Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo (135 BC – 87 BC), whose cognomen means "cross eyed", is often referred to in English as Pompey Strabo to distinguish him from Strabo the geographer. He lived in the Roman Republic and was born and raised into a noble family in Picenum (modern Marche & Abruzzo) a rural district in Northern Italy, off the Adriatic Coast. Strabo’s mother was called Lucilia. Lucilia’s family originated from Suessa Aurunca (modern Sessa Aurunca) and she was a sister of satire poet Gaius Lucilius. Lucilius was a friend of Roman general Scipio Aemilianus Africanus. Strabo’s paternal grandfather was Gnaeus Pompeius, while his father was Sextus Pompeius. His elder brother was Sextus Pompeius and his sister was Pompeia.
Strabo became the first of his branch of the gens Pompeia to achieve senatorial status in Rome, despite the anti-rural prejudice of the Roman Senate. After proving his military talent, Strabo climbed the cursus honorum and became promagistrate in Sicily 93 BC and consul in the year 89 BC, in the midst of the Social War.
Strabo commanded Roman forces against the Italian Allies in the northern part of Italy. His three Roman legions were instrumental in Rome's victory. After his consulship and the war, he retired to Picenum with all of his veteran soldiers. Optimates gave his army to Pompeius Rufus, the new consul. This caused Pompeius Rufus to be murdered by Strabo’s soldiers. He remained there until 87 BC, when he responded to the Optimates' request for help against the Marian Party. Strabo had the habit of playing both ends against the middle in the intense politics of the period. For this Rutilius Rufus referred to him as "the vilest man alive".
In 87 BC Strabo was struck and killed by lightning. His avarice and cruelty had made him hated by the soldiers to such a degree that they tore his corpse from the bier and dragged it through the streets. Cicero describes him (Brut. 47) as "worthy of hatred on account of his cruelty, avarice, and perfidy." His son took the legions back to Picenum once again.
Strabo married and his wife is an unnamed Roman woman. He had a least two children: a son, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey the Great or Pompey the triumvir who married Julia (the daughter of dictator Gaius Julius Caesar) as his fourth wife and a daughter called Pompeia.
- Smith, William (1867). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. Boston, MA, USA: Little, Brown and Company. p. 477.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia 2002
Lucius Julius Caesar III and Publius Rutilius Lupus
|Consul of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Porcius Cato
Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Quintus Pompeius Rufus