CHAPTER V. POMPEY.
While Caesar had thus been rising to so high an elevation, there was another Roman general who had been, for nearly the same period, engaged, in various other quarters of the world, in acquiring, by very similar means, an almost equal renown. This general was Pompey. He became, in the end, Caesar's great and formidable rival. In order that the reader may understand clearly the nature of the great contest which sprung up at last between these heroes, we must now go back and relate some of the particulars of Pompey's individual history down to the time of the completion of Caesar's conquests in Gaul.
[His birth.] [Pompey's personal appearance.]
Pompey was a few years older than Caesar, having been born in 106 B.C. His father was a Roman general, and the young Pompey was brought up in camp. He was a young man of very handsome figure and countenance, and of very agreeable manners. His hair curled slightly over his forehead, and he had a dark and intelligent eye, full of vivacity and meaning. There was, besides, in the expression of his face, and in his air and address, a certain indescribable charm, which prepossessed every one strongly in his favor, and gave him, from his earliest years, a great personal ascendency over all who knew him.
[Plans to assassinate him.]
Notwithstanding this popularity, however, Pompey did not escape, even in very early life, incurring his share of the dangers which seemed to environ the path of every public man in those distracted times. It will be recollected that, in the contests between Marius and Sylla, Caesar had joined the Marian faction. Pompey's father, on the other hand, had connected himself with that of Sylla. At one time, in the midst of these wars, when Pompey was very young, a conspiracy was formed to assassinate his father by burning him in his tent, and Pompey's comrade, named Terentius, who slept in the same tent with him, had been bribed to kill Pompey himself at the same time, by stabbing him in his bed. Pompey contrived to discover this plan, but, instead of being at all discomposed by it, he made arrangements for a guard about his father's tent and then went to supper as usual with Terentius, conversing with him all the time in even a more free and friendly manner than usual. That night he arranged his bed so as to make it appear as if he was in it, and then stole away. When the appointed hour arrived, Terentius came into the tent, and, approaching the couch where he supposed Pompey was lying asleep, stabbed it again and again, piercing the coverlets in many places, but doing no harm, of course, to his intended victim.
[Pompey's adventures and escapes.] [Death of his father.] [Pompey appears in his father's defense.]
In the course of the wars between Marius and Sylla, Pompey passed through a great variety of scenes, and met with many extraordinary adventures and narrow escapes, which, however, can not be here particularly detailed. His father, who was as much hated by his soldiers as the son was beloved, was at last, one day, struck by lightning in his tent. The soldiers were inspired with such a hatred for his memory, in consequence, probably, of the cruelties and oppressions which they had suffered from him, that they would not allow his body to be honored with the ordinary funeral obsequies. They pulled it off from the bier on which it was to have been borne to the funeral pile, and dragged it ignominiously away. Pompey's father was accused, too, after his death, of having converted some public moneys which had been committed to his charge to his own use, and Pompey appeared in the Roman Forum as an advocate to defend him from the charge and to vindicate his memory. He was very successful in this defense. All who heard it were, in the first instance, very deeply interested in favor of the speaker, on account of his extreme youth and his personal beauty; and, as he proceeded with his plea, he argued with so much eloquence and power as to win universal applause. One of the chief officers of the government in the city was so much pleased with his appearance, and with the promise of future greatness which the circumstances indicated, that he offered him his daughter in marriage. Pompey accepted the offer, and married the lady. Her name was Antistia.
[His success as a general.] [Pompey defeats the armies.]
Pompey rose rapidly to higher and higher degrees of distinction, until he obtained the command of an army, which he had, in fact, in a great measure raised and organized himself, and he fought at the head of it with great energy and success against the enemies of Sylla. At length he was hemmed in on the eastern coast of Italy by three separate armies, which were gradually advancing against him, with a certainty, as they thought, of effecting his destruction. Sylla, hearing of Pompey's danger, made great efforts to march to his rescue. Before he reached the place, however, Pompey had met and defeated one after another of the armies of his enemies, so that, when Sylla approached, Pompey marched out to meet him with his army drawn up in magnificent array, trumpets sounding and banners flying, and with large bodies of disarmed troops, the prisoners that he had taken, in the rear. Sylla was struck with surprise and admiration; and when Pompey saluted him with the title of Imperator, which was the highest title known to the Roman constitution, and the one which Sylla's lofty rank and unbounded power might properly claim, Sylla returned the compliment by conferring this great mark of distinction on him.
[His rising fame.] [Pompey's modesty.]