CHAPTER V. POMPEY.
Pompey proceeded to Rome, and the fame of his exploits, the singular fascination of his person and manners, and the great favor with Sylla that he enjoyed, raised him to a high degree of distinction. He was not, however, elated with the pride and vanity which so young a man would be naturally expected to exhibit under such circumstances. He was, on the contrary, modest and unassuming, and he acted in all respects in such a manner as to gain the approbation and the kind regard of all who knew him, as well as to excite their applause. There was an old general at this time in Gaul - for all these events took place long before the time of Caesar's campaigns in that country, and, in fact, before the commencement of his successful career in Rome - whose name was Metellus, and who, either on account of his advancing age, or for some other reason, was very inefficient and unsuccessful in his government. Sylla proposed to supersede him by sending Pompey to take his place. Pompey replied that it was not right to take the command from a man who was so much his superior in age and character, but that, if Metellus wished for his assistance in the management of his command, he would proceed to Gaul and render him every service in his power. When this answer was reported to Metellus, he wrote to Pompey to come. Pompey accordingly went to Gaul, where he obtained new victories, and gained new and higher honors than before.
[An example.] [Pompey divorces his wife.] [He marries Sylla's daughter-in-law.]
These, and various anecdotes which the ancient historians relate, would lead us to form very favorable ideas of Pompey's character. Some other circumstances, however, which occurred, seem to furnish different indications. For example, on his return to Rome, some time after the events above related, Sylla, whose estimation of Pompey's character and of the importance of his services seemed continually to increase, wished to connect him with his own family by marriage. He accordingly proposed that Pompey should divorce his wife Antistia, and marry Aemilia, the daughter-in-law of Sylla. Aemilia was already the wife of another man, from whom she would have to be taken away to make her the wife of Pompey. This, however, does not seem to have been thought a very serious difficulty in the way of the arrangement. Pompey's wife was put away, and the wife of another man taken in her place. Such a deed was a gross violation not merely of revealed and written law, but of those universal instincts of right and wrong which are implanted indelibly in all human hearts. It ended, as might have been expected, most disastrously. Antistia was plunged, of course, into the deepest distress. Her father had recently lost his life on account of his supposed attachment to Pompey. Her mother killed herself in the anguish and despair produced by the misfortunes of her family; and Aemilia the new wife, died suddenly, on the occasion of the birth of a child, a very short time after her marriage with Pompey.
[Pompey's success in Africa.] [Attachment of his soldiers.] [Pompey's title as "Great."]
These domestic troubles did not, however, interpose any serious obstacle to Pompey's progress in his career of greatness and glory. Sylla sent him on one great enterprise after another, in all of which Pompey acquitted himself in an admirable manner. Among his other campaigns, he served for some time in Africa with great success. He returned in due time from this expedition, loaded with military honors. His soldiers had become so much attached to him that there was almost a mutiny in the army when he was ordered home. They were determined to submit to no authority but that of Pompey. Pompey at length succeeded, by great efforts, in subduing this spirit, and bringing back the army to their duty. A false account of the affair, however, went to Rome. It was reported to Sylla that there was a revolt in the army of Africa, headed by Pompey himself, who was determined not to resign his command. Sylla was at first very indignant that his authority should be despised and his power braved, as he expressed it, by "such a boy;" for Pompey was still, at this time, very young. When, however, he learned the truth, he conceived a higher admiration for the young general than ever. He went out to meet him as he approached the city, and, in accosting him, he called him Pompey the Great. Pompey has continued to bear the title thus given him to the present day.
[He demands a triumph.]
Pompey began, it seems, now to experience, in some degree, the usual effects produced upon the human heart by celebrity and praise. He demanded a triumph. A triumph was a great and splendid ceremony, by which victorious generals, who were of advanced age and high civil or military rank, were received into the city when returning from any specially glorious campaign. There was a grand procession formed on these occasions, in which various emblems and insignia, and trophies of victory, and captives taken by the conqueror, were displayed. This great procession entered the city with bands of music accompanying it, and flags and banners flying, passing under triumphal arches erected along the way. Triumphs were usually decreed by a vote of the Senate, in cases where they were deserved; but, in this case, Sylla's power as dictator was supreme, and Pompey's demand for a triumph seems to have been addressed accordingly to him.
[Sylla refuses Pompey a triumph.]
Sylla refused it. Pompey's performances in the African campaign had been, he admitted, very creditable to him, but he had neither the Age nor the rank to justify the granting him a triumph. To bestow such an honor upon one so young and in such a station, would only bring the honor itself, he said, into disrepute, and degrade, also, his dictatorship for suffering it.