupulousness, however, and treachery in this battle merely confirmed the ill opinion of him the Senate had already formed, and the struggle escalated. By 59 B.C. the success of the Senate in frustrating Pompeius' desires caused him to turn to political violence, manipulation of voting assemblies, and intimidation to secure his ends. Throughout this entire period his reputation conditioned and was conditioned by political events and activities.

Subject Area

Ancient civilizations|Biographies

Recommended Citation

Hillman, Thomas Patrick, "The reputation of Cn. Pompeius Magnus among his contemporaries from 83 to 59 B.C." (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8917235.