Sextus Pompey

Sextus Pompey

Roman military leader of the late Republic
Country: Italy

  1. Biography of Sextus Pompey Magn
  2. Early Life and Family
  3. The Civil War
  4. The Conflict with the Triumvirate

Biography of Sextus Pompey Magn

Sextus Pompey Magn was a Roman military commander during the late Roman Republic (1st century BCE) and a prominent figure in the opposition against the Second Triumvirate. He was the son of Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, also known as Pompey the Great, and the younger brother of Gnaeus Pompey, a politician and general.

Early Life and Family

Sextus Pompey, the youngest son of Pompey the Great and his third wife Mucia Tertia, was born around 67 BCE. His older siblings, Gnaeus Pompey and Pompeia Magna, were also children of Pompey the Great from the same wife. Both boys grew up in the shadow of their father, one of Rome's greatest and most renowned military commanders and a progressive politician who later shifted his allegiance to a more conservative faction when Julius Caesar became a threat.

The Civil War

When Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BCE, starting the civil war, Sextus' elder brother Gnaeus followed their father and fled to the east, along with most of the conservative senators. Sextus, however, remained in Rome to take care of his stepmother Cornelia Metella, his father's fifth wife. Pompey's army was defeated at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BCE, and he was forced to flee to save his own life. Cornelia and Sextus met him on the island of Lesbos and together they sailed to Egypt to seek assistance from the rulers there. However, upon their arrival in Egypt, Sextus witnessed the treacherous murder of his father, who was stabbed in the back on September 29 of the same year.

After the death of Pompey the Great, Cornelia returned to Rome, while Sextus, heading to the African provinces, joined the opponents of Caesar. Alongside his brother Gnaeus, Metellus Scipio, Cato the Younger, and other senators and their armies, Sextus was prepared to fight against Caesar and his forces. Caesar won the first battle at Thapsus in 46 BCE against Metellus Scipio and Cato, the latter of whom committed suicide.

In 45 BCE, Caesar managed to defeat the Pompey brothers in the Battle of Munda, and Gnaeus Pompey, who was captured, was executed. However, young Sextus escaped once again, this time fleeing to Sicily. Shortly after, Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of senators led by Cassius and Brutus. This incident did not lead to the normalization of the situation and sparked another wave of civil war, this time between the political heirs of Caesar and his assassins. The Second Triumvirate was formed, aiming to crush the opposition forces and avenge Caesar. Sextus Pompey, situated in Sicily, was indeed one of the rebels, but the Triumvirate was primarily interested in supporters of Cassius and Brutus. This gave Sextus, who had turned the entire island into his base, the time and resources to gather an army and a powerful fleet.

The Conflict with the Triumvirate

By this time, Sextus was ready for a formidable resistance. The military conflict continued with varying success over the next few years, and finally, in 39 BCE, Sextus and the Triumvirate signed a peace treaty. However, the peace did not last long. With the help of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, a highly talented military commander, Rome defeated Sextus' forces in 36 BCE. Abandoning Sicily, Sextus fled to Asia Minor, finding himself without any support. In a sense, Sextus repeated the fate of his father. He was captured in Miletus in 35 BCE and executed without trial or due process, which was a violation of all norms and rules regarding a Roman citizen like Sextus Pompey.

Sextus Pompey was married to Scribonia, a distant relative and the daughter of consul Lucius Scribonius Libo. They had one daughter, Pompeia Magna.