Pompeius Strabo

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Gnaeus Pompeius Strabo (135–87 BC) was a Roman general and politician, who served as consul in 89 BC. He is often referred to in English as Pompey Strabo, to distinguish him from his son, the famous Pompey the Great, or from Strabo the geographer.

Strabo's cognomen means "cross eyed". He lived in the Roman Republic and was born and raised into a noble family in Picenum (in the south and the north of the modern regions of Marche and Abruzzo respectively) in Central Italy, on 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 satiric 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. At the end of his term as consul, Strabo apparently sought a second immediate consulship for the year 88 BC – an act that was not illegal, as the case of Gaius Marius demonstrates in the late second century, but highly irregular nonetheless. Strabo evidently failed in his attempts, as Sulla and Quintus Pompeius Rufus were elected consuls.

Strabo celebrated a triumph for his Italian victories on 27 December 89. After his consulship expired a few days later, he retired to Picenum with all of his veteran soldiers. The Senate soon transferred command of his army to Quintus Pompeius Rufus, one of the new consuls. However, when Pompeius Rufus arrived, he was murdered by Strabo’s soldiers. Strabo remained there until 87 BC, when he responded to the Senate's request for help against the forces of Marius and Lucius Cornelius Cinna. Strabo took his army to Rome; however, he did not decisively commit to either side, instead playing both against the other. For this, Rutilius Rufus referred to him as "the vilest man alive".

In 87 BC Strabo was killed by a disease that had broken out in his army. 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. His son, Pompey the Great, took the legions back to Picenum once again.

Strabo married an unnamed Roman woman. He had at least two children: a son, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey the Great, who married Julia (the daughter of dictator Gaius Julius Caesar) as his fourth wife; and a daughter called Pompeia.

In his honour his name was given to the cities of Alba Pompeia and Laus Pompeia.

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Preceded by
Lucius Julius Caesar III and Publius Rutilius Lupus
Consul of the Roman Republic
with Lucius Porcius Cato
89 BC
Succeeded by
Lucius Cornelius Sulla and Quintus Pompeius Rufus