Gnaeus Pompey And The Fall Of The Roman Republic

907 words - 4 pages

Events which stretch as far back as the reforms of the Gracchi brothers’ meant that the Rome was facing a Republic that was already deteriorating before Pompey had stepped into power. While Pompey’s quest for power was harmful, many other factors were also baleful to the Republic, and were hence instrumental in its decline. Gnaeus Pompeius’s measures to gain power were harmful because it was primarily a paradox to the principles of being part of a Republic with all its notions of shared and short power. The fundamental reason why there were other reasons for the decline of the system are that the military power was given to him, the already weak Senate, and the fact that Pompey was not the only player in the breakdown of the Republic due to the alliances he had made with Crassus and Caesar.
Although Pompey’s quest for power through military achievements was harmful to the Republic, this power was bestowed upon him by the Senate. Thus the already weakened Republican system must bear some responsibility for its own demise. According to the modern historian Williams, after the Gracchi, there was a “slow but discernable decline in both the prestige and authority of the Senate”. This indicates that the Senate had already lost some of its power after being challenged by these reformist brothers, which suggests its inability to stand up to the power of individuals. According to the same author, after showing “remarkable initiative by raising an army to support Sulla and fighting the supporters of Marius in Sicily and Africa, Pompey demanded a triumph” despite being well aware that he was underage and had held not military position. This is verified by Pliny who writes that after such conquests, Pompey had been given the title of “The Great”. This verifies that his military achievements were harmful to the Republic because they gave Pompey reason to contest the norm which consequently gave him status and glory. Aside from this, it also hints at the Senate’s role in the harm due to its own weakness and lack of handle on the situation by allowing for Pompey to undergo the triumph.
Though Pompey sought power by manipulating the political system to his own advantage, the fact that the Senate was already weak and hence gave him this power.This shows that although Pompey’s actions were detrimental to the fall of the Republic, he was not the sole contributor. Pompey was both underage and had held none of the required offices, yet the Senate passed decrees exempting him from these traditional prerequisites, thus allowing for him to be joint consul with Crassus in 70 BC. According to Cicero, “absolute power” was what he had sought, and thus this ambition had nothing to do with “the happiness and honour of...

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