Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, 106-48 BC) was a successful military commander and later political leader of the Roman Republic. He was born into a wealthy family in Picenum, and served under Sulla in the civil wars. Sulla was the leader of the optimates cause at the time, fighting Marius and his populares supporters. The optimates faction was concerned with traditional and aristocratic values, whereas their rivals, the populares faction, sought popular support by appealing to the people. Pompey helped to deal with the Marian rebels who were driven from the city when Sulla declared himself dictator. At this point, Pompey is currently fighting a successful campaign against the last Marian rebels in Spain. Pompey was to have a great deal of power and influence in Rome in the years to come.
Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BC), like Pompey, was another successful military and political leader. He was the nephew of Marius, and son-in-law of Cinna, one of Marius’ allies. As such, he became a target when Sulla crushed Marian support and declared himself dictator. Caesar had his wealth and important priesthood stripped from him, but was forced to go into hiding when he refused to divorce Cinna’s daughter, Cornelia. Caesar was saved by the intervention of the vestal virgins and of his mother’s family, who were Sulla’s supporters. Caesar then went into military service, before returning to Rome after Sulla’s death. He began a legal career, studying under the same oratory tutor as Cicero. At this point in history, Caesar is beginning to make a name for himself on the early stages of the political career ladder.
Caesar would later become one of the most important and powerful figures in Roman history, and play a major role in the transformation of Republic to Empire. Click here to find out more about Caesar’s famous role in Roman history, but be aware that this information will contain plot spoilers.